It appeared a humble beginning, a single house built to launch a new Santa Rosa company. But the sign on the exterior wall Thursday said it all: “Build this home in half the time. Save 20 to 30 percent.”
The craftsman-style home on Montgomery Drive drew the attention Thursday of about 100 dignitaties and other guests as HybridCore Homes marked the completion of its first project. Among other things, the company was celebrating the fact that local builder Charlie Traboulsi not only melded factory manufacturing with onsite construction, but also completed the 1,600 square foot home in a mere 60 days. The total building cost was $147,000, or $92 per square foot, which company officials maintained was far better than with traditional construction methods.
Among those on hand Thursday were state housing deputy director Kim Strange, Mayor Susan Gorin and city Community Development Director Chuck Regalia. Also present were real estate investor Clem Carinalli, local builders Keith and Brenda Christopherson and representatives from one of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries, which built the home’s “core” area in its Sacramento factory.
That core included a master bedroom, two bathrooms and a kitchen complete with cherry cabinets, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. This entire section of the home was factory built and transported to the lot on Montgomery east of Mission Drive, where the rest of the home was built around it.
Strange, the state official, on Thursday presented the company’s partners with a certificate “In Recognition of Innovation in Housing Technology.”
Clint Wilson, one of the company’s four partners, said the next HybridCore home likely will be built in Fort Bragg. The company, he said, is negotiating with a builder seeking 42 such homes for a subdivision in Placerville, and also is in discussions with builders in New Mexico, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.
Wilson, a longtime residential developmer, boldly told the crowd that a decade from now they will be able to say they saw the first completed home of a company that went on to have a national, and possibly international, presence.
The company’s other partners are Young America Homes founder Robert O’Neel, architect Kevin M. Farrell and house designer Shaun Faber. HybridCore’s president and CEO is former Exchange Bank chief executive Barrie Graham.
Along with saving time and money, the company maintains that builders can provide homes of greater quality because of the precision of factory manufacturing and the strength needed for the core to survive the move to the job site.
“It’s so strong you won’t get a squeak in this floor,” said O’Neel as he stood in hallway near the kitchen.
O’Neel, whose company has built more than 10,000 homes, acknowledged times are tough in the home construction industry. But he said builders are ready to build with the factory-built cores, which can be used in more than 80 different floor plans.
“We’ve had builders say, “If you can save me 5 percent, I’ll buy it,” he said.
– Robert Digitale