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Basement Remodeling Ideas

Basement Renovation and Remodel Ideas for Chicago

The basement is all but habitable. You are thinking of renovating but you have no idea where to start. You are lost, but that’s okay. The land down under can be turned into practically anything you want. The basics of basement renovation and remodel ideas for Chicago start here.

For a good reason…

There is no standard or recommended way to build the basement. You just have to know exactly what you want and pivot from there. You could choose to build a

basement remodel ideas for chicago

Include your spouse and kids in your basement renovation plans for approval purposes













  •       Living room
  •       Home cinema
  •       Guest room
  •       Gaming room
  •       Bar
  •       Private sanctuary
  •       Safe
  •       Bomb shelter (for purposes of context completeness)

The list is endless. At the end of the day, it’s what your pocket allows you to do. Your preferences also matter. Don’t be selfish, however. Include your spouse and kids in your plans. You might want to include them in case something goes wrong.

Basement Renovation Basics

The walls

Are the walls straight and level? Most walls are slightly off (even builders don’t usually get them as level as they would like), but check for bulging and dampness at the base, which indicates rising damp and potential structural problems.

basement renovation ideas for chicago

Check the base of wooden door frames and posts for termite damage during basement renovation

Is there sub-floor ventilation? Good airflow beneath a wall is critical for long-term survival against termites and damp. Check weatherboard for rotting.  Then, check the base of wooden door frames and posts for termite damage. Check the mortar in bricks.

If it is crumbling and missing, it will need replacing or cement-rendering. Look also for rusted brick ties, which could indicate that water has penetrated the wall. Check the underside of the eaves. If there’s water staining or mold, you could have roof problems.


Check the line of the roof. Are there any dips in the roof? Check a corrugated steel roof for sarking (an insulating underlay—it looks a bit like foil) and insulation and check that the steel sheets have been installed correctly (e.g. overlapping joins, enough screws in each sheet). Next check tiled roofs for broken or missing tiles. Also, check that gutters are secure and not rusted out. Check old brick chimneys, especially for bricks that are coming free from mortar, which can make them structurally unsound.

Inside the roof space

Basement renovation ideas for Chicago

Look around for mouse and rat poo or signs of possums

Check for sagging roof framing, cracked tiles, rusted steel roofs, leaking ridges or valleys. All are signs that materials need replacing. Look at the quality of the electrical wiring. Most modern wiring is well insulated, but older wiring may have cracked insulation. Have a sniff. If it smells moldy and damp, there are probably leaks. Look around for mouse and rat poo or signs of possums. Vermin in roofs can lead to leaks and problems.

Timber floors

You must check for borers, termites or fungal decay. Borers leave squiggly worm holes in timber, termites leave mud tunnels, and a pale powdery mould is often found where there is fungal decay. Scratches or patches of missing varnish or finish aren’t troublesome. Jump up and down on the floor above to check the strength of the bearers and joists—the older the timber floor, the stronger the timber will be (it seasons over time).

basement remodel ideas for chicago

Check the integrity of what is holding up the floor

Check what is holding up the timber floor—piers, stumps or walls. Then, check the integrity of what is holding up the floor (brick piers often crumble, timber stumps can rot and dwarf walls can have damp problems). More so, check if the timber floor is level (most are not) but, more importantly, look for gaps between the floor and skirting boards or door frames. These gaps will show you how much the house has ‘moved’ from its original position.

Concrete floors

Check if the concrete floor is level. Homes built on a concrete slab should have more level walls and floors than timber floors—but sometimes they don’t. Check if the orange plastic membrane which is laid under the slab is exposed; this could indicate the slab was not laid properly. Make sure there are weepholes or ventilation holes in the external brickwork close to the ground and that these have clear airflow. You might need to consult an expert for this. 

Look for cracks and shrinkage in the concrete—this is evidence of structural problems. Sometimes builders don’t let slabs cure for long enough before tiles or carpets are laid—check if tiles are buckling or if carpet is mouldy; this could mean the moisture from the slab is transferring to floor coverings.

Interior walls and ceilings

Check if walls and ceilings are straight and true—if they deviate by more than 5 mm, it could be a sign of warped framing timbers. Are the walls made of ‘frame and plasterboard’ or cement-rendered brick cavity? Check the type of construction—it is easier to rewire and fix plumbing in framed walls. Check that the underside of windows is not moist—poorly flashed window leak and cause structural problems (flashing is used to make windows waterproof).

Look for cracks or signs of movement in the ceiling, especially near cornices. Check for mould and waterstains on ceilings; this could indicate leaks in the roof. Make sure all windows can be opened properly; if there is excessive condensation on the glass, it could be a sign of dampness.


Check if all light switches and power points work and make sure there is no sign of burning or melting around switches, fittings and fuses. Make sure a safety switch, not just a circuit breaker, is installed on the main board. Safety switches save lives and are worth paying for. The law also requires you to do all this.


Fill the bathtub and sinks then unplug and check how quickly and efficiently the water drains away. Look for damp ground around external drains—this can be caused by cracked pipes or poorly plumbed drainage. Make sure downpipes on the outside of the building are connected to the stormwater drain or a collection tank rather than expelling water near the house where it may cause damage. Water hammer, a loud sound in the pipes, indicates poor plumbing. While you can fit a device to stop the sound, eventually you may need to replace the pipes.

Overall design

basement renovation ideas for chicago

Altering existing buildings can be fraught with danger

Are the rooms in the basement the correct size for your needs? Rooms less than 2.5 m wide are usually too squeezy. Do the living areas flow to the outbound? This gives you the feeling of more space without building more rooms.

Remodeling As Alterations

Alterations and additions make up the largest proportion of the Chicago renovation market in most capital cities—especially the addition of open-plan family rooms with upgraded kitchens. There is a rough rule of thumb that if more than 60 per cent of the house needs to be altered, it is cheaper to knock it down and build a new house from scratch.

However, there are some good reasons to alter rather than demolish, including:

  • Sustainable re-use of existing materials
  • To maintain the architectural integrity of the house
  • To maintain old building approvals that would not get council approval today,
  • Such as distance from the street or other buildings and height limits.

Altering existing buildings can be fraught with danger. No doubt the Can of Worms factor must be taken into account once walls are pulled apart, myriad building problems can be revealed. More than with any other type of renovation, you always need more money than you initially budget if you are going to rebuild.

If you are building the basement as a living room (in most cases this is what happens) then here’s your checklist.

A Living Space Checklist

  • How many living areas do you need? Can your family share one open space or do parents need their own area?
  • Does the living space need to be larger? Or would it appear larger if it was better connected to the outdoors or was opened into an adjoining room?
  • Is there any unused space in the house? such as an attic or garage—which can be turned into extra living space?
  • Do your living spaces need a lot of natural light? If so, then they need to be on the northern or eastern wall of the house.
  • Does your living space need hardwearing, durable floors or are carpets better for your needs?
  • Which items really need to be stored in the living space? Can the books and DVDs be stored in a nearby study?

If you are considering the basement to be an extra bedroom, here’s your checklist.

Basement bedroom checklist

  • What size bed do you need? An ensemble will take up less space than a bed with a frame and bedhead.
  • What type of lighting do you need? Overhead lighting, bedside lighting and lighting to get dressed by?
  • What sort of storage do you need? Built-in or freestanding?
  • Do you want cosy rugs or carpets on the floors or serviceable floorboards?
  • How dark do you want the bedroom to be? Do you need to pay the extra for block-out blinds, shutters or curtains?
  • Is the bedroom cool enough in summer to sleep well? Will you need a ceiling fan?
  • Heating bedrooms can be expensive, especially if you’re paying for warmth while you sleep, when a good-quality doona will suffice.
  • Do you need chests of drawers or bedside chests?
  • Can you fit extra storage under the bed?
  • Where can you hang a full-length mirror?
  • Do you need to add a study alcove or reading area to the sleeping space?
  • What are the ceilings like? This is the only room where you will regularly look at the ceilings.


Basement remodeling in chicago

Simple lighting ideas can transform your basement to something amazing

Lighting is the easiest way to create a mood or atmosphere. Good lighting can create a warm atmosphere, highlight a beautiful object or transform the character of an interior by introducing areas of light and shadow. Bleak, overhead and bare light bulbs make a space seem unfriendly and unrelaxing, while a few table lamps or uplights can make a room seem soothing and welcoming. Light that’s too bright just dazzles and drains, and a dim, dark room is depressing.

There are three different types of lighting:

‘We needed some office space, but couldn’t sacrifice a bedroom. So we transformed our laundry into an office and washroom by installing a few extra power points, a phone line and task lights and a pull-out desk inside some big cupboards.’


Arlington Heights, Illinois

AtmosphericAmbient or atmospheric refers to a room’s overall lighting and the mood it creates. Living spaces and bedrooms feel more comfortable with soft light that fills the entire room. Often, in these areas, the main source of ambient light is a pendant lamp in the center of the ceiling. You can also use table or floor lamps to illuminate dark corners and provide a softer overall effect or fit dimmers on lamps and ceiling lights to allow you to change the mood.

Task – Task lighting illuminates places where you do things: kitchen benches, desks or reading spots.TV-watching requires task lighting, too: the light should come from behind the viewer.

AccentAccent lights highlight particular features in a room, like a painting, indoor plant or even a great sound system. Downlights can be good at focusing attention on certain spots in a room.

Living room style basement

basement lighting ideas

Concealed lighting can work well to bounce light off ceilings.

In living rooms the lighting needs to be versatile. Seating areas need lights at a low level, positioned so a book or magazine is illuminated from beside the reader. Working at a desk is similar, but the light source must be in front of you, but not shining into your eyes, to avoid your shadow being cast over the work.

Concealed lighting can work well to bounce light off ceilings. That said, there are all types of lights to create atmosphere in living spaces—pendants, downlights, wall lights, recessed lights and lamps. Dimmers are a great idea to easily change the mood of a room.

In bedrooms, bedside lamps are basic requirements but you can also fit concealed lights into a bedhead to create a different atmosphere. Dressing tables may need their own light source, while wall lights or downlights in the ceiling can create the atmospheric lighting. In children’s rooms, bedside lights need to be tamper-proof or even avoided.

You need to calculate how many power points you want in a room. With the advent of pay television, broadband, surround sound and smart wiring, you will also need to think about the other wiring or data connections you want in a room. It is better to put in more power points than you need, than to scrimp on them. Oh, and quad power points probably make more sense than single or even double power points.

The Floor

There are all types of floor coverings which suit living and sleeping areas, but the main choice is something soft (like carpet) or something durable (like tiles). Of course, within these two options the range is infinite:


Most carpets are made from a blend of wool and acrylic, although you can get carpets made only of wool, which is considered more hardwearing than acrylic. Moreover, he nature of the pile is important to its feel and appearance, and the underlay is integral to the look of the laid carpet. Carpet must be vacuumed regularly and can also be damaged by insecticides, bleach products and the rigours of children’s textas.


These can be made from solid timber or thin timber veneer. This is because they are easy to maintain, and hold their appeal, but can get scratched and dented easily by moving heavy furniture across them or wearing high heels. The timber industry is recommending that timber floors be finished with tung oil or something similar, rather than polyurethane, which scratches. Hardwoods are better wearing than softer woods like cypress pine.


Vinyl floors are soft underfoot and also extremely durable and easy to clean. Of course the more expensive they are, the better the quality. The backing on the vinyl is critical to its quality and the vinyl must be laid on a flat and dry surface. There are new interlocking vinyl floors that are easily laid, look similar to floorboards and are very cheap.

Quarry tiles

Slate, terracotta or stone tiles can add a nice finish to living spaces. They can also be cold (although new underfloor heating systems are alleviating that problem) and create harsh acoustics.

Ceramic tiles

These are available in a range of styles and can be cost-effective but they need to be laid on a hard, level surface. They can also feel hard and cold underfoot, especially in kitchens, where you stand up to work. This is because they may chip if hard items are dropped on them and you need to be careful in wet areas as they can be slippery.

And finally

basement remodeling chicago

The best thing about renovating the basement is that you will turn it whatever you want.

So, there you have it. The basement is one intimate living space. You should however not make it too cozy for your teenagers; they tend to like the comfort too much. However, The best thing about renovating the basement is that you will turn it whatever you want. What about the wine cellar? What’s stopping you? Go ahead and install a sauna… there are simply no shortages of basement renovation and remodel ideas in Chicago.

If you have any questions relating to basement any type of renovation, do not hesitate to contact us!

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Renovating With Professionals – Masonry Services in Chicago

Renovating With Professionals – Masonry Services in Chicago

Hiring masons and builders are the only way to proceed if your renovation involves rebuilding. If you think you can save loads of money by doing it yourself, think again. All plumbing and electrical work in Chicago must be done by a licensed contractor. Unless you’re a mason, there is no way you can do everything yourself. You might want to hire masonry services in Chicago.

masonry services in chicago

Unless you’re a mason, there is no way you can do everything yourself.

People who spend their lives working in offices with highly competent staff around them have no idea how hard it is to employ a mason or builder (let’s call them subcontractors). Human resources managers, recruiters, and senior executives may have an inkling about the difficulties of hiring subcontractors. I am here to tell you something loud and clear. Along with living in dust and dirt, hiring people to renovate your house is one of the most difficult aspects of renovating.

 Read this before thinking of a DIY Project

Unless you’re a mason or builder with some skill or experience in renovation, you’re going to experience what I call the Renovation Hiring Gap. This is a big black hole which represents a dearth of knowledge about how subcontractors in Chicago operate. This book attempts to help bridge that gap, but the only way to fill it is to spend time working with subcontractors and build up your own experience.

Hiring subcontractors is a bit like taking your car to a mechanic when you don’t know much about cars—trust your mechanic to do the job you want them to do for the best price. Just like some car mechanics, some subcontractors will try to exploit that trust—but the crummy rip-off merchants don’t stay in business too long. Generally speaking, any subcontractor with more than five years’ experience is going to be excellent at their trade . . . but will you be able to get on with them?

There is a plethora of masonry services in Chicago. Professionals with skills you need to renovate your property. Each one will have the basic skills of their trade, but some will also have special skills they have acquired over the years. For example, some carpenters have great skill at re-using old materials, others excel at measuring and getting structures square. Some plumbers are brilliant gasfitters but only so-so at drainage. Some builders are experts on brick veneer while others are better with weatherboard.

Is it worthwhile to hire a Mason?

Every subcontractor is uniquely skilled, but they will all have individual personalities as well. Some are extremely professional and courteous, others swear like troopers. Some turn up on time, others fail to turn up for weeks. This can be frustrating for people in the Renovation Hiring Gap, but once you understand the nature of subcontractors and expect them to behave like human beings as well as professionals, the process runs more smoothly.

Planning takes time and patience

What to consider while in Chicago

Before starting on any kind of building work in your home or business, you need to know exactly what your objectives are, the resources that are available to you and how you are going to achieve those objectives. You also need to consider whether or not your ideas are practical and achievable within your anticipated timescales. Do remember that the planning of any work, whether it is on a large or small scale, takes time and patience.

The scale of the project will obviously dictate the amount of time it will be necessary to spend on the planning. If you think that your project is too small to warrant the time spent on reading all of the chapters and issues in this book read it anyway – you may be surprised how some of the bigger issues can be scaled down to help in the smaller projects.

Choosing the Right Mason in Chicago

It is hard enough for a skilled builder to select suitably skilled masons. Here are some questions to ask and attributes to look for.


What professional skills do they have? How long have they been doing the work? What type of property do they generally work on and where?


If they say they will turn up, do they? While working with masons, time is everything. Sure you have the right professional, but will they complete the work in the desired time?

Ability to communicate

Make sure the way you communicate about the job is clear, the materials are specified and there is an estimate of how long it should take to complete. Unforeseen things happen on all jobs but talk to the mason in an easily understandable manner.


Good tradespeople and builders usually have at least a few weeks’ continuing work ahead of them. It is important to source subcontractors well in advance of the time when you need to book them. Be aware that lots of builders and tradespeople may give ridiculously high quotes if they are in demand because they don’t really want to do your renovation.

What if I Can’t Afford a Mason? The Real Cost of DIY

Doing it yourself can save labor costs, but only if the labor you are supplying is of equal value to the labor you could be hiring. Someone without experience at tackling a job will inevitably take longer and use more materials than someone who is experienced. The other pitfalls of DIY are:

Doing it yourself can save labor costs, but only if the labor you are supplying is of equal value to the labor you could be hiring

  • Lack of planning, knowledge or skill
  • The financial and lifestyle cost of using your time
  • Potential for accidents and injury
  • Ruining the materials and having to start the job all over again
  • Damaging unrelated parts of the property while doing the DIY task.

Why You Should Always Sign A Contract with Masons in Chicago

You can go contract crazy when embarking on this renovation lark. There are contracts for kitchens, contracts for bathrooms, contracts for this, contracts for that. Some contracts are just verbal (not a good idea!) and some are twenty pages long. You’d have to be a lawyer to decipher this contract caper without going mad.

Generally a contract can be in a standard form (offered by organizations like the Mason Contractors Association or Mason Contractors Association of Greater Chicago) or it can be specifically written by yourself, the subcontractor or a solicitor. Design and construct builders often use their own standardized simple building contract.

What about Masons in Chicago?

Every state has different laws governing contracts, but generally, the front page must state the parties to the contract, the amount of money involved and whether the price can be varied. It may be best to use standard, approved contracts, especially if you are borrowing from the bank to renovate. The basics that MUST be covered include:

  • Who is on the contract (the client and builder or tradesperson)?
  • The payment amount and scheduled payment options (legally, builders cannot ask for more than a portion of the entire contract sum as a deposit . . . don’t let them take all your money before they’ve done the job).
  • Any documents that make up part of the contract, such as plans, elevations, specifications, evidence of who holds the land title, insurance required.
  • The standards of construction, an extension of time and warranty or accuracy of the work details.

Minimizing the Initial Cost

  • You can minimize the initial costs by putting together as much information as possible. This will cut down on the amount of time the professionals would normally spend in extracting your ideas from you and is where speaking to other people who have had similar work carried out may be of help.
  • It is easy enough to explain to someone what you want but, as the saying goes, ‘a picture paints a thousand words’. Basic sketches can help to avoid misunderstandings and will help to avoid redrawing plans and incurring costs for abortive work. You may like ideas that you have seen in this website, magazines or photographs – these are all visual aids that will assist in the initial concept of what you are proposing.
  • This will also help to speed the whole process up, as some professionals will use the design element as a pretext for taking their time to provide drawings, particularly if they have a heavy workload. Remember, though, from conception to on-site development may take more time than the building process itself – this is generally the case with small domestic projects.

When Things Go Wrong

When you think of all the things that can go wrong, it seems surprising that every renovation doesn’t turn out to be some kind of disaster. There are hundreds of elements to any type of renovation and any one of them can come back to bite you on the behind. The most common problem is misunderstandings between subcontractors and clients, especially inexperienced clients like owner-renovators.

masonry services in chicago

Don’t be on the receiving end when things go wrong

When things go wrong, it helps to remember the obligations of the client and the subcontractor. The client agrees to:

  • Give the subcontractor uninterrupted access to the job
  • Pay progress payments as required in the contract, even if certain things are in dispute
  • understand the contract
  • Request variations only when problems are unforeseen.

The Mason/subcontractor agrees to:

  • Complete the work within a specified time
  • Carry out satisfactory work
  • Require progress payments within the law
  • Comply with all regulatory requests and guidelines.

 ‘I hired a reputable kitchen company to do our kitchen but then it took twice as long as the contracted time and there was nothing I could do about it. Once I signed on the dotted line with them, there was no way I could get out of the contract even though they weren’t fulfilling their end of the bargain.’

Sarah, Naperville, Illinois

What are conflicts with masons arise?

The best solution to renovation disasters is mediation. This can often be supplied by state government authorities. Sure, it takes time, but it can solve problems within a few months. The next big step is legal action. It is best to avoid this—it is time-consuming, costly and stressful, even for the party that wins.

Openly communicating with subcontractors. Checking that their work complies with building codes and other regulations will usually keep disasters at bay. Most professional subcontractors will not risk their reputation by refusing to rectify faulty works. It’s only when clients behave like spoilt brats that they refuse to come back to fix things.

Oh, and holding the final payment up your sleeve until you drag the sub-contractor back to fix things usually works. Just don’t break any of your contracted payment schedules to do it!

Contractual terms to know

masonry services in Chicago

A word of mouth contract is not always the best

Bill of quantities

A detailed list showing the quantities of labor and materials which are needed to carry out the works detailed in the contract. A quantity surveyor usually does this from working drawings and specifications, and it allows all builders to tender a uniform bid for the job.

Certificate of Practical Completion

A certificate issued by the council or certifying authority to show that works under the contract have been completed except for minor defects which shouldn’t inhibit the use of the works.

Contingency sum

The amount of money included in the contract to cover unforeseen items.

Contract documents

All the documents which make up a particular written contract often include the names and details of both parties, working drawings, and specifications, bill of quantities, terms of payment and other such details.

Defects liability period

A specified period of time within which the subcontractor has to rectify any faults at his or her own cost. The period usually commences from the date that the Certificate of Practical Completion is issued.

Final Certificate

The contractor has to issue the client with a final certificate in finality. The contractor obtains the final certificate from a government authority. In this case from the Chicago Municipal Council.

Final completion

The stage when all work under the contract has been satisfactorily completed and the contractor sign a release from all claims. The security deposit can then be returned if necessary.

The stage when the completion of the work done under the contract is done. The contractor signs a release from all claims. The contractor can now return the security deposit.


The formal handing over of the site back to the owner.


The right of a contractor to hold property of another party to the contract to secure payment – a good clause to stay away from!

Liquidated damages

The contractor under liquidated damages clause has to pay for damages if they cannot complete the work under scheduled time. The client can deduct the sum from the agreed upon lump sum.

Lump sum contract

A contract engaging a subcontractor to perform the work for a fixed price. Practical completion: The practical completion stage is when the contractor can obligatory say they have completed the work. The contractor can then proceed to sign a release form.

Prime cost

An amount included in the contract documents to cover the purchases of items such as bathroom fittings. Usually, the quoted price is lower than the prime cost.

Provisional sum

Sometimes you need to secure a mason, but you cannot avail all the information at the time. A provisional sum comes in handy. You will be able to secure a mason without saying what the job is about.

Retention of monies

A specified percentage of the building cost the building owner retains as limited security to make sure fulfillment of obligations. Normally, you can release one-half of the retention monies to the contractor at practical completion and the other half upon issue of the Final Certificate.


An addition to or alteration to work under a contract. It usually costs more money

Importance of a Specification or Brief

The worst thing you can do with masons or builders is to give a vague instruction like ‘I want to turn my fourth bedroom into a bathroom’. If you haven’t made up your mind yet about the paint colors or tiles you want, then explain that in your specification.

You can consult an architect or quantity surveyor anywhere within Chicago. An architectural consultant can develop the documents for you. Sometimes you do not need to pay the consultant for such kinds of consultations. However, you can develop one by yourself if you are working under a budget.

And finally

Writing specifications yourself is complex, you can contact a professional to guide you through the construction of one.

Detailed design plans are also effective and are vital if you are moving doors or windows. An architect or building designer will give you the best-quality plans, but a draftsperson can simply draw up the job to your specification leaving you to do the room planning. Detailed plans are vital to show the builder or mason what you want.

Don’t forget to check out the PMPCArch licensed masonry contractors of Chicago  before committing yourself.


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PMPC Architects: Green Architecture and Environmental Friendly Construction

Green Architecture Home Improvement Guide for Chicago

Green architecture also known as sustainable building simply means applying environmental-friendly construction, operations, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction of a building. With the increase in global warming as a result of pollution, many countries and states are adopting environmentally friendly tactics to reduce pollution. Here’s a Green Architecture Home Improvement Guide for Chicago

Green Architecture Home Improvement Guide for Chicago

Many countries and states are adopting environmentally friendly green architecture tactics to reduce pollution

Chicago is lead city in the USA that is so keen on improving and adapting the green architecture. This article explains more on the green architecture home improvement ideas for Chicago.

The 2017 Paris Climate Change Pullout – Architects React

President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement signed last year (2016). The agreement, signed by over 195 countries worldwide sought to

  • Reduce emissions and eventually reduce the environmental impact of such emissions
  • Reduce the rising global temperatures that are melting the ice caps
  • Eventually, prevent drought and worldwide hunger

The American Institute of Architects weighed in on the matter. The AIA vowed to continue maintaining and withholding the standards and practices that contribute to energy conservation and the use of renewable sources of energy.

Green Architecture Home Improvement Guide for Chicago

The AIA vowed to continue maintaining and withholding the standards and practices that contribute to energy conservation

The President said he would try and re-negotiate the terms of the agreement. The agreement, according to the President did not have America’s best interests at heart.

The Architecture community clearly has not taken the news positively. The community is taking a stand and insisted to continue maintaining sustainable and renewable energy standards.

 Green Architecture in the City of Chicago

Buildings have been ranked as the number one source of greenhouse gas emission in Chicago. As a result, the Chicago city is determined to reduce its emissions and waste while conserving resources and energy. This is done by embracing building with more efficient and sustainable designs. The city of Chicago has set policies on green building in order to meet its goal of reducing emissions and waste.

Green may be costly to get started but its benefits are worthwhile. In the long run, it’s all about creating sustainable energy. While installing renewable energy sources might seem expensive, architects construct green buildings with the future in mind.

Take for example the new Apple Campus in California (below). The campus will not be connected to the power grid. It will instead derive its power from the sun. In addition, it will utilize renewable sources of energy.

Chicago green energy

The Apple Campus will not be connected to the power grid. Green Architecture at its best.

Benefits of Creating Sustainable Energy

green architecture in chicago

Green architecture goes a long way in redefining a city’s ecosystem

1. Reduced water wastage

2. Conservation of natural resources

3. Protection of biodiversity and ecosystem,

4. Reduced operational cost and

5. Minimizing the strain on local infrastructure

 Green Standards

The green architecture has standards known as the green standards that must be meet before a building can be considered as a green building. These standards include

  • Energy star that checks on the energy performance rating of a building
  • The forest stewardship council which ensure that all forest products needed for construction are acquired legally and they come from well managed forests,
  • The cleaning industry management standard
  • Green building that sets the key elements of quality, dependable and sustainable cleaning operations, among many other standards.

The City Of Chicago’s Initiatives towards Green Energy

The city of Chicago has made notable initiatives in promoting green building that is in renewable energy and urban greening. Many buildings have adopted green roofs. Green roof entail growing of plants in the roof tops of building with an aim of restoring vegetation.

Green Chicago architecture guide

Wind energy as a form of sustainable energy

Gardens have also been a key factor in vegetation restoration in homes and in offices too. Water harvesting is also another method of reducing water wastage that is being adopted. Water treatment are reusing is also common in reducing wastage.

Green Architecture Installation Guide

Use of renewable energy sources in the building helps in reducing energy wastage. Renewable energy goes further ahead to reduce overreliance on natural resources that also pollute the environment. Solar energy and energy from wind driven turbines is used to power the building reducing overreliance on petroleum products and coal. Construction of buildings using bricks is also gaining popularity easing the demand for wood products for construction of the buildings.

Health And Safety Considerations

There are particular health and safety regulations for the construction industry which are very comprehensive. Your builder should be aware of these regulations

However, the domestic side of the construction industry is not regulated to the extent that it should be. Nevertheless, domestic builders are beginning to understand that they have a responsibility to you as a client and their own employees with regard to health and safety.

When you employ the services of a builder in a building you intend to use as your residential home, you are undertaking a moral health and safety obligation. Understanding the importance of health & safety is something that cannot be ignored. Any person who has contact with the project has a right under health and safety law to be protected from danger.

green energy chicago

Green Architects employ industry standards to ensure sustainability of the manufacturing industry

If you are going to employ individual contractors to carry out the work (for example, carpentry), they should have their own public liability insurance and work to good building practices. All necessary measures should be taken to remove or reduce the risks of accident by introducing methods of controlling the risk. When you consider employing the services of individual contractors or a main contractor, it is important to satisfy yourself that they are competent and can work safely.

If you are in any doubt about the health and safety precautions or procedures that you need to consider, contact the Health and Safety Executive helpline.

Personal Protective Equipment

One important element to pay attention to is the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE is inexpensive and should be used in conjunction with other control methods. The use of basic PPE such as hard hats, masks, goggles and gloves, is all too often ignored in the domestic side of the construction industry.

It is important to select and use the right type of equipment. Your local PPE supplier should be able to help you identify your exact requirements. Plant hire shops will usually provide some of this equipment as part of their service. PPE that you would expect to see on a construction site of any nature could include: hard hat; goggles (specifically for grinding or cutting with a disc cutter);

If you are responsible for the site and a person is injured due to negligence on your part, they could take legal action against you.


It is very important to establish a procedure for inspecting all works on a regular basis. Ensure that you inform the contractor in writing of anything that is giving you cause for concern. For example, short-term bar charts can be used to highlight areas of high activity and when there will be factors which affect incoming services such as electricity and gas. These charts can also be used to update the main timescale program. By leaving spare lines, any additional or extra work can also be inserted.

It would not be unreasonable to ask the builder/ contractor to accompany you on these inspections as it is much easier to explain your dissatisfaction with or indeed your approval of the work as it proceeds. This will also give the builder/contractor the opportunity to give explanations. For example, it may be that the work is not ready to be offered as complete. It is always advisable to inspect the works as items progress or as they are completed.


If you are financing the project yourself, it is advisable not to pay money up front if you can help it. You need to make any potential builder/contractor aware of your estimated budget and that you will be making stage payments.

When there is plenty of building work available, or if a builder/contractor has had a bad experience whereby he did not receive full payment from a previous client, he may ask for money up front.

However, it is not advisable to pay any money in advance as you will not have any control over the project if you do. If a contractor comes recommended to you and fulfills all of the criteria for being able to carry out the work but is asking for money up front, you would be advised to explain that, due to constraints on your financial arrangements for financing the work, you can only pay for work carried out.

Valuations for stage payments

A mortgage company may finance a project on the condition that payments are made on completion of certain stages, and may have a surveyor/inspector visit the property to ascertain the value of work carried out.

These stages are the basis on which the valuations are made and include the amount of labor and material that has been put into the project. You need to be certain that the contractor understands these requirements and is prepared to finance the project up to these stages.

Operation Manuals

With all new installations, whether they are mechanical, electrical or other, such as windows, doors etc., there are always operating instructions. You must ensure that the contractor hands these over to you and where necessary arranges a demonstration. If you do not receive sufficient training in the operation of the installed equipment and as a result manage to break something through the application of force or by following the wrong procedure, you may invalidate any guarantees that apply.

All new equipment does take a little time to understand how it operates, particularly now that many systems are controlled digitally. Do not be afraid to ask for the time necessary for you to understand how the equipment works – remember that people who install such equipment work with it on a regular basis and may become complacent about other people’s lack of technical knowledge.

If you have arranged for the equipment to be supplied and have asked for it to be installed during the project, you may find that the electrical contractor for argument’s sake may not be as willing to spend the time to give you a demonstration. In fact, if it is equipment that he is not familiar with, he may not understand how it operates himself.

Always ensure that, if you buy equipment from a shop, you fully understand how to operate it. Shops will normally be happy to spend the time required, particularly if it secures a sale!

Maintenance Manuals

Again, maintenance manuals should accompany all new installations. It is vitally important that these are read and understood, as any guarantees may be affected if they are not complied with. Do ensure that if a certain piece of equipment requires periodic tests and inspections these are marked on your yearly calendar or in your personal diary.

Depending on the piece of equipment involved, there may be a requirement that it be maintained or tested by a particular company which is certified to carry out such work. This is something that needs special attention, as a person or company not certified by the manufacturers could invalidate the guarantee if maintenance is carried out wrongly, or if the maintenance manuals are not stamped with the appropriate certificate technician’s stamp.

Test Certificates

During the course of the works there are certain elements that require tests to be carried out and certified. It is advisable to ask the contractor for copies of such tests to add to your documents. These tests are normally associated with mechanical and electrical work. However, there are other inspections that the builder/contractor is obliged to inform the building control officer about.

Environmental Issues

Chicago green architecture

There are laws governing the burning of waste material and the disposal of material

There are laws governing the burning of waste material and the disposal of material such as asbestos etc. It is very important to discuss the possibility that there may be hazardous waste on your project even if you are uncertain. You need to be satisfied that the main contractor knows his obligations in this matter. He is to inform you of any such findings.

Health and Safety Issues

During the course of the project there will be progress meetings. These meetings will have a set agenda for the main issues. However, before the project starts you must discuss the potential risks with regard to anyone living at or visiting the property during the work.

Typical questions to ask include the following

  • Is there going to be a scaffold, and if so what measures will be put in place to stop unauthorized persons gaining access outside of normal working hours?
  • What measures will be taken to avoid excessive dust and noise affecting you and your neighbors? (particularly where there are cars close by)?
  • How often will the debris be removed from site, and by what means?
  • If there are to be any deep excavations, what measures will be taken to avoid anyone falling in?
  • Can you see a copy of the main contractor’s health and safety policy? Employers with more than five employees are required to produce a written statement of their policy on health and safety. This also includes the organization and arrangements that are in place to bring that policy into effect.

The city of Chicago and other cities in Illinois promote the green architecture home improvement by

  • Educating and working with house developers on green building principles. Also, guiding them on how to build their capacities to reinforce LEED for home projects.
  • The city through volunteers provides education to homeowners, home buyers and sellers and renters on the benefits of green homes and LEED for homes.
  • The city also provides outreach to homeowners through regional Green Homes 101 programs. Also the city supports home retrofits for disadvantaged families through volunteer work days.

Many organizations, government departments and networks research and promote green building in the US and internationally. They have come up to address and promote the green architecture in other cities. This extends to other countries as well. These include Alliance to Save Energy, American Solar Energy society,  Healthy Building Network, National Renewable Energy Laboratory are among some of such organizations.

And finally

In conclusion the green architecture is the way to go to reduce pollution and wastage of necessary natural resources. As stated in the article green architecture is reducing over exploitation of the now scarce natural resources. Also there is a great decrease in the emission of greenhouse gases associated with buildings. Green buildings have also come up with strategies on how to recycle and reuse waste products from the buildings. You harvest water, for example. Waste water is treated and re-used in the same buildings. Glass is one of the constructing materials that have been used to replace concrete. Glass also natural light to penetrate into the buildings thereby reducing lighting cost.