While technology has transformed nearly every industry, and every aspect of daily life, the way homes are designed and built remains relatively unchanged.
This fact isn't lost on Steve Linton, president of Deltec Homes, a home design company based in Asheville, North Carolina. He thinks his industry is ripe for innovation--and his revolutionary Deltec round homes are at the forefront of this wave.
With wild weather patterns on the rise, the homes of tomorrow must be strong. North Carolina, of course, is especially vulnerable to severe weather events. With a unique circular design, innovative materials, and advanced technology and processes, Deltec builds homes that can withstand some of the toughest weather conditions.
Just as important as their sturdiness, the homes are nice to live in. Their panoramic design fosters connections within the home, and with the world outside. Here's their secret to achieving inpressive durability without sacrificing aesthetics--and why more companies haven't yet followed suit.
Engineered for strength
One of Deltec Homes' differentiators is its roof system. The entire roof sits on the outside walls--no interior support required. Unobstructed by interior beams, the home's interior becomes a blank canvas for design. The panoramic views and natural light help those inside the home feel connected to the natural world. "The result is a unique living experience that is hard to explain," says Linton. "It almost feels like you are living outside."
The circular concept was first conceived in 1968 after a lengthy period of trial, error, and iteration. Unique in appearance and highly stylish, they are also highly durable--in the wake of Hurricane Hugo in 1989, and Andrew in 1992, Deltec homes were left standing and intact while many neighboring residences were not.
A modern Deltec home can withstand hurricane-force sustained wind of 185 mph and beyond. To date, less than one in a 1,000 Deltec homes have been structurally damaged by extreme weather. It is in part the design itself. Like a bike wheel, the homes transfer pressure throughout its structure, rather than localizing it, explains Linton.
Since the early '90s, the company has continually found ways to make homes even stronger, and more energy efficient. This includes using diamond-grade lumber for construction and using special gaskets to assemble its walls. Traditionally, home builders have reinforced homes by adding more nails or brackets. Linton says this methodology is like trying to make a race car out of a school bus.
"We believe you have to start with the right system: the aerodynamic shape, the materials designed for these environments, and the precision engineering it takes to allow these things to work together," he says.
Building for tomorrow
Advanced technology is changing the way homes are made, but you can't create exceptional homes without the human touch. It is a balancing act. At Deltec, designers use 3D computer programming to conceptualize their vision. A machine cuts the required pieces in the most efficient way possible. People assemble them inside a production facility, rather than onsite where the home will ultimately stand, as traditionally done. The structure is shipped to its destination by truck, train, or ship.
"You wouldn't build a car in a parking lot. Building in a controlled environment allows you to test for performance," notes Linton. "It is no different with homes. Homes are really one of the last remaining products that aren't fully utilizing advanced technology to make them."
Architects and home builders use a variety of different technologies and apply their own aesthetic vision for the homes they build. There's plenty of competition out there, so Linton has created a company culture of constant innovation and embracing change. To ensure Deltec keeps evolving, the team challenges itself to consider the home of tomorrow. It strives to build what they call "legacy homes," the houses their grandchildren will want.
Along with their durability, these homes are highly energy efficiency and exude natural light and personality. "People want homes that are more than a bunch of sticks and drywall, but rather provide connection and rejuvenation each day," says Linton.
Building these homes takes a balance of old school craftsmanship and cutting-edge materials, technologies, and processes. While others are content to do things the way they've always been done, Deltec builds on a foundation of innovation.