10 Years On - USGBC MN

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Green Roof Changes

Sedums and wildflowers at the EcoDEEP house.
Sedums and wildflowers at the EcoDEEP house.

Today was another glorious Fall day. Full of the cool warmth and bursts of colors we all love and yet ache over because we know that it is so temporary, so fleeting and in just a few weeks or possibly even days everything could be colder, whiter and darker. 

But things change and most change is good.


I enjoy seeing the small changes in my small world. One of the items of change throughout the year is the green roof on my home. I go out on it every once in awhile to pull a weed or a tree seedling, or fill in a bare spot, trim it back in the fall or mostly just to go look at it. I see beetles and bees and butterflies and birds. No one else sees these things, not even the rest of my family even though it's just a few feet away. But here you go, have a look. 

These photos range from Spring through Summer and then Fall. Same roof, different seasons.

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2014 MRES Solar Home Tour

The EcoDEEP HAUS will once again be featured on the MRES (Minnesota Renewable Energy Society) Solar Home Tour on Saturday, May 31, 2014. 

There is now public access to the roof top green roof or solar panels, but the rest of the house is availabel to be toured. 

Come have a look!






How Much Will it Cost?

I receive many phone calls from prospective clients who are interested in building a new home, or remodeling or adding on to the home they already have. I like that! For those of you who may be about to call, here’s the answer to your first question – Yes, the initial meeting is free. As much as I would like to, I won’t charge you to visit and discuss your potential project. Our first meeting will usually take an hour. We may meet at my office, your home or the potential building site. We will get to know each other a little bit, feel each other out, determine if we’re a good fit for the project, discuss your needs and hopes and dreams for the design of YOUR project. We’ll establish a few parameters. I might have an idea or two for a possible direction or solution. I love these meetings. They are full of promise and hope and potential. Happy times.


Often, the question of how much the project might cost will come up. My usual answer is “More than you would like.” I’m not trying to be glib, but at this point, I honestly don’t know. I’ve only spent an hour with you. I need more time and information to determine what my fees will be – based on a solid scope of work. As far as construction costs go, any cost I give you at this point is only a wild guess. The value of engaging me to prepare some preliminary design options is enormous. It will help frame the project goals, possibilities and get us closer to knowing what the costs of the project will be. 


I can provide a range of general costs per square foot based on previous project experience but without a scope of work, a detailed design solution, material selections, etc, there is no way to develop an opinion of probable cost. In the end, the cost estimate and guaranteed costs will come from the contractor. These costs are almost never lower than you were hoping to pay. However, with a good, detailed design and scope of work, the construction costs will be very close to what our opinion of probable cost was – especially if we engage a builder as part of the team early on in the design process.


Initially, we will prepare preliminary design ideas, and will take a stab at providing a “ballpark opinion of cost”. Sometimes we stop there if the costs simply don’t make financial sense. As we continue to develop the design and select materials and such, our understanding of the costs will be stronger. Sometimes the expected costs increase during design development, sometimes they decrease, depending on the choices we make together. As we work together, and engage a builder as part of the team, the costs will be determined item by item and you’ll know exactly how much your project will cost. It will still probably cost more than you wanted – but you’ll be aware of the great value of each choice and decision you made during the process. And it will be your project, your dreams, your goals and your needs that are met.


Here is a link to a colleague’s blog post discussing a similar subject.

Fair & Square Remodeling







Expert Testimony??

I was contacted by an attorney last week in the hope that I might provide expert testimony against an architect who the owner  believes was negligent in meeting the professional standard of care.  The owner had engaged the services of the architect and a contractor to design and construct a new office building. One of the goals for the project was to have the project achieve LEED Platinum certification - which is no easy task. The owner provided the architect and contractor with what he felt was a reasonable budget. 


After a few months of working on the building design, the project cost was estimated to be a little more than twice the owner's budget. YIKES!  This, of course, did not please the Owner and now, the original architect and builder are no longer involved in the project - which continues to move ahead with a new project team - but do get to continue working together in an enjoyable process called litigation. 


I was interested in how the attorney came to contact me relative to this matter. I have no prior relationship with the attorney or the client, have never provided expert testimony in any case, anywhere, at any time, and in general have tried to stay as far away from courtrooms as possible. It turns out my name just got placed on the list of people to call through some strange algorithm of a web search involving the key words architect, LEED, Minnesota. So much for my ego. 


I declined to participate in that endeavor for a number of reasons. 

1. The longer I've worked, the less I feel an expert in anything!

2. I know some of the individuals involved. While I believe I could be fair in my assessment, I don't really want to participate in that kind of painful exercise that will likely cause collegues no small measure of duress. 

3. There are a great many reasons why budgets get blown in any project. Project teams may not have enough experience in the specific project type to understand the cost implications of the project and any special considerations (such as LEED Platinum certification), owners sometimes give contradictory information after setting the budget, or increase project scope without increasing the budget. 


I always cringe when I hear about these things happening on projects. It's unfortunate, no fun for anyone involved and adds to the stereotype that architects just want to spend your money.   It's just not true. Architects want to do great designs that satisfy a client's goals, meets their needs, solves their problems, looks super cool and is of great value. Add environmental responsibility in the mix and you've got a pretty tall order. 


I hope the parties involved can come to terms, reach a respectful and mutual understanding, and part ways without meeting in a courtroom first. 

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Saint Paul, MN 55116

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