A couple rebuilds a green, raised floor home with southern charm. Check out this article from the Sun Herald.

Back in green
By TAMMY SMITH – tmsmith@sunherald.com
msBack in green
TAMMY SMITH/SUN HERALD The home of Julia Weaver and Robert Wiygul in Ocean Springs evokes small-town Southern life while incorporating energy saving elements. The family is keeping the landscaping as natural as possible.

When Robert Wiygul and Julia Weaver rebuilt after Katrina, they knew they wanted to rebuild as “green” as possible. They also wanted their new home to reflect the cherished styles of older Southern neighborhoods.

They got both.

Their two-story sunny yellow home sits on a small hill on Lovers Lane in Ocean Springs. The landscape is intentionally kept as simple as possible, with native plants and trees in profusion and natural topography retained. Water has a natural path for draining, and a charming little footbridge spans that area. Flowers dear to Southern gardeners’ hearts have their places to shine, too, and a small turtle habitat is near the house.

“We have clover out here because it helps put nitrate in the soil,” Weaver said. The clover is one of the several plants that serve as ground cover.

“I’m getting out of the lawn mowing business,” she joked. “More time to fish.”

Since they moved in just over a year ago, the family has thoroughly made the new house their home. Designed by Ocean Springs architect Dennis Cowart, the house seems to hide its practical side behind its charm.

“The biggest energy efficiency issue in a home is cooling,” Wiygul said. “So we wanted deep porches to help with passive cooling.”

The front porch is indeed deep, with plenty of room for furniture and gathering. To the right is the screened porch, with access from the front porch as well as the kitchen/dining area. Seating and dining areas there welcome crosscurrent breezes while keeping pests buzzing outside.

“It’s also shady here, so we can have lots of windows,” he added.

The house’s exterior walls are 11-inch wide insulated concrete form with fiber cement siding over that.

“It’s extraordinarily quiet, a great sound buffer,” Wiygul said. ICF is also used for energy efficiency.

The metal roof system is designed to withstand strong storms, and walls are wind-resistant. The attic also holds clues to the house’s economic appeal. A foot of foam insulation is sprayed into the interior of the roof. There’s also a surprise.

“The attic is not ventilated at all,” Wiygul said. “It’s completely sealed, and that’s much more efficient. It also reduces the risk of moisture.”

The family is looking into a solar water heater in the future.

“Julia did the floor plan,” Wigyul said, grinning as he looked at his wife. “There’s not a space in the house that’s not used every day, so there’s no wasted heating or cooling space.”

But that attention to practicality doesn’t deter from attractiveness. The wide hallway echoes to another period, as does the large window and window seat with storage on the staircase landing. A gas fireplace in the living room releases fewer pollutants than a woodburning one. Bamboo floors give the feel of hardwood.

“These are commercial grade,” Wiygul said. “They’re really no more expensive than hardwood, and they’re made to take heavy use.”

Weaver pointed out pocket doors.

“Dennis added these,” she said. pulling one of the doors out of the wall between the living room and the dining/keeping room. “We had 17 people here for Thanksgiving. We just added the leaves to the table and opened the pocket doors, and everybody fit. In older homes, you would see pocket doors all the time. You can open up room when you need it and close it off when you need to.”

Daughters Amelia and Caroline add nature to their rooms through accessories, and the master bedroom is tranquil in soft blue and white with linen accents.

“We originally had a two-story ’70s house,” Weaver said. “We moved in in November 2004, and then Katrina happened in 2005. This house, we just love the way it feels.

“It’s like a Sears home from decades ago. It feels good.”


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See how easy adding a porch or deck to your raised flood home can be with this article from doityourself.com

Build the Deck That Wont Hurt Your Wallet

When the nice weather hits, you may wish you had a nice deck to relax on; follow these guidelines to build the deck you want without spending too much money.

Build a Deck That Doesn’t Apply To Building Codes
With saving money as the primary motivation for this project, there are some regulations to consider. Building codes vary in each region of the country, so make sure to consult your city code guide before beginning your project. Using Portland, Oregon as an example, here’s how you cut the costs.

Avoid buying a permit by building your deck no more than 30″ above the adjacent grade at its highest point. Also make sure no portion of the deck is closer than 3′ from the property line.

With the deck 30″ or less above grade you do not need to dig concrete footings 18″ or more into the ground.

With the deck 30″ or less above grade, you do not need to install guardrails.

Build your deck as a walkout, from a back door for example. This will allow you to attach your deck to the house, saving material.

If you are going to install stairs, make sure there are no more than three risers (steps) a maximum of 8″ each in height. This will prevent you from having to install handrails and stay within common code guidelines. 24″ should be your maximum height above grade.

If possible, avoid using posts and frame with a “beam under” design (explained below).
As an example, assume a modest deck size of 12′ x 8′. That is 96 square feet of summertime enjoyment! All framing material must be pressure treated. Since we’re saving money, the decking and stair material will be pressure treated as well (as opposed to using costly cedar or mahogany).

Materials for Building The Deck
The following list includes materials required for building a deck (without stairs).

4 pressure treated 2x8x12′
8 pt 2x8x8′
18 pt 2x6x12′
galvanized 16p nails
2 1/4″ exterior wood screws
concrete or wood anchors
12 galvanized 2×8 joist hangers
3 pier blocks with pre-installed galvanized hangers
circular saw
tape measure
measuring square
6′ level
How to Build The Deck
Using your back door as a reference guide, measure down 9 3/4″. This is the maximum step down allowed by code. If your grade is high enough, bring that measurement up to no more than 2″ below the door. This will prevent any step down from the entry point.

Install a 2x8x12′ ledger board against the house. Level across your measurement at the door and mark that as the TOP of your ledger board. If you are anchoring into concrete, pre-drill holes every 2′ staggered at the top and bottom of the ledger. If you are anchoring into siding, make sure to drill through your ledger into wall studs. In either application 8″ bolts are to be used.

Space the remaining Pier Blocks equally, 6′ away from the house, before you set them and install the outside support beam. To ensure the support beam is parallel to the edge of the house (creating a frame that is a perfect rectangle of 90 degree angles):
Measure 6′ away from the house from both end sides of the ledger boards.

Starting at the ledger-point of each 6′ measurement, measure 8′ down the ledger.

Measure the distance between unattached ends of the 6′ measurement and the 8′ measurement; this measurement measures the length of the hypotenuse, or longest edge, of the triangle). If the shorter edges of this triangle are 8′ and 6′, the hypotenuse should be 10′. If it’s not, the pier blocks will not be properly placed
Set your Pier Blocks

Level across from the BOTTOM of your ledger to your Pier Block. You want the level to be 7 1/2″ ABOVE your Pier Block. This is the “Beam Under” design. It allows your joists to hang from the Ledger Board and sit on top of the Beam. Press Pier Blocks firmly into the ground once at the correct height.

Fasten 2 2x8x12′ together and place onto your Pier Blocks. Check for square (6,8,10) and shift the beam as necessary.

Lay out your ledger and beam for framing. Measure across the ledger and beam every 16″ and install one 2x8x8′ joist at each mark. Toe nail joists into the ledger, flush with the top. Sit the far end of your joist ON TOP of your beam.

Install 1 2x8x12′ outside ledger flush with top of the joists that extend past the beam.

Install joist hangers to each joist along the inside ledger.

Install decking. Starting at the far end of the deck, hang the first 2x6x12′ decking board 3/4″ past the outside ledger. Install using 2 1/4″ wood screws.

Space the remaining decking no more than 1/8″ apart and complete decking installation.
Place patio furniture and barbecue grill on deck. Enjoy!

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Wood adds warmth to contemporary Slidell home

Wood adds warmth to contemporary Slidell home
Posted by Karen Taylor Gist, InsideOut editor The Times-Picayune June 06, 2009 5:00AM
Categories: cover story
Photos by Ellis Lucia / The Times-PicayuneThe Natals’ home is a study in textures: This living-area wall is composed of four types of exotic wood; glass tile and bamboo, left, are on the kitchen walls.

Contractor Mike Natal and his wife, Monique, knew they wanted an open, uncluttered look for their 4,100-square-foot home on the water’s edge in Slidell, but they didn’t want to let the contemporary style drift too far toward the coldly modern. The solution they found for keeping the feel warm and family-friendly was drawn right from Mother Nature’s bag of design tricks: the use of wood.

Starting from the exterior, the 10.5-foot-tall, Spanish-cedar double entry doors set the tone. Not only does the dark wood contrast dramatically with the light-colored stucco — a color play that’s repeated inside — but the grain of the wood, the rough finish of the walls and the multicolored tile roof create a rich layer of textural interest as well.

Inside, wood grain is used to soothe. Find a shiny modern surface — and there are plenty of them — and next to it you’ll find the organic addition of wood serving to temper any high-gloss chill.

A kitchen wall of tiny glass tiles in the colors of the ocean is interrupted by a pale bamboo backsplash; countertops of the same bamboo abut dark and shiny faux wood-grain cabinets accented with satin nickel pulls. Appliances are stainless steel, and the stainless vent above the cooktop has a clear-glass cover, but clear vases on the counters hold stalks of live bamboo that pull things back to the natural world.
In the kitchen, bamboo countertops and backsplash temper the shine from the glass-tile wall, shiny faux-wood cabinets and stainless-steel appliances.

Taking shape

Mike, a project manager with his father’s business, M. Natal Contractor Inc., found inspiration while building a home with a similar floor plan, also in his Lakeshore Estates subdivision, before he tackled his own house.

“I started researching what I like, ” he said. Besides the clean and open look, “I wanted to stay more neutral with the walls so that everything else would pop out.”

Thus the dark cabinets and bamboo countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms, and the dark-wood furniture in the master bedroom, where the floors are light bamboo.


“We looked at magazines, Web sites, everywhere, ” Monique said. “He’s very visual. I trust him. I had a little hesitation on the modern; I knew I liked it, but it can go too far. We found a happy ground.”

Mike took the interior details one feature at a time.
Daughters Avery, 6, and Peyton, 4, play in the living area across from the kitchen, where a wall composed of four exotic woods dominates the design. Mike Natal laid out the individual boards of ipe, teak, American black walnut and Peruvian walnut on the floor in the pattern he wanted, then had a carpenter put them up in the same order. The fireplace, below the TV, burns biofuel.

His first big decision was adding a wall in the living area composed of four types of exotic wood: ipe, teak, American black walnut and Peruvian walnut.

“I saw in a magazine something similar, on a floor, ” he said. “It took weeks to find the right colors of these different species, ” he added.

“A carpenter constructed it, but I laid all the boards on the ground to get it the way I wanted it, and said, ‘Put it up just like this.’ ”

Display niches in a variety of shapes and sizes were built in.

“The wood wall was not cheap, ” Mike said. “The effort that went into it . . . if you count the hours I spent online and tracking down wood. I have new respect for decorators.”

Adding more wood

Next came the addition of beams to the living-area ceiling, which is 16 feet high.

The Glulam beams, an engineered wood product that Mike stained in a light Minwax Early American, are dropped 4 feet, so they line up with the lower ceilings in the rest of the house.

“They’re not structural; they’re strictly cosmetic. They just added the look of wood, ” he said.

The only brackets he found to fit them were black iron, so he turned to Gretna Plating & Polishing to have them refinished with nickel.

Soon afterward, a family trip to the New Orleans Home and Garden Show got him thinking about bamboo.

“I saw bamboo and said, ‘I’ve got to have that, ‘ ” Mike said.

The display, from New Orleans Bamboo, was mostly flooring, but when he learned that the wood was available in sheets, he decided to use it for countertops as well and designed the shape of the island himself.

“He had a hard time sealing them, ” Monique said. “He wanted all natural.”

The bamboo is sanded and finished with tung oil.

“If you wipe spills fast, it’s fine. If you let them sit, it tends to stain, ” she added.

“I can always sand it down and oil it again, ” Mike said.

From the bamboo to the exotic wood wall to the beams to the wooden blades on the sleek nickel-look fans throughout the house, “it all jelled, ” he said. “It all came together slowly.”
Monique and Mike Natal, with daughters Peyton and Avery, have built their dream home in Slidell’s Lakeshore Estates.

Family affair

Many decisions concerning the home, which the family has lived in for a year, were about more than just eye-catching design. With two small children, they had to be.

“Our other house had a dining table and china cabinets. . . . We don’t need it, ” Monique said.

The new dining area, just large enough to hold a small table, adjoins the kitchen and overlooks the water, an inlet off of Lake Pontchartrain.

The Natals also altered the floor plan to add a playroom between the bedrooms of daughters Avery, 6, and Peyton, 4.

Even the bar area contains the beverage fridge and ice maker the kids can use.

“The dog (Bling Bling, a miniature schnauzer) goes running if she sees us there, ” Mike said. “She’s there waiting for a piece of ice.”

Adults-only exceptions are the sleekly modern, low-back bar stools along the kitchen island. “The adults sit at the bar; kids eat in the dining area, ” where they aren’t in danger of tumbling off the seats, he said.

The couple found the stools online. “We both do accessories, ” Monique said.

“She picked all the light fixtures; she did a lot. We work well together, ” Mike added. “I went to her before making decisions.”

Living the dream
All four Natals fish off the boat dock, which has a tile roof that matches the house.

Add to the home’s design its idyllic setting, and it’s easy to see why the Natals love it: A near-constant breeze stirs the water into soft motion, and sets the palm, ornamental banana and elephant-ear leaves in the front yard swaying to the same rhythm; in the back, a mother duck and her 10 babies swim in the shallows of the lake.

“We can go fishing with the girls off the dock. They love it — if they’re catching fish, ” Monique said.

“In winter, speckled trout are right there. They’re catching them on Barbie poles; they’re fish men would be proud about, ” Mike added.

The Natals cook the fish inside or in the outdoor kitchen, which looks out on an L-shaped pool and a grassy play area, all securely gated from the dock to keep the area safe for the girls.

“Living on the water and being able to do what we want to — it’s our dream home, ” Mike said.


Glulam ceiling beams, eco-friendly Supa interior doors — Dash Lumber Co.

Bamboo plywood (4×8 sheets) — New Orleans Bamboo

Bamboo flooring and faux-wood Ultracraft kitchen cabinets in Gloss Brazilian Oak finish — Tymeless Flooring & Cabinets in Slidell.

Exotic woods for living-area wall — online
. . . . . . .

InsideOut Editor Karen Taylor Gist can be reached at 504.826.3467 or ktaylorgist@timespicayune.com.

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A new house goes up, and up and up, in time for storm season

A new house goes up, and up and up, in time for storm season

by By Stephanie Bruno Contributing writer, The Times-Picayune
Saturday May 30, 2009, 5:00 AM

30hgcoverPhotos by Rusty Costanza / The Times-Picayune The view from the deck shows why the Bourgs were eager to make their home in the Lake Catherine community. ‘I feel very comfortable that the house I built is as hurricane-resistant as you can imagine. The wind it can carry is 140 to 150 mph,’ Bob Bourg says.

High and dry: That’s exactly how Bob and Sherry Bourg expect to spend the 2009 storm season, now that their new hurricane-resistant home has been installed on the shores of Lake Catherine.

“Look at this,” said Bob Bourg, stretching his arms wide to take in the broad expanse of water and sky just outside his front door. “Why would I give this up?”

Although plenty of folks might scratch their heads about the decision to rebuild on the waterfront, it wasn’t a hard one for Bourg, a born and bred local who attended Jesuit High School. After buying a camp on Lake Catherine in 2002, he became enchanted with the area and became an ardent convert to fishing.

“When my parents bought the camp,” said Becky Bourg, the couple’s grown daughter, “at first it was meant for weekends and getaways. It wasn’t their primary residence at first; that was in Mid-City. But by the time the storm came, they were spending almost all their time out here. It had become their permanent home.”

The Bourgs’ camp was one of about 500 that lined the shores in the Lake Catherine community before Hurricane Katrina.

“After the storm, when I could get back in to check it out, there were no more than 20 buildings still standing, and only 16 or so of those were sound,” Bob Bourg said. “Our house was gone. All that was left was the foundation.”
Bob and Sherry Bourg are getting settled in their new Lake Catherine home just in time for the 2009 hurricane season. If a storm is coming, they won’t hesitate to evacuate, Bob Bourg says, ‘but the house would be there when I got back.’

On the back burner
Losing the camp wasn’t their biggest challenge. Their home on South Murat Street in Mid-City flooded too, leaving them without shelter. And as an executive at Destination Management and New Orleans Tours — he’s now general manager — Bourg and his colleagues were striving to keep the business afloat. Without a tourist base, the company stayed alive by providing transportation related to hurricane recovery.

“Those first six to nine months were so busy with the business and fixing up our place in Mid-City that we didn’t even have time to think about the camp,” Bourg said. “We were nomads for a while, first in Dallas, then we came home and bought a motor home which we parked in front of a friend’s house in River Ridge. We were able to return to living in our Mid-City house in ’06.”

But the lure of the water became too strong for Bourg to resist. An avid fisher, he missed his days out on his Lake Catherine pier, hauling in speckled trout and cooking up a feast for friends and family. It wasn’t long before he and his wife started talking about the possibility of rebuilding.

“Our friends were a little skeptical, even though they understood why we loved it so much there,” he said. “They’d say, ‘Make sure you can get insurance’ and ‘Make sure what you build can take another hurricane.’ We were trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together when I read a news article about someone locally who had built a Deltec home. I liked what I saw.”

Deltec, an Asheville, N.C., business, designs hurricane-resistant circular (technically, polygonal) homes and produces kits for assembly. The company trains contractors in various locales to ensure that kits are assembled according to company standards. Locals who follow “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” were introduced to the company when Ty Pennington and crew landed in town last spring and replaced the storm- and tornado-damaged home of a Westwego first responder and his extended family using a Deltec product.

“I wanted a place that I wouldn’t have to worry every time the weatherman starts talking tropical systems,” Bourg said. “Now I have it.”
The Bourgs go up 32 steps to enter the home, which is more than 25 feet above sea level.

Step by step
Although the construction is designed to withstand extreme winds, the Bourgs weren’t taking any chances with water. They installed their new home atop pilings — really tall pilings. To reach the deck that encircles the home, it is necessary to climb 32 steps.

“The deck level is 23 feet above grade, which makes it a little more than 25 feet above sea level,” Bourg said. “Out here we are required to be 16 feet above mean tide, but we wanted to be higher. One day I might have to install an elevator, but for now my knees do just fine.”

Construction began in October and is almost complete. With power, plumbing and even propane hooked up, Bourg was able to spend his first night in the new house last week and was eager to lead a tour.

The dining room, living room and kitchen are all contained in one large space that occupies about half of the home’s 2,000 square feet. Windows ring the walls so that views of the water and clouds surround the room. Kitchen cabinets are installed on the central wall, which separates the public space from the three bedrooms and three baths on the land side of the house. An extra-long granite counter serves as both a divider between the kitchen and living room and a gathering spot for cocktails or a casual meal.

“We love to cook and entertain,” Bourg said. “See this table? It extends to 127 inches. It can fit the whole family when we can get them all together at the same time. My son, Brandon, and his wife are both chefs — one at Emeril’s and one at NOLA — so you can bet we eat well.”

Outside on the deck, Bourg discussed plans for a screened porch that will become an outdoor dining area.

“See how the deck slopes down over there?” Bourg asked. “That’s so that if people are standing on the deck, it won’t block the view of the water from inside the house.”

As Bourg walked down the steps to ground level, he talked about the shaded area beneath the house.

“Right now, this is all sand,” he said. “But eventually, we plan to pave it and use it like a patio.”

Then he pointed upward to equipment resting atop a platform attached to the central structural support for the house.

“See that? Those are the condensers and hot water heater,” he said. “The water was 16 feet high here during the surge, I was told, so we put the platform 18 feet off the ground.”

Living with water
Bourg continued out to the pier that extends from the shore far into the water. About midway on the left is a slip for one of his two vintage Boston Whalers. At the end was a pavilion for fishing, complete with a roof and bath facilities.

“The pier was here before Hurricane Katrina, but the storm stripped all the floor boards off,” he said. “All that was left were the pilings.”

Bourg rebuilt the pier and the pilings higher than before, hoping that the new design would lower the risk of having to replace the flooring again.

“But then Gustav came along and ripped every board off the top and took out the railing,” he said. “Now it’s time to do it all again.”
But for Bourg and his family, the decision to return to Lake Catherine really wasn’t a difficult one.

“Once we figured out the right kind of construction and assembled the funds, there was really no question,” he said. “Look up and down the shore, and there are new houses going up like crazy.”
Another house is going up next to the Bourgs. ‘The pace of rebuilding has really accelerated recently,’ Bob Bourg says.

Bourg said, for a time, he would count how many property owners had rebuilt. Early on, the numbers weren’t encouraging. But lately, there has been so much activity that he has stopped counting.

“I think I stopped somewhere around 80,” he said. “Everyone is building high, and some neighbors are trying out alternative construction types.”

Bourg pointed to a home resembling a smooth white dome, rather like an igloo, atop tall pilings.

“The scuttlebutt is that a 30-foot wave can wash over that house, and it would survive without a scratch,” he said.

For now, the arc of the shoreline is dotted with new homes, separated by lots for sale. But Bourg doesn’t expect that to last.

“Maybe 80 or 100 houses doesn’t sound like a lot, when you consider there were hundreds more here before the storm,” he said. “But the pace of rebuilding has really accelerated recently. A week ago, there were nothing but pilings on my neighbor’s lot, and now his whole house is framed. I wouldn’t be surprised if a year from now, the number of houses doubles.”

Stephanie Bruno can be reached at housewatcher@hotmail.com.

Here are some of the reasons that Bob and Sherry Bourg feel good about their home:

SHAPE: Because it’s round, wind blows around it instead of against it.

LOW-PITCHED ROOF: A gable or a steep roof pitch would create a surface for wind to blow against. Here, wind blows over, not against, the roof.

ROOF SUPPORT: The weight rests on the perimeter walls of the house, creating a load that helps stabilize the house

WINDOWS: They’re wind-resistant.

FRAMING: Roof and floor trusses radiate outward from the center of the house, like spokes of a wheel. When any part of the house experiences a wind load, the load is dispersed throughout the entire structure.

SHEATHING: After framing, the whole house is sheathed in 5/8-inch plywood.

HARDWARE: Strapping is manufactured of heavy-duty metal.

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Don’t Flood Thy Neighbor

Learn how to protect your home from flooding without flooding your neighbors. Watch this video to get tips on how this is possible!

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We’re on Facebook! Become a friend to learn more about Raised Floor Living

Another way to get updates and be connected with Raised Floor Living! Become a friend of Raised Floor Living to get immediate updates about building green and how a raised floor home can benefit you!

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Going Green Along The Gulf Coast

Russell Richardson from Raised Floor Living discusses the environmental advantages of building with a raised wood foundation.

Interested in the going green movement? Join us!

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