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Custom Home January/ February 2012

2012 Custom Builder of the Year: Andy Byrnes / The Construction Zone

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Contents
PHOTO: TODD MASON / HALKIN PHOTOGRAPHY

40

An urban inll house in Philadelphia employs a


split-oor layout to elevate the front door from
the busy street and to accommodate the owners
request for a garage.

January/February 2012

Directions Virtual Conference: Our 2012 Custom Builder of the Year provides advice on building outside your city and region see page 16.

Features

Departments

28 2012 Custom Builder of the Year / Hybrid Drive


Andy Byrnes trendsetting design/build company, The
Construction Zone, took a hit when the Phoenix real estate
bubble burst. Byrnes beat the doldrums with a urry of
innovation, deploying crews to projects in remote locations and
leveraging in-house talent to tackle entirely new lines of work.

40 On Site / Internal Logic


In Philadelphia, the Split Level House adds a bright domestic
presence to an awkward site while showcasing the forwardthinking efforts of its builder/architect team. Insight: The
homes bullnose faade references the streets other buildings.

5
8
10
18
22
24
26
46
48
50
55
56

Editors Page
Custom Market Watch
Master Class / Group Hug
Custom Builder 2.0 / Outside the Box
K+B Studio / Lighten Up
K+B Studio / Bright Idea
K+B Studio / Products
High Performers
Top of the Line
Great Finds
Ad Index
Last Detail

26

Volume 22, Number 1. CUSTOM HOME (ISSN: 1055-3479; USPS: 010-543) is published six times a year (Jan./Feb., March/April, May/June, July/Aug., Sept./Oct., Nov./Dec.) by Hanley Wood, LLC, One Thomas Circle,
N.W., Suite 600, Washington, DC 20005. Copyright 2012 by Hanley Wood, LLC. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited without written authorization. CUSTOM HOME is sent free of charge to qualied readers
involved in the custom home building and design industries. Publisher reserves the right to determine qualication. Nonqualied annual subscription rates: U.S. and possessions and Canada, $36; all other countries,
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postage paid at Washington, DC, and at additional mailing ofces. Postmaster: Send address changes to CUSTOM HOME, P.O. Box 3494, Northbrook, IL 60065-9831. Printed in the USA.

On the cover: Andy Byrnes, our 2012 Custom Builder of the Year. Photo: Jason Millstein / Aurora Select.

January/February 2012 / Custom Home / 3

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Leaving Town
One of the worst aspects of this recession has been the pervasive paralysis. Everyone is stuck. People are frozen in houses they cant sell. Theyre postponing major
life events, like getting married or retiring. And, those in business for themselves
are mired in markets that no longer support
them and their companies. What to do?
Custom building has always been an
intensively personal, local profession. Your
knowledge of building codes in your area, the
strengths and weaknesses of subcontractors,
and your relationships with building material dealers make up an important chunk of
your expertise. But what if your market has
ground to a halt, or has slowed down so much
that youre faced with either closing shop or
laying off your entire workforce? Most builders have survived by picking up small
jobs and biding their time for conditions to improve. Theyve added handyman
divisions and other revenue streams to stay aoat. Of course, these strategies make
sense and theyre working for a lot of companies. But theres one builder who is doing something entirely, radically different: Andy Byrnes of The Construction Zone.
When the going got tough, he got goingout of town, and all across the country.
He followed the workand not just any work, but the best architect-designed work
being done in the United States. Hes our Custom Builder of the Year.
In exporting his talents, Byrnes answered a need no one had yet fully articulated. Turns out, brand-name architects want great builders to build their one-ofa-kind designs. But architects clients often ask them to design houses in remote
locations with little talent base. Combine a famous architect, a wealthy client, a farung location, and a cutting-edge modern design and the building corps grows even
leaneror more costly, as they think twice and charge triple looking at complex,
multipage sheets of drawings.
How did Byrnes get this gig? Well, he already had a reputation with top-notch
architects either residing in his hometown of Phoenix or whod come to build there.
So following those architects jobs to other places was not unthinkable. Its just no
one had really thought of it before. But you also should know hes a ringer: Byrnes
is a licensed architect as well as a contractorone who happens to love building
more than designing. So, is his model replicable by builders who arent architects?
I think so. Hes rst and foremost a great builder.

S. Claire Conroy
cconroy@hanleywood.com

For reprints, call 717.505.9701, ext. 128.


For a media kit, contact Janet Allen, jallen@hanleywood.com.

www.customhomeonline.com

January/February 2012 / Custom Home / 5

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Custom Market Watch By Shelley D. Hutchins

Design Trends
Chart Toppers
Home Improvement Market Solid; Construction Still
Weak in All Major Sectors
Remodeling:
kitchen/ bath
Remodeling:
additions/alterations

37.3%
42.7%

Percent of respondents reporting


sector improving minus percent
reporting sector weakening

First-time buyer /
affordable homes

-37.3%
-35.4%
-36.4%
-33.6%

Move-up homes
Townhouses /condos
Custom / luxury
homes

35.4%
41.9%

-35.3%
-39.2%
-26.9%
-42.5%

2011 Q3
2010 Q3

-61.4%
Second / vacation
homes -65.4%

Public Focus and Simplicity Priorities for Home Styles


40%

Front /side porches

57%
28%

Simpler detailing
on exterior

16%
24%
26%

Single-story homes
Contemporary
home styles

10%
11%

Percent of respondents
reporting popularity of trend
increasing minus percent
reporting trend decreasing
2011 Q3

2010 Q3

SOURCE: THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS HOME DESIGN TRENDS SURVEY

uilding a sprawling house on unspoiled land isnt as popular or feasible as it used


to be. At least thats the housing market news as told by The American Institute
of Architects (AIA) in its 2011 Home Design Trends Survey. Infill projects, however, remain a rising segment of the residential market with 65 percent of the 500
residential architecture firms surveyed reporting higher demand for infill. Respondents indicate that clients want those close-in locations because of existing infrastructure, access
to public transportation, proximity to jobs and retail, and more modest square footage. Existing
lots in established neighborhoods ideally meet all of those needs and offer neighborhood bonding, which was another prevalent client desire.
Infill projects consistently have grown since 2010, showing that smaller-scale urban houses

8 / Custom Home / January/February 2012

might be a long-term movement for


the industry. Houses may be getting
smaller on a permanent basis, but
quality and longevity are steadily
increasing among custom home
clients. Durable materials garnered
a 68 percent rating as a frequent
request. Other design components
that ranked highly include front
or side porches, an open plan that
invites interaction, and simple detailing. Sustainable products and
systems still display increased interest, but not nearly as much as in
past years. Another interesting and
possibly enduring trend is multigenerational cohabitation. Clients
asking for those extended family
spaces rose by 44 percent through
the third quarter of 2011, which
remains fairly even with the 47
percent increase in 2010. According to the AIAs chief economist,
Kermit Baker, architects arent the
only ones noticing this inclination
among homeowners. Baker states
in his third quarter survey summary that a recent study by the Pew
Research Center found that 16.7
percent of the U.S. population was
living in multigenerational households in 2009, up from 15.1 percent
in 2000.
On the financial side of things,
residential architecture firms still
note a decline in billings, especially among those in the Northeast.
There are several optimistic industry signs, however. Project backlogs
are lengthening, albeit slowly, and
client inquiries remain just above
the magic number of 50, which
indicates some positive growth.
And while renovations and home
improvements remain one of the
healthiest sectors, Baker notes that
the all new construction segments
are dropping except the custom/
luxury market, which is experiencing a substantial easing in decline
to the tune of 15 percent.
www.customhomeonline.com

Working in an established, high-end, inner-ring suburb of Wash- entering the bidding process began. Financing had to be preington, D.C., builder Jay Endelman successfully has weathered arranged so I could act quickly, he says. No contingencies or
more than 30 years of economic ups and downs and always had inspections are allowed on this type of sale. Most people would
another project on the horizon using his focused, one-house- spend more time considering buying a pair of pants!
at-a-time model. Founder and president of Guild Craft in Chevy
Selecting the right property to buy is crucial despite the
Chase, Md., Endelman once had ve employees and completed fast choices. Endelman looked for a special quality either alan average of three new construction or whole-house renova- ready existing in the property or for the chance to create one.
tion projects each year. Hes now down to one full-time project This house ended up having both. The single-story bungalow
supervisor, and they mostly take on
Endelman purchased has a full basesmaller remodeling projects or adment and detached masonry garage,
ditions to keep busy. Like with many
which are both nice selling points. He
other small builders, however, this
knew this was the house he wanted
continued economic downturn meant
to buy, however, the moment he saw
moving out of his comfort zone to balthe backyard. The half-acre backyard
ance the books.
is well over twice the size of typical
Inll spec remodel is how Enyards in the neighborhood. Endelman
delman describes the project that
used the garage to frame the space
brought his business well into the
and reworked landscaping to generblack. Within six months, he identied
ate a large, inviting outdoor area. The
an upwardly trending neighborhood,
oversized yard gave Endelman an exlined up private investors, committed
isting stand-out feature and also inpersonal funds, bought a distressed,
spired his added wow factor. While
uninhabitable property in a competiplanning changes for the structure,
tive market, completely renovated the
the builder realized that the interior
house and yard, and sold it for conspaces needed to be opened up to
siderable prot. It was a big risk that
create a better connection to the yard.
paid off. There is certainly a higher
The stairway to the lower level was
level of anxiety with spec building
at the back of the house and blocked
Builder Jay Endelman rebuilt this bungalow
and you dont get to truly produce a
any views to the yard, he explains.
with interesting details, plus higher-end,
unique space as with custom work,
To avoid rebuilding the entire exteefcient, durable materials. He also
added landscaping that highlights
Endelman admits, but theres also
rior wall, I put an interior window in
a spacious backyard.
the satisfaction of being able to crethe kitchen and opened the stair landate a more modest house that still stands out from the rest and ing to generate sightlines out and bring daylight in. It was an
enhances the immediate community.
inexpensive solution that adds a huge value to the space.
Endelman made several fast but smart decisions to make
Turning this eyesore into a well-designed, modest house with
this project successful. The rst step was nding a community several custom touches gave Endelman worthwhile and protthat maintained a strong pulse even since the housing bub- able work to do. The projectafter 45 nail-biting days on the
ble burst. Endelman chose to bid on a single-family house in marketlet the builder sleep better at night knowing he can
Hyattsville, Md., because of the areas many desirable traits keep his trusted supervisor employed and his bills paid. Endeleasily accessible public transportation, convenient routes into man also sees his efforts to transform the uninhabitable house
the city, and large development or mixed-use projects in prog- into a desirable home as a way to give back to the community.
ress. He had already lined up private investors and committed And despite the anxieties of ipping a distressed property using
personal funds because banks and other lenders remain a hard private and personal funding, the rewards were enough that
sell. Once nancing and location were set, nding a house and hes already looking to bid on his next inll spec project.

PHOTO: COURTESY GUILD CRAFT

Prole:
Fullling
Inll

www.customhomeonline.com

January/February 2012 / Custom Home / 9

Master Class
By Bruce D. Snider

Jerry Eddinger loves his work almost as much


as he does his family, and he is among the rare
custom builders who seldom have to choose between the two. His wife, Mary Lou, is president of
Eddinger Enterprises. Their eldest daughter, Nancy
Madarus, is his partner in the companys construction division. Nancys husband, Kevin Madarus,
handles earthwork and heavy equipment, and
their college-age sons pitch in on occasion. The
Eddingers younger daughter, Susie Cavallo, runs
the plumbing and painting division out of the same
Healdsburg, Calif., ofce, while her husband, Scott
Cavallo, does most of the companys steel fabrication. All of which makes life for the patriarch a
pretty pleasant affair. Im 72 and have absolutely

Group Hug

no desire to retire, Eddinger says. I enjoy my job,


and I get to do pretty much what I want. I come to
work to see my kids and my grandkids.
His children seem equally pleased with the

The Eddinger clan puts


work and family rst.

arrangement. My parents started this business when I was real young, says

Jerry Eddinger, Nancy Madarus,


Mary Lou Eddinger, and Susie
Cavallo (clockwise from upper left).

job, she says. He had me pouring concrete and stripping forms. By the time

Nancy, 47, who remembers tagging along with her father to construction sites

I was 15, I was doing walk-throughs with buyers at a development he


was managing. Nancy and Susie had another family business from which
to choosea womens clothing store run by their mothers familybut

10 / Custom Home / January/February 2012

www.customhomeonline.com

PHOTO: RAY HOLLEY

when she was 5 years old. When I was 12, he gave me my rst construction

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construction won out. Nancy says a big plus in her becoming a builder was the chance to spend more time with
her father. We call him Jerry at work, she explains. Hes
a great guy; hes fun. It didnt seem like work.
After graduating college with a degree in marketing,
Nancy split her time among the family business, a lumberyard, and a local winery. Then one day Jerry got sick,
she says. She stepped in until her father recovered, and
she never left. That was in 1988, she says, without a
hint of regret. In addition to daily contact with her family,
which she cherishes, the job offers her the same exibility her father enjoyed when she was growing up. Jerry
worked long hours but also found time to coach his kids
sports teams, she remembers, and she and Kevin followed
suit when their sons were young. We were still working 10- and 12-hour days, she says, but we were doing
some of it at midnight.
Eddinger Enterprises converted this
historic Santa Rosa,
Calif., barn into a
gathering space for
a four-generation
family (top and
above). A secondoor ofce serves
the family business.
Looking much like
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this Healdsburg,
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designed by San
Franciscobased
architects Remick
Associates is an allnew home (right).

American popular culture idealizes the family business, but the difculty of actually running one
has spawned an entire industry of consultants and therapists. The Eddingers and their family have
succeeded by ignoring the experts and cheerfully breaking
one of their cardinal rules: Leave work at work. Were always
talking about work, Nancy says. We keep nothing separate. We live in a small community. We run into our clients at
the grocery store, at sporting events. Its just part of our
day, and thats ne with us. The family maintains order
by upholding the principle of respect for ones elders
PHOTOS: RAY HOLLEY

There is a pecking order, and Jerry is at the top of it,


Nancy explainsand with a clearly dened domain for each
member. Its something of a democracy, but not quite, she
12 / Custom Home / January/February 2012

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says. We get each others opinions, but we dont have to.


There is risk involved in so many members of one family
depending on a single source of income. To counteract the potential volatility of the construction market, the Eddingers have
invested in commercial property that generates rental income.
And while their other investments took a hit during the downturn, Jerry says, if we were to retire tomorrow, we wouldnt
be affected. That is in part because of an ethos of frugality
that runs through the family. We play hard, but we save hard,
too, Nancy says. None of us has much debt, and the company
doesnt either. Deep roots in the community and a diversied
business model provide additional stability. We do $20,000
kitchen remodels as well as multimillion-dollar houses and big
commercial jobs, Nancy says. Perhaps as a result, Jerry adds,
the downturns effects on the business have been rather muted.
In 2010, we were down about 20 percent, he says. In 2011,
we were up by 25 percent.
On the matter of putting the familys nancial eggs in one
basket, Nancy concludes, thats something we think about,
but its not something we dwell on. Which leaves time for
more important questions, such as: When will Jerry slow down?
Its almost an unspoken contest, Nancy says in mock exasperation. Ill get here at 6:30, and hell have gotten here at
6:25. Thats totally unnecessary, she notes. Weve got 30 employees
here. There are plenty of people to pick up the slack. Wouldnt it be

Eddinger Enterprises

www.eddingers.com

nice to come in at 8:00 and leave at 2:30? Maybe. But Nancy says she

Type of business: Custom


builder/remodeler

understands her fathers attraction toward work because she shares the

Years in business: 44
Employees: 30

same impulse. My family are my very best friends, she says, so I get to

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go to work with the people I like the most. Thats pretty cool.
14 / Custom Home / January/February 2012

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PHOTOS: MATTHEW MILLMAN

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Outside
the Box

Russell D. Busa has found a niche


building modular custom homes.

refabricated custom homes still seem futuristic to a lot of people. But


to Russell D. Busa, theyre business as usual. I grew up in the building
business with my dad, says Busa, who is based in Burlington, Mass.
We were doing modular and panelized houses 25 years ago. People think
this is a new thing, but its not.
Busa started his own custom building company, Sterling Homes Development Corp.,
in 1994, after eight years at his fathers design/build firm. At first, Sterling did mostly
stick-built and panelized projects, but over the past six to eight years Busa has seen
a distinct shift toward modular homes. These arent remotely similar to manufactured
housing; Busas high-end custom residences run anywhere from $150 to $300 per

18 / Custom Home / January/February 2012

square foot. Theyre built in a factory and


craned onto the site, atop a standard foundation. And they currently make up about
80 percent of the homes Busa builds, with
most of the other 20 percent going to stick
building. Were doing very little panelized right now, he says.
In Busas experience, modulars advantages are hard to beat. Not only does
it have a quick turnaround time for the client, its also quick for the neighborhood,
he says. Thats important in the older, relatively dense suburbs of Boston, where he
tends to work. He recently built a custom
home in Wellesley, Mass., in four months.
Had it been stick-built, he estimates it
would have taken one to two years to construct. Building speed also helps reduce
concerns about weather impacting the site
work. And it cuts down on inconvenience
to the clients, who may have to rent or stay
with family members while their home is
being constructed.
Lower cost is another factor, but Busa
cautions that while modular can be cheaper
than site-built construction, its not as inexpensive as many believe. One of the most
common misconceptions out there is that
modular should be 20 to 25 percent less.
In custom homes, that is very misleading.
A more accurate figure, he adds, would
be an average of 7 percent to 10 percent
in material savings. The increased building
speed also can provide a cost advantage to
customers who are spending money to rent
temporary housing. Busa says using panelized construction will realize savings of
about 3 percent to 5 percent over the cost
of building on site.
Sterling has worked with the same
modular and panelized factory, Preferred
Building Systems in Claremont, N.H.,
since 2007. When I get a number from the
factory, its locked in, Busa says. With
stick-built, there are a lot more unknowns.
Claremont is a two and a half hour drive
from Boston, and he often takes clients
for a factory visit so they can see exactly
where their home will be made and who
will be making it. The factory acts as a
subcontractor, and has no direct interaction
www.customhomeonline.com

PHOTO: SHELLY HARRISON

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with the client. It takes care of transporting the house modules to the site, and then
Busa and his team join them to one another. Sterling also handles demolition (most
of Busas projects are on teardown sites),
site excavation, exterior stairs, connecting
wiring and plumbing, finish ooring, interior painting, and landscaping.
Along with an increase in modular custom homes, Busa also has seen growth in
the remodeling sector. The company has
two stick-built renovations on the books
for the coming year, as well as some small-

er additions. Sometimes modular or panelized construction can make sense with


remodeling, especially on a larger project.
But, as Busa explains, if its just a small
room, its counterproductive from a price
standpoint to build it in the factory.
Like most of the custom builders who
are still in business, Busa
has had to change some
of his processes. Before,
I could meet with a client
maybe twice and theyd be
ready to build. Now I spend

PHOTOS: SHELLY HARRISON

Sterling Homes engages both independent and in-house designers on its projects. It
worked with Art Form Architecture on a Concord, Mass., modular custom home (top).
Russell Busa's father, Frank Busa, designed a Sterling custom home in Wellesley, Mass.,
also modular (above). And the company teamed with architect Peter Karb and HPA
Design on a stick-built custom home (below) in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass.

months with a client before theyre ready.


Its a much more competitive market out
there than I can ever remember.
Hes also noticed that customers are
more interested in conserving energy than
in the past, a development that dovetails
nicely with his modular work. Preferred
Building Systems emphasizes energy efficiency, building homes with an average
HERS rating of 57. Busa thinks that if he
could find a client who wanted to invest in
solar panels and geothermal heating and
cooling, he could even get a home down to
net-zero energy.
Business has been slower than it was
during the boom, but Busa still managed
to build five custom houses in 2010 and
2011. He also found time to start a division devoted solely to redoing residential
roofs. Its been an asset for the company
financially, and we sometimes get other
jobs from roofing projects, he says. Its
nice to have the smaller projects to backfill
in between other jobs.
Additionally, Busa has started blogging as a way to stay in touch with past,
present, and potential clients. Home maintenance advice and tips on topics such
as green building and remodeling create
a helpful blog environment rather than a
sales-oriented tone. In this recession, the
successful builders are able to convey a
level of trust, he says. As long as you
provide them with that trust, thats the
key. For him, having the ability to use
different types of techniques to build a
custom home is part of that trust. We can
offer people a variety of different ways to
meet their goals.

Sterling Homes Development Corp., Burlington, Mass., www.sterlinghomesdev.com /


Type of business: Custom builder / Years in business: 18 / Employees: 5 / Annual
revenue: $1.2 million / Average number of projects per year: 3 to 5 / Project type
breakdownremodeling vs. new construction: 30 percent vs. 70 percent / Project
type breakdownresidential vs. commercial: 100 percent vs. 0 percent
20 / Custom Home / January/February 2012

www.customhomeonline.com

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Lighten
Up
San Franciscos celebrated Victorian row houses
have many charms, but with windows often limited
to two elevations, they can make access to daylight a
challenge. The Pacific Heights Townhouse, located
at the end of its block, enjoys the luxury of a long
southern exposure at one side wall. That, says
architect Jonathan Feldman, bought us 40 feet of
space to bring in light. In combining the houses
two ats into a single residence, Feldman leveraged that built-in advantage by locating the daytime
rooms as close to the sun as possible. All living
spaces are on the top oor, Feldman says, where
theres more light and access to a roof deck.
The kitchen hugs the south wall, mediating
between the living and dining rooms to the front,
and the more casual breakfast area and family room
to the rear. Its the heart and hub of the public
spaces, says Feldman, who highlighted that centrality in the most literal way possible. We added
a ton of large windows down the side of the building, and skylights, he says. Storage concentrated
along the north wall, including a walk-in pantry secreted behind a glass-paneled door, frees the south
wall for a bank of windows overlooking the houses
narrow side yard.
A U-shaped layout of painted wood base cabinets and a small working island, both with stonecomposite counters, define the cooking area and
contrast with the darker wood oor, an engineered
material surfaced with reclaimed oak. Ceiling-suspended storageglass-front cabinets toward the dining room, open shelves
toward the breakfast areabrackets the space at eye level. Its a kitchen that
has a ton of counters and a ton of storage but doesnt feel very substantial,
Feldman says, because everythings put away.Bruce D. Snider
22 / Custom Home / January/February 2012

www.customhomeonline.com

A long, open southern exposure and


a generous bank of skylights put
this kitchen in the spotlight. Located
between living/dining and breakfast/
family rooms, it mediates between the
houses formal and casual spaces.

Project: Pacic Heights Townhouse, San Francisco; Builder: Lorax Development, San Francisco; Architect: Feldman Architecture, San Francisco;
Interior designer: Lisa Lougee Interiors, San Francisco; Photographer: Paul Dyer. / Resources: Cabinets: Woodshanti Cooperative;
Countertops: EuroStone; Dishwasher: Miele; Flooring: Restoration Timber; Garbage disposer: Insinkerator; Lighting xtures: Anta, Bocci,
Santa & Cole, USA Illumination; Oven: Viking; Paints: Benjamin Moore; Plumbing ttings: Kindred; Plumbing xtures: Ann Sachs, Blanco,
Grohe; Refrigerator: SubZero; Skylights: OKeeffes; Windows: Marvin
www.customhomeonline.com

January/February 2012 / Custom Home / 23

K+B Studio

The Pacific Heights Townhouse master bath stakes out its own
southern exposure one oor below the kitchen. Its symmetrical
layout centers on a Carrara marble-topped sink counter, bookended by a shower to the east and a tub to the west. (A door opposite the counter conceals the toilet compartment.) The counters marble backsplash rises to the sill height of the three south-facing windows, establishing a water table that segues into a glass-tile
surround at the tub. The same watery blue tile lines the walk-in shower, while variegated blue ceramic mosaic tile picks up the aquatic
theme at the oor. The dark wood of the base cabinet and tub skirta sustainably harvested hardwood called Chechenprovides an
earthy contrast. In the interest of simplicity, architect Jonathan Feldman designed cutouts instead of knobs for the cabinets drawer and
door pulls. Less is more, he explains. Less things to clean and stick out at you. It lets the material be the focus. To avoid the focus of
neighbors across the bamboo-planted side yard, Feldman specified etched glass for the windows. You can see the bamboo silhouetted
through them, he explains, but you can keep your privacy.B.D.S.

Bright Idea

Project: Pacic Heights Townhouse, San Francisco; Builder: Lorax Development, San Francisco; Architect: Feldman Architecture, San Francisco; Interior designer:
Lisa Lougee Interiors, San Francisco; Photographer: Paul Dyer. / Ceramic tile: Ann Sacks, Waterworks; Lighting xtures: Waterworks; Paint: Benjamin Moore;
Plumbing ttings: American Standard, Toto; Plumbing xtures: Duravit, Grohe, Kohler, Waterworks; Windows: Marvin.
24 / Custom Home / January/February 2012

www.customhomeonline.com

T H E R ES S O M E
S H I N Y, N E W H A R D W A R E
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The Berwick two-handle thermostatic valve trim kits top handle
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26 / Custom Home / January/February 2012

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Hybrid
Drive
Andy Byrnes innovates his way forward.
f you had to choose a place to be a custom builder when the housing
bubble burst, you couldnt do much worse than Phoenix. Fotune
magazine flagged the city as a real estate dead zone as early as 2006.
From that years peak, prices proceeded to drop by more than 50 percent. By fall 2011, they still hadnt recovered to January 2000 levels. Custom
builder/architect Andy Byrnes offers a more telling statistic. Before the crash,
he says, his accountant had 65 builder clients; now he has six. For Byrnes
Phoenix-based design/build company, The Construction Zone (CZ), the first
hard jolt came in spring 2008, when two major projects disappeared within a month. It
was probably $20 million of work that went
away, Byrnes says. For us thats the equivalent of a whole year of work. We
went from 115 employees to 40. But while other builders struggled to maintain a semblance of their former business or quietly folded, Byrnes responded
with a flurry of innovation, diversifying his company both geographically and
definitionally. Drawing on its ties with prominent residential architects, CZ
expanded beyond a shrinking Phoenix market while leveraging its talented,
flexible workforce to explore entirely new lines of work. Yes, Byrnes readily
admits, the boom years were good to him, but he is adamant in his assertion
that they are over. If youre a builder in Arizona just waiting for it to go back

Custom Builder of the Year By Bruce D. Snider

28 / Custom Home / January/February 2012

www.customhomeonline.com

PHOTO: JASON MILLSTEIN / AURORA SELECT / WWW.AURORASELCT.COM

Custom Builder of the Year Hybrid Drive

to the way it was, he says, youre doing nothing.

On Ramp
Wiry and kinetic at 42, Byrnes seems to idle at higher
rpm than your average person. As a kid in Massachusetts, he raced motocross bikes. He attended Tulane University on an athletic scholarship, for pole vaulting, of
all things, he says. After taking up bicycling as a hobby
in 1999, he went on to win his age group in the 2001 Arizona State Mountain Biking Championship. Im an allin kind of guy, says Byrnes, grinning. Whatever I do,
I overdo it. Entrepreneurship came to him as naturally
as athletics. I always had my own business, he says.
During high school it was Cruise Brothers Landscaping. The summer before college, I made like $40,000,
30 / Custom Home / January/February 2012

www.customhomeonline.com

Dubbed 3300 by its


builder, this 30,000 square
foot building houses both
a residence and a private
museum. The ground
oors massive rammed
earth walls and exposed
steel trusses contrast with
the translucent box they
support (opposite page).
The second-oor residence
features glass oors and
serpentine stacked-glass
partitions.
Architect: Jones Studio,
Phoenix; Photos: Robert Reck

he says. In greenbacks. I almost didnt go to college. Once there,


he almost didnt stay. I was in arts and sciences, and I thought to
myself, This is a huge waste of time. Not only is it costing a ton of
money, Im not making any money. Architecture proved a better
fit, but true to his restlessly enterprising nature, Byrnes charted his
own course in the profession.
Architects who also are builders are nothing new, but very few
deploy their construction crews in the service of another architects design, and that is precisely the approach that Byrnes settled
on. More than half of CZs work is for other architects, and the
company has created a niche for itself by partnering with Phoenixs most prominent modernist firms.
Byrnes didnt set out to become the architects architect/
builder. I just sort of followed my nose, he says. In 1992, fresh
out of the Tulane School of Architecture, he arrived in Phoenix
www.customhomeonline.com

amid the fallout of the savings and loan crisis. This place was a
disaster, he remembers. Seeking a job, he says, I met a ton of
architects. Nobody was very busy. But it was a good opportunity
for me because I had a year to hang around and network with all
these guys. And that gave Byrnes the idea for a different kind
of building company. I had always worked in the construction
industry, he explains, and his notion of architecture had always
been entwined with the construction process. I never had a strong
desire to just sit and draw pictures. Putting an architects aesthetic
sense and design skills out on the jobsite made Byrnes a hit with
Phoenixs top modernist firms. And that, he says, became a
really good business plan. In short order he established a new
category in the industry: the architectural construction company.
Working with Construction Zone is always my first choice,
says Phoenix-based architect Eddie Jones. The principals are arJanuary/February 2012 / Custom Home / 31

Custom Builder of the Year Hybrid Drive


architect either did not anticipate or simply left to CZs discretion.

Cruising Speed

chitects, and all their project managers and superintendents are at


least graduate architects, so the learning curve is gone. We get to
talk only about the good things. With skilled designers on the jobsite, Jones safely can put less detail on his drawings. Ill do what I
call a permit set, he says. I dont sweat the door jambs; I dont
sweat the cabinets. When he intends minor building components
to align, Jones says, I dont have to communicate it to the electrician or the plumber or the tile setter. Its just done. And having
Byrnes on the team expands Jones range as a designer. The duo
first came to the attention of this magazine in 2006, with a Custom
Home Design Awardwinning detail: a serpentine, stacked-glass
partition wall, for which CZ provided R&D as well as fabrication
(see photo, page 31). Were always exploring new territory, says
Jones, who relies on Byrnes for feedback on constructability and
cost. Hes fearless, and he has the resources to get the job done.
We make it really easy for the architects, Byrnes explains.
We take what they do and run with it, without running over
them. To field a team capable of making good on that promise, Byrnes cultivates architectural talent in his own farm system.
Were very involved in Arizona State University and University
of Arizona, Byrnes says. So we get the cream of the crop as
summer interns. Standout interns often have a CZ job waiting
for them upon graduation, says Byrnes, who has done well by
turning promising graduate architects into outstanding superintendents and project managers. Unteaching guys is harder than
teaching guys, he explains. And the old-style superintendent
who sits in the trailer and lets the subs run the job is not going
to y with us. When a CZ superintendent is in the trailer, hes
most likely working at a CAD station, detailing a condition the
32 / Custom Home / January/February 2012

The firms capabilities are amply on display in a house designed by Wendell Burnette Architects, now under construction
in a gated community in Scottsdale, Ariz.
(see photos, pages 34 and 35). Approaching the gate on a sun-drenched fall day,
Byrnes pulls his Land Rover around a line
of two dozen tradesmans trucks waiting
to enter. This is the first time Ive seen
a line here in two years, he remarks. It
used to be a mile. Inside the gate, one
finds what one expectslarge Southweststyle housesand something rather unexpected: a low, abstractly geometrical form
with crisp, planar surfaces rendered in
rammed earth and Cor-Ten steel. Virtually
windowless at its entry side, the house expands as the grade falls away, cracking its
obscure shell to reveal broad walls of glass
that bound a private, multilevel courtyard.
The house is largenearly 8,000
square feetbut that number is made
practically moot by the audacity of the
design and by a combination of technology, material, and craft utterly unique in the residential sphere. The massive rammed earth
walls are pierced here and there by pyramidal or conical openings
that required CZ to break new ground in formwork. The mainlevel ceilings are plates of 16-gauge hot-rolled steel fastened with
superstrong adhesive tape, except for those that conceal important
equipment, which are held in place by magnets. The master bath is
linedoors and wallswith sheets of onyx grouted with bronze
strips. One outside wall18 feet wide by 12 feet tall, mounted with
bronze shower fittings, and bisected by a full-width glass panel
hinges open into a private courtyard for al fresco showers.
Large pieces of building that move in similarly unlikely and
elegant ways are a recurring theme. The main entry door is a ceiling-height panel of Starfire low-iron glass. Nine feet by 11 1/2
feet, Byrnes says. An $18,000 piece of glass. In the living area,
a glass wall rises 13 feet from the ground-concrete oor to the
steel-paneled ceiling, four of its 5-foot-wide panels pivoting like
vertical louvers to open the room to the courtyard. This house
has been completely handmade by Construction Zone, Byrnes
notes, including the glazing assemblies that are so integral to its
www.customhomeonline.com

A LEED-certied design/build project,


The Perch reects The Construction
Zones afnity for local materials in
their most basic form. Its exterior
massing is a composition of blocklike
forms rendered in rammed earth, raw
steel, and resawn Douglas r.
Architect: The Construction Zone, Phoenix;
Photos: Bill Timmerman

www.customhomeonline.com

January/February 2012 / Custom Home / 33

Custom Builder of the Year Hybrid Drive

character (see Clear Advantage, page 39). Weve done more


drawing on this projecttimes twothan weve done on all our
other projects combined for 20 years. That kind of separates us
from other builders. We draw and draw and draw and engineer and
engineer and engineer. And build: Were at six and a half years
in construction, and probably about two more years in design. We
had 40 to 50 people of my staff out here full time for years.
The project was a godsend during years when the pipeline of
work slowed to a trickle, and when projects in hand could turn to
dust overnight. To provide a glimpse at the latter scenario, Byrnes
heads toward a would-be trophy home in another upscale subdivision. Ringed by chain link fence and open to the elements, the
house stands on a construction site idled when the client put the
$25 million project on indefinite hold halfway to completion.
Designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the house looks like an
abandoned airport terminal. Weve been stuck in the mud here
for about three years, says Byrnes, descending the dirt ramp to a
5,000-square-foot subterranean garage. Inside the cavernous space,
34 / Custom Home / January/February 2012

two CZ workers are fabricating steel-frame glazing units for another project. The company is using the building as overow shop
space while it house-sits the property for the owner. Byrnes isnt
out significant money on the job, but it still visibly pains him to be
here. A compulsively organized personhe uses a straightedge to
letter his to-do listByrnes lives to complete things. And this big,
unavoidable thing stubbornly resists completion.

Interstate System
What is most striking about the visit, though, is not what a hard
blow the housing crash dealt, but how quickly and creatively Byrnes rebounded. Recognizing two of his companys key assets
a young, talented, exible staff and close ties to architects with
nationwide clientelehe began to accept projects he previously
would have rejected as too distant. Once untethered from his home
base, Byrnes identified a wealth of opportunities. An earlier Phoenix house CZ built for San Antoniobased Lake|Flato Architects set
the stage for projects with that firm in Mississippi, South Dakota,
www.customhomeonline.com

The Construction Zones most demanding project to date, Desert Courtyard pushes the limits of construction technology with knife-edge detailing in rammed earth and rusted steel. A hinged wall, clad in onyx
and bisected by a band of glass, opens the master bath to a private walled courtyard (opposite page).
Architect: Wendell Burnette Architects, Phoenix; Photos: Bill Timmerman

www.customhomeonline.com

January/February 2012 / Custom Home / 35

The Farrell Residence preserves the topography of its steep site by splitting off an elegant carport
at street level. A screen of perforated aluminum panels anchors the graphically simple entry faade.
Window walls provide city and mountain views while screening out neighboring houses.
Architect: The Construction Zone and Mike Rumpletin, Phoenix; Photos: Bill Timmerman

36 / Custom Home / January/February 2012

www.customhomeonline.com

Hybrid Drive Custom Builder of the Year


California, and Texas. Out-of-state work for other architects followed, along with CZ-designed remote-site
work. Right now, we have three jobs under construction in Arizona, Byrnes says, and five out of state.
Project manager Matthew Muller, 35 and a licensed architect, is just back from a Lake|Flato project
in South Dakota. He visits every two to three weeks
to huddle with the companys project superintendent,
who will stay on site for the duration (Byrnes visits the
companys remote projects as needed). For the South
Dakota job, CZ imported a few specialized Phoenix
subcontractors and a mason from Texas, Muller says,
but everything else has been local guys. The model
works well in remote, rural areas, where local general
contractors often lack experience coordinating complex, technically sophisticated projects. What CZ offers in such situations is management expertise and an
architectural eye on the job. And because local builders
tend to charge an afraid to do it premium for one-off
modern houses, CZ often is the cost-effective solution.
Ted Flato was the partner in charge on his firms
first CZ project, in Phoenix. It was a remote location
for us, Flato says, so we were hoping to find someone who understands our kind of modernism, the window details and door details. Byrnes and the CZ crew
seemed capable of reading his mind. We do a very thorough set of
drawings, Flato says, but there are always some details that youd
never get to. CZ filled in the blanks, Flato says, and made choices
that were not only great, but also were completely in the spirit of
what we were doing. They were as good as or better than what we
would have done. It was like having someone from my office on
the jobsite all the time. Flato invited Byrnes to work in Texas, but
there was too much action in Phoenix. Until, of course, there wasnt.
While Flato and his firm sympathized, he says, we also said that
this is a real opportunity, so we brought Andy into some other projects in Texas. We knew he would get it.
The South Dakota project is a huge challenge because its not
an area thats used to doing custom homes, Flato says. People
are not even used to looking at drawings that have a lot of specificity. Andy actually knows what we do and can say, Well, I can
build it for X. He was game to go there and also to leverage some
of the talent thats up there. It allowed us to get some good architecture for good value. Its not that he cuts corners, he just knows
how to make this stuff.

Convertible Talents
Byrnes is a prodigy not only at making stuff, but also at making
www.customhomeonline.com

businesses that make stuff. And just as environmental stress drives


the evolution of new species, the stress of the recession seems to
have spurred Byrnes not only to adapt his primary business, but
also to generate new ones.
The CZ office occupies the top two oors of a three-story,
glass-walled building on a major downtown business artery. Designed and built by the company, its furnished with constructionthemed original artwork and CZ-made furniture of black steel and
white oak. Half a dozen young employees work at CAD stations
in a sunny room with a high ceiling of black steel roof trusses. Byrnes and his partner, company CFO Michael Groves, share a separate corner office nearby. Sitting at mirror-image desks, each with
a drafting board and separated by a concrete conference table, the
two banter comfortably as they work. New-agey piano music pours
from an iPod on the desk between them. Hey, you trying to put me
to sleep with that? Byrnes asks, without looking up from his email.
Groves finds some alternative rock and turns back to his computer.
Groves, 45, is a builders son who became an architect after a first
January/February 2012 / Custom Home / 37

Custom Builder of the Year Hybrid Drive

The ORourke residence tops its


curved, stained concrete walls
with sweeping forms clad in
black titanium-coated zinc.
Architect: Jones Studio, Phoenix;
Photos: Courtesy The
Construction Zone

38 / Custom Home / January/February 2012

career managing restaurants. That business experience, and his


undergraduate degree in finance, are unusual in architecture, he
notes. And theyve been very helpful.
Office manager Jessica Ruiz pops in with ight details for
Byrnes, who is heading to Oakland, Calif., for a meeting on
a restaurant deal. CZ is a partner in a restaurant development
company that offers investors everything from concept and
design to construction and staffing. Well basically open a
restaurant for an owner, Byrnes says, even run it for them if
they want. The outfit, called Les Bon Temps, has one project
under way outside Boston and three more in northern California. While Groves taps out numbers on the Oakland deal,
Ruiz reminds the partners that they have an engagement in
town later in the week. We just won the AIA commercial
award for this building, Byrnes explains, so were going to
a banquet for that. Groves pushes a paper toward Byrnes,
looking quietly impressed, and says, That doesnt suck. At
that moment, Muller arrives to review a draft design/build
proposal for a tennis court-and-garage addition. Byrnes explains that CZ maintains a deliberate balance between inhouse and outside-firm design. From a business standpoint,
getting more jobs with architects lets us do more, he says. If
we have three or four houses were working on design-wise,
it pretty much swamps us, whereas, if five architects came
to us today with projects, wed say, Sure. But design/build
work has its value, too, because it presents another way for the
company to engage its target clientele. The tennis court proposal is a case in point, Byrnes notes. This is the kind of guy
who, if we get in his wheelhouse Muller finishes Byrnes
thought: Good client.
The three then turn their attention to customatic.com, the
website CZ is setting up to market a line of handsome, minimalist consumer goods of its own design. First up: a wall clock,
a set of fireplace tools, and some CNC-cut anodized aluminum
clothes hangers. Pulling up the beta site on his desktop monitor, Byrnes lays out the logic of the online retail venture. In
construction, he says, everything we do is a prototype. We
build it once, and then its done. We thought we might as well
sell this stuff. The companys in-house resourcesin design,
prototyping, marketing, and administrationmake the project a relatively low-risk proposition. Groves does some quick
sales projections while Byrnes puts the product photographer
on speakerphone. CZ can pay his day rate, Byrnes tells the
man. Or do you want to have an investment in the thing? The
photographer pauses for only a moment before answering, I
just have a gut feeling about you and the product, he says.
So, yeah, I would be interested. Good call.
www.customhomeonline.com

Clear Advantage

The Construction Zone (CZ) got at crash course in glazing on a 2004 residence/private art museum designed by the Phoenix architecture rm Jones Studio. That project alone had about $1 million of custom glazing in it, says CZ president Andy Byrnes, whose crews
fabricated not only custom curtain wall assemblies, but also glass oors and stacked-glass columns and partitions. Along the way, the
company developed a capability that has become one of its distinguishing features. Today, when you look at a CZ-built house, youre
probably also looking at CZ windows and door systems.
Because every CZ window is custom, Byrnes says, hes able to offer an unlimited range of design options. Were willing to engineer this to a different creativity tolerance than someone whos building out of a catalog, he says. Everyone loves these rusted
steel buildings, and there is no manufacturer who makes a raw-steel system. If someone wants a 1/ 8 -inch bronze integrated threshold
folded on one end to receive 2 inches of stone ooring, we can do that. It
can be designed to integrate materials in a very precise way.
We began doing this because we wanted to control the timequality-cost equation, Byrnes says. CZ prefabricates system components
in its own shop and assembles the units on site, cutting weeks off the
lead times required by large manufacturers. Its like a knocked-down
cabinet, Byrnes says. We leave critical pieces of the frame long and
PHOTOS: BILL TIMMERMAN

trim them to t. We send the steel fabricators and then the glazing crew.
None of this is cheap, he acknowledges, but CZs custom operable windows are no more expensive than the top name brands. On xed glass,
he says, we can be competitive with commercial storefront glazing.
www.customhomeonline.com

January/February 2012 / Custom Home / 39

Brick walls, mahogany


windows, sapele siding,
and the sandblasted
concrete entry platform
are a twist on traditional neighborhood
materials. The bullnose
faade references
other corner buildings
on the street.

On Site
wo great ideas dont always play well together. Thats
certainly true in the urban design realm, at least as a
practical matter. Building on an infill lot avoids waste
and the fragmentation caused by scattering houses
into the countryside. It leads to a compact city with
a clear identity and pedestrian-friendly streets. And a beautiful
dwelling inspires everything around it. But can the twain meet on
a tight trapezoidal plot?
They can, and do, thanks to the collaboration by builder
Charlie Overholser, of McCoubrey/Overholser, and Qb3 Design partners Stephen Mileto, Kevin Angstadt, and Patrycja
Doniewski. Located in the eclectic Northern Liberties section of
Philadelphia, this house adds a bright domestic presence to an
awkward site while strengthening the neighborhoods ties to its
industrial past. But its forward-thinking stance belies the often
extraordinary challenges of building on a remnant lot.
Northern Liberties has a colorful, if hardscrabble, past. Until
the middle of the last century, it was a manufacturing hub populated by German and Irish immigrants who lived in tiny row
houses near the tanneries, factories, and foundries where they
worked. Blight claimed it in the 1970s as those jobs crumbled
away, but over the past 10 years, redevelopment
and the inux of artists and professionals has led
to a renaissance. Responding to that history, Qb3
chose basic exterior materialsbrick, wood, and
concrete. Design cues came from a series of bullnose corner buildings on the street, including an inn
that stood on this parcel until about 30 years ago.
The homes bullnose brick wraps the front corner, cantilevering over a deeply recessed entryway.
But the unusual split-oor layout came from the owners request for a garage, and the need to elevate the front door to create some distance from
the street. It immediately started setting up this series of splits through the
small, irregularly shaped site, Mileto says.
Six exposed pipe columns skewer the two halves of the building together,
creating point loads for staggered platforms that lead upward through the
house and expand the space horizontally as well as vertically. Youre always looking into the oor below and above, or out on the street, or straight
through the building, Mileto says. The seven levels culminate in a master
suite with views of an eye-level roof garden and brick parapet.
This complicated scheme called for steel framing. The cantilevered radius
required it, and with only a sidewalk staging area, the structure had to go up
quickly. Of course, the budget affected the playbook and added new technical
challenges. To save money by mobilizing the steel framing crew just once, the
structure was erected in one shot rather than oor by oor. Often you build the
first oor, take measurements, then build the second oor, Overholser says.

Internal
Logic

www.customhomeonline.com

A Philadelphia city house


rethinks the suburban split.
By Cheryl Weber, LEED AP
January/February 2012 / Custom Home / 41

On Site Internal Logic


The challenge was hitting our heights
and trying to keep the whole structure
plumb, level, and square while not tied
into the flooring systems.
More costs were trimmed by
devising a hybrid framing system
of steel and engineered wood. The
whole frame of the house initially was
going to be steel, but as we worked
toward the body of the structure we
transitioned to engineered lumber,
Overholser says. It ended up being a
little trickier because you have different materials running into each other.
Getting out of the ground correctly is fundamental to any successful
project. Although the house size was
manageable, it covered a cramped site
with no right angles. The original plan
was to use helical piers, drilling down
rather than removing the unstable soil.
But after hitting the old hotels monstrous foundation, that plan was
scrapped. With an engineer watching,
the crew spent three days removing
the old foundation and digging down
14 feet against the neighbors shoredup foundation until they found solid
ll. Luckily, we had dry weather,
Overholser says. More modied soil
was trucked in and compacted in 12inch increments before a new concrete foundation could be poured.
Those difculties seem negligible
now. One benet of the design-andengineering collaboration is that, upon
approach, the house appears as a robust brick building
carved up with mahogany windows, sapele wood cladding, and clear and frosted glass. But the inside is airy
and light-lled. Because of the massively solid brick
curve, it reads as an introverted house, Mileto says.
But from the inside it feels like a predominantly glass
building. The faades historic-looking gray brick
also negotiates subtle shifts of sensibility and place. A
closer look at the clean, wire-cut surface reveals unexpected orange flecks and a bluish iridescence. It was a
design and construction process attuned to detail, Mileto says. Every inch is considered.
42 / Custom Home / January/February 2012

www.customhomeonline.com

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Project Credits: Builder: McCoubrey/Overholser, Philadelphia;


Architect: Qb3 Design, Philadelphia; Living space: 3,000
square feet; Site: 0.02 acres; Construction cost: $400 per
square foot; Photographer: Todd Mason/Halkin Photography. /
Resources: Bathroom plumbing xtures: Hastings, Kohler;
Bathroom plumbing ttings: Duravit, Hansgrohe; Bathroom
cabinets: Broan, James Van Etten; Brick/masonry products:
Endicott; Countertops: Caesarstone; Dishwasher and range:
Bosch; Entry door, garage door, and exterior siding: James
Van Etten; Garbage disposal: Waste King; Hardware: Schlage;
Kitchen cabinets: James Van Etten; Kitchen plumbing
ttings and xtures: Blanco; Lighting xtures: Bega, Contrast Lighting; Oven: Jenn-Air; Paints/stains: Benjamin Moore;
Patio doors and windows: Weather Shield; Refrigerator: GE
Monogram; Skylights/roof windows: Velux.
www.customhomeonline.com

January/February 2012 / Custom Home / 43

Insight By Cheryl Weber, LEED AP

faade makes sense of the irregular street grid. And the glazed three-story entry slot frames views
across layers of space: from inside to outside and back inside again.
The cantilevered curve contains a structural steel radius tied to a series of point loads on round
lolly columns. Its metal stud framing was covered in plywood sheathing and then sprayed with a waterproof membrane. The radius was gentle enough that we could bend the plywood, says builder
Charlie Overholser. To lay the Flemish bond-pattern brick, masons strung lines from top to bottom,
point to point, every foot or so to maintain the radius. Its standard brick, not curved, he says. We
were within an acceptable limit where it didnt look faceted.

44 / Custom Home / January/February 2012

www.customhomeonline.com

PHOTO: TODD MASON/ HALKIN PHOTOGRAPHY

Curve
Wall

A reinterpretation of the old pharmacy building across the street, the Split Level Houses arcing

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High Performers
Products for the eco-conscious, energy-savvy custom home

A radiator in
designed disguise,
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central heating within
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Installers can set the
radiator in any
orientation on the
wall. Four versions
ranging from small to
extra large are available in stone gray or
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Jaga Climate Systems. 519.505.7780.
www.jaga-usa.com.

Wall Flower
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The Aqua2use graywater system filters waste water from the washer, shower, and bath and
channels it to the garden, saving a family of four roughly 40,000 gallons per year, the company estimates. The high volume of water dilutes the soap enough to benefit plants, and a
four-stage purification filter removes lint and debris. The compact system installs above or
below ground. Water Wise Group. 805.468.4920. www.waterwisegroup.com.

New Tricks
The Nest Learning Thermostat not only remembers temperature
preferences, but it continually refines its schedule to ensure maximum comfort when users are home and to save energy when they
are not. The Nest learns homeowners routines after one week, and
then programs itself via sensors, algorithms, machine learning, and
cloud computing, the maker says. A Wi-Fi connection allows users
to check energy usage, set the temperature, and adjust the schedule
online. Nest Labs. 855.469.6378. www.nest.com.
46 / Custom Home / January/February
Januaryy/Februaary 2012

www.customhomeonline.com

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matched to Dornbrachts Tara Ultra, Tara Classic, Lot, Elio, and Meta.02 collections. The
dispensersin hot-and-cold or hot-water-only modelstie into a water heater beneath the
sink for an instant 200-degree stream. Dornbracht. 800.774.1181. www.dornbracht.com.

Framed

Fine Paints of Europe used colors from


New Yorks Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum for two wall paint collections. The Classical
Colors set includes 150 hues taken from pieces by modern
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collection. The Gallery Colors set features 50 shades used
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Europe. 888.680.4278. www.guggenheimcolorbyfpe.com.

Secure
Connection

Homeowners can look through the lens of the Y-cam IP security camera from anywhere in the world using their Webenabled device. Easy to install and use, the cameras livestream a vivid picture of the view via the Internet and will
send email alerts when an intruder triggers the motion
sensor. Free iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry apps are available. Y-cam Solutions.
727.286.3052. www.y-cam.com.

48 / Custom Home / January/February 2012

No Barriers
The OpenSpace showers
glass walls fold back to hide
its fixtures, transforming the
space into a mirrored corner.
A hinge mechanism allows
the shower walls to lift and
fold into a chrome frame with
enough room to conceal fittings and toiletries behind the
doors. Ideal for old buildings,
the showers integrated Uprofile compensates for wall
unevenness up to 18 millimeters. Duravit. 888.387.2848.
www.duravit.us.
www.customhomeonline.com

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Thinking about building with propane? See a full list of free, online training courses, including those listed below,
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Products/Great Finds
Custom builders share their latest product nds

Bye
yers
yers
rs Pro
rod
du
uct
ct
Grou
Gr
oup

Kamado Joe Co.

An iPad docks in the wall of every home Scott Frankel built last
year. With a Crestron processor and the companys Mobile G app,
users can control six zones of lighting, music, the thermostat, the
shades, and the security system from the Apple touchscreen. Control apps for iPhones and Android devices allow homeowners to
Frankel Building Group, Houston
adjust the climate and monitor security from anywhere.
When we are negotiating about a price, customers act like they dont care about it that much, Frankel says about the
touchscreen controls. And then the night before we sign the contract they say, Wait, we get the [iPad system], dont we?
That to me is about as key as its going to get.
Through a client, Frankel discovered another high-tech touch product: the Versa Lift power storage lift. It mounts in
the attic or basement and transports loads up to 250 pounds between levels in 15 seconds via remote control, the company
claims. Its almost like a dumbwaiter to get things into your attic, he explains. Not having to lug things up there, especially in a two-story house, is awesome!
And outdoors, Kamado Joe grills are the builders eye-catching choice for summer kitchens. The ProJoe in the
companys Revolution Series cloaks a 2-inch-thick ceramic core in a stainless steel shell. An insulation blanket between
the ceramic and steel layers keeps heat in, reducing the exterior temperature to half that of the inside. The grills hinge
system is engineered to offset the weight of
Crestron Electronics
the 175-pound lid; it lifts with just 8 pounds
of force. They dont rust, theyre pretty easy
to clean, and they look really neat, Frankel
says.Evelyn Rabil

Scott Frankel

Crestron Electronics. 800.237.2041. www.crestron.


com. / Byers Product Group. 405.491.8550. www.
bpghome.com. / Kamado Joe Co. 877.215.6299. www.
kamadojoe.com.
50 / Custom
om Home / January/February 2012

www.customhomeonline.com

TO VIR
AV U T
A R UA
IL N L
A OW
B
LE

Learn Your XYBs


Three homes. Three different generations. One community. Welcome to
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Advertising Index
Go to http://chome.hotims.com for more product information

Advertiser

Page(s)

Advertiser

Page(s)

Advantech Flooring & Sheathing

C4

PERC

49

AIA Contract Documents

54

Ply Gem

19

Builder Concept Home 2012

52

PPG Industries

Crown Point Cabinetry

47

ProVia

Custom Homes Directions Virtual Conference

16

Quality Edge

Feeney

2
27
17, 51

4, 55

SoftPlan

GAF

C2

Sub-Zero

25

LiftMaster

21

The Home Depot

LiteSteel beam

13

The Tapco Group

Marvin Windows and Doors

11

Weiland Sliding Doors and Windows

NanaWall

15

Western Red Cedar Lumber

Otis at Home

C3

* Appears in regional editions

45

Free
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2O12 CALL FOR ENTRIES


EcoHome presents the 3rd annual
EcoHome Design Awards

For a free copy call

1-800-888-2418

Enter your sustainably built projects today for the


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Last Detail

The pixelated artwork in the entryway of this Long Island


residence changes continually. Ribbons of stainless steel, bent
up and down to form shelves and cubbies, allow hundreds
of wine bottles to climb a wall of acid-etched glass.
We not only bring the wine cellar upstairs, we feature it, says architect Paul Masi. The house is very long and
exaggerated through the landscape but it has these intimate, isolated spacesone of which holds the wine. The wine
room occupies an area between the kitchen and the front door, a freestanding volume within the space. The meticulous
bends of the wine shelves reference the long paths winding through the grounds outside.
Masi chose a low-watt fluorescent xture to minimize heat and silhouette the bottle bottoms through the wall with
a warm, even wash. Triple-insulated glass keeps the climate to cellar standards.Evelyn Rabil

56 / Custom Home / January/February 2012

www.customhomeonline.com

PHOTO: MICHAEL MORAN

Signature Wine

Otisathome.com or contact Bill Kempf at (888) 852-6847.


Go to http://chome.hotims.com for more info

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*Limitations and restrictions applyvisit advantechperforms.com for details. 2011 Huber Engineered Woods LLC. AdvanTech
is a registered trademark of Huber Engineered Woods LLC. Huber is a registered trademark of J.M. Huber Corporation. HUB6222-01/12