Growing Pains

Pile-of-drawings

As a project progresses, my desk piles with sketches, redlines and other reference material.  It almost always becomes an archaeological dig as the deeper in the pile I dig the older the drawing.  This time the pile was a little deeper to dig through as since the beginning of the year we have been working with four different clients on different types of projects ranging from a simple kitchen remodel to a whole house renovation and addition project.  For a small office like ours, that is still working on a part time basis, this is a large increase in work load making for late nights and early mornings to get the job done as we typically are only working on one project at a time.

The past few months have been stressful and tiring, however with three of the four projects out the door, each project brings us closer to taking Sym-Home full time.  With each project we pay ourselves a fair wage and the rest goes to pay for business expenses. We are following the philosophy of Entrepreneur Architect and building a debt free practice.  This means purchasing the tools we need as we can afford them and building the nest egg for when that day comes to take the practice full time, to ensure we have the cushion to pay the bills as we grow even more.

We are excited for the future as our projects are getting larger and we are receiving referrals from past clients.  As well as new ones finding us online either from our website or social media sites like Houzz.  So continue to follow us as we grow.

Greenbuild 2013

Last week we had the chance to attend the United State Green Building Council (USGBC) Greenbuild International Conference & Expo in Philadelphia.  Let me tell you, it was a physically and mentally draining week, yet we return rejuvenated and inspired to continue on our path.  Attending a conference like this always lifts your spirits as you are surrounded by 30,000 like minded professionals.

GreenbuildNation Read the rest of this entry »

Sym-Home Brings On A New Partner

I would like to officially welcome Amy Lloyd to the Sym-Home team.  Amy will be taking on a full time role of business development and managing the daily operations as we look to expand our services offered at Sym-Home.

Amy Lloyd HeadshotAmy has over 13 years of experience in the design and construction industry with a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from Kent State University.  She has worked for Architecture Firms in Cleveland, Columbus and Washington D.C. with project experience in industrial, municipal, mixed-use retail and multi-family housing.  For the last several years, she has been working with the State of Ohio as an Owner’s Representative for K-12 new construction and renovation projects in Ohio where she managed project teams for a total of 25 schools buildings translating to over $420 million in construction.  As a part of these school projects, Amy has been directly involved in 2.5 million Square Feet of LEED Registered or Certified buildings.

Amy’s experience working both as a Project Manager and as an Owner’s Representatives makes her a valuable team member understanding what it takes for a great project using experience from both sides of the table.

Building Science Summer Camp 2013

It’s that time of year again where some of the greatest minds gather in Massachusetts for The Westford Symposium on Building Science, or better known as Building Science Summer Camp.  This event is hosted every year by Joe Lstiburek, PhD. PE and his wife Betsy Pettit, FAIA.  This camp is an all-out building science geek fest where some of the top researchers present studies and new building products and systems in an effort to help design and build more energy efficient and healthier homes.

As this is an invitation only event, I am left glued to my seat to follow and decipher the presentations live, 140 characters at a time from its 430 attendees by following the twitter hashtag #bscamp.  However social media has increased access to this event yet again.  A big shout out goes to Michael Anschel and Stephen Davis for broadcasting live the now famous tweet chat in Joe’s crawlspace via Ustream. Follow their channels here & here.  Thus if you have any interest in the latest building science research, I encourage you to watch last nights crawlspace interview of Joe and to follow the #bscamp twitter chat as today is the last day of the symposium.

Video streaming by Ustream

 

Upfront Cost vs. Operation Cost

When doing home energy audits I have not been recommending the use of LED lights due to cost.  However we recently installed the first of what will be many LED light bulbs in our home, and after running some numbers it seems the price has dropped to the point that they are competitive with CFL lights.  Yes, they are more expensive than a CFL bulb, and much more expensive than a standard incandescent bulb.  However the way you need to look at is you are purchasing your light bulbs for the next 10 years with the purchase of one LED light.  If you take a look at the chart below, you can see based on costs I saw at my local Home Depot store, there is a good energy and monetary savings over the life of the LED bulb when you take into consideration how many times you would have to replace the other bulb types.  The savings is even greater in a commercial facility where you are paying someone to change out those bulbs.

Light Bulbs
LED
CFL
Incandescent
Cost$9.97$2.24$0.66
Watts6940
Average life (hours)25,0008,0002,000
Electricity cost$0.11$0.11$0.11
Cost to operate (life span)$16.50$7.92$8.80
Total operating cost$26.47$31.75$118.25
kWh1502251000
LED & CFL bulbs are 40W Incandescent equivalents
Download Worksheet

Now it appears that with an electricity cost of $0.11 per kWh that if you can find a LED light for $15.50 or less, you will save money over a CFL through the life of the bulb.

Why not look into it yourself with this little calculator (here), just input the costs of the light bulbs you find at your local store along with their rated wattage and your local electric costs and see how much you can save.

Now this little light bulb exercise holds true with any upgrades in efficiency whether you are replacing light bulbs, a furnace and air conditioning unit, to making envelope upgrades to a new home or addition.  You pay a little more now for efficiency, but in the overall life of the project you end up saving money.