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The RemodelPDX blog is now part of our new website!

Visit at olsonandjones.com/blog

All of the posts from this blog have been migrated over to our new site.


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REI and Columbia Sportswear got it right – they know how to keep a person temperate and dry while wicking away moisture to maintain comfort.

Your house is not unlike your body – a home needs to stay at a consistent temperature no matter what the outside temperature is with a furnace/AC and insulation. A structure needs to keep out the elements with a roof and siding. Lastly, moisture production inside the house from showers, laundry, cooking, etc. needs to be ventilated to keep it healthy.

The designers at REI and Columbia Sportswear have borrowed principles from building scientists to create high performing, comfortable clothing. The key is in layering – most high performance sportswear is built out of multiple layers with unique functions, much like a high performing house:

Layer 1: Shell

The outermost layer takes the most beating from rain, snow, wind, and sun. The critical functions are waterproofing and blocking air movement. In your home, the roof, windows, and siding all act as waterproofing. Air sealing a home blocks air movement and prevents conditioned air from escaping to the outside. Just like leaving your jacket zipper open, heat escaping from gaps and cracks in a home adds up to big energy losses.

Layer 2: Fleece or Down Warming Layer

The middle layer’s critical function is to retain heat. In a home, your insulation acts as a buffer for both warm or cool air indoors that you are trying to keep that way. Many materials can be used to insulate a home; from shredded blue jeans, to ground up paper, to fiberglass and spray-foam. The important thing is to choose a material that will perform well in your specific application and climate – beyond that, any of the materials listed above can be used add R-Value (resistance to heat passing through).

Layer 3: Base Layer

This last layer is the one right next to your skin. Its critical function is to be breathable to allow moisture from your body to escape. Without this function your clothes become wet, your body drops in temperature, and you get very uncomfortable! Your home also produces a lot of moisture from showers, laundry, cooking, and just from occupants breathing and perspiring. It is critical to exhaust this moisture to outside, or else the building materials will eventually become damp, causing rot and mold! Properly vented bath and kitchen fans, appropriate levels of whole house ventilation, and proper attic and crawlspace ventilation will keep your home comfortable and healthy.

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You know the dog days of summer have come to Portland when Highway 26 is packed all the way to the coast and the Willamette River is covered in watercraft full of people seeking relief. Air conditioning is still a rare occurrence in Portland homes, and those lucky enough to have a basement know well its benefits!

What you may not know is that in this temperate climate, even the hottest days are usually followed by drastically cooler nights. It is not uncommon to see 25-30 degree shifts from day to night! A savvy homeowner can take advantage of this local phenomenon with the most rudimentary of habits to naturally cool their homes.

Stack effect diagramThe moment of opportunity is when the outside temperature drops below the current indoor temperature of your house. This moment in time will change depending on how hot the day has been, and how many hot days have preceded it. A heat wave in late August may set you back to 10pm for opening windows! If you open a window and the air outside feels even slightly cooler, the time is right.

At this point, open every available window and door (even interior doors) from the top to the bottom of your house. If you have more than one story or a basement, it is especially important to allow airflow up through the structure from floor to floor, such as opening a door at the top or bottom of a stairway. Warm air in the house will naturally rise and escape out the top, drawing in cooler exterior air at the bottom.

This movement of air up through a building is called the “stack affect”. Any enclose space, no matter what size or shape, will have this same dynamic. The taller the structure, the greater the pressure that follows the arrows shown in the airflow diagram. Some people install a whole house ventilator fan, but with a few simple steps each evening as you go to bed, your house can be cooled naturally without installing a house fan or using any electricity!

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Today’s case study is a 1930’s NE Portland bungalow with English Cottage flair. The original utility chimney is being removed to make room for a kitchen remodel on the main floor, expanded closet upstairs, and a new high efficiency furnace in the basement. The cottage also has a larger chimney near the front of the house that services the living room fireplace.

In the first half of the 20th century, a home often had a second chimney separate from the living room fireplace stack. The second chimney was usually the exhaust route for an old boiler, oil furnace, or wood stove. With modern cooking equipment and high efficiency furnaces that can exhaust inconspicuously through a wall, these second chimneys are obsolete and often pose a hazard of water leakage, air leakage, and exhaust gas leakage into the living areas. Removing them during a remodel can open up much needed space in a smaller home!

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We are trying something new – a guide to some of the best summer getaways around Oregon. The Team at Olson & Jones compiled our favorite beaches, lakes, rivers, and mountains to create this list. Follow the links below and explore somewhere new!

summer recreation guide - barview jettyBar View Jetty, Tillamook. This is a popular destination with lots of camping spots, beach access and the jetty to explore. Great place to take a family.  -Darren

summer recreation guide - nehalum bayNehalem Bay State Park, Manzanita. Beautiful beach, lots of sand dunes to explore, and a very nice campground. Horse back riding tours are also available!  -Benjamin

summer recreation guide - cultus lakeCultus Lake, Bend. Charming lake with a campground and a lodge. Don’t forget to stop by Three Creeks Brewing in Sisters on your way! -Gwen

summer recreation guide - magone lakeMagone Lake, John Day. A low traffic place if you want to enjoy some peace and quiet around a spectacular lake. The lake is at 5000 feet, and Brook Trout fishing is a must.  -Rick

summer recreation guide - jones creekJones Creek, Tillamook State Forest. This campground is only an hour west of Portland on Hwy 6. Great swimming holes too. We’ve camped with a group of 8 families! -Leo

Eagle Cap Wilderness, Joseph. A stunning range erupts from the plains outside of Joseph. Great area for backpacking, but you can also rent vacation cabins.  -Frank

summer recreation guide - fort stevensFort Stevens, Astoria. So much to do! Biking, walk the jetty, or visit the beach and see the remains of the 1906 shipwrecked Peter Iredale still stuck in the sand. -Greg

summer recreation guide - hosmer lakeHosmer Lake, Bend. Excellent trout for fly fishing, peaceful and low traffic (no gas motors allowed!), and the occasional huge Atlantic Salmon!  -Jeff

Did we miss your favorite spot? Please, leave a comment below and let us know where you like to go. We’re always up for trying something new!

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Thank you for considering Olson & Jones Construction, Inc. for your residential remodeling needs. Lewis Barron to KitchenWe have been delighted to help people in the Portland metropolitan area with their home remodeling and custom new home construction since 1982. Our desire to serve and care for our clients drives us to consistently strive for improvement. We are honored to earn our clients’ trust whether we are completing their home improvement needs or building their dream homes. In our years of business we have had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects such as:

New Home Construction, Green Homes, Sustainable Remodeling .Kitchen Remodeling .Bathroom Remodeling, Home Additions, Room Additions, Bathroom Remodeling ,Outdoor Living Space Historic Home Renovations, Home Restoration, Home Structural Repairs, Home Structural Reinforcements, Home Repairs, Attic Remodels, Retaining Walls ,Ground Water Control

We enjoy collaborating with design professionals and clients to build or remodel the homes that will best suit each client’s specific needs. We appreciate the process of design and always honor the design intent because good design ensures a great outcome. For design professionals the process of prioritizing and balancing the sometimes conflicting goals of aesthetics, lifestyle/function, and budget can be challenging at times. We understand this. Helping to deal with those challenges by utilizing our extensive years of experience and knowledge, combined with our positive determination and a willingness to work as a team, has given us the privilege to be a part of many wonderful projects. Our construction practices have long been geared toward recycle and reuse and as a result, we support sustainable practices. As we all desire higher performing homes and are considering the impact of home construction on the environment, we are able to give counsel and recommendations for improving and integrating the various systems that are a part of every home. Better performing homes are better quality homes, and better for our environment. This wealth of knowledge and experience directly benefits our clients, and while the types of projects may differ, the manner and care that we take in executing them does not. We are more than the work we do and the work we do is more than just getting the job done. We believe that the client’s experience is just as important as the quality of the finished product. To that end when people think of Olson & Jones Construction we want them to think, “Honesty and Caring”.

We look forward to working with you on your next project.

Greg Olson President

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