Miami Green Homes


6 Sustainable Home Renovation Tips to Improve Your Fixer-Upper, guest post by Ray Flynn
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Photo via Pexels

When planned correctly, buying a fixer-upper can help you save money while creating the house of your dreams. You’re sure to have a few expectations and ideas about how you want your house to turn out, but where do you start? Try taking a sustainable approach to your home improvements so you can reduce your energy usage and feel good about your environmental footprint. If you’re looking for ways to keep your home renovations green, this article is for you!

Use Steel to Create Additional Space

If you’ve found the perfect house but it’s lacking storage space or that workshop you’ve always dreamed of, consider adding an external garage. A separate storage area can help you cut down on clutter inside the house, give you a place to store yard equipment, and protect your car from the elements. Whatever you need the space for, consider using steel as your building material — it’s cheap, versatile, easy to work with, and durable. Plus, steel is a highly sustainable material because it can be recycled almost endlessly. Consider insulating the building to protect your car from extreme temperatures and adding a few windows to light your garage naturally.

Choose Renewable Flooring Materials

Most fixer-uppers could benefit from new flooring. If you’re hoping to replace that dated carpet with sleek, bare floors, choose sustainable materials. Cork, for example, can be harvested without cutting down the cork tree, making it the perfect green choice for your floors. As an added bonus, cork is naturally insect-repellant and fire resistant. Bamboo is another great eco-friendly option if you’re looking to mimic the look of real hardwood floors. Alternatively, you can find reclaimed wooden boards from old houses to recycle into your own beautiful floors.

Avoid Harmful Paints

Conventional paints can leach harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air for up to five years. These compounds are bad for both the environment and your family’s health. When it’s time to upgrade your walls, opt for eco-friendly paint. The Spruce recommends looking for paints labeled as low VOC or zero VOC. Even better, choose paints made from natural ingredients like water, plant dyes, chalk, and resins.

Upgrade Your Kitchen with Recycled Counters

Making minor upgrades to your kitchen is a great way to increase your property value and help your house appear modern on a small budget. Paint your cabinets, replace the floor, and upgrade the hardware. If your countertops are in bad shape, consider replacing them with recycled work surfaces. You can get fun, accent countertops made from recycled glass in concrete or resin. On the other hand, butcher-block style countertops made from old boards are a rustic and homey option to consider.

Optimize Natural Light

Taking advantage of natural light in your home can cut down on your electricity bills and even help your home feel more spacious. Consider installing larger windows in your living room or an entire glass sliding door to open up your home to your backyard and let in more light. Painting your walls in light colors and adding decorative mirrors will also help brighten up your rooms. Real Homes recommends installing skylights since these can easily be incorporated into a variety of roof types. Skylight windows let in significantly more light than side windows and can completely eliminate your need to use electrical lights during the day.

Install Green Appliances

Most old appliances burn through electricity at a surprising rate. Replacing outdated appliances with new, eco-friendly options can help your fixer-upper look more attractive to today’s environmentally minded homebuyers. Plus, energy-efficient appliances will save you a lot of money while you’re living in the home. However, ensure you choose matching appliances for your kitchen to give it a polished look.

When you buy a house that needs some work, you have the power to turn it into your perfect sanctuary. Whether that means creating a separate workshop in the backyard for your hobbies or letting sunshine flood into your living room, these custom improvements can really make your house feel like home. Maintain a sustainable approach while making your renovations to save money on energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint.

Ray Flynn | DiyGuys.net

ray.flynn@diyguys.net

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Architects as day-to-day activists, not just design stars:

Few architects will reach stardom in their carrier or their life. The ones that do have typically been blessed by a unique commission that allowed them to truly and freely feature their skills resulting in a spectacular structure. Frequently these structures are of a public or high profile private nature, such as museums, signature buildings or government functions.

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Activistarchitect.blogspot.com

Most architects work on more day to day projects that do not come with glamour, but still have a severe impact: A home renovation or new home design directly affects the lives of the family that is living in it; a new restaurant provides a place of business, employment and entertainment; a supermarket becomes the key to growth of a neighborhood;

The impact of the architect on daily life cannot be overstated. Designs create, in a reasonable timeframe, a place or building that has the capacity to influence history – large or small. Good design choice can and should make statements to encourage underlying principles of good living and good communities. Incorporating a certain feature over another has the potential to shape the future path of an individual, being it a resident, business owner, worker, tenant… or just someone passing by. Look at architecture and design as opportunities for good, not just to the specific client, but the neighborhood, the community and even the planet. Everyone, every project matters!

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Architects versus developers (an architects perspective):

Ideas versus money. That is about the simplest way to distinguish the two and also the easiest way to understand why these two groups need each other. While overlap is of course possible, it is not likely. Developers frequently look at a potential project and create a general concept based on location and possible use of the land. Architects then provide a design concept to realize that opportunity and eventually the detailed plans to actually build the initial vision of the developer. Most projects, residential, commercial or otherwise, were created by the synergy of these two groups.

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An Architect as developer has solved the financial puzzle and can move forward not just with the idea and concept, but the execution of the project as well; a developer as architect first must obtain required licenses and typically look beyond function of the project to integration of concept into a larger scope and environment.

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Planners versus architects (an architects perspective):

When looking closer into the world of design, one will find a distinction between planners and architects. While Architects may act and function as planners, the reverse is generally not true. Urban planners are trained to focus on a larger picture and incorporate varying functions of a place. These functions may include buildings and other structures, but also consider infrastructure and landscape concepts and the use of structures. In short, it is urban planners who try to figure out what happens where. Residential living mixed with industrial production? Large trucks and trains mixed with pedestrians and bicyclists? Maybe not a good mix and match…

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https://www.planetizen.com/node/68464

There are many schools of thought about proper planning and most of us are living in the result of a certain theory in time that won over another idea. Compact live/work areas typically do not blend with strip malls and suburban single family home planning. High density downtowns will not blend with agricultural production – even though urban farming is a strong and functioning concept!

Once the general ideas have been laid out, the architect typically takes over to designing the actual buildings and structures. To learn more about planning: Jane Jacobs, smart cities and CNU may are good starting points.

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The Role(s) of the Architects – what we really do

 

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Let’s keep the role and influence of the individual architect a little reasonable and in perspective here. There are so many varying aspects of architecture employment. Few actually design, especially design all the time. Most are executing some sort construction documents or other legal text relevant to the building at hand, research materials or local building and zoning code. When design actually happens, it is a very rewarding for most. So design, as conceived as the main role of the architect by the public, is in fact a rather small aspect of the overall practice.

In general the role of the licensed architect, is to orchestrate a number of parts required for the project into a coherent fashion to the success of said project. Like the CEO of a company, the architect is the leader of the project. This holds true during the planning and design phases, and shifts during the actual construction phase. Here the architect takes an observatory role, rather than a leading role within the project team.

What are the typical parts of a design team? Every project is a little different, but most include the owner, the client, a group of engineers and the staff of the architect itself.

Beyond leading the above noted project, there are many roles within an architectural practice. Like any business, staff relating to the legal operation, such as accounting, marketing, etc. are required but may be considered elsewhere. As for the actual architectural breakdown, here are key positions within an architectural firm. The big three are:

Draftsperson and production staff are generally operating software to literally produce the drawings that communicate the design intent and any details required for construction. This used to be hand drafting, but those days are long gone.  Largest portion of the architectural practice, consumes the most time.

Designer – coveted spot. Actually design the project. Most creative and theoretic aspect of architecture.

Project manager – little design, lots of production, lots of research and written texts. Overall understanding of project, contracts, coordination with others. Most engaging portion of the practice.



Best Miami Residential Architects list, March 2018 – ELA Studio/SEA @ #5

Excellent reference list by Miami Architects for their best residential architects list.

Thank you for the recognition. This is a great list with many esteemed colleagues. I am blessed and proud to be among them. Our quality and team approach really make every project great!

http://www.miamiarchitect.org/the-best-residential-architects-in-miami/

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Ready to start your own project journey with ELA Studio?



Historic Coral Gables residence renovation by S.E.A.

Nicely completed historic renovation in Coral Gables, Florida. Design by Sebastian Eilert and Dan Lewis of Sebastian Eilert Architecture, build by Split Level Construction.

Find a slideshow and more information on the frims comany site: