Press > Design Your Custom Home in Paradise: Understanding Building in Bermuda

Design Your Custom Home in Paradise: Understanding Building in Bermuda

Uncategorised

The business of home building in Bermuda has been changing subtly over the past 30 years. An older Bermuda cottage was constructed of Bermuda stone, lathe and plaster ceilings, wood floors on floor joists with crawl spaces below that kept our rooms cool in the heat of the summer.

Fast forward to present day, where the inspiration to build a customized home in paradise is becoming increasingly popular. Renovating existing properties is also on the rise. Designing your personal version of an island dream home can be very exhilarating and daunting at the same time. But knowing what you’re up against and gathering valuable tips from subject matter experts, can go a long way in easing some of the uncertainty.

Cut Cost, Not Corners

For independent, cost-effective quotes on renovation work, speak to contractors and your designer or architect early in the process. Waiting to budget the project until after completing your design is not the recommended way to start a project.

A quick budget analysis of your design options early in the process will allow you to determine if you can or cannot achieve your entire wish list. If not, this is the case, a redistribution of the most critical components of the project can be established and not at the end when cash has run out. Factoring in a 10 to 15% contingency, to cover budget extras or renovation unknowns is a rule of thumb that should always accompany your estimates.

With some strategic thinking about design, materials, and timing, it's not so hard to cut costs without cutting corners. The truth about renovations is that every little thing adds up so researching your material choices and vendors for deals will save you in the long run.

Keeping It Real

Efficiency not size, is what matters most in today’s home. Gone are the days when all the “nice to have” overtake the “need to have”.

If you can reorganize and equip your home, kitchen or bathroom for maximum utility and growth for your later years, you may not need to create more space but rather use the space you have more effectively A designer can assist in providing upfront advice just by looking at how your house is arranged on the inside. You may come to realize that your home may already have sufficient space for what you want do, it’s just currently not suited for your style of living.

Do (some of) It Yourself

Reap big savings by doing some of the work your selves. Demolition of kitchen cabinets or items that you could do yourself will save you on labor cost. Recycling used fixtures and building materials can sometimes pay off, but look out for builders who won't guarantee their work if they have to use salvaged items because they don't want to assume the liability if something goes wrong. Knocking down may not be as costly as rebuilding, but you can still shave dollars by doing some of the demolition yourself—as long as you proceed with care.

Before you decide to take a wall out or worse still, sawing through live wiring or plumbing, ask someone for advice, or know when to stop the “do-it-yourself” work and consult your architect or contractor.

Build It Up or Knock It Down

Major renovating can cost more than building new. Carefully weigh up the best approach to renovating, and determine if demolishing and starting again is an efficient option. Don't schedule your reno in the height of peak demand times for builders - wait until there is a lag, and get the best price from numerous contractors. Be prudent to make sure you check references and obtain a firm price with final contract and schedule. Using stock sizes in cabinets, doors, and windows will save you time and money.

While planning and designing your home, it is also helpful to confirm if your essential materials are available on-island or will they need to be imported. In addition to an increase in cost, imported materials may impact your building schedule and budget. Timing the delivery of your materials is an art, and your contractor, architect and interior design team can be critical to ensuring it all flows smoothly throughout the entire process.

Good to Know

Depending on the scale of your project, your architectural commission will vary in meetings, site visits, and construction drawings for Planning and permit. You might be able to tap an architect's design savvy by having them undertake a one–time design consultation. For example, for a flat fee, some architects will meet with a homeowner, examine the opportunities, and sketch out a few solutions that can then be budgeted and utilized for banking discussions if loans are required.

A Small Works design program is the way to go here with a set fee for design and drawings for necessary permits. For larger renovations, Planning and Building permits may be required, therefore a qualified firm to undertake your drawings is a real cost saver. Ask about their drawings sets, review others they have done and remember you get what you pay for.

Press > Secure Your Home for Hurricane Resilience Through Design

Secure Your Home for Hurricane Resilience Through Design

Uncategorised

Bermudians are no strangers to hurricane preparedness

 

When hurricane-force winds bear down on a coastal area, one of the first pieces of a house to go is the roof, but Bermudians solved that problem long ago with the signature Bermudan roof. The Bermuda roof is not only architecturally beautiful; it’s structurally sound and collects clean water. While your roof is safe, the rest of your home is not in the clear.

Hurricanes bombard homes with wind, rain and even tree limbs, which can often lead to power outages. Once the power goes out for more than a few hours, frequently comfort is soon to follow. An architect can help you design your home to be more resilient infrastructures, but also more comfortable when you’re without power for days at a time.

Communities in all shapes and sizes can benefit from passive design, which takes advantage of the climate to maintain a comfortable temperature range in the home. Architects know the orientation of the house, as well as the placement of windows and ventilation, are crucial to optimize daylight and air flow. Material details and finishes ensure daylight penetration, solar control, and natural ventilation throughout the living spaces.

Another strategy that needs to be considered is designing with the land. The landscape architecture of your home becomes vastly more important when trees on your property stand in the way of 100 plus miles per hour winds. Building your home elevated on the site, atop a hill or slope, can keep trees from being knocked down and blown into your home. If an elevated home is not an option, native trees in grouping 5 or more provide a more wind resistant landscape.

Opening windows and doors, as well as designing your home with breezeways, will allow strong winds to blow through the home rather than building up pressure against the exterior. To keep the breezeways and patios protected from heavy, rain, flying debris, and severe winds homeowners can utilize exterior, steel mesh screens. This hurricane-approved protection functions comparable to regular mesh screens but has the strength of a steel security door to protect from debris. The subtle steel mesh frame is customized to match the house’s architectural design, so that when the storm approaches you just pull them closed and allow debris-free wind to flow through your home.

Arguably, the most hurricane-resistant house would be a square reinforced concrete bunker with thick walls and roof, few windows, and no overhangs. But who would want to live there? The design and structuring of houses must adequately respond to the destructive forces without sacrificing the aesthetics or livability of our houses. Before you start building your next home discuss with an architect how the design your home can work with nature, rather than against it.

Press > Bermudian Style Re-Envisioned Into An Elegant Family Residence

Bermudian Style Re-Envisioned Into An Elegant Family Residence

Uncategorised

OBMI recently completed their holistic residential Longtail House project, which involved master planning, landscape, interior design, and architecture. Set on a 2-acre property with stunning views of the sea, construction began in June 2014 and by June 2016, the owners moved into their new abode; designed to be a legacy and space where great family memories could be created.

A modern home wrapped in the classic Bermudian style, it’s comprised of 4 bedrooms with in-suite bathrooms including a master suite and a guest apartment. A Great Room combines all family social activity in one space, with an incorporated living room, dining room, and kitchen. Close by is the Library-Music Room, Media Room, Home Office, back of house kitchen support and laundry. Below the Great Room are the Game Room and the wine cellar, which can be observed from above through a glass floor. There is a large garage for vehicles and various sporting items. At the front of the house, overlooking the ocean is the infinity pool, spa, and gardens with endemic shoreline plants.

The previous house on the property site was carefully disassembled and recycled as exemplified by the existing cedar wood floors, which were repurposed as entrance ceilings. Even garden plants were recycled where possible. The biggest challenge was during excavation. With a lot of hard rock present, it took several weeks to cut through. Once the foundation level was achieved, all work went smoothly. The house has a strong emphasis on respecting and nurturing the environment, with igloo nests situated at the edge of the cliffs for Longtail seabirds to repose. The layout was set so as to maximize the best sun orientation for the solar panels and for natural cooling from the offshore breezes to occur.

Indoors, OBMI interior designer Melissa Woods worked with the client to achieve a balance between a highly practical yet beautiful home. The result was a casual and inviting interior, with a Scandinavian Design influence.

In the end, Longtail has a simple elegance that is both functional and not overstated, making it a wonderful family home to grow in, for many years and trade winds to come.

Press > OBMI Designing Private Island Escape – Hawkins Island

OBMI Designing Private Island Escape – Hawkins Island

Uncategorised

OBMI is currently designing a custom high-end private island vacation escape, with a quaint max capacity of 20 guests. With the first phase having just been completed, the island encompasses 25 acres of rugged natural landscape, surrounded by an azure sea overlooking the Great Sound and harbor islands.

The guest residential hotel units are modern Bermuda Style, fitting naturally into the environmental fabric of the island, with high ceilings, elegant changing rooms and bathrooms, and private spaces bathed in soft light. Units feature plunge pools for refreshment, ideal after a full day of vacation activities. The bathroom area transitions to an exterior garden, revealing a discreet, almost secret personal shower space. A veranda wraps around the exterior, providing a pleasant entertainment space, with beautiful views of the land, sky, and sea.

The residential hotel units will be supported by the Great House, located at the top of the hill, which will service guests with food and beverage, spa, pools, libraries, and entertainment options. It will also hold a concierge facility for the island and off-the-island activities. A bar is planned for the north peninsula along with beach facilities and a small conference area and meeting rooms are forecast for the current dock locations.

At the roof level is an outdoor group lounge with a fireplace for the cool starry nights, complete with a barbecue, preparation area, and dining area; a roofless room really.

The interior of the suites has a beach resort feel. OBMI interior design team, Vanessa Bean, and Michele Smith created a design and layout with warm finishes and textures for a timeless and calming experience. Each custom bedroom suite and lofts offer complete privacy, providing a tropical Zen-like experience. The open washrooms to the exterior shower and hot tub have views of the ocean for an ideal beginning or end of the day. Topping it off, wooded trails were created for guests, so they can have points of reference when exploring the island.

Hawkins Island is a luxurious yet grounded escape, ideal for couples, families, or even a group of friends who wish for both relaxation and island life activities combined.

Press > Vertical Farming On The Rise

Vertical Farming On The Rise

Uncategorised

Vertical farming has been on people’s tongues at dinner parties, lunches, casual conversations, and heated debates for some time now. However, it’s still in its infancy, with a lot to discover, and a lot to decide. But what is all the hype about and does it stack up? Pun intended.

One of the main battle cries for vertical farming is that the planet is running out of food for our rising population. By 2050, it’s estimated that we as a species, will be near the 10 billion strong mark. Adding to the challenge, due to increasing urbanization, we’re also losing arable land every day. Vertical farming with its vertical physical layout and use of artificial lights, is for some, the answer. The concept is designed to thrive in the world’s crowded cities to isolated islands, due to its structure, location, and upkeep needs. For these situations, vertical farming design seems to offer the perfect fit.

Vertical farming produces food in vertically stacked layers, which can be incorporated into other structures such as skyscrapers. Using indoor farming techniques, everything is controlled artificially. Temperature, light, and humidity are all regulated through technology, creating ideal conditions, in this way maximizing food production within a limited area. Because vertical farming is done in a controlled indoor environment; just like a greenhouse, year-round production is possible, besides using an estimated 80% less water than traditional farming. Due to its controlled environment, vertical farming can do without pesticides, being ideal for organic crops, and works within an urban setting instead of disturbing existing natural landscapes.

It also provides for interesting architecture and design, both from an aesthetic angle and a challenge one. Cities around the world are becoming larger and as they continue to grow, greater swaths of the population are seeing their distance to food sources increase, which means less freshness and less nutritional quality. In Bermuda, this has always been the case, encircled by ocean and 665 miles away from the nearest country, this being the United States. Bermuda has a very high cost of living with quality food being very expensive due to the incorporated transportation costs these entail. Products with an abundance of high sugar and starch can seem attractive, with lower prices at stores, long shelf lives, and terrible effects for our health to go with it, contributing to rising levels of diabetes and obesity. Vertical farms can help abate the problem somewhat, by fitting into the urban landscape fresh produce, avoiding higher transport costs and excessive handling. They can also add variety to our diet, which is crucial for a healthy organism.

Vertical farming can also help protect our planet, because it doesn’t disrupt the natural landscape, which many times needs to be cleared to make way for single crop farming, contributing to soil degradation. Instead, the vertical farm can be incorporated into existing buildings in the city, which are no longer in use. Industries come and go, such as the auto industry in Detroit or the shoe industry in St. Louis. Buildings that once made sense are now abandoned or in disarray, changing neighborhoods and economies for the worse. A great use for them would be vertical farming, not only because of the existing infrastructure already in place, but also due to typically low-priced real estate, which is a key point if vertical farming is to be commercially viable. One very interesting example is that of the London tunnels that were used as shelters during World War II and have now been transformed into vertical farms by Growing Underground.

Vertical farming is especially influential in the hospitality industry, as a solution for fulfilling the farm-to-table trend. Take the example of the Ritz-Carlton of Naples, Florida, in the U.S. which has an on-site indoor hydroponic vertical farm, set inside a repurposed shipping container. Named “The Grow House”, it produces a large part of the greens served at its restaurant. Bermuda as we well know, has no shortage of shipping containers; vertical farming could be great second life for them when these retire from their life at sea. In fact, Miles Market has already invested in their own shipping container for this specific use.

It’s not only businesses and cities, which can harvest the benefits of vertical farming. It is especially well-suited for any small and isolated nation such as Bermuda, which any given day has only about 10 days of food reserves for the whole country. All it takes is a late shipment or a storm for shortages to be felt, in addition to the already daily high cost of food. Vertical farms, because of their controlled environment, could supply a wide variety of produce to nations heavily dependent on imports for their daily food needs, besides contributing to stable and controlled prices.

Vertical farms can be incorporated into all sorts of urban buildings. According to Colin Campbell, architect and Regional Director of OBMI Bermuda, supermarkets with their expansive square footage and existing vertical structures would be ideally suited for a double life as farms. As photovoltaic technologies become cheaper and more efficient, along with LEDS, vertical farms are becoming more cost-efficient to implement.

When it comes down to it, vertical farming might not be the cure-all for the world’s food needs, the well-being of the planet, or our health troubles, but it certainly seems to be part of the solution and very interesting for isolated countries such as Bermuda. Vertical farming is also very interesting design-wise, providing all sorts of possibilities and opportunities for creativity. With this said, it’s exciting to see as the industry evolves, what will come next.

 

 

Press > Landscape Architecture Connects People With Plants

Landscape Architecture Connects People With Plants

Uncategorised

Worldwide Day of Botanical Art, is a collaboration that includes 25 countries, six continents, and hundreds of artists connecting people with plants through contemporary botanical artwork.

A main goal of the exhibition is “linking people with plants through contemporary botanical art”, raising awareness of the critical value of and promoting conservation of plant biodiversity and documenting wild plant species from around the world. Jennifer believes that botanical art is undergoing a renaissance, with thousands of active artists in every corner of the globe.

Flora of Bermuda

The Bermuda Society of Botanical Artists is organizing the local exhibition, Flora of Bermuda. Twenty artworks, selected by a jury, depict Bermuda’s unique plants and habitats, many of which are rare or threatened. Jennifer was very excited to have the opportunity to paint Governor Laffan’s Fern (Diplazium laffananiamum). The fern was last recorded in the wild over 100 years ago and is classified as ‘extinct in the wild’. Governor Laffan’s fern highlights Bermuda fragile ecosystems, and the complex set of challenges faced in saving plants from extinction and protecting the Island’s biodiversity.

Showcasing the Red Mangrove and Bay Lavender in the exhibition was very important to Jennifer because of her experiences, as a landscape architect, in using both these native plants. The red mangroves play an important role in the landscape by buffering the coast line from storm systems and protecting against erosion; filtering impurities from the water; and providing nursery habitats for juvenile fish; just to name a few of its benefits.

To learn more about the details about botanical art and the participating counties in the international exhibition, visit www.botanicalartworldwide.info for the Bermuda Society of Arts.