Stillwater Dwelling Built in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara prefab by Stillwater Dwellings

Some of the best prefabricated homes seem to be coming out of the Pacific Northwest from companies like Stillwater Dwellings, the design-build firm behind this new home in Santa Barbara, California.  The Seattle-based firm, founded by a seasoned builder and developer and architects formerly of the firm now known as Olson Kundig Architects, differentiates itself from others with a trademark soaring butterfly roofline, energy-efficient designs, sustainable materials, and a predictable construction budget.

Stillwater Dwellings offers several model plans, and this home is a custom version of the sd132 model.  It has about 1,600 square feet, a 320 square-foot garage, and a courtyard deck that creates abundant indoor and outdoor spaces.

Santa Barbara prefab by Stillwater Dwellings

The three-bedroom, two bath dwelling was built with a super-insulated wall and roof assembly, a standing-seam metal cool roof, large overhangs that help with passive cooling, clerestory windows, and a 35-foot window wall for views.

Green materials include the dual-flush toilets, low-VOC paints, micro-strip birch hardwoods, Marmoleum floors, wool carpeting, recycled-content quartz slab countertops, ultra-high efficiency heating and hot water systems, and high-efficiency windows with argon and low-E film.

One of the homeowners, Art Gaspar, loves the new place and said, “No other prefabricated designs appealed to us the way Stillwater designs did.  The pricing, comparatively, was very reasonable.

Pricing can be a movable target in standard and prefab construction; however, these homes start below $200 per square foot, including design, engineering, foundation, transportation, etc.  In addition, they’re built to code, delivered about 96% complete, and then installed and buttoned up by Stillwater Dwellings.

With the all-inclusive pricing and transparent budget, Stillwater Dwellings is lining up projects.  Other than this home and the prior one we mentioned in Bend, Oregon, the company has completed projects in Portland and Southern Utah, as well as others in California and Washington in planning or production.

Santa Barbara prefab by Stillwater Dwellings

Photo credits: Stillwater Dwellings.


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  • Anonymous

    Still a bit pricey for what it is. One of the main benefits to prefab construction is reduced material costs and greater efficiency. This doesn’t seem to be reflected in the pricing of building a 1600 sf single story home. I do like this project and design though. I just think that in order for more people to really consider this route, they need to get the price down further. And simply citing the energy savings, isn’t going to sell most people at least as far as bridging the price gap.

    • http://www.stillwaterdwellings.com Bart

      Thank you for commenting on our home, and for your honestly about the pricing and the kind comments on our design. We take both very seriously.
      The pricing is tough for us. We always tried to focus on good value for mid to high-end homes, and not so much the entry level, price-point driven home. In this case, we were at least $125-$150 less per square foot than had the clients build this same home on-site, and it was complete in about half the time. The pricing part is a tough one… we’ve had to stay true to our niche, which doesn’t always stack up well against low-price point alternatives. Anyways, THANK YOU for your comments, and we’ll do our best to keep our prices competitive and our design standards up.
      Bart Mitchell
      Partner, Stillwater Dwellings

      • Anonymous

        You’re welcome and I’m glad to hear you’re committed to providing an attainable quality product. We hear a lot about costs per sq ft but this can be a bit misleading or confusing since several big ticket items are required regardless of square footage and its not always clear where the money is really being spent when its distributed across the entire foot print. Personally, I think it would be useful to do some market research to equalize and familiarize things a bit. Assuming that the average US home costs around $200k and is about 2,000 sf and that this price includes the house AND property, these newer homes should try to compete on similar terms. That is a home, all in, house and land, should run around $200k (assume some average lot size ~0.1-0.25 ac). Then you adjust for the various factors like efficiency upgrades or custom designs. Perhaps you just raise it to 300k or 400k and call it fully custom. That is still for the house AND land and is likely larger than 2,000 sf. I am a huge fan and proponent of sustainable and efficient design and love this project but in order for the average person to consider this, the price has to come down and a discussion be had in familiar and relative terms. This project, though, likely came in at close $350-400k for the house alone and attainability should be just as important as quality and sustainability. Just my 2 cents. Again, great design and i’m sure things will continue to evolve.

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