Should I stay with tried and true?
(Apologies in advance for the long introduction and somewhat vague nature of my questions.)
About 18 months ago, my wife and I moved into our second custom house. (Green Building Advisor was a great resource throughout the process, BTW.) It has taken a while, but we are now close to getting our Earthcraft Platinum Certification. Hurrah!
We also are planning to sell the house and build again. Long story short, I have developed some health issues and a 1,500 square-foot, one-story house will be a better fit for me than our current two stories over a basement.
We have found a plan we like and will consult with the architect to determine how they would improve the design if building it again. This home is the architect’s personal residence, and it is constructed with a red iron structure (for large clear spans) and lots of rigid foam (to prevent thermal bridging and provide insulation). The exterior design and interior layout are very simple.
We could simply replicate the architect’s approach, but I’ve been reading about cross laminated timber and CNC precision lumber flat packs and wondering if these systems might be more cost effective, simple, and resilient. I tend to get excited about new systems and technologies, which can be a good thing and a bad thing.
After doing two homes, I really would like to avoid the traditional site-built process and prefab most or all of the structure in a controlled environment. Whatever the approach, I want components that are made with precision so they can be assembled by the kind of workers who typically work on mid-budget custom homes in our area. Framers and carpenters here usually have little or no formal training in their occupation and often don’t enjoy having to learn new ways of doing things. It is easier to find good subs among the licensed and certified trades.
However we build, the new house will be very efficient. I learned a lot while planning and overseeing our last build about green construction, sources for healthy materials, and where to go for technical advice.
So what do you think? Should we replicate the architect’s site-built strategy (with improvements), or should we potentially complicate the process by introducing new materials and/or seeking out ways to prefab some or all of the home?
PS. I literally don’t have the energy to manage and problem-solve this project the way I did with our last build.
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