Residential Design

Vol 4, 2017

A business-to-business magazine focused on the collaborative process and talented work of residential architects and custom homebuilders.

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PRO-FILE BUILD He's worked with straw bale, structural insulated panels (SIPs), and concrete SIPs, and anything else a cutting-edge California architectural firm can throw at him. He's a member of the U.S. Green Building Council and is LEED AP. The tenets of green building are baked into the business, but they're tempered by his strong practical streak. His definition of sustainable construction is more expansive than some, perhaps. "To be sustainable, a project must also be affordable. It's got to be practical, and make sense from a socio-economic standpoint," he explains. "We're not about pushing a sustainable project that's 20 times more expensive than a conventional project." The best results, he insists, come from the simplest move—applying insulation and vapor barriers properly. "In the past installation of the insulation was never really that great. Builders would frame the house, put in the electrical and HVAC, and then just shove batts in. That caused more problems than it solved because it created these weird convection currents," he explains. "Over the last 10 years or so, with improvements in building science, we can measure how insulation really performs. We've learned that good in- stallation of the material is critical to the performance." Sustainability can also mean not expending time, money, and effort on ren- ovating a building that will never function efficiently or satisfy its intended use. Andy is often called upon to evaluate existing buildings and determine their feasibility for new uses. One example is on page 58 of this magazine, the Vineyard Farm- house project designed by Amy Alper. The original house, although sited well, was poorly built and did not take advantage of its scenic surroundings; its floor plan was dark and closed off. The owner was cost conscious and wanted to save as much of the existing building as possible. "Sometimes it can be so much work to keep something that's subpar anyway. You often don't save as much money as you think," says Andy. Ultimately, he and Amy saved some walls and the foundation, and managed to give the client what he really wanted at a price he could afford—a house that functioned well for his vineyard business and his life. You could call it the success of mindfulness over matter. —S. Claire Conroy Above: The Healdsburg Family Residence follows the natural topography of the site. The house gathers heat and light in cooler months and shades the harsher summer sun with deep overhangs and "shade fins." Photo: Ed Caldwell

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