A Family Retreat on Canandaigua Lake: Working the Land

“I’ll give you the whole story if you share those with me.” I glanced at the white box with orange fish dancing across the outside. Crackers for information, the deal of the day. With a smile I handed the box over to Pete, one of our design group architects and the design leader on our current Canandaigua Lake general contracting project.lake-retreat-rendering2“So Megan,” Pete began in his usual serious-but-joking-and-easygoing manner, “You want to know about the Canandaigua Family Retreat? Well, Dan & Laurie have been looking for the right site for about three years now. They gave us a call and asked if we’d come check out the spot they’d found. They felt really good about it, but wanted our take, which I thought was pretty cool. I like being involved from the beginning, especially because I had a good idea of what they wanted their project encompass.”

getfile-7“Had their three year search reached an end?” I asked as the crackers disappeared with unnatural speed.

“It had,” he confirmed. “We knew our design plans would be influenced by stringent site constraints associated with being near the water (height restrictions, erosion/sediment concerns, set-backs, etc) and the nature of the narrow, deeply sloping land. But it was perfect for Dan & Laurie’s home.”

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I attended the raising (more on this in another post) and I agree with Pete; it is a great spot. It is nestled into the hillside and it maintains privacy even though it is on the lake. The land slopes away allowing views of the water through pockets of mature trees. I couldn’t help thinking it was as if the land had secret views of the lake, but hey, I’m a romantic at heart.

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The steep site offers elevated views of Canandaigua Lake.

“Why Canandiagua Lake? Why timber framing?”

Pete grabbed another handful of crackers before answering, “Laurie grew up visiting a family lake home – who doesn’t love those? Canandiagua is a good ‘meeting’ spot for Dan, Laurie, their kids, parents, and extended family. A central location everyone likes.

A few years back they checked out a lake home that happened to be a timber frame we’d built in the 2000’s. They loved it and were inspired to build their own on Canandaigua.”

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Extensive excavation and landscaping work was the first step in preparing Dan and Laurie’s site for their new home.

“Were there any special design considerations for the site, for the project?”

Pete grinned quickly before responding. “The short answer is the steep site,” he paused, flashing a grin again, “but you want to know more than that, right?” Another handful of crackers later he continued, “We wanted to create a nice way to get from the detached garage to the house, from guest parking to the house, from the house down to the water. Reducing the necessity of long, continuous stairs, descent and assent around the site was key. Extensive excavation and landscaping work was the first step in the solution. Ted Collins Landscaping has been a huge help there.”

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The home is set into the land, a part of the hillside. ICFs were used for the foundation and here are filled with concrete.

“I wanted to set the house into the site rather than rest it on top of the site. This minimizes some of the challenges of living on a hill and keeps the overall height within restrictions. Setting deeper into the land also helps the structure become more a part of the land, living with the land. Another benefit to sitting the house into the site was easier connections to the garage and parking. Plus, it brings everything closer to the lake.”

A pause for more crackers. At this point I was thinking about taking them away before the entire box was demolished and I was left with nothing for future interviewees. “There were a bunch of existing retainer walls,” he continued, “that were in disrepair. The plan we have replaces those with feature boulder walls against grading. They’re functionally stable, organic, and way prettier. There will be more natural paths of stepping stones, each with intentional pauses to break up the steps between structures.”

I wasn’t sure what he meant by ‘pauses’. “Like stair landings?”

“Yep. And some larger flats that will work as gathering areas along the way down to the lake.”

“Neat.” I smiled as ingratiatingly as possible. I had to move him out of my office before my crackers were entirely gone. “I’m going to ask you about this home several more times, but give me summary of the project and we’ll call it a wrap.”

img_20161031_090117275_hdr“This is a retreat home for Dan & Laurie and their family. It will be the central hub for all major gatherings and vacations. It is a single story with spaces throughout capturing views of the lake. We crafted a Douglas fir frame with a custom finish and inside it will have an in-law suite and a master suite on the main level. The walk-out lower will have a bunk room, guess suite, and rec room. Landscaping will include native plants and pleasant paths.”

“Great!” I reached slowly for the box of crackers, pulling them from his grasp. “Thanks Pete.”

Looking somewhat forlorn, he replied, “Sure thing, Megan.”

I’ll share pictures and details of the raising in a later blog. Below is a picture of current progress. Roofing and enclosure are nearly complete. Our construction team has been thankful for a fairly easy winter (so far!) in the Northeast.

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Harmony on the Hudson: The Olsen’s Timber Home Retreat Story

olsen-interiorTimber Home Living magazine documented the Olsen’s journey to building their family retreat in the Berkshires from 2014 to completion in 2016. What happens during a custom home building project? Starting with our design team join the story from the Olsen’s point of view as we craft the timber frame, enclosure, and custom woodworking. Click through each part of the eight part series below to get the inside scoop.

The Olsen’s story, and the Welcome Home Series, begins with the land…

Part 1: From Dream to Design
The Olsen’s begin designing their dream home on land they’d been spending vacation time visiting for 10 years. Harmony with the land and the family was a must.
view-from-olsenPart 2: Laying The Groundwork
Breaking ground – an exciting day, especially with a few last minute modifications.

groundbreaking-olsenPart 3: Built to Last
Our team raises the frame and the Olsen family watches their dream home take shape.
olsen-raisingPart 4: Worth the Wait
Weather delays…but not for long!
olsen-in-snowPart 5: Lessons Learned
Communication proves vital in the build process for sticking to the plan and modifying.
solar-array-olsenPart 6: Elements of Surprise
Nearing completion, creativity and flexibility lead to modified plans.
olsen-porchPart 7: The Big Finish
Mixed materials, including reclaimed wood, make a statement on the interior and exterior of the Olsen Home.
olsen-custom-cabinetry-reclaimed-floorPart 8: The Great Escape
“I definitely think we designed the right size house with the perfect layout,” says Greg Olsen.
olsen-porch-exteriorolsen-exterior-timber-frame-reclaimed-sidingOur notes:
When Greg and Dee approached us to craft their family’s timber frame retreat we knew it was going to be fun. Their philosophy fit with ours: they wanted to strike a balanced design, a home in harmony with the site that was as environmentally conscious as possible. Eliminating VOCs, incorporating reclaimed and organic materials, and a solar array were “must have” elements. Planning on large family gatherings and lots of cooks in the kitchen, there is ample party space with unobstructed southern views of the Catamount and Butternut Mountains. Screened and covered porches blur the line between interior and exterior spaces.

The resulting home celebrates a variety of reclaimed and storied wood: the timber frame is crafted from reclaimed Douglas fir; flooring is reclaimed Walnut on the upper level and reclaimed Teak on the lower level; wall paneling is reclaimed barn siding; reclaimed beech was used to create custom bed frames, night stands, and built-ins. Much of the cabinetry and built-ins, including the Ash kitchen cabinetry, was made by our fine woodworking division, NEWwoodworks. The kitchen island includes a “waterfall” of walnut as a prep/presentation area while the adjacent dining table seats up to twelve.

The Great Escape: Part 8 of the Welcome Home Series

“I definitely think we designed the right size house with the perfect layout. The house lives on the land and captures views. We’re so happy we decided to build this house and we’re so happy we decided to work with New Energy Works.” – Greg Olsen.

We can’t thank Greg enough for his kind words, but we can try! Many, many thanks to Greg and Dee for working with us and becoming part of our community. Designing, raising, enclosing, and completing the fine woodworking for their home was truly a pleasure. Please enjoy this final article by Timber Home Living magazine of the Olsen’s retreat home journey. (And if you missed the others, click here.)

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Building the First Complete CLT Project in New York State

first-clt-building-in-nys-new-energy-works-timberframersWe’re excited to announce that we’re building the first complete Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) building in New York State on our campus in Farmington, New York. Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) construction is an economically and environmentally conscious alternative to steel and concrete construction. The new building will house or fine woodworking division, NEWwoodworks, and offer storage/shipping space for our sister company Pioneer Millworks.

“We’re extremely excited to bring this alternative building method to New York State. We see CLTs as the wave of the future and are investing in our Western New York campus to better position the region and our industry to ride the wave,” states Jonathan, our Founder and President. “The opportunities with CLTs are abundant for businesses and housing and offer dramatic environmental benefits. Wood is a naturally occurring and renewable resource which stores carbon. It has proved time and again to preform as well, and at times better than, carbon heavy steel and concrete.”

clt-exampleCLTs are large wooden panels, typically consisting of 3, 5, or 7 layers of dimensional lumber, oriented at right angles, glued together. This results in exceptional strength, dimensional stability, and rigidity. The pre-fabricated wall, floor, and roof panels can be installed quickly with little job-site waste. European countries have been utilizing the panels for multi-story buildings with great structural, financial, and environmental success.

timber-frame-of-tomorrowland-new-energy-worksCombining the strength of timbers and CLT panels, the building will utilize a timber frame wrapped by CLT walls and topped by CLT roof panels. The panels will be pre-cut for windows and doors and will arrive by cargo shipment to Farmington NY in early January 2017. Both the timber frame and the panels will be raised in January 2017.

“The CLT panels are pre-designed, highly engineered, of superior quality with precise tolerances – all specific processes and requirements that are fundamental to our timber framing craft. This fits perfectly with our traditional work and parallels the SIPs integration that we’ve spearheaded for years,” explains Jonathan.

In February of 2015, our fine woodworking division, NEWwoodworks located in Shortsville, NY, suffered a catastrophic event as half of the roof collapsed over their 70-year-old building (no one was injured). The CLT project will be a 21,000 sq ft, single level building, to house both NEWwoodworks and provide storage/shipping for Pioneer Millworks reclaimed wood products.

An example of a CLT project built in Washington DC earlier in 2017.

An example of a CLT project built in Washington DC in 2016.

NEWwoodworks’ manufacturing equipment and craftsmen will be entrusted with 13,000 sq ft while Pioneer Millworks will utilize 8,000 sq ft for reclaimed wood storage and shipping. We broke ground for the foundation on November 15, 2016 behind our timber frame shop.

close-up-fiber2017 will start off with the timber frame raising followed by raising of the CLT panels (walls and roof). We’re also examining a wood fiber insulation which is more environmentally friendly than the majority of alternative options. We’ll share more as progress continues. Contact us with any questions or for a schedule of events: events@newenergyworks .com