Garden Gate – Recycled Heat Register Grill

garden gate

By Chet Zebroski

One of the things we’ve learned to enjoy over the years is seeing traditional architectural design merge with contemporary design aesthetics and production values. A lesson we learned from Barbara Winslow, while working at JSW, was her ability to honor traditional architecture while merging with our casual California atmosphere. She consistently brought into her designs recovered artifacts such as doors, panels, tiles, which would take a significant place in the new design. Her method reminds us of work from other artists who spend much of their time researching and learning traditional methods in order to evolve their newer concepts and techniques, merging the two.

With that in mind as we developed the gate to our rear yard, it was inevitable that something old would be within the new gate. In this case we discovered a beautiful rusty old heater grate and realized it would make the perfect peek-a-boo spot to see beyond.

recycled heat register grill

Enamored as we are by the combination of curved and squared shapes, the grate takes on an arch top frame to match the arched top of the gate which is surrounded in it’s squared frame.

To carry on with the aesthetic we used an iron locking door set instead of typical gate latch. The combination seems to have been made in heaven! Well, to some anyway!

garden gate handle

Respect, Recycle, Reuse is the catch phrase of the day for us. Not everything has to be brand new as we remodel our nest. We wish you happy hunting as you rummage through the many new venues warehousing these valuable artifacts for your next project!

Tightening Up the Envelope: Controlling Crawlspace Moisture

By Chet Zebroski

So, this is the first post in the Home area. I thought to share how we’re remodeling our home, bringing it up to date aesthetically and performance-wise.

We own a small ranch home in Marin County, just outside of San Francisco. We bought it because of it’s location and potential for improvements. The house sits on a keypoint in the hills facing East and water accumulation is a seasonal issue on our property.

One of the largest issues faced by designers in meeting California’s Energy 2020 goals are poorly performing existing buildings. We understand that conservation is one of the most powerful tools we have to meet that goal. Using our home as a source to share techniques and lessons learned seems logical.

We started with the building envelope, making sure insulation was in place and further tightening up the walls by sealing around outlets and other penetrations on the exterior skin. We discovered that we have R-19 batt insulation in the attic and R-11 blown-in cellulose insulation in the walls.

Then, we quickly turned our attention to the underfloor crawl space, addressing the water percolating up in our subfloor crawlspace. Water accumulation in a crawl space can cause many structural and health issues if not resolved. For this property, we knew we had to somehow alleviate that potential. Consider that when these wet conditions are active, vapor pressure will force the moisture into the house through any means available increasing humidity inside bringing along with it potential health issues.

We hired Foster Pump for the consultation, solution, and installation. After reviewing the situation, they recommended creating channels around the inside perimeter of the foundation and midpoints guiding the seeping water to a sump pump. The solution would include a continuous pool cover as the vapor barrier , covering the entire crawlspace, in case water accumulates above the channels. If so, the barrier will rise with it. When the water reaches the sump pump, a float triggers the action and water is directed to the curb/gutter via a 1.5″ diameter pipe.

They also recommended a continuous sub-drain around the exterior perimeter of the house, but that was just too expensive for us. Plus, we had concerns that even with the continuous exterior sub-drain, water would still percolate at the midpoints in the crawlspace. So, we decided to place the interior work first to discover how it would perform.

I have a few pictures to share of this primary performance remedy below. The application of the channels, vapor barrier, and pump made a radical improvement on interior humidity levels and reduced the amount of condensation that accumulated on our single pane aluminum windows to near zero. It is doubtful that we will be adding a perimeter drain system because the water intrusion seems to be under control.

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