GreenSpace Collaborative is uniquely positioned to offer a full range of services within the natural design/build practice. We are a small group of design professionals and seasonal builders, committed to creating the most comfortable, functional and meaningful space to call home. We provide creative solutions from conceptual design to detailed construction documents and green specifications. We do not impose a “one size fits all” approach; each project is unique. In this way, we ensure each new project results in a truly distinctive home that reflects its inhabitants, the community, and the surrounding environment. We can step in at any point in the design/build process
Site Selection:Starting off right
Clients are often eager to build. However, time taken with the site selection process is time well spent. There are as many potential site issues as construction issues, yet ironically, buyers do not carefully inspect the site prior to purchase. Most clients own their property before finding an architect or designer, but for those who do not, seeking professional advice prior to purchase is strongly recommended. GreenSpace Collaborative can visit available properties, check for which best suit the client's needs and goals, study the property and look for any potential problems that might make construction more difficult or expensive. We can assist in answering the following questions facing prospective land owners:
- Does this land provide for an adequate passive or active solar-oriented house site?
- Is this a cold pocket or a warm microclimate?
- What are the existing drainage patterns and how will it affect a potential building site and its accompanying infrastructure?
- From which direction do prevailing winter winds and summer breezes typically come?
- Is the topography suitable for building?
- Might permitting become an issue with developing this site?
- Are there potential wetland or stream restrictions on site?
- How do the local By-Laws affect your potential building site?
- Is this land too big or too small for what I want to do and how well suited is it to meet all of my program needs?
- What's it going to cost to develop vehicular access to this property, to bring power in or produce our own or to establish potable water and septic infrastructure?
- Are there potentially desirable views that may be present?
- What are the tax rates for this area and will this fit your budget?
Program development:Establishing Design Objectives
Good design is not universal. The well-designed home is tailored to individual preferences. Our design begins with a full understanding of the client’s needs for function, aesthetics, value, materials, and budget. Our most innovative ideas grow from an understanding of how people will use indoor and outdoor space. Each aspect of the final design should fit harmoniously with the clients’ daily life and their surroundings.Through focused dialogue, we gather pertinent information which reveals the guiding purpose and intent of each project. This “program development” process results in a written set of design objectives that guide the entire design/build effort.
Site planning:Finding the Best Fit
Siting a house is the biggest challenge in design.Choosing the location poses the biggest risk and, ultimately, provides the greatest satisfaction for the people who will live there. Major decisions made in the site planning phase must resolve contradictory challenges and sometimes require maddening compromises. An early investment in site design reduces unforeseen problems that often arise during construction, and thus minimizes costly changes and revisions later on. The site designer will address multiple variables such as topography, solar orientation, legal restrictions, access and circulation, drainage, microclimates, as well as protecting the site’s unique natural resources. Good site planning ensures the qualities of the “perfect lot” aren’t lost, just as it turns apparent constraints of a challenging site into something special. The goal is to integrate the home with its site in an intimate and thoughtful way, while creating a functional living environment that fits the client’s lifestyle.
Design development:Moving from Concept to Reality
GreenSpace Collaborative will help the client visualize the final home design. We adjust the method of communication according to each stage of development. We find that hand sketching is still the best tool for rapid consideration of multiple design options in the early stages. Three-dimensional modeling gives an accurate picture of how the structure(s) will appear upon completion. Once designs are finalized, they need to be reviewed by local permitting authorities and contractors. For this phase, we provide construction documents that show how the details meet code requirements. Once the building permit is issued, the construction documents will illustrate the details to the builder and subcontractors. Accurate details ensure the structure is built according to expectations.
Green specifications:Establishing Construction Guidelines
With your guidance and input, GreenSpace Collaborative will tailor a construction document that establishes the framework within which the design/build team must work. This may outline ways to protect existing vegetation, minimize erosion, set standards for waste disposal and recycling during the construction phase. It might define specific building elements that must be incorporated into the design, such as super-insulation or active ventilation. It will specify or bar certain materials based on their impact to the environment or the health of the resident. Even if the client has already selected an architect or builder with whom they will be working, this document assures that the process and result will be sustainable.
Solar and wood heating design:Exploring the alternatives
Petroleum is not the only fuel option in North East. Today, there are fuels at our disposal that do not contribute to global warming. With proper house siting and design, sun and wood provide comfortable, efficient, practical, inexpensive, even romantic sources of heat. GreenSpace Collaborative can work out the details for passive solar design elements, masonry heaters, wood gasification boilers, radiant floor heat from solar hot water panels, and other innovative and low-impact sources.
Renewable electricity system design:Deriving power on-site
Generating clean on-site electricity has three big up-front costs: design, equipment, and installation. Design tailored to specific site and client needs is complicated and time-consuming.Manufactured equipment can be expensive and embody higher energy costs. Installation can be expensive however, all three are offset by a long-term payoff of clean electricity with minimal financial and environmental cost. GreenSpace Collaborative will help guide the design of a solar, wind or hydro system, depending on the site’s resources and the client’s managed electricity needs. These systems can be grid-tied or off-grid.
Project management:Coordinating all the details
The prospect of building a home can be daunting. Even if one has the construction skills, there are innumerable other tasks that need to be addressed: sifting through technical information to find the best materials and methods, timely coordination with subcontractors, obtaining local permits, securing construction loans and insurance, and oversight of the construction itself. GreenSpace Collaborative can provide construction administration services to protect the client’s interests throughout the project. We can help coordinate the many specialty trades. We often act as an informative liaison between client and town officials to obtain zoning, conservation, and building permits. Selecting a building contractor early in the process can help eliminate unfortunate surprises during construction. We can help to prepare construction specifications to get several bids, as well as answer questions that may arise from prospective bidders. We will help evaluate and interpret the bids, and assist in the final selection of a bidder. During construction, GreenSpace Collaborative will visit the job site to ensure the design is properly executed, and clarify issues that may arise for the builder.
Design/Build: Multiple disciplines under one roof
The right design/build team can provide high quality construction without sacrificing schedules or budgets. GreenSpace Collaborative strives to reduce the cost of building a home, without sacrificing efficiency, quality workmanship and aesthetics. At the same time, the use of renewable, recycled, repurposed and natural materials can lead to a unique design. By integrating design with construction, we minimize design fees, encourage innovation, and expedite project completion. Design/build smoothes and simplifies the entire process by having a single consultant responsible for design, quality, cost and scheduling. Clients are then able to concentrate on design issues rather than coordinating contracts between designer and builder. Our collaborative management results in a custom home of exceptional quality in a timely and cost-efficient manner.