postgreen

The goings on thus far at Awesometown can really be summed up into two categories; excavation, and pouring foundations. They may be two of the less visually exciting parts of construction but they are very critical.

As it turns out pouring foundations in the dead of winter is a less than convenient time to start. We could have told you that beforehand but start dates are start dates and if that means pouring foundations in the snow then so be it. Luckily we got the bulk of our pouring done before things got too bad. Another two foundations and we’ll be on to framing, a much less weather dependent task.

And no we didn’t find anything cool during excavation, unless you count some old concrete slabs reinforced with 3/4″ pipes cool. We certainly don’t.

With this being the first update on Awesometown it’s a good time to explain our role and goals for the project. On recent projects we’ve been doing the design and development work in house and working with partners for the construction, but Awesometown is going to be the first project we’ve built solely in house in a while under the name Hybrid Construction.

Although the prospect of 14 LEED Platinum townhomes is a little daunting at the outset, 14 more or less identical homes is something we hope to turn into a building science experiment. After the pre-construction HERS scores came back and an initial road map to LEED Platinum was determined it became clear that of the 8 homes in our first phase we have 6 with identical construction and energy usage. We could make it easy on ourselves and build these 6 exactly the same or we could make one the control home and use the other 5 to test out new techniques or materials like additional building gaskets here or a new air sealing tape there. Once the final HERS scores come back we’ll know which new technique or material gave us a better result.

It’s a little more of a challenge to coordinate but we see this as a good opportunity to obtain some quality data for the building sciences. Updates and results of these experiments to come!

For now we’re praying the snow stays away and we can pour the last of our foundations. The sooner we can move on to framing the better. 7 homes have  now been sold and move in dates are already being discussed. With the sale of one more home, prices are due to rise. Pre-construction sales come mostly from our websites customization page which has all of the options you can add to a Postgreen home. We update that regularly and have just recently added 50+ new options.

As long as these winter storms continue to be as harmless as Juno we’re looking to start framing the second week of February, another update will be on the way once that begins.

 

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An urban renewal is quickly hitting Kensington South and the Howard/Hope St. area between Kung Fu Necktie and El Bar.  With 20 new homes going up at the other end of the block, one across the street, our 4 homes and 8 more lots recently cleared and soon to be underpinned, we estimate at least 100 new souls on this block by the end of 2015.

With our Duplexcellence II framed, cladded and rocked we’re more than keeping up with the pace of development here. Time for a project update before it’s too late.

Starting from the outside our corten steel cladding has already begun to weather. The corten starts out as a dark gray material and as it weathers and begins to rust it turns a nice warm orange color. Normally rusting metal is a big negative and a sign that something is wrong, but corten steel is a special combination of steel alloys that oxidizes with rain and snow.

The oxidized rusty layer actually prevents it from rusting further and corroding. The end result is a natural variation in color which never has to be painted or maintained.  Should be cool. We plan to photograph often in the hopes of putting together a sweet time lapse. Stay tuned!

Next up is our construction fence. Not usually a topic worthy of an update but this time things are different. Some key connections put us in touch with the hard working Glossblack, an accomplished graffiti artist who used our fence as his canvas to perfect his style. Check him out on Glossblack.org or on instagram @glossblack

Once the fences are no longer needed for construction purposes they’ll be re used as the backdrop of these urban backyards. Will potential home buyers want a graffitied back yard fence? Well in this ultra urban setting what could be more fitting? Also we expect a nice faded flaky texture to come through once the fence dries and weathers. Should be a cool vintagy look.

Moving inside the homes have been fully rocked and kitchen install has begun. We’re gearing up for custom Postgreen Homes kitchens in all of our homes from here on out and Duplexcellence II will be our first opportunity to do that. We’re keeping the Ikea boxes with quality Blum hardware but are adding our 3/4″ solid multiply customizable cabinets to our ever growing list of options.  Check out an earlier post for cabinet info or go to our website to see how this customization step works.

Speaking of options we’ve reached out to a few new lighting design companies to offer more Made in the USA lighting Options. Modern, classic looking lights are true to our style and we’re offing as many ways to get creative in your new home with some options you may not have known existed.

Also in the world of options we’ve got a few more home automation devices like an electronic deadbolt and a really cool video doorbell.  These new options will harness the beauty of that old bell sound and the ever useful unlocking door but make it more iphone compatible.

New doorbell option content from @nicdarling:
Basic Electric Doorbell 

First let’s take a moment to acknowledge the simple effectiveness of the rapped knuckle for announcing one’s arrival in those days before radios, forced air heat, surround sound systems, man caves, televisions, headphones and the varied ranks of grumbling, humming and beeping appliances we live amongst. Then, let’s admit that the humble knock will no longer do. There is simply too much background noise to overcome, and after all, our knuckles bruise so easily.

So, all hail the electric doorbell, descendent of the humble knocker and improvement upon the literal door bell. Now, with the touch of a button your visitors can produce a sound capable of cutting through the cacophony of modern life and summoning you to the door. Just remember, that doesn’t mean you have to let them in.

 

 

A lot of work is happening on these homes and construction will be wrapped up before you know it. We’re excited to see something reach completion along hope street  and to have so many developer neighbors be right there with us. But a nearing completion date also means a nearing closing date for our customization options. So hop to it and take a stroll through the website. Even if you don’t buy a house we promise you’ll enjoy the puns and wit behind each product description.

 

 

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This post revives an idea that we had in 2011, revised later in 2011 and now have a renewed sense of urgency to implement. Back in 2011 Nic Darling had a brilliant plan for what we called the “home performance sticker” which was kind of like a mileage sticker you might see on a new car. The goal was to give potential home buyers a metric with which to compare home performance and an estimation of their utility bills. We came up with a design years ago and got some great feedback from our readers. A few updates later and we had a sleek, hip sticker to post in the window of our homes while they were under construction.

The data for these stickers comes from HERS (Home Energy Rating System), a 3rd party system which uses construction specs to estimate energy consumption. Using that data along with local utility rates you can get a pretty good estimation of your utility bills. What we’re showing you is our preliminary rating for 437 Moyer st. of our Awesometown project. Keep in mind, these utility estimates are based on a preliminary rating. Once construction is complete the HERS rater will come back and do a final rating which will be closer to reality.

In the early Postgreen days when we we’re young and hungry for any data we could get our hands on we were getting every project HERS rated. After we solidified our construction techniques and nailed down solid performance stats we sort of fell off the HERS wagon. A true shame since it meant we no longer had the data to help display our green building skills or educate buyers on quality home construction. A recent partnership between Peco and Energy Star resulting in an energy rebate for efficient enough homes was the kick in the butt we needed return to getting every one of our homes rated.

So we’ve brought the home performance label back, and updated it with the latest aesthetic principals, a few factual changes, even a QR code for more project info. Although the format has changed the content remains mostly the same. We hope it educates buyers on where value lies in a home and provides the data they need to make an informed decision.

We’ve already got a few up around town, left image is Duplexcellence II and right is Awesometown, but in an effort to make the best improvements to the green building market we’ll gladly take last minute suggestions. So what do you think?

Are we missing some pivotal info?

What other information would be interesting to see on a construction site fence or window?

Should we use a different mounting system?

 

 

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Earthship Biotecture – Rural vs. Urban Sustainability

November 19, 2014
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jnkv_qj1xUc”

We’ve been building lean and green since the start of the “great recession” and even in that relatively short time we’ve seen a lot of change come through the green building industry. It’s been getting bigger and better every year and it looks like that trend is only going to continue. With that being the [...]

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Duplexcellence 2 Mid-Construction Event Recap

November 13, 2014

Last Thursday was a busy night for design events in Philly. Not only did we have our own mid-construction event at Duplexcellence 2, but our architect pals at DIGSAU held their annual soiree and the talented artists from RAIR held an opening at Crane Arts showing off all sorts of cool stuff made in the [...]

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Duplexcellence 2 Launch Event

November 5, 2014

One of the most fascinating times to walk through a new construction home is after it’s been framed up, but before the studs are covered with drywall. That’s why we try to have as many mid-construction tours of our projects as possible. It’s a time to learn more about the guts that make up one [...]

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Urban Planning 101 – Border Vacuums

October 22, 2014

Folsom Powerhouse is between phases, Awesometown is soon to begin and Pop is selling… Sure we’ve got Duplexcellence II to worry about but that still leaves us with some free time to get back to blogging. So we’ve decided to pick back up with Jane Jacobs and continue our Urban Planning 101 series. This time [...]

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