No one has ever said that new construction is easy… and in the Rocky Mountain West, builders face some unique challenges.
As you navigate through the Rockies, whether by road or air, you’ll be astounded by the sheer remoteness and dispersion of towns, neighborhoods, ranches, homes, and cities. You’ll drive or fly miles between signs of life besides your occasional herd of elk, deer, or pronghorn dashing off in the distance.
The remote nature of the rocky mountain west draws individuals from all walks of life to visit or relocate to the area. Yet what is often underestimated is how the natural elements and harsh climate impact new construction.
Focusing on the communities of Carbondale, and Silverthorne, Colorado, we’ll look at how factors such as weather & climate and the scarcity of skilled labor impact new construction and how building from a kit can help reduce complications.
Benefits of Building A Kit at High Elevation in Colorado
Colorado is unique, with an average elevation of over 6,000 feet above sea level; it’s known for gorgeous sunshine throughout the summer months but equally incredible snowfall throughout the mountains and foothills during the winter.
With snowfall starting as early as October throughout most high-elevation regions, contractors face a much shorter optimal building season than in many other parts of the United States. To succeed on most projects, builders strive to get their projects “dried in” throughout the summer months, with the goal of completing the interior throughout the winter once the home has been sealed.
Building A Kit Helps Save Time & Money
The adoption of system-built construction in these high-elevation markets has been key to builders’ success for several reasons. Primarily, the time savings associated with building from a kit, and secondarily, the availability of materials which we will touch on shortly.
When limited to a shorter season for completing a new home, time savings is front of mind. A prefabricated kit allows builders to spend more time building homes and less time on all the busy work required leading up to that point.
Services eliminated by building from a kit:
- Constant Back & Forth w/ Client, Architect, & Engineer
- Material Takeoff & Purchase Orders
- Material Prefabrication (Save Time & Labor)
- Exterior Siding & Trim Pre-Finished
Therefore, kits allow builders to hit the ground running when the snow thaws in the spring with confidence that they will have their projects dried in, if not 100%, completed before snowfall in October.
Panelized Kit Homes are Sustainable & Efficient to Construct
SIP (Structural Insulated Panel) construction helps builders construct homes faster than ever, utilizing panels that span up to 24 feet, reducing labor costs and project timelines by up to 50%.
These panels fit together like puzzle pieces to create an airtight wall structure that is strong enough to support itself without needing additional support from exterior walls made from lumber or stone blocks.
But how do they withstand the brutal winter cold of the Rockies?
There isn’t a better option when building in such a harsh climate. SIPs are a pre-insulated wall & roof system that comes standard at 6.5” with R-26 closed-cell foam insulation in the walls and 10.25” with R-42 closed-cell foam in the roof.
The airtight construction of a SIP home, paired with state-of-the-art foam insulation, can help reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 50% or more. The result is lifetime energy savings, especially in locations such as the Rockies, where heat is necessary throughout the cold winter.
You can learn all about the benefits of building a SIPs home in SIPs 101…
Kits Help Maximize Efficiceny in a Scarce Labor Market
Another factor that continually impacts the success of new construction projects in the Rockies is the scarcity of skilled labor. The cost of living in many western cities has priced out the average earner, making it increasingly challenging to find skilled labor and skilled trades to finish your project.
Taking the system-built approach to construction helps local contractors throughout the west, and all over the country operate more efficiently with a smaller workforce. Maximizing the sweat equity per employee by allowing crews to assemble homes rather than waste time fabricating components in the field.
Kit Housing is the Best Choice For an Owner Builder
Building a home or cabin is challenging, especially if you lack the proper experience. Despite the inherent difficulties, kit-style housing has helped make new construction an increasingly appealing option to owner-builders, especially in markets with a scarcity of skilled labor.
An owner-builder is an individual who takes on the project management responsibilities for their new construction project instead of hiring a general contractor. Some of the tasks associated with the typical project management role are:
- Hiring an Architect or Purchasing Plans
- Structural Engineering of Plans
- County Approval & Permitting
- Material Takeoff & Purchase Orders
- Sourcing Vendors
- Scheduling of Trades
- Dirt Work
- Daily Oversight of the Project
As an owner-builder, you can delegate most of those tasks to a third party by simply starting from a kit. That’s because, when you purchase a kit, you’re buying a lot more than just a stack of labeled lumber. You’re purchasing a pre-engineered and construction-ready set of plans that meet and exceed local qualifications, pre-cut & labeled materials shipped directly to your job site, and ongoing builder support throughout the assembly process.
Your time as an owner-builder will be freed so you can focus on what matters the most!
Source Building Materials With Greater Efficiency
One final thing you must remember when building in the Rocky Mountains is your proximity to resources. Depending on the location of your lot, you may be an hour’s drive or more from the nearest lumber yard, Home Depot, or comparable vendor.
When building with a kit, all the materials needed for your project are packaged and delivered directly to the job site. As a builder, you can rest assured that the materials required to complete the project are on hand, and you won’t waste time going to and from the local vendor.
Not to mention the sheer diversity and availability of material selection you’ll receive when building from a kit. Rather than being restricted to the product line available in your local market, you’ll be able to source materials directly from the Pacific Northwest, North America’s largest lumber-producing region.
A Preliminary Tour of Two Unqiue Colorado Cabin Kits
Silverthorne, Colorado, Cabin Kit
The Keystone Cabin – Currently under construction near Silverthorne, Colorado. You can view the floor plans and preliminary elevations online.
Roaring Fork River Valley, Colorado, Cabin Kit
The Silverthorne Cabin – Currently under construction near Carbondale, Colorado. You can view the floor plans and preliminary elevations online.
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Contemplating Whether a Kit Is Right For Your Rocky Mountain Lot?
Our project managers are happy to help answer any of your questions regarding kit-style housing. Please reach out if you have any questions or would like to get started on your project in the upcoming months!