Category: Architecture & Design

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Photo of Back of Tudor Style Custom Home

A Custom Home We Love and so Does Houzz! Once again, Houzz just posted their article 8 Open-Plan Mistakes – and How to Avoid Them which includes a photo of one …

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By: Doug Selby In a previous blog post, I introduced the topic of Passive Houses and talked about key areas that we focus on in the design and construction of a passive building. If you didn't know already, Michigan is a cold climate state. For Southern Michigan and its specific climate zone, about 93% of the heating and cooling energy used is for heating. Anyone who has lived in Michigan knows that we use a lot of heat in the winter, with air conditioning minimal in the summer -- one of the reasons why summers are so pleasant here! Insulation is Relatively New In Home Construction Living in this climate we understand the need for insulation in our homes, but, believe it or not, insulation in houses is a relatively recent phenomenon, first entering the code books in the 1960s. Insulation not only changes how heat flows through an exterior wall, but also how moisture migrates through the exterior envelope of a home. In the first few decades of use, insulation and vapor barriers in homes caused some spectacular failures in homes because these principles were not fully understood. These days, we can't imagine the thought of living in an uninsulated home, however; even in Southeastern Michigan, about 40% of homes built before the '60s have little to no insulation. Crazy, right? Most of these homes have plaster walls and ceilings, which is a heavy material with lots of thermal mass. It's a completely different subject, but thermal mass covers for the lack of insulation in a way that drywall cannot -- an uninsulated home with drywall would be super cold in the winter and use a lot more energy. In our custom homes and remodels it is customary for us to use a combination of mineral wool and spray foam to insulate exterior walls as seen in the photo above. Passive House Insulation Since Passive Houses have only been a part of the conversation in building science for that last couple of decades, we haven't seen many examples of super-insulated homes; but high levels of insulation are a requirement for passive buildings. With that much insulation required, a Passive House has much thicker walls. In the photo above you can see that the exterior wall framing has additional width to accommodate much more insulation and there is also rigid foam insulation used to mitigate thermal bridging around the wood components. Additionally, the windows must be set in the middle of the window opening. It's kind of a cool look for the home, and is also quite functional as the window sills are deep enough to place small plants, bath necessities or other decorative pieces. Those thick walls of a super-insulated Passive home are a distinctive feature, and they certainly help keep the home comfortable with very stable temperatures inside. The insulation also needs to be continuous, with vapor resistive barrier located properly in the wall and roof section. This is not a small matter for a home that performs properly, so I'll cover that in a future post. Stay tuned!

By: Doug Selby In a previous blog post, I introduced the topic of Passive Houses and talked about key areas that we focus on in the design and construction of …

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Mudroom Storage in Meadowlark Custom Home

How Will COVID-19 Change Home Design? By Susan Christian There have been more and more articles emerging over the past few months addressing the issue of how differently we are …

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Photo of new front porch covering

Exterior Makeovers We Love Chapter 3: A Manufactured Home Gets a BIG Boost in Curb Appeal By Susan Christian We LOVE to talk about our projects, but right now during …

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A major update to the exterior of this contemporary home improves curb appeal

Exterior Facelifts We Love – Chapter 2 Some call it an update to the curb appeal, others call it an exterior facelift and then there are times when all you …

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A Unique Sloping Roof Design creates a contemporary feel in this custom home

Accolades From Home Builder Digest By Susan Christian We just received the nod from Home Builder Digest in their recent article that we were named one of the Best Contemporary …

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Photo of custom home pantry

A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place Kitchen storage is always one of the key drivers for many of our kitchen remodels. Keeping things off the counters and …

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Photo of a home that was designed while customer remotely

Problem Solving – Virtually Our physical office may be temporarily closed, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be creative and innovative elsewhere. In fact, here at Meadowlark, we would say …

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Common Design Trends & Questions: Answered!

Walking through a home, have you ever found yourself asking ‘how can I shift this room around?’ or ‘what can be done about moving this wall or this bathroom?’ These …

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Passive House Institute Logo

By: Doug Selby I recently completed my training to become a Certified Passive House Consultant, a rigorous program with about 100 hours of intensive training complete with three separate testing …

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The Future is Flexible

Too often, designers and homeowners think of a home renovation as a finished product. In reality, the most successful renovations are those that are driven not by images or broad …

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