Pierce Builders had to get plumbing, electrical and HVAC in and out of masonry without being seen. That in itself creates issues. They didn’t want to lose any internal floor space so they only padded the exterior walls with 2 in. of material, but still had to maintain the heating efficiency.
Pierce teamed with Astro Insulation to create a high level insulation value. Pierce feels the electricians, plumbers and the heating contractor did a masterful job on his behalf by not allowing any of this to be seen within the structure. The basement level is a true unfinished basement level that is 14 ft. tall, and that’s a mechanical wonder down there. It houses four very large boilers and also handles other things on the property.
Creating a waterproof outside to allow Pierce Builders to change the grade and topography was another problem. The team also had to reinforce all the block work done to increase the height of back fill line.
To waterproof, the team used a combination of epoxy injection where the cinder block masonry met with all the spancrete floor lines and also on the same point where the concrete poured walls met the basement level. They used a couple of different brands of waterproof membranes. It was trying to analyze and test people’s products and implement what they felt best in the right location.
“I can tell you that it was an ongoing test and work in progress,” says Pierce “Primarily, I have never been asked to bring grade up a side of a building 7 ft.”
For the roof the architect simply drew rounded shapes. That’s what Pierce was given. He had a picture to go off of from the client with a cedar roof with eyebrow eaves and barrel row gables. They used the lower eave line to create that look, but having no real concept of how to do it, Pierce started making phone calls. In his search he came up with a company and called the owner in London. The owner had developed some thatched roof looking products and sold premade products to get this look. As they were doing historical buildings across England, builders were using his techniques to get this look of thatch without actually having to use thatch.
The team found a couple of little flaws in the system that wouldn’t work for this project, so based on some of the London developers’ concepts, Pierce just started playing around. Using their own millwork shop, Pierce and his team started developing ways to get the roof eaves to look the way they now do. They also worked with a local cedar roofer for his expertise in implementing the roof system.
Pierce was able to figure out a way to do a dropped eave where he had 47 layers of cedar shake coming up, stacking and curving. That’s what creates the lower eave that blends into a cedar shake roof moving on a lateral plane back and forth across the roof. It is also cut sculptured to opposed the lateral line, changing the amount of shingles that can be seen, thus creating a roof that moves. By making the roof thicker and thinner in locations, it changes the visual effect on the eye and doesn’t keep the roof on a flat plane like today’s traditional buildings.
“We had to get a little creative as to how we were going to meet current codes and make something in an old nature with a true authentic look,” says Pierce. “It took a lot of experimenting along the way. I like being told that it can’t be done. It pushes my buttons. We like the projects that can’t be done.”
Pierce led the cottage theme to keep the project as accurate as possible and on budget. Part of that meant making The Hollow look worn out when they were complete. They faux finished all of it so it had the bumps, bruises and look of being lived in.
The primary objective inside the structure was to create a warm place that could be utilized by guests for entertaining purposes. The local zoning regulations do not allow a guest home, so the team had to carefully watch that there were no closets, no bedrooms or overnight stay capacity. Also because of local zoning regulations, the homeowners cannot cook there but can service or serve food. The biggest direction the homeowner gave the team was a specific look of a narrow old European galley kitchen to balance the usefulness of the space.