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Types Defined

This is fairly simple to define. The activities, once defined, are not so simple to perform if your end result is to build a beautiful usable functional space utilizing local materials, minimizing waste and energy consumption.

The first type of construction is ground-up or new construction. But isn’t all construction new. Yes but in this definition, the second type of construction is renovation work on existing buildings. So there is ground-up new construction and renovation construction of existing buildings.

Renovation Construction

In my opinion, renovation construction is more complicated than ground-up new construction because one must work with the existing idiosyncrasies of previous owners and builders.

Years of implanting an owner’s personality into a building need to be erased to accommodate a new owner. Previous renovations done by the owner or his contractors may have been done with varying degrees of success or competency… or maybe no capabilities at all.  And work could have been done without permits or worse, not  built to minimum code standards.

Ground-Up New Construction

The other type of construction is ground-up new and this is like starting with a blank palette. Of course, I don’t mean to cut down every tree to plop a house or building in the middle of the lot.  As has been said to me too many times to count, “We used to just throw a rock on the site and that’s where we built…”

Site planning is an integral part to ground-up new construction. One needs to consider the exact locale regarding solar orientation, winds during summer and winter, vegetation, frost-depths, water tables, soil conditions, etc.

What I mean building with a blank palette is to do it right. Homes in suburban tracks are on straight streets with the houses… facing the street. Newer developments are done are winding roads with the houses… facing the street. Most of these homes are mass produced with time and budget being the driving force with little regard for quality.

Doing it right means to orient the home to maximize solar gain during the winter, minimizing it during the summer. Aligning the home to direct prevailing winds through the home during the summer and blocking them during the winter. Minimizing waste and using local products versus getting that gorgeous marble from Italy is doing it right. Designing spaces to accommodate more than one use is doing it right. Making the home efficient by conserving energy and even harvesting energy is doing it right.

What’s Next?

You want to do a construction project and it’ll be one or the other.  If you’re not accustomed to the process, where do you start?  Future blog entries, will hopefully help organize the information and thought processes required to undertake a construction project.  As a friend, colleague and mentor used to tell me, “Construction is not a venture, but an adventure…”

I’ll tackle renovation work first because in this economic climate, renovating your existing home can be more economical AND more aligned many Green Pundit advisors.  Where do you start?  Next up: beginning a  renovation project… is to dream.

We’ll use the following home as an example…

Existing Front Elevation

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Welcome to my new WordPress.com.

This is my first post on my life’s professional work. I’ve been involved in site and building design and construction since 1976 when I got my first job working for an Architectural Engineering firm in Tampa, FL. My first job was hand drafting in the mechanical engineering department doing plan revisions to design drawings for hospitals in Saudia Arabia. Since then, I’ve worked for civil engineering companies, small and large before switching, circa 1981, to my true passion… architecture.

I’ve been involved with building design and construction ever since. As my career progressed, I was able to work with some of the top designers in Tampa. One was a structural engineer who designed the original Tampa Stadium and then renovated the stadium for the arrival of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976. After a couple of working engagements together in the late 70s, we collaborated on numerous projects together doing various federal, state and local government work, shopping centers, schools, hotels, casinos, maximum security jails, theaters, manufacturing and warehousing. He was the structural engineer and I did all his structural drawings in pen and ink on mylar. I learned a lot and he was a great friend.

In 1987, I was offered a position as a project manager to complete renovations of a 12 story hospital in Chicago, IL. Being raised in the area, I took the opportunity to move my wife and children back to Chicago for better work and educational opportunities for the family. Working in construction was one thing that was highly recommended from all that I’ve worked with in both the architecture and engineering fields to better understand what I was drawing. I thank everyone for that advice.

After my construction management experience, I got back into the field of building design in the north suburban area of Chicago. Working for an AE firm in Lake Forest, IL, I was able to work on various high-end residential projects, manufacturing and laboratory facilities, offices, warehousing and retail buildings. I did this until an industry slow down in 1992 and decided to provide consulting and graphic services to anyone who needed them. My consulting work lasted 5 years until another industry slow down.

I then found a boutique architectural firm in Highland Park, IL that felt they could use my services and embarked on an 8 year odyssey of similar work as the Lake Forest firm except that I was introduced to the niche market of automobile dealership design work. Since then I’ve done about 15 dealerships, either ground up or complete renovation with additions to meet specific manufacturer’s image program. Intermingled with the vehicle dealerships, I’ve did small retail shopping centers, office buildings, high-end residential homes, commercial tenant improvements, manufacturing and warehousing… It’s all pretty much the same stuff.

I don’t do huge projects. The largest building that I’ve been involved with from the ground up was a 200,000 SF manufacturing facility in Tampa, FL. The largest site development I created and improved was a 17 acre tract of farm land that was converted to multi-zoned commercial property buffering adjacent residential property from a highly traveled 4 lane high way with nearly 30,000 cars per day traffic.

After an eight year stint in Highland Park, I chose to be involved with a design build contractor only to find, I was more suited to providing consulting, management and graphic services. Hence I started my own company, Just 4 Measure, Ltd incorporated in 2004, opening in October 2005.

And here I am today struggling to make a living in today’s economic climate. At a minimum though, I offer to share my knowledge and experiences with those embarking on improving real estate, be it their home, office or business. My following blogs will talk about how to renovate a home.

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