Upscale and Modern Exterior Renovation: October 2017

5 siding rear after
4siding rear before
3 siding front after
2 siding front during
1 siding front before

If it is time to renovate your exterior, why not put a little more time into an upscale appearance with lasting qualities. Here is some food for thought.

The first to consider is what other parts of the home are part of the exterior cladding that may affect future renovations.  Windows, trim and other items can be improved now or in phases if you plan ahead. The contemporary featured here has some elegant and custom window frames that were original to the home. Custom made and really cool, but many frames had signs of fatigue. Any operable window needed new frames and impacted the interior of the home. The Owner wanted that to be addressed as part of the big picture without major disruption, so we worked on that about a year before the siding.

When it was time to re-clothe the home, it was also time to give the home a fresh undergarment. Calking was done in obvious places as well as some suspect areas where the Owner was aware of air leaks. A vapor barrier was put over the existing and repaired plywood. We use a crinkly “Tyvek Drain wrap” often in lieu of traditional flat house wrap because it has a vertical groove that provides added protection against water by enhancing drainage away from the wall. Because metal siding was part of the install with a vertical cedar, this extra expense was well worth it. The new house wrap that is taped at all the joints provides an all new wind blanket and rain coat.

Add some style! I mean… if you are going to set up staging and pay for the labor and materials, why not talk to a designer about options for your home.  This home is so great, although it had some existing siding elements that screamed 1970’s, like the areas that were sided on an angle… “Marsha? Marssshha!”  There were other beautiful angles and forms that follow a more strict form of 3D art in architecture which were under represented or not celebrated well by the monolithic repeat of vertical siding and single color. When the Owner showed us an inspiration photo with metal siding, we were so excited to design a mix of wood and metal that was perfect for this homes architecture. My favorite items on the project are the dual horizontal and vertical pieces with contrasting neutral bold horizontal planes and the warm natural vertical cedar. And now the door says…”Come on in!”

Happy renovating… and Fall! Ray

Regulations with Construction, A Personal View

I have worked with many different municipalities in my line of work.  As a design and construction professional, it is part of my job to make sure our projects adhere to local codes and policies, as well as help my clients navigate various requirements with wetlands, zoning and the board of health.  I also love making the most of something as we figure that out and meet our clients’ needs.  I will say that most of the towns I work with are tough, but fair, consistent and transparent.  That is what makes for good policy. Good policy change, when the times change, create an environment where citizens can work together to resolve issues.  Many folks do not pay much attention to the changes that occur in a town department because they don’t see how those changes will affect them until they are before a town board or see areas of the town’s regulations that create some form of distress.  I’ll give you a couple examples of how I think trying to over-regulate can stop growth and backfire.

About 15 years ago; in a local more populated town nearby, “mansionization” was the mantra being misused by a group of folks who didn’t want their neighborhoods to change in any way.  As a person who loved those neighborhoods too, I didn’t like seeing pictorial neighborhoods with like-scaled homes start to become pockmarked with neoclassic oversized homes, it didn’t fit. This led to a tremendous amount of poorly drafted by-law changes in this community.  Every effort was made to stop projects of any size by trying to re-write setback requirements, home sizes, etc.  I remember representing an owner in one of these neighborhoods who wanted a family room and master suite. We were adding 400 SF to a 1,200 SF home in a way that was very respectful to the neighborhood and the architecture (picture below).  The neighbor next door in the 2,500SF colonial hired an attorney (after calling my client a yuppie – true story) to argue that we were “mansionizing”.  For the next several years we had many projects delayed because we would plan a project with the current zoning by-laws and then a petitioned and proposed change by a citizens group would be enforceable even before the Town people could vote on it because they met some threshold of signatures.  It seemed very underhanded to me that a small organized group could put a stop to reasonable projects and that the property owners would have to incur additional design and delay costs.  I believe that the misguided effort only bolstered the chess game about how to get the most house on the lot.  15+ years later, one of my favorite “small home” streets is about 80% full of new homes and I now look forward to when the last homes will be finished so the neighborhood will have achieved a balance.

My town is experiencing a 40B surge with 2 projects about to break ground. (Larger less regulated developments that include affordable housing).  We do need affordable housing, but it isn’t smart growth when you don’t have a master plan that combines the right mix of that, along with some new commercial space or single family homes.  We love our rural feel here in Sherborn and most of us would like to see that stay as close to that as possible.  For better or worse, buildings age, populations rise, and what was once the largest worldwide supplier of apple cider is now has smallest population per acre in the area.  We are actually less commercial than we were 150 years ago!  Right now in Sherborn, if you want to build a couple of homes on a parcel of land, it is likely our local regulations (which are much stricter than the state regulations) will find that the property is unsuitable for 2-4 homes.  We overregulate (or overstep in some cases) to prevent change, which simply invites growth that is more burdensome as it is not anything we can plan for.  In the case when a developer seeks permission to build 3 homes and gets rejected, they can file a 40B in any town that doesn’t meet the minimum affordable housing units and on that same land have imposed upon it a large development that has much less restriction on wetlands, zoning and of course board of health requirements.  In our case, stonewalling to slow the growth is getting us two new, much less difficult to manage, projects.

Another small town election season is upon us. There is always more at stake in these elections than budget overrides when it comes to our local policy. Most New England towns are short on the people capitol as much as we are the financial capitol. We need people that will work hard to help improve our local towns, and make it easier to live and work without losing sight of why we all picked the town we live in.  I believe that we have to stop on focusing on what we cannot do and see how we can keep it beautiful with the things we can do.





Private Chef Unveils Spring Canape Delights!

Want to enjoy a fun event with a private chef?  This year, we welcome back Chef Kurt von Kahle; to cook delicious food on site, and offer a chance to win dinner for 6 prepared at your home!  Chef Kurt is an amazing talent and he will be showing how a single convection oven and 30″ induction cook top can feed a party of 50! Chef will be recommending which wine works with his creations, and sharing his expertise on how to make these beautiful dishes as well as how to maximize the tools you have to make entertaining easier!  This will be another educational, exciting and delicious way to welcome in the start of the spring season.  The date is April 7th from 6-9pm at our showroom in Sherborn.  Here is what you will be helping us achieve:

This year we will be helping the volunteers that help those who are less fortunate.  My relationship with A Place To Turn food pantry started when my son was a young Scout.  Because I own a pick-up, I usually made the transfer of the Boy Scouts food drive from Sherborn to Natick.  Joanne Barry, the director is always there to greet us with some of their volunteers.  On My first visit, Joanne made time to give me, and 2 of my young children a private tour of the pantry and explain their mission.  I learned about the difference in this regional treasure, and how they help referred clients, most of who are going through a temporary challenge and need help to feed their family.

We have already helped the pantry with some renovation on the second floor, and Joanne tells me that the biggest impact has been to the volunteers who spend full days there.  It makes their job easier, and allows them to help those in need with a more respectful “Place to Turn”.  This winter, Joanne called and needed help with the powder room.  Of course anyone who needs to use the space can, however; the volunteers are typically the ones using the facility, and it is in desperate need of repair.  Our belief is that any funds the pantry has can be better used to keep this vital part of the community’s fabric on good ground, so we are hoping to help raise enough funds to make this a 100% community funded project.

The Wiese Company will donate more than $10,000 in labor and materials.  We have had several vendors offer free or much discounted services (our electrician-Steve Pacewicz, demolition man-Jeff McNulty and painter-Kevin Carlson are working for free).  Unfortunately, the space has Asbestos that requires abatement and the plumbing required is commercial in nature and will be very expensive, making the project total approximately $5,000 more than a typical residential project of this size.  Any and all donations made will go directly to A Place To Turn- and if we raise more than the goal of $8,500- they can use this toward their next capitol project!

The price to attend the event is $50, and all the costs of the event will be covered by The Wiese Company.  100% of your ticket or other donations will go to A Place To Turn.  I hope to see you, but if your calendar is full, we can still use a hand.  Please follow this link and help us create a safer and more enjoyable environment for the volunteers at A Place To Turn.

Join Us For Our Annual Fundraising Event!


With your help, The Wiese Company and our friends will install a much needed powder room at A Place to Turn Food Pantry in Natick. A few years ago, we transformed their upstairs clothing donation area to make it welcoming for all guests. Now, we will provide design work and labor to renovate their existing powder room, which currently doubles as storage space for overflowing toiletry donations. We will be holding a fundraiser at our showroom on Thursday, April 7th to help raise money for the materials & services to install a new powder room. This year our Chef Kurt Von Kahle will return to provide some wonderful food and wine pairings. We hope that you can join us for a fun evening and a great cause! If you are unable to attend, we also have a fabulous raffle prize available: A dinner party for 6 cooked in your home by Chef Kurt!

Follow the links below to donate or attend! 

Raffle Tickets $25
Attend Event $50
 Includes (1) raffle ticket
Silver Sponsor $100
 Admission for (1)
 (2) raffle tickets
Gold Sponsor $250
 Admission for (2)
 (6) raffle tickets
 Donation will go towards electrical, plumbing, paint, and tile labor
Platinum Sponsor $500
 Admission for (2)
 (6) raffle tickets
 Includes 2 hours of handyman service provided by The Wiese Company
 Donation will go towards lighting fixtures, toilet, sink, and tile

Existing Powder Room at A Place to Turn