• Scott Rivard

Engagements - Not just for weddings!

Bringing the Mechanical Designer to the table

So you've decided to pull the trigger on your renovation or new home construction project and now the endless wave of decisions, phone calls and emails are about to begin. Mixed up in the often overwhelming amount of information you need to digest is when to hire your consultants, designers and builders. Designing and constructing a home is not a 1-person show; it takes a team of experienced professionals with different backgrounds and areas of expertise to come together to make the perfect recipe for that dream home you're aiming for.

Step number one would be to find the architectural designer who can take your list of needs and wants and begin to form the ideal home for your family. You need a designer that can help navigate the waters of building design and be your life raft if the current moves too quickly. A great designer can also keep you anchored to the realities of your project and the considerations and, sometimes, concessions you'll have to make.

If you're building a home, you want that home to be comfortable throughout the year, whatever your perception of comfortable is. Whether it be forced air heating and cooling, hydronic heating with no cooling, electric baseboards with ceiling fans, or some combination in-between, you want your home to be comfortable as much as beautiful. This means thoughtful (and early!) considerations as to how the spaces in your home will be conditioned in both the winter and summer months.

Often times, mechanical designers are engaged after the architectural drawings are locked in place; this means that there can be a tendency to locate the mechanical room in an obscure corner of a basement with a small amount of floor area to squeeze in a mechanical system that may require more room than the homeowner wants to give up (especially after seeing those beautiful architectural renderings). Thus begins the dance with the architect and homeowner to carve out additional mechanical space to fit in our equipment and provide sufficient space for the periodic servicing and maintenance...trust us, you're mechanical contractor will not appreciate squeezing into a small closet to install or service your equipment!

This is a battle we've had on countless projects over the years. Designers whom we work with regularly know that the best mechanical system is one that can be more centrally located as it minimizes duct sizes and piping runs, improves system efficiencies and makes for a better, more-efficient mechanical design. This in turn lends itself to a more cohesive home design as we can often integrate the heating and cooling systems, distribution and air terminals into the structure or coordinate with the architect to minimize or eliminate those pesky bulkheads. If you're installing built-ins, integrating ductwork into the cabinets looks a lot better than building out a corner of the room. If you have a 2" x 4" interior wall and increasing that to a 2" x 6" wall eliminates a ceiling bulkhead, then so much the better!

We often hear that clients want their homes to be conditioned but they don't want bulkheads or to see or hear the mechanical systems. The best way to achieve these goals is to form your team and bring all of your designers to the table together as early as possible. Integrated design teams create a better product, a more unified team and, ultimately, a happier homeowner...which is all any of us want at the end of the day.

This is a long-winded way of saying - engage your mechanical designer as soon as possible!

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