Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Quiet Home

During the construction process, standing in the interior of a half built home is deafening.  With carpenters nailing, compressors running and boom boxes playing competing melodies on every floor, you can hardly hear yourself think.  The day after insulation is installed both in the exterior and interior partitions, it seems like a different place.  With sound insulation between the floors and within the interior partitions, it is hard to get the attention of someone in the next room even when you scream.

Spray foam insulation in the exterior walls and roof of a home take the howl of a storm down to a whisper.  Filling the spaces between the studs stops drafts, making the home more energy efficient and helps increase the stiffness of the structure further reducing noises.  Insulation in interior partitions can be spray foam, fiberglass batt, remanufactured denim, or any number of sound absorbing materials.

There are many ways to reduce the noise transmission within a home and to diminish unwanted sounds from outside:

1.     Spray foam in all exterior walls and roofs.
2.     Use double or even triple paned windows if required.
3.     Insulate all interior walls and floors.
4.     Use cast iron waste pipes in upper floors and walls (or wrap plastic pipes in sound deadening material).
5.     For home theaters, use double walls (insulated) and sound deadening board.
6.     Place all mechanical equipment on rubber bushings to prevent sound transfer.
7.     Isolate ductwork so there is no transfer between rooms.

Each of the items mentioned adds cost to a project, but only a small percentage of the construction budget would be devoted to even the most complete soundproofing.  A good nights’ sleep in spite of noisy neighbors, traffic, or family members is priceless. 

Vacation in the Back Yard

When I sit on my back porch and rock on the porch swing, I feel the stress of the day drain away.  The change is so great that I consider my porch a mini-vacation spot. 

Clients of ours fell in love with Italy.  They travel there often and go out of their way to make gourmet Italian food.  When they decided to build a guest/pool house, one of the important features had to be a sense of relaxation with an Italian flair and an authentic brick pizza oven.  Although the structure is only a few hundred feet from the main house, when you go there, you feel like you have traveled very far.  With homage paid to Italian architecture, our clapboard-clad destination makes the perfect get away.

French doors open onto the terrace above the pool while a side door allows a quick exit to the pizza oven.  On the first floor there is a kitchen, and a dining room, a living room and bathroom.  Upstairs is a sleeping loft that overlooks the living area.  I understand it is sometimes hard to give up the guesthouse to the guests.

The owners like to take mini-vacations to the Italian part of the property. The pizza oven, which is wood fired, takes hours to reach the right temperature; plenty of time for a nice swim and then home made Italian pizza in the back yard.