Your Dream Home Design May Be Just a Factory Away Series: Perhaps the Most Exotic of the Custom-Crafted Offerings, Haiku Houses Are Based on Design Concepts of Country Houses from 16th-Century Japan. the Structures Feature Redwood, Cedar, Fir, Spruce, and Glass. Shown Is a Haiku House in Charleston, S.C. BY HAIKU HOUSES 3) FOR RETIREMENT: Vernie and Renee Kinyon Built a Precut Home of Laminated Cedar on the Cowlitz River in Washington. 'We Spend Every Weekend Here,' Says Mr. Kinyon, 'And This Will Be Our Dream Retirement Home.' BY CEDAR HOMES OF WASHINGTON INC. 4) WOOD IN AN AGE OF PLASTIC: Many Buyers Are Drawn to Precut Homes for Their Prominent Use of Wood, Such as in This One in Harvard, Mass., from Acorn and Deck House. Open Floor Plans Are Also Popular. BY ACORN AND DECK HOUSE INC

By David Holmstrom, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, March 6, 1998 | Go to article overview

Your Dream Home Design May Be Just a Factory Away Series: Perhaps the Most Exotic of the Custom-Crafted Offerings, Haiku Houses Are Based on Design Concepts of Country Houses from 16th-Century Japan. the Structures Feature Redwood, Cedar, Fir, Spruce, and Glass. Shown Is a Haiku House in Charleston, S.C. BY HAIKU HOUSES 3) FOR RETIREMENT: Vernie and Renee Kinyon Built a Precut Home of Laminated Cedar on the Cowlitz River in Washington. 'We Spend Every Weekend Here,' Says Mr. Kinyon, 'And This Will Be Our Dream Retirement Home.' BY CEDAR HOMES OF WASHINGTON INC. 4) WOOD IN AN AGE OF PLASTIC: Many Buyers Are Drawn to Precut Homes for Their Prominent Use of Wood, Such as in This One in Harvard, Mass., from Acorn and Deck House. Open Floor Plans Are Also Popular. BY ACORN AND DECK HOUSE INC


David Holmstrom, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Move the chair a little to the right to catch the morning sun. Put your feet up on the railing. Admire the tawny cedar in your new home. Breathe deeply in the mountain air, and then allow yourself some pride: You built this little wooden dream.

Vernie and Renee Kinyon now have their dream in hand. They built a small, precut home of laminated cedar on the Cowlitz River in Washington State, just where the river divides and flows around a five-acre wooded island.

From their deck, they can see bald eagles nesting in the island trees. "We spend every weekend here," says Mr. Kinyon, "and this will be our dream retirement home." Kinyon and thousands of other homeowners in the United States can applaud a construction trend known as "building systems," which puts a dazzling variety of first- and second-home possibilities within reach of more people than ever before. Described variously as precut, preengineered, modular, panelized, or log homes, these houses offer a basic design but can be custom-crafted to fit individual tastes, and budgets, minus architect fees. For the most part, these homes start as fully engineered components manufactured in a factory. Then, transported to the home site, the parts are assembled by either contractors or the home buyer, or both. From Quaker-plain to Baroque-elaborate, precut homes are now offered by hundreds of firms. Kinyon's 1,180-square-foot chalet-style home cost $54,000 as a package (including doors and windows), bought from Cedar Homes of Washington Inc., in Snohomish, Wash. Add the costs of electricity, plumbing, and so on, and the total cost was about $85,000. Kinyon already owned the land. "Had Vernie not put the home together himself," says Mike Flanagan, co-owner of Cedar Homes, "the total cost would have been between $100,000 and $120,000." Most manufacturers say the rule of thumb in determining cost is to double the package price to cover the construction cost. Kinyon already had construction experience. "It took me and a helper 5-1/2 months to build it, working all weekends from Friday night to Sunday night," says Kinyon. "Plus I took a month off from my job. It was pretty simple to build, like a big jigsaw puzzle." Homeowners say that identifying these homes as "kits" sounds too slapdash today, and "prefabricated" carries the stigma of being temporary. Quality and permanence are what attract owners. And some banks, working with trusted manufacturers and distributors, are more willing to finance projects these days. "Once you get over the prefabricated stigma," says Ed Langley, president of Excel Homes in Liverpool, Pa., "people realize that these are exceptionally well-built houses." Excel sells mostly modular conventional homes to builders who construct five to 20 houses a year and sell them to buyers. Depending on the owner's participation in construction, and exclusive of the cost of land, some precut, customized homes prove to be less expensive, sturdier, and constructed in less time than a conventional stick-built house. And some can be more energy efficient. At the high end of the precut spectrum, when owners customize designs with handcrafted elements and square footage is more than 5,000 feet, homes can easily reach $500,000 or more, not including land or the cost of a road, septic tank, or well. Building boom According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in Washington, D.C., the precut and modular share of the housing market has been about 10 percent for years. "These homes are more common in the Northeast," says Michael Carliner, an economist for the NAHB. "And Colorado has a significant share of log homes being built." But in a strong national economy, with low mortgage rates, sales of new homes reached 800,000 in l997, the highest since 1978. Many custom companies are experiencing record sales. "For the last few years, our business has increased at a rate of 40 percent," says Frank Baker, president of Riverbend Timber Framing in Blissfield, Mich. …

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Your Dream Home Design May Be Just a Factory Away Series: Perhaps the Most Exotic of the Custom-Crafted Offerings, Haiku Houses Are Based on Design Concepts of Country Houses from 16th-Century Japan. the Structures Feature Redwood, Cedar, Fir, Spruce, and Glass. Shown Is a Haiku House in Charleston, S.C. BY HAIKU HOUSES 3) FOR RETIREMENT: Vernie and Renee Kinyon Built a Precut Home of Laminated Cedar on the Cowlitz River in Washington. 'We Spend Every Weekend Here,' Says Mr. Kinyon, 'And This Will Be Our Dream Retirement Home.' BY CEDAR HOMES OF WASHINGTON INC. 4) WOOD IN AN AGE OF PLASTIC: Many Buyers Are Drawn to Precut Homes for Their Prominent Use of Wood, Such as in This One in Harvard, Mass., from Acorn and Deck House. Open Floor Plans Are Also Popular. BY ACORN AND DECK HOUSE INC
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