Note From Ethan: Families Live In Spaces
By Ethan Collier | December 2008
“And I think most of all we love working for people. We believe that our ultimate job is customer service, to build in such a way that our current customers and future generations will appreciate what we have done.”
I am quoting a statement I made in the March newsletter because this time of year reminds me that homes are about the people who live in them, share them, create memories in them, grow in them. As a contractor, it’s easy getting bogged down by the “economic woes” or “sales figures” or “completion dates.” But at the end of the day, families live in space, and it is a great honor for me to build the space that often defines childhood memories or enhances many years of retirement.
In the green construction world, we call it “the built environment.” The term is useful because we are often influenced and shaped by our environment. Of course, it is our goal to make the environment inside the home a healthy one—the way we like the environment outside our home. And a “healthy environment” means more than just air quality or a tightly sealed building envelope. A healthy environment may mean for some that the space they live in accommodates their family size, traditions, hobbies and interests.
For instance, limiting the trees cut down around a new home for a family who loves and values the outdoors. Like turning planned attic space into an additional guest suite for a couple who often have out-of-town family come stay with them.
For Collier Construction, the built environment is more than a catch phrase.
Featured Project: Growing a Home
If words like demolition and excavation don’t repel your finer sensibilities, then you’ve probably never lived through a home addition or remodel. Even words like addition, remodel and renovation give some folks the chills. And rightly so—stripping a home of its appearance, tinkering with its internal organs and readjusting its skeletal system is not unlike... well, we won’t go there.
But for some, the remodeling process is an exciting opportunity for growth—the growth of a home and a family. At least that was Ward and Ashley Davenport’s attitude as they turned their quaint 1920s North Chattanooga bungalow into a spacious home that extends greater functionality while remaining true to its original charm.
Before the Davenport’s enlisted the help of Collier Construction and architect Louis Wamp, navigating their home from end to end was a sort of quandary. The home’s layout made a gauntlet of getting from the front to the back. Moving from the living room to the laundry room, for instance, involved covert operations through one room into another and through yet another.
As with many older homes, the 1920s design lacked a layout that promoted “circulation”—that is, fluid movement within the home’s quarters. While the beautiful kitchen, living room and dining room provided the perfect space for entertaining, the home presented many needs—like a hallway, a two-car garage and passage to the back lawn with its impressive deck.
Louis Wamp explains that the home was already sizeable, but it presented a “circulation dead-end and no access to the back.” He goes on to say that “the home was built during a time when most people didn’t own a car,” so the goal was to design an addition/remodel that included a garage and created fluid spaces that connected the front to the back while merging the old with the new.
The challenge for Wamp “was to connect spaces and to connect the back lawn, especially the back deck, to the rest of the house,” he explains. The addition certainly accomplishes the Davenport’s goal to integrate the back of the home into the existing structure. As Ashley Davenport says, “We spend nearly every weekend on our back deck. We are really fortunate to have such a large back yard in this neighborhood.”
Ultimately, Wamp’s design helped grow a home that will acclimatize to a growing family as well as promote comfort, fluidity and privacy. “A key design element was to take out closet space and build a hallway,” explains Wamp. By creating a corridor, the addition was able to include a new master bedroom suite, new two car garage, an office, a laundry room, guest bathroom, and bedroom. The master suite incorporated a new master bathroom, walk in closet, and nursery. Off the master bedroom is a private balcony. And the new deck off the back of the home was built around a beautiful towering oak tree.
The home’s most prominent feature is its large picture windows, neatly arranged to provide full view of the Davenport’s back lawn. Mr. Wamp explains, “I wanted to create sight lines from inside the house to the outside. It had previously felt walled off when you were in the den or kitchen.” That all changed—now you can stand in the kitchen, gaze down the hallway through the set of twelve windows and catch a glimpse of the fall leaves decorating the Davenport’s back lawn. “The windows provide natural light, and it was important that the back stairwell not feel like a dungeon,” Wamp explains. The office, built out in the back of the home, features a view through the windows as well.
If creating sight lines and new and fluid space was vital to Wamp’s design, remaining true to the home’s original charm was central to Collier Construction’s approach. The new built-out hallway, for instance, shows no hint of a transition from the original structure to the addition. “Our goal was to make the addition look as seamless as possible—making base that matched the original. And we were careful to match the new door knobs with the old,” explained Bryan Youngblood, project superintendent for Collier Construction. Mrs. Davenport recounts that one passerby, a stonemason himself, commented on the sheer perfection of the stonework that blended imperceptibly from the existing home and into the addition.
Perhaps the biggest challenge was to overcome the restrictions for adding to the existing property. Finding space for a master suite without encroaching on the property’s setback line and placing a garage at the bottom of a descending driveway was not an easy task. For Wamp however, it is all about problem-solving. And not over compensating. “I am careful not to do something grandiose. Projects like the Davenports’ are more difficult to solve than new projects without restrictions. But I enjoy the challenge of minimizing restrictions and solving the puzzle,” he says.
News: Recently at Collier
• From Refugee Camp to LEED Certified Habitat House on the Southside
Credit goes to the good people at Coptix for transforming their annual blow-out Christmas party into A Holiday Event Benefiting Habitat for Humanity of Chattanooga and Celebrating the Southside Habitat House, otherwise titled INHABIT. The event serves as the grand finale for MAINx24, the Southside’s annual 24 hour holiday event, which you should and will most likely attend (if for no other reason, and there are plenty of them, the sheer embarrassment of not being there). “INHABIT is a great event built into another great event. It has all the elements of a powerful experience for every guest who attends.”
The event’s centerpiece is a Habitat House built for a Sudanese refugee, Baja Dalla, and his family. With the collaboration of Ethan Collier, Josiah Roe of Coptix, architect Thomas Palmer, Jeff Cannon of green|spaces, the fine humanitarian folk of Habitat for Humanity of Chattanooga, the Southside Habitat House will be Chattanooga’s first LEED Certified Habitat House.
read more here
• Mayor Congratulates Ethan on Becoming Chattanooga’s First LEED AP Residential Builder
“As mayor, it is important to me to make sure Chattanooga is on the forefront of innovative environmental practices, initiatives, and programs. Collier Construction Company is helping to not only construct better homes, but create a stronger, greener tomorrow for both our city and its residents.”
Click on the picture to read the Mayor’s letter
• Collier sponsors INHABIT
INHABIT: \in-ˈha-bət\ transitive verb 1. To live or reside in. 2. To be present in; fill: Old Childhood memories inhabit the attic. 3. Coptix’s annual blow out Christmas party at Loose Cannon Gallery on Dec. 6th; an event of a lifetime: I’ll see you at INHABIT. 4. A Holiday Event Benefiting Habitat for Humanity of Chattanooga and Celebrating the Southside Habitat House.
Collier is donating labor to build various structures that will be used to make INHABIT a great event. We’ll be spending the week of December 1 – 6 building a bar, special pergolas, a Christmas tree stand for a 20’ Christmas tree, and other various structures for the event. To see our work, be there.
• Collier Sponsors Appalachian Christmas
Collier is excited to sponsor this year’s Appalachian Christmas, an exciting event for the whole family. Appalachian Christmas is apart of the Winter Days and Lights festivities and will be on December 12th at the Waterhouse Pavilion. The event will feature performances by The Dismembered Tennesseans, The Morgans and Lynne Haas, and Sierra Hull who was recently nominated as the IBMA Mandolin Player of the Year.
• For Your Viewing Pleasure: New Images spruce up Collier’s web Portfolio
At Collier Construction, we are always working hard to keep our website fresh with updated high res photos of finished homes and works-in-progress. To date, we are featuring new photos for 8 residential projects and a couple commercial jobs too (check out green|spaces, it’s a beauty). From the Madison Moderns to the Quinn residence on Fredonia Mountain, our portfolio displays the wide ranging work that we do. We hope you enjoy viewing the neat architecture and excellent craftsmanship.
Greenest Green Gift Guide
It’s easy to spend too much time searching for the greenest green gifts this holiday season. And we at Collier Construction thought you’d be wasting your precious time—time you should be spending at home with family and friends, which we think will help sustain you through the season. Our rendition of the greenest green gift guide is our way of giving back so that you can give green gifts and still have time to spare.
For starters, give the gift of time to your entire family for free, the green way. Much of the year is spent scheduling, coordinating and finalizing plans. Calendars have a free ride onto every wish list and gift guide, but which one is the greenest, easiest to use and most family friendly. Without a second thought, online or cell phone calendars are the greenest. We suggest taking a glance, signing up and inviting your family to join you at Famundo.
• Famundo – Connect, Communicate, Share, Organize
One of the very best green ways to express your love to your family and friends is to donate. Really save yourself the headache of driving through maddening traffic for frantic last minute shopping. And if donating your time to a good cause is not an option for you, think Arbor Day, Habitat or Kiva. And planting trees or loaning money to an entrepreneur in someone’s name is absolutely giving two gifts in one. Instantaneously you’ll have given back more than you had if you’d driven and bought one gift.
• Arbor Day – Give a Tree
• Habitat – Help build houses and hope
• Kiva – Loans that change lives
If you just have to wrap and tie a bow on a gift before you give it, think about supporting your local artisans, farmers, and businesses. Give the gift of a C.S.A. Membership (Community Supported Agriculture). To find a farm near you go to Local Harvest and then see Sustainable Table for recipes and helpful hints. For folks who travel, give a Terrapass Carbon Offset. To eliminate piles of wasteful junk mail, give peace of mind with GreenDimes. We also thought Baggubag, KleanKanteen and the Green Bible were all possibly the greenest green gifts you could give. And if you’re concerned about the Christmas tree this year, we suggest purchasing a potted pine tree.
• Local Harvest – Real Food, Real Farmers, Real Community
• Sustainable Table – Serving up healthy food choices
• Terrapass – Fight global warming, reduce your carbon footprint
• GreenDimes – Peace of mind is the greatest gift
• Baggubag – Be Good and Reuse
• KleanKanteen – Better Health, Hydration and Environmental Responsibility
• The Green Bible – Understand the Bible’s powerful message for the earth
Happy Green Giving!