Next Generation Home Building

Homeport Looking To Economize Quality Construction

Homeport is one of a limited number of organizations participating in a national initiative to reduce the cost of building homes.

“As a non-profit organization, it is very important that we find ways to utilize the limited public and private resources we receive to get the most impact for our families,” said Leah Evans, Director of Homeport’s Home Ownership department.

In agreeing to participate in what is dubbed “The Small Home Initiative,’’ Homeport is not looking to shrink the size or “footprint” of a home. Rather it hopes to lower costs through non-traditional building techniques and interior designs.

Grant funding for the initiative comes from NeighborWorks America, a national organization committed to affordable housing and community development. Homeport is a charter member of NeighborWorks.

Besides Homeport, NeighborWorks reached out to organizations in Kansas City, Kan., and St. Paul, Minn., for the Small Home Initiative. They were chosen based on geography and reputation.

 “Homeport has a very good neighborhood revitalization program. The organization has a reputation for doing a lot of things well, and right,” said Tom Rice, NeighborWorks Senior Relationship Manager for Real Estate Development.

Kansas City, Mo., architectural firm Clockwork, is tackling the architectural assignment for Homeport, drawing on what it has learned building a two-bedroom, two-bath, 1100-square foot home in Kansas City for Community Housing of Wyandotte County.

As it did in Kansas City, Clockwork will consider a number of ways to save money in designing a new style home for Homeport, said Clockwork Design Director Daniel Umscheid.

For example, a first-time homeowner or young professional family may move in but prefer to not use attic space immediately. As the family grows, the attic space could be converted to a bedroom or other living space, allowing it to stay longer in the home and creating neighborhood stability.

Construction time and materials, which impacts costs, can also be saved if a portion of the home, from frames to foundations, is shipped pre-fabricated, Umscheid said.

Building in volume also drives down costs in designs, materials and labor, said Neil Sommers, Clockwork’s founder.

Interior savings are also possible by eliminating closet space that can be replaced by standalone modular structures available at popular furniture providers like IKEA.

The savings a smart designed home accrues is not only in the construction but in its long term use. A well designed home can save an owner in energy and water bills. Even a smart designed driveway has value if rainfall can be diverted for irrigation as opposed to running off to a sewer drain.

“Clockwork is committed to crafting well-designed and affordable homes that create opportunity and enable more people to afford and enjoy home ownership,” said Umscheid. “We believe that good design has the power to attract and retain home owners who take pride in their neighborhoods and create successful, and welcoming, long-lasting communities.”

Homeport is looking for initial design work from Clockwork by June.

“Our hope is that by reducing the cost to construct an individual home we will be able to increase our production and provide more affordable homeownership opportunities,” said Homeport’s Evans.