Friday, November 22, 2013

In Keeping With Our Values

Recently, an initial contact note from a potential client said: "We want a modest, but beautiful, light filled home that is functional, energy efficient, and in keeping with our values and budget." The values statement caught my eye. Values are defined as the ideals, customs, institutions, etc., of a society toward which the people of the group have an affective regard. These values may be positive, as cleanliness, freedom, or education, or negative, as cruelty, crime, or blasphemy. We design and build buildings that align with our client's positive values every day but we have never articulated the process in these terms. There is even alignment with the positive value examples from the definition above. We build consistently well-ventilated homes using fewer toxins. It yields a cleaner and healthier space. How about enjoying the freedom from heavy weekend maintenance or excessive energy and water bills? We can build that into your home as well. In terms of education, we have made and kept a commitment at our recently designed and built office in Downtown Durham to use the building and its tested performance to educate the community on how this positive example can be repeated. Come to one of our regular tours and learn how a 12,000 square foot fully occupied and conditioned building have average energy bills of $350 per month. Learn how a building can use rainwater instead of city water to irrigate landscape and flush toilets. Learn how the building inhabitants can be more comfortable and productive due to their light-filled and well-designed workspace.

We’ve just recently met the folks who contacted us, so we do not know their values. Well, not yet. They have not hired us. Again, and hopefully, not yet. We look forward to the challenge of matching the design of their home to their values.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Do you change your oil every 3000 miles? What home maintenance schedule do you keep?

Everyone seems to be on a schedule these days, and it’s for a good reason. It’s simply hard to keep track of everything we have to do. Go to work and take care of this, pick up the kids and drive them to that, go to the gym to keep the heart pumping, bring the car for service to keep the engine running, but what’s the schedule for your home and its care? For most people, their home is the most expensive investment they ever make. Isn’t it smart to care for that investment? Did you know that your water heater should be flushed annually or your HVAC filters replaced every three months? In addition there are numerous items to be handled on a monthly, seasonally, or annual schedule to increase the longevity of your home. Here at BuildSense, we’d prefer to design you a home intent on reducing that maintenance to a bare minimum, but it is a wise decision for all homeowners to follow some type of Home Maintenance Schedule Checklist in order to maintain their home at peak performance and to assure they avoid more costly major problems. We issue a customized home maintenance checklist to all of our clients, but finding your own is easy to do. Search the web and you’ll find numerous types. Insurance companies like Allstate now offer their own for home and vehicles that keep your information in one convenient place. Lowes offers a program to keep you notified, track work you performed at your home, and log critical information about your home that you may need in the future. I’m sure there’s an app for that too. Whatever your method, it’s simply a good idea to tend to your home maintenance. You’ll be happier and healthier in the long run.
A portion of the BuildSense Home Maintenance Checklist

Friday, November 8, 2013

Asking for help: Sometimes the Best Thing to do

Asking for help is one of the hardest things for a human being to do. We often view it as admitting weakness, especially when we feel we should already know the answer. Over the past two weeks I have probably asked for helped more times than I have in the past three years of my life. It is the desire at BuildSense for the employees to have skills and understanding across both design and build. As such, I have been gaining field experience by recently spending about three days out of the week working on site with my fellow employees to finish building a home instead of tucked away behind a computer. Besides being sore in places I never even knew had muscles, I have learned all kinds of new skills involving various tools and new methods of thinking. This new knowledge came directly from asking for help. When a more experienced field worker would give me a list of things to accomplish for the day and walk through a tutorial on how to do it, I often stood there bewildered just from the terms they were using. Instead of acknowledging these instructions and attempting to complete a task on my own, I assumed it was wiser to ask for more help instead of potentially messing up expensive materials. The motto “there’s no such thing as a stupid question” rings especially true here. Though it may take a bit more time, the additional explanation was greatly beneficial to me, the project, and, at times, even to the instructor. While I felt a little silly asking for help for stuff these folks could do in their sleep, I knew this was the more mature way to handle the situation. Setting an ego aside is not always the easiest thing to do but I would have never started my path to becoming a knowledgeable builder without asking for help.