Kitchen Countertop Options

If you are building a new home, there are countless options for countertops. Countertops are priced by the lineal or square foot, most often with the template, delivery, and installation included in the price. Prices vary significantly, too, depending on the material, texture, complexity of the edge, the number of holes, the type of sink you are using, and how many seams there will be. You will want to consider the countertop's longevity, durability, maintenance, and installed price.

Laminate $15-$45 per square foot: economical, not scratch or heat resistant; not built to last
Ceramic Tile $10-$30 per square foot: economical, scratch and heat resistant, but high maintenance
Butcher Block $30-$65 per square foot: easy to install and repair, durable but maintenance required

Solid Surface $35-$100 per square foot: seams only visible from the underside; stain and heat resistant but may crack or get scorched from hot pans; scratches can be softened (Corian® solid surface colors by DuPont®, right)

Quartz $50-$100 per square foot: good for busy kitchens; stain and heat resistant, low maintenance
Engineered Stone $50-$100 per square foot: extremely durable, resists heat and stains
Marble $50-$140 per square foot: New England slate, from New York, Vermont, and Maine, is durable, non-porous, and requires no sealing; price varies by color
Limestone $60-$100 per square foot: low-traffic kitchen. It withstands heat very well
Natural Stone / Granite $50-$200 per square foot: density, strength, water absorption, and acid resistance (granite countertop, right)
Concrete $80-$120 per square foot: very popular, but porous and absorbs stains easily, must be sealed regularly

Construction of New Homes Rebounds in November

New building permits rise more than expected -- a hopeful sign for industry

WASHINGTON - Associated Press, 12/16/09 - Construction of new homes, helped by better weather, rebounded in November following a setback in the previous month.

The gain is a hopeful sign that the housing recovery is continuing, a development viewed as critical to lifting the overall economy out of recession.

Read the whole article here.

NH Green Architect Interview

Here is a recent interview with Architect Jeremy Bonin by Kearsarge Valley Magazine after our company Open House. Jeremy describes our architectural firm's design services and how we work with our clients.

Also, check out our architectural fees on our website and browse through our current projects. Questions about building costs? Give us a call or send an email!!


Utlizing Outdoor Spaces

Utilizing outdoor spaces is an important aspect of home design. Whether your site is level, sloping, rocky, or wooded, you can maximize your living area and take advantage of views by considering one or more of these applications and spaces:

Sunrooms and three-season porches
Patios and decks

Terraces and courtyards

Pergolas and Gazebos

Cooking areas and fireplaces

Docks and water access

Walkways and paths

Gardens and landscaping
Outdoor spaces enhance the living areas and interior of the home. Talk to your architect in the beginning stages of your home design to incorporate them into your home plan.

Architect Home Design: The First Step

The very first step in working with Bonin Architects for designing your new energy efficient home is the process of gathering information through a series of questions. Some of the things we want to know can be broken down into categories:

Budget Budget for new home, excluding land and site work (driveway, etc.) costsThe SiteSite location, view, characteristics, and condition
Existing utilities
Snow and wind loads
Special considerations (Shoreland Protection, restrictions, land use, etc.)

The Home LayoutNumber of stories
Ceiling heights and type
Special considerations

Living requirementsNumber of bedrooms and locations
Number of bathrooms and locations
Master bedroom location and features
Kitchen features (pantry, appliances, island, countertops, fixtures)
Dining area (eat-in, separate, nook)
Living area
Fireplaces, wood stoves, etc.
Outdoor spaces
Other rooms and functions
Miscellaneous (basement, garage, mudroom, recreation room)

Building SystemsFrame type (timber frame, SIPs, conventional)
Insulation system
Foundation type
Heating and cooling
Water efficiency

Materials and Green BuildingRecycled and reclaimed materials
Windows and doors
Renewable energy systems (solar, geothermal, wind)
Waste management

These points of discussion, along with others, are the beginning steps in working with Kim and Jeremy Bonin on your new home design. If you are starting to think about building an energy efficient house, give us a call or send an email with your questions!

Prevent Mold in Your New Green Home

Mold and mildew can not only cause structural problems in a home, they are the cause of many illnesses and allergies – making them one of your home’s worst enemies. Cleaning and getting rid of mold can be a very difficult, expensive, and time consuming project. If you’re building a new energy efficient home, an important consideration in its construction is controlling moisture to prevent mold and mildew buildup.

There are two types of moisture that can enter a home: bulk moisture and vapor moisture. Bulk moisture can get into a home around windows, doors, and leaks in the roof, as well as from condensation from pipes and ducts. Vapor moisture forms as a result of cooking, showering (yes, those long, hot showers), laundry, changes to the humidity level in the home, and just general living.

How do green homes manage moisture? A few ways are by having:

  • A well-designed floor plan and careful placement and orientation of the home on the lot to take advantage of solar access and shading;

  • Energy efficient insulation system to keep the house warm in winter and cool in summer which heps reduce condensation and mold growth;

  • Well-sealed, energy efficient windows and doors;

  • Good ventilation with heat recovery ventilation (HRV) units and extraction fans in the kitchen and bathrooms.

Moisture control starts with the green home design. Talk to an architect about your plans to build a healthy, energy efficient home for your family and build a new home that manages moisture and prevents mold!

AIA Architects: Billings Index Sending Positive Signals

A new press release generated by the American Institute of Architects reports a positive change in the number of inquiries for possible new projects, calling this “an early signal towards a recovery for the design and construction industry”.

The AIA uses its Architecture Billings Index (ABI), a leading economic indicator that provides an approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending, as a means of gauging an increase or demand for design services.

The October ABI new projects inquiry score was 58.5, following the 59.1 mark in September (any score above 50 indicates an increase). The October ABI rating was 46.1, up sharply from 43.1 in September. This score, however, indicates a continued decline in demand for design services and the AIA remains cautious, saying “it is far too early to think we are out of the woods.”

Using our very accurate BA&A index, we can report a significant increase in new project inquiries for new home construction and green building, especially from people building in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.

If you are thinking about building an energy efficient home, visit our website to learn about our Design Services and Architectural Fees (yes, our fees are listed on our website!).

Home Builders Applaud Congress on Extending Home Buyer Tax Credit

November 5, 2009 - The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) today applauded Congress for passing legislation that will extend and expand the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit, stating that this will provide a much-needed boost to the fragile housing market and economy.

“We commend lawmakers for acting in a bipartisan manner to extend the first-time home buyer tax credit beyond its Nov. 30 deadline and expand it to a wider group of home buyers,” said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson, a home builder from Tulsa, Okla. “The tax credit has proven to be a powerful economic incentive. Today’s action by Congress will further stabilize housing and the economy by creating new jobs, stimulating home sales, reducing foreclosures, cutting excess inventories and stabilizing home prices.”

The new law will extend the $8,000 credit for first-time home buyers for sales contracts entered into by April 30, 2010 and closed by June 30. Further, it has been expanded to include a new $6,500 credit for owners of existing homes who are purchasing a new home as a principal residence. An existing home owner can claim the $6,500 tax credit if they have been residing in their principal residence for five consecutive years out of the last eight. Additionally, the income eligibility limits to claim the full credit amount for both groups of home buyers have been raised to $125,000 for individuals and $225,000 for married couples.

NAHB estimates that the extended and expanded home buyer tax credit will create 211,000 jobs and generate 180,000 additional home sales in the coming year. It is also expected to generate $9.6 billion in wage income and $6.9 billion in federal, state and local taxes.

The legislation, which also extends unemployment insurance benefits and offers relief to cash-strapped firms by providing broader tax benefits for businesses with net operating losses (NOLs), is expected to be signed into law shortly by President Obama.

“The new NOL rules will throw a lifeline to struggling businesses, allowing them to continue making payrolls, paying business loans and otherwise keep their doors open until the economic recovery takes hold,” said Robson.


Home Design Specific to Your Location

Building in different localities means addressing issues specific to your site location. Here are some design issues to consider when building a home…

On a mountaintop:
Terrain and slope
Solar gain
Prevailing winds

On a lake:
Solar gain
Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act or applicable guidelines and restrictions

In the suburbs:
Solar gain and shading
Architectural Review Board guidelines and regulations

One of our clients is building an energy efficient home on top of a mountain in southwestern New Hampshire (Jaffrey). The 73-acre property faces east and runs from hilltop to the bottom with a fantastic 180-degree view from Mt. Monadnock due north, to Temple, Kidder, and Barrett Mountains to the east, to Mt. Watatic and even Wachusett to the south.

The terrain where the house will be sited is fairly level, which will save money in excavation costs.

The home will be situated with the main living areas (living room and master bedroom) facing east and south. The majority of windows is located on these elevations to take advantage of the fantastic views. Our clients will incorporate solar hot water and geothermal heating systems and are considering using a wind turbine to generate electricity. Click on the link for more photos and the floor plan for this energy efficient one-story house.

Designing & Building a Custom Home: Free Seminar November 21, 2009

Join us for our next free seminar on Designing and Building a Custom Home!

Seminar topics include:

Property: What to look for when buying land

Custom home design: The steps involved in designing your home and energy efficient options, including Energy Star certification

Building a home: Selecting the builder best suited for your custom home

PLUS, walk the Granite Ridge view lots located in the Prospect Hill Development (picture below), Georges Mills / Lake Sunapee, NH with Green Architect Jeremy Bonin and Realtor Dan O'Halloran after the seminar.

Saturday, November 21, 2009
10:00 AM - Noon

Bonin Architects & Associates Office
209 Main Street
New London, NH 03257

This informative event is perfect for anyone looking for land or has recently purchased land and is interested in building an energy efficient custom home.

Registration is required - seating is limited! For more information and to register online, click here.

Architectural Firm Open House Success

We celebrated the Grand Opening of our new architectural firm office in New London, New Hampshire last week. What a great turnout! We had over 70 business owners, residents, and Chamber of Commerce members here - and for quite a while there wasn't room to move! Thank you to all of our old friends who came to congratulate us and to all of the new friends who came to introduce yourselves and learn about our architectural services.

Yankee Communications was also on hand for the festivities and grabbed our Principal Architect Jeremy Bonin for an interview which will appear on Kearsarge Valley Magazine in the next couple of weeks (watch for a blog post!).

Our neighbors in Baynham's Square (Ellie's Cafe & Deli, Vessels & Jewels, and The Banks Gallery) also held open houses that night and visitors were able to visit all of the Square's businesses. Hot hors d'ouevres were provided by Ellie's Cafe and we concluded the evening by sharing a cake decorated for the occasion.

If you didn't get a chance to come to the grand celebration, please stop by anytime to say hello!

House Tear Down

With limited land available, especially lakefront properties, many people are purchasing old camps and cottages to tear the house down and rebuild a new, energy efficient home.

Traditionally, a bulldozer or other large piece of equipment levels the house in a matter of minutes and the debris is taken to a landfill. A green alternative would be to tear the house down in stages, carefully preserving the material and selling it at a demolition auction.

What can be salvaged and reused from a tear down?

  • Building components such as doors, windows, plumbing fixtures, etc.
  • Glass
  • Metals
  • Brick
  • Wood
  • Asphalt
  • Concrete
  • Gypsum
  • Plastics
  • Landscaping, including trees, stumps, and rocks

On the other hand, you might want to check out a demolition auction to find recycled materials if you are building a new home or remodeling your existing home. These types of auctions are held at the house to be torn down, and bidders are allowed to tour the home prior to the auction. You can get everything from fixtures, appliances, flooring, and walls.

Tip: Be prepared to be required to remove the items yourself.

NH Architects Open House

Bonin Architects is celebrating our new office location by having a Grand Opening and Open House!

Stop by to say hello and at the same time visit the other Baynham's Square businesses, Ellie's Cafe & Deli, Vessels & Jewels, and The Banks Gallery. Light refreshments provided by Ellie's Cafe & Deli. There is no charge, but please RSVP to or call 603-504-6009.

When: Thursday, October 29, 2009
Time: 5:30 - 7:00 PM
Where: Bonin Architects, 209 Main Street, New London, NH

Whether you're planning to build a new energy efficient home, are involved in green building, or are just curious about our business, please stop by!

Gas Fireplaces

Gas fireplaces combine form and function, making them a great supplemental heat source for your new energy efficient home.

We looked at the new Rinnai RHFE 750 ETR gas fireplace, which has an efficiency rating of up to 83% AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) by using a stainless steel heat exchanger and modulating gas value with an automatic blower. In addition, the RHFE 750 has many other features:

Innovative Technology and Safety Features:
• Electronic seven-stage modulating gas valve efficiently uses only the energy necessary to maintain room temperature, while providing seven different flame patterns and heat output
• Automatically adjusts the heat output and blower speed, delivering a consistent room temperature for maximizing comfort
• Sealed combustion system minimizes indoor heat loss
• Stainless steel heat exchanger
• Thermistor for accurate temperature control
• Sensors for power failure, flame failure, overheat, and power surge

Design and Convenience:
• Digital dual timer function enables fireplace to turn on and off for two set periods - great for morning and evening pre-sets
• Pre-heat mode ensures set room temperature is attained
• Full-function remote gives total control of your heat and flame output
• 3-speed fan allows even heat distribution
• On-board diagnostics and safety monitoring system
• Up to 60% heat turn-down with flame visible even on the lowest setting
• Uniquely interchangeable fronts make it easy to fit and update any décor

• Energy-efficient source of zone heating
• Maintains a comfortable level of heat - never too hot or too cold
• Four interchangeable fronts make it easy to change your style often
• Bottom air discharge for optimal heat distribution and for creating space for plasma screens, wall niches and other home décor accessories above the fireplace

The RHFE 750 also comes with interchangeable profiles to complement nearly any interior design. See the specifications and more about this direct vent gas fireplace.

Architectural Drafting Services: Custom Home Design

One of our most recent clients were not interested in building a timber frame home, but were drawn to the openness and creativity timber houses afford. At the same time, they did not require full architectural services, only limited drafting services, but wanted to work with an architect to pull their design ideas together and make them work with their land’s difficult terrain and elevation issues. We were happy to assist them by providing drafting services for their new custom home.

The result is an attractive, welcoming river front home with water views that meets their family needs – four bedrooms, plenty of storage, and space to entertain guests in both formal and informal social gatherings.

The full basement has 1832 square feet of living space as well as a two-car garage. Entry to the house from the garage is accessed through a mudroom that has two large benches and a generous closet for coats. A kitchenette with counter seating is a welcome addition to the open family room. The basement opens to extensive outdoor patios, which creates the perfect space for casual entertaining and to enjoy the surrounding property.

The first floor, meanwhile, features an open kitchen / living area with plenty of windows to capture water views of the river. A formal pantry provides additional storage space and provides access to the formal dining area that seats eight comfortably. The Master Bedroom suite is spacious and features French doors leading to a screened porch overlooking the Mississippi River.

Our clients are very happy with their home and in working with an architect, stating, “Bonin Architects did a wonderful job in working with the best of our ideas and where input was required they were happy to do so. They assisted us with some difficult terrain and elevation issues and we are now able to go forward with the construction of the home confident that the home is filled with our ideas and Bonin Architects’ expertise. We had consulted half a dozen design services all of whom took weeks or months to present alternatives. Bonin put the plan together in less than one month.”

Home Improvement Remodeling

Are you thinking about remodeling your home? There are many remodeling projects that can increase the resale value of your home: adding space, kitchen and bath remodeling, including upgrading counters, cabinets, fixtures and appliances, adding insulation and replacement windows and doors to increase the energy efficiency of the home, and even completely changing the floor plan of the home.

Home remodeling requires good planning and scheduling. After all, you’ll most likely be living in the home during the remodeling. The NH Home Builders Association gives these tips to help stay on schedule:

  • Expect to set aside time for telephone calls and regular meetings with your contact person to review progress and discuss the schedule for remaining work.
  • Ask your remodeler which product orders require the longest lead times. For custom-made items, it is especially important to make your selections as early in the process as possible.
  • Realize that changes you make to the project after work has begun may affect the schedule and the budget. Change orders should include prices, full descriptions, and authorization in writing before any new work begins.

If your city or town requires an architect to stamp your remodeling plans, consider hiring the architect as the project manager. The architect is your advocate during the design and remodel, saving you money, solving problems that might arise, and most importantly, keeping your goals as the top priority as he or she manages your team of experts during the home’s design and construction.

Read about current remodeling trends

Free Green Home Seminar & Timberpeg Home Tour Oct 11

Anyone planning to build a new energy efficient home, addition, or remodel their existing home is encouraged to attend a Free Green Home Seminar and Timberpeg® Green Open House Tour on Sunday, October 11, 2009. Here are the important details:

Free Seminar on Building a Green Home:
Best Western Sunapee Lake Lodge, Newbury, NH
9:00 AM - 11:00 AM (registration starts at 8:30)

Timberpeg® Open House Tour: Lot 22, Summit Road, Sutton, NH
(green home under construction) 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM

You'll have plenty of time to talk to the experts: Jeremy Bonin, AIA NCARB LEED AP, Bonin Architects & Associates, PLLC; Jay Tucker, Custom Home Builder, Old Hampshire Designs, Inc.; and Dan O'Halloran, Colby Real Estate.

Registration for the seminar is requested. Get directions, an Itinerary and register for these free green events at

Custom Home Design Update

The home design process is continuing for our clients in southern NH.

One of our clients’ priorities is having enough space to entertain about 20 people four times a year. To add more living / entertaining space in the floor plan, the dining table was reduced in size and moved to replace the informal banquette. While the table is still large enough to seat extended family for holiday meals, the enlarged open living area is better suited toward hosting cocktail parties.

The dormer bays in the living and dining areas were changed to soften the interior lines. The kitchen was reconfigured slightly to take advantage of the added space and to streamline traffic flow.

Sunapee View Lot Open House BBQ

On Saturday September 19th from 10am to 2pm Colby Real Estate is hosting a BBQ Open House at a view lot subdivision they have on the market. The lots are conveniently located just 10 minutes from New London and 15minutes from Mount Sunapee. All of the lots have views of Lake Sunapee, Mt. Sunapee and some even get views of Ledge Pond. For those who are able to attend you will have the opportunity to:

  • Walk the Various Lots For Sale
  • Learn About New Construction Financing
  • Discuss and Review Various House Plans
  • Lot Sizes Ranging From 5Acres to 15+Acres

To assist with any questions you may have with new construction financing, design, building costs Colby Real Estate has arranged to have the following professionals on site:

We would love to know if you are planning on attending. Please either email Colby Real Estate at or RSVP via this link

This link will take you to 3 of the lots that they have on the active market. Additional lots will be made available for sale during the event and the developer is significantly discounting the lots for attendees: Granite Ridge Lots

PS- Dan O’Halloran is manning the grill so the food will be great! :-)

From I89 Exit 12 head towards Georges Mills-Sunapee on Rte 11. Take 1st right after gas station and take immediate left onto Prospect Hill. Granite Ridge is on the right with immense stone entrance. If you see Prospect Hill Antiques, you’ve gone too far!


Energy Saving Light Bulbs

We’re greening up our new office by replacing the incandescent light bulbs with Earthmate energy saving bulbs. By using Earthmate bulbs, we will use an average of 75% less electricity, help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

For instance, we replaced our 45 watt overhead bulbs with Earthmate 8-watt Dimmable Reflector Bulbs, which will save us about $61 and last up to 7 times longer than our standard light bulbs. And bonus: they come with a 9-year warranty!

If you are looking for a great, long-lasting, energy efficient light bulb, learn more about Earthmate's products and company philosophy. We like their packaging, too, made from 100% post-consumer waste.

Hybrid Home Starts Construction

One of our hybrid homes is starting construction in New Hampshire. Our clients are acting as their own general building contractor for their new home – no easy task!

The hybrid home design combines timber framing, SIP panels, and conventional construction, and is 2745 square feet. The center section is 1316 square feet of timber frame construction, 836 square feet for the first floor great room, kitchen and dining, and 480 square feet in the second floor loft. The entry will utilize a timber frame roof system with insulated panel walls and roof system. SIP panel walls and a conventional roof system will be used in the Master Bedroom connector. Timber frame rafters, SIP panel walls, roof, and panel dormers will be used in the Master Bedroom, and the 576 square foot garage consists of conventional 2x framing and batt insulation.

Construction continues!

Energy Star House Plan

One of our current projects is designed to be built to earn ENERGY STAR certification. The barn style home design fits in nicely with the architectural style of the surrounding area of Old Lyme, Connecticut.

The home will include ENERGY STAR approved insulation (SIP panels), duct system, mechanical ventilation system, windows, heating and cooling units, lighting, and appliances.

At 2864 square feet, this energy efficient home has four bedrooms, three full baths and one half bath. In addition to renderings, Bonin Architects provides traditional elevations. Once the client selects exterior colors, we will prepare a rendering for approval.

When requested, we also provide power/lighting plans for clients and electricians.

ENERGY STAR® is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy that provides information, training, and certification of products and practices to help homeowners save money and protect the environment.

If you are building a new home, consider having it designed to meet ENERGY STAR standards, which will save you 20% - 30% in energy costs, create a healthy indoor environment for your family, reduce air pollutants, dust, and drafts, and, as an added bonus, increase the value of your home.

Solar Energy: What Does it Cost?

How much does solar energy cost? Our friends over at the Clear Mountain Solar Store are glad to help with the answer:

Although we cannot emphasize enough that it all depends on many factors: your lifestyle, your individual needs, your site (how much sun you receive, roof space, shading), whether you will be on-grid, off grid, on-grid w/battery backup, using a pole mounted tracking system, etc. However, there are some broad guidelines that we detail below to give you some idea of the gross “installed” cost.

Remember, your net cost will likely be 50-80% lower after deducting federal, state, and local incentives. For solar hot water we have only detailed equipment cost because installation expense can vary significantly, especially if the system is a retrofit on an existing home. And don’t forget, solar energy systems installed in Vermont are EXEMPT FROM RETAIL SALES TAX! As of October 2008, 77 cities and towns in
New Hampshire have adopted a property tax exemption for one or more
renewable energy sources.

Photovoltaic (Solar Electric)
$8-10/watt typical installed
cost - residential
$6-8/watt typical installed cost - commercial

Grid-tie with battery

$12-13/watt typical installed cost

$15/watt typical
installed cost

Solar Thermal (Domestic Hot Water & Space
Solar Hot Water for a family of 2 - $2,848
Solar Hot Water for a family of 4 - $4,649
Space Heating for 1,000 sq. ft. - $12,500
Space Heating for 2,000 sq. ft. - $16,500
Pool Heating - $1,200-$3,500

*Approximate costs not including installation, but before federal tax credits and state incentives. Installation expense typically adds $4,000-6,000 to the figures above.

Energy-conscious families can reduce their emissions by up to two-thirds by using renewable energy systems. (And if you are building a new home, you have a great opportunity to incorporate energy efficient systems and materials to reduce your carbon footprint.)

10 Questions to Ask Your Architect

If you are building a new home, hiring an architect for the design and project management of the home can make the whole process go smoothly. Here are 10 questions you will want to ask the architects you interview for your project:

  1. What does the architect see as important issues or considerations in your project? What are the challenges of the project?

  2. How will the architect establish priorities and make decisions?
  3. How busy is the architect?

  4. What sets this architect apart from the rest?

  5. How does the architect establish fees? When will fee payments be expected?
  6. What are the steps in the design process?

  7. How does the architect organize the process?

  8. What does the architect expect you to provide?

  9. If the scope of the project changes later in the project, will there be additional fees? How will these fees be justified?
  10. What services does the architect provide during construction

Bonin Architects & Associates offers full architectural design services, limited drafting services based on your project needs, and optional project management services. Our architectural design services and fees are listed in detail on our website. Give us a call or send an email to tell us about your project and let's discuss how we can work together!

Questions courtesy Boston Society of Architects / AIA
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