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Cutting Edge Homes

Cutting Edge Homes provides initial design, does project development, sells, manages logistics, and provides installation assistance for modular and panelized construction projects.

Last Build Date: Sat, 29 Jul 2017 08:54:23 +0000


Carpinteria Modular Home Set Videos

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 04:29:00 +0000

We put together a Youtube playlist with videos from our modular home set in Carpinteria, California.  See it the video here:

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Organizing plans by type and not factory

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 04:21:00 +0000

Over the last few years we have struggled like a lot of modular builders with unstable factories that frankly kept going out of business.  To say the least, this is one of the worst things that could possibly happen mid-project.  We were fortunate to complete all of our projects prior to any major corporate shake-ups at the factories, but I have several contacts in the modular building industry that were not so fortunate.  We feel blessed that we were able to deliver on every contract as promised despite the stormy market conditions.

As the Great Recession grew longer and longer (on our 5th year now in California), we cleaned up our supplier list and stopped working with any factory that wasn't financially stable.  If a factory is stable and have a great product, a service department that you can count on, and there is a strong will to exceed the client's expectations then we will offer their product.  Without all of those conditions being met we decided we are not going to take any unnecessary risks with our client's project and money.

In serving our clients seeking custom designed projects, it became more clear that the clients do not care about the factory to start off with.  Clients looking for a modular home are looking to find a plan first.  Period.  Once the client has identified a plan they like, they want to identify the company that they will be working with and later on who the manufacturing sub-contractor will be.  Most modular home company's that build with several factories organize their websites by the manufacturer's brand name, which benefits no one.  The client's don't know the difference between each factory and aren't going to learn it looking at the distributor's website. 

So, being a company that has no problem changing directions when it makes sense, and also being a company that go their website hacked and had to redesign the site using newer high security design and management software (Joomla), we decided to make the change with our redesign.  Since we launched the site in its current form about 6 months ago we have been retaining a much higher percentage of our client's because the site is intuitive.  Its a simple thing but it has made a big difference in serving potential client's in the way that they think and then following up with more information and specifications about the factory that we plan to use to build their home with the specifications at the time of a formal proposal when that information becomes relevant.

Take a look at

Working on our new website

Wed, 01 Dec 2010 04:17:00 +0000

Our website was hacked approximately two weeks ago, an experience I would recommend to no one.  The vulnerability was a result of old database code that was exposed by sophisticated hackers running a script that overloaded our server and made defacing our site a fun thing to do for anyone on their hacker message board.It was only our images, video, and content pages that were unsecured, as we keep all client and project information in secure off-line storage, but there was real damage done to our website presentation.  We were forced to start again from scratch rather than try to de-bug a buggy old site, a reorganizing of all of the content we have worked since 2004 to build up.  I have been working 6-8 hours a day in addition to my normal work trying to get our new fancier and more secure site up.  Like most re-dos of your work, we believe that this revision will result in a better website.  Having our old site had meant continuing to do things in the old format we developed, whereas now we really could start fresh from nothing without roadblocks. When we considered what website development technology to use, the most important criteria after our recent hacker-trauma was security so we don't have to go through this ever again.  We chose the most sophisticated open-source website management tools that both have flexibility to do cool stuff, and also are continuously developed so that they are secure.  We can thank the large open-source development community for the technology, and since my last attempt to develop an open-source website 6 years ago the technology has come a long way.  While I have to admit to knowing more than I did in 2004, it is simply much more user friendly and easier because of all of the hard work that has gone into open-source content development.  Most web users will never dig into the back-end of how sites are developed but I can assure you that there are lots of hard-working people out there developing sites and contributing to free content to make the web an easier place to work in and browse. We have taken a two-track approach.  First we started our coding team developing our new back-end features.  Secondly, we have a temporary site we are actively assembling where the content for the new site goes first and then is integrated into the new site design once it is organized roughly the way we want it.  This gives us a chance to ensure we have all relevant, updated content on the new site that is organized and presented the way we want it before we go live with our finished new site.Based on the questions and comments of visitors to our site, we realized that the way our plans had to be navigated (like almost every one of our competitors) was confusing.  Grouping plans by modular home manufacturer rather than style and size does not match how people think.  Most visitors don't care about the manufacturer, they care about the plan they want and then they build it based on the budget they have which allows them a certain level of specifications.  Picking a facility to manufacture the home comes later.  So, we deleted our collections that presented our plans by manufacturer and are now presenting our plans by style and size groupings as appropriate.  We believe that this will be more intuitive to our site visitors.  Once we match up the right plan to our visitor, we can then work to match the appropriate manufacturer to our potential client, given consideration of factors include location, budget, architectural features that work with a particular factory, and lots of other criteria.While is not planned to be an social networking site, there are lots of social features that can be used to find out more about what our visitors want and give a better experience.  Some are simple and unnoticeable, others like an "email this" feature or an automated "PDF" feature on every page just make things easier to take off-line for some peo[...]

Interview with Park51 (NYC Muslim Comm. Center) Architect

Tue, 12 Oct 2010 18:36:00 +0000

This came across my desktop today from the "Engineering Dispatch" article digest that I read.  While it has nothing to do with this blog's general line of discussion, it does speak to something critical that the American public misses when it considers development and construction projects:  The actual background of the project versus the sound-bites that are for or against it.  Judging projects by hearsay of not-involved parties (pundits and reporters) does not inform you as to the relevance and reason of a project.  The more we seek out information from involved parties, the better informed we are and the more our mind is able to empathize or reject that party's view, depending on the merits. are a few quotes that I felt were interesting:"AP: Can you tell me about the materials? What is the motivation behind having them so ultra-modern?MA: Glass reinforced concrete. The whole point is that it's as delicate as lace but structurally as sound as concrete. It's a natural material we use in actual Mashrabiya in any country that has those types of things. You can get extremely thin with that. We haven't done the actual engineering of the facade yet so we don’t know how thin these elements are going to be, because some of them are pretty bulky, but the idea is that some of them will become pretty thin. It's a double skin. You can see in terms of the interior program, you can see we tried to keep it as open as possible.So if you go in terms of program, the only religious component is really the Muslim prayer space — and we’re not calling it a mosque, because it’s really not a mosque. A mosque has very clear typology, with an open plaza, a minaret, and you’re never going to see these things – probably ever – [in New York], but definitely not in this building. It’s called a prayer space, on two lower levels, below the ground floor, so basically the first two basements. Obviously they’re split between female and male. Everything above the ground floor will be secular architecture, for secular programming. You have restaurants, child care facilities, culinary school, sports center with basketball courts, a pool, a media tech library, auditorium, then you have the offices, administration, different types of workshops, even live-work spaces for artists, for guest artists, a little like Villa de Medici. Some sort of relation with what the culture is, the cultures we’re trying to join in this project." ------------------------------------- "AP: 2,000 people – is that the capacity in the basements?MA: Yes. It needed to be easily accessible from the street with different routes, different security check-ins than the rest of the building, so you don’t go through the main core of the building. Also, to better separate any type of religious program from the rest. You have to keep in mind - I’m saying this from an observer point of view, because I’m not a Muslim – I had to observe the way things worked out for Muslims in New York City who need to pray five times a day. How do you cut off your workday to go five times a day? So you need to be able to go in and out pretty fast, you can’t spend an hour to go in and another hour to go out." -------------------------------------"I'm 33. That's the whole point. Even the developer is young. The developer is 37. We have 50-year-old people, and we have 26-year-old people. It's like any other office, we just like to do our projects a little differently, and what better office structure to have to work on such a project? For example, I'm Catholic, so that shows that it's not an Islamic firm, that it's not all Muslims. For us, it's about joining cultural differences into one project. You’ve got a developer who's Egyptian, who's from a Polish Catholic mother, who goes to a Jewish community center, an arc[...]

California Green Building Code Mandatory as of 1/1/2011

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 18:36:00 +0000

We can say thank you to the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, that starting on 1/1/2011 there will be a new mandatory green building code in California called "Cal Green".  While the Cal Green code is not a revision of the entire building code, it affects the implementation of all areas of the code and is a new "book" for the stakeholders to learn, and for owners and contractors to perform to.  Like most other California code revisions, it is expected to be copied and modeled after over the coming period in other parts of the country as we move from optional green building standards managed by non-governmental agencies and non-profits to mandatory standards in most states.

California is a fluid building environment and that fluidity is ironic considering the highly structured nature of the building code and local building regulations. This fluidity comes from the myriad or risks and responses created when you have almost 37 million people living in one state, overzealous health and safety officials and a myriad of other layers of state and local enforcement, and contractors and owners making conservative interpretations of the codes.

Commercial construction has widely adopted the USGBC's LEED standard when mandated by the cities or required by project developers who are staying competitive in their markets, but most residential construction is not completed to a green building standard.

It is not that there are not residential green building standards, it is because there are too many of them, and the market does not have a clear incentive to use one.  Green building standards have multiplied to the point where it is too diluted for residential consumers to understand the differences between the prohibitively strict LEED for Homes program versus the more laissez faire home builder's association National Green Building Standard.  For an recent and extensive comparison of green building standards and their implementation across the country, see Alicia J. Miller's thesis here.  

When private industry self-regulates a market will form and that market will eventually become competitive.  In the case of standards competing in the free market the consumer loses confidence that private groups are being fair intermediaries of the green building standards between consumers and the businesses that do the development work.  Even the so-called "non-profit" companies that run green standards are funded by the memberships of private businesses, many of which are only members because of the presumed economic benefit to their firms. 

Only government's prescriptive control of standards can flush out the consumer confusion of the diverging standards by getting rid the market for their product, an over-supply of standards.  By its nature, that regulation will both get rid of the best and worst types of private label green building codes with standardization as the result.

If you want help learning more about the CalGreen code or building in California using one of our building systems, please contact us or visit our green building modular homes site.

10 Strategies For Improving Your Chances of Getting a Fair Appraisal

Tue, 21 Sep 2010 22:07:00 +0000

 The lack of motivated buyers makes getting an appraisal with a high enough valuation to match up with builder's expenses and a reasonable profit almost impossible to accomplish.  This list of things to do when seeking a fair appraisal is critical reading if you want to get to the end goal of buyers, builders, lenders, and all of the other project stakeholders.  We all want the same thing:  TO ACTUALLY BUILD SOMETHING!"1. Don’t be afraid to talk to the appraiser. “Communicate, communicate, communicate,” Mitchell asserted. “Last year, at this time, we were 180 degrees from here. We were told not to communicate, not to have any contact” under the new rules, but that has changed as the guidelines have been implemented. Builders “can’t ask for certain numbers to be targeted [in the appraisal], but they can communicate in a lot of different ways” with an appraiser.2. Supply all potentially relevant data. “Basically, you can provide almost anything that you can think of that is going to support the value of the house,” Mitchell said. This can include information on the market and absorptions as well as property specifications, home plans, and product details for the home or project in question.  You may also want to give the appraiser copies of recent HUD-1 statements if they aren’t in the land records yet or examples of recently executed contracts. Allen W. Gardiner, who provided the appraiser perspective on the NAHB/Builder Partnerships webinar, agreed. “One of the biggest mistakes I find is that builders hide data,” said Gardiner, who is vice president of residential at Jackson Claborn, a Plano, Texas-based real estate consulting and appraisal firm. “I would encourage you to provide all relevant data. If it was a low sale, let [the appraiser] know and explain how it is different from the others.”3. Make note of all communication (written or spoken) with an appraiser. “Contact the lender immediately” if you have concerns about an appraiser’s experience or expertise, according to Gardiner.4. Be realistic about distressed sales being used as comps. “If an entire market is made up of short sales and foreclosures and all the listings out there are also short sales and foreclosures, that may be representative of what the market is today,” Gardiner said. “On the flip side, if you are in a market that is improving or stabilizing and there are still some short sales out there, that doesn’t necessarily mean [distressed sales are] what is driving the market.”5. Warn buyers that extreme options may not appraise at their value and protect your interests accordingly. “If you’ve got someone stepping out of the norm, then you absolutely as a builders should have concerns about that,” said Mitchell, who advises warning a customer that such upgrades may result in a problematic appraisal. If the buyer insists, then Mitchell’s firm will do so—with a condition. “If you still want those items in the house, then we have to have an addendum to the contract that says you acknowledge that this house will likely not appraise for what the cost of this house is that we have contracted [to build for you] and that [a low appraisal] is not a valid reason for [the buyer] to void the contract or ask to have the price reduced.”6. Request a copy of appraisal. You’ll need to request this from the lender, but “usually a good lender will release that appraisal for you,” Mitchell said. Once you receive it, review the document for errors and accuracy. Ask for the criteria and comps used in determining the value, which can vary from lender to lender. For example, a bank may want comps located within a certain distance of the property or com[...]

Exporting Prefab Homes - Chile and Haiti

Fri, 27 Aug 2010 05:27:00 +0000

During the last several years the systems for transporting and installing panelized homes, prefab homes, and kit homes have developed to the point that there is a highly competitive international market for selling prefabricated building systems. Companies from Russia, Europe, China, and the US vie for business for large social projects, as affordable housing for temporary workers at large hospitality and infrastructure construction projects, and as shelters for remote outposts of all kinds.In addition to prefab housing and prefab building projects that are part of long-term government planning or long-term private business development, there have been many natural disasters that have wiped out a large swath of housing stock and quickly created a market for the international trade in export prefab packages. In 2010, Haiti and Chile's earthquakes have been the major international markets for new construction created by natural disaster.Our company has been involved in the process of proposing our prefab systems to clients and government in both countries. It has been striking to see the difference in the two.Haitian projects typically come with limited information and require a lot of creative assumptions to allow for a healthy and detailed proposal to be generated by our company. I do not believe that any of the projects we have bid have either been awarded or started yet, as of 8/27/10. To my knowledge, the only projects that have started in Haiti are small private jobs, typically funded by speculative prefab factories or church and community groups rebuilding the social and religious buildings in Haiti like schools, orphanages, and churches. I do not have any experience to report on the type of construction and development companies from Haiti, but I can tell you that the larger companies that we have met have all been non-Haitian companies hired by outside NGOs to manage work there. These companies must have Haitian sub-contractors, and workers, in Haiti, but these outside groups appear to be the ones managing the projects because of Haiti's limited construction and development experience.Chile's process of providing RFPs (Request for Proposals) and obtaining detailed public comment has been surprising to me, and I have visited the country twice prior to this year and have spent a total of about three months in Chile. Their government and professional class is equal to the level of their US counterparts, without question. The Chileans that are provided vouchers to pay for housing reconstruction are required to group up with a minimum of 50 other homes, set up through their local municipalities. This gives the people both buying power when they go to contract a job and also allow for efficient, and fast reconstruction. The voucher program will help rebuild the community quickly while providing a near-term economic benefit to the construction companies and materials suppliers and via wages to their employees that then generates economic benefit back into the community. There are projects of reconstructing an entire neighborhood that are almost completed now, with today being the 6 month anniversary of the earthquake. Our meetings in Chile have been with large, professional construction companies that may see a boost from getting a large social housing reconstruction project, but they do not expect to have much of a difference in total revenue as they were already completing $100 million + projects every year. The plans and engineering we have received has been thorough, detailed, and our questions have been answered quickly. We were provided accurate information about the project types to be built, the design, style, and structure of these buildings, and it appears that our information was thoroughly reviewed.The available market for future projects is markedly different.Haiti is completely dependent on foreign donations to fund the reconstructi[...]

Steel Framed Panel Packages - HSPs

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 20:30:00 +0000

We provide heavy steel panel packages (HSPs) for homes, schools, warehouses, or anything else you need a roof over.


Our HSPs come in 8 foot wide panels with rigid steel bar joists exposed on the inside and 3 inches of 4000 PSI concrete on the outside. The panels include both walls and roof structure like you see in the pictures on this post. We can do either a pitched or flat roof, per your preference. The panels are Miami-Dade Hurricane approved and have tested at an over 200 mph wind rating. They are the closest a low-rise structure will come to being as solid as a rock.  HSPs normally come as open panels because their weight would crush interior drywall when that panels are stacked flat on top of each other, but we can still place conduit and insulation in the panels.  It is feasible to set the windows and drywall the inside of the panels if stacked vertically, which involves special equipment to separate and brace the panels so the loads stays stable. Like all of our products, we can customize what we produce to meet your requirements and desires.


We ship our heavy steel panels anywhere in the world from our office in the Southeast US.  They can ship via truck anywhere in the southeast US, via multi-modal (truck-to-train-to-truck) transport anywhere in the US or Canada, or via Flat-rack (Sea Freight) anywhere in the world.  Tell us what you want to build and where you want it and we will get you a CIF price to that location.


Ask Chris Wells a modular or panelized construction question

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 18:25:00 +0000

We recently added a feature on our site where any visitor can ask our in-house designer and Client Services rep extraordinaire Chris Wells a question and get a fast answer. If you have something you are wondering about related to modular or panelized construction, please ask a question and Chris will start working, like only he does, to figure it out. He will get back to you very, very quickly with the information that you seek:#af-form-1609970926 .af-body .af-textWrap{width:70%;display:block;float:right;} #af-form-1609970926 .af-body .privacyPolicy{color:#000000;font-size:12px;font-family:, serif;} #af-form-1609970926 .af-body a{color:#000000;text-decoration:underline;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;} #af-form-1609970926 .af-body input.text, #af-form-1609970926 .af-body textarea{background-color:#FFFFFF;border-color:#CCCCCC;border-width:2px;border-style:inset;color:#000000;text-decoration:none;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;font-size:inherit;font-family:inherit;} #af-form-1609970926 .af-body input.text:focus, #af-form-1609970926 .af-body textarea:focus{background-color:inherit;border-color:#CCCCCC;border-width:2px;border-style:inset;} #af-form-1609970926 .af-body label.previewLabel{display:block;float:left;width:25%;text-align:left;color:#000000;text-decoration:none;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;font-size:inherit;font-family:inherit;} #af-form-1609970926 .af-body{padding-bottom:15px;background-repeat:no-repeat;background-position:inherit;background-image:none;color:#000000;font-size:12px;font-family:, serif;} #af-form-1609970926 .af-footer{background-color:transparent;background-repeat:no-repeat;background-position:top left;background-image:none;border-bottom-style:none;border-left-style:none;border-right-style:none;border-top-style:none;color:#000000;font-family:, serif;} #af-form-1609970926 .af-quirksMode .bodyText{padding-top:2px;padding-bottom:2px;} #af-form-1609970926 .af-quirksMode{padding-right:15px;padding-left:15px;} #af-form-1609970926 .af-standards .af-element{padding-right:15px;padding-left:15px;} #af-form-1609970926 .bodyText p{margin:1em 0;} #af-form-1609970926 .buttonContainer input.submit{color:#000000;text-decoration:none;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;font-size:inherit;font-family:inherit;} #af-form-1609970926 .buttonContainer input.submit{width:auto;} #af-form-1609970926 .buttonContainer{text-align:center;} #af-form-1609970926 body,#af-form-1609970926 dl,#af-form-1609970926 dt,#af-form-1609970926 dd,#af-form-1609970926 h1,#af-form-1609970926 h2,#af-form-1609970926 h3,#af-form-1609970926 h4,#af-form-1609970926 h5,#af-form-1609970926 h6,#af-form-1609970926 pre,#af-form-1609970926 code,#af-form-1609970926 fieldset,#af-form-1609970926 legend,#af-form-1609970926 blockquote,#af-form-1609970926 th,#af-form-1609970926 td{float:none;color:inherit;position:static;margin:0;padding:0;} #af-form-1609970926 button,#af-form-1609970926 input,#af-form-1609970926 submit,#af-form-1609970926 textarea,#af-form-1609970926 select,#af-form-1609970926 label,#af-form-1609970926 optgroup,#af-form-1609970926 option{float:none;position:static;margin:0;} #af-form-1609970926 div{margin:0;} #af-form-1609970926 fieldset{border:0;} #af-form-1609970926 form,#af-form-1609970926 textarea,.af-form-wrapper,.af-form-close-button,#af-form-1609970926 img{float:none;color:inherit;position:static;background-color:none;border:none;margin:0;padding:0;} #af-form-1609970926 input,#af-form-1609970926 button,#af-form-1609970926 textarea,#af-form-1609970926 select{font-size:100%;} #af-form-1609970926 p{color:inherit;} #af-form-1609970926 select,#af-form-1609970926 label,#af-form-1609970926 optgroup,#af-form-1609970926 option{padding:0;} #af-form-1609970926 table{border-collapse:collapse;border-spacing:0;} #af-form-1609970926 ul,#af-form-1609970926 ol{list-style-image:none;list-style-position:outside;list-style-[...]

Planning efficiency and Construction efficiency

Tue, 27 Jul 2010 13:06:00 +0000

One of the struggles with using a building system like panelized or modular homes is that the time efficiency that comes from the approach to building does not get you any additional time efficiencies with the planning and permitting process. We can save money and simplify the planning process, but it normally takes about the same amount of time to get a building permit.A conventional construction project and panelized construction project will roughly follow this process to permit approval:1. Choose an architect or designer, sign a contract and make a deposit so they start working. Pick a base plan to start with and redesign, or start a schematic design from scratch.2. Concurrently, get your soils report completed if it has not been done already to determine the approximate foundation system required on your site.3. Complete schematic design and submit for Planning Approval if required in your area as a separate submittal, make revisions as directed.4. Make a larger deposit to start the production of the full set of construction documents. Include hiring a civil and structural engineer and getting them started in this step.5. Construction documents are completed and submitted to the building department, receive red-line corrections and make modifications as required.6. Pick up and pay for building permit.A modular home construction project will roughly follow this process to permit approval:1. Choose an architect or designer to start working on your schematic design, or hire modular home company to design your home. It can be done either way, but it is normally recommended to come to your modular home company with a strong idea of what you want and work with them to "modularize" or do a "modular translation" of your plan. Modular home companies usually employ an in-house designer that costs less than architects or other designers. At Cutting Edge Homes, our in-house design team headed by Chris Wells can help you design any home you want to build. Pick a base plan to start with and redesign, or start a schematic design from scratch.2. Concurrently, get your soils report completed if it has not been done already to determine the approximate foundation system required on your site.3. Complete schematic design and submit for Planning Approval if required in your area as a separate submittal, make revisions as directed.4. Make a larger deposit to start the production of the full set of Factory Built Housing construction documents, which are completed by the modular home factory and submitted to the a state 3rd party approval agency for review. Include hiring a civil engineer for grading and erosion control plans and getting them started in this step.5. Construction documents including the state 3rd party stamped Factory Built Housing plans are completed and submitted to the building department, receive red-line corrections on the on-site construction portion only (factory built is exempt from local review), and make modifications as required.6. Pick up and pay for building permit.There are several advantages to the modular home Planning process. The modular home Planning process is simplified because you don't have a drawn out design process like happens with many architects. We make a health consideration of what you want in your home, but since we are also building your home we can help steer you toward options that are high performing and of reasonable cost.It is normally much less expensive because the payment for step #4, the "full set of Factory Built Housing construction documents", is actually a deposit that is credited toward the purchase of your modular home. That is not the case with step #4 on the conventional construction Planning process list, which is a sunk cost that is not credited toward the purchase of your home.A few years ago we realized that [...]

modular panelized home updates to

Fri, 23 Jul 2010 18:06:00 +0000

Here are a few new plans and content that were added to our modular and panelized home site.

Gallery of heavy steel panelized home

New Modular Home Plan: Hollywood Maxim - 3,041 square feeet

Modular Home video: Time Lapse set video