Experience Makes the Difference

EXPERIENCE MAKES THE DIFFERENCE- Living the Art and Craft of Building Sustainable Natural Element Homes.

The buzzword in building these days: sustainability. We hear and see it wherever we go, whether we are considering building plans, remodeling or investment in energy savings or energy production for our homes.

Says Mark Kirkpatrick, of Mountain Construction and Hearthstone of Boone, “As building professionals, we all must learn more regarding sustainable building practices for both remodeling and new construction in order to reduce our power usage. “

But what makes a Mountain home “Green?” There are many aspects to building Green.

A key factor in green building is energy-efficiency. Low energy-use appliances reduce the amount of energy used in a home, but the key to energy-efficiency lies in insulating the home from the elements. Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) are the most effective building element for reducing energy use in a home. SIPs are foam insulation products with a nailer base for siding on the outside and sheetrock or wood paneling on the inside. The insulation is built into the panel so SIPs provide a continuous band of insulation. The houses are “tighter” than conventionally framed homes. New technology in insulation provides homeowners with options far superior to standard fiberglass batt insulation.

SIPs are also used in the Hearthstone Timber Frame homes built by Mountain Construction and Hearthstone, Inc. Conventionally-framed homes involve the use of a good deal of wood. In Timber Framing the wood, in the form of large timbers, is spaced farther apart than in a stud wall and the exposed Timber Frame is “wrapped” with SIPs. The timbers are joined with “traditional” joinery that has been used for hundreds of years by craftsman building homes, barns and churches across the old country and in the new world.

Another way Mountain Construction has moved toward sustainability is by evaluating the trees that need to be removed for construction. They do this in the early stages of planning to determine if any trees from the building site can be used in the home. They are currently building a home in Valle Cay that had an oak and a maple tree large enough to supply lumber to be used in the house. There will be an oak mantle and oak trim in the great room and the kitchen island will be built from the maple.

For another home, on a particularly wooded site, they took all the timber supports, stairs, loft timbers and porch timbers from trees harvested from the building site. The homeowner says it is his way of “keeping the soul of the land alive,” using trees in his home that would have come down anyway. This sustainable effort must be well planned and thought out. “Of course, as a part of this planning all timber supports had to be engineered,” Kirkpatrick notes. “Though the use of timbers from the property is a ‘sustainable’ practice, it is not necessarily the least expensive way to go. “

The pioneers, as well as Architects and Builders circa 1900-1930,used materials they had on hand.  In those days, this was the sustainable way to build. This is why we see chestnut paneling, chestnut timbers, chestnut bark (now replaced with poplar bark), cedar shakes, feather edge siding, board and batten, logs, locust posts on porches and other sustainable locally provided natural element resources in the stunning historic homes in Blowing Rock and Linville.

Use of natural elements allows for a great deal of creativity in home design and construction. Mark Kirkpatrick takes great pride in the many creative touches he has been able to design and build for his clients. “For us,” says Kirkpatrick, “the most important part of building a home is working with the client to give them the home they envision. We’ve built strong relationships with our clients, and keep in touch with them through the years. That’s very gratifying for me, and makes it worthwhile.”

Mark has built many Hearthstone homes as well as assisting Owner-Contractors and other builders with Timber Frame, Timber Frame Hybrid and Log homes for themselves or their clients. Many of the Hearthstone Timber Frame and Log homes he designs and delivers are built by other general contractors.

Mark Kirkpatrick and his staff at Mountain Construction have participated in the NAHB Certified Green Professional Course, are Energy Star Partners and have been immersed in green building practices for many years. They’ve been building tightly sealed and sustainable homes using Structural Insulated Panels in Timber Frame and Timber Frame Hybrid homes in Boone, Blowing Rock, Banner Elk and Morganton since 1987. Experience makes the difference!

If you are interested in SIP, Timber Frame, Log, Hybrid or sustainable building practices, call Mountain Construction at 828-963-8090.

For more information about Green Building and Sustainability, visit the Articles section of Mountain Construction’s website at www.mountainconstruction.com.