With the economy the way it is, retiring folks are downsizing or losing their homes, while newly educated folks are graduating with slim pickings. Not to be grim, but this is causing people to use property in new ways, such as with accessory dwelling units. The space can be used for family or as a rental to cover loose ends. In Vancouver, this is happening with laneway housing. Smallworks, a Vancouver-based design and build firm, specializes in small and laneway houses, just like this one, the West House.
Sloan Ritchie, the same developer that brought us the beautiful, green Alley House, just launched a new endeavor called Backyard Box. As the name indicates, the Seattle-based company helps homeowners add extra space — whether for an office, studio, mother-in-law apartment, or income property — to lots with room and flexible zoning. Backyard Boxes, commonly referred to as accessory dwelling units, come in three sizes, three finish packages, and have a Smart Box option, which includes some geeky green technology.
Ideabox's newest prefab model, the Fortino, is on display at the Portland Home & Garden Show this weekend, so you'll want to check it out if you're in the area. The Salem-based prefab company teamed up with Crate & Barrel to design the interior and several landscape designers to transform a 50'x100' show space into a contemporary landscape setting. Jim Russell, president of Ideabox, says it's a complete "living experience" on an urban lot.
Developer Steve Blanchard set out to build one of the greenest homes in Orange County, and he may just have accomplished that. In fact, this home, the Costa Mesa Green Home, is the first custom residence in the OC to receive LEED Platinum certification. Although 5,000 square feet in size, the home exceeds California Energy Code by 40% and isn’t expected to generate an electricity bill outside of standard add-on fees.
We like to keep a pulse on the evolving world of green prefab, but there’s an Austin-based company that we’ve yet to mention. Ma Modular, a venture of design-build firm KRDB, turned to modular construction to make modern design approachable, affordable, and convenient. The company is also committed to good design and green building and aims to deliver projects with a quick turnaround.
Update: Read our owner interview with more background on this project.
This beautiful home will be the first certified Passive House in Utah. Passive House consultant Dave Brach, principal of Brach Design Architecture, anticipates receiving a certificate in the next week or so. He designed the Breezeway House to consume only 10% of the energy of an existing single family home of the same size and location and 20% of the energy of a new home built to code. What’s more, solar electric and hot water panels should produce about 75% of the home’s annual energy needs.