PEOPLE, PRINCIPLES, PRODUCTS. IDEAS, INSPIRATION, INGENUITY. COMMUNICATION, CONTRACTS, CONFIDENCE.
We depend on an alphabet soup of resources to assure that we are providing reliable guidance. Get to know our people and see what we’ve achieved and been recognized for. Understand us by understanding the principles that guide us. Discover sources of inspiration for your project.
DESIGN AND BUILDING IS NOT COMPLICATED. COMMUNICATION IS.
THAT’S WHY WE’VE DESIGNED OUR DESIGN/BUILD PROCESS AROUND COMMUNICATION.
Wolfworks Design/Build system is delivered by a staff of professionals from our Avon office to your job site. Each member of our staff handles and coordinates distinct phases of this process. Together, our efforts assure that every aspect of a project receives the attention required to achieve success.
Design EvangelistWolfworks is, of course, Jamie’s company and grew out of his years of experience designing and building projects in Greater Hartford and the Farmington Valley. Jamie is a tireless advocate of the value of Design. That work begins by gaining an understanding of a client’s needs and communicating how the design/build process works. Working with our estimator they produce a “reality check” budget to focus design efforts within a budget range that the client agrees is comfortable. From this foundation design work proceeds toward a buildable project. Jamie is noted for his imaginative approach to both technical and aesthetic design challenges. His design work is inspired by an understanding of the client’s taste, a careful examination of their needs, and the precedents set by an existing home and its site. Throughout a project Jamie works to assure that everyone’s expectations are communicated clearly and ultimately met. Jamie is also a Certified Passive House Consultant.
Janet’s job is to see that your project gets built the way it was designed for you by coordinating the team that delivers that service. Her background in architecture and years of construction management experience provide an acute sense of what it takes to complete a successful project. Her project management skills allow us to manage multiple jobs as well as complete projects of considerable size and scope. Her experience and attention to detail assure accurate estimating in our budget process. Her eye is always seeking the practical solution and anticipating the next step in the process – from beginning to end. Janet is also a Certified Passive House Builder.
Accounting and Administration
Karen manages our bookkeeping and oversees the smooth flow of all the information that gets managed behind the scenes. Its a pleasure to know those gears are being kept turning smoothly. You can be sure she'll know the status of every payment made by you while keeping track of every expense that goes into your project for us. She is also the one keeping track of all the back office paperwork we maintain to meet regulatory requirements and especially, to assure our subcontractors are properly insured. Her work is essential!
Communications & Systems
Chris is responsible for two absolutely essential elements of what we do. As Communications Coordinator he works to assure that everybody understands each other. This is no small task. Good communication is the foundation for successful relationships, and he is listening to be sure that each is getting the attention it requires. Most importantly he strives to be sure expectations and clearly defined, then successfully met. In his role as Systems Coordinator we depend on him to assure that our many systems work as designed and identify opportunities to develop and improve them. He keeps all the gears meshing.
Join Our Team
We welcome communication with people who are interested in working with the Wolfworks Team. If the heart of our business depends on great people doing great work for great clients then we are always interested in meeting the kind of person that can contribute to that formula. If you or someone you know would like to consider a career working in a Design, Construction, or supporting capacity at Wolfworks we’d be happy to hear from you. Likewise, if you provide a service that you think deserves our attention, we’d like to hear from you. Send us a resume or brief description of your interest in working with us.
Craftspeople and Product Vendors
We rely on Trade Partners with a professional focus and reliable technical experience. We integrate that experience in our design process and sustain their involvement throughout a project. Every step of the way they are contributing to the development of your project. Some guide in product selection based on their practical experience and extensive knowledge of their trade. Others contribute to technical solutions to design challenges. Each displays a pride in their craft. Together they assemble the parts that make the whole.
RECOGNITION & COMMUNITY
Inside the Not So Big House
Sarah Susanka changed the way people think about the spaces they create to live in with her series of books about “The Not So Big House”. A full chapter in 2006’s “Inside the Not So Big House” is devoted to a Wolfworks project in support of her guiding principles: that we need to value quality over quantity of space, imaginatively integrate function and style, make the best use of what we have before considering adding more, and above all, investing our attention in a thoughtful design process that assures we are pursuing the right project for the right reasons.
Not So Big RemodelingSarah Susanka’s “Not So Big Remodeling” came out in 2009 and features four Wolfworks projects in Greater Hartford and the Farmington Valley that reveal the principles and design “moves” that form the book’s content, a comprehensive and clear exposition of the careful design thinking that we practice every day. Not So Big Remodeling is organized to reveal design strategies for the functional spaces of a home, outside and in, and what can be accomplished across a spectrum of complexity and investment. It favors effective moves that do not require ambitious projects or large budgets.
Connecticut's First Certified Passive HouseJamie Wolf is Connecticut's first Certified Passive House Consultant, and Wolfworks designed and built the first certified Passive House in the state in 2012. Following that experience Janet Downey trained for and became a Certified Passive House Builder.
CT Zero Energy Challenge
The CT Zero Energy Challenge is a design and build competition for homes that produce as much energy as they use on an annual basis. Wolfworks entered projects in 2012 and 2013 and on both occasions was the Grand Prize Winner.
2012 CT Zero Energy Challenge - Harwinton Passive House
- Overall Winner
- Lowest Overall HERS Index (-12)
- Most Affordable Project ($169 per sq. ft.)
- Lowest Projected Annual Net Operating Cost ($64)
2013 CT Zero Energy Challenge - Farmington Passive House
- Overall Winner
Outdoor KitchensQuite to our surprise we discovered that a project of ours was featured in this design book titled “Outdoor Kitchens”. It’s a six page spread that gives deserved praise to a truly special space we created to serve a beautifully landscaped woodland garden and pond, set apart from the house and nestled in the woods in Glastonbury. It features Wolfworks' knack for carefully detailed craft in a design conceived by Jamie Wolf and developed by Mark Couet. The doors that close off this outdoor kitchen cleverly fold out of the way and into the sidewalls.
How Buildings LearnIn 1994 Stewart Brand, the founder of the Whole Earth Catalogue, published the first book to look at buildings over time: “How Buildings Learn”. Jamie Wolf was following his project on the WELL, one of the first online communities, itself another Brand initiative. Through that connection he engaged Stewart Brand to present the project at our annual conference for energy efficient building professionals before it was published, and in the process, Jamie ended up being interviewed and included in the book. “How Buildings Learn” remains one of the most important chronicles of the REAL life of buildings and was subsequently made into an enlightening BBC series.
Avon LifeThis article “The bigger is better era in homes could be over” by Natalie Pollock appeared in Avon & Farmington Life in the fall of 2009. It give equal time to the experience of designing and building with Wolfworks as told by one of our clients, and includes a brief history of Wolfworks and a review of our interest in designing and building “not so big” homes that are “future friendly”. Take a look inside and outside this project.
CT MagazineThis feature in CT Magazine by Erica Grivas with photography by Robert Benson appeared in 2006 following the publication of “Inside the Not So Big House”. Aptly titled “Surprises Inside” it highlights the delightful design and craft that were featured in the book by Sarah Susanka. As the tag line for the article describes, “From the outside, it looks like just another house on a suburban street. But open the front door for revelations in every room.”
NORTHEAST SUSTAINABLE ENERGY ASSOCIATIONThis is the organization that has been gathering our "tribe" of environmentally conscious designers and builders since the late '70s. Jamie has served may roles at NESEA and has planned and presented at many conferences and is currently a facilitator for their peer business network program "Building Energy Bottom Lines"
We have the great privilege and pleasure of being members of a collective of practitioners made up of some of the most accomplished and inquisitive designers and builders in the Northeast pursuing high performance building. We learn and share together at gatherings and online. We are constantly improving what we do because we know them.
In our desire to create a home that fits you, your taste, and your budget, understanding the resources the journey requires is as important as knowing the route to follow. To reach our goal of creating a great home for you, we rely on five essential resources. With each of these resources we develop a guiding relationship.
We Manage the Team
At the core are members of Wolfworks project and management teams, all dedicated and experienced. This includes the designers and builders who work together at Wolfworks to plan and build your project, as well as those who support those efforts in management and administration. An essential extension of this team are our project partners, the product vendors and trade subcontractors whe we work with again and again. These are the people with whom we communicate easily and can depend upon with confidence. Our job is to manage this team.
We Guide the Client
Every great project is the result of the committed participation of a good client. We want every client to fulfill that role. A project will demand your time and attention, your financial resources, and ultimately some disruption to your life, all in the interest of making your good home great. These commitments require your dedication. Out intention is to cultivate and guide these essential contributions to the project.
We Respect the Environment
We rely on building materials and energy to create a project. Our choices should be guided in part by the opportunity to use materials and energy wisely. This means seeking solutions that make the best use of available space before constructing additional space. It means striving to use energy efficient equipment and construction strategies. It means seeking materials that are durable, safe, and resource efficient . We expect to respect what we use.
We Discover Ideas
Imagination is perhaps our most important resource. In every project we are hoping to discover a set of ideas that will provide the opportunity to make a good home great. We seek ideas about how to use and shape space. We seek ideas that make the best use of our resources, both financial and material. The ideas are ours and the ideas are yours: we seek to make the best use of our combined talents. Along every step of our journey we are joining our imaginations to fulfill the project’s potential.
We Listen to the House
The solutions to nearly all our problems are revealed by paying careful attention to what exists. The light and the views are there waiting. The functional needs and traffic flows dictate what each space must provide. The existing architectural detail, or its lack, suggest stylistic directions and opportunities. In places the house gives; in others it resists. We choose what to fight for. By studying all this carefully, patterns and a plan emerge. If we listen very carefully, the house will tell us what it want to be when it grows up!
When planning a project, we seek ideas and inspiration from many sources. In addition, we need good practical information about the products and techniques we end up choosing to include in each project. Where do we look and what can we learn?
The web offers hundreds of useful (and not so useful!) sites. The hardest part may be making sense of all you may discover and learn there. This is where our experience helps put that knowledge in perspective. The many “shelter” magazines, both for the public and the trade, still provide a steady feast of images and ideas. Use these to get a feel for the look you’re attracted to, see new products, and get a feel for current design trends. A trip to a bookstore or library can provide hours of browsing on both general and specialized topics, some you may even choose to own (and many are in our library). Of course you can find these online as well.
We often begin by looking together at images and products that you’re attracted to from these sources to guide the look and feel of your project. Here are a few places to start.
The web is an aggravating, but ultimately incredible information resource. Less satisfying as a source for images, it excels at locating specific resources and gathering information. As with many web searches, the trick is often to filter out all the excess to find truly worthwhile information. We have had both good and bad experiences with information and products located on the web. We value whats available but are cautious about relying on unknown vendors, preferring reliable local resources.
A trip to any bookstore with a large Architecture or Home Design section offers the opportunity to browse your way toward an understanding of what appeals to you, and perhaps why. There are books on every style, project type, technique, and design philosophy. The volume can be overwhelming, and may likely be as confusing as it is informative. We will be your guide in sorting out all you’ve seen, and perhaps brought home or ordered online. We’ll work with you to make sense and order of the many directions these books offer.
Inside the Not So Big House is one in the series of popular books by Sarah Susanka and features a Wolfworks project celebrating attention to detail and craft.
The Barefoot Home celebrates a favored style of living. Author Marc Vassalo does a great job revealing that we are often happiest and most at ease in relaxed living spaces.
Not So Big Remodeling is another of Sarah Susanka’s invaluable guides. This one features five of our projects!
Net Zero Buildings, Passive House & Renewables This e-Book is a great survey of the many inspiring passive house projects around the country achieving net zero performance
There was a time when print was the prime source for design ideas; shelter magazines built around just about every design style, reader interest, and budget range. We still encourage you to use magazines to discover project features you’d like to include in your project. Mark images with even a single feature that you like. We’ll use these images to understand your taste and expectations as we seek to include these features in your project. Here are a couple we like.
Fine Homebuilding looks at the craft of building with features on both projects, techniques, tools and materials. The technical focus is oriented to the trade and homeowner with a deeper interest in building and residential architecture. Their annual home issue and periodic feature issues are always inspiring.
Dwell seeks to capture contemporary attitudes toward living and creating spaces. Its a great place to get a fresh feel for what’s being done today, along with the people and ideas that are influencing these trends.
American Bungalow is about a style that is warm and inviting and for many, evokes the feeling we want from a home. While the style might not suit every house, there’s a lot to learn from this classic American approach to home.
LEARN MORE FROM THESE BLOG POSTS
Discovery. Design. Craft. Performance. We have a host of blog posts about topics in each of these domains. And we are regularly adding new ones. Here is a random sampling of the ideas and thinking that goes into the creating homes that fulfill our mission. Better Home. Better Life.
Waste = Food: Breaking the Trash Habit
Our houses have habits. And we learn them. Next thing you know you’re adapting your behavior to the way your home doesn’t work. There’s no place to organize the mail, so it lands on the kitchen counte ...
Beautifully Done: The sun shines on another Net Zero Winner!
This Farmington home produces more energy than it uses on an annual basis. Pretty remarkable, right? This “net zero” performance deserves recognition; that’s why energizeCT created i ...
You know. The walking dead. People have been talking about this “zombie economy” and referring to “zombie banks” and looking at “zombie industries” like Detroit or education or the health care system ...
What's Your Number?
We like things simple. And relatively immediate. Safe is nice too. Sacrifice? Hopefully not. That’s what makes an abstract idea like climate change and the prospect of literal sea changes such a ...
Shall we say here and now that the next twenty years will not be like the last twenty years. I find it necessary to recognize and acknowledge this reality daily in order to even begin to think about ...
Nature's Energy Audit
These days we are using blower doors and infrared cameras to measure and observe where and how our homes leak air and waste energy. We call this an Energy Audit and it helps us diagnose failures in a ...
A Missed Opportunity. The Difference Matters.
We meet folks at a junction. Before we’ve met, the options available to them are defined by the thinking that produced the homes of ...
Good With Blocks
“How did you become a designer?” I was just interviewed by Natalie Pollock for an article about Wolfworks for the monthly Avon Life. She was asking this question that I am often asked. And ...
Where Were We Headed?
I’ve spent my career making beautiful spaces. “Making good homes better” is how I like to sum it up. I think that’s still what I do, and want to do, but what makes a good home is taking on new meanin ...
The Cape Cod House
A few years back I heard this poem read by Manchester native Steven Straight at that great summer event at the Hillstead Museum in Farmington, the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival. It continues to stick ...
Reduce Then Produce. Doing Solar Right.
ANSWER THE QUESTION When you contemplate getting the energy your home requires to provide comfort from the sun you learn pretty quickly ju ...
How Precious is Energy? Ask Your Slaves!
Do we appreciate what energy is? Do fish know they’re wet? Like clueless fish, we’ve lived within a world of cheap available energy our whole lives. We have no visceral understanding of how remarkable ...
Wolfworks awarded for Lifetime Achievement by PACE
Judi and Lou Friedman were local treasures. They devoted their lives to an activist organization here in CT called People’s Action for Cle ...
It looks so good when everything lines up. Our brains are actually wired to appreciate this. Walk by a picture that’s a little crooked and you can’t help but reach over to get it right. “Is that OK?” ...
Designing and Building the Harwinton Passive House - Part One
Paul and Diane Honig and their family moved into their new Passive House a couple weeks ago and are marveling at the indoor comfort as winter approaches. This is what it’s all about for us, crea ...
They have a great deal of pride in their work and it shows. The way Jamie talked about the project with us made us feel that he understood our goals.
Where does it go from here?
We help you realize something that isn’t fully defined yet. What’s the road forward for your project?