The front facade was left untouched, but in other areas, windows were added or enlarged, and wooden frames were replaced with steel ones.
A protruding glass skylight, which is not visible from the street, was added to the roof in order to bring natural light deep into the home. Inside, the architect sought to open up the dwelling and make it feel less compartmentalised. In the original design, the front and back portions were physically and visually disconnected, and the rear rooms were dark and lacked sufficient access to the garden. Moreover, a portion of the second storey was cut off from the main block and could only be reached via a narrow back stair. These issues were resolved through the removal of partitions and the expansion of openings, along with the creation of a new staircase near the centre of the plan.
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Made of wood and steel, the stair rises from the basement level to the third storey. A bridge on the second storey connects an office to the master suite. The fourth floor is accessed via an original staircase in the front of the home.
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Interior elements are a mix of old and new. Distinctive features, such as mouldings and pilasters, were preserved. New flooring was added in some areas and renovated in others. A range of contemporary decor was used throughout the home, including a number of midcentury pieces. Walls were painted white, serving as a neutral backdrop for the clients' extensive art collection. The selection of materials followed a desire to respect the character of the year-old building.
The new elements are meant to be "juxtaposed but integrated". They can charge more money when they use traditional methods, too.
Robert M. Gurney Architect
This is Salis' first foray into residential construction, but Thompson has been in the business for 14 years and saw the potential for the prefab method. While you might expect that type of innovation in one of the city's hip neighborhoods such as the Wharf or Shaw, PFP's first two houses, which it calls "farmhouse modern," are on Foxhall Road NW in the Palisades. The process of designing and building a prefab home requires similar steps to a traditionally built home: finding the lot, designing the home and getting permits. The difference is that builders need to contract with a factory to construct the house and transport it to the site, where the builder will then provide the finishing work and landscaping.
Custom-home buyers can work with a design-build firm, hire their own architect or work with an in-house architect at a modular home factory. Just like every building method, prefab has its hassles. Robert Gurney, an architect in Washington, D. The biggest obstacle, says Gurney, was that it took six months longer than normal to get the permits. However, he believes the control offered by a factory can produce quality construction and insulation.
Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, Top Designer in
State transportation rules also affect the design of prefab houses, says Tanney. The maximum size that can be transported varies, but often the pieces must be no more than 16 feet wide, 11 feet tall and 60 feet long, he says. And then the delivery trucks must get past trees and power lines to reach the homesite. Utilities and topography can present obstacles or even be dealbreakers.
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Living in a modular home is the same as living in a traditionally built home, says Brendan O'Neill Jr. The house took four months to complete from plans to occupancy, while a stick-built house typically takes six to 10 months. Prefab construction results in a structurally stronger residence, says Winn, because the walls need to withstand being transported by truck.
Salis and Thompson anticipate that panelized construction will become more common, in part because the money saved by having houses built in a factory could be spent on upgraded finishes and fixtures. Every day, another project or prototype is being developed and another investor gets excited about prefab construction. But the construction industry has been slow to embrace it.
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One reason is that, like many industries, this is a litigious one. That means people have a greater propensity to do something the way it's already been done. Whether it's to save time, to reduce construction waste, to execute a cool design or to be able to say your home was built by robots, prefab is likely to maintain its fans. But even they admit it may be years before prefab becomes the most popular way to build a home - if it ever does. Lerner is a freelance journalist who has been writing about real estate, personal finance and business for more than two decades.
Prefab houses were once the 'holy grail of design. Washington, D. Photo: Maxwell MacKenzie. Caption Close. Image 1 of 9. Back to Gallery.