Readers may remember that we have had articles in the past about Wright Construction Company, in Mount Holly, Vermont. The most recent appeared in June of 2018, and it addressed issues many builders never talk about. It was “Rebuilding After a Disaster,” and it went beyond ordinary construction problems and energy efficiency, and even beyond financial issues, to look at the emotions of loss and the attempt to recover. A story like that can stick in a person’s mind.
Recently, Wright Construction came up again, as we got wind of the fact that the company had won a bronze award in the Qualified Remodeler Magazine’s 2020 Master Design Awards for the “Addition Over $250,000” category. This is a nation-wide competition held by a respected publication, and the award is definitely important.
The project that won Wright Construction the award was a large addition of 7,500 square feet to a house in Ludlow, Vermont. It is just over half of the finished structure, which originally had 6,500 square feet of space.
For those who might gasp at the idea of a 14,000 square foot house, we should mention that this is not a private home for any one family unit. Rather, it is designed as a place where a large, extended family of over 40 people can gather, all at once.
The people who own the house had their preferences about what it would look like and how it would function. The job that Wright Construction did was to turn their vision into reality. It was a project, however, that included more than just attention to the details of a floor plan and where to buy materials. It included some regard for the graceful beauty of the house and the comfort of the people who gather there. And it included attention to the value of the property and the efficiency of the building.
One thing the customers wanted was to have the addition built with post and beam design, which adds to the cost of construction. Ordinarily, many builders might put insulation into the open areas between posts and beams as infill, but this approach misses an opportunity to get some real efficiency. The thermal bridges and possibilities for air leakage in such a structure can be avoided by covering the entire exterior with SIPs, or structural insulated panels and sealing them well. The beauty of post and beam construction is enhanced by having it fully visible inside the building.
Carl Lavallee, the COO of Wright Construction, told us, “It has a timeless look, and it is a great thermal envelope. We do not do this as often as we would like.” The structural materials, including the posts, beams, and pegs, came from local businesses, American Post and Beam in Claremont, NH. The SIPs were made by Foard, whose office is in West Chesterfield, NH.
The heating system in the house includes different technologies, but the main method of heat distribution is radiant heat in the floor. The system uses AdvanTech sub-flooring with Uponor Quick Track panels. This system was put to use in the addition, partly because it was oversized in the old structure, and partly because it fit well with the thermal gain from south-facing windows engineered into the addition. The finish flooring is made of engineered lumber, which was important for the radiant heat, and covered by a durable veneer layer.
The radiant floor system is enhanced by two Daikin air-source heat pumps that are highly efficient. They also provide cooling when that is needed. Both types of heat can be controlled remotely and intelligently. The house can be called by a cell phone and told when people will arrive and it needs to be warm. Because of the heat pumps, much of the time the house only needs a few hours warning that guests are about to arrive.
It is easy to see why this addition is award-winning. We congratulate Wright Construction Company on this award-winning project and their attention to efficiency they were able to incorporate.
Wright Construction Company is a company that has the expertise to build to the highest efficiency levels possible, which can cost the building owner much less to operate in the long haul. This is especially important because buildings can be major contributors to emission levels and our planetary climate crises.