The Future of Sustainable Building: Built Green Conference 2016

On Tuesday, several members from the Model Remodel team attended the Built Green Conference held at Cascadia College in Bothell, WA. We send a few members to every green building conference each year so that we can stay current on trends and remain an active part of the discussion on the future of sustainable building. As Leah Missik, Built Green Program Manager, wrote in the event brochure “though understanding how green building is connected with complex issues such as equity, health, and climate change can be daunting, it is incredibly heartening to know that as we improve in one area, we also rise in others.” As a builder, we are committed to building in a way that is structurally sound, but also environmentally-friendly. We do this because we believe it to be right, it is a shared-value of our entire team, and it is the only way to build for the future. This is a view we thankfully share with a large community of advocates in the Puget Sound area, and it was a pleasure hearing from and speaking with some of these great minds. As Shannon Affholter, Executive Director of the local Master Builders Association, said “It’s about being a good neighbor.”

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The future is looking bright for green building in the Seattle-area. Roughly one-third of new homes built in King County last year were certified Built Green, and the goal is to have 100% enrolled in a green program by 2030. The Built Green team also shared preliminary data that shows [Read more…]

Columbia City Backyard Cottage

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Location: Columbia City
Type: Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit (DADU)
Year Built: 2016
Building Recap: Detached office and guest house built in the backyard
Considerations: Sustainability, multi-purpose usability, maximizing square footage

The DADU is a building by many names: backyard cottage, mother-in-law unit or carriage house are also widely used. This backyard cottage in Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood was recently built by Model Remodel and designed by live-work-play as an extension of the existing bungalow home, though a separate structure entirely. The owners intend to use the dual-purpose space as a home office and extra storage, and have found new use for their backyard space with the fun, blue dwelling. Receiving a Built Green 4-star certification means the property is not only functional, but it’s highly sustainable too! [Read more…]

Going up! House Lifting 101

No, we’re not talking about a Disney movie—homes can actually be lifted using manpower and modern technology, as opposed to balloons. It’s actually a fairly common endeavor for homeowners. Typical reasons for house lifting include: repairing the foundation, adding a basement or protecting against water damage. Last week, we lifted—with the lead of talented lifting pros D.B. Davis—a home in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle so that we could begin remodeling the space into a livable basement. Our awe of the recent lift led us to write this informational post about how a house lift is conducted. Photos provide some excellent points of view on the process. We can’t wait to share the “after” photos of the finished basement later this year.

Reasons for Lifting a House

Lifting a home is a great way to add space and increase value without taking away square footage from your yard. It’s also a surprisingly economical way to approach a change to your living space, as it avoids the costs of selling and purchasing a new home (broker and legal fees, taxes, moving costs, etc). Typical reasons include:

  • Excavating a new basement
  • Adding head room and increasing current basement functionality
  • Adding another story to the home
  • Repairing an old or deteriorating foundation
  • Protecting against or retrofitting for flooding

House Lifting Companies

Though house lifting is common, that doesn’t mean it’s not a hefty process with a substantial bill. Finding the right, experienced house lifting company is the key to the whole process. We’re lucky to work with D.B. Davis Structural Moving & Raising. The owner, Dell—a 5th generation lifter—is an extremely approachable and efficient guy. It was clear that with his great leadership, the skilled team had the entire process down to a science—as any good lifting company should. Plus, their years of experience and very successful lifts make them the most appropriate choice for the job. They even lifted the real-life “Up” home previously mentioned (see photo) and “can move anything manmade” including bridges, boats and heavy industrial buildings! Along with experience, a qualified lifting company should always have appropriate liability insurance policy.

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House on Howe raised - DB Davis    1 - DB Davis
Bottom two images provided by D.B. Davis

Before the Lift

Prior to the house lifting, it is determined whether or not a new foundation or additional concrete will need to be poured. Some excavation work may also be necessary. As these considerations are being made, the homeowner will be asked to thoroughly clean their basement of personal belongings. Exterior cleaning will also take place, since patios, decks and landscaping will often need to be removed or relocated to some degree. Utilities (electricity, plumbing, phone, etc.) will also have to be shut off and disconnected, while pipes, plumbing and ductwork that hang below the floor joists will be removed. As a design-build contractor, we are normally the orchestrators of this preparation and the lift for our clients. [Read more…]

The Advantages of Hiring a Design-Build Firm for Your Next Remodeling Project

What does design-build mean?

First, a short design-build definition: design-build is a simple approach to a construction project in which a single entity provides both the design and construction services.

This single point-of-contact approach has a variety of advantages over the traditional design-bid-build method in which a person uses two different companies to complete the subsequent phases of a construction project: an architect/designer for designing and a general contractor for building. Here at Model Remodel, we do both. There are some wonderfully talented architects in the Seattle area, and we work alongside many of them to bring their designs to life. However, we often receive inquiries from people who are starting from square one. If you don’t have someone in mind to complete the design phase of your next project, you might consider going with a design-build firm to simplify your project and increase efficiencies.

We feel strongly that every job should boil down to a satisfied customer who received quality work and communication every step of the way. A design-build process is one, common way to achieve that result. Using a Seattle design-build firm for your next remodeling project has three main, and directly-related, advantages:

  1. Simplifying the process and people
  2. Balancing the budget with your design goals
  3. Increasing efficiencies

Below we break down these advantages in detail. We also explain when a design-build process may not be the right fit for you. [Read more…]

Blue Ridge Boeing Castle Taken to New Heights

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Location: Blue Ridge
Type: House
Year Built: 1931
Remodel Recap: Kitchen, bathrooms, stairway, mudroom
Considerations: Preserving historic charm, modernizing and opening up the space

Land originally purchased for timber by William E. Boeing, founder of The Boeing Company, was built into a neighborhood for company executives in the early 1930s. A series of five brick homes were constructed and appropriately dubbed “the castles” by local residents. With spectacular views of the Puget Sound and Olympic mountains, this home was a catch for a local family of four who purchased it mid-2015. The 3-bed, 2.5-bath boasts plenty of yard space, a grand ballroom-style living room and a carriage house. As expected from a Depression-area home, the utilities and hubs of the home (bathrooms and kitchen) needed some work. From dated to dreamy, we helped these Blue Ridge homeowners take their historic property to new heights with some major updates and much-needed TLC. [Read more…]

What are Subcontractors and Why are they a Good Thing?

Sometimes our clients ask us why we hire subcontractors. It’s a reasonable question, as there are a lot of one-man shows that claim to be able to do all the work themselves. While there may be a few unicorns out there, it is certainly the norm within the building industry to hire subcontractors (or “subs”) for certain aspects of a job. Namely subcontractors are used for: plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and other specialty professions, and they’re used for good reason. The work subcontractors do is technical and requires precise execution. At Model Remodel, we have a trusted lineup of subcontractors we reach out to when these needs arise, and we have a strict vetting process that ensures they meet our company’s high standards and yours. We’ll share with you our reasoning for using subcontractors and how to make sure your contractor is vetting their workforce thoroughly.

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There are three reasons we, as a general contractor, like to hire subcontractors: specialization, timeline, and liability.

Subcontractors should be thought of as partners in a construction project. Just like you’d go to a dermatologist instead of a general practitioner, you’d hire an electrician instead of a general contractor. The generalist can probably give you an idea of what’s going on, and quite possibly do the work themselves, but a specialist knows all the ins and outs in their field. [Read more…]

The Average Cost to Remodel: Why There Isn’t One

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It’s the first thing you research, the first thing you ask a contractor, but the last thing you really want to talk about: cost. It’s not a glamorous topic, but a necessary one when considering a remodel. Yet, setting a realistic remodeling budget isn’t an easy task. Most homeowners simply don’t know where to start. Others have heard about a bad experience and are rightly skeptical of being taken advantage of. To help homeowners with this process, we’ve described what drives the costs of remodeling and how to look at the numbers in a pragmatic way. You won’t see any hard numbers below, as any general contractor would be remiss to give you a number without understanding the scope of work and your reasons for remodeling. The advice we give is meant to help you determine your personal budget.

Reasons for Remodeling

You have your reasons for wanting to do a remodel and your neighbor has his/her own as well. The reason may seem inconsequential to budget, but below we look at three different reasons for remodeling and how it affects your budget. [Read more…]

Delightful Wallingford Basement

In this fun project, we finished a shell of a basement that had been used for storage, turning it into a complex of entertainment and living spaces. Our in-house designer worked with the clients to create a place where they could relax and their kids would feel welcome.

One main feature of our design was a bright playroom complete with a mini rock wall in the corner and monkey bars installed on the ceiling. A new shelving wall with colorful organizers helps to keep the play den in order. The sliding door that connects to the media room provides easy supervision when needed.

In the new laundry room, the team creatively worked to hide a freezer underneath a faux cabinet. The workers carefully calibrated the springs of the lid so that it would come down gently around small hands. [Read more…]

Wallingford Whole House Remodel

Sometimes, all an older home needs is a little TLC. We updated this 1920’s home with mechanical and electric work, new plumbing, finishes, and lead abatement, to give it the fresh appearance our clients were looking for.

We started by converting the underutilized attic space into a beautiful master bed and bath. In the process, our crew reframed the aging ceiling to improve the appearance and save the owners money in the long run. Sleek new cabinets and wood finishes added texture, while new VOC-free white paint and recessed lighting brighten the room.

One of the most unique new features of the house is the master bath in the attic, which is complete with a standalone tub and a steam room. The steam area has fold-out wooden benches for the couple to sit and melt the stress away. A hanging glass sculpture complements the elegance of this at-home spa.

[Read more…]

Camano Island Dream Cabin

Working in a unique location is always a treat for the Model Remodel crew. This past year, we worked with Baan Architects to create a one-of-a-kind, upscale cabin on the shores of Camano Island to act as a meeting place for a globetrotting family.

The beachfront cabin, which sits at the North end of the island, is brand-new right down to the foundation. It boasts an enormous La Cantina 23’ x 12’ sliding glass wall and an open plan kitchen and loft to take advantage of the spot’s gorgeous views of Puget Sound’s Skagit Bay and Whidbey Island.

The designer made some appealing choices in the finishes. The white appliances and surfaces, especially in the kitchen and bathroom, help to maximize the light in the house. But then a two-story dark gray wall and matching fireplace insert add some sophistication. The airy interior has a distinct wood against steel aesthetic that you can see in the stair and railings combination in particular. Aside from that, the homeowners decorated with a global flair, matching pieces they’ve brought back from their travels. [Read more…]