MASTERING MOUNTAINOUS BUILDS: GAIN VALUABLE INSIGHTS FOR BUILDING AND REMODELING WITH WESTOVER CONSTRUCTION
IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS OF COLORADO —
At Westover, we bring over 30 years of experience building in the mountains to make the building process seamless for you. Below, you'll find important information to help you prepare and consider key factors for building or remodeling in mountainous regions.
Longs Peak - View in Estes Park
Topography in the region
Longs Peak - View in Estes Park
THE landscape, CLIMATE & snow
THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN LANDSCAPE
A Stunning Blend of Granite and Forested Mountains
Nestled amidst the trees, the Rocky Mountains soar to snow-capped peaks that pierce the skyline. True to their name, these mountains are composed of solid granite both above and below the surface, creating a unique and awe-inspiring terrain.
the region boasts comfortable, non-humid summers from June through early September. However, residents and builders alike must brace themselves for the long winter season, which brings bi-weekly snowstorms and sustained winds from mid-October to early May. The freeze-thaw cycle is a constant feature during winter, making it essential to prepare with a reliable snow plow.
Preparing for the winter season means creating a comprehensive plan for snow removal. Fortunately, there are several options available, including HOA snow removal services, local snow plowing services, or personal snow removal equipment.
DESIGNING WITH SNOW IN MIND
When designing a mountain home, it is essential to consider the impact of snow on the property. Beyond stunning mountain views, snow is a significant factor in determining the orientation of the driveway and home placement. Sun exposure is critical for mitigating snow and ice buildup, with South-facing driveways reducing snow accumulation compared to their North-facing counterparts.
The roof pitch is another critical aspect to consider, as it can affect the snow load. Take a drive around the region, and you'll notice few flat or low-pitch roofs. Instead, steeper pitches are more common, reducing the amount of snow buildup and ensuring your home remains structurally sound even in the heaviest of snowfalls.
Excavation in the mountains
Building in the mountains presents unique challenges, with sloping terrain ranging from gentle slopes to steep inclines. In some cases, extensive cut and fill may be necessary, adding to the complexity of the project. Additionally, granite formations are common in the region, often requiring controlled construction blasting during excavation.
THE EXCAVATION & BLASTING PROCESS
Once the site has been cleared of trees and vegetation, the foundation hole is dug. In some cases, interfering rock formations must be blasted using explosives, a process that involves drilling several holes and strategically placing explosives. To minimize sound and
fly rock associated with the blast, demolition teams cover the explosion with tire mats. The cost of excavation and blasting varies depending on the site.
Unlike other regions that struggle with expansive soil, the majority of the soil in the mountains is stable. However, it is always essential to verify existing soil conditions with an engineer and ensure that the minimum soil PSI requirements are met for safe construction.
utilities & HVAC strategies
When building in the mountains, utilities play an important role in the planning process. Here are some important considerations:
The property may have access into a city water system or if there is not tap into city water, a well will need to be drill
Tieing into city water will be associated with tap fees that are packaged into the permitting fees that vary per region.
Drilling a well requires a subcontractor and a separate permit
Depending on the lot you are planning on building on, the electricity could be already run to the property. However, in some cases electricity may need to be brought to the desired location. This can be a costly action item if needed.
The city may have sewer set up for your desired lot or you will need to look into building a septic system. '
Septic system vary based on how many bedrooms and bathrooms are designed for the project.
In some cases, natural gas may be available on the property. If not, buried propane tanks can be installed, which are filled on average twice a year. This option is more common in remote locations.
When it comes to heating and cooling a home at an elevation of 6,000ft or higher in the Rocky Mountains, there are several methods available. We highly recommend the following strategies for residential HVAC.
1. In floor radiant heating -
This heating technique tops our list for good reason. In-floor radiant heating is the most efficient method of heating a home. Similar to your body's ambient temperature, this system ensures that your home is consistently heated at all times. Plus, it's divided into dynamic zones, so you can customize the temperature in each space according to your needs. For example, if you prefer a cooler bedroom but a warmer bathroom floor, we'll assign each of these areas to their own zone. This system is controlled by a boiler that feeds heat tubes throughout the floor.
Along with the installation of an in-floor radiant heat system,
homeowners can enhance their indoor air quality by adding a whole-house fan. This allows for the exchange of stale or dirty air with fresh, clean air.
Another benefit with the in-floor radiant heat system is a sleek and modern look in your home with the in-floor radiant heat system. Unlike traditional heating systems that require bulky ductwork and vents, this system eliminates the need for unsightly soffits, providing a clean and streamlined appearance that complements any decor.
2. Forced Air System -
In the cooler temperatures of higher elevations in the Rocky Mountains, air conditioning may not be as essential as it is in other regions. Thus, some clients may decide to forgo the installation of an AC system and only opt for an in-floor radiant heating system. However, in case you choose to add AC to your home, a forced air system is a recommended option.
A forced air unit uses ducts to distribute heated or cooled air throughout the house. The unit includes a furnace, which is connected to the ductwork system that runs throughout the house.
During the heating season, the furnace heats the air, which is then blown through the ducts by a blower motor and distributed through vents located in each room of the house. The thermostat controls the temperature, turning the furnace on or off as needed to maintain the desired temperature.
In the cooling season, the forced air unit works in a similar way, but with the addition of an air conditioner. The air conditioner is located outside the home and is connected to the ductwork system. The unit cools the air, which is then blown through the ducts and distributed through vents in the house.
Forced air units can be powered by electricity, natural gas, and propane. They are popular because they can heat + cool, and can be easily integrated with air filtration systems and humidifiers/dehumidifiers.