It's easy to blame builders for being too conservative and too cautious, for using only materials and techniques they already know. But that simply isn't true. Builders, like architects, are constrained by the marketplace.
For many people, the first step in buying a house is to check real-estate listings. Few people build new houses, and even fewer hire an architect to help them. It takes a courageous client to be the first to sign up for a new type of construction, and a courageous builder to put a price on a technique that he or she has never tried. As a result, builders build what sells, and buyers buy what's offered.
Having experienced this phenomenon as an architect, I was delighted to be introduced to Josh Fedorka of Symphony Construction, who with real-estate broker Mony Hang had formed Green Quality Homes. They were jumping into an aggressive market for single-family housing in the Portland, Maine, area, with plans for a healthful and efficient house that could compete with conventionally built spec houses. Together, we built our first house, which we called Harmony House, and sold it by the end of 2004.
Harmony House is a 2200-sq.-ft. spec house in Freeport, Maine, built in 2004 by a team that included a builder, an architect, and a real-estate broker. Photo taken at A on floor plan.