It’s been 2 1/2 months since I last updated you on the CHouse Modern project and a lot has happened. The last time I showed you the house, it was about 15% complete with the structurally insulated panels (SIPs) going in. Since that time, the rest of the SIPs were put in place, the roof has gone on, interior electrical, HVAC and plumbing rough has been completed. It sounds like I’ve been sleeping on the job but the truth is that this house is diagrammatically very simple and there hasn’t been a whole lot to show you just yet. In addition, there was some delay when all the roof trusses were fabricated incorrectly. We had shop drawings but somehow what was in the drawings didn’t show up on the job site. Getting that issue resolved wasn’t difficult at all, it just ate up time. Other than that, this project has been moving along extremely well.
We have been attending regularly scheduled job site meetings that occur once a week. More times than not, I simply take record photos and we do a “look ahead” with the contractor to make sure that there aren’t any questions looming that the team isn’t prepared to answer. The last site visit was to do an inspection on the installed aluminum window “boxes” that are a major design feature on this house.
If you look at the project model we made during the design phase of the project (this model was built Summer 2013), if you look at the windows, you can see that there is a basswood surround enclosing all the windows. The doors have a different metal treatment that will happen later but for now, I think I’ll focus on the windows.
We have a Marvin door and window package on this house – the Wood-Ultrex line – which is a fiberglass clad wood window. It’s a very clean-looking window, very good thermal performance and an overall excellent product for the price. The exterior geometry on this house is somewhat fixed and all the penetrations in the exterior wall needed a little extra attention so that their appearance was commensurate with the aesthetic role they play. We decided that all the windows would receive an aluminum surround that projected out from the finish face of the wall to heighten the perception of the depth of the windows placement within the wall. It is also our expectation that the shadow lines these projected boxes will add to the facade will help break down the scale of the 2-story high walls.
This is one of the details we created – although this was really the drawing that would start the conversation with the metal fabricator on what should “actually” be done. Turns out we were pretty spot on with how we drew this detail up – pretty simple looking and you would never know that we spent more time that I would care to admit discussing how this detail should be executed. Basically it’s an aluminum rectangle that’s an 1/8″ thick (11 gauge) … it gets screwed to the exterior wall framing and the window gets set inside it. We had to discuss expansion and contraction of the metal, how to properly seal and flash the assembly – there were meetings with the metal fabricator, etc.
The cost for these aluminum boxes averaged about $523 per unit which considering the design impact they will have on the project is a bargain. We did have a fabrication issue in the beginning that we had to contend with – the welds that appear at the corners. They were rather small welds but the attention given to the welds during the grinding process left a little to be desired as a finished product.
Here is a close up look at the edges that were welded and then grinded – not very pretty is it? We called for a mill finish on the aluminum because we wanted to hold the reflectivity down on these boxes but even then, these grinded edges would reflect light a lot differently then the rest of the boxes and it would be easy to see from a distance. The solution was to sand the entire surface of the aluminum boxes to bring the finish to a matte finish.
It worked wonderfully which hopefully you’ll see for yourself in the next few pictures.
This is the rear courtyard of the project – all of these areas look out over the hill and at the future pool. (look at the first model picture in this post to see the “finished” area.) The lower areas are mostly doors and they will receive metal cladding – it’s all the windows, mostly on the 2nd level – that have the aluminum box treatment. The exterior wall finish is iron spot brick on the first floor and then stucco on the 2nd level. That transition in materials happens at the aluminum brake metal band that you can see in the picture above.
You can get a pretty good sense for how the aluminum boxes will project out from the walls and increase the perception of the depth the windows are set.
Here’s a close up look at the box installation into what will eventually be a brick clad wall – there is still a bit of weather-proofing that has to occur.
Here is a reminder of what the arrival courtyard will be … maybe you’ll notice in the following construction photos that a second level was added above the garage after this model was built. Added to the programming was the addition of a playroom and another bedroom/bathroom.
I am standing on the neighbors lot looking across at what will be the entry motor court. The concrete retaining wall that’s between me and the house will be backfilled and all but a few inches will be visible.
I am standing in the playroom on the second floor looking back towards the spot where I was standing in the last photo.
Another look at the windows that will be set in a stucco wall.
Here is a look at an interior corner – you can see the rough opening framing, there is 1/4″ allowed for shim space (which has now been filled with expanded foam, the edge of the aluminum box – another 1/4″ for shim space – and then the fiberglass clad wood window. These windows will not have trim around them on the inside face, the gypsum board will be turned into the window, nice and clean.
This is an exciting house for use for many reasons, we think it’s a very clean design, interesting material palette, it has new (to us) construction technology that was a first for us, and an adventurous owner (who I don’t think I’ve ever seen without a smile on her face … even when the trusses showed up the wrong size …). We are tracking the process of this house because while not inexpensive, this is a house on a tight budget and is projected to come in at less than $150 per square foot.
Hopefully you light the aluminum boxes as much as I do, I think they are turning out quite nice – just like we thought they would.