Archive for February, 2011

Feb
Feb
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Moleskine – A Favorite Thing

Many of you, I am sure, are familiar with these note/sketch/catch-all books called “Moleskine“.  They feel like a special indulgence . In fact, it took a while for me to not cringe when I misspelled a word or created a sketch I didn’t like within this beautiful notebook.  I am finally over that and look at my Moleskin as a tool…and as an informal historical document of what is happening in my life.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPad but actually, the Moleskin still feels like more of a luxury.

You can get a Moleskine notebook at virtually any bookstore or via the web.  Here is a link to a cool pen holder that works with the Moleskine and a leather cover if you really want to be fancy…or a cover/pen holder in one.

Moleskine from michael huber architects on Vimeo.

Feb
1

Working with an Architect Series – Part 2

Working with an Architect Series – Part 2

Finding and then Hiring and Architect

Whether the project is commercial or residential, Owners often struggle with the ‘Where do I begin?’ question in looking for an Architect.  The first question really should be ‘When do I begin?’   The answer: As early as possible.  Even if you are unsure of your potential project making complete sense, an architect can help.  For business and public clients, it is not uncommon to have an architect develop a Feasibility Study –to see if what you would like to do has merit.  This can be of limited scope and is very helpful in clarifying any issues related to the project –to even see if it makes sense to move forward before you expend substantial time and money.  These types of Service Options will be discussed in a future ‘Working with an Architect Series’ post.

Some Architects specialize in a style or type.  Most are generalists and will help to bring out your style.  A great ‘one-stop’ location to search for architects is through The American Institute of Architects (AIA). Here you can research firms, get contact data and find other valuable information.  Most Registered Architects are members of a chapter in their home area.  We belong to AIA Minnesota.

Definitely ask friends and colleagues, realtors and contractors for any recommendations.  Don’t rely solely on the Yellow Pages as many firms have transitioned to using the Internet as their main place to ‘show their wares’.  In the end, a face to face meeting with a handful of short-listed firms is the best way to feel comfortable making a selection.

Typically, there is no charge for that initial meeting with a firm.  This is a great opportunity to not only review qualifications but to also make sure there is a mesh in personalities and philosophies.  As for the qualifications, it is important to:
1. See past examples (of similar scope/size) –If possible, even set up an on-site tour.
2. Get a list of references.  Not only of past clients but also from General contractors.  This will be helpful in understanding how issues were handled and the dynamics of working as part of a team.
3. Don’t get too bogged down with the ‘fee’ question.  It is hard for architects to pin down an exact fee this early in the discussion.  We can certainly give an estimate based upon similar projects or based upon the proposed budget.  Initially, we will often work hourly to help refine the scope and goals.  This then can be credited into a formal and fixed proposal.

The selected architect will then define a list of services provided, associated schedule and the fee arrangement.

Our job as architects is to gather and present the information you need to make appropriate decisions for your project.  To be creative in the solutions and to be am advocate for your goals.  To use your resources- financial, time, etc., wisely.  And make the experience enjoyable, comfortable and positive.

Here is a great resource sheet from AIA Minnesota on ‘How to Hire the Right Architect for Your Project

Feb
Feb
1

Podcast #25 – Insurance? What for?

Podcast #25 – Insurance? What for?

In this Audiopost, we speak with Insurance Agent Branden McDonald about what you need to know when starting a construction project.  Some of the topics include:

-What are the main things people need to be aware of when beginning a construction project?
-Who needs to carry insurance -the Owner or Contractor?
-How are the needs of coverage determined?
-Is there a difference between new construction or a remodeling?
-What specifically is covered in case of theft or damage to materials/tools, etc.
-Any tips to reduce premiums while maximizing coverage?

Please subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes
-search for the title ‘Design & Other Fun Stuff’.

You can reach Branden with additional questions at
Phone:  (715)-386-9494  
or Email: branden.mcdonald@amfam.com
Web: www.stevemcdonaldagency.com
FB: www.facebook.com/branden.mcdonald

Feb
0

DIY Design – CD Rack

DIY Design – CD Rack

Although most of my product research is now found via the internet, there are still a few favorite ‘stand-by’ resources that are kept on compact disc. While shuffling through CD’s the other day, I reminisced on the racks I had built to store them. Similar to the previous DIY Design posts, here is another example of using inexpensive materials and a few basic tools to change a usually utilitarian thing into something fun and unique.

Half of the fun is over-designing (if there is such a thing!) and being playful…to bring a smile to your face.

I realize that compact discs may soon be gone but wouldn’t these make nice iPad or Kindle storage systems? Or maybe drying racks for reusing tiny plastic baggies? :)   Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Feb
0

Photography Friday – Wildlife

Photography Friday – Wildlife

As you can tell from our site, one of my more recent obsessions is Photography.  Not unlike architecture, there is an artistry to doing it well.  You can define an experience, create a mood and evoke thoughtful discussion.  Instead of ‘tweeting’ some images and links for Photography Friday, I thought I would formalize a post and share with you some images taken by Jeff Bucklew.  Jeff is an advanced hobbyist photographer I recently met through the Western Wisconsin Photography Club.  Please click on the audio and then on the images to hear Jeff talk about the photographs.  You can see more of Jeff’s work at this link.

wildlife photography interview

Feb
0

What Causes Ice Dams?

What Causes Ice Dams?


While driving through town yesterday, I took a few pictures (see below) which prompted me to write this post.  We have been hit hard here in the midwest with cold temperatures and snow.  This sets up a perfect storm to develop Ice Dams.

Ice dams are caused by heat escaping at the intersection of the exterior wall and roof.  Older homes are the most susceptible because of the way they used to be built.  Typically, 2×4 or 2×6 rafters were set right on the top of the exterior wall framing.  This only allows for a minimal amount of insulation at this point.  The escaping heat melts the snow that has gathered on the roof and refreezes when it hits the overhang -causing an ‘ice dam’.  This can cause major damage to the roof, gutters and siding as well as lead to potential leaks, creating more problems.

You probably have seen the zig-zag heating element wires used to melt the dams at the roofs edge.  Ideally, you want to get more insulation at this point so you are not losing heat (thus energy).  One option is to put vent chutes in the rafter space, to keep air circulating in the attic, and then use a foam insualtion that has a better R-value at the roof/wall location.  Another option,when you next replace the roofing material, is to install furring strips to create venting right under the finished roof.  The goal is to keep this material cold so there is no melting.

New construction uses an Energy Heel truss which raises the height of the ‘attic’ area at the exterior wall.  This allows for more insulation to be installed at that vulnerable location.

To remove ice dams, the best way is to use steam.  There are many services that are equipped for this and it is important to have them removed before more damage is done.

Click on the images below to enlarge.