November Construction

Phase 3 of the Kessler Residence

The Art Studio/ Guest House is pretty much finished. We enjoy working with Esposito Construction and appreciate the quality of construction they deliver. See the rest of this project here.

Brays Island Renovation

Currently, they are working on painting, carpentry, hvac and roofing. The project is about 70% complete.

Fripp Island

The house is getting very close to completion. I just love how the morning light fills the room and makes the walnut media center look so pretty.

Climate Change Risks

Katherine Kokal of the Island Packet recently reported that Beaufort County ranks number one in the United States for climate change risks.

This assessment came from the data from the Rhodium Group and was analyzed by ProPublica and the New York Times Magazine. Beaufort County tops their chart of the risk caused by compounding calamities, including heat, wet bulb (how heat and humidity collide), farm crop yields, sea level rise, and economic damage.

You might wonder what you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. Many people do not know that 40 percent of energy in the United States is consumed by buildings, so there is a huge opportunity for building owners to make a meaningful impact. Architects around the country are contributing to significant reductions in carbon emissions by participating in the American Institute of Architects 2030 Commitment.

The 2030 Commitment is a platform for architects, engineers, and owners to work together toward the architecture and design community’s goal of achieving a carbon neutral built environment by the year 2030. The 2030 Commitment aims to transform the practice of architecture to respond to the climate crisis in a way that is holistic, firm-wide, project-based, and data-driven. 829 companies have joined the program.

Reporting firms in 2019 recorded 3.3 billion gross square feet across more than 100 countries. That’s nearly the size of New Mexico. And they achieved a 49 percent reduction in predicted energy use intensity – the greatest reduction in the program’s history.

Even small firms can make a big impact. I can confirm that firsthand. Our small residential firm reported a 75.6% reduction last year. Most of our clients do not ask for their projects to be sustainable, so to reach the 2030 commitment goals we have a dual approach.  First, focus on passive strategies such as building orientation, fenestration, and roof overhangs that minimize energy needs. Then use best practices in building science for hot humid climates with the correct detailing of drainage planes, air sealing and HVAC designs.

The second approach is harder because in our hot, humid climate we cannot reach 2030 commitment goals without on-site power generation. Many of our clients think that they want a back-up generator because of hurricanes. They usually opt for solar power when we make the case that, with the addition of a power wall of Tesla or SunVault batteries, they can store power for emergency use without a generator. With the Federal and State tax credits, and net metering, the payback is usually around 7-9 years. And that does not include the savings from not purchasing a nasty loud generator.

According to Architecture 2030, as much as 50 percent of a city’s greenhouse gas emissions can be produced by fewer than 5 percent of that city’s buildings.

One building, one project at a time really can make a difference.

April Construction progress

Here are some recent construction photos from our job sites

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Fripp Island Beach House Construction Progress

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Cane Island

This project is just getting started

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roof terrace

Long Cove Club Renovation

BIG changes at this Long Cove Club house on Hilton Head Island! Slide to see the before and after transformation.


The front exterior was refreshed by raising the existing porch roof, replacing the existing columns with new columns, all new windows, a new front door with sidelights, cable rail on the stair rail and new landscaping.

Stair before Before and After Hilton Head Island

The new stair rail, by Sean Ahern of Ahern’s Anvil is so much more elegant than the existing. And who wants the HVAC return to be the first thing you see when entering the house? Not us- relocating it definitely elevates the space.

Kitchen before Improve your home

The kitchen is much brighter and more open than before, with a huge island and beautiful cabinetry.

before fireplace long cove club

The old pine media center just screamed 1990’s. Here the shelving and fireplace are updated for the 21st Century. Large lift and slide doors bring lots of light in and connect the interior living to the exterior.

rear before rear after

This is where this family is going to be spending all their time! Hilton Head Living at its finest!

New outdoor living area with roll down insect screens, new brick fireplace, new roof terrace with insane views over the marshes of Broad Creek, accessed by a new spiral stair. The pool was redone, an outdoor shower added. Replacing the existing rail with cable rail really makes a huge difference!

The team and the clients are HAPPY! Thanks to Esposito Construction and to our FAB clients! What a fun project this was!

Sometimes people think that building a new house is the only way to achieve their dream home, but we are here to tell you, that sometimes a renovation is the way to go. It can be less expensive and more sustainable to rework an existing house. This Long Cove Club renovation is proof. Check out this major renovation on Fripp Island for another example of a transformative renovation.

On the Boards in September

This month our projects on the boards include two renovation projects and the house in Seattle that we have been working on for a while.

Addition and Renovation on Lady's Island

This project on the boards is a small house just down the street from our office. It is on the marshes of the inter-coastal waterway with great trees and a fantastic view. The existing house has a garage and storage on the ground floor which is in the flood plain. We are renovating the first floor and adding a second floor which will house the master bedroom suite and office.

Renovation on St. Helena's Island

The previous owner of this house watched too much HGTV - it is a DIY nightmare. My five year old granddaughter probably could do a better job than this one. Some projects were started and never finished and others looked like whatever material happened to by lying around was used. As you can see it is on a beautiful view. The interior is extremely dark and does not open up to the view.

A new house in Seattle

We have been working on this project for a few months - this is the latest iteration of it. We think it just keeps getting better and better!

Under Construction


We have some great projects under construction. Benjie went out today to see the house in Port Royal Plantation being demo'ed. This project started as a small remodel, but after Hurricane Matthew last year, they decided to rebuild. Benjie described the partially demolished house as looking like a cake with a slice out of it.

Factory Creek House

The Factory Creek House is progressing very nicely. Framing is complete and siding is being installed on the garage and carriage house.

Fripp Island Renovation

The owners of this Fripp Island house were able to breathe a sigh of relief after Hurricane Irma. Had we not raised the house out of the flood plain, it would have been flooded. They were also fortunate in that the impact glass windows were already installed.

Adhering to building codes decreases damage from hurricanes

 Our clients on Fripp Island invested in complying to the building code by raising the first floor by about 6 feet. Flood waters were reported to have been up to 4’ under their house, which would have certainly flooded their house prior to raising it. 

Our clients on Fripp Island invested in complying to the building code by raising the first floor by about 6 feet. Flood waters were reported to have been up to 4’ under their house, which would have certainly flooded their house prior to raising it.

Have you seen the photographs of Florida neighborhoods showing houses devastated by Irma next to intact houses? The difference is the intact houses were built to the current building code. After Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992, the Florida Building Code underwent significant revisions. The success of those changes was apparent during the 2004 hurricanes of Hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Jeanne. Structural damage due to wind was minor in buildings built to the new code but rain entry became an issue. After the 2004 hurricane season, control of rainwater entry became a priority.

The codes adopted for use in South Carolina, the International Building Code (IBC) and the International Residential Code (IRC), incorporate the wind, rain, and flood aspects of the Florida Building Code. This includes the following:

·         Keep the building from blowing away by tying the building together from the roof rafters to the foundation and designing to withstand wind shear.

·         The windows and doors need to be impact rated or otherwise protected from flying objects.

·         The exterior finishes should be securely fastened to the structure to resist the hurricane winds.

·         Keep the rain out by flashing all windows, doors and other penetrations.

·         Drain the water away from the building.

·         Elevate the building above the flood plain.

·         Build with material that tolerate soaking.

·         Design the exterior walls to easily dry when they become wet.

It is common to hear someone lamenting, contractors add an upcharge because I live in “NAME ANY DEVELOPMENT IN BEAUFORT COUNTY”. This is not true. It costs more to build in Beaufort County because building to meet the code for hurricanes costs more.

We are fortunate that Beaufort County and our local municipalities building departments are very strict in enforcing the IBC and IRC. This is not true in all communities. We were talking with a contractor for a project on St. Simons Island, Georgia and mentioned that we would use impact glass. He said, “Well, we don’t use impact glass very often. We usually just have plywood cut to fit the windows for the building inspector and then we reuse the plywood on the next job.”

Through stringent adherence to the building codes, the destruction from hurricanes can be reduced. The goal is expressed best by City Manager Jim Scholl of Key West when he was interviewed about his experience during Irma on NPR Wednesday morning. Scholl said that he rode out the storm in city hall which is a brand new building built to the Florida Building Code and they did not have any damage to the building. They were fine. Everybody here, myself and my team felt very safe.

Designing for an easier life

Did you know that good design can be better than a marriage counselor? How can that be? The common perception is that you might need a marriage counselor after a home building project. Architects are trained problem solvers and are committed to being collaborative partners with their clients to make the clients’ lives better.

When planning your project discuss irritants in your life with your architect. Do the children’s messy rooms drive you nuts? Do dinner guests in your cooking space make you want to run from the kitchen screaming? Does your spouse’s pile of clothes on the dresser make you crazy?  Solutions to these and other problems can be found through good design.

In the majority of our projects couples request separate sinks or vanities in the master bathroom to make life easier.  When different tolerations of neatness, cleanliness, or privacy are involved we often design separate closets and/or bathrooms in the master suite.

We had clients where the husband was a very early riser. The wife slept late and was a light sleeper. This was not a good combination; he regularly woke her during his early morning routine. We designed the master suite so the husband could enter the bathroom and exit through the closet into the hall.  With the installation of sound insulation around the bathroom, the problem was solved.

In a renovation project, moving one door in a kitchen solved the problem of guests hanging out in the cooking triangle.

Another client had an interesting dilemma. She loved her artist daughter-in-law but hated her art work. Her request was to design her house so there was not a wall in the public rooms where you could hang a painting! We created an open floor plan with curved walls and lots of glass. Fortunately, the house was on a great view so the huge window wall made sense.

When an elderly mother with dementia was moving in with her daughter’s family, we redesigned the now grown children’s bedrooms into a small apartment for her. We configured the bathroom and cabinetry like her previous home of 50 years. We also used the same color palette to increase the familiarity of the space.

When you move into an existing house you make the space work for your lifestyle. The unused dining room might become a home office or play room. In a custom designed home or renovation, the house is designed for your lifestyle. Think about how you want to live in your house and move through the day.  Communicate your desires with your architect; who is committed to solving your problems and enhancing the spaces where you live.

Drone footage

Check out the progress at the Bremermann Residence on Dataw! We are loving the drone footage. Seeing the construction site from above and the long views of our gorgeous environment is a treat!