Posts Tagged ‘boston’s high end custom builders’

Ten Steps to Zero Energy Home

September 21st, 2015

Ten Steps to Zero Energy Home - Inside a Zero Energy Home - Connaughton ConstructionThe ten steps to zero energy home is a lifestyle change.

1. Energy Audit

After you conduct an energy audit, you are ready for an architect or engineer that can put the plans on paper. The  architect or engineer takes all of the specifications from the energy audit and integrates them into a complete design document. This helps the contractors and subcontractors in making their estimates and completing the work.

From the very beginning, and throughout the retrofitting process, the homeowner, energy consultant, the contractor and the architect or engineer work as a team to make the transition possible.

2. Super Seal the Building

Create an air tight barrier on all six sides of the home. Air tightening the shell of your home; the floors, ceilings, windows, doors, outlets and walls. A blower door test will identify air leaks during the testing. Use transparent caulking while a blower door is running to seal all air leaks. Lowering the Air Changes per Hour to near 2 ACH is a common goal for a full zero net energy remodel.

3. Super Insulate

The building envelope of a house consists of its roof, sub floor, exterior doors, windows and of course the exterior walls. A tight building is preferable in cooler climates.

Adding blown-in ceiling insulation,  floor insulation and basement wall insulation is an easy and relatively inexpensive measure. This is where the R-value matters.

How well insulation works is expressed by its R-value, which measures resistance to the flow of heat. The higher the R-value, the better it insulates per inch of thickness. How much is enough?

The Attic Insulation: The amount of insulation recommended for homes in the northeast is a minimum of R-50 in the attic, which is equivalent to approximately 16″ of fiberglass insulation. Warmer climates only require an R-38 or higher, or about 12″.

Wall Insulation: While wall insulation is limited by the width of the studs, different materials provide higher or lower R-values. Fiberglass batts for standard 2×4 walls are now available in low, medium, and high density products that range from R-11 to R-15. Sprayed foam insulation in the same wall cavity can range from an R-14 to an R-28 depending on the product that is used.

Floor Insulation: While there are additional considerations—such as venting and moisture problems—to take into account when you insulate under floors, the United States Department of Energy recommends an R-25 rating in cold climates and an R-11 in warmer parts of the country.

4. Use Highly Insulated Windows and Doors

Installing U-value storm windows can save up to 20% of the heat lost through the windows. The U-value of a window is the insulation value or measurement. The lower the u-value the better the insulation value of that window.

Low U-value windows for energy efficiency in zero energy homes - Connaughton ConstructionSelecting windows for energy efficiency is easier with the new window technologies available to homeowners, architects and builders. There are three major types of energy flow that occur through windows: (1) non solar heat losses and gains in the form of conduction, convection, and radiation; (2) solar heat gains in the form of radiation; and (3) airflow, both intentional (ventilation) and unintentional (infiltration). The U-value is a measure of the rate of non-solar heat flow through a window or skylight.  Buy lower U-factors windows for reducing heat flow.

5. Use the Sun for Electricity and Hot Water

Installing a solar hot water system or a heat pump hot water heater will reduce hot water costs. Adding low flow showerheads and faucets will help reduce hot water use.

Turning off and unplugging all electronics when not in use. Using energy strips for all electronics will make it easy to disconnect them when not in use.

6. Create an Energy Efficient, Fresh Air Supply and Manage Humidity

Plan for and manage moisture. As you seal up the holes, or insulate crawl spaces you also need to manage the moisture that goes along with insulating. Installing a highly efficient Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) or Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) system will help provide fresh filtered air.

In most homes, especially airtight homes, indoor winter humidity should be 30% or below, to avoid possible condensation problems. An HRV helps lower indoor humidity more effectively, when the outside humidity is low. The use of vapor barrier paint on the interior of the sheet rock will help prevent moisture from penetrating the wall assembly. Moving the air regularly with either type of ventilation system will help prevent mold.

7. Use an Energy Efficient Heating and Cooling System

Installing a ductless heat pump mini-split heating and air conditioning system, is very energy efficient and easy to install.

Install programmable thermostats that reduce the heat when you are away and increase heat when you return.

8. Install Energy Efficient Lighting.

For lighting, high efficiency LEDs lightbulbs in light fixtures that get the most use.

9. Select Energy Efficient Appliances and Electronics

All appliances having the Energy Star label have been deemed energy efficient by government standards.

10. Install Smart Meter

A smart meter is the communication gateway between the utility company and the home.

Request a Consultation with Connaughton Construction for your project. Call 781-899-1438, ext. 14 for John. There never was a better time to enjoy your outdoor space.

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Current Project 310 Marlborough Street

September 11th, 2015

Boston’s Back Bay

310 Marlborough St,  formerly a multi-family home with approximately 4,704 square feet, built in 1899. The average list price for Back Bay today is $2,429,400. This is one sought after neighborhood in Boston, ranking as Boston’s Luxury Properties. The panoramic views and exceptional location in the trendy and sophisticated Boston’s Back Bay make residences on Marlborough Street one of the most desirable.

What was once a 7 unit brownstone is under renovation into a single family of four. It’s getting a total overhaul. In this five story frame, we’re reframing all the walls, leveling the floors, new insulation, new lighting and new wiring throughout. We’re implementing new heating, new plumbing, new fire sprinkler system independent of the plumbing system, and new electric. A three-phase electrical is in for the new elevator and electric heat pumps; requiring a new tie-in at the street. Rock wool insulation is going into the entire place; ceiling, walls, stairs, floors. Rock wool insulation is safer, having no formaldehyde, makes it more green, eco-friendly and resistant to fires. In addition to the rock wool insulation, we are installing polyicynene closed cell spray foam at the top floor ceiling and roof and at the front mansard roof; an energy efficient rating of R38.

We are renovating 5 fireplaces with choice of stone, marble and wood, gracing the garden level, the master bedroom, the music room, second floor, and dining room.

Garden Level

Current Project 310 Marlborough - Front and Back Entrances - Connaughton Construction

Garden Level – Radiant Floor Heating Back Garden

At garden level we have a bedroom, bath, storage, 2 large closets, a wet bar, family room with a fireplace, an entrance at the front and back.

Back Entrance (left image) the outside Back Entrance Parking court will have a heated brick driveway versed with an electric radiant floor heating system automatically clearing the snow. The cinder-block dividing wall will be all brick.

Music Room Makeover Inside and Outside

Current Project 310 Marlborough Street - Music Room Main Level - Connaughton Construction

Main Floor – First Level – Music Room

Front Entrance above will take you up the brownstone steps, through mahogany french doors, pass the parlor room, the mahogany library and a music room.

For the music room (top image) makeover we are refinishing the mahogany fireplace, retrimming the bay window and reframing the walls. To bring the fireplace up to code, the chimney flue is getting a new stainless steel liner.

The Bay window is the music room overlooking the parking court.

From the outside (left image) the bay window is getting restored with a new base. The white base is weather resistant PVC trim, soon to be black to match the top.

Hyper Heat Heating and Cooling System

Current Project 310 Marlborough Street - New Sprinkler System - Connaughton Construction

Second Level – New Sprinkler System

The second level houses the gourmet kitchen, a big family room and a dining room with gas log fireplace.

Building closets left and right, installing ductwork shared by the AC and new HVAC with Hyper Heat Heating and Cooling System.

Getting up-to-code with the city requires installation of the new sprinkler system. With the new sprinkler system we’re installing 2″ fire lines from the street separate from the domestic water system.

On-Demand Tankless Hot Water Heater

Cast Iron Plumbing used Throughout - Current Project 310 Marlborough Street - Connaughton Construction

Third Level – Cast Iron Plumbing Throughout

Master suite with separate study at the front with a laundry room.

Plumbing The new plumbing is black cast iron. Water flowing through cast iron piping is quieter than water running through pvc piping.

We are installing 3 new energy efficient gas fired on demand tankless hot water heaters. No tanks means no space needed.

Tankless hot water heaters provide the comfort and convenience of having a continuous supply of hot water. Gas-fired tankless water heaters produce higher flow rates than electric ones. Sometimes, even the largest, gas-fired tankless water heater cannot supply enough hot water for simultaneous, multiple uses in large households. To overcome this problem, we are installing three tankless water heaters.

Fourth Level

Current Project 310 Marlborough Street - Hanging Blueboard on Stilts-Connaughton Construction

Fourth Level – Professionals use stilts to hang blueboard.

The fourth level has 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths, and 3 large closets, 1 of which is cedar.

Professionals use stilts to hang blueboard on the ceiling and walls.

Roof Deck

Current Project 310 Marlborough Street - Roof Deck View of Prudential - Connaughton Construction

Roof Deck – View of Prudential

A new glass roof hatch (middle image) provides access to new outdoor space; the roof deck. Breath-taking view of the Prudential building and eco-friendly Green Roofs. We’re framing with pressure treated wood and high quality, no maintenance Trex composite decking for the flooring.

The large white unit (far left image) is the energy efficient hyper-heat pump(HHP) condenser for heating and cooling. An air handler units is installed on every floor, small enough to fit in the ceiling, and connected to an HHP Condenser. For cooling, the unit blows air across freon cooled pipes, sending out cool air. For heating, the unit blows air across heated coils. The white pipes on the roof top are vent pipes for the water heaters. One is a fresh air in-take, and one exhausts air.

New Elevator with 3 Phase Electrical System

Current Project 310 Marlborough Street - Elevator Shaft - Connaughton Construction

New Elevator

The new elevator shaft is under way. How’s that for making life easy carting groceries, moving furniture, and carrying belongings between levels. A new 3 phase electrical system is in place due to the addition of the elevator and to bring the electrical up to code.

Private elevators is becoming a necessity in residential suburban living where the best use of vertical space is a must.

Current Project 310 Marlborough Street

Request a Consultation with Connaughton Construction for your project. Call 781-899-1438, ext. 14 for John. There never was a better time to enjoy your outdoor space.

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Net Zero Energy Home

July 24th, 2015

Is there a Net Zero Energy Home in your future?

Net Zero Energy Home by Connaughton ConstructionAre you thinking about buying or building a new home? Would you consider buying a home that comes with zero energy bills and zero carbon emissions? A Net Zero Energy Home is so energy-efficient. The sun provides all the energy you will ever need each year. You could be pocketing thousands of dollars in energy savings, while you’re protecting the environment.

What is a Net Zero Energy Home?

A Net Zero Energy Home is a home that produce as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year.

Is a Net Zero Energy Home more expensive?

A Net Zero Energy Home costs about 5-6% more when you utilize all the energy incentives that are available today. They are market comparable and you can get all the luxuries that you normally would expect in a conventional home  as well as having zero energy bills. There are tax incentives and rebates.
A Net Zero Energy Home appraise for more than a conventional home. You’ll want to use a green certified appraiser.
How much does it cost to be connected to the heat grid? There is a $10 a month cost to be connected to the energy grid. At the end of the month, your energy bill is zero. How’s that for those of us who struggle to pay our energy bills every month? A home owner with Net Zero Energy homes are producing more energy then they’re using so they have energy to give folks who are struggling with their winter heating bill. This is an opportunity to help others.

Aside from the Energy Savings What makes a Net Zero Energy Home so desirable?

When you build a Net Zero Energy Home  you integrate a lot of things into the shell and into the interior of the home. It’s well lit. It’s healthy living. It’s well ventilated with fresh air. And at the end of the year your energy bill is zero.
From designers and builders of Net Zero Energy Homes, they will tell you these homes are, from the outside, the same as many other homes. You’ll see the solar thermal collectors, the solar electric collectors on the roof. Once you get inside the home, the exterior walls are quite a bit thicker. The heating and cooling systems are a lot more efficient than your typical system of other homes. Many of the other parts and pieces; the appliances have been specifically chosen for these homes to lower the energy bill to zero as best possible.
To potential buyers of Net Zero Energy Homes. You are insulating yourself from the rise of energy costs. You are protecting your investment. The home will sell for more and it will sell faster on the market. Home owners of Net Zero Energy Homes state they love it because there are no drafts in the middle of winter. Fresh filtered air is circulated continuously. Best of all having zero carbon emissions is healthier for the planet and healthier for future generations.
Conventional homes consume close to 30% of the nation’s energy. That’s a lot of carbon emissions. A Net Zero Energy Home is so achievable. Why not? Why not do this for the environment and our grandchildren? Zero energy bills. Zero carbon emissions and a healthier home.

Zero Energy Homes Raise the Bar for Home Construction

Find a Net Zero Energy Home Builder in the Boston area by Contact Connaughton Construction about Net Zero Energy Homes today! or Call 781-899-1438, ext. 14 for John. There never was a better time for all of us to “think global and act local.”

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Hidden Challenges of Historic Preservation

November 3rd, 2014

Imagine, if you will, the historic preservation of a building that was once ten to twelve small apartments. Now you’ll find four multi-million dollar condominiums in prime location of Back Bay Boston; where luxury design unravels.

From a homeowners point of view, you might want to know you can experience this Grand Back Bay multi-million dollar condo, enjoying living on sunny side of Commonwealth Avenue. Live in a magnificent residence restored to a stately 2 story home with incredible 11 foot high ceilings, ornate detail and impeccable design.

 Coffered Ceilings, A Chef Kitchen Any chef would enjoy whipping up an extravagant meal in this kitchen. A joy to be in with the abundance of natural light. Not to mention everything right at your fingertips, plenty of counter space to design your meals. 3 bedrooms, 3.5 luxury baths, 3 fireplaces: living room, dining room and family room; Balcony to Roof Deck 40 sf deck off dining room, 300 sf private patio.

Hardly a project for the inexperienced. This type of restoration takes the skill and expertise of a team that includes an architect and a contractor who know the ins and outs of the land here in Boston.  The partnership between the architect and the contractor does not stop at the office. As business associates, Guy Grassi and John Connaughton share a vision when they collaborate. This particular project took 14 months and many tradesman; carpenters, demolition experts, roofers, welders, steel experts, tilers, brick layers. How do they all work together to make magic happen? Read on.

Hidden Challenges of Historic Preservation

What were the challenges you faced? How did you craft through them?

Exterior Brick Restored to Historic Preservation Requirements

Back Exterior

The Historic District of Boston has strict permitting guidelines. It takes an experienced and diligent team of architect and contractor to know the Back Bay Architectural Commission requirements. All exterior work (whether or not it is visible from a public way) requires the review of the Back Bay Architectural Commission.  A Certificate of Appropriateness, Design Approval, or Exemption Application must be submitted to and approved by the Commission prior to beginning any exterior work.

To keep a project moving, the Architect lays out the design and obtains the commission approval. The Contractor obtains the proper permits and keeps the project moving forward organizing many tradesman toward completion of the project.

This particular project at 313 Commonwealth Avenue, Connaughton Construction and Grassi Architectural Design Group added a penthouse to the fifth floor. This meant taking the roof off, raising the fifth floor; the ceiling height was too low. This modification raised a five story building to a five and a half story building.  “This is technical work!”, says John, President of Connaughton Construction. ” The amount of planning is intense. The materials that are required, planning with the weather, and length of time needed to complete this addition. Mix with the proper permitting involved, city officials, fire department, inspectors, Back Bay Architectural Commission need to be coordinated and satisfied.”

Custom Designs that were included?

On the exterior of the back of the building, space was added to the back. New bricks were custom made to match the existing bricks in size, color and texture.

The trim on the bowed windows is all custom milled. The outside trim had to be matched exactly.Then there’s the glass windows. This has  to be in line with upgrading historic building windows guidelines.  New window glass has to be matched exactly in size, color, the curved shape and wave in the glass. The windows installed in this building improve blast resistance and thermal performance.

The high performance retrofitting options meeting federal preservation standards are weatherstripping and glazing film,  blast curtains and shades,  laminated glass interior storm windows, and replacement glazing.

Personal Touches

Staircase Restored to Historic Preservation Requirements

Original Main Entrance

The original design of the main stairway from the Main lobby is preserved to look like new but its all original. Just beautiful paneling and framing on the walls, painted in bright and rich creamy whites. Accenting the dark wooden stair steps on white risers is pristine.

Library with Mahogany Paneling and Limestone Fireplace - Historic Preservation


The Library, on the first floor, is restored to original design with Mahogany wall paneling and moldings along with the italian style limestone fireplace.

Unseen challenges

What you don’t see is the foundation of the Boston’s Back Bay buildings. They are built on wood piles. These wood piles exist submerged in water. The wood piles have to be under water. If they dry, they rot. When they rot, the building foundation becomes unstable. The entire building can sink or settle. If the earth shifts, the building shifts. If the building shifts, walls crack and structure becomes unlivable, and expensive to repair.

Our solution was to build a retention system under the parking area. This retention system collects all the water from rain or runoff, keeping the wood piles immersed in water. Open holes below allow water to drain into the soil.

That’s why a project of this caliber and scope, you need an architect and a contractor that keeps policing the project, keeps it moving forward, gathers all the approvals of all the players. Permitting for this takes time and its a huge challenge coordinating all the requirements.

You can count on our team to deliver a quality project on time and on budget. This is one area Connaughton Construction’s expertise pays for itself.

Book case flanked Limestone Fireplace

Picture 1 of 22

Book case flanked Limestone Fireplace Connaughton Construction

Contact Connaughton Construction

to discuss renovation of your project. We specialize in historic preservation. Set up your personal Consultation. If you prefer to talk to someone on the phone, please call John with Connaughton Construction at 781-899-1438 x 14 or Ellen at x13.

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