Construction

One last thing before you head out on vacation

Have you a taken a break this summer?  It’s that time of year, when everyone I know is either out or leaving soon before things get crazy again and life has to go back to routine after school starts!  I just got back from a much needed vacation with my family.  And while it’s fresh on my mind, I thought I’d share the one precaution I take before I lock the house and head out the door.  If you are going out of town this summer, be sure to take this simple measure to safeguard your home and avoid coming back to a bad situation. Prevent catastrophe,...

How safe is your house from water damage?

My neighborhood listserv is ablaze with people asking for help with repairs due to water damage. The recent rains are a good reminder that Austin gets an average 32.5″ of rain every year, which is to say that our buildings are pretty susceptible to rainwater damage. It’s common sense, yet, everyday I see houses built using risky construction details and building designs that ignore this significant element of our weather. How you deal with bulk water* at the roof, walls, and foundation (near grade) is very important to the durability of a building. If you are in the process...

5 Fantastic books on details

Designing and drawing good details is an essential skill required of architects.  And there are so many great books on the topic.  I only list here the ones that I have used, and think every architect should review, not including the code book.  And for a book to make the list, it has to meet these three criteria: More illustrations than paragraphs of text.  In that regard, architects are like a 3-year-olds – a drawing speaks a thousand words. I regularly use(d) the book as reference. That it was not just sitting on my shelf, for show, collecting dust.  More often these days, I...

Rain, rain, go away, I’ve got a flood today

It has been raining cats and dogs over the past couple of weeks in Austin, totaling 9.8″ of rainfall just in the Bull Creek watershed. Last Tuesday, we got 4.76″ of rainfall. That is about how much is normal average for the entire month of May, our wettest month.  And it all came down overnight.  All the low water crossings in the belly of the watershed were flooded, with water gushing over the roads for well over 24 hours. I regularly check http://www.atxfloods.com/ for updates. I love the rain. I love the bright green clean look that is a result of a good shower. I...

Why designing a custom house is like having a child

For starters, you cannot know before you start what you are going to end up with.  You might have a girl or a boy!  He might have your beautiful eyes, she might have your partner’s bulbous nose.  Regardless, you will love your child and not ever regret having this little bundle of joy that you created.  From nothing to a whole new living breathing person who leaves an indelible footprint in your life – it’s rather amazing!   Likewise, if you have made the decision to go through the effort of building a custom-house that fits your family, your personal needs,...

View into Jeld-Wen

I was invited to tour the Jeld-Wen plant in beautiful Bend, Oregon, which is where they manufacture their custom series of wood and aluminum clad-wood doors and windows.  This used to be the Pozzi window company since 1978 before Jeld-Wen bought it in 1992. As an architect, this factory tour and their spiel was particularly inspiring because they showcased many custom designs and talked about their capabilities that compete with really high-end wood window manufacturers like Marvin or Kolbe-Kolbe.  I was also very excited to see innovation in a 100-year-old industry and a can-do attitude. Having toured the Andersen window plant in Stillwater, Minnesota many years ago, I knew what to expect...