Mighty House Construction and ming | architecture and design present Growing in the Green Belt for the 2021 NW Green Home Tour.
When we met this family of four (Mom, Dad, Daughter, and Son), they were living in chosen simplicity in a small 2-bedroom/1-bath home, less than 1000 sq ft. As the kids were growing, they knew it was time to expand, and they assembled a project team who they could trust to guide them through the process and who understood their minimalist approach – Grace Huang of ming| architecture and design and Mighty House Construction.
The family was concerned about maintaining a small visual impact in the neighborhood and keeping within a limited budget. There was great effort to design the new second floor to feel like it had been there a long time and will continue to be around a longtime. A lower roof height and vaulted ceilings reduced the overall height yet didn’t reduce the amount of usable floor space.
The new 720-sq-ft second floor contains 3 bedrooms and 1 bath. The new bath is designed with privacy details to allow the entire family to use the room at one time. The parents intentionally avoided the typical primary bedroom/bath suite – this saved both resources and space. The former first-floor bedrooms became multipurpose spaces –one became the stairs, laundry room and pantry; and the other became a flex room that serves as den, office, online school classroom, crafts space, or guest room. The new covered back deck provides a year-round outdoor space and greater connection to the yard and green space beyond.
Green features include:
A ductless mini-split heat pump replaced the gas furnace on the main floor. Ductless heating and cooling systems are two-way heat pumps that transfer heat between outdoor and indoor air by compressing and expanding refrigerant. The Dept of Energy reports that heat pumps produce up to 4x the energy they consume.
Infrared radiant heat ceiling panels and cove heaters by Mighty Energy Solutions provide heat on the 2nd floor. Infrared radiant heaters utilize the same physical properties that warm the earth from the sun (minus UV radiation). Panels are heated by infrared coils which radiates energy down —heating the objects in the room inc. the floor, furniture, and people. The heated objects radiate heat out, warming the space faster and longer with very little electricity. This contributes to healthy indoor air quality by not circulating dust/pollutants and they require need zero maintenance.
WhisperGreen Exhaust Fans in the new laundry and bathroom help regulate humidity.One contributor to unhealthy air quality can be buildup of moisture and potential growth of mold and mildew. These fans operate automatically until moisture levels are normal and are a great option for bathrooms and laundry rooms, where moisture is generated in a home.
Two pairs of Lunos HRV’s (heat recovery ventilators) in the bedrooms bring in fresh air and exhaust stale air, while pre-heating the incoming air with heat from the exhaust air. These units are quiet, communicate wirelessly to work in tandem, filter the incoming air, and are a great way to save energy.
An exterior tankless water heater saves space and a dual flush toilet reduces water use.
Marmoleum was used in the kitchen and the new bathroom. Marmoleum is a natural linoleum made from linseed oil and mixed with other natural products on a jute backing. It is also naturally resistant to bacterial growth, making it an extremely hygienic flooring choice.
Cork flooring was used in the new bedrooms. As cork is bark, it is a rapidly renewable resource, a great sound and thermal insulator, anti-static, hypo-allergic, impermeable, and fire retardant.
No VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints were used in the project, ensuring the highest indoor air quality.
The south facing roof was kept clear of roof penetrations to maximize solar access for future solar panels.
Products such as Kebony decking, fiber cement siding, and Ceasarstone quartz countertops were selected for durability and low maintenance.
I relish filling my lungs with Northwest air. I can taste how clean and different our air is from rest parts of the world every time I leave our region. The new summer smoke season makes me appreciate when I can really fill my lungs with the good stuff. Especially during COVID, air awareness has become a greater consideration in rooms and buildings; cross breezes are mapped to minimize sharing your breath with others and we anxiously take a deep breath of unmasked air as soon as we are in our safe zones.
And the summer smoke season really brought home (literally and figuratively) the importance clean air in our homes as the smoke particles found their way in through the tiny cracks and crevices in our walls and windows. What can you do to minimize your chances of breathing viral particles and standing smoke? There are many approaches, including:
- Attaching furnace filters to box fans.
- Window fans blowing outward to expel stale or polluted air.
- Avoid unconditioned spaces.
- Improve central air filtration.
- Ventilation and filtration provided by heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems can reduce the airborne concentration of SARS-CoV-2 and thus the risk of transmission through the air WITH the right filtration (that is a whole science on it’s own!)
- Wear a mask, yes even in your home or vehicle.
- And, of course, air purifiers.
While it is easy to see when you need to dust or sweep, it’s a lot harder to see when your air needs cleaning. Air purifiers work by creating finer and finer filters. Purification can be improved by conducting a static electrical charge. Purification efficiency is measured in MERVs, a higher MERV rating means increased filtration from 1-16. Airborne viruses can be caught by any filter MERV 13 or greater.
Many of our design partners consider air quality in their design work and have seen an uptick in demand lately. One of them, Entero Design, has gone as far as to supply some great systems – such as one in which the air is filtered through a proprietary Coconut Carbon/Purafil media for a 99.26% efficiency, capturing particles of .3 microns and larger. The whisper quiet operation is Multi-Function, removing both gases and particles from air. Mighty House had one at our office that now (as that space is abandoned) is much appreciated at our home.
The New York Times Wirecutter article analyzed what they considered the Best Air Purifiers on the market.
Another option for more whole house ventilation and air cleaning is the Lunos HRV System. The system is composed of paired through-wall paired fan units with regenerative heat recovery cores. This captures heat from escaping air and puts it back into incoming air. These take a lot more forethought and finessing to install than a plug-in air purifier though also have a number of additional benefits too. Reach out to us to learn more.
I miss going into the office. Trapped at home, with my standing desk squeezed up against our dining table – there’s a lot I get to keep track of – between the dogs and the teens – and then again, there is A LOT to keep track of as well as hollering to keep it down for business calls/zoom meetings and just to think long enough to put two sentences together. Truthfully, it is often much better than that and yet when it’s not…. I really miss going into the office.
Home offices – wherever and however that is defined in your home — have been getting a workout these days. Some folks need the hustle and bustle to stay motivated, some need an ordered desk, a quieter space, a space to rock out in – the list is kinda endless. What is your ideal working space? Is there a shed you are dying to sequester to? A corner of the basement you want set for virtual schooling? Let’s talk about how we can make to make your spaces a better fit for all the extra time you and your family spends there. Give us a call to explore the options and check out some of the offices that we have worked on in this Instagram gallery.
Mighty House has barely missed a beat. We have been hard at work. Granted, not everything is moving forward at our usual pace, and yet this gives us a chance to share some of our experience getting things done under evolving COVID-19 conditions. All aspects of our work has been affected – both administratively and on-site. Rather than be dismayed and shut down by it, we innovate and find new ways to successfully do what we do. To start, we can fit less workers in a space (6 feet apart, people!). We are also seeing shipping slowdowns and warehouse shutdowns from COVID flareups around the country and less sales staff in warehouses, manufacturing, and showrooms often means slowed-down order processing. Never mind the increased precautions; hand washing stations, extra masks and PPE, distancing, and cleaning. One of our tricks is front load supplies for projects so that we don’t hit delays or product scarcity – it is cause for less space at Laura and Doug’s home, yet it keeps projects moving forward which means happy homeowners and staff.
Laura often talks about how flexibility and grace are key components of a successful remodel project… perhaps now more than ever.
Speaking of flexibility, you may have noticed that the NW Green Home Tour is going to be virtual this year. At Mighty House, we are embracing new technologies to bring out visitors a fantastic online tour that will display our work and the Green technologies that go into our projects. We are excited to present you an engaging and educational tour that will inspire your projects.
Something new and cool as well as important to know about is the City of Seattle’s new “Shaping Seattle” website. It is a map-based system that allows you to view permits, inspections, project status, and yes, even complaints for Seattle buildings projects. It is a great way to see if a permit has been granted or to check out the plans for the new DADU replacing the garage next door. And while much of this has been public information and accessible for a while, the new map-based system feels more accessible. And as such, even if your small project is a candidate for a permit and you’re thinking it’s barely worth bothering about, you might reconsider and prepare for the worst.
This new, mobile-first map allows users to find active construction, land use, and Design Review permits in their neighborhood. The new map will make it easier for you to research active permits, find related documents and permit records, and comment on land use permits under review.
4-5 pm (PST)
Laura and Doug will be holding several Mighty House Construction open office hours via virtual platform on April 23, & 30 (and maybe beyond!). You bring your BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) and DIY quagmires and we’ll bring our healthy, functional and green construction experience. Log on with video on your phone or laptop and walk us through your house to get our professional opinions.