The First Unity home under construction

Unity Homes Now Available.

Unity Homes Raises the Bar, Not the Price, for Homebuilding

New Brand from Bensonwood Aims to Dramatically Improve Standard Home Quality

October 9, 2012 — Walpole, N.H. — Today, Bensonwood announced the launch of Unity Homes, a new brand of homes that makes great design, robust engineering, best construction practices, and "mini-energy" consumption standard homebuilding expectations for the American home buyer.

The typical, newly constructed American home available to homebuyers today is often the equivalent of an outdated, fuel-guzzling automobile clunker made in Detroit in the 1970's. Yet, as a result of technological and manufacturing advances just a few decades later, consumers today have come to expect cars that are inexpensive, high quality, low maintenance, and fuel efficient; qualities long overdue for housing.

With the launch of Unity Homes, homebuyers will be able to enjoy a home built with: high-quality materials that are low maintenance; the highest levels of energy efficiency; the security of solid construction; the comfort of a light filled, healthy living environment; and an expectation of hundreds of years of service — the critically important quality standards that are missing from many of today's homes. Unity Homes are designed to both pay back and pay forward.

"It should go without saying that the quality of a home is an elemental aspect in the quality of our lives," said Tedd Benson, founder of Bensonwood, "How we house ourselves deeply affects who we are. It seeps into our consciousness and broadly defines our culture. We now have the knowledge and capability to make much better homes for everyone; therefore we should. We're excited about how Unity Homes will help bring this critical industry initiative forward."

All Unity Homes are fabricated off-site by skilled building systems specialists using advanced software systems, automated cutting machines, and Lean manufacturing advances to make large assemblies and sub-assemblies (usually panels) with unparalleled quality and precision. Completed building "elements" are then flat-packed on trucks using a unique software system to virtually pack and nest the elements, ensuring that little space is wasted. With the benefit of rapid on-site building assembly (1-3 days), total on-site construction time is reduced dramatically to as little as 20 to 60 working days.

"The typical American home is a performance dinosaur, and is too much of a long term burden for homeowners and society. Bensonwood aims to help make this species extinct with a new breed of beautiful, functional and uber-efficient homes under the new Unity Homes brand," explained Benson. "All the homes in the Unity collection will use 50-75% less energy than typical homes on the market today, thereby making fossil-fuel heating systems unnecessary because the energy loads are so low," added Benson.

Unity Homes' heating and cooling energy reduction is achieved through careful optimization, good building science and Lean manufacturing quality. The insulation levels are high but not extreme (R-35 wall — award-winning OBPlusWall™, R-44 roof); triple-pane windows (cold climates) allow more natural light and less heat loss; and a very rigorous assembly process gives industry leading air-tightness (less than or equal to .6@50 Pascals, the Passive House air tightness standard). With added renewable energy sources (most commonly photovoltaic arrays), Unity homes will typically be capable of zero net energy consumption.

To improve both the construction process and long term sustainability, Unity Homes are also Open-Built®. Developed by Bensonwood, Open-Built is a suite of innovations and practices created to apply Open Building principles to home design and construction. In the Open-Built home, the various mechanical systems are strategically disentangled from the structure creating more logical "layers," and many benefits. By isolating, the exterior thermal shell Open-Built® provides much better locations for installation during construction, while also allowing access for future alterations, upgrades, and new technologies.

Bensonwood's team of architects, designers and engineers have produced four architecturally and functionally diverse home collections, each initially with three configuration options ranging from contemporary to traditional designs. Each collection has two to four bedroom floor plan options and all have plans with the master bedroom on the main level. The wood used for construction of the homes also delivers a lower carbon footprint, with much less heat transmission characteristics than the steel used in other "green" designs.

Unity Homes are designed to be lagom, a Swedish word which doesn't translate directly, but essentially means just right, or in balance; not too much or too little. It recalls the dictum of the ancient architect, Vitruvius, that good design should always keep beauty, function and durability in an equal, uncompromised three-pronged priority — the famous "Vitruvian Triad." The result is a suite of homes that have simple, timeless forms; spacious and open living areas; and welcome, intimate rooms; in high performing buildings constructed for the ages. Unity Homes celebrates lagom values, and of course, Vitruvius.

The Unity Homes collections:

  • Xyla — American Bungalow; single story (1,113 — 1,591 sq. ft.) Starting at $199,750*
  • Tradd — Classic Tall Cape; two-story (2,056 — 2,452 sq. ft.) Starting at $339,500*
  • Zūm — Modern Green; single-story (1,594 — 2,133 sq. ft.) Starting at $298,500*
  • Värm — Swedish Contemporary Style; two-story (1,782 — 2,896 sq. ft.) Starting at $298,250*

*Complete house prices are minus land, permits, taxes, and site improvement/excavation. If building more than 50 miles from Walpole, NH, prices on shipping and on-site assembly may be higher.

"As we worked to separate the Unity Homes from Bensonwood for the purpose of clarity and focus for both brands, we knew the new brand would still need to be connected to our mature business culture and our forty years of dedication to craftsmanship, design integrity, rugged engineering, and great energy performance. To maintain our long-held quality standards while driving down costs, our Unity mantra has been, 'Neither compromise nor maximize, only optimize,'" Benson said.

Maintaining and reproducing high standards is one important aspect of optimizing and led the Unity team to the realization that the goal of affordability is a path, not a destination. But with the jump-start from the Bensonwood DNA and collective wisdom, Unity Homes is already well on its way, even at its inception. "We think the Unity Homes cost/quality proposition is unique in our industry," Benson stated.

Each Unity home comes with a range of stylish and eco-conscious standard specifications, with carefully chosen and green options to customize exterior and interior finishes and fixtures.

"We've just launched the Unity brand, but we're already in the process of building two new Xylas this fall. We expect to finalize contracts on some of the other models in the coming weeks," continued Benson. "With Unity Homes we aim to raise homebuyer's expectations and demands about fundamental building quality because the benefits are so important and the cost has come to be so competitive."

About Bensonwood: For more than 30 years, Bensonwood has delivered uncompromising quality and innovation in timber frame, hybrid and fully panelized, non-timberframe high-performance building. Through its unique Open-Built® system, Bensonwood incorporates advanced technologies and environmentally responsible practices in all its buildings. Bensonwood was also featured in 16 episodes of PBS's "This Old House," designing and building a high performance, eco-friendly home in Weston, MA. Winner of PATH's 2006 Innovative Small Builder of the Year award, Residential Contractor magazine's "2008 Builder of the Year," and winner of BuildingGreen's Top 10 products in 2010 for its OBPlusWall™, Bensonwood is a nationally recognized designer/builder of residential and commercial structures. For more information: bensonwood.com.