Design System

We developed Unity’s design system to offer our clients an alternative to custom design on the one hand, and “plan books” on the other. Designing a custom home can be a time-consuming and expensive process. A common alternative to custom design is selecting a home from a plan book, but that can be very limiting. Unity’s design system provides a middle way to simplify the process of designing a home that works for your needs, your budget and your building lot.

In addition to simplifying the process, our design system also helps to ensure predictability in the quality of the home, the time it takes to build it and the cost, because all of the elements used in the system are predesigned and pre-engineered. Knowing what these elements look like, what’s required to build them, and how they fit together gives us a very good idea of how they will perform, how long construction will take, and what it will cost.

With the growing interest in high performance, healthy homes, Unity has been experiencing a significant increase in demand. We are responding to this interest by expanding our team and honing our processes, but nevertheless our lead times are currently longer than we would like. These challenges are not unique to Unity; in fact, builders throughout the northeast are struggling to keep up with demand. 

Project schedules depend on many factors, including the length and complexity of the design process, features of the building site, financing, and the availability of local builder partners. Unity is committed to providing our clients with the best possible information about their building schedule throughout the design-build process.


At the heart of our design system are five platforms, or design starting points. We took a page from IKEA’s book by giving our platforms distinctive names: Xyla, Zum, Värm, Tradd and Nano. For each of the platforms, we’ve developed a library of design elements that include bumpouts, wings, dormers, porches, decks, connectors and garages. We think of these elements like parts of a Lego kit that can be used to configure the platforms to fit particular sites, budgets and needs.

Because the elements within our design system have been optimized for production, the more closely clients adhere to the guidelines of the system (we think of it as “coloring within the lines”), the better the value we are able to provide.


Unity offers three different design paths for the initial Pre-Construction Services Agreement (PSA) phase, to accommodate a wide variety of client needs and sites.

“Streamlined”: This path is for clients who find that one of the example plans from Unity’s website can work well for them with minimal modifications. Our Streamlined path minimizes design time and cost.

“Personalized”: For clients on the Personalized path, Unity configures the plan to fit the site and the design program using standard elements from our system.

“Semi-custom”: Clients opting for the Semi-custom path have the greatest flexibility to adapt a plan to fit their needs. While the resulting design is still based in Unity’s design system, we may configure our standard platforms with new patterns or components. The Semi-custom process takes longer and costs more than the other two design paths, and the resulting construction costs tend to be higher.

Download Unity Package Paths

Regardless of the design path chosen for the PSA phase, a virtual 3D model lies at the heart of our process. We add information to this computer model as the design and specifications of the home are determined. The model allows clients to visualize the home as it is being designed, and it ultimately drives the computer-controlled machines in our shop. The model ensures accuracy and speed in the fabrication process, and predictable results for our clients.


Everything from the screenshot meetings to the itemized pricing is very impressive. I don’t consider myself the most visual or technically minded client, but you make it very easy. Having gone through this process, I’m not sure why anyone would want to build a house any other way!

Lisa B., Unity Homeowner


In addition to developing the design of the home during the PSA process, we also guide our clients in the selection of the materials, finishes and fixtures that will make the house feel like a home. Our interior design team offers a selection of options at various price points that have been vetted for value, aesthetics and sustainability.

Clients who stick closely to Unity’s standard offerings realize the greatest value. Compare STANDARD and UPGRADE options.