How long does it take to build a house, a pre-fab building, a tower?
Of course the length of time of construction varies with the size and complexity of each project. Our experience shows that conventionally built single-family houses and small buildings --not prefab-- take about a year from start to finish. Multi-unit housing, low-rise buildings, or complex small buildings, may take an additional six months to a year. And residential or commercial towers, depending on their complexity, may take a total of three or more years.
With our pre-fab buildings, the turn-around time for fabrication is 3 months. Depending on the level of finish required, onsite completion may take anywhere from two weeks to three months.
Who designs your buildings' interiors?
If it is attached to the building, we have designed it. So all the interiors, including all lighting, plumbing, millwork (cabinetry), paint colors, floor finishes are specified by us. When we are done, the building is ready to be occupied and used; just bring in your furniture, clothes and your toothbrushes.
Have you used solar or geothermal?
Yes, we have installed solar panels, geo-thermal wells, high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment. But we don't lose sight of a clear fact that the way a building is sited, its orientation, exposure to light, protection from winter winds, simple thermal insulation, and thermal windows are the first steps to energy efficiency. As we often say, a well-performing building shell is like a glove on one's hand: creating a continuous thermal layer that shields the interior from too much heat or cold.
Do you work with your own builders?
Our goal, in selecting builders, is to work with those who display exceptional work and enthusiasm, who are eager to solve problems, and who display a proven track record of projects that align with our methods of construction. Sometimes we are asked to make introductions to those we have worked with. And at other times, we are asked to meet new builders.
Do you work beyond NY -internationally?
Exploring new regions, contexts, climates and cultures is a unique pleasure of architecture. But there are challenges as well; local know-how, knowledge of building codes and construction methods, to name a few. Besides taking time to research and understand any environment, we try to engage local architects to assist with local and regional processes and issues.
Do you design very affordable buildings?
We are proud to say that some of our projects are the most affordable solutions to housing in the United States. Over the years, we have won numerous awards for these. For us, architecture encompasses the wide spectrum of culture, individuals and income brackets. And more often than not, a tight budget yields more substantive results.
Who designed the arrangement of colors on this page?
One of the most significant artists of the 20th century, the radical ideas and work of Donald Judd continue to provoke and influence the fields of art, architecture and design. To read more about Judd, go here.
The work of Donald Judd exerts a special influence on architects of every generation; including us. His outstanding ability to distill experience to a singular event -ripe with infinite associations- influences our thoughts to this day...
Are your buildings expensive to build?
It both surprises and pleases us that most of our new clients think that our buildings cost much more than they really did. We take great pride in exploring methods of construction that are efficient, and in communicating our intent to builders carefully and instructively. In most instances, our buildings cost the same as conventionally built structures of equivalent size. Our pre-fab buildings are amongst the most affordable in the country. And, of course, some of our projects, with complex objectives, require a more robust budget.
Do flat roofs leak?
Its surprising how often this question is asked. It shows that flat roofs have caused issues in the past in some buildings. Flat roof construction is very different now than even ten years ago. A properly built flat roof should not leak! We seal the roof and all its joints very tightly. And take careful precautions to shed water, snow and ice.
Is the insta_house “green?”
While it might not be as “green” as a wigwam made out of pre-fallen timber, the insta-house has a number of features that decrease its impact on the environment. Four recycled shipping containers make up the bulk of the building material by weight. Because of an import surplus with Asia, thousands of shipping containers are left on our docks never to be sent back making them a perfect material to recycle. To increase its energy efficiency, the insta_house is insulated with closed-cell foam and double-pane windows in order to better maintain a constant temperature.
What is the difference between the insta_house and the the insta_studio?
Every insta_house starts with the insta_studio. The insta_house is a series of options that turn the insta_studio into a home. These options include bedrooms, bathrooms, and a kitchen. The insta_studio also features fewer windows --freeing up wall space for art or storage.
How much is an insta-house?
With our pre-fab projects, our goal is to offer low-cost alternatives to conventional construction, and reduce the amount of on-site labor. Because cost of materials and labor is under constant flux, due to market conditions and economic factors, we cannot provide pre-determined estimates. With each project, and its time of order, we ask our factory to review costs and provide a detailed estimate.
As of August 2019, the 1,280 sf, insta_house (four 40’ containers, double-height ceiling), delivered and installed, is estimated at $367,000. Other than kitchen cabinets & appliances, and plumbing fixtures, this is a completely finished building (insulated, drywalled, interior and exterior painted, premium floor to ceiling windows, electrical and lighting, rough plumbing and HVAC). Cost of site preparation and building permits are additional.
How big is the insta_house?
Many building departments count double-height spaces as two floors, which would make the instahouse 1,280 sf.; if counted as one floor, the insta_house would be 960 sf.. The living room is 19’ long, 15’ wide, and 17'-6" high. The master bedroom is 15’ long and 7’-5” wide with an attached bathroom and walk-in closet that is 12’-4” long and 7' wide. The downstairs bedroom is 7’-5” long and 7’ wide and the kitchen is 12’-8” long and 7’ wide.
I would like to make some customizations…
The only way that we can keep the insta_house priced way below conventional construction is to value engineer every detail of the project and negotiate a fair price with our fabricators; so any customizations to the design will add to its cost. But, the insta_house can be expanded and customized on-site by a local builder using your preferred method of construction.
How complete is the insta_house?
Once delivered, the house needs about one to four days of on-site assembly by a local builder; then the hadrwood flooring that is delivered, and the bathroom tiles and plumbing fixtures have to be installed; then it will be completely ready to move in. — just bring a bed and a tooth brush.
Do you deliver internationally?
At this point, we do not. We have manufactures on the East and West coasts but, for now, our deliveries are limited to the continental United States.
What must be done on-site before the insta_studio is delivered?
A local builder must install six or nine concrete columns on to which the insta_house is placed and fastened. Before the insta_house is delivered, the builder must bring sewage, water, and electrical lines to the site. After delivery, the builder must connect the insta_housee to the utilities on site.
Where can I see one?
Our first prototype was site-built in Amagansett, NY on private property. In 2017 we completed an insta_studio at Bard College. We are currently on track to build in Montauk, and Amagansett. Our Amagansett house will be complete as of march 2019. Please sign up for our infrequently sent news emails (here) to get status updates of these projects.
go to our insta-house page.
I would like to learn more about your insta_house and insta_studio.
The best place to start is our website. There, you will find a section that covers the general features and pricing of the 'insta_house', the insta_studio, and the 600 sf MTK house. Also check our FAQ page.
The insta_house is configured with two side-by-side 40' containers on top of another two (a 'four-pack') . Half of the 16' wide by 40' deep building is a double-height space (potential living room, classroom, workshop) which dramatically changes the character of the space, and the other half has a second floor (potential bedroom, office, bathroom). Our website shows an example of this basic configuration installed at Bard College, and as a home, here.
The insta studio is based on the a similar four-pack configuration, but does not have the large lower level windows (providing wall space for hanging art or shelving), and comes without plumbing.
I am wondering if we can install the insta_house on a steep lot?
As long as a trailer can access your lot and a crane can be positioned to lift the boxes off the truck, we can build on almost any site. The Insta_House can be installed on nine concrete columns. With some minimal engineering, these columns can stick out of the ground to accommodate sloping sites, or even to provide a covered car park, or to keep the house above the flood level -- kind of like a house on stilts.
Other considerations: the Insta_House is 19' tall. When installed on a foundation, it can be as high as 21' from grade. Most zoning ordinances allow for this height and more. In some instances, you may need to maintain a setback to the neighboring lots. Please check with your local building department to see if your site can fit a 40' deep by 16' wide by 21' tall building. Or send us a survey and we can help you figure it out.
I was wondering if you have done these as additions to existing structures and, if so, what considerations go into that kind of project.
Short answer: yes they can be additions. For us, the easiest way to add to an existing structure is to separate the addition by, say, 6' to 10' and then connect the two with an enclosed 'bridge' connector -- kind of like the picture below. That way, the disruption to the existing structure is minimal, and installation of the prefab boxes can be free and clear of obstructions. For rooftop additions, see below.
Can you customize a project using my design?
Unless your design is very close to ours, sorry, no! It has taken us ten years to design, engineer, prototype, test, and price the insta_house. Because we have already done most of the engineering and tested prototypes with our fabricator, you can now bypass the time and cost associated with such work. Also, its been our experience that many 'one-off' custom solutions end up being just as costly as conventional building. In short, we've already done the work so you don't have to.
I am a developer. We want to build 15-20 apartment units on one block. Can your insta_houses be used as multi-family housing.
Yes! Very easily. We can stack them on top of each other with minimal additional steel reinforcement. And we can connect them side-by-side to fit your site. The main advantage of using prefab buildings in such a condition is the ability to install all units very quickly, and with minimal disruption to the neighborhood and street, plus, how cool would that be?!
Can I add your prefab buildings on top of my building?
Yes, and in some instances, say with buildings that were originally built for manufacturing uses, very easily. If the structure of the building is already strong enough to resist the extra load, or can be reinforced, we can drop our boxes on your rooftop in one day. Send us a photo of your building and we will let you know.
Can we finance the home via a construction loan?
We have received bank approval for financing of our projects. Lately, however, banks have placed restrictions on loans for pre-fabricated buildings. Please consult with your bank or mortgage broker.
How finished is the insta_house?
They come pretty finished. We leave the hardwood flooring to be installed on site (to allow for a seamless installation between the containers). And lately, we decided to finish bathrooms on site to avoid the cracking of tiles during transport.