IS A STREAMLINED HYBRID BUILDING PROCESS AN AFFORDABLE OPTION FOR YOU?

Congratulations, you’ve found your dream building site! Now you’re looking for a cost effective way to build your house, and comparing (or trying to) the costs of building a custom architect-designed home, to the multitude of template plans for prefab, kit, or modular houses. Well, we’ve also gone through that comparison process, and were not really satisfied with what we found……so we have come up with our own streamlined hybrid building process, which might be an affordable option for you. Our process considers the best of custom design, plus applies a prefab mindset, to get the best bang for the buck!

It all started as a kind of joke, but it got us thinking about designing a house with an affordable streamlined building process. We live part time in the San Juan Islands, and we fantasized about picking up a purpose-built 30’ trailer fabricated in Olympia Washington for a Tiny House project, then towing it behind our monster diesel dually Ford 350 truck to Premier SIPs in Fife (Washington). Here we have Premier load our pre-designed, prefabricated floor, walls and roof panels, along with all the necessary adhesives, screws and nails onto the trailer. Next door to Premier we pick up a couple of roll-up garage-style doors from NW Door, before heading up to Kent, where we add the entire list of flat-pack kitchen, bathroom and bedroom cabinet components from IKEA. Next stop, a Taylor Metal Roofing distributor for roof and siding panels, and then north to Skagit Salvage in Mt. Vernon for some of the missing windows, interior doors, reclaimed wood floor and trim, and other missing items…..and don’t forget the red wheels! Our initial fun concept ~ see below

Finally (sigh) we are on the ferry with a fully loaded truck & trailer headed for the San Juans (over-height and over-length WSF ferry fees no joke) but hey,we have it all in a neat plug and play package! We’ll be able to assemble everything, and move into our new Tiny House by the weekend!…….well, realistically that’ll be more like in a couple of weeks, if the local crew including electrician and plumber show up on time! Unless you are building modular with almost complete electrical and plumbing already in place on delivery to the site, you encounter the same issues as you do with a custom home, especially in remote (island) locations.

So how do we take this ”Tiny House-on-a-trailer” concept and replicate the process for a 2000 sf or more custom designed house? Every process has its stigma: custom means expensive, and flat-packed or prefab has a different kind of stigma…though of course there are many very well designed prefab houses. These prefabs (though they claim the opposite) are very often not quite as affordable as you might wish! Or you are not getting the consistent quality of product for the entire package you think you are getting! Just start trying to compare apples to apples of what’s included, then think about adding the factory overhead, or costs for changes to standard plans and custom features, or hidden architects fees, then of course the GC’s % for the actual build!

Every design we do is a custom design, and as part of our strategy it includes a streamlined hybrid build process as an integral part of the design. What makes sense to factory-build offsite is the  building envelope, with high R-rated panelized walls, roof and even floors, all of which are structural; meaning inclusive of structural elements such as floor joists, posts, beams, headers and roof trusses built into a Structural Insulated Panel (SIP) along with rigid insulation. SIPs are such a great solution that multi-million dollar custom homes are using SIP’s, for many of the same reasons we do: cost-efficient build process, high R-value envelope, ‘green’ considerations.

SIPs save time and money on site as you are building the exterior wall face, insulating the wall with rigid insulation, and doing the interior wall face all at once. It’s an “insulated“ sandwich, and a very effective one at that, and it all results in a very tight, energy-efficient ‘green’ house.

Permits in hand, when we are ready to build we schedule the initial delivery to include the building envelope elements of the house, which can be assembled really fast even in a remote location. Windows have arrived onsite as complete and framed units, ready for installation in the pre-cut openings after the SIPs have been assembled (floor, roof and walls), then the house and roof are wrapped (see Saturday image below). The metal roof, and gutter installation might even be scheduled in the same time frame as the windows, depending on access and trades. With good pre-planning, and cooperation from all involved, the finished building envelope really can all be accomplished in 10 days or less!

Now comes the tricky part, and impeccable planning by the designers for the electrical and plumbing is key. We design these elements knowing the obstacles that must be overcome in a SIPS house (or any house for that matter), for installing an HRV system (Heat Recovery Ventilation system), which we foresee will soon be required in all tight houses. ”Time is Money” is more than ever true in designing a house for efficient ventilation, heating, wiring and plumbing runs that can save the trades time, and you the client, money. We consult with subject experts early in the planning stage to insure the plans include the necessary guidelines for efficient implementation. The mechanical and electrical infrastructure should be clearly called out, and not left to the GC to figure out during the build, as often happens. We have seen horror stories where architects or designers have not taken into account the mechanical infrastructure of a custom home design, leading to considerable added expense of changes and redo’s during the build process.

With the rough plumbing and electrical complete, the exterior finish (siding and deck), and interior finish components can be delivered and staged in an appropriate location(s) on site. It’s not always possible to have these all delivered at the same time when not doing a kit house, but impeccable scheduling can have all custom components required for the finish work on site in a timely manner.

We actively promote an on-going dialog between the GC, designer and structural engineer throughout the design and build process, which results in fast answers and quick solutions when and if required. The GC and or designer’s team of trades showing up on time, understanding the project and what is required of them, can impact the bottom line very quickly either way. This is true of a custom house or a kit house. So when the prefab kit salesman claims fixed cost as an advantage, it may be fixed materials cost, but the “labor” costs can become a moving target on any project if not managed closely.

How fast to the finish line will of course depend on the scheduling and reliability of the trades, and the amount of available man (or woman)-power. I recently read about a 5500 sf SIP house where after the SIP walls were up (7 days), and the building envelope complete (another 5 days), 7 (!) electricians showed up under a lead electrician, and worked for 3 full days to complete the electrical rough-in on the project. My experience is that resources are not often available like this.

On the inside, IKEA flat-pack components have a stigma in some circles, however if affordability is key, then IKEA interior components are an excellent way to be cost effective, and they can be customized (with some added expense of course) to meet the most stringent design criteria! We know, we’ve done it! Take a look at our red kitchen.  If your budget and inclination is for a custom product we can design the mill-work and have it fabricated, delivered and installed by a local vendor or even delivered as a complete package from Europe!

Some factory-built items, some hand-crafted customized components, all designed to make up a one-of-a-kind custom home, coupled with a streamlined hybrid building process just might be the affordable option you are looking for! Check us out

James Ferris, Principal and lead designer @ INCLINEDESIGN.

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ARE YOU READY FOR A RED KITCHEN?

When designing your new home, what does it take to be daring and innovative? Can you put aside the “resale” ingredient and pick something exciting, which might give you great enjoyment in life? Are you ready for a RED KITCHEN?

As we work through our design program, this is a question I often ask a client, and just about always it’s the fear of “resale” that kills the red kitchen. In one instance the client went from rosso corsa to rosso rubino, a more subtle red for resale; but it was never the less a Ferrari red kitchen.

The second biggest deterrent to a Ferrari-red kitchen is of course the cost; either the hi-end Italian Pininfarina design from Snaidero, or a fully custom-built kitchen with an “automotive” finish can propel your kitchen budget easily into 6 figures. Just like a red Ferrari!

This was our concept design for the BARNSTUDIO an Original Evergreen Experience. And of course, they did not have a Ferrari-sized budget for their kitchen….but they were up for the design if we could get it done for a more attractive cost!

So after not a little bit of thinking (aided & abetted by not a little bit of Pinot Noir), we decided to make an  IKEA kitchen work for us (the phrase “IKEA-hacking” will become second nature to you…), with the help of the entrepreneurial LA company SemiHandMade; whose business model is to fabricate doors, drawers and panels exclusively for IKEA kitchens. An option that gives you a different selection than IKEA, along with a slightly more substantial finished product, at close to the same price point. And of course, we were pretty excited when we found out that Semihandmade had a bright red kitchen option to implement our red kitchen design, and at a really affordable price! Ferrari-red here we come!

The IKEA store kitchen sales team rapidly generated an IKEA kitchen “shopping list” from our SketchUp image (above); this took about forty-five minutes. Next I emailed the IKEA “shopping list”, along with the SketchUp image to SemiHandMade, and Joanna Serrano came back to me the next day with the information I had asked for about their process, and a price for our red kitchen components. It really was a super customer experience in all respects! Placing the order was seamless, the kitchen arrived on time, and it was extremely well packed (shipped from Los Angeles via 2 carriers) with no damage when we inspected the doors, drawers and panels upon arrival.

We completed the installation, and everything from SemiHandMade fits, just like they said it would. The RED will blow you away! It’s difficult to capture an image without all the construction chaos reflected in the glossy red surface. So stay tuned for our completed BARNSTUDIO project photo shoot in the Spring.

How did we do it? The IKEA parts have been “hacked” and modified to a greater or lesser extent …….. what you may not know is that IKEA-hacking is more prevalent than you ever imagined. I first heard about modifying or customizing IKEA kitchens (that’s what IKEA-hacking means) from a prominent kitchen designer in Vancouver BC, who bragged that he could design a $5K IKEA kitchen that you couldn’t tell from an six figure custom kitchen. Hmmmm…..

We could not have done it without researching extensively online…. and one of the most helpful blogs was The Renovation Diary: Faith’s Budget Luxe Kitchen  ;  it saved me a lot of time, and that included learning about shortcutting the complex IKEA kitchen buying process, which Faith outlined in one of her first posts!

Like Faith, we bought the European style kitchen furniture legs, and like Faith, our contractor opted to build a 2×4 and plywood platform…… so like Faith, we returned the legs.

We shortened the upper cabinets (yes, all of them), allowing the upper doors to overlap the bottom of the upper cabinets; so no need for upper cabinet handles to open the doors, and thereby we maintained our uncluttered design. Our contractor Scott Havel, of Mud Bay Builders is becoming a genius at hacking IKEA!

We also modified the lower cabinet top surface, so we could accommodate a thin porcelain tile counter with a reclaimed concrete look! That was a bit tricky!

The refrigerator cabinet was an interesting challenge…we constructed it with SemiHandMade end panels, and inserted a standard 24” wide IKEA cabinet (15” high) over the refrigerator. That way we got the extra width required for the refrigerator, and maintained the proper lines.

You have to be willing to experiment…and I admit we bought a few extra IKEA pieces just to try things out….mostly they worked, but sometimes they didn’t. The small extra cost for experimentation and education was well worth it! Don’t be cheep!

The cost saving on the cabinets, and the cost saving as a result of selecting smaller European-sized appliances allowed us to purchase name brands like, Miele, Wolf and Bosch for the red kitchen. That’s a Bosch black glass front counter-depth refrigerator, and a Wolf induction cook top seamlessly set into the counter.

All in all, we’re pretty happy with the results, and the client is too!

So; are YOU ready for a red kitchen? Can you overcome the “resale” fears? Well, even if not….check out Semihandmade , and order cabinet drawers and doors in resale “eco-walnut” for your own IKEA-hack!

Need help with your kitchen design? We are always happy to help and to share resources.

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DESIGNING SUCCESS BLOG

The INCLINED TO DESIGN / DESIGNING SUCCESS blog was active from 2009-2015. It is an eclectic blog which embraces travel, small business, Social Media and of course Interior and Architectural Design.

The list of our most popular posts has reached close to 40K views.

The posts were written by CASUDI with guest posts by Design partner James Ferris and guest blogger Alex Conrad.

We will be ramping up our blog in 2017. Our first post is, “Are you Ready for a Red Kitchen” and it will feature the kitchen in our BarnStudio project… and an amazing experience brought to us by SemiHandMade. Stay tuned.

Please browse through our most popular posts:

Headline for MY (12) MOST POPULAR POSTS
CASUDI CASUDI
Owner
12 items   42 followers   6 votes   40.4k views

MY (12) MOST POPULAR POSTS

Congratulations! You have connected with a mentor...Now what?

My life will be easier because my mentor will give me great advice which will solve all the problems impeding my path to success. WRONG!

Nov 05, 2012 - casudi.esse-group.com - 6949
DESIGNING A HOUSE ~ DESIGNING A START-UP COMPANY

Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance
Planning, Planning, Planning & more Planning. Sounds boring, but actually it is fun (sort of….).

FIVE KEY Questions to Profile Your Customer.

We have been profiling customers for our clients for years; we always called it MITS (man-in-the-street) profiling.

MAKING THE MOST OF TWITTER CHATS

To make the most of twitter chats create a strategy, or at the very least, a flexible plan based on 'trial by twitter'.

Apr 06, 2014 - casudi.esse-group.com - 5423
When You Want to Get Entrepreneurial

Are you facing information overload? Have you noticed that for almost every piece of advice there is, the opposite opinion can be found online?

I used to have a LAWN, now I have a NATURAL environment

In recent years my Landscaping design has focused almost exclusively on low maintenance, drought resistant plantings and designs requiring no or minimal environmental pollutants to foster success

Nov 05, 2012 - casudi.esse-group.com - 6948
DESIGNING A STYLE ~ Personal Branding?

Years ago, when BRANDING was something that only large corporations did, how did we create our own personal STYLE ?

Nov 05, 2012 - casudi.esse-group.com - 6642
IS YOUR BLOG DIGESTIBLE?

Blog content needs to be dished-out in digestible chunks, especially today when people spend far less time reading things from beginning to end!

Nov 05, 2012 - casudi.esse-group.com - 6871
HINDSIGHT IS 20:20

Is your kitchen design still working? Was it ever designed to work and harmonize with your lifestyle in the first place? Have you evolved and has your kitchen design remained static?

SPA STYLE ~ A Hindsight Post

I am still totally happy with my design. Especially pleased as this was spa style on a budget, which I created to look like cost-no-object!

Are You Losing Customers?

If you are not going to provide ma a clear answer to my the questions at the beginning of the sales dialog, how are we going to work together on a complex project?

Dec 12, 2016 - casudi.esse-group.com - 4
12 Most Useful Insights Every Designer Needs to Know About People.

Have you ever wondered what people actually see on your website? How they interpret what you write? What lens they view life through? Distillation of BOOK 100 THINGS......