Category: Custom Homes

our most recent article

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 …

Read More
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 …

Read More
Photo of The Energy Detector device installed at Meadowlark Builders

Pay Attention and Save Energy (and Calories) By Doug Selby In my last post, I talked a little about eating whole food and how what we eat is connected to …

Read More
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 …

Read More
Photo of a master bath

A Master Bath With Plenty of Storage Opportunities We got a nice surprise last week when Houzz notified us that one of our recent custom home projects was featured in …

Read More
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 …

Read More
Processing the Process (and wondering if we’re lost?)

By: Katie MacGillivray In America, we’re used to going to a store to look at options, pick and purchase the item(s), and be done — hopefully in 30 minutes or …

Read More
Home Unplugged – Homes (and Clients) We Love Talking About!

Tucked away on a private wooded lot on a hillside, this Meadowlark custom home – simply named “Unplugged” – was designed and built to take advantage of the serenity of …

Read More
What’s Up with Stairs?

Stairs . . . they’re both the bane of and the reason for a designer’s existence. Almost every project we work on has at least one set of them. Staircases …

Read More
The Design/Build Process in a Simple Diagram

Meadowlark designer Melissa Kennedy was featured in ProRemodeler Magazine. She shared an infographic explaining the design build process for remodeling

Read More
New home, home ownership, Habitat for Humanity

Grateful for those who serve At Meadowlark, we’re grateful for being welcomed into so many people’s lives to transform their homes or build new ones. With Thanksgiving approaching, we remember …

Read More