progress continues….

in spite of the paucity of recent posts, construction has been progressing at a steady pace. the garage has been framed, roofing has been “roughed-in” (not totally watertight, but nearly so!), utility connections in the street completed (BIG deal!), and LOTS of miscellaneous framing, etc.  we are about a week behind schedule for our current phase.  not bad considering the wet weather we’ve had in october.  sunny, bright skies this week should help us on our quest to have exterior work 90% complete by thanksgiving – that is if HUNTING SEASON doesn’t slow us down too much!

three windows in this palette will be stacked into one 8′ w. x 9′ h. window in the living room.

at LONG last, the windows and doors (see previous posts entitled Drewexim Uno and Duo) were delivered to the jobsite today!  installation starts tomorrow with completion scheduled for next week.  the crew was impressed with the rugged (AND heavy) windows.  they are beautiful!  i think the client will be happy.

accessible design

As a result of an automobile accident in 1999, Jessica is a C6/C7 quadriplegic.  Obviously, this impacts nearly every aspect of her life.  Thus, her home environment must be barrier-free.  The design quest is to eliminate all barriers to an accessible life and do so in a manner that renders the lack of barriers unnoticeable.  In other words, Jessica’s house must be appear and function like a “typical” home.

Some accessible design strategies are easily attained, i.e.: wider (36”) doors.  Some are subtle and detail-intensive, i.e.: foundation details to lower door sills and eliminate the typical “bump” at the door.  The kitchen presents many obstacles. Design solutions here include thoughtful selection and locations of appliances (i.e.: the wall oven is situated to allow Jessica to “park” in front with the open oven door providing protection from hot spillage when transferring from the oven to the nearby countertop, and vice versa) ; proper countertop heights to accommodate access, comfort and safety; kitchen layout that optimizes Jessica’s mobility (she has greater strength and dexterity with her right arm/hand); careful consideration of common kitchen activities (i.e.: pot-filler faucet at stove so Jessica can fill a pot on the stove); and, remote switching at exhaust hood fan and lights (Jessica can’t reach the controls mounted on the hood).

Much thought was devoted to site and building design relative to one-story vs. two-story building configuration.  The site (land use restrictions) could have accommodated a one-story building, but would have resulted in very little useable exterior area, an important program requirement for Jessica and Todd (and their big dogs!).  As a result, a two-story scheme was developed.  Second floor access is provided via a wheelchair lift (enclosed with a door at the ground floor – virtually no visual evidence of a lift in the house).

Another site-related design consideration is the garage and vehicle access.  Jessica recently purchased a new van that will allow her to drive again.  Much thought has been given to parking the van in the garage, loading/unloading, etc.  Jessica will back the van into the garage to allow the side-mounted sliding van door to open and deploy a ramp that will directly align with the entrance door into the house.  The garage floor is 4” lower than the house floor (code required minimum).  This helps to minimize the ramp angle into the van resulting in easier and safer entering/exiting the van in a wheelchair.

In summary, many of life’s details that able-bodied folks take for granted must be carefully considered for Jessica to live a more “normal” life.  A forthcoming post will present more examples of accessible design at 363HOUSE.

drewexim duo

this post continues a discussion/presentation of the drewexim windows.  the focus is aesthetics, operation and cost.

about a year ago, i installed a large drewexim window in my studio. once jessica and todd saw my studio window, there was no turning back (to a more typical north american window).  the drewexim window and doors are substantial in their construction, appearance and operation.  the tilt/turn operation is a bit unique by our north american standards, but i enjoy the flexibility afforded by this functionality (“tilt” = the window sash opens inward, hinged at the bottom – “turn” = the window swings open inward, hinged at the side….like a door).  with the turn of a three-position lever handle, the window progressively opens from a closed/locked position to tilt then turn. no handle-cranking here.

jessica and todd’s tastes encompass a more contemporary/modern (i hate these labels!) sensibility.  aesthetically, the clean detailing and lines of the window fit nicely with the overall aesthetic of this house, both inside and out.  interior finish options include clear, stained and painted.  j & t selected a walnut stain.  exterior paint colors are selected from hundreds of “standard” paint colors (custom is available, too, at extra cost).  our window exterior has a “white aluminum” paint finish. it resembles a metallic finish and will work well with the corrugated metal siding.

cost.  you might think these windows and doors would cost A LOT more than our standard north american windows.  they don’t.  when we compared drewexim to standard north american products with necessary performance upgrades (i.e.: high-performance triple-glazing, heavy duty hardware, quality finishes, etc.) we discovered value for our dollars even when considering the euro/dollar exchange and shipping costs.  in short, the window and door package cost for this house is on-par with other houses of similar scope and costs.

drewexim windows and doors are manufactured in poland (the country, not the town in maine!).  all windows and doors are custom, as in made to order by size, configuration, finish, etc. nate campbell of fenestrations plus in bangor is the local distributor.  you can reach nate at or call him at 207.631.5041.