The Price is Right and the Project is Release Candidate

Today I delivered the completed construction drawings to my window, door, skylights, and sandwich panel contractors, and put down a substantial down payment for delivery of my new climate change house sometime in the future. If anyone wants to help me out, come on over to raise the roof, literally.

Probably the biggest question about remodeling is the cost, which is developing quickly. It certainly depends on the type and quality of construction. I ran this project though a professional bidding package, and got a number. I am doing most of the work, and all of the planning, so I can save resources to apply to more esoteric aspects of the addition. The estimated cost was $243,900 using SuperBuild Building Software and products Premier Building Systems structural sandwich panel package, Andersen Windows series 100 window package, Serious Windows 925 swinging patio door package and maybe $19,000 Vacupor vacuum insulated panel package.

REHAU ECOAIR in California

I write a lot of letters to suppliers around the world. Right now European technology is cutting edge when it it comes to insulation and resource efficiency. REHAU makes the ECOAIR, a large diameter ventilation system that uses the cooling properties of the earth to either pre-cool summertime air, and likewise warm up air in the winter time. Structural insulated panels are so well sealed, a requirement is continuous mechanical ventilation for human health.

“I would like to purchase the REHAU ECOAIR innovative ground-air heat exchanger. Who is my local distributor in Los Angeles CA area? I am developing a super insulation residential project that could utilize the ECOAIR system. If the system is available, please e-mail ordering and pricing information. Thank you.”

Peak Building Products Bid Letter

“Yes, many months have gone by since I came to your office to learn about Vacupor products for the North American market. It has taken the City of Los Angeles almost a year to authorized my project. As a refresher: any product used in residential construction requires a Los Angeles Research Report, and some of the innovative structural details finally became legal on 1 August 2009, so now I can in earnest request estimates for materials. The road ahead will still be long, as after estimates comes the final building review at the Department of Building and Safety. I have a few PDF drawings as a downloadable, but from the drawing I’ve extracted these surface dimensions.

Location, Surface Area

wall panels, 181 sq meters (1948 sq feet)
floor panels, 72 sq meters (770 sq feet)
roof panels, 50 sq meters (542 square feet)

Totals: 303 sq meters (3261 sq ft)

My order for Porextherm Vacupor NT-B2 VIP I’m sure will be lower than the 300 square meters of 25 mm panels since they cannot be punctured and must be placed strategically in between structural supports (my initial estimate would be 200 square meters) What I need to know:

1. The dimensions of Porextherm are made to order? How about angles? I have several sloped roof/wall areas that would require acute angles. What are the minimum and maximum dimensions of the panels? From my design, the typical panel would be 55 cm x 90 cm at 25 mm thickness. After knowing the panel dimensions, I can map out the layout on my 3D model for an exact order.

2. I don’t know how easy is it to get multiple estimates for the Porextherm products, but for a price check and for budgeting, how much would 50 cm x 50 cm Vacupor NT-B2 VIP panels be if I ordered 200 square meters (800 panels)? Could you also estimate the freight costs and delivery time?

As you recommended, I attempted to detail a Vacupor panel layout for my wall assemblies. I propose to install them in between a SIP wall and fiber cement panel siding, resting beside furring strips. If I have done by panel count correctly, this is my initial product requirements. My installers will be trained to hand the panels with “white gloves.” Could you also estimate the freight costs and delivery time? I tried to used the standard metric sizes, but the other components in the North American market (siding) require 16″ or 24″ on center requirements, so i will need custom panels.

Thank you for sharing your expertise and image library from the BioHaus. You are a pioneer in North America.

After reviewing the initial proposal, I am learning more about the manufacturing requirements and sizing limitations of the VIP products. It looks like square shapes are most economical, and slender panels are most expensive. I am going to optimize my panel layout to accommodate 500 mm x 1200 mm or 500 mm x 600 mm panels for wall and roof applications. I do not have the panel layout documentation, but do have a preliminary panel count.

Thank you for taking the time to work with me. Since you probably place orders from Germany on a periodic basis, is there a chance, if I delay or advance my order, to minimize freight to the USA by combining multiple customer orders of windows/VIP/etc? If I did my calculations properly 400 25 mm x 500 mm x 600 mm panels weight around 500 kg, so freight is high no matter what I do. I would like to see you estimate of duties too, which may or may not be egregious.”

Premier Building Systems Bid Letter

After many months of making drawings, it’s that time to get a project bid!

“It’s been a very long time since I contacted you on a SIP addition project. Do I continue to go directly through PBS or my local distributor to order my panel project? Over the past year, several of the products I have patiently waited for have became legal to use in the City of Los Angeles, gaining their LARR numbers. The last item I was waiting for, PEX plumbing, became legal on 1 August 2009, so now I can continue my addition project.

The scope of the project has also grown, as the original idea has grown in size requiring a new estimate.

The drawings may not emphatically state it, but these are the dimensions of Premier panels I would like to use:

3-1/2″ core thickness wall SIP walls
9-1/4″ core thickness roof SIP walls
9-1/4″ core thickness floor SIP walls

If there are any details that are missing, let me know, and I can make corrections quickly. Not included are drawings detailing electrical chases and skylights in the roof panels, an extra horizontal communications chase in some of the wall panels, and placement of vertical electrical chases for switches and receptacles (standard 16 inch receptacle chases and 45 inch switch chases from floor please include where possible, but I also need a chase at 20 inches from floor for ethernet, cable TV, and telephone on certain walls).

I look forward to Premier’s new 2009 estimate. It’s still best to correspond through e-mail, as I am away from the voice phone frequently. I am working with a new window manufacturer, and the exact window rough opening on several of the triple mullion is not set (RO is currently 8”0″ x 2”0″) and may change before the shop drawings. The Roof panels will have skylights, not included in these preliminary drawings. There are no outstanding issues this year that will delay this project. Thank you for all your help.

I was looking over my drawing and did some surface calculations, that may help you give me an estimate in my SIP project:

3-1/2″ core wall panels, 1948 square feet
9-1/4″ core floor panels, 770 square feet
9-1/4 core roof panels, 542 square feet

These numbers are gross wall/floor/roof dimensions devoid of window or door cuts or skylight holes. Thank you for taking the time to get me another estimate for my project.”

Serious Windows and Doors Bid Letter

When a budget is no object, why not price out the most energy efficient North American windows?

In my next project, I am specifying either the 725 or 925 SeriousWindows along with EcoRock. My second choice in materials had been Marvin Integrity Windows and GP DensArmor Plus wall panels. It seems that your products are in demand across the nation, so I don’t know your lead times. From the PDF information on the site, the products look great, but I need the technical information to introduce these products to by building team. Here are some of my questions:

1. I am interested in casement and awning style windows. I have two project in development. A single family structural insulated panel (SIP) addition in North Hollywood, CA (20 windows) and a energy retrofit (2×4 stucco construction) in Lancaster, CA (15 windows). From the public information, it seems that every product is a one off custom fit, but does Serious Windows make standard sizes? If so, I need the specifications sheet with Rough Opening dimensions, NFRC measurements, Egress measurements, factory mullion combinations, and hardware and screen options.

2. Lead Times. I anticipate the SIP project to get going in October 2009, but construction documents and permits finished almost immediately. The retrofit is in development for a late 2009 start.

3. Do you sell your windows directly or through local distributors? Who is my distributor for both Serious Windows and EcoRock?

I will put together my order to the best of my ability and get it to you, and if the Serious Windows products fall within my budget, we’ll go ahead and schedule a meeting to see the products. I hope to get you a list of windows by next week. We’ll work from there. Thank you.”

Year in Review and New Year Preview

By this time, if my planning schedule was accurate and blogged about, I should have been in phase three of my home addition, but other issues prevented that project from starting. Two products that I wanted to use on this project were announced, but not yet through the arduous Los Angeles building and safety review. Living in earthquake country, and under a well formed bureaucracy, innovation is squashed, or takes many thousands of dollars to persuade city engineers that products are viable. The two interesting products form the basis of the foundation and the structural members of the home, so basically everything. I had already settled on using structural insulated panels (SIP’s) to build the home, but the previous technique require much material handling machines like forklifts, front reaching cranes, and a teams of laborers. that’s the old way of building. I want to build a home with one or two people. It can be done!

The first option is Apex Block. This product, around for a few years, made LA approval on 1 November 2008, and would require a complete redesign of the structure, but when complete would only need grouting with cement for insulation and stability. The second option is the modular housing system (MHS), approved 1 December 2008. Both are lighter in assembly, as the foam Apex Block are extremely lightweight, and the extruded aluminum of the MHS system is manageable. The venerable choice remains Premier Building Systems tradition heavy SIP. What better way to decide which to use, but by having each one go head to head in a bidding war! I’ll let you know the outcome in February 2009, when in earnest I begin again.

First I am going to the International Builder’s Show in Las Vegas to research some interior fixtures and lighting design packages. It’s easy to look on the web, but a much different experience to view the finishes and touch the products. It will be cheaper to get a room in Vegas for a night than drive a couple hundred miles to showrooms around Los Angeles, hoping that they have the product I want to see and touch. that show runs 20 – 23 January 2009, so that is my final check list and then the construction!

Have a wonderful 2009. I will be busy. It has to start out of the gate at full gallop, and this time I hope to finish the race, and not have to scratch out like in 2008. make 2009 your green year, where you climate change contribution is half of 2008. We all can do it.