It’s a strategic dilemma keeping more than a few builders up at night as they ride out the downturn: Do you batten down and stick with what you know, or go for broke and try something new with hopes of jogging skittish buyers out of their petrified state? Many builders are understandably reluctant to mess with their supply chain formulas, subcontractor relationships, and hard-earned reputations, knowing that one false move could render them a casualty of the housing recession. But many also realize their only hope of survival may be to do something distinctive that sets them apart.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have, at your disposal, a handful of risk-takers willing to put their own money on the line and serve as canaries in the proverbial coal mine—whether the potentially lucrative (or deadly) experiment involves a hybrid building method, a space-age material, a high-performance system, or alternative architecture in an old school neighborhood?
Truth is, you do. Look no further than architects and designers building their own houses. Always on a tight budget, forever aesthetically minded, and increasingly eco-conscious, they’re usually more than willing to talk shop. Builder reached out to a few such renegades and took a peek inside the places they’ve built for themselves.