Built to last

by Jamie Walker
Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dwight Jessup and Peggy Singer weren’t quite sure what they were getting into when they built their first home on a quiet tributary of wandering Whiskey Creek off of Masonboro Sound Road They just knew they were in the right place. 

“It was a process we never would have believed before getting into it,” Singer said.  

The long lists of decisions, she said, and the busy lines of communication between contractors and engineers and architects were overwhelming. One thing they did know before starting the construction process was that the contractor was key.  

“You really have to trust your contractor,” Jessup said.  

Their quiet, tucked-away spot shaded by a sprawling, old live oak is very close to the flood zone in a sensitive resource protection area. It was important to them to protect the safe haven they’d found by building in the most sensitive and sensible fashion and when choosing a contractor this was at the forefront of their minds. 

Pam Fasse of Fasse Construction was hired.  

“Pam went above and beyond to ensure that we got what we wanted,” Singer said. 

When Fasse signed on, she brought an engineer with her.  

“It’s not required, but I always have an engineer design the structure, including the foundation,” Fasse said. 

Fasse installed a 10-foot concrete foundation built with concrete block, rebar, ladder wire and poured concrete in every crevice. The open, cell foam envelopes the interior, preventing air leakage, helping to give the home an Energy Star rating. Concrete board siding over wood framing protects against rot, wind disturbance and termites. The hip roof design increases wind resistance and includes extra nailing patterns on the roof decking.  

After extensive research, Jessup found Paradigm windows which were more in keeping with their sustainable building plan than the traditionally used Simonton windows. Paradigm windows are manufactured with a thicker grade of vinyl and contain no aluminum. They allow virtually zero thermal loss. The skylights were handpicked by Fasse for their newly innovated seal design.  

Singer and Jessup are not only thrilled with the fortress Fasse helped to create, but with her sensitivity to the surrounding environment. 

“We all did a lot of research on how to save the oak,” Jessup said.  

Fasse said that she chooses various disaster resilient and sustainable measures in all construction projects, but that it’s rare to find homeowners as open to more sustainable measures and as aware and protective of their environment as Jessup and Singer.

“They (Jessup and Singer) won an award for saving the 80-plus year old live oak by redesigning the corner of their house and using a root sparing foundation technique,” Fasse said.  

While people have reason to be concerned about additional costs of disaster resilient and more sustainable construction, the additional cost is usually as low as 2-5 percent of the cost of the home.  With incentives offered by insurance and power companies, homeowners can expect to save as much as 25 percent on insurance and energy.

“When I told Pam I needed someone to hold my hand through the process, she said ‘I can do that’,” Singer said with a smile. “And she did.”  

Overlooking the tributary from her back porch, Singer said, “It’s just what we wanted.”  

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