Our Buildings Tell a Story

Q: What is your philosophy on construction?

My philosophy on good construction has to do with a balance between high design and sustainability. High design is delivering what the client imagined, but better, with their final reaction being “this is exactly what I was thinking.” Sustainability speaks to a project’s cost of ownership. Meaning, it’s not going to overwhelm them from a maintenance standpoint; it’s going to be comfortable; and it’s going bring about good indoor air quality. Balancing these two themes brings about a great finished project.

Q: What projects excite you?

I have especially enjoyed projects that proved to be life changing for the client. Life changing can be subtle or it can be dramatic. It can speak to how the client experiences their building. An example, the first residential EarthCraft remodel we did 20 years ago was a second story addition for a family with three young girls. As part the project due diligence, we noticed that the backyard sloped toward the house. When you see that, it is safe bet that there is a swamp in the crawl space, which we found. Crawl space encapsulation wasn’t really done then, but we recommended the treatment to mitigate bulk moisture, dry the space, and eliminate the musky odors in the home. About three months after completion, the client called to let us know that the two children with asthma no longer had symptoms. Ever since, EarthCraft is our minimum standard.

Q: What are the construction trends you are seeing?

Performance and automation are trends we like to discuss. Performance is the acknowledgement that a building is a collection of systems and should be designed, specified, and constructed as such. It is great to be at Jones Pierce. Here I can apply the right prescription of high performance design and systems to each project from our minimum EarthCraft standard all the way to a house built to Passive House criteria. Automation is a nod towards installing the minimum infrastructure to ensure that a project is not tech-dated prematurely. While an owner may not want to install all the bells and whistles immediately, they need to know that whatever is next can be plug and play rather than cut and rebuild. I want our clients set up for success.

Q: How do you stay current with changes in the construction field?

I’m an adjunct professor in the College of Design, School of Building Construction at Georgia Tech. This keeps me in an academic environment where I am exposed to the best-in-class from process, product, and trend standpoints. I teach based from an SLS (Serve, Learn, Sustain) methodology. This allows for experiential learning opportunities that involve a service and sustainability component. We deal with real world design/construction problems. This keeps it fresh and current; I am as much student as teacher.

Q: How do you bring value to the design process?

I bring the experience of a 20-year career as an architect, general contractor, building performance consultant, and professor to every project I build. Although I think I’ve seen it all (hopefully), I take on every new project with open eyes and excitement. I love what I do.

Q: How does good construction add to the sustainability of the structure?

Sustainability is about setting up a client for success and spending their budget where it can earn them the least maintenance and utility costs, a comfortable environment, and excellent indoor air quality. It’s about a balanced approach for the best structure and ROI. An example of a balanced approach is the process of sizing HVAC equipment with a Manual-J. If a client installs excellent insulation, a tight building envelope and ducts, and then properly sizes the HVAC then the payoff is, typically, 40% less HVAC tonnage or 15% less utility cost every month of ownership. This is an example of a little more up-front cost paying off in the long term. This is a small example or sustainability, cost of ownership, and the consultative guidance we bring to the project. And if your GC or HVAC contractor hasn’t heard of a Manual-J? Run.

Q: When is the best time to bring in a general contractor into the process and why?

Ideally from day one. A knowledgeable GC will see things on the site or in the existing building that an architect may not, and vice versa. I describe the traditional relationship between design and construction as a baton pass which eliminates so much efficiency and probability for success right out of the gate. Think of Jones Pierce Structures as your owner representative who is the liaison between you, the architect, and the general contractor ensuring everyone is on the same page related to every design decision and specification. The owner’s representative can navigate through design and build conflicts that will naturally occur. I am the expert in your corner.