PORTSMOUTH — An architect, builder and 3D animator have combined their skills to create an online home building process that rethinks the way homes are designed and built.
At its core, Profile Homes (https://profilehomesnh.com) was created to shorten the construction schedule and avoid cost overruns, while providing customers with attractive choices on design, appearance and fit of their new homes that are also environmentally sustainable.
“I asked myself: if I were to reinvent the process of building a house, what would it look like from start to finish?” said Matt Silva, founder of Profile Homes. “And if I were to use the technology we have today, how could I make it a better process for our customers, and therefore more affordable, to build net-zero energy homes? We just started working a process from there, both in design and schematically to understand it.
Silva is the builder, having entered the business, by his own admission, upside down. He first worked in house building on the sales and marketing side before actually swinging a hammer and regularly covering himself in dirt and sawdust.
“I started on the operations side and the sales and marketing components of construction and renovation,” Silva said. “So the joke was always the sweetness of Silva there.”
Jennifer Ramsey is the architect. She founded and managing partner of SOMMA Studios in Portsmouth, with a long resume in commercial and residential design and development. These are his home designs on the profiles homepage.
“Here is an opportunity where buyers get highly selected home packages that are timeless,” Ramsey said. “They get professionalism from myself and our entire team.”
Stefan Vittori is the 3D animator. He owns Tangram 3DS in Kittery, Maine, a company that provides custom design visualization/animation services for architectural, industrial, millwork and furniture design. Her three-dimensional animation gives the client an “in house” feel of what the house will ultimately look like when built on the land she purchased and fitted inside with her finishing touches. This is especially true when virtual reality glasses are used to view the project.
When Silva and Ramsey talk about technology, they’re not just talking about advancements in line with capabilities provided by Vittori, but also advancements in pre-engineered building materials, heating/cooling and electrical components, and home management systems.
Profile Homes went live in September. Silva and Ramsey first met about a year prior, bringing in Vittori as their vision developed. And, for three years prior to that, Silva had been floating around in his head about how today’s technologies could be applied to the traditional home building process.
Silva and Ramsey had not met before this meeting, held to discuss a project for a client that ultimately didn’t get done. But at that meeting, Silva spoke about a vision he had for recreating the process of building homes, and Ramsey began to imagine what she described as “highly curated” style homes that could match this view.
Their goal is to create a home, using energy-efficient building materials such as structural insulated panels and solar-powered heating and cooling systems, that have no electricity bills. The term is net zero – a building with net zero energy consumption, meaning that the total amount of energy used on an annual basis is approximately equal to the amount of renewable energy created on-site.
“It just took putting all the pieces together,” Silva said. “The cost of solar has gone down. Technology has improved so much for heating and cooling systems that they can run on a limited amount of solar energy.
For the style and appearance of homes, Ramsey uses the best ideas from over 20 years of experience in small and large residential and commercial projects. She has designed eight homes for the Profile Homes website and is working on others. Styles include: Barn Conversion, Bungalow, Coastal Cape, Cottage, Farmhouse, Inland Cape, Modern, and New England.
Typically, they have three to four bedrooms and 2½ bathrooms in the 2,000 square foot range, starting at $400,000. Ramsey relied on familiar styles from the region.
“They grew up in a salt shaker, or they like the cape or New England or the bungalow. The modern farmhouse is a big trend right now,” Ramsey said. “We understood what resonates with people who are nostalgic, that is, with them.”
While Profile Homes chooses the construction materials and mechanics – the guts of the home – customers choose the style and finishes of the kitchen and other rooms.
“We’re giving you the opportunity to make those selections, which I think is unique and at a good price,” Ramsey said. “We try to ensure that people are in the best position possible to feel like it has a say in how their home came out, what it was like and what it means to them. It’s just another way to get some of that architectural experience and customization without going over the top and without spending a lot of money.
The savings on these organized homes are in the construction schedule, according to Ramsey and Silva. A traditionally built home, from design to finished construction, can take one to two years, depending on the complexity. Silva said a start to finish of Profile Home is four to six months.
Silva also noted that the fixed price upfront helps eliminate cost overruns and there are long-term savings as a net-zero home.
For Silva, there was an unfair image attached to modular homes as cheap, and he intends to overturn that image with Profile Homes.
“In that career path, I had gone to work for a custom modular home company just outside of Westchester County, New York. And I thought, ‘My God, if you could just erase the stigma that comes with modular,'” Silva said. “It’s a great system and a great way to build, so building systems makes a lot of sense. You see that happening in a lot of other areas, especially on the West Coast, where any system building process you can do really takes off. New England hasn’t really gotten to it yet, but that’s the way to do it.
Silva and Ramsey say the homes they offer appeal to a wide range of customers, from first-time home buyers who want some control over building their first home to empty-nests looking for a forever home that can easily turn into a house to age in place with everything on one floor.
“Everyone seems to want the option of having a master bathroom or master suite on the first floor at some point in their lives if they are ever to reach single family age,” Ramsey said. . “We have an office or extra room adjacent to a bathroom, or an oversized closet that can be converted. You will see how the master can descend. We’ve tried to pull together the essentials that people will be looking for.
Silva envisions a future where the Profile Homes concept can appeal to other Northeastern states with franchises in Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts with new style homes coming online to reflect an area’s particular style. .
At the moment they are busy with Profile Home projects in the Seacoast.
“The interest and response has been incredible,” Silva said. “The challenges we face are not the ones we thought we would encounter. It’s really a lot of people finding land, people finding the right location, because now we’re building a house that’s a forever home.