Sunday, December 23, 2012

Support Continued Development of USA New Wall & Swedish Platform Framing

There has been great interest and discussion of these energy efficient wall designs and we have posted a wealth of information about them. Enough for almost anybody to incorporate these techniques into their work. In return we now ask for your support.

Our web pages about USA New Wall and Swedish Platform Framing have quickly become the most popular content on our web site. We're glad that this information is useful to you, and your interest supports our goal of seeing these walls broadly adopted in our housing industry. If you have learned something from this material, taken away new insights or determination to build better, if you have incorporated these walls or elements of these walls into your work or if you plan to, then we want to ask for your further support on a PWYW (Pay-What-You-Want) basis.

What is PWYW? It is exactly what it sounds like. If you've read about these wall designs you've likely already decided whether these designs will be valuable to you. How valuable is your call. Use the link below to make a payment at your discretion. Even if you only want to pay a little now you can always come back if your appreciation grows.

This support will allow us to continue to develop and promote these wall designs, and more importantly will alleviate me from seeking other more conventional and intrusive methods to fund development. This is not a donation and I am not a non-profit organization. But there is a wide expanse of possibilities between non-profit and a profit driven corporation. This is a cooperative effort and you can play an important part by contributing. I believe that energy efficient construction is the most important issue in housing for the USA right now, and that together we can make a difference by changing the status quo. These wall designs are here for you to use to that end and no matter what amount you choose your payment will help us continue to advance these goals.


The default charge is $1, but changing the quantity allows you to select any payment amount you wish. Simply change the quantity to set the payment amount you desire.

Thank you.


Although we have posted very detailed information on these wall designs, clearly some readers desire more guidance and more information than can be taken away here. We think that is great and we encourage you to contact us for Consultation. We are eager to help you incorporate this into your work or adapt these designs to what you are building.

Continue reading "Support Continued Development of USA New Wall & Swedish Platform Framing"

Friday, December 21, 2012

Row-house concept - transverse stair plan

The goal to create a plan that worked at multiple widths has compounded into a plan that works in 2 story, 2 1/2 story, and even 3 story configurations. With two base plans and row-end conditions my mission has suddenly escalated into 48 different house plans.

Clearly the demand for all these variations will not be immediate, and it will be impossible to develop every one in advance of orders. The time to figure that out will come. Meanwhile lets look at the transverse stair plan version of the Row-house.

Continue reading "Row-house concept - transverse stair plan"

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Row-house concept - looking back

As we've been experimenting with different row-house arrangements around the front vs rear kitchen location, we are finding that a second great organizational paradigm is an equally critical factor. This would be the matter of a longitudinal or transverse staircase.

What is important to us here is that we are trying to devise a plan that will work well in a range of lot widths. This is a limitation imposed by the mission to make a stock plan or a row house - a single design for multiple situations.

In traditional Philadelphia row-houses there are some common patterns. It is not unusual to be confronted by the stair just inside of the front door. In larger townhouses this actually was a benefit to later conversions to apartments. In smaller homes this longitudinal stair if closer to the rear would deposit you at the back of the house on the second floor. The net impact on the second floor was a double wide circulation zone at the rear of the house that reduced the available width of a rear bedroom. This is not prohibitive, but just a factor that has a greater impact on a narrow house.

This is an approximate floor plan of an 1800s era 3 story row house rented by a friend. It was completely rehabbed at some point in time, and the partitions and room uses are not original to the house.
Continue reading "Row-house concept - looking back"

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Recovery

ReBuilding Communities Damaged by Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy has devastated miles and miles of shore communities, destroying homes, businesses, public infrastructure, and displacing thousands of residents, merchants, and communities. The state of New Jersey is currently under a state of patch and repair that has created a state wide rush in real estate for displaced citizens, and a mini construction boom in emergency repairs and board-ups. Incredibly this has gone completely against the prior trend and has hit a depressed construction community off-guard and unprepared.

What lies ahead is an unprecedented need to restore these communities, to rebuild with vision, and clarity, to restore the salient qualities of these much loved communities, and an opportunity to correct and improve deeply entrenched deficiencies. Thankfully it appears all involved are committed to taking a long view to these restorations, and it appears regulations and planning will be well considered before anything is rebuilt with haste.

Gregory La Vardera Architect has completed many projects at the New Jersey Shore, and thankfully none have been washed away.  As we look forward to the work to come it is our sincere hope that this can be an opportunity to improve the energy performance of all the damaged and affected buildings, and that a higher performance standard can be applied to the homes and light commercial structures that are rebuilt in the affected areas.

We are eager to apply our work in energy performance building systems to the work that is coming, and we offer our service to Home Owners, Builders, Code Officials, and other Architects that may be working on the ReBuilding. Working together we can implement a wide spread improvement to the building stock in these affected communities. We look forward to the challenges ahead.
Continue reading "Hurricane Sandy Recovery"

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Row-house concept - pondering townhouse ideas

Since we are right in Philadelphia's front yard, and since Philadelphia is one of the nations greatest row-house cities, it was only a matter of time until circumstances conspired to pressure us to explore a stock plan of a row-house.

Row-houses are not particularly suited to the idea of house plans. Its not like you can float the house on a lot with yards on all four sides. The lot size becomes the house width, and the prospect of finding a match between a floor plan and a lot size is almost slim to none. So what that means is to offer a stock design for a row house it has to be a flexible design that can work for a range of lot widths. Philadelphia has lots that range from 12ft for the narrowest up to 23 feet for the widest, but most fall between 14-18 ft wide.

Is that really possible? Well that's what we've set out to discover. The first task was to test ideas for the arrangement of interior spaces and functions to see what plans might be tolerant of a variable lot width. Then I'll take my hunches into measured sketches to see if the numbers add up, if the hunch flies.

I want to test two general arrangements, front kitchen or rear kitchen. Each offers some distinct advantages and both are worth seeing through to a schematic level. But for either there would be some ground rules.

Space is a premium in city houses, so some "features" people have come to expect in suburban houses will simply be too extravagant for this exercise. These houses are meant to be modest and affordable homes. For instance, a ground floor powder room is going to be very unlikely. Guests will simply have to go upstairs. And upstairs its unlikely there will be a master suite with a master bathroom, but rather a shared hall bathroom. These are situations that are not uncommon for our modest existing row house stock in cities like Philadelphia, so we will follow the lead of the existing houses, take them as precedent and not try to turn this into a suburban dream house. These are not compromises, but rather this is the status quo if you have ever lived in a 100 year old row home in a city that dates back to the birth of our nation. So lets see where that takes us.

Continue reading "Row-house concept - pondering townhouse ideas"

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Maine Plat House - quick video tour

Here is a quick video tour of the open plan living space of the Maine Plat House. Now you can see where the kitchen and masonry heater are in relationship to one another. In fact it connects up a bunch of photo vignettes you've seen.

Continue reading "Maine Plat House - quick video tour"

Monday, November 05, 2012

Maine Plat House gets a masonry heater

As the Maine Plat House enters the finishing stages we see the installation of a new wood fired masonry heater. What exactly is a masonry heater? It is similar to a wood stove, but it actually performs better, and is more efficient for space heating than a conventional wood stove.

A conventional wood stove typically has an iron or steel fire box, and its operated by feeding wood in continuously through the operation period as it burns. Air flow is typically restricted to achieve a slow burn. The body of the stove radiates heat into the space, and more efficient designs include heat exchangers to take more heat out of the exhaust flow. Generally the body of stove can get very hot, but more advanced models have double walls as part of the heat exchanger and maintain safer temperatures on the outside wall.


Continue reading "Maine Plat House gets a masonry heater"

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Letters from Sweden - Bringing the Message Home

At the end of September Scott Hedges and myself made a brief presentation of our research into Swedish residential construction systems at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture's fall 2013 conference in Philadelphia. The subject of the conference was Off Site Construction. This was the first formal presentation of our research, and the first step in what will become a more active effort to distribute information about these building techniques.

The conference was well attended mainly by Architecture Educators presenting research into Off Site building techniques. We were among a smaller group of professional and industry speakers invited to talk about current and ongoing practices in the field. The conference did coincide with a meeting of the Modular Building Institute so we did have a small spill over of attendees from the MBI industry meeting.

Continue reading "Letters from Sweden - Bringing the Message Home"

Friday, October 12, 2012

Maine Plat House - almost finished

I recieved a new batch of images from the owner this week showing a Maine Plat House that is nearly ready for occupancy.

I think this builder moved at a good pace and no doubt will have the owner in their house for the bulk of the fall season, which is already well underway in Maine. Best of all, this batch of photos revealed some nice material and equipment choices for the house.


Landscaping work is going on outside, and we see nice stone pavers and stacked stone landscaping walls going in here at the steps to the deck. But we also see some nice cable rails around the deck. Turns out these are a powder coated aluminum railing sourced by the builder. The same rail system is being used inside to great effect.

Continue reading "Maine Plat House - almost finished"

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Maine Plat Houes - kitchen & interior progress

The Kitchen in stall is moving right along at the Maine Plat House. Countertops are the latest addition to the work. Kitchen cabinets are already in place and its looking more finished than not.

The kitchen cabinets are being topped by black granite, with what the owner describes as a "leather" finish. This finishing method seems to wear away the softer mineral grains at the surface leaving a slightly textured non-glossy finish. Advantages over polishes and honing is that it has a closed grain, less susceptible to staining.

Floors are pickled oak, and cabinets are maple, for those interested in what they see here.


Thanks go out to all our customers who share there houses here.

Continue reading "Maine Plat Houes - kitchen & interior progress"

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Open Call for a Case Study Customer

We have a unique opportunity for a customer willing to have their LamiDesign Modern House Plan home serve as a case study for the application of USA New Wall and Swedish Platform Framing.

This customer can be an individual home owner, but the publicity that will surround the project will likely be beneficial to a small developer or builder interested in building their credibility as a provider of energy efficient and green building systems. Ultimately a home owner/developer pairing will provide the greatest benefit to both, a sold home being the most obvious one.

the LamiDesign Lagom House series - a perfect energy efficient case study subject

The benefits to the home owner and builder will be several. First off, the home plan you choose from our collection will be updated to include USA New Wall and Swedish Platform Framing even if the stock plan sets do not include it, at no extra charge. This would be a rather extensive modification service on any of our plans, so this represents a several thousand dollar discount in modification services.

Second, there will be a significant discount in insulation products incorporated into the USA New Wall system due to a informal sponsorship offer that we have received from Roxul. Again this may represent a significant dollar amount, and will take some of the edge off the extra cost of an energy efficient home.

Third, the home will incorporate a new energy efficient floor slab foundation system based on Swedish techniques we have studied. These products will be offered at fabrication/shipping cost, forgoing the typical product mark-up.

And we are working to identify other sponsorships which will benefit the owner and sponsor. Ideally we would like to see this opportunity go to a developer working on affordable housing, either subsidized, or non-profit developer, because we believe strongly that the owners of modest homes, of modest means, are the people that most need energy efficient construction that costs less to own and operate over a lifetime. Clearly further sponsorships will be easier to develop with a non-profit developer.

As a Case Study you can expect an unusual amount of documentation to be done of your home. This may involve photography and videography, as well as interviews on the progress of the work, the outcome, life in the house for a set period of time following completion.

Contact me to discuss your interest, which house design would suit your market, your location, time frame, etc. The time has come for this. This is the very beginning of a wholesale change in the way we build. Its time to lead rather than follow, and by leading here now you will set the stage for your mission to be ahead of the trend. We want to help you do that. We want to prove that it can be done today.

Continue reading "Open Call for a Case Study Customer"

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

0970 Lagom House West/East version - new in the catalog

Super happy to announce a new plan set today - the West/East Version of the 0970 Lagom House. The Lagom House was concieved from the start to have a massing that oriented the house to the sun, and as such would have a slightly different version depending on how the building lot was oriented. The Southside version and the Northside version were completed some time ago, so with great satisfaction today we add the final version for building lots on either side of a north/south running street.

In the house design competition that spawned the Lagom House design it was proposed that the house be available in 3 variations, so as to optimize the exposure of the roof surface for solar gain, as well as the seasonal shading of the windows. In a practical manner it also allows a developer to add variety to a neighborhood as the houses change their presentation to the street depending on their location.

When combined with the two story 1192 2 Story Lagom House a builder can offer a satisfying mix of houses, while at the same time enjoying the speed of building and economies that come from building a repetitive design. Score one for smart design.

As with the other Lagom House designs, this new version also incorporates our energy efficient USA New Wall designs in both 2x6 and 2x8 versions. The framing documentation also utilizes our Swedish Platform Framing for added energy efficiency. This is a one of a kind product - there are no other vendor of stock plans that incorporate these advanced energy efficient techniques. The Lagom Houses comprise an off the shelf option for creating an energy efficient neighborhood. Now any small developer/builder can offer the most advanced energy efficient product available in the country without the cost of custom designs.

The door is wide open now. Who is the builder that will take this up, and out-perform their contemporaries in their market? I am looking for you.

Continue reading "0970 Lagom House West/East version - new in the catalog"

Monday, September 03, 2012

XHouse5 - new in the catalog

As promised the new XHouse5 design has gone live in the catalog this weekend. Design prints are available now, Construction Prints will follow on your demand, or lacking that then when we get to them!

The XHouse5 is a fusion of the the XHouse Collection's mission to introduce a line of modern houses with contemporary design themes, and the energy efficiency mission laid out in our Lagom House designs. The XHouse5 incorporates the energy efficient USA New Wall and Swedish Platform Framing into the Construction Print set as do the Lagom House variations. If you are not familiar with these features, this is our well studied wall system recommendations for building high performance houses with familiar and common materials.

The XHouse5 design is also the narrowest floor plan we've introduced in this 3 bedroom, 2,000sqft range. It will fit on narrow lots, in particular infill sites and new developments following traditional neighborhood patterns. We think this is a good one, and we hope you will like it too.

Continue reading "XHouse5 - new in the catalog"

Friday, August 24, 2012

New design heading for the catalog: XHouse5

Wait a minute? XHouse5? What happened to 4? Good question. Before we look at this design we'll recap the state of our development efforts.

First: Yes there is an XHouse4 design, and if you follow on twitter or facebook you have seen sketches of it posted. If twitter or facebook are not for you, no worries - our stream of posts on those platforms appear in our MiniBlog on the right hand column right here. So if you keep up with the blog here, even when you see no new posts, you should watch the MiniBlog for updates.

Both the XHouse4 & 5 are similar designs - 2.5 story, 3 bedroom houses, with home offices on the ground floor, and the option for a finished attic floor. Both are in the range of 2,000 - 2,400 sqft, very consistent with our other designs. These houses will follow our Lagom House designs in utilizing our energy efficient USA New Wall high performance construction, and the innovative Swedish Platform Framing method. Both of these techniques debuted in the Lagom House, and the XHouse4 & 5 is our effort to take these into a slightly larger house. Its possible to apply these techinques to any of our designs, but these houses will include the relevant details directly in the Construction Print sets.

Continue reading "New design heading for the catalog: XHouse5"

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Maine Plat House - sweet progress

The Maine Plat House has come a long way in the past few weeks. We have a new group of pictures to share that have been posted slowly to the Flickr set through August.

Last time we looked the framing was done, the house was wrapped, and the windows and doors had been installed. What next? The cladding of course. And the owner choose a beautiful cladding, in the Maine tradition - cedar shingles. Yikes, such a beautiful look for the Plat House.


I think this is the first Plat House to be shingled. We actually used shingles in the illustrations of the Plat House 3 design, which is the slightly larger 3 bedroom version of the Plat House. The original house was rendered with cedar lap siding, but we used shingles on the Plat House 3 just because we always thought it would look good this way.


Once the cladding is complete the builder will move on to finishing the interior. Not so long now till the whole thing will be done. This build has gone extremely smooth. There are more photos in a browser after the break:

Continue reading "Maine Plat House - sweet progress"

Monday, July 23, 2012

Maine Plat House - windows, siding, doors!

The owner of the Maine Plat House has been sending us a few pictures every couple of days. The house is making steady progress and she says it is well ahead of schedule.

We are always excited to see our customers build their houses, and it seems to be a favorite blog topic for our readers here as well. So without further delay, here are some recent pictures from the construction site.


Above all the windows and doors are installed - Marvin windows, a good brand. Note the nice standing seam metal roof too.


Above cladding has begun, and I am thrilled to see they are cladding the Plat House in cedar shingles. A great choice for Maine, but just a really handsome and durable cladding material. We like it so much we actually showed the 3 Bedroom version of the Plat House with cedar shingles in our catalog.


Above is the window and door crew shortly after completing the install. The pup goes with the owner though!

There are more photos, and a few videos in the Flickr set, so head on over there to see more. You can see the Plat House in our catalog as well. Thank you to our customers that share their homes!

Continue reading "Maine Plat House - windows, siding, doors!"

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Learning from Swedish Home Building - Part 4

Today we published a new video in our series about Learning from Swedish Home Building, this time about the Rockford Swedish Standard House that I visited back in March, 2012. This house has a very interesting background story. Its the product of a circumstances that probably had a one in a billion chance of aligning with the research Scott Hedges and I were doing on Swedish House building techniques. But there it was, right in the heartland of the USA, somebody was building a Swedish house.

This project will continue in the Fall of 2012 when the schools' academic years begin again, and we will follow up with more information about its progress then. But in the meantime, this video introduction to the project includes more footage I shot when I was there.

This video piece is about a house in Rockford Illinois being built by a team of American High School Students and visiting Swedish Vocational School Students. They are building a Swedish wall system using American materials that is very similar to the prototypes laid out in our USA New Wall. The USA New Wall is our recommendation for applying Swedish building techniques to American home building.

The walls in this Rockford house will have approximately R35 worth of insulation in them when done. Two layers of 1.5" stone wool at approximately R6 each, and the main stud space with 5.5" or stone wool at R23. The furred layering on both sides will reduce thermal bridging and improve the averaged R value performance of the wall.

This Project is the result of a unique economic development relationship between Rockford, and Swedish sister city Lidköping. It is being built as an effort of the Swedish American Foundation of the Rockford Swedish American Health System which is engaged in urban renewal in the neighborhoods surrounding the hospital. The Swedish American Foundation sponsors teams of students from the Construction Program at De la Gardiegymnasiet, a trade school from Lidköping. Together with the students from Rockford East High School, and under the coordination of East High School Instructor Matt Walling the house is constructed on a site a few blocks from the hospital.

We have more background on this project here including a detailed analysis of the wall system they are using:

As recommended for the USA New Wall, the Swedish Standard house shown in this video will use use Stone Wool insulation rather than fiberglass. You can read a detailed article about why we prefer Stone Wool on our blog:

You can read the entire Letters from Sweden series on our blog which tracks our research and applications of into blog post's into Swedish House building, and its application in the US:

The USA New Wall, and Swedish Platform Framing are an outgrowth of our research into Swedish building practices. Again, you can find details of the USA New Wall here:

And Swedish Platform Framing here:

If you need assistance implementing the USA New Wall or Swedish Platform Framing in your projects, we are here to help. Please contact us.

Continue reading "Learning from Swedish Home Building - Part 4"

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Maine Plat House - making progress

I received some new photos of the progress of the Maine Plat House, and for the first time some short videos of a walking tour - short though! The era of smart phones is here when customers building start sending in videos!

The videos give us that rare chance to move through 3d space and get a fuller sense of the house. It also gives you a glimpse out of the windows and some idea of why the house is facing in the direction it is.

Above - the back of the house which overlooks their nice view. Click through to see the videos and a slide show of the new photos.

Continue reading "Maine Plat House - making progress"

Friday, June 15, 2012

Learning from Swedish Home Building - Part 3

Its friday so it must be time to show the latest video in our Series about building high performance walls like the Swedes do. In our first video we explained why it makes sense to look to Sweden for a direction for our house building techniques. The second video we reviewed the Good/Better/Best model for easing builders into high performance wall building. Today we look at Swedish Platform Building, the best advancement in house building since the Western Platform Frame. Wow, is our house nerd showing here or what?

I've been trying to keep these videos short, and make them just an introduction to the ideas presented. But for the Swedish Platform Frame I was not able to do a short video. What happened was I ended up making a 3d model of the prototypical Swedish Platform Frame, and it was obvious that this was such a good way to explain this that I decided to just go ahead a make a detailed description of the framing system. So it is almost 20 minutes long - my apologies. Stop at the restroom, get a large popcorn, turn off your cell phones, note the exits, and prep yourself for the Director's Cut of the Swedish Platform Frame...

This video piece is about how Sweden has modified the Western Platform Framing method for better energy performance in residential construction. We call this modified framing method Swedish Platform Framing.

This video is quite long, and we apologize about that. If we figure out how to say all this in a shorter video we'll produce a new version. In this video we make a very breif review of the history of stud framing systems - Balloon Framing and Western Platform Framing. Then we proceed to look in detail at the differences between Western and Swedish Platform framing.

Swedish Platform Framing is explained in much more detail on our web site, and you can read that on this page:

As with the USA New Wall, the walls shown in this video use Stone Wool insulation rather than fiberglass. We mention in the video that this is because Stone Wool offers higher insulation values - R23 for 2x6 stud spaces, and R30 for 2x8 stud spaces. We also mention that it allows for better installations. You can read a detailed article about why this is so on our blog:

Not covered in detail in the video is the Vapor Retarder membrane. We prefer a Variable Permeability Vapor Retarder membrane. There are several sources for this unique vapor retarder, notably Certainteed's Membrane:

And Intello Plus, and DB+ by ProClima:

You can read the entire Letters from Sweden series by clicking on the respective link under the the above blog post's title's.

The USA New Wall, and Swedish Platform Framing are an outgrowth of our research into Swedish building practices. Again, you can find details of the USA New Wall here:

And again Swedish Platform Framing here:

If you need assistance implementing the USA New Wall or Swedish Platform Framing in your projects, we are here to help. Please contact us. Continue reading "Learning from Swedish Home Building - Part 3"

Friday, June 08, 2012

Learning from Swedish Home Building - Part 2

Time to look at Part 2 of our video series on building Nordic style walls in the US. Today we look at the USA New Wall, and its Good, Better, Best versions which make it easier for American builders to step into high performance building.

In the first video, you may recall, we briefly reviewed why we would look to Sweden to inspire the way we build houses in the US. This next video shows how we can apply the lessons from their wall construction to building here in the US. We offer these improvements in easy to achieve steps. First get familiar with better insulation, then introduce a wiring space to your walls to make it easier to keep the house air tight, then complete the picture with an exterior insulation layer that makes a good thermal break for the wall framing. Here is Part 2:

This video piece shows how to go about building Nordic Style walls for residential construction, like the walls used in Sweden. We call these American versions of Nordic walls the USA New Wall.

The wall systems have been broken down into Good/Better/Best subsets in order to offer builders a gradual path to increasing the performance of the walls they build. The video starts off with a detailed look at a typical Swedish wall, and then walks you through the Good, Better, and Best versions of the USA New Wall.

The USA New Wall is explained in much more detail on our web site, and you can read that on this page:

You will note that all of the wall variations feature Stone Wool insulation rather than fiberglass. We mention in the video that this is because Stone Wool offers higher insulation values - R23 for 2x6 stud spaces, and R30 for 2x8 stud spaces. We also mention that it allows for better installations. You can read a detailed article about why this is so on our blog:

Also mentioned in the video is the Variable Permeability Vapor Retarder membrane. There are several sources for this unique vapor retarder, notably Certainteed's Membrane:

And Intello Plus, and DB+ by ProClima:

You can read the entire Letters from Sweden series on the blog.

The USA New Wall, and Swedish Platform Framing are an outgrowth of our research into Swedish building practices. Again, you can find details of the USA New Wall here:

And Swedish Platform Framing here:

If you need assistance implementing the USA New Wall or Swedish Platform Framing in your projects, we are here to help. Please contact us.

Continue reading "Learning from Swedish Home Building - Part 2"

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Learning from Swedish Home Building - A video series

I've decided to make a series of short videos about our research into Swedish home building, and my recommendations for how to apply the lessons here. Namely the USA New Wall, and Swedish Platform Framing.

I don't love being in front of the camera - eek, have you ever done this? But I think its a great way to reach more people. If you want to show these ideas to somebody, they can watch a short video to get a good introduction, rather than reading a long web page, or many blog entries.

So in that spirit we present the first video which is about why we would look to Sweden for a model for improving the performance of our homes in the US.


This video piece explains the premise of why we in the United States can benefit from adopting house building techniques developed in Sweden. Specifically this video series will focus on residential wall systems.

The video touches on many ideas which are explained in greater depth in entries to the LamiDesign Modern House Plan blog, in a series of posts tagged Letters from Sweden. Here are links to some specific topics touched on in the video:

This post "Letters from Sweden - Europe is different, Sweden is not, sort of.." elaborates on the similarities and differences between the housing industries in both countries:

The book "Coming in From the Cold" makes a detailed account of Sweden's response to the 1970's oil crisis. This book was written in the 1980s when it became apparent to scientists that Sweden was using much less energy per household than the US. This was 25 years ago. Sweden has gotten even better at it since then. US, not so much. We describe the book here:

We also made a fairly detailed examination of the typical construction of a Swedish residential wall. This will expand on the very brief description in the video, and you can find that here:

You read the entire Letters from Sweden series by clicking on the respective link under the blog post title.

The USA New Wall, and Swedish Platform Framing are an outgrowth of this research. You can find details of the USA New Wall here:

And Swedish Platform Framing here:

If you need assistance implementing the USA New Wall or Swedish Platform Framing in your projects, we are here to help. Please contact us.

Continue reading "Learning from Swedish Home Building - A video series"

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Maine Plat House - a new house build to follow

A new Plat House, and a new state - the first Plat House ever in the great state of Maine! There are a number of other firsts here, read on to learn about them.

This new Plat House is under construction right now in Kitterey Maine - that is the southern tip of Maine, if you are not familiar, and an area in the estuaries between Maine and New Hampshire. Its an amazingly beautiful area, and the site of this Plat House appears to be demonstrative of this.

The Owner and the builder have designed a garage addition for the home which is mated to the arrival side of the house in a manner similar to the Vermont Plat House. This is the first Owner created garage which is not detached, or placed off the end of the Plat House. The house is also located on a sloping site and the Owner has opted to create a walk out basement to take advantage of the natural slope. A walk out basement has to be one of the most frequently asked questions about the Plat House, yet this is the first Plat House built with a walk-out basement. I expect it to create a great deal more interest in this configuration.

Continue reading "A Maine Plat House - a new house build to follow"

Saturday, March 31, 2012

All About the Swedish Standard House, Rockford, Ill

I spent a few days in Rockford last week visiting this modest house. I'm going to show you what I saw, explain why I believe this house is important, why it should be important to you, and why it will be an important model for any home builder hoping to improve the performance of their work.

Continue reading "All About the Swedish Standard House, Rockford, Ill"

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Visiting The Most Important "Green" House in America

Next week I travel through Chicago to Rockford Illinois to see a house being built by a team of American and Swedish high school students, and their instructors. They are adapting Swedish techniques to the available American building materials. Does that sound familiar? It sounds a lot like the USA New Wall.

So where did this house come from? What are Swedish students doing in the USA building houses? What's going on here? A little back story is in order.

Rockford Illinois has a strong Swedish heritage, with many Swedish immigrants settling and founding industry in the city. The Swedish history and culture is still strong today and Rockford maintains a Sister City relationship with Lidköping Sweden with whom they promote economic development for both cities.

Ok, so there are Swedes in Illinois - but how about this house? The SwedishAmerican Health System in Rockford has a Foundation that among other activities helps develop and redevelop housing in the neighborhoods surrounding the Hospital. They've completed dozens of projects in the neighborhood, many with the local Habitat for Humanity. The vocational program at the local High School has been involved with working on the builds of these projects, so at one point the connection was made to form an exchange program where by Swedish students from Lidköping could come to the US and participate in building a house here, and the American students could do the same in Sweden.

Ok, we see it now. House building, exchange students, but how did they come to build a Swedish house? Well soon after the first group of Swedish students and instructors arrived they were on the site of the first house project. As the Swedes were being oriented to the American construction a question came up, the kind of question that in retrospect strikes closer to the heart of the matter than you realize at the time. And the question was "Where is the rest of your wall?"

Of course there was no good answer for this. What happened in the intervening time is that the instructors have conducted an exchange of ideas and technology, and have applied them to a series of three houses built by the students in this program. The first house they worked on was dubbed "The American Standard House" which was built largely as we do here. The second house was "The Swedish Influenced House" which began to apply the Swedish lesson in insulating and air sealing. The current project is "The Swedish Standard House" which will apply the lessons cumulative to date, and is even being made to look like a traditional Swedish vernacular house.

So next week I'll see it, learn about the technical details, talk to the instructors and students, take pictures and video I hope, and report back.

I can't say strongly enough how I believe that the techniques used for building houses in Sweden are the best and most relevant solutions for turning around our housing industry in the US. The techniques are practical, they use a similar skill set to our current practices, and in fact have grown out of the same tradition of stud framed house building. I believe that this is the way we will build houses here in the US, whether I told you about it or not, its the natural evolution of our status quo toward greater energy efficiency. This simple house in Rockford Illinois is the future of American home building. And as the first house built this way in the country, I have to say that this modest house is the most important Green house in the USA. And they weren't even trying. Modest. Unassuming. Lagom!

Continue reading "Visiting The Most Important "Green" House in America"

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why would somebody want a "small" house?

Traditionally bigger houses have always been worth more? Recently value seems to be in transition, where size is no longer the sole measure of a home's worth. So why would you go against the past trend of more equals more? How could less equal more for you?

Well, for one, smaller houses cost less. Spending less on your house means you have more available for other parts of your life. Maybe you like to travel, maybe you value having another small weekend house instead of one big house. Maybe you've committed to private schooling for your kids. Maybe you just want to work less and enjoy life more. Maybe you want to spend more on making your house energy efficient, and building a smaller house leaves budget available for more insulation and high efficiency equipment. A smaller house uses less energy on an ongoing basis, which again frees money for other parts of life, and a highly energy efficient home frees even more. A smaller house means less to clean, less to wash, less to repaint, less to take care of.

So say that all sounds great, and resonates with your values and your aspirations. You never wanted a big house, but you do have needs. You need three bedrooms, and one of you work out of the house, and the kids need a space for homework and hobbies, you don't want to feel cramped and you're afraid you cant shove all that into a small house.

To that we say Welcome to the Lagom House 2 Story, with 1,540 sqft, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, home office, kids homework area, a front porch, and a screened patio out back. Small enough to be highly efficient, smartly designed to live big beyond its square feet. Built with the highly insulated USA New Wall, and Swedish Platform Framing, it will perform efficiently in the toughest American climates.

Construction Prints are complete and available in the catalog.

Continue reading "Why would somebody want a "small" house?"

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Mid Century style addition points way to Blueprints

Points the way to our Blueprints Plan Collection that is. Yes, we are gearing up to address the long dormant Blueprints Collection of our plan catalog.

We've been slow to add any new designs to the Blueprints Collection. If you recall this plan collection is intended to directly evoke the architectural style of the much loved mid-century modern style of American homes. I've been concentrating on filling out other portions of the catalog and so for some time this collection has not seen any development.

This project from my local practice has actually provided a platform to vet certain ideas about how to build a mid-century looking house today, with today's building codes and today's common materials, without it becoming prohibitively expensive for those of modest means. There are some technical issues to conquer that play out in the aesthetic. The thin roof line of period mid-century homes is difficult to reproduce today because we need thicker roof assemblies to accommodate adequate insulation. The post and beam framing of many of these classic houses is hard to get around. It will simply cost more than conventional framing. But can we get around the precious large dimension lumber and and planks that are so identified with the style..?

We're working on it.

Continue reading "Mid Century style addition points way to Blueprints"

Friday, February 03, 2012

1192 Lagom House 2 Story

Its got a plan number now, its plugged into the site model of the 1.5 story Lagom House, and illustrations are pouring forth.

See you in the catalog.

Continue reading "1192 Lagom House 2 Story"

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New design - variation on Existing design

We've just begun work on a 2 story version of the Lagom House. The original Lagom House was a 1.5 story house, meaning the second floor was under the roof rafters and included dormers to increase floor space. The Lagom 2 Story will use the same floor plan but with the second floor expanded to the full footprint of the house.

The 2 story version gives it a little bit more floor space on the second floor, not much, but will make the bedrooms feel bigger. And just gives it a different feel, a stronger MoTrad vibe. And the house becomes even easier to build without the dormers to frame. It will top out at 1,540sf now, up about 50sf from the 1.5 story original version.

The simple peaked roof will make the house easier to frame, and it also obviates the need for north and south side of the street versions of the house - the peaked roof offers good solar system exposure on both sides of an east/west street. The simple MoTrad geometry is also more compatible with existing neighborhoods than the rather abstract triangular geometry of the original Lagom House design.

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Saturday, January 07, 2012

What you don't know about Mineral Wool will make you look stupid.

If you are interested in green building, or call yourself a green building expert, then you should know about Mineral Wool insulation. If you have not seen Mineral Wool handled and installed, then you need to read this. If you think that Mineral Wool batts are similar enough to Fiberglass batts that you already know what you need to know about it, then you are a fool. And you still need to read this.

image Randek AB

If you are a regular reader here you know I am an advocate of using Mineral Wool insulation to improve the energy performance of the way we build houses in the US. There are many reasons why I think Mineral Wool is the best insulation for us here. Recently I find myself making my case for this repeatedly, so, I thought it would be worthwhile to get it all down in one place and just point to it in the future.

Continue reading "What you don't know about Mineral Wool will make you look stupid."