Eric Schleicher, CLC

Prairie Design Build is pleased to announce that Eric Schleicher has recently achieved the prestigious Certified Lead Carpenter status. A Certified Lead Carpenter (CLC) designation proves the individual’s superior knowledge, technical comprehension, and skill.

NARI’s CLC program measures skill and expertise valued not only by other professional carpenters, but by consumers, as well.  Highly respected by those who have achieved the designation, the CLC program identifies professional carpenters who have undergone comprehensive review and testing in areas of business, technical, communication, and quality assurance.  In addition, they must also adhere to NARI’s strict Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.  The NARI Certification program assesses the knowledge and skills of the carpenter in over 21 task areas, including business basics, job site safety, tools, building codes and construction law, building site layout, and all trade skills required in constructing your home.  Attaining this certification requires the candidate to have been working full time in the field for at least 5 years— two as a lead carpenter—and passing a comprehensive assessment exam.  Preparation for this exam takes up to 16 weeks of intensive study and self-examination.  

Congratulations to Eric on this prestigious accomplishment!

Read more about Eric and his experience here.

Lake Quivira Passive House - High Performance Wall Assembly

The exterior wall assembly is nearing completion at the Lake Quivira Passive House. This multi-layer envelope contains superior insulation, aids in airtightness, and is designed to protect against the elements. Watch Building Scientist David Hawkins take us through the composition of the wall, explaining each of the layers in the video below.

The system begins with a weather membrane over the existing sheathing. This initial layer is continuous around the entire home and ties into the Prosoco flashing material on the windows and doors. The membrane shields the structure from the elements and gives a layer of airtightness.

The next components in the wall system are two layers of 3” EPS rigid foam insulation. This foam is installed over the entire exterior surface of the home. Each piece is custom measured and cut to fit its precise location on the wall. We are mindful to tape every seam between the pieces of foam. Any gaps between the foam and existing structure are filled with spray foam to ensure a continuous insulation layer. The sealed seams on each layer of foam are offset of each other to ensure there are no voids in our insulation. This also aids airtightness.

A final layer of weather membrane is installed overtop to provide weatherproofing for the foam insulation. This membrane adds an additional component of airtightness and is the base layer for the rain screen system.

Special 10 inch screws were required to attach vertical furring strips on top of the foam. These screws go through the one inch furring strips, through six inches of foam, through one inch of sheathing, and then two inches into the studs. The furring strips provide support for the exterior siding. Horizontal furring strips were then installed, to which the vertical-run siding material attaches.

At the base of the wall below the vertical strips is a piece of coravent material. This material has holes that run through it that allow any moisture that gets behind our siding material to drain. The holes also allow air movement behind our siding throughout the cavities created by the vertical furring strips. The air movement ensures our wall assembly stays dry. The underside of the coravent has a thin mesh material, which keeps insects from getting behind our siding and burrowing into our wall. The coravent material is essential in ensuring a durable, long-lasting wall assembly.

The final layer of our rain screen and exterior wall assembly is the vertical-run rough cedar siding. Much of the material for the siding was reclaimed from the existing siding material. The exterior siding is close to completion, and the Lake Quivira Passive House will soon be weathertight. 

Lake Quivira Passive House - EPS Exterior Insulation

The exterior rigid foam insulation has arrived at the Lake Quivira Passive House. For this retrofit project, we are utilizing EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) Type One foam. This type of product is very popular for insulation, and is commonly known as "styrofoam." The 3" thick sheets of foam will be installed to the exterior of the home in two layers for a total of 6" of exterior insulation. The seams between the sheets of each layer of foam will be taped to aid in airtightness. The vertical and horizontal seams of each layer will be installed offset of each other. There is a lot of styrofoam required to cover the entire home, about half of our garage's worth of foam. This product will perform excellently for our Midwest climate, and will keep the home warm in the wintertime and cool in the summertime.

Lake Quivira Passive House - Interior Air Barrier System

In this video, Building Scientist David Hawkins walks us through the interior air barrier system at the Lake Quivira Passive House and explains the importance of addressing the placement of the system early in the design phase prior to rough-in of framing, electrical, and insulation.

Defining what materials make up the air barrier is critical during the beginning phases of the project design. While the air barrier can exist at any point within the wall assembly, for this specific project an interior membrane system was chosen. The Lake Quivira Passive House utilizes an INTELLO smart vapor retarder, which also acts as an air barrier system.

The decision to use an interior membrane system requires a high level of detail during the design phase. The membrane must be continuous throughout the interior surface of the home. This means that in certain areas the membrane had to be installed prior to any rough-in of framing, electrical, or insulation. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to get our membrane into certain locations.

During the entire construction process we must be constantly mindful of our interior air barrier system, making sure to tape all seams and and keep it continuous throughout the home.

Kansas City High Performance Home Appraiser

A regular hurdle we have encountered when trying to build high performance homes in the Midwest is the homeowner financing for the project. Many interested homeowners are easily approved for home construction loans, however, most Midwestern banks do not recognize the added value associated with building to superior standards.

Banks essentially give home appraisals based on square footage and the typical market rate of similar sized homes in the area. They do not account for the increased durability (value) and lower energy consumption (savings) of homes that are built using high performance techniques.

Because high performance homes can cost 5-15% more to build, banks think that the higher cost should be reflected in more square footage rather than higher value. They see the project as more risky, and thus require more initial investment, in upwards of 30% or more. This puts an incredible burden on homeowners interested in building a high performance home.

Finally, we have a solution to this problem.

A local individual trained to identify the value associated with high performance homes could translate more appealing numbers to stubborn Midwestern banks.

We are in contact with an NMLS Course Provider & Instructor who can provide training locally to individuals interested in learning how to properly evaluate high performance homes.

If you are interested in becoming the only certified High Performance Home Appraiser in Kansas City and being on the forefront of this home building revolution, please contact us immediately at either 913.441.0000 or info@prairiedesignbuild.com.

2014 REMY Silver All Star Award

Last night at the 2014 REMY (Remodel of the Year) Awards, hosted by the Kansas City NARI Chapter, Prairie Design Build received the Silver All Star award for our 90th Terrace Project.

Held at Hallbrook Country Club, the evening began with a social hour in which entrants and their guests could visit and view image boards of all of the competition entries. The boards contained a summary of the project and listed the suppliers and vendors involved. Our guests, the 90th Terrace homeowners, were able to join us and share in the excitement of the evening.

At dinner, we visited with our guests and fellow NARI members before the awards ceremony began. The winners in each of the project categories were highlighted and summarized, displaying the before and after photos of the projects. Our project was entered into the Kitchen Remodel Over $120,000 category.

The 90th Terrace Kitchen Remodel was awarded the Silver Medal in its category, and was also given All Star recognition. Entries were judged on a 60-point system that included project overview, before and after photos, budget considerations, overall aesthetic appeal, and communication with the homeowner. In order to receive All Star status, the project had to score a total of at least 56.5 out of 60 points possible.

The evening was a great success. We appreciate the effort from our local NARI chapter in putting the event together and it running so smoothly. We are honored to receive our first award for our work and we’re eager to submit more award-winning projects in the future.

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Lake Quivira Passive House - Preliminary Blower Door Test

The Prairie Design Build team is excited to bring the first Passive House retrofit to Kansas City, the Lake Quivira Passive House Project.

David Hawkins, our Building Scientist, completed an preliminary Blower Door test to measure the leakiness of the home and pinpoint the leak locations. Our findings were just as we expected - this is one leaky 50-year-old home.

Watch the video below to see David Hawkins perform the test, find leaks throughout the home, and describe the findings:

To perform the Blower Door test, we first close all exterior windows and doors, open all interior doors within the home, and turn off all mechanicals. After setting up the Blower Door in one of the main entries, we take measurements from two different portions of the test - pressurization and depressurization. Our goal is to change the pressure in the home from positive 75 Pascals (Pa) to negative 75 Pa. The software takes readings and derives a calculation for the amount of air leakage in the home.

The pressurization portion of the test consists of blowing air into the home through the Blower Door from the outside. Depressurization occurs when we blow air to the outside from inside of the home through the Blower Door. By doing this, we create a pressure difference between outside and inside the home. Nature wants to always have equal pressure, so to relieve this pressure difference air moves through penetrations in the building envelope. These penetrations could be from any number of things, including: spaces between the exterior doors and frames, cracks between the window frame and buck, electrical outlets on exterior walls, and even directly through exterior walls.

We measure the test using a unit called ACH, or Air Changes per Hour, at 50 Pa. Essentially, this number describes the amount of times your home will recycle all of the air inside your home with outside air at 50 Pa of pressure. 50 Pa of pressure is roughly the same amount of pressure as 20 mph winds blowing on your home from all sides. Typical new construction in the Kansas City area varies between 5-10 ACH50.

Unfortunately, due to the leakiness of the home, we weren’t even able to get to 50 Pa of pressure difference. However, using a best-fit line, we were able to derive an estimate for the project.

To be Passive House certified, our Lake Quivira Passive House must be at or less than 0.6ACH50. Our initial Blower Door test garnered a result of about 15ACH50 -  much higher than typical new construction, and much much higher than Passive House requirements. We certainly have our work cut out for us to get this home to Passive House standard.

90th Terrace - Job Summary

In the homeowner’s own words:

“The kitchen was barely usable with drawers literally falling apart, a very small oven (a cookie sheet wouldn’t fit in it), a replaced cooktop that had been very poorly installed, ceramic tile countertops, a refrigerator that stuck into the room and was across the room from everything except a little storage, a pantry that consisted of shelves in the attic staircase landing, and a very small utility closet.”

The kitchen was high-maintenance, low-design, with broken cabinets and useless appliances.

Before: A quaint, traditional space that has failed to adapt to modern life - mismatched and cramped, limited work and storage space, outdated and oversized appliances.

Before: A quaint, traditional space that has failed to adapt to modern life - mismatched and cramped, limited work and storage space, outdated and oversized appliances.

After: A kitchen designed for the future - unified aesthetic, flush-mount appliances, multiple work stations, plentiful counter and storage space, ample walkways and sight lines.

After: A kitchen designed for the future - unified aesthetic, flush-mount appliances, multiple work stations, plentiful counter and storage space, ample walkways and sight lines.

Our client loves to cook, to bake, and to entertain. Can you imagine hosting a Thanksgiving meal for your family here? With turkey, pumpkin pie, and two surly brothers-in-law? You couldn’t do it.

Our client loves to cook, to bake, and to entertain. Can you imagine hosting a Thanksgiving meal for your family here? With turkey, pumpkin pie, and two surly brothers-in-law? You couldn’t do it.

From day one, the homeowner emphasized:

•Open space
•Freedom of movement,
•Integrated appliances
•Functionality of horizontal surfaces

A fridge in the main walkway was NOT going to cut it.

So we tore it all out.

So we tore it all out.

The attic access was moved to the garage, tray ceilings were framed in, the basement stairwell was opened, and larger windows were installed.

We found ourselves with a beautiful space. The next challenge was to fill it with meaningful, thoughtful, design that fully realized the potential.

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Removing the old attic staircase created full height above the basement stairwell. The wall was dropped to rail height to create horizontal space. This also opened a feature wall for artwork. LED spotlight trims were installed to focus light on this area.

Tray ceilings were framed to create vertical space and architectural interest. One tray would house a ceiling fan, while the other would house a suspended range hood. An eye towards finish was required during framing, so the finished hood could be centered within the tray, and centered above the island.

LED energy-efficient recessed lighting provides a superior lighting quality, warm color, and excellent lumen-to-watt ratio. This type of lighting also provides a clean modern look that is visually pleasing.

The black slate fireplace with custom cherry mantle and embedded media cabinet was another challenge. First, the cabinet was installed, including metal storage box for firewood. Tile was laid to the face of the cabinet and top point of the mantle. The mantle was then fabricated to fit both tile and cabinet. Finally, the slate was finished to the mantle to create a fully-embedded look. The finished product creates a striking contrast with bright, clean lines.

Before: As a passionate cook, our homeowner needed more than this traditional oven could offer. Cooking for guests requires ease of movement, and enough space to prepare multiple dishes at once.   

Before: As a passionate cook, our homeowner needed more than this traditional oven could offer. Cooking for guests requires ease of movement, and enough space to prepare multiple dishes at once.

 

The old cooktop was inadequate and unsafe. The cabinet face frame and shelving prevented large cookware from being stored inside. Headroom and ventilation were insufficient. It was cut into the existing countertop, and was neither wired nor secured correctly. One element the homeowners loved was the natural light from the window. More on that in a minute.

The old cooktop was inadequate and unsafe. The cabinet face frame and shelving prevented large cookware from being stored inside. Headroom and ventilation were insufficient. It was cut into the existing countertop, and was neither wired nor secured correctly. One element the homeowners loved was the natural light from the window. More on that in a minute.

After: Cooktop integrated with usable workspace and ventilation on the island. Multiple ovens stacked in an integrated cabinet column. Easy triangle flow from sink to cooktop to ovens, with room for a mixer and a dough slab in between.

After: Cooktop integrated with usable workspace and ventilation on the island. Multiple ovens stacked in an integrated cabinet column. Easy triangle flow from sink to cooktop to ovens, with room for a mixer and a dough slab in between.

As previously mentioned, the client loved natural light in the kitchen. We removed the old window, and upgraded to a larger, fully integrated, fiberglass window. The countertop comes flush with the bottom of the frame, maximizing the light entering the space. The two sides are operable, and an air switch disposal is mounted into the fixed window frame for a clean, integrated design.

As previously mentioned, the client loved natural light in the kitchen. We removed the old window, and upgraded to a larger, fully integrated, fiberglass window. The countertop comes flush with the bottom of the frame, maximizing the light entering the space. The two sides are operable, and an air switch disposal is mounted into the fixed window frame for a clean, integrated design.

After months of collaboration with the homeowner, carpenter, and stone fabricator, the “dough slab” was born. Designed and built specifically for rolling dough, it is fully retractable, fully integrated with undercounter storage, and able to support 500 pounds of force.  The “dough slab” was a unique design challenge. It needed to:  •Fully disappear and roll out smooth •Support the weight of a person rolling dough without collapsing or retracting under the cabinet •Be removable for cleaning without shifting in place during use.  Initially, we conceived a table on wheels that would roll under the countertop when not in use. The wheels would lock, solving the stability issue. However, the loss of undercounter storage was huge. This was unacceptable near the oven and range, a critical area for storing large pots, pans and cooking trays.  Our big breakthrough was the locking, extendable hardware shown here. These sliders extend and anchor deep within the cabinet to counter-weight downward force on the slab. They also have a release mechanism on the bottom side. The sliders remain totally rigid unless the release is activated. Finally, the bottom of the drawer has a hole cut in it, so the slab can be pushed up from below. The slab itself is tapered down the front edge to prevent a “vacuum” effect, and easily releases the slab upward.

After months of collaboration with the homeowner, carpenter, and stone fabricator, the “dough slab” was born. Designed and built specifically for rolling dough, it is fully retractable, fully integrated with undercounter storage, and able to support 500 pounds of force.

The “dough slab” was a unique design challenge. It needed to:

•Fully disappear and roll out smooth
•Support the weight of a person rolling dough without collapsing or retracting under the cabinet
•Be removable for cleaning without shifting in place during use.

Initially, we conceived a table on wheels that would roll under the countertop when not in use. The wheels would lock, solving the stability issue. However, the loss of undercounter storage was huge. This was unacceptable near the oven and range, a critical area for storing large pots, pans and cooking trays.

Our big breakthrough was the locking, extendable hardware shown here. These sliders extend and anchor deep within the cabinet to counter-weight downward force on the slab. They also have a release mechanism on the bottom side. The sliders remain totally rigid unless the release is activated. Finally, the bottom of the drawer has a hole cut in it, so the slab can be pushed up from below. The slab itself is tapered down the front edge to prevent a “vacuum” effect, and easily releases the slab upward.

Functionality: Dish storage next to the dishwasher, with drawer heights optimized for the homeowner’s unique dinnerware. Stainless steel finish extends from the faucet, to appliances, to pulls, to ceiling fan. A subtle backsplash and clean undercab lighting unify the design.

Functionality: Dish storage next to the dishwasher, with drawer heights optimized for the homeowner’s unique dinnerware. Stainless steel finish extends from the faucet, to appliances, to pulls, to ceiling fan. A subtle backsplash and clean undercab lighting unify the design.

Open Space: By removing the wall to the living room, sight lines and conversation flow freely throughout the home. A beverage cooler and auxiliary sink are perfect for entertaining and preparing larger meals. Divided lite windows, added French doors, and wood paneling retain the home’s classic character while blending with the modern composition of the kitchen remodel.

Open Space: By removing the wall to the living room, sight lines and conversation flow freely throughout the home. A beverage cooler and auxiliary sink are perfect for entertaining and preparing larger meals. Divided lite windows, added French doors, and wood paneling retain the home’s classic character while blending with the modern composition of the kitchen remodel.

Beyond the physical design challenges were budget concerns. All decisions had to be made through this lens. Tray ceilings and dropping the wall to the basement were both relatively inexpensive ways to create space. While some key items were chosen to indulge on (appliances, cabinets), simple design choices like subway tile and retaining the original paneling kept costs down in other areas. This, paired with effective communication, ultimately helped us to achieve our budget and schedule. 

In the Client’s own words: “The kitchen is awesome with a great design, beautiful cabinetry, new appliances, lots of storage, impressive countertops, a large window, and many small details that make it nice to be and work in. Opening up the staircase wall, adding a tray ceiling, and removing the wall to the family room makes it seem very spacious.”

In the Client’s own words: “The kitchen is awesome with a great design, beautiful cabinetry, new appliances, lots of storage, impressive countertops, a large window, and many small details that make it nice to be and work in. Opening up the staircase wall, adding a tray ceiling, and removing the wall to the family room makes it seem very spacious.”

View images of this job and more of our work on our Portfolio page.