Saturday, December 31, 2005

Interview at MocoLoco Blog - with me!

Modern Contemporary design Blog MocoLoco has published an interview with me. Design Blog MocoLoco interviewed me about our modern stock house plans and the other modern projects we have underway. Jump to the interview.

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Arkansas Plat House - Done

The owners have declared construction finished. The owners of the Arkansas Plat House have sent me a last package of construction photos. The work at the site is done. Some temporary furnishings are in place while the owners seek out furniture for the house. This last group of pictures are posted on the Plat House photo set at Flickr. There are photos of nearly every room, and several new exterior views of the finished house in this last group. Again, our most grateful thanks to our customers for sharing their progress.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

0242 Plat House Garage

The Arkansas Plat House gets a matching garage...

One of the most frequent requests we get is for garage plans to match our house plans. We hope to produce them some day, but for now there is too much to accomplish with houses and garages will have to wait. When they ask I tell people that it is relatively easy for them to create a garage to match the house. Your builder will know how to build a garage, how thick to make your slab, how to frame it. You just need to put a thoughtful eye to the house plans and take some of the look and feel and apply it to the garage. Well, that is just what the owners of the Arkansas Plat House have done.

I think it looks great, couldn't have done it better if I tried! The proportion is good, the roof slope right, and they have even framed the overhang in complete simpatico to the house. Here is the side of the house it faces on.

So be brave and strike out on your own for a compatible garage. When there are no more houses to be designed we will start on the garages, we promise.

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Friday, November 25, 2005

0242 Plat House Construction Near Complete

The finishing touches are being put on the Arkansas Plat House. The Arkansas Plat House is nearly complete now. The interior work is all but done. Since our last blog entry you will now see finish floors, complete cabinetry, and a working kitchen. Updated pictures are posted on the Plat House photo set at Flickr. Thanks again to our customers for sharing their progress.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Sage House Post-Set Progress

The Sages have been busy and productive since their modules were set. I received progress photos from Sara Sage about a month ago but I hesitated to post them because I wanted her to have the honor of showing the great progress they have made since the modules were set. Since Sara posted an entry to her blog a few days ago I thought I could go ahead and show some other images that she did not post. Here is the entry side of the house, actually with less siding on it than in Sara's photos. And here is the same side from a slightly different angle, rendered just about a year ago. The colors shown are just what we were kicking around back then and don't reflect the Sage's final choices. The engineer from Iron Townhomes managed to eliminate the overhang support beams I indicated here which made for a much cleaner look. And here is the back side and the side facing the neighbors yard. The color you see is just the off-white primer - final color has not been applied yet. And these same sides as rendered last year. And here is one interior shot of the kitchen. I think they have done a great job with it. And here is the floor plan again for reference. The kitchen is great because it is contained by walls on 2 1/2 sides and open to the house on the rest which gives a defined space, but the open plan living that makes it modern. This is a great plan - I can boast about it shamelessly because it was the Sages that laid out this plan scheme. I helped them break it into modules, and refine the partitions but the layout is theirs. It is compact at 1400 sqft, and although it is small it has long vistas on a diagonal sight line from the kitchen to the family room. The series of rooms lay on a diagonal. open to one another at their corners makes each of the spaces feel larger than they are, discreetly defined yet open in plan. The Sages are occupying it now and experiencing it first hand. Its satisfying to recap this project now when it has come so far. Next we will see it through to completion and the creation of the gardens that Sara planned so carefully.

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Friday, November 04, 2005

6030 House out for fabrication

The engineering for the 6030 House is complete and ready to go out for fabrication. The engineer and detailer have completed their documentation and the house is ready to go out to the fabricator. The foundations will being next week and the frame should be complete early December however it is likely that the erection will wait until after Jan 1 so that it can work through completion without the interruption of the holidays. Previous entries showed the plans and some views .

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

0357 Steel Case goes Timber!

Finally, introducing the Timber Case House, an all wood version of the Steel Case House. Why oh why would I do this. Well there have been a number of inquiries over the years for a wood version - people who have liked the house but did not want to venture into the exercise of procuring the steel frame; or simply had a preference for wood. On my part I have a fascination with our current engineered wood products, parallel strand lumber (PSL) and engineered roof and floor trusses. This was a perfect opportunity to make a house that showcased this technology rather than bury it in the walls as is so often the case. An interior showing the exposed PSL posts, beams, and wood/steel floor trusses. And the familiar exterior with pressure treated PSL members for the exposed posts and beams. Design prints will be completed shortly, and Construction Prints to follow soon after. I'll announce it here as usual. This will complete the 4 variations of the Steel CaseHouse which I mentioned earlier in the blog. Next I will try to get back to some of the other designs that are in progress.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

0242 Plat House Construction Interiors

The interior of the Arkansas Plat House is far along. The interior work on the Arkansas Plat House is far along now. The drywall work is finished and the interior cabinetry is installed. This has been a popular feature of this house design so I hope people enjoy seeing the cabinets go in. These images really capture the character of the design as portrayed in our renderings. Updated pictures are posted on the Plat House photo set at Flickr. Thanks again to our customers for sharing their progress.

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Friday, October 07, 2005

New EcoSteel house designs

There are variations on the 6040 House and 6030 House in design. We are in the process of designing two variations of the 6040 House and 6030 House oriented towards the narrow dimension for placement on lots with a narrow-deep proportion. Both of the designs are rather luxurious in their program but are laying the ground work for more commodity designs. The particulars of the setting where these will go have influenced the design solution in specific ways. These will be sited towards a view, which also happens to be along the street access side of their sites, and as such they are placed back on their lots to allow for private outdoor space in what is the front of the house. Sort of a backwards arrangement. To facilitate that the driveway and the entry are to the side of the houses. The 6030n is a 3 bedroom design with a deep overhanging porch towards the view and private yard. The plan includes an open living/dining/kitchen area, 3 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, and an additional room for home office or media. There is no garage in this design and we are providing a separate garage structure. The 6040n is also a 3 bedroom design, with integral 4 car garage - yikes! This house flips the living space to the upper floor to better take in the view. It includes an open plan living/dining/kitchen area, 3 bedroom including 2 master bedrooms, 4 baths, and like the 6030 a room for home office or media. We expect to be creating unique plan variations on these shells for customers on a design to suit basis. Continue reading "New EcoSteel house designs"

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

0242 Plat House Construction getting close

Siding is going on in the most recent photos. Just a couple of new photos on the construction progress page, but a surprise visitor to the construction site poses with the siding crew! Updated pictures are posted on the Plat House photo set at Flickr. Thanks again to our customers for sharing their progress.

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Affordable Schmafordable

This Re-Modern movement is not about affordability - its about Availability You know, several years ago I used to respond to the question of affordability whenever it came up on the messageboards, but it never sank in, the message never caught on, so I just stopped doing it. I think back on the old Dwell boards I started a thread once called "Affordable Schmafordable" just to emphasize the point, and so I revived the title here for the blog entry. People continually enter these online communities, LiveModern and FabPreFab, with the expectation that prefab will make houses less expensive. So let me repeat it one more time, and lets see if it will stick. PreFab, and this whole new modern movement for that matter, is all about Making Modern Houses AVAILABLE where none were before. Not affordable - AVAILABLE. Not as sexy, not as enticing, but closer to the truth. Prefab plays into that because we can find a factory willing to build a modern house in one locale that can service an entire region and enjoy some economy of scale, where as to find a developer to build a modern house in any specific locale - slim to none, to find a builder to build a one of a kind modern house in a specific locale - possible, but without overcharging? - slim. So, yes, prefab can make it affordable if you define affordable as a lack of being gouged, but if you think you are going to get more house for less because its prefab, or because its modern and devoid of traditional detail - forget it. What prefab is going to get you is the opportunity to buy a modern house where no opportunity existed before - in other words: AVAILABLE!

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Friday, September 02, 2005

0242 Plat House Construction Photos

Work proceeds on the Arkansas Plat House It is looking more and more like a house each time I see it. Its interesting to compare the interior rendering to this shot. The new pictures are posted on the Plat House photo set at Flickr. Thanks again to our customers for sharing their progress.

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Friday, August 19, 2005

0242 Plat House Construction progress

The House is there now, in the flesh and blood All of the elements that comprise the identifying characteristics of this house design are in place now. The leap from the renderings to real life feels more and more plausible! And as before the new pictures are posted on the Plat House photo set at Flickr. Thanks again to our customers for sharing their progress.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

IBU dwelling second proposal

a larger 2 bedroom unit may make the profit equation work This is an alternate utilizing 2 bedroom units of two 20ft modules with in-fill panels. This configuration requires the existing garage to be removed, but the structure fits without forcing the parking underneath, which means it can still be placed on a relatively simple slab.The bedrooms are quite small, but it would make a fine dwelling for a single, or a couple even with their first child.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

IBU dwelling, first proposal

we have issued our first site specific proposal This is a mock up of a simple 3 unit mini-tower for an urban site. The neighborhood of single family dwellings is zoned for 4 units making an opportunity for the owner to insert 3 new dwellings in the rear garden. The compact footprint of the single 40 flat allows it to fit within setback limits, preserve an existing garage, and provide the new required parking. It will work with zoning, but we are not sure if it will fly with the owner. The profit from the units must exceed the value of the owners backyard - a valuation that only they can make.

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Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Sage Modular is SET!

The modules were set on 12 August 2005 Look Ma - no hands! See more detail on the Sage Blog past rendering of this side of the house - colors not current.

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Friday, August 05, 2005

IBU accessories

We will be developing a series of add on accessories for these IBU dwellings This is the first of what will be a series of simple add ons: a 6ft balcony.

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Sunday, July 31, 2005

IBU single 40 flat

here finally is a view of the entire interior fit-out I'm not going to spend anymore time on dressing this right now, as I need to study the stacking schemes a little bit more closely. and inside again.

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Friday, July 29, 2005

IBU dwelling inside

The model of the basic dwelling is just about complete. Here is an image of the kitchen/living space. The bedroom door is straight ahead, and the bathroom door directly at its side. The entry door is at this same circulation point but a little forward opposite the kitchen. Next I'll place some furnishings.

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

IBU dwelling progress

The design is complete I am working to make a fair representation of the fit out now. I'll continue to post more images as the interior comes together.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

First IBU house design

I am working on my first IBU house design. Some time ago I wrote an essay posted here about the coming of age of so called container homes. I promised myself and others I have corresponded with that I would try this summer to address this area of modern housing - the weird uncle of the prefab movement! I really would like to show that this is a viable and reasonable way to build a house. There has been a lot of interest in making homes this way and I think we need to make the path to realizing it easier, clearer, more available. There have been some esoteric proposals, and some high design, high art concept proposals. But there has not been a committed offering - here is a design, here is what it costs, pick out your options, and we will deliver it to your door. I want to see if we can make that happen. I am beginning with a small dwelling based on a single module. The dimensions of the IBU allow it to be readily transportable, no special road permits, which also allows us at this early stage to function with one manufacturing point. We can service any buyer from this location because of the nature of the IBU. This is going to be a single 40 ft heavy gauge steel module, 1 bedroom unit. It will be suitable as a remote cabin, or backyard guest house, or it can be combined to form multi unit structures. Multi unit structures can be formed with several different stacking schemes, with stairs and landings serving the individual units forming communal space between them on each level. Ultimately I would like to find an outfit interested in finishing the modules, but for now they will be offered without interior finishes. They will include the structural shell, bays, all external windows and doors, electrical panel and distribution, split ductless hvac (condenser unit crated), and documentation to facilitate permitting. This looks doable for about 100$/sqft or about 40k for 400sqft, less in quantity orders. I think that compares favorably to other dwellings at this size. You need to bring to the party your utilities, footing piers (generally 6 piers) rough plumbing, interior finishes, cabinetry and plumbing & lighting fixtures. Accessories that may be shown in the illustrations like balconies and decks are not included in that number but we will have pricing for these items before we make a committed offering. Behind me in this is TAW (Tampa Armature Works) IBU division and David Cross. They are the willing partner in this, without which its nothing more than nifty drawings. This is similar to my relationship with Northern Steel who said to me that they were willing to build and sell modern houses. Our young modern movement can not afford to squander willing manufacturers like these. You can ask Michelle Kaufman, you can ask Joe Tanney from Res4A - finding somebody willing to build their modern houses is no easy task. When a manufacturer emerges that is already on board with building modern we have to embrace them and help them get product to market.

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Monday, June 27, 2005

0242 Plat House Construction update

Another modern house slowly joins the re-modern community. A few more construction photos were forwarded to me. And as before the new pictures are posted on the Plat House photo set at Flickr.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

0242 Plat House takes shape

The carpenters are moving quickly through the rough framing. This portion of the work always seems to go quickly and it is very gratifying. There are more new pictures posted on the Plat House photo set at our web site.

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Friday, June 10, 2005

0242 Plat House Construction moving along

The framing has begun for the Arkansas Plat House. After watching a hole in the ground for weeks the progress of sharp carpenters can be fast, surprising, and very satisfying for an owner waiting to see their Plat House take shape. For the first time you can begin to get a feel for the volume of your house, and the views from its windows. Well what do you think? Can you see it in the design rendering? As before the progress photos will be posted on the photo set for this design.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

0242 Plat House Construction continues

After a winter delay construction has resumed on the first 0242 Plat House I just received a couple of photos from the customer building the first 0242 Plat House at a location in Arkansas. All the progress photos will be posted on the photo set for this design.

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Saturday, April 23, 2005

Windows Open

Renderings never show how our crazy quilt of windows look when they are open. Our current designs in our line of stock plans, and the coming prefab house products typically have large blocks of standard window units with operable windows woven into the pattern. I've done many a drawings showing these configurations, often with the operable windows in different color to make them jump. I like the logic and the fun of this approach. You get the benefit of working with affordable standard sizes, and combine them to create large window openings. The drawings give you a feel for what it looks like but the real fun however begins when the windows are open! We had a really nice day yesterday, warm and breezy. I think it was the first time we cranked every one of them open.

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Monday, April 18, 2005

6030 House floor plans

in progress floor plans of the 6030 House design The plans are still evolving each day. Most of the design decisions have been made but technological issues of the building system shove the plan around a bit each day as things are studied in more detail. The design is a melding of the 6040 House prototype plan and the 6040 House design study plan. If you compare the three of them you will see what I mean. The ground floor eliminates one parking space in the garage, and moves the master bedroom upstairs. This leaves a good amount of living space on the ground floor, and breaks it down into areas of different volume and light quality. Upstairs the master bedroom remains a large suite with a master bathroom with potential to be very luxurious. Along with the other bedrooms these spaces form a buffer between the master bedroom and the public side of the house. Perhaps the most interesting part of this design is the porch room on the upper level. This is a modern 3 season room brought into the volume of the house. From here it can take in a great view or be up among the trees. An alternate living room it greatly expands the living space of the house and still leaves the areas below with a high ceiling. This very rough section shows the vertical relationship of these rooms. The ability to create voluminous spaces like this affordably lies with the EcoSteel building system.

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Friday, April 15, 2005

6030 House first images

These are the first images of the 6030 House. This is a new design based on the 6040 House and the EcoSteel building system by Northern Steel. The floor plan is a variation on the original 6040 House , and the 6040 Design Study . I'll try to post floor plans sketches soon, they need to be developed a bit more first.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

funny pages

...was what we called them when we were kids

Is it good form to follow up a rant with some good humor?

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Friday, March 25, 2005

So Called "Container Houses"

Today is the day - time to make the market grow up. Next week I am going to be making a visit to a container maker/modifier in Tampa Florida, a division of TAW who creates specialty shelters based on the ISO standards for inter-modal transport, otherwise known commonly as shipping containers. You have to realize that there is a whole industry revolving around this, and its not run of the mill shipping containers that they are daily involved with. The military and other entities routinely deploy any variety of field shelters which get to where they are going by the usual channels of shipping cargo, and hence they conform to the standards set for handling shipping containers for dimensions, so they work with the universal stacking, and for strength, so that they can be handled in the usual manner. But aside from these concerns for "standards" their usual product could be something as sophisticated as an electronic field control center or as simple as a bunk room. So their routine business is fabricating inter-modal shelters for these varied purposes. But they also have a strong interest in seeing their business expand into day to day dwellings. Here is where the interests converge - there is a large group of modernists who are interested in using containers to create cool modern houses. So we are meeting next week, for two reasons. First because I want to see first hand the work they do with these inter-modal shelters. Second because we want to talk about the big picture - how do we take this notion of building a house with containers out of this realm of fringe ideas, and set it on a course to being a mainstream option. We want container homes to "grow up." Part of this is going to be establishing a common terminology. I have been talking to David Cross of TAW about this. Readers of Fabprefab will know David from his postings over there. The ideas I am going to pitch here are based on my talks with David and terms he has introduced. Right now there is no way to talk about this except to say you are building a house of "shipping containers" which I can tell you first hand is not going to engender you to anybody. I witnessed a planning board vote to define a shipping container as a trailer in order to enable them to reject it as trailers were not allowed. Never mind that the object in question has no axles, wheels, or tires. We need to begin at a point which does not contain the prejudices built up from images of rusting hulks of shipping containers piled on top of freight vessels. Generically what we are talking about is a modus of modular construction that uses heavy gauge steel, rather than the wood stick framing that is common in residential construction. Wow - why build something as light as a house with heavy gauge steel? There are very good reasons. Heavy gauge steel construction makes the modules immensely strong. The continuous wall footings that common houses require in order to prevent them from collapsing under their own weight are not necessary - heavy gauge steel modules can support themselves while spanning between supports at their four corners. In fact, to place them on continuous support is almost a squandering of their inherent strength, a waste of resources. But isn't it going to be expensive to overbuild like this, to make a house with such a strong structure? The answer is no. The resources are plentiful and cheap, and a sustainable factor of building with these is the fact that it represents a direct recycling of an otherwise neglected resource. That's because the raw materials for these houses are the cheap, pre-used ISO shipping containers accumulating in our ports thanks to our long standing trade imbalance. So this is the foundation of this movement. The term is Heavy Gauge Modular construction, or HGM. I recommend you make this part of your vocabulary and start using it now if you ever want to see a "container home" in your future. Also, its time to start putting quotes around "container home", in your writing and your speech. Whenever you need to describe this to somebody make sure you always proceed the term with a phrase like "so called" or follow it with a phrase like "in concept". You get it - time to marginalize that term. Now the next step in this is to talk about some specific characteristics of these Heavy Gauge Modules - HGMs. The modular industry is not standardized. Any readers of LiveModern and Fabprefab know that modules come in different widths depending on the factory space that builds them, the states that they will be moving through, the access to the site, and the special permits they require to transport. Sure we can build HGMs like this, and we will face the same restrictions to the market that the current Modular industry faces. Unh - Unh, no way, who needs that. We want a module that we can take anywhere, on almost any road, using standard trucks and trailers, no special permits required. While we're at it, lets make it possible to load it on a freight train, how about a cargo ship, lets make it work with the largest material handling infrastructure in the world. Lets make an HGM that conforms to the ISO standards for inter-modal transport. Lets call this HGM an Inter-modal Steel Building Unit, or ISBU - IBU for short. Again, I advise you to adopt this language immediately. Today is the day we cross the threshold. Yesterday is the day of "container houses", Tomorrow is the day of HGM/IBU construction. So now we are not talking about so called "container houses". We are talking about a new modular building method consisting of Heavy Gauge Modular construction utilizing Inter-modal Building Units. Coming to a planning board in your town. Soon.

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