Tax Credit for Hail Damage! (or tax incentives even if you didn’t get hail)

January 29th, 2007 by Mary Schmelzer

Last Monday I went to a tax incentives workshop sponsored by the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance. Thanks to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, there are some terrific financial incentives (in addition to lower utility bills) for reducing energy usage in your home or business.

Homeowners: Did you replace windows or skylights due to hail damage or just because they needed it? Did you add new insulation or an exterior door to your home? Are you thinking that maybe you should? You can get tax credits for the products you choose. Building new? See the good news for contractors (and you!), below.

Business owners or tenants: is it time for new new heating/cooling/ventilation equipment? Do you know how much money can be saved by replacing your existing lighting? Better yet: is it time for a new building or big remodeling? You can get up to $1.80 per square foot deduction for a reduction in energy usage. We all know square footage can add up fast…some of that cost back is always welcome.

Contractors: How can you shave $2000 off every new home you build? Get the $2000 tax credit!

Not every tax incentive applies to every situation, and unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the incentives will last forever. If you are considering saving yourself money on energy bills, reducing your ecological energy usage footprint, and would like tax money back for your efforts, talk to us about designing you some new space or remodeling what you have.

You can also find more information at the Tax Incentives Awareness Project (TIAP) website.

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January 11th, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer


Congratulations to Pack 300, which has launched their new website! Special thanks to Deb Kopas, the webmaster.

As Cub Master, I officially invite you to visit

If your son is in Grades 1-5 and wants to have some fun, contact me at 507-645-9020. January 16th is our Piinewood Derby, the legendary race of scout-crafted cars. For more intensity, come to the Rolling Hill District Pinewood Derby, hosted by Pack 300 at St. Dominic’s School on 17 March 2007.

Check out the website for more details!

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Home Design Process Illuminated

January 10th, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer




Our process walks our clients down a path, which these photos show in reverse.

The first photo is a recent construction shot. Next is a 3D computer image generated during the design phase. Last is a photo montage generated to show the design concept as part of an application for zoning variance.

The process starts with “What do we have?” and moves to “What do we want?” followed by “How do we get what we want?” Finally, we close out with “Yes, we have achieved our goals!”

Contact us for your new home, addition, or remodeling, and walk the walk with us!

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Addition Moving Along Nicely

January 8th, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer

Historic Home Addition

This is what we call a “surgical” addition to a house: a small addition with big results for functionality and aesthetics.

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Sustainability Article Published

January 5th, 2007 by Mary Schmelzer

The January issue of Women Inc. Homes features an article on sustainability I wrote. The article focuses mainly on sustainable choices for housing and residential improvements and features the Hougen-Eitzman home as an example. You will also find some resources in the article for magazines and websites that deal in sustainable living.

Women Inc. magazine is a bi-monthly women’s magazine for south central minnesota and north central Iowa. It features articles for and by women in our area. The Homes issue is a special issue put out twice per year with articles on home improvements, decorating and gardening. Pick up the new issue at newstands or go to the website to subscribe.

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Busy New Year!

January 5th, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer

Our blogroll has been quiet lately, and it is due to more than the holidays!

Mary and I have been busy working on several projects.

In the residential realm, we are currently designing a new custom residence and two porch additions, all in Northfield.

The residence will be a low-energy four-bedroom home, focusing on sustainability. One porch (screened) is a modernist departure from the existing home that is sympathetic to the site, owner’s needs, and the existing architectural character of the home. The other porch will be a three-season porch, blending well with the 1960’s era modern home; it will also involve a study for future window upgrades of the existing home.

We are also working with a local church to prepare a Master Plan for future expansion. An elevator and expanded Gathering Space are both first priorities. A new Fellowship Hall and Kitchen are also needed, along with unified Administrative Offices and a Rehearsal Room for the very active music program. Another local church has contacted us to continue a kitchen remodeling project started last year, which also includes air-conditioning portions of the existing building.

In the commercial sector, we are working with a Prior Lake business to convert an existing building for reuse. We have also consulted with a local health club to alleviate sound transmission problems with adjacent tenants. And we are moving into the design phase for a local auto recycling business after having completed a master plan for their facility last year.

2007 looks like a year of steady work improving the built environment for a number of local clients. More and more of our clients are requesting sustainable thinking as part of the design process. This is an exciting time for us as we celebrate our third year of business in Northfield!

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