Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Show opening at CONCEPIA

Concepia is hosting its first show of the year. Concepia is located in the Churchill Corner building in Friday Harbor. 

Opening Show: March 26th to May 6th 2010:  Sandra Boyer & Joe Miller.
Our first show for 2010 at Concepia features the work of two local artists; Sandra Boyer and Joe Miller. Opening reception starts on March 26th at 5pm. Both Sandra and Joe will be in attendance.

Read more about Concepia in a previous blog post, "Life After the Designer."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hare House Phase 2-Current Construction Photos

Hare House Phase 2 is currently under construction in Friday Harbor, WA. The main house and its accompanying "folly" joins the completed guest house on this difficult infill lot. The house is slated to achieve some national Green Building certifications, Energy Star and NAHB Green (Anna is a Certified Green Professional through the NAHB), as well Built Green, the local residential Green Building certification (the San Juan Channel House received its Built Green 3-star designation last year). We are also the contractor for Hare House Phase 2, through Studio How, our design build team. Studio How is participating in the US Department of Energy's Builder's Challenge

Cantilevered balcony and roof, courtesy of Peter A Opsahl Structural Engineering in Seattle.

Beautiful clear cedar siding, installed with care by KDL Builders.The center section, now building wrap and furring, is awaiting Corten Steel Siding. 

Kolbe Ultra Series Aluminum Clad windows provide views of the water and Mt. Baker.

Keep up with the Hare House Phase 2 construction on Studio How's Facebook page

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Print Version of "Small Homes, Big Profits"

The March 2010 issue of BUILDERnews magazine features the cover story, "Small Homes, Big Profits," about guest houses. (The digital version was featured in a previous blog post) Photos of the San Juan Channel House and Hare House Phase 1 are included, as well as an interview with Anna.

Hare House Phase 1, top (photo by Anna Howden), San Juan Channel House, bottom left (photo by Jeff Case)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Third party verified new homes with an environmental certification in the City of Seattle sell for 22% more per square foot in 12% less time."
GreenWorks Realty.

This is big news for those of us involved in new home construction and sustainable practices. Until now, our clients simply had to believe in green construction and be willing to spend the extra cost without any promise of added resale value. We still need to push for the proper training of our local appraisers and realtors in order for these statistics to infiltrate the rest of our state.

For more information and detailed statistics for Seattle and King County, check out:

For events, seminars and certification, go to:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

To Stay or To Go? Some Pros and Cons of Remodeling

We love working with families who are trying to figure out the next step in their living situation. Maybe the house was fine when it was just a couple or the kids were young, but now everyone and their stuff is taking up more space, and more privacy is needed for everyone's sanity.

Many people choose to remodel, if they have room on their lot. Others will chose to look for a larger house. If you are considering whether to move or remodel, here are some pros and cons to consider:

Remodeling Pro/Moving Con:
  • You have already invested in a home and made it your own. In our transient culture where so many people move around constantly, trade up for larger homes, and view homes as just another investment, there is something so innate about owning a piece of dirt, watching a tree you planted 20 years ago mature, marking the kid's growth on a wall. This goes beyond just a sentimental attachment.
  • You know what you want, and there is freedom (within the parameters of your property lines and zoning codes) to make this happen. Unless you build new custom, there may not be another house on the market that fits your needs.
Moving Pro/Remodeling Con:
  • Buying a home is a known quantity. You get approved for your mortgage, you know exactly what you can afford, with professional and visual inspection you know what you want to improve upon and what is move-in ready.
  • Remodeling is not a known quantity. I recently spoke with a woman who is pricing out adding a dormer to her cape cod and received bids ranging from $25,000 to $100,000. The contractor does not know what he is going to find until the walls are actually opened or what the building inspector is going to require in terms of bringing the rest of the building up to code.
Both moving and remodeling can be equally unpleasant. It is best to be armed with as much information as possible before beginning a remodel, to avoid surprises down the line. Have a designer and a structural engineer visit you home. Have the designer prepare a code review of what will have to brought up to current code during the remodel, and what type of permit will be required (Seattle, for example, has different levels of inspections and costs depending on the extent of the remodel). Check the accuracy of the most current survey of your lot if this is available, or have a surveyor or or city official visit your lot if expansion is questionable. The structural engineer or designer should make note of the current framing and support situation. Make note of the electrical system and if this will need to be brought up to current code. If you have a septic tank, make sure your system will work for any new bedrooms you would like to add.

Armed with this information, you should be able to gain somewhat accurate bids from a contractor. Again, remodeling entails a lot of unknowns, and the contractor needs to make sure they are covering all their bases.

None of this is meant to sway anyone either way, but to provide more fodder for discussion. Of course, I am biased towards remodeling, for many reasons: yes, I am sentimental, and there is such a comfort in having the constant of my grandparent's and parent's houses in my above mentioned transient life. As a designer, I love the challenge and problem solving involved in a remodel, and who does not appreciate a great before and after, especially when the "after" is a home where a family can share a lifetime of memories.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The San Juan Channel House in the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce
Building Green Blog, shown as one of the winners of the 2009 AIA Seattle What Makes it Green? Competition.

More information on this year's competition.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Small Homes, Big Profit

D+A Studio is featured in the March issue of BUILDERnews Magazine, in Daniel Savicka's article, "Small Homes, Big Profit." Daniel interviewed Anna about the guest houses we have recently completed in the San Juan Islands, the Hare House guest house, the Henry Island House, and the guest house for the San Juan Channel House. Check out the online article here.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

"Add second homes and second incomes by upselling smaller spaces on existing property

Guesthouses have gone beyond a second-thought approach when constructing a home. Successful builders and designers are staying competitive by offering their customers a second space to live in or a space to rent as a profit-maker. It’s an untapped market that hasn’t slowed down in the economy.

In a lot of areas, such as the San Juan Islands, guesthouses provide a unique opportunity for rental properties. For Anna Howden of D+A Studios, who has an office on San Juan Island and in Seattle, many of her clients build guest homes with the idea of renting them out to people living on the island. “They’re basically the only affordable housing on the island,” says Howden.

Another option for people who don’t live on the island year-round, which is most people who can afford to build there, is to use the guesthouse as a place to house caretakers of the property for the winter. This way, there is someone to stay onsite to look after the property, and your client can trade them rent in return for their work.

According to Howden, the key to building a guesthouse is to keep it flexible. “That way you can use it as an office, a rental property, or a space for parents or grandkids. It’s basically a mini house that can keep changing according to your lifestyle. I’ve used mine as an office, we had our nanny live there at one point and other times we had friends living there that needed a place.”

Design-wise, trends for guest homes include high ceilings; lots of open space; building lofts (they can help capture space in every little corner); windows, which add views and natural light; and large slider doors, to partition off and create different spaces out of one room. Natural light is key, because they’re always smaller spaces, and proper planning can seriously cut down on the amount of energy needed to light the interior.

The typical guesthouse, according to Howden, is usually under a 1,000 square feet, but her firm has built them as large as 2,000 square feet and as small as 460 square feet. And since a lot of her clients live in Seattle full-time, most of them build their guest homes on top of a garage, where they keep a car year-round.""

Continue the article here.

Open floor plan in the Hare House guest house. The second floor serves as the living area while the first floor has a garage and a separate office. The clients are living there while the main house is under construction. After they move to the main house, the client will continue to use the first floor office, and they will rent out the second floor living area when no family is staying there.

Taking advantage of every space: a ship's ladder leads to a loft in the Hare House guest house.

A small bathroom can still be luxurious: the Hare House guest house bathroom contains a Japanese soaking tub/shower room.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Design Build: An Avenue for Women in Construction & Green Building

Design Build: An Avenue for Women in Construction & Green Building, Our latest article for Seattle Builder/Architect Magazine. The March issue has a focus on women-led and owned businesses. Also check out Builder/Architect's new digital edition.

*Note: the caption on this page incorrectly labels Anna as an architect. We are not yet licensed architects.

Design Build: An Avenue for Women in Construction & Green Building

By Anne Hamilton and Anna Howden

Although there are relatively few women-owned general contracting companies, the transition from offering design build and general contracting services in addition to architectural services can be a fairly natural one. Many architectural firms offer construction management and administration services, and by default end up working side by side with the superintendent to work through issues and to ensure that the design intent is carried out in the final product.

Transitioning to a design build firm allows the architect to be involved in a project from start to finish, control the budget more efficiently, and have more control over the quality of the final product. Participating in the actual process of pricing and ordering in construction allows for architects to design more thoughtful and cost effective buildings. The commitment to green building can be upheld throughout the project most importantly through direct contact with suppliers and subcontractors. The architect writes the green specifications and also puts them into action rather than relying on someone else to follow their green initiative. Acting as both the architect and the contractor, the site visits are streamlined and create a team approach since the architect and the tradesmen are working together and not as separate entities.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) reports that about 8 times as many men are employed in wage and salary positions in the construction industry as women, while 5 times as many men are self-employed in the construction industry. According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA), as reported by Rena M. Klien, FAIA, in 2008 16% of architectural firm principals and partners were women, up 4% from 1999, though most of these are owners of small firms. In all industries, just 6% of highly paid executives are women.

An increasing number of women continue to receive architectural degrees. However, unlike the bar exam, for instance, which allows lawyers to obtain licenses directly out of law school, architectural interns must work for many years before they can become licensed (and in some states, before they can sit for the seven architectural licensing exams). This is usually in their early to mid thirties, when women with advanced degrees usually begin having children.

This biological reality and the time commitment outside of the work day needed to become licensed will most likely keep the “glass ceiling” in place for women architects in general. However, as revealed above in the statistics about the increasing number of small women-owned architectural firms, women can create their own opportunities in construction by adding construction management and design build services to their firms through becoming licensed general contractors.

The Master Builder tradition held almost exclusively by men and mostly phased out in modern times as most industries moved towards specialization, can now be enjoyed by women.

For more information: &

D+A Studio strives to create elegant, sustainable solutions by forming flexible working relationships with each client based on their unique needs, making Real Green projects possible in the Real World. Learn more at, (206) 706-2565 (Seattle) or (360) 370-5955 (Friday Harbor), or email Studio How, LLC is our design-build entity that specializes in green construction. Learn more at , (360) 370-5955 (Friday Harbor), or email