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No Studs, No Drywall: This Gorgeous Tiny Vacation Home is Made from 3-inch Thick Solid Wood Walls
Cubist Engineering snaps together engineered wood panels to craft green, sustainable custom prefab studios, offices and guest suites
GREENWICH, NY – September 22, 2017 – When Popular Science magazine veterans Mike Haney and John Carnett founded their prefab small-space building company, Cubist Engineering (cubistengineering.com), the mission statement was simple: No studs. No drywall. Never build the same thing twice.
Instead, the Upstate New York startup looked to flip the prefab model on its head, building its clients’ completely custom “dream spaces”—suites, cabins, backyard offices, home additions—using innovative building materials and their own problem-solving inventions, like a bed that drops from the ceiling and a base that transforms from trailer to permanent foundation in under an hour. As needs change, the structures can be easily moved to a new site, or even expanded with new modules.
Among the company’s first builds are The Adirondack, a cabin-like spare room with a hidden twin bed and wood-burning stove, and The Sturgis, a 21-foot long weekend escape featuring a spa bath with indoor/outdoor shower, a ceiling-mounted queen-size bed, and a built-in motorcycle garage. All units get full smarthome controls and wireless switches.
“Prefab building, especially for small spaces, makes so much more sense than turning your home into a construction zone for months,” says co-founder Mike Haney. “But why should that limit you to off-the-shelf pods where all you get to pick is the paint color? Why can’t you have exactly what you want, without all the contractors and chaos, and it’s yours for life?”
Haney’s not kidding when he says “for life.” In keeping with its founders’ backgrounds, the company is obsessive about using better, more sustainable and lasting materials than your average stick-frame box. One of those is cross-laminated timber (CLT)—structural solid-wood panels (up to nine inches thick) manufactured to precise specifications in Montana using American wood and shipped to the Cubist shop, where they are quickly snapped together to form the entirety of the walls, floor and ceiling.
“CLT is not only cradle-to-grave sustainable, it’s also unbelievably strong even at thinner sizes, which frees up more interior space,” says Cubist’s other co-founder, John Carnett. “And the raw wood finish gives the building’s interior walls a gorgeous, organic, Scandinavian look.”
To solve the typical prefab delivery and installation headaches, Cubist engineered and built its own Transformable Foundation. Made with 10-inch steel I-beams coated with a 75-year rust-proof finish, the foundation has a detachable hitch and wheels, so the structures can be towed to a site, then dropped directly on the ground. “You can have a simple setup without being stuck looking like someone parked a trailer in your backyard,” Haney says. “And when you move in 10 years, snap the wheels back on and take it with you—no equity lost.”
Durability is a key filter for how the company outfits its builds. The units often feature trim made from Brazillian woods typically used in decking (so the UV coming through the window won’t fade them), siding made from an engineered wood that’s then burnt to add an even longer finish, and custom-welded pieces of furniture. “If it’s not overbuilt, it’s probably not ours,” adds Carnett.
The company will be on HGTV’s “Tiny House, Big Living” on November 27 featuring three of its units joined into a “tiny compound” by an expansive custom deck. Meanwhile, it’s solving new building challenges for clients, including a mobile tailor shop in Texas and a home addition on stilts in California. Says Haney, “We want to be the first prefab company that never builds the same thing twice.”
For more information, including high-resolution images, video and content, or to book a tour, contact:
Mike Haney, Co-Founder