Lighting

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Have you ever had the experience of arriving for a visit at someone’s house and the porch light wasn’t on? We end up wondering, ‘Are they expecting me?’ Let’s say it turns out that they are expecting you and you are ushered into a kitchen to chat under bright lights and then into a dining room that is somewhat dim.

Contrast this to pulling into a well-lit space on the driveway and following a path of attractive footlights up to a front porch that has a welcoming glow. Inside, sofas and chairs bathed in the glow of nearby lamps as well as some ambient lighting from above. When you step into the kitchen to help the chef, task lighting eases your vegetable chopping. Upon being invited into the dining room, the chandelier is the centerpiece over a dining room table on which the crystal and china seem simply lit up. Wondering how this has been accomplished, you notice two spotlights shining down onto the table from the ceiling, adding luster to the scene.

The cues we get from lighting color our experiences. In the first scenario, the impressions are: unclear, harsh, enigmatic. In the second, all seems arranged for your pleasure and comfort.

But let’s say you are working on a task one evening and entertaining the next. We like to use layering of the lights to achieve the desired effect. This way you are able to use ambient lighting so you can see to get through a room, task lighting for just those areas where you need it, ‘jewelry’ lighting like chandeliers for special occasions, and spotlighting to heighten the attention or effect. They can be used separately or in combination, particularly on special occasions.

Now, let’s say you’ve figured out or worked with a lighting designer to determine how to get just the right combination of lighting for a dinner party. That can be programmed into a control panel, as can several other lighting combinations. Then, it’s just the press of a button on a control panel or iPad to get the same arrangement again. Of course, we still like to have traditional switches on the wall so that visitors or grandparents will know how to work the lights.

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Most of our local houses have large windows to take advantage of the great views of the Lowcountry landscape. Without the proper landscape lighting the windows become black mirrors at night creating a boxed in feel. Layering light in the garden connects you to the outside even at night by visually expanding the interior space.  It is important to remember that you are not recreating daylight, but a dynamic composition to enliven the outdoor room. 

Like interior lighting, you want to use different levels of lighting in your garden.  Task lighting is used for grilling or reading. These lights are typically down lights and should be switched separately from the other exterior lights. Ambient lighting is indirect lighting that softens shadows.  Accent lights provide depth and dimensions and should be used sparingly.  Finally decorative lighting is the finishing touch welcoming you to the house.

Lighting is essential to being able to use your house in multiple ways and create the appropriate atmosphere for the occasion.

Now is the best time to build your hurricane resistant house!

Even as our ability to design and build houses that withstand hurricanes has gone up, construction costs haven’t kept pace. If you are thinking of building a home in South Carolina at some time in the near future, this may just be the perfect storm.

There is a perception that everything is cheaper in South Carolina but we’ve seen that is not the case. This is especially true when it comes to building a quality home that can endure hurricanes and earthquakes, yet provide decades of enjoyment as well.

True, our gas taxes are cheaper and our property taxes are cheaper. Construction costs are higher than newcomers expect them to be.

BUILDING IN A HURRICANE ZONE POSES SPECIAL CHALLENGES

Many people relocating from other parts of the country do not consider the additional cost of building in both a hurricane zone and an earthquake zone and what this means in terms of design and construction materials.

The requirements to mitigate both of these hazards add additional strength and durability to the building … and additional costs. Some of the necessities:

  • Building the first floor above FEMA’s base flood elevation, which adds to the foundation cost.
  • Structural Engineering fees in order to design code-compliant structural systems.
  • Connecting the roof through the walls to the foundation and footing with threaded rods, go-bolts, hurricane clips or other code approved methods. This adds to both the material and labor costs.
  • The shear walls required for lateral stability are more expensive than sheathing options available in other parts of the country.
  • Window and door openings must be protected from windblown debris. Impact rated windows and doors can cost up to twice as much as non-impact openings.
  • Our designs usually have big window walls, which require steel frames to meet the wind loads (and the views are worth it!)

DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION ENSURE HOUSE & BUDGET WEATHER STORMS

We recommend and use several best practice options that will cost more initially but will save money on your home insurance or your utility bill.

  • A secondary roof under a metal roof ensures water tightness if the roof is compromised during high winds.
  • A U.L. certified lightning protection system will add $7,000 to $10,000 to a 2500 s.f. house but will protect your home and electronics from lightning strikes during our many lightning storms.
  • Spray foam insulation, more expensive than fiberglass insulation but a far superior product. It stops air and moisture infiltration, will not sag, keeps dust and pollen out and reduces capacity requirements, maintenance and wear of heating and air conditioning equipment.

A SECRET WE WANT TO SHARE WITH YOU ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA CONSTRUCTION COSTS

There’s one more cost consideration that you will want to be aware of because it can save you money.

Our firm’s historical data of residential construction costs show that the current average new home construction cost is about the same as the few years before the great recession.

Now is a good time to build, before construction costs rise again.

Reintroducing The Magnolia

Way back in 2011, when we started Hot, Humid Solutions, The Magnolia was one of our very first plans released. 6 years later, we've re-vamped the Magnolia. The floor plan has been re-worked and Michael has drawn another version of the elevation, which is quite reminiscent of our popular dogtrot house that was featured in Southern Living, which you can see here.

The Magnolia is shown here with the Sweet Bay Garage.

First Floor Plan

Second Floor Plan

Under Construction- Sweet Bay

We have a client building the Sweet Bay on a gorgeous lot on Battery Creek, here in Beaufort. They are building the garage with living quarters as "phase one" of their project and will build a larger house after they move to Beaufort full time. Here are some photos of construction. We will update when the project is completed. There is more information about the Sweet Bay here.

The large porch is the perfect spot to enjoy sunsets on Battery Creek.

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Hurricane Matthew at Edisto Beach

Jane, Michael and Tom are sworn into the South Carolina Guard

Jane, Michael and Tom are sworn into the South Carolina Guard

We are trained in the Safety Assessment Program (SAP). On Tuesday and Wednesday we were called to Edisto Beach to work with the South Carolina State Guard to assist the Edisto Beach Building Department in determining if houses were safe to access and occupy. The major issue on Edisto Beach was the large storm surge that dumped over 4 feet of sand on Palmetto Boulevard, which parallels the ocean. The front beach houses had at least 4 feet of sand under them.

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Edisto Beach is an eclectic mix of old beach houses and newer contemporary houses. The difference between the houses that were built to contemporary codes and those that were not was obvious. In one older house, the post supporting the first floor was swept away. We were surprised that the house had not already collapsed. If this house was built to current codes – it would have driven piles instead of posts on a shallow foundation. In newer houses built on piles, garage space can be enclosed under the house with break-away wall. The break-away walls did what they were designed to do – break away, even in a case where a HVAC platform was attached to the break-away wall.

Many of the older houses had grandfathered living spaces in the flood plain, which is not allowed now for a good reason. The water and sand filled the spaces creating a huge mess that currently is filled with sand and soon will be filled with mold and mildew.

The wave action that brought in the sand, scoured under the parking slabs in the old houses. This left many of the slabs suspended in the air and very dangerous, especially since it was not evident that they were suspended from the street side. The newer houses had break-away slabs which broke and were washed about, sometimes taking stairs with them. A better practice would to use gravel in the parking area under the house.

It was also interesting to see the species of trees that blew down. Almost every Cedar tree we saw had blown over. Water Oaks were next followed by Pines. The Live Oaks that were down were usually hit by another tree first.

We also saw some areas that were hit by isolated tornados which is almost impossible to design for damage prevention. After spending time on Edisto Beach, it is understandable why the first responders want to make sure the area is safe before the residents return.