To watch the Lunsford installation process and learn more, watch our collaboration video.
Building to Last 100 Years
The Science Behind Modern Construction Methods
Inside Atlanta’s perimeter is a lovely rural oasis where a family homestead resides on two and a half acres of land 15 minutes from downtown. The homestead, owned by the same family since the 1930s, recently was sold to Grace and Corbett Lunsford, creators and producers of the Home Diagnosis T.V. series airing on PBS, which aims to demystify the science behind products and construction methods used in the home building process. “We describe it as This Old House meets C.S.I.,” said Corbett. They are building a high-performance home on the land and will be airing segments in season two.
It’s the first time Corbett and his family have built a house from start to finish. And, as he describes, everything the Lunsford’s do is a family affair. Family is the T.V. show. The only things they didn’t do themselves are the top layer of the roof, drywall, electrical service, drain lines, finish flooring, and tile. Aside from that, 90 percent of the home, built by the family, including Corbett’s parents and their two young daughters cheering from the sidelines.
This 3,000 square foot home intends to explore and teach people the science of homes, including physics, chemistry, and microbiology. They’re building a home that is the ‘perfect character’ in the story of the science of homes.
Traditionally, homeowners and builders build the way it’s ‘always been done.’ However, the Lunsford’s aim to change the conversation and start thinking more scientifically about homes — is building and using products that may be slightly different to achieve specific, often invisible goals for a high-performing home that will stand the test of time.
Product Selection: Maintenance Free and Durable
Choosing beautiful and durable products that don’t require a lot of upkeep is vital for this home. The house is being built to last 100 years, and the products will need to keep pace. The Lunsford’s don’t want to have to worry about replacing things on a 10-year rotation, as many homeowners sadly do.
Although Corbett and Grace chose wood for the decking and siding, traditionally a high-maintenance material, he used a thermally modified wood product that is durable and doesn’t require sealing now or in the future. It can stand up to the climate of the southeast and is virtually maintenance-free.
Other products include air sealing details to be as quiet as possible due to the proximity of one of the world’s busiest airports and installing a dedicated ventilation system to pump filtered outdoor air throughout the home. When they open the cupboards, they won’t smell the stored vinegar or cat litter box as a result. It is also obviously ideal in areas where wildfires and extreme humidity are a problem.
The home has even been ‘hurricane tested,’ creating a significant vacuum inside, and then pressure washing the house to force that water to penetrate inside the home if it can. After pinpointing the failures, they fixed them all, so the family can now withstand major storm events without worry.
Modern Cable Railing Systems: Clean and Classic Design
When it came to adding railings to the first and second-floor decks, the Lunsford’s wanted a classic and clean look. They chose cable railing because it enabled them to see the landscape’s beautiful views from inside the house and see the house from outside without obstruction. It offers a seamless panorama with it’s modern cable railing system.
The Lunsford’s found RailFX at an industry trade show in early 2020. After talking to several cable railing manufacturers, RailFX was most in line with what they were trying to accomplish. “RailFX was also the most excited about our project out of everyone we talked to,” said Corbett.
Corbett’s parents installed RailFX in two different areas of the home. The ground floor and second-story decks. They commented that RailFX makes it very clear and straightforward to install. There was one slight field modification made, but it was easy to adjust.
“I’ve taken deck safety courses in the past, and I find that it can get complicated, but RailFX makes it very clear,” said Corbett.
The Lunsford’s installed RailFX’s black aluminum top railings, a surface mount, and posts with 1/8-inch stainless steel cable for the exterior decks. The next installation will be the interior stairway once the painting and flooring is completed. They will use custom wood top rails and silver fascia mount posts.
Forever Home Update: Interior Stairway Cable Railing Installation
Corbett is making the finishing touches to his Atlanta forever home and recently installed RailFX cable railing systems on the interior stairway. Corbett said the real difference for the internal cable run is the amount of use they will experience with three small children running up and down the stairs.
He opted for fascia-mounted posts on the stairway, which was a different attachment process than he experienced on the outside’s surface-mounted posts. Since the interior stairway is four feet wide, code dictated he install ADA compliant railings on each side. Corbett used RailFX’s ADA graspable handrail and RFX 400 top rail option in silver. He used pecan wood from Grace’s family’s backyard for the top rail for an upscale finishing touch.