Skinny, Tiny, Pre-Fab, Eco House

The “Skinny House” is an idea taken from looking at various pre-fab homes, in particular the high concept, prefabricated Glide House, designed by Michelle Kaufmann. Working with clients over the years, many had seen interesting prefabricated homes in Dwell Magazine and other online architectural place. The idea of having a home built in a factory – better working conditions – better quality – cheaper prices etc – is a hot appeal.

The Glide House

The plan below is an idea that uses many of the concepts of a prefabricated home but a bit bigger and using the garage as a “flex space.” Many people prefer using their garage as a studio, office or other use.

One of the ideas of the “Skinny House” is to incorporate outdoors living space.

Keep construction simple to keep costs down … simple but elegant!

Incorporate solar power …

Often times, after researching the true costs with infrastructure, foundations etc, the actual costs of prefabricated homes are the same or more than building the home on site. A site built home design has much more freedom to be “tweaked” to fit the site. Many options, levels of quality and design exist, but most prefabricated homes are based on components – usually 16 feet wide – that can be transported by truck.

Below – some additional ideas for floor plans.

Prefabricated home companies have been around for years. You mostly know them as trailer park homes. Many of these companies have not evolved past the ugly boxy designs you have seen. A bunch of new companies have come and gone such as Michelle Kaufmann’s Glidehouse. It seems to be – so far – a serious challenge to create the “iHouse” design for homes. A design that works everywhere – works well – is priced well and deliverable everywhere.

A bold objective …

Hygge – a friend of mine recently built this home in Long Island, New York
https://hyggesupply.com/supply/models/

Method Homes
https://methodhomes.net/homes/

Stillwater – in the state of Washington is an interesting company
https://www.stillwaterdwellings.com/designs

Building in a challenging location – Ojai, CA

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Building a home in remote areas ups the ante for challenges and cost. This house located at 2700 feet above sea level on the south range of the mountains of the Ojai Valley has amazing views of the Topa Topa mountains to the North and the mighty Pacific on the South.

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Just getting people to the job is a challenge – Google, smart phones and even maps don’t accurately show the property.  With the 100’s of trade contractors, inspectors, delivery drivers, etc. getting people to the job is a chore itself.

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We had to install our own street sign – which was later mysteriously removed !

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Roadways, grading, drainage, utilities have to travel up a 1700 foot long driveway.  Rules and regulations also get more challenging from the building department, the fire department and all of the other agencies that get involved in the permitting.

 

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But you just can’t beat it!  Views of the Channel Islands of Santa Barbara.

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Bottom Line: Get er Done!

 

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Feel Free to copy, share, or re post this article. Kindly make sure to include this information: Written by Otis Bradley, a Custom Home Builder, in Southern California. Please see OtisBradley.com for more information on Custom Home Building!

An Easy way to Stop Sending All Ojai’s Fresh Water Down the Drain

In the recently published Ojai Valley News – quoted below – Jeff Palmer almost proposed an excellent solution to a big Ojai problem.

KEEP our water in the valley DON’T  send it to the ocean.

Typical methods (and codes) have previously required all concentrated drainage i.e. from roofs to be piped from gutters through pipes and onto City streets. Once on the street – water flow increases – picking up lots of toxic auto waste from the roads and quickly makes its way to the ocean (simplified version but true).  This is exactly what we do not want  !

Drywell Pit – one solution

Drywell pit

The answer is to slow the water down – redirect the flow and encourage water absorption back into the ground recharging the aquifer with fresh, clean water.

According to the article below – Mr. Palmer did a “windshield survey” noting “numerous downspouts emptying directly into the ground …” were “direct connections” to the sewer system. I am not sure how Mr Palmer knows this, however I do know that emptying the water into the street is exactly what we don’t want.  We don’s want it sent through the water treatment plant or down to the ocean.

There are many simple ways to achieve this:

Continue reading “An Easy way to Stop Sending All Ojai’s Fresh Water Down the Drain”

35 Questions to Ask Before Buying Vacant Land ?

Are you interested in buying your own piece of earth?  There’s nothing more fabulous than having a few acres of your own, and building your own place from the ground up.   But, buying land, especially in highly regulated areas like California, can be a lot more risky than buying a home.  These days of real estate disclosure for a home buyer have come a long way from the traditional law of “Caveat Emptor” (meaning buyer beware)!  Land, however, does not have the same rules.  I constantly hear stories like:

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“I thought we were buying 80 acres, it turned out we got 65!”

“We had no idea this area was in an ancient landslide.  Its almost impossible to build here.”

“We thought we got an amazing deal, $1m for 120 acres, but it turns out its going to cost another $1m to get to the pad before we can even think of starting the house.”

“We bought a small lot in town and it turns out we can’t get water service so we can’t build!”

Unfortunately there isn’t one place to get answers.  Many local departments are involved and sometimes have conflicting information.

Here are 35 questions you can ask
Or you can get professional help – call me 310 963 7900.

Planning and Zoning

  1. Is it a legal lot? If not, how do I make it legal?
  2. What is the zoning classification of this lot?
  3. Does the Zoning on the property permit my project?
  4. Does the County General Plan permit what I wish to do?
  5. Are any planning permits required prior to building on the lot?
  6. Are there any zoning violations on the lot?
  7. Are there any special building restrictions in this area?
  8. Are there any cultural heritage sites on the property?
Continue reading “35 Questions to Ask Before Buying Vacant Land ?”

Génoise Detail of a French Provincial Design – New Construction ICF House in Ojai

Project: Ojai, California New Construction – Insulated Concrete Forms
Architecture & Interior Design: Rhett Judice
Builder: Otis Bradley Company, Inc.

Génoise – although the definition of the word is “an Italian sponge cake” known from the area of Genoa in Italy
 
Génoise also defines the architectural treatment under the eaves of the roof – common in Provence France and possibly originating in Italy

It is said that the wealthier you are – the more rows you have !   The roof tiles continue from the eave back to the house in a sort of reverse pattern.  The trend dates back the middle of the 17th century and came originally from Italy.

 This project, built of ICF blocks,  created a challenge because the 8″ thick concrete walls are surrounded in 3″ of insulating foam.  Unlike the solid stone buildings of 17th c Provence, we had to create a system that could attach – be safe – be structurally sound – without being able to build on top of a stone wall.  The answer is foam! and a bad hair day!

 A sample is prepared for the color coat.

 Once installed – the color stucco will complete the illusion

 
Génoise also defines the architectural treatment under the eaves of the roof – common in Provence France and possibly originating in Italy

Rhett’s detail !!! – click on plan for larger image

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Feel free to copy, share or re post this article
Kindly make sure to include this information
Written by Otis Bradley, a Custom Home Builder, in Southern California
Please see OtisBradley.com for more information on Custom Home Building


Custom Steel and Wood Furniture

Custom steel frames, designed to fit with heavy duty caster wheels, and topped with 8/4 (one and a half inch thick) walnut tops with spruce splines

The dining table seats 8

Walnut, custom steel frame, caster wheels, dining table

Dining table frame

Walnut, custom steel frame, caster wheels, dining table

The “X” Bar !
Bar height, walnut top with spruce splines

Walnut, custom steel X frame, caster wheels, bar top, with spruce splines

Game Table – this one is one and a half inch thick maple with walnut “butterfly” joints

Kitchen bar – maple with walnut

Supported with custom steel curved braces

Bar, Dining Table and Coffee Table

Bar, Dining Table and Coffee Table - custom steel and wood

Get your Permit !

Permit Checklist

Permit requirements vary widely in different locations.  Develop a list for your project – start by checking in with your local building department. 

Remember the Building Department may only tell you part of the story.  Research the following items and try to start putting a schedule together.  My Builder 20 group often discusses permit issues.  Jim in Wisconsin tells me he can get a permit in 5 days, while others of us suffer with months even years in the permitting process.  In my local area building departments in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Malibu, Ojai, Ventura County, City of Ventura, Santa Barbara and County of Santa Barbara all treat building codes and zoning regulations in different ways.

Access

Air Rights

Archaeologists

Bridges

CC&R’s (Private Restrictions)

Cell Phone Access

City Planning

City Zoning

Civil Engineers

Coastal Commissions

Continue reading “Get your Permit !”

Ventana Magazine Features Ojai Custom Home Builder – Green Home

Contemporary Cool

The Ojai abode of green builder Otis Bradley.

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The exposed structural steel and beams are painted in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Cherokee Red.


By Andrea Kitay—Photography by Gaszton Gal

Casa Verde, the two-acre Ojai spread that Otis Bradley and his family call home, is more than a play on words. Its name is a nod to the custom homebuilder’s passion for efficiency. The 3400-square-foot contemporary completed in 2008 is a result of Bradley’s determination to build an ecologically sound home, in keeping with his family’s laidback lifestyle.

Continue reading “Ventana Magazine Features Ojai Custom Home Builder – Green Home”