The building of a national-caliber demonstration house is not an undertaking for the faint of heart. There is legitimate trepidation in stepping up to the plate under the bright lights where all the world–your critics and your fans, trade and consumer media, your colleagues and your competition, even the community at large–can scrutinize every detail of execution and second guess every design decision.
Important relationships come under stress. Loyalties are tested at every turn, as valued and trusted team members, long time subcontractors, suppliers and other service providers are repeatedly asked to step out of their comfort zones and use unfamiliar products, systems, techniques or combinations of these to deliver a finished project that must be as close to perfection as possible.
In many ways, it can be an exercise in pushing the envelope, often venturing way outside the box. Showcasing beautiful materials and finishes is one thing, but when you’re being required to up the ante on performance and sustainability at the same time, it can be a real challenge–even for the best builders. And the schedule can be chaotic because these projects tend to take on another level of complexity almost on their own.
At the end of the day it’s still the builders’ names that are on the house, and the financial risk/reward is just as uncertain as any other speculative project they have in their inventory–except that they have probably spent more than they would normally dare in order to make the grade.
And then there are the situations where all the players are more than up to the task, but the hurdles presented by conflicting layers of regulation and bureaucracy turn out to be insurmountable–no matter how much effort goes into trying to clear them. And this is true even with the most helpful and supportive building officials in the mix.
Case in point: despite the desires of all interested parties–including the builders, the trade contractors, the manufacturers and the suppliers–we were unable to get permitted for a graywater system for the VISION House L.A. State regulation and local ordinance proved impossible to sync, even in water-challenged Southern California, where the demonstration of such technology would hold real relevance.
When the dust had finally settled, our builder partners Robert Kleiman and Mark Sapiro, along with their extraordinary Structure Home team, took the splendid design work and array of remarkable products and materials from a host of outstanding manufacturers, combined them with the skills of a regiment of craftspeople, and orchestrated a truly magnificent result: one that we are proud to be part of, and one which lives up to the name.
Posted: 5/24/2012 12:16:00 PM by
Mary Kestner | with 2 comments