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26 Jun2011

Earlier this month, several Birmingham Architectural firms were recognized for their outstanding work in the 2011 AIA Birmingham Design Awards (see full article at

The night’s biggest winner was Dungan Nequette who took home the only Honor Award for the company’s work on the Silverock Cove Thunderhouse (image), the clubhouse and pool area of the Smith Lake development.

Here are some of the other winners:

  • Krumdiek Architecture & Interior Design – Rosemary beach home & Sunshine Farm pool house
  • Keith Design – Vestavia Hills Public Library
  • Cohen Carnaggio Reynolds – A Woodlawn renovation/reuse project
  • Appleseed Workshop – Hunter Furniture renovation
  • Hudson Architecture – Iron Tribe Fitness in Homewood
  • Dungan Nequette Architects – Creekside student housing community at Auburn Univertsity & the Springhouse Restaurant and Catherine’s Market (both in the Lake Martin community)

-Shield Properties

Check out the full article for great pictures at
Picture courtesy of Michael Tomberlin of the Birmingham News.

You can see Shield’s profile on here.

21 Jun2011

Since the storm, several clients in the Birmingham and Tuscaloosa areas have come to me for information on storm shelters. Those that have done the research know that there is a lot of information out there.

From rebates to structural specifications, it can be a little daunting trying to make heads or tails of the necessary requirements for one of these structures.

We just began a storm room today and decided to make sure the room was dual purpose during non-storm times. The client is going to use the shelter as a closet and for pepper jelly storage.

It’s always a good idea to at least consider utilizing space that is easy to get to (master closets, powder rooms, etc.)

When you finally do decide on your safe room, make sure that it has some of these essentials:

  • Canned goods
  • Helmets (bicycle, football…anything to protect the old noggin)
  • Dry Food
  • Weather radio
  • Blankets
  • Clothes
  • Buckets (think about it)

Also, here are some FEMA “plans” that you can use to build a room and the rebate information that I mentioned.


01 Jun2011

NASA will be unveiling a new office this summer in Silicon Valley that generates more electricity than it consumes.

Earlier this week, the LA Times carried a great article with some interesting details describing the green technology of the NASA complex.

The ‘Sustainability Base’ has created a lot of buzz for it’s eco-friendly architecture which officials say should help save money in the long run.

The price tag of $20M is about 6% more than a non-green building would’ve cost to produce, but NASA expects to recoup this extra expense within a decade.

Solar panels blanket the roof and patio umbrellas, and a geothermal well system will be used to pump water through copper tubing to cool the surrounding air.

Check out the complete article here for more details.


27 May2011

Heat is in the air. Alabama is blessed with great weather, assuming you like the sun and heat, and there is no better way to enjoy our climate than with outdoor patios. I do not know the history of front porches, but I assume they began in the South. Our climate and our courtesy invite people to come outside.

Porches and patios are also great additions and summer construction projects. In most cases, they can be completed quickly with practically no disruption to your family life.

Projects like these can range from as inexpensive as $4,000 to significantly more depending on the scope and size of the project. Here are some things to think about when building a covered area:

  • Material selection: A lot of people go with standard pressure treated products, but you would be amazed at what cypress or cedar could do to add a unique look to your porch.
  • Screen or windows: The big difference here is cost and durability. Is the added cost worth the durability that you’ll receive by installing windows versus a screen?
  • Lighting: We usually add lights or at least a fan in every addition. In the South, we often use these additions as rooms of a house and need to be as comfortable as possible.
  • Flooring: Typical pressure treated flooring is the standard in our region, however for slightly more cost you can add tile or unique woods like epay wood. These small changes really help your house stand out against the others in the neighborhood.
  • Size: Most customers think they are handicapped by the size of their existing porch/deck. Most of the time we can add space or create dual use spaces to maximize what you have and make the space feel much bigger.

Enjoy the summer and call for a free estimate!


15 May2011

Who doesn’t love a good white board? They don’t take up much space, erase easily, and sit patiently waiting to absorb your latest revolutionary ideas to reduce carbon emissions… or maybe just your grocery list. =)

Most of our remodeling or home construction projects take several days or weeks to complete. So rarely do I have the opportunity to start and finish a project in the same afternoon.

I decided to change that this weekend by building a white board! If you’re like me and enjoy sketching out ideas or lists, you might want one for yourself.

This is nothing fancy, but it was fun and it works great.

Material list (found at most hardware stores):

  • 1 – 4′ x 8′ sheet of white panel board (writing surface): $10 – $15
  • 3 – 10′ pieces of wood trim (border): $15 – $30


  1. Measure and Cut – First, we’ll need to measure the trim against our panel board, mark it, and cut it at a 45 degree angle to the appropriate size. Take the extra time to measure twice so that you only have to cut once, and remember that you can always grab an extra piece of trim (or two) just in case.

    Place each piece of trim on the white board immediately after cutting to the appropriate size to make sure the length is correct. If you’ve made a mistake, it’s always less expensive (time and cost) to fix it sooner in the process.
  2. Hang – Once each piece of trim has been cut to the correct length, it’s time to hang the board. It’s easiest to tack on the bottom piece of trim first so you can let the panel board rest on it while putting up the sides and top piece. After the bottom piece is level and in the appropriate position, insert a few nails to hold it steady.

    Next, place the top piece of trim over the board, make sure it’s level, and insert a few nails to hold it secure.

    Place the side pieces of trim in their final positions and make sure the joints line up correctly. If all looks good, insert a few more nails all the way around to firmly attach.
  3. Admire – Finally, stand back and admire your hard work.

Thanks for reading. Let us know your thoughts!


Ps. This project went so well that I decided to start a new company.
Shield White Boards, LLC is taking orders. =)

09 May2011

Looking at the landscape of central Alabama, you do not have to be a meteorologist to realize Mother Nature had other plans for Mother’s Day.

The storms that came through devastated our area and for many it’s time to rebuild. To help those looking for a contractor, the local home builders association came out with a contractor screening form that you may find useful.

It is great information for anyone looking to screen contractors. Here are a few additional recommendations:

  1. Go local – Several contractors have flooded the area. I have seen them from Florida, Georgia and Mississippi. With any project, eventually you will have warranty or general questions for the contractor. Unless these guys plan on setting up shop in Birmingham, which I assume many are not, then give your business to the builder you can find six months from now.

    Another advantage of going local is that many of the local contractors use local supply houses and subcontractors. Do you want to send your money to Georgia? Also, many of these businesses and contractors may have felt the economic pinch that you have for the last three/four years. Give them a chance to earn your business.
  2. Bid it out – Many of contractors will tell you that you need to act quickly and choose them. Making a quick, but informed, decision may be appropriate in certain circumstances; however, be sure to work closely with your adjuster. They will help you with the financial aspects of the job. To be honest with you, no project needs to begin without proper planning of resources, scope, schedule and cost. These aspects of a job will not be derived in a 30 minute “walk around” that many contractors will do before giving you a cost.

    Always get multiple bids. Make sure the contractors are bidding on the same work and definitely make sure you feel comfortable with the them.
  3. Get references - Contractors look the same sometimes when they get out of their trucks. However, many are nothing more than salesmen. Always check references. I suggest sites like

Remember, when disaster hits, 99% of the people have your best interest in mind.

Make sure the other 1% does not take you to the bank.


24 Apr2011

Residents of Birmingham are no strangers to the rising water prices over the past few years.

The average American uses approximately 127,000 gallons of water each year, but there’s no reason you can’t do better. [1]

Your home’s water consumption can be reduced by as much as 30% with water-friendly fixtures such as showers and toilets.

[1] A great write-up from Jeston Green with more info.

-Shield Properties

Nice graphic from How Much Water Is Wasted At Home:

18 Apr2011

We had a good week this week with several jobs beginning and ending. However, the most interesting may have been my talk on Thursday at the Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders on behalf of the Green Building Council.

My presentation focused on how remodeling is the “greenest” of the green home construction movement. And I was encouraged to learn that many remodeling contractors in the Birmingham area are already taking the lead when it comes to green construction.

Here are some quick facts about home remodeling from the National Association of Home Builders:

  • 85% of remodeler’s use low-emmisivity windows.
  • 75% use building techiniques to save on lumber
  • 65% upgrade insulation during a remodeling project
  • 65% use recycled products in their projects
  • 72% of consumers report that energy efficiency features influence their decision

Also, if you are looking to see the trends in green construction, here is a good breakdown from Jetson Green about where home owners plan to focus their efforts:

  • 6% Alternative energy systems
  • 9% in water heaters
  • 10% in HVAC upgrades
  • 12% in insulation
  • 16% in windows and doors

Be on the lookout for these green trends in your area. And as always, let us know if you have any questions.


10 Apr2011

The first LEED hotel in Alabama may be heading to Birmingham.

Mayor William Bell announced last week that Birmingham will seek the coveted LEED status for the Westin Hotel heading to the future downtown entertainment district.

The project may cost a little more upfront for the green technology, but the city will aim to recoup the operating expenses down the road with the increased energy efficiency. [1]

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized certification maintained by the US Green Building Council that provides benchmarks for the construction, design, and operations of green structures. Recently, Vestavia Hills created quite the buzz opening the first LEED library in the state.

Although, there is no guarantee that that hotel will be granted LEED status, the mayor knows that setting the city’s goal will let others know that Birmingham is on the forefront of technology and heading in the right direction.


[1] Full article here:
Image: Artist’s rendering of the proposed Westin Hotel

Be sure to check out Shield’s new profile in the business section of

03 Apr2011

This weekend was busy but very rewarding for myself and Shield and Homewood’s Relay for Life committee and participants. I had the opportunity to get to know lots of great people at the event and even learned a few things on the way. It was truly a great time had by all.

In the past we’ve donated to charities, but this year Mark had a great idea about volunteering as committee members to this year’s RFL event which is sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Mark and I, like most, have known several individuals that have been affected by cancer and felt this would be a rewarding cause to participate in. There was some work attending meetings and assisting with the setup and cleanup of the event, however, I learned a lot and realized that:

Being grateful should be on all of our conscious minds. Health and wellness is something we take for granted in our youth. Our bodies are amazing machines and should be thanked with good food and exercise. And we should be grateful for strangers, family and friends who play all sorts of roles in our lives because every day is a gift and we’re not promised tomorrow.

We learned that volunteering is rewarding. Many of us tithe in our church or donate to charites. When you donate time, you have a connection and bond with the participants and organization. Like breaking bread with friends, giving of time is more meaningful than just giving money.

Teamwork and leadership are important to all organizations. And common purpose and focus are more important than perceived abilities, age, resume and stature. The committee was focused on providing a great event for current survivors and raising money for the foundation, and it was truly a team effort. Everyone worked really hard, and I just hope that my small contribution this year somehow added to the great work that was already being performed.

Life is a lot about lessons and this event taught me the importance of gratitude, generosity and common purpose – pillars that will help us all succeed in business and in life.


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