Tight Knot offers full design and build services for custom homes.


We are a great option because we integrate architectural design with an understanding of construction methods, since we are also the builders. This allows us to create unique and beautiful homes for as low as $150 per square foot.


We are now fielding requests for people who are buying land and would like to have their dream home built. This is becoming a popular inquiry, particularly in New Hampshire, because buying existing homes in this extremely competitive real estate market with low inventory is very challenging. Also, finding the exact house that matches your unique needs is rare. 


Some people choose to shop for their house plans online after buying land, and then hire a builder to follow the house plans that they purchased. This route can be problematic, mainly because a pre-designed home will have to be manipulated to fit site constraints, including the land slope, the orientation of the sun, or unique landscape and access conditions. Sun, slope, and landscape conditions should be driving factors of how a home is designed, rather than an afterthought. This principle holds true both from an architectural design perspective, but also from a practical cost and construction perspective. A home that is designed specifically for its setting makes it different from any other home, and can bring out existing conditions such as views, light, and movement that are characteristic of that particular place. For example, a house built into a hill where the roads are on top of the hill, can have an entry from above, and the lower levels may have glass sliding doors, allowing someone to walk out, or look out from the lower part of the hill. 


Building a house designed according to the site conditions also makes more sense from a cost standpoint. There may be unusual setbacks on a property, due to the town rules or an environmental setback, such as a wetland. A custom home can be sized exactly to fit these constraints. When a house is not designed for the place, various conditions can mean the house plan must be modified to fit, which adds time and money. When items are added on to the project, and are not planned to fit the place from the outset, it can become very costly. It can change how the original plan was engineered, and can go against the structure of the design to add new spaces. In the end, the costs for manipulating a pre-made plan will not be worth it, in most circumstances. You will also have a home that many others have; it will not be uniquely yours, and will not be truly connected to the place where you live.


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How our design build process works: Once you have land, our company can start a design process with you, which involves having an understanding of everything you want from a home. It will also involve tailoring your unique needs to the unique place that you have chosen for your project. Every place is distinctive and special, and a well-designed house can capture the magic of everything around it. 


Typically, it costs about $5,000 for a large single family home design, plus the cost of an engineer. It involves several meetings, and an iterative design process of continually adjusting the design until it fits everyone's needs, and the constraints of the place. Once there is a design that everyone feels good about (the engineer included), we will submit drawings to the building department. These drawings are a roadmap for the construction of the rest of the project, and they also cover necessary permits for the build.


Because we are also building the project we are designing, we have a good idea of what it costs each step of the way. This means that we can keep you aware of the budget during design. Often, when people work with an architect instead of a design builder, the architect designs something that is not very construction intuitive, and the cost is double the expectations for the actual construction. Of course, you won't find this out until you bring the architect's costly plans to a builder! In addition, using a builder without an architect who doesn't have design training can cause all kinds of mistakes with respect to the circulation and design of the home. If you use only a builder, you have to make sure that he has a good understanding of architecture, and vice versa.


The design build process is central to Tight Knot's focus. This is because of how seamlessly our design philosophy fits into cost-efficient construction. We believe architecture is about space, not form, and that less "stuff" yields a more effective design. This way of thinking lends itself to an open floorplan style of architecture that connects all of the public spaces together with the place. It was only recently that we realized that modern post frame construction lends itself perfectly to this philosophy of architecture. 

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Post frame construction is an old construction method, and was used to build homes in colonial New England. It became antiquated by new styles, forms, and shapes, however, it has become revitalized due to advancements in building technology, which includes the use of trusses, and engineered lumber. Post frame construction is a good choice if you are interested in that classic New England shape, similar to the post and beam Capes of the 1700's.


Today, a lot of builders are aware of post frame construction because it's simple, and the modern engineered connections can deliver $50 to $75 per square foot, for bare-bones homes, woodshops, and garages. It's used in a lot of commercial applications because it allows for a lot of space for relatively little cost, and the buildings tend to get cladded in inexpensive aluminum. A lot of architects dismiss this as a building method because of the association with industrial unfinished cheap spaces. The other reason architects look past it, is that it doesn't allow them to make all kinds of shapes and complex intersections. They design their idea first, then look for a construction method that works, whatever a contractor recommends to make their sculpture. However, they don't design with a deeper understanding of the construction method. 

Because our design philosophy is rooted in 'less is more,' we embrace the simplicity of post frame construction, and design with this framework in the beginning of the design process. Where others see a cheap building frame, we see opportunities to frame striking views, utilize warm wood materials to make it feel like home, and create skylights and other special lighting conditions over shower spaces and saunas. We want to use this simple framework so we can sink costs into very special features, and make a high-end home without the costs for all the twists and turns. One client of ours wants a basic post frame, cladded in wood, with one giant 20 foot window looking out into the woods. The result will be a project that is a lot greater than the sum of its modest parts.


Not everyone subscribes to this philosophy of design and construction, but if you are someone who is open to it, definitely reach out to us. We can deliver something at a great price that just might amaze you!