Residential Design

Vol. 2, 2017

A business-to-business magazine focused on the collaborative process and talented work of residential architects and custom homebuilders.

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by no means perfected the business model before the recession hit, and when it did, the factories changed hands or went under with disturbing and disrupting frequency. The ones that were relatively stable tended to be less skilled at execution, building commodity manufactured housing for the lower end of the market. The custom builders who handled the finishing touches at the Miller Porch House may have been the first team mem- bers whose faith began to waiver. "After they had done a few more in the factory and finished them on-site, they told us they thought they could do it on site better," says Ted. "They thought they could build a higher quality house more cheaply." When it came time to take on the Porch House called "2001 Odyssey" in Wimber- ley, Texas, Ted and Bill encountered delays with their factory. The clients wanted their project quickly, so the team decided to go ahead and build it on site with Duecker Construction. The decision turned out to be fortuitous because the location, a sloped riverfront site with tight setbacks, benefitted from the extra measure of custom execution. While it was frustrating to have the pre- fab delivery model thwarted this early on, it marked an epiphany of sorts for the firm. "What came out of the disappointment was a moment to take a step back and look at it objectively," says Bill. "We continue to learn as we move forward. And at the end of the day, it's about good results and a good house. It's important to us to keep an open mind about how to deliver the best house, most efficiently." And what's winning about the Porch House formula, as you might imagine from an architect-driven project, is the design system itself. "We began to realize we could explore different ways of putting it together," says Ted. "Maybe it didn't have to be done in the factory." The Porch House Formula The Porch House modules are one-room- deep, 17-feet wide, and 10-feet tall, but lengths can vary to fit budget and program. A typical living room module might reach 40 to 46 feet in length and include an open kitchen. Floor-to-ceiling windows make the room seem even larger—ushering in views and natural light, while remain- ing shaded from harsh sun by the roof's deep overhangs. The consistent width allows modules to fit together in countless configurations. They can stack to make two-story structures, and the "porch" connectors can be open, screened, or even glassed-in to create spaces that are loftier than the modules' height restriction. The modules are designed for efficiency and sustainability. And the porches help ventilate the interiors naturally. Roofs can accommodate solar panels. Interior and exterior materials are simple and durable. From the start, the Porch House was de- vised to achieve LEED certification. Building in the factory, which has always promised greater efficiencies and less construction waste, was the icing on the cake. Without it, however, you still have cake. "There will be more and more op- portunities to deliver prefab," says Bill. But only, the firm has concluded, when it makes sense and offers a clear advantage over other means of delivery. And the firm is actively exploring those other means. Among them are "crib building," where a construction team comes together to build the modules off-site—in a barn for in- stance—and the results are trucked to the site. Building with SIPs is another avenue of exploration. Many of the firm's houses are second homes in scenic but remote locations. So, potential problems are manifold. "In a remote place, quality labor can be hard to find," says Ted. That can make a factory or off-site building solution the most econom- ical choice—or the only choice. "When a client calls, we look at where they are and what is the best way to get it built. We find that exciting." Marfa, My Dear Talk about your remote locations. For "The Prow," a recent Porch House on a bluff in Fort Davis, Texas, near Marfa, the site was nearly inaccessible. "It was Left: Built in 2013, 2001 Odyssey has nearly 2,000 square feet of decking, creating outdoor entertainment spaces and linking its sleeping and living modules. PRO-FILE DESIGN Photo: Casey Dunn 18 RESIDENTIALDESIGNMAGA ZINE.COM VOL. 2, 2017

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