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Will

This post is a nice reply to my comment on the Webster Wilson house. Best of luck to both Skylab and Method Homes on this.

kathleen

Brian,
Have any of these actually been built? I'd like to see one.

doubting thomas

This seems like a supremely missed opportunity. Triangles? How can you talk about the waste in construction when your basic building block renders much of the space unusable unless paired with an adjacent unit. I think the renderings look cool, but some of their suggested floor plans are just stupid.

Andy

The high-design modular thing has a pretty crowded recent history (Flatpak, weeHouse, Hive Modular... and that's just in my native Minneapolis), and it does seems like the triangle is maybe an attempt to make a module that doesn't "look" like the boxes and planes that everyone else is playing around with. I am curious as to how functional those 45 degree wall corners are.

But that $160/sf is pretty hot, from what I've seen elsewhere. Last time I checked, Lazor's Flatpak had a hard time getting below $200. Maybe he's refined the process. Anyway, exciting technology behind the fabrication, not so sure on the shape.

Scott

I've lived in an apartment with angles like that...it's A LOT of wasted space.

kyle

I think if rather than consider the triangle the end all, rather consider the triangle as a piece in a tessellation, then the iterations are endless. I think making sure you are not left with acute shaped spaces will be a design challenge, and may make or break the concept. I am curious to learn more.

Andy

Oops, correction, 60 degree corners. Thought these were right triangles at first, not equilateral.

JB

All enclosed spaces have wasted "space". At least this space has artistic presence and perspective.

billb

jb ,how about a circle? not a wasted iota , eh
Didn't we do the triangle with FLW , tessalation systems are childish.

my name

FLW Usonian Hexagonal grids can be broken down to a triangle, but the underlaying grid is hexagonal. With that you're not forced into the resultant acute corners, like some of these plans.

The renderings look flashy but the planning is suburban.

kyle

whoa billb "tessalation systems are childish." Escher would have you for lunch with his artistic mastery of geometry. :)

Kati

As has been posted there is a crowded market in the attempt to crack the nut relative to modular. I have even tracked IKEA with their BoKlock system currently being built in UK, Sweden,Finland, Norway and Denmark. Teamed with SKANSKA and a real estate developement Co.They are starting to make small neighborhoods.

The big problem with virtually all of the systems in the US is that due to low volume the costs are still in the range of the custom stick built home. Site issues, juristictional issues and financing are all areas to overcome.

It does seem that $160 psf as propsed is optomistic. I am asuming that land costs, juristictional fees and proffesional fees for customization are add ons.

I think that eventually there will be a natural shake out amongst the various methods/systems. The winner will be the one that can achieve enough production to truely bring costs down, resolve distribution issues and have these homes treated the same as their stick built cousins by lending institutions. There is a lot of stigma to overcome as typical tailer houses and low end modular are seen as a commodotiy that loses value simialr to a new car off of the lot. I think the high design concepts will and are changing that perception.

Certaintly in the near future the glut of forclosures, and general devaluation of the housing stock makes puchase of existing homes much more cost effective for many people. I think that there will always be the segment of the population that have the resources and opt for a custom designed home.

Good Luck

Kati

Sorry, one more comment. I was also thinking about the approched used in the 20's and 30's by midwest companies that produced the "kit" houses. every part pre-cut and rail shipped to the city of choice. I have a number of these catalouges and it is clear that a number of these were built in the older East Side neighborrhoods of Portland. They attempted to resolve watse and even show methods in there publications showing how wood was cut to avoid waste.

Anyway goes to show that this is not a new idea.

Again good luck

Will

Kati's comments are a great summary of the issues involved and it's true I'd prefer rectangles to triangles, hexagons, or geodesic domes. However, even considering the current market, if I were to try to buy any modest family sized home (1000-2000 sf) built in the metro area in the last 25 years... where could I find one with an ounce of architectural integrity at $160 a square foot? If Skylab and Method Homes could achieve that I'd be willing to give up some of the cost savings to awkward but spatially interesting corners where I could put a sculpture, an armchair, or a broom closet. Again, I'm glad someone thinks its worth their talent and effort.

Ed

Great looking concept. I have admired Kovel's work for almost a decade.

I really like the renderings of this concept & don't want to be a wet blanket but it is just too bad the costs of these modular homes almost always puts them out of the range of middle class buyers. Run the numbers:

1500 sq ft at $160/ft: $240,000
Land: $100,000 or more?
Permits, water meter & SDC's: $20,000+
Site prep and landscaping: $20,000+
Project management: $20,000+
Financing, taxes and other Misc. costs $20,000+


I think this is a somewhat pared-down budget and you are looking at $400-500K for a 1500 sq ft house! The $160 sounds good but the total is more like $300. You might get it down to $350K in an "up and coming" area where lots can be less expensive but you would be "overbuilt" for most areas I can think of.

There are some creative builders brining in decent, if not ground breaking, site-built houses with sales prices way under $160/ft including land, fees, profit, etc. They may or may not use fewer resources but think what the $200,000 saved could do for kids in a third world country, how many trees could be planted, etc.

With the major changes underway in the real estate and financial markets our collective ideas about cost and design are bound to morph.

Darin

It would be interesting to hear more about what the $160 number includes. Throwing out a price per square foot is a bold move. We're shown renderings with floor to ceiling glass ($$), glass guardrails ($$) and a $23k fireplace...yes, $23,000 - that's retail though. I was a big fan of the design of the system, but the renderings look to me to land between $250-$325 per s.f. Even a bolder move to toss a number to something that has not yet been built. LivingHomes has done a great job stating their actual costs as well as cost goals. They aren't claiming to be less expensive and I think the product shows. BMW isn't telling us they're cheaper, they're saying they're better and worth the price (I don't own a BMW). It's ultimately up to a brand to be authentic, and a consumer to drive demand.

Darin

I did want to to add to my previous post - I think the concept is genius, just like to learn more about pricing since it was on the table.

Rob

For anybody doing the math on that $160/ft number, I think you also have to factor in the total amount of wasted space. Rectangles might not be as sexy, but two walls meeting at a 90 degree angle still create usable space. Two walls meeting at a 60 degree angle create wasted space. Wasted space in a large footprint can be a design feature. Wasted space in a small home is pure loss.

Just look at their floor plans. Look how many have wacky angle shaped couches. Who owns such a thing?

What's the point of measuring square footage when so much of it isn't usable?

Rob

Oops! I meant to say 120 degree angles. Isn't that much of what we're looking at here? 60s and 120s, yes?

Ed

Darin, I totally agree. The problem is that, to me, it feels like someone is trying to sell me a BMW as a kit for $20,000. Once I get someone to put it together, add tires and wheels, etc. I end up paying $40,000. If my budget is a Toyota I should just buy a Toyota, if my budget is a BMW...

Kati

More Thoughts,
Take a look at FLW's Hanna House, Palo Alto, CA 1936. While not a pre-fab it did incorporate uniform elements. I think the spaces are more pleasing and useful. It avoids the sharp angles shown in the HOMB plans.

I think there are many merits to fabrication in an indoor environment. Most of which are indicated in the HOMB website. There are some options in the traditional stick frame systems (Advanced Framing)that does improve efficency. I have always thought that a hybrid approach makes a lot of sense. Off the shelf modular elements such as kitchens and bathrooms, SIPS roof panels,etc. An all or nothing approach often leads to just that, all or nothing. Anyway. My two cents..

Linder

I like to look for the renderings, particularly the ceilings.

From the website, HOMB appears to be more of a concept than product. Is there more information on the actual specs of the module? Has one been built?

In a larger structure, these modules could result in a forest of pillars, which would be structurally stout, but more expensive than what is needed. Some of their images imply they can create larger pillarless spaces, but they provide so little information on the possibilities of the system. They could make larger modules like hexagons, or double sized wedges to create larger interior spaces more simply. With flexible manufacturing, I would like to see more modularity in their modules.

It seems HOMB does not leverage modularity to enable change over time. These modules could provide flexibility for expansion or other changes as a resident’s needs change.

As a designer of modular furniture, I imagine the modularity extending deeper into the finishing details. Module structures could have features to support interior furnishings and dedicated space for running wires, plumbing and other utilities, to make access easy for upgrade and repair.

Valentij

This sample house looks amazing. I'd rather have an interesting space than right angles at every turn. I guess I'm the type of person this home would appeal to. I'd pay a half-million or more for this home in a heartbeat.

me

I am excited that Mr Kovel is working on design "for a broader market". Finally! The very wealthy will now have access to the same level of design that- until now- was only within the reach of the super-wealthy.

When it's stated that this house creates less waste than a stick framed home, what does that refer to? Do they know of a factory that produces triangular sheets of plywood? Triangular roof membrane? Last time I checked, all that stuff is made in rectangles.

Julian

Just FYI people, a triangle is a rectangle cut in half. Any designer with a clever head on their shoulders can figure out a system to use both halves of the material, as I assume the extremely clever designers at Skylab have done. This house looks great, the angles give the space drama and interest, if you want a boring/standard house, probably not for you, but for those that want something a bit more interesting, this might be a great opportunity.

c'mon, not really even close.

These triangles are not squares cut in half.

There are plenty of non-boring rectangular houses that make better use of corners than a water heater closet or a plant shelf at the end of a built in sofa.

Brian Libby

I don't think it's too much to ask for some potential client looking for beautiful design to acquiesce a little of the usable square footage because of the house's accompanying angularity. Practicality is a very legitimate concern, but not the only concern by any means. I like spaces that are more than the sum of their parts or storage offerings.

sodapop

Brian, in your post there is this quote:

By erecting the homes on site from these triangular structural pieces, there are countless ways for each client to determine a proper size, layout, and budget. And because these are more than just boxes, there is the chance to embrace more design choices such as double-height living rooms.

I don't know if that is Kovel speaking or you, but how does this design allow for more double height spaces? The pieces are triangular in plan, not section, so they are no more structurally rigid than extruded rectangles? Am I missing something? Is there some component that makes them "more than just boxes" other than the footprint?

Kyle

equilateral triangles put together make a parallelogram, not a square..close but not really.

Brian Libby

I haven't seen so much talk of triangles since that "Seinfeld" episode where George invested in a painting covered in them.

Kyle

apparently it is the new rage.

Julian

Actually an equilateral triangle of 8' long sides can be constructed quite easily by cutting a 4' x 8' piece of plywood diagonally (creating two right triangles with a long leg of 7') and placing the pieces back to back. You are left with a 12" x 4' piece however that might be difficult to find a use for, probably not so difficult though, for a clever designer. The point is, if you confine Architecture to only rectilinear forms all you are doing is keeping much of what is possible out of your reach. Sure there is an incredible amount of interesting right angle only design out there, but does that mean you should limit yourself to just that?

me

Um, Julian, how do you cut a rectangle in half and get equilateral triangles?

me

Sorry, I was looking at an earlier post. I think the questions still stands. Triangles are an inefficent use of material. You have to put extra effort into transforming something rectangular into something triangular, and then your left with a whole lot of useless 12"x48" scraps.

I contend that a clever designer (Kovel is) who was truly interested in reducing waste (Kovel isn't) wouldn't create such a problem in the first place.

Mo

I agree with me.

Clever? sure

Efficient? nope

Cost Effective? highly doubt it

really?

Yes, Julian, a triangle is a rectangle cut in half. Unfortunately, the angles of the triangles employed in Mr. Kovel's work are not the same as the ones generated by cutting a rectangle in half. Additionally, the furniture that one buys (not custom) is largely rectangular and a bed, for example, does not lend itself easily to being 'cut in half' to fit in an acutely angled corner.

Darin, the idea behind a prefabricated modular homes is to lower costs through standardization, so referring to selling a BMW in a market meant to target Volkswagen buyers does not make sense. Paul McKean could probably offer some good information on this topic from his travels and studies of modular building.

Enzo

Way too expensive. These are supposed to be prefab and easy to assemble, etc. So why should a 2000 sq/ft homb cost $320k not to mention the additional costs? I can build a bigger house way cheaper the traditional way.

Mo
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/08/business/smallbusiness/08prefab.html?pagewanted=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
Mo

oops


Prefab article in New York Times

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