BELVEDER BLOG

What Is Design Build?

Design Build means that the design and construction drawings are completed by the same company responsible for construction. There are several advantages to this method of home improvement.

 

  •  The overall cost is lower. BelVeder is able to produce its designs and construction blueprints below the cost to hire a separate design firm. Our cost of construction also is lower because, being expert in the availability, sizes and installation techniques and, therefore costs, of various materials, we are able to optimize cost in the design process. This eliminates expensive revisions that occur when design and construction are performed by separate companies.

  • A design professional is on-site and overseeing execution.  With separate companies, once construction is underway,  problems emerge with the original design requiring conferences, plan revisions and change orders. 

 

As an example of the higher costs that can arise when a designer lacks  a thorough understanding of construction techniques and costs,  I once stopped at a construction site (not mine), observing a copper roof being installed on a portico. There was an architectural detail which, though interesting, was barely perceptible. The contractor installing it informed me that that single detail was responsible for two thirds of the cost of the copper roof.  Our knowledge of construction techniques and cost ensure that such expensive design errors will be avoided and BelVeder will always present you with the cost/benefit of various design choices for your decision.

The better coordination within a single company also results in greater efficiency and speed.  By Carmen D. Legato

Design Philosophy

Within any style from classic to contemporary there are elements which are timeless. Within the vernacular of the chosen style, BelVeder strives to separate the idiosyncratic or trendy from designs that will endure. Key elements are balance, perspective, scale, light and functionality.

 

I have been in newly built or remodeled spaces in which the fenestration and pathways are inconsistent with comfortable use and a functional and beautiful arrangement of furniture. By contrast, in the drawing stage, in every room, BelVeder places furniture and lays out walkways in relation to windows, doors, focal points and comfort.  What matters in a design is not just how it looks but how it feels and no matter how visually stunning, if using the space becomes awkward, it will disappoint.

 

The ergonomics of use are paramount not just in kitchens and bathrooms, but in every room. Beauty and inspiration need not be sacrificed to achieve ergonomic satisfaction and in our designs they are not.

 

For how BelVeder creates a healthy home environment and protects you and your home during remodeling, click here. By Carmen D. Legato

Design/Construction Process

BelVeder begins with a thorough examination of your house and property. Then we listen attentively to your ideas and priorities. We may present you with photos of various designs to better gauge your aesthetic. We then discuss with you  ideas to refine our understanding of the outcome you envision.

 

At this point, we may provide a very general idea of costs associated with various potential changes to get a better idea of your priorities. Once we have confidence that we understand your vision and priorities, we undertake a conceptual drawing. Based on your reactions to it,  we may refine it and resubmit it to you. After the conceptual drawing is agreed upon, we do a more elaborate floor plan layout. At this point, we will consider and discuss with you every possible issue. We will evaluate the strength and quality of light and how it will affect the use of the room and its ambience. We will ask if the plan provides adequate storage for such things as brooms and vacuum cleaners and a closet for guests and everyday use. We will measure your furniture and ensure that it, or any alternative you intend, will layout handsomely in the space.

 

We will discuss the finishes that you prefer and will be able to present you with a number of options and samples for your consideration.

                                                     

The next stage entails a detailed examination of cost and further refinement of the elevations and floor layouts. We will again meet with you to go over the drawings, gauge your reaction, and assess, in light of the potential cost, whether you desire any adjustments to the priorities. After you have agreed on a set of detailed elevations, floor plans and schedules and a detailed budget, we will produce full construction detailed drawings.

 

Our drawings are reviewed and stamped by a registered professional engineer and BelVeder will present these stamped drawings to the permitting authority to obtain the building permits. After the permits have been issued, we will establish with you all of the particular details surrounding the remodeling or site work.

 

We will stage the work in a manner consistent with your objectives, priorities and budget, pointing out to you the necessary sequence of work to avoid any reworking which would add cost without benefit.

 

Throughout the construction process, you will be able to reach us and we will be available to discuss with you remotely or in person any issues, questions or concerns that you may have.

 

With regard to material selections, we can provide any level of service from recommending sources to presenting you with options in your home. You can be as much or as little involved as you wish.

After each area is completed, it is thoroughly cleaned to permit immediate use. 

 

We recognize the demands on your time and minimize disruption by artistically placing furniture and hanging wall art if you wish. By Carmen D. Legato

Interior Design Perspectives

Interior Design is not about how something looks, it is about how it feels. More importantly, how it makes you feel.

The gatekeepers of good design are threefold:  beauty, practicality and originality.

 

The answer to every question in interior design is balance. Balance creates harmony.

In seeking to achieve that balance, the goal is to create an emotional

 connection.  A home should satisfy your need for comfort, ease, and beauty and satisfy your personal aesthetic. 

 

Striking a balance between your ideal and the limitation inherent in budgets is challenging.  But such obstacles, rather than preventing satisfaction, often spur reinvention. Although there budgets are limited, there is no limit to originality.  And, that originality is often the path to the home that is uniquely yours. By Donna Furlong

Enhancing Your Micro-Environment

Just as we are aware of the opportunity remodeling presents to achieve energy efficiency, so are we aware of how the micro environment we create affects the ecosystem on which we depend.

 

Trees are a wonderful means to sequester carbon, provide habitat, cool our yards and our houses and provide privacy, beauty and repose. We can advise on various types of fast-growing trees that provide these benefits and create a welcoming landscape.

 

So too, will we advise on perennials that are favored habitats for bees and other pollinators that currently are imperiled, yet on which the beauty of our flora depend.

 

Water features, such as ponds, streams and waterfalls provide endless hours of fascination and relaxation while also benefiting the local habitat. By Carmen D. Legato

The Importance of Nature To Design

“One of the most intriguing areas of current research is the impact of nature on general wellbeing. In one study in Mind, 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious to more calm and balanced. Other studies by Ulrich, Kim, and Cervinka show that time in nature or scenes of nature are associated with a positive mood, and psychological wellbeing, meaningfulness, and vitality.”*

In new home construction and remodeling, the importance of nature to our well-being and therefore a sense of comfort in the home environment usually is overlooked. The typical design build firm dedicates all of its resources to the built environment --landscape, if considered, is relegated to an afterthought usually executed by a separate entity with no comprehensive plan to integrate outdoor and indoor space prior to construction.

 

BelVeder's view is that the well-being that you experience in your home is directly related to creating an inspired outdoor space that can be appreciated from both inside and out. Research confirms our belief that the ability of our homes to serve as centers of comfort, refuge and restoration cannot be achieved with the traditional view of home remodeling. Rather, it is essential to create outdoor space that intrigues, enchants, refreshes and restores our feeling of well-being, happiness and connection and to experience that outdoor setting in the home.

 

Within this natural oasis, we can strategically intersperse swimming pools,  water features, pergolas, gazebos and other belvedere’s from which to enjoy a stunning natural show as well as fireplaces, kitchens and other amenities while retaining nature's calming effect.

“And regardless of age or culture, humans find nature pleasing. In one study cited in the book Healing Gardens, researchers found that more than two-thirds of people choose a natural setting to retreat to when stressed.”*

 

Imagine a rich background of evergreen trees that block views of neighboring houses, create a sense of separation from the urban environment and transport us to our own woodland.  With dramatic focal points in the foreground strategically located to be enjoyed year-round from the principal indoor spaces, we bring nature

inside year- round.

 

Every window is a framed piece of art from which, in every season, a  kaleidoscope of evolving nature-scapes beckon.  Our outdoor landscapes emphasize beauty and seasonal interest and in all seasons.

“When participants viewed nature scenes, the parts of the brain associated with empathy and love lit up, but when they viewed urban scenes, the parts of the brain associated with fear and anxiety were activated. It appears as though nature inspires feelings that connect us to each other and our environment.”*

For example, the red Holly berries in December cheer us, provide food for birds and ornaments for the table and

Our designs do not require birdfeeders to attract songbirds. Instead we rely on natural layers which are as attractive to birds as they are to us.

Helleborus Orientalis  (lenten roses) and crocus herald the coming of spring. By using native species, we reduce upkeep while conserving natural habitat.

 

 We design and install creative low voltage LED outdoor lighting that sip energy, recreate moonlit scenes and enrich the nightime view from your windows year-round.  by Carmen D. Legato

*University of Minnesota, “How Does Nature Affect Our Well-Being?”

https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/how-does-nature-impact-our-wellbeing

Protecting Your Home During Construction

 

We take enormous precautions to ensure that your home is free of noxious vapors and dust. We are EPA certified lead paint renovators.  We are educated in the identification of lead paint, asbestos and mold and will ensure that any issues with these hazards are addressed by certified personnel.

 

For every project, we isolate the work area from the home just as we would if lead were present, by:

  • Separating the areas under construction, by installing plastic barriers around the construction area;

  •  creating negative pressure in the work area with a powerful exhaust that prevents dust from escaping.

  • Providing ventilation and filtration.

  • Protecting your HVAC system by closing supply vents and return vents and installing filters while also monitoring and replacing the HVAC filters.

  • selecting materials that are low in VOC's.

  • Capturing dust produced at the source before it can enter the air, using the most advanced self-cleaning vacuum system in such procedures as sanding drywall and demolition.

  • Using each day a sealed, true HEPA vacuum effective to .3 microns to clean the work area. 

  • Filtering the air 24-7 with a separate air cleaner with a .3 micron HEPA filter

  • Thoroughly cleaning the work area before removing the plastic barriers and opening the HVAC vents.   By Carmen D. Legato

Energy Efficiency

Remodeling is an ideal opportunity to examine the many ways the built environment can be altered to reduce energy use.  Changes that reduce energy use, apart from their benefit to the environment, typically have the effect of making our homes more comfortable and less expensive to heat and cool.  The cost savings are likely to grow in coming years as utility costs are anticipated to increase, making the investments in energy efficiency now that much more valuable in the coming decade.

We suggest the performance of a blower door test that puts the entire house under negative pressure and then maps with infrared equipment the areas in which unconditioned air is entering and conditioned air is escaping. We are able to assist in the design phase of a variety of improvements such as weather sealing, duct sealing, insulation, soffit vents and baffles. We also can advise on electric service for electric vehicle charging and efficient LED lighting, and solar panels. Typically these changes are much more affordable during remodeling.

 

BelVeder is educated on all aspects of building science and the effect  various materials have on the environment and can advise you on the best practices using the REGREEN guidelines applicable to home remodeling. We donate surplus materials to Community Forklift, a nonprofit that recycles the materials through a store and uses the proceeds for the benefit of the community. https://communityforklift.org/about-us/who-we-are/  This not only eliminates waste from landfills but also saves the energy and carbon emissions associated with the reproduction of the materials that otherwise would be discarded.

 

On larger remodels, we can advise on  dismantlement of architectural features which will be donated and for which you would qualify for a tax deduction. By Carmen D. Legato