Tuesday, January 30, 2007

0738 Palo Alto - coming along

The model house is almost done. The "model" house - its usually that dolled up sample home on the first lot in the subdivision - right? Well our "model" homes are on the internet ! Some work to do on the entry gate, and then the interior. You can see the trellis over the courtyard, or is it an atrium now? This gives the house that "butterfly" profile that was a question in one of the previous comments.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

0738 Palo Alto - new design in production

The next design to be fleshed out to Design Print status will be the Spirit of Palo Alto. One of the unfinished designs from our Zeitgeist House Group. The Palo Alto is designed to fit in the kind of neighborhood with tightly spaced single story houses, common in many southern and south western states. To that end the sides are designed for privacy, and the rear to open the house to a private yard. The entry is through a central courtyard which is a nod to the California Eichler houses - modern icons that we all turn to when we scratch our heads and ask "Why can't a commercial developer build a decent modern house?" The house is just under 2000 sqft, with three bedrooms, and open living, dining, kitchen plan, and a two car garage separated from the house by a laundry/utility room. I'm making headway on this right now, but no telling how long it will keep up! Watch for updates.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Constant Question: How to Build Modern Affordably?

There are two general ways to reduce cost. The first way is to utilize an advanced or innovative construction system that reduces labor, reduces construction time, or utilizes unique materials. This will either reduce your labor cost, construction period and financing cost, or material cost. Different approaches to PreFab attempt to tap into this, but so far the success is in making Modern Design available where it was not before, but the cost is still higher than status quo on-site construction. Economy of scale is required to make this kind of approach work. The second way is to leverage construction means, methods, and materials already in practice in the home building industry, using modern designs conceived with this in mind. In this way you are not asking crafts people and construction workers to do anything out of their normal day to day operation, you are not using materials that they are not familiar with, existing material supply chains can be maintained, the construction industry's business model is not expected to be revolutionized. You ride the economy of scale that the entire home building industry provides. Everything you build modern will fall to some degree into one of these two approaches. The closer you can get to either extreme, then the more affordably you will be able to build.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

0518 U House Construction Prints Done

Done, available, and the first set out - to someone like you A few weeks ago I posted that the U House Construction Prints were almost done - and neglected to return to announce that they were finished. If you were watching the catalog page you would have seen the "Buy Now" button go live, but no excuses - I dropped the ball! The first set has gone out to a customer in Utah and we are hoping to see it going up. If so, we will share it with you. My hat is off to the brave people willing to follow their vision against the status quo.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Vermont Plat House - interior carpentry

The framing out of walls, and rooms is underway. Now that the shell of the Vermont Plat House is closed in the contractor is building out the partition and ceiling framing that defines the interior spaces. In the photo you see the outline of the fireplace on the floor, and the gallery circulation that runs behind it. There is an interesting phenomenon that I have observed many times in my projects. It begins when the footprint of a house or addition is staked out on site. The foundation set and the ground floor is put in place - the space feels tremendous - capped by only the sky above! Once the roof goes on, and partitions begin to divide the space it suddenly feels smaller - grossly smaller, and often there can be a panic. Did we make the rooms too small? For some reason being able to look thorugh the framing and see more space or sky beyond makes the new space feel restricted. Some time afterwards all is closed in, finished, and painted, it begins to feel large again, sometimes surprisingly so.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Vermont Plat House - continues in the snow

More recent photos of progress on the house All but a few back-ordered windows are in. The roof is not on yet - just the roofing felt. You may notice the gap in the clere-story windows. That will be a screened opening, as the screened dining porch is below. All photos are provided by the owner. Our sincere thanks to our customers who share their projects with us here.

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