Tag Archives: building technology

Exceeding the WUI Code: Home Design in Wildfire-Prone Areas

Recent fire events in California have caused many homeowners to embark upon better understanding ways to defend their homes and property against the risks of wildfire. California’s building codes (CBC) currently prescribe certain requirements for homes built within the Wildland Urban Interface, or W.U.I. Yet in many instances homes, even new homes built to current CBC standards were destroyed, leading many constructing within the WUI to ask themselves if they should build in excess of current codes. Continue reading

5 Kitchen Remodel Ideas That Pay Off

Kitchens are a place of sustenance and sociability. Food, family, and friends mingle to create a winning combination. So it makes perfect sense that remodels are so often geared toward the kitchen. What about thinking of your kitchen in the long-term sense, in terms of investment and return? Will your kitchen remodel projects be a positive contribution to your home’s value or will they erode that value? Continue reading

A Step-by-Step Guide for Building Your Custom Home

You know you want to build your dream house, but don’t know how to begin? It can seem like a daunting task to build a custom home. And admittedly, it is complicated. This 3-part checklist is aimed at getting you on the right track and providing an overview of the process. Continue reading

How China Built an Emergency Hospital in Just 10 days

Huoshenshan HospitaOn 2 February 2020 China opened an emergency hospital set up specifically to tackle the novel coronavirus. The emergency specialty field hospital constructed from 23 January 2020 to 2 February 2020, taking only 10 days to construct. Continue reading

Slab-on-Grade or Crawl Space: Which Foundation is Best for You?

Until recently, crawl space foundations were the favored type of foundation, but in recent years slab foundations have become increasingly popular. While there are advantages and disadvantages to each type of foundation, the choice ultimately comes down to a combination of personal preference plus site-specific considerations regarding where the home is being built. Continue reading

Windows 101: Know What You’re Getting Before You Buy

What To Look For in Buying a Window
Buying a window takes far more research than buying a sofa. That’s because windows are a complex commodity. A window is meant keep you comfortable and dry while offering a nice breeze now and then. At the same time it needs to withstand the harshness of the outside environment while keeping the inside as pleasant as can be. And it needs to do all this as efficiently and as cost effectively as possible. Continue reading

Natural Building Ventilation

Historically, all buildings were ventilated naturally. In modern buildings, many of the opportunities for natural ventilation have been compromised by placement of interior partition walls and reliance on mechanical systems. With an increased awareness of the cost and environmental impacts of energy use, natural ventilation has become an increasingly attractive method for reducing energy use and cost and for providing acceptable indoor environmental quality and maintaining a healthy, comfortable, and productive indoor climate rather than the more prevailing approach of using mechanical ventilation. Continue reading

How We Can Redesign Cities to Fight Epidemics

A heat map analyzing the ventilation between urban buildings.

Architecture can be the Secret Weapon To Combat Infectious Diseases
Throughout history, disease outbreaks have forced new innovations in urban design. Fighting cholera epidemics in the 1800s, for example, necessitated the building of new plumbing and sewer systems and the devising of new zoning laws to prevent overcrowding. As the new coronavirus lays bare the need for broader changes across our economy, such as widespread paid sick leave, it might also influence how cities and buildings are built. Continue reading

Solar Shading Devices: What You Need to Know

When the ambient temperature within a building is within or above the comfort zone, any additional heating of the interior due to solar gain will result in discomfort. Architects therefor design solar shading devices to prevent this. However, at cool times of the year, it is generally desirable to allow solar radiation to pass directly into the room to provide a useful heating effect. This response – between blocking excess gain in summer vs optimizing gain in winter- can be provided either by the shading device being moveable, or by it being geometrically selective. Continue reading

What is the Optimal Roof Pitch?

It’s no exaggeration to say that the roof is the most vital part of the building envelope, and therefore, the most critical investment.  It’s also no overstatement to say that we now enjoy a wider range of roofing materials and roofing system than at any other time in history. However, not every roofing system works in every application.   Finding the right system involves weighing a multitude of variables including cost, weight, lifespan, maintenance requirements, and most importantly, aesthetics. Of all these variables, roof slope (a.k.a. “pitch”) is perhaps the most important. Continue reading