Unity Homes!

My blog has been in hibernation for quite awhile, and I suppose that should be a reason to feel badly, but the reason for less writing was more working, and the reason for more working was to realize a long-held dream which is hitting an important milestone today. Here’s the background story:

Bensonwood was founded nearly 40 years ago. My youthful driving passion at the time was to find a better way to build. As a carpenter, I had come to really like building homes, but to equally dislike some of the prevailing methods that often led to shortcuts and severe compromises. It set me off on what I intended to be a noble mission, but in retrospect I’m sure it was selfishly motivated too, as I wanted to develop a system that had more challenges, more opportunity for creativity, and was, well, just more fun.

And it has been fun. I’ve constantly worked with amazing people in a company that is much better than my leadership has earned. And over the years, we’ve all learned that we can accomplish nearly anything if we unleash our collective energy, skills and knowledge because in the end, making good buildings is a team sport. If there are any heroes, it’s always an accounting of how many are in the “we.”

In the past four decades, that “we” that we call Bensonwood have contributed our special skills to over a thousand building projects, most of which have been designed and engineered by our staff. We have built in nearly every state in theU.S., and a few places overseas. Our work graces churches, restaurants, libraries, theaters, gazebos, pergolas, barns of all sorts, and houses big and small. We have made a difference.

We’ve also done what I set out to do at the beginning: we have indeed developed a better way to build. It wasn’t luck. We’ve been working on that specific project assiduously for fifteen years. We now have a truly unique off-site design and construction process that is a real and unique solution to many of the conventional construction deficiencies. We’ve developed a design system, written software, invented building systems, and then combined all of that with the precision of our craftsmanship and the efficiency and control of Lean manufacturing methods. Our special system is called Open-Built™ This entire “operating system” brings to homebuilding the consistency, quality standards, and cost structure homeowners deserve.

Now we realize that our “secret sauce” gives us more capabilities and capacity than we typically utilize. It’s time to expand.

Today we are announcing the launch of a new brand called Unity Homes that will increase our capacity for growth and bring our legendary quality to more people. Unity Homes and Bensonwood will be separated to assure full focus for both, but they will also be complementary. Bensonwood will be free to continue pursuing new challenges in timberframes, and highly customized, demanding building projects, both commercial and residential. Unity Homes will have a tightly engineered and well designed suite of homes that can be personalized, but the customization will be limited for the sake of optimizing cost and quality.

The mission of Unity Homes is to offer the highest quality homes for the lowest possible cost. Because of Bensonwood’s legacy, the Unity Homes quality won’t waver; because of our goals for this new brand, we’ll constantly fight to make this standard of homebuilding more affordable and more accessible.

For nearly a year, we have been working hard in the background to design and engineer the Unity Homes offerings and develop all the information and material needed to bring it to life in a way that is distinct and unique, and representative of our standards and values.  Our team did all of the work right here, including the design, engineering, pricing, specifications, website design and development and even the wonderful renderings to represent the designs.

Essentially, with no outside funding and lots of long hours, we have created a 40 year old start up. And it is now live. I feel like a kid.

The “we” of Bensonwood has triumphed again. The new era of Unity Homes has begun.




9 thoughts on “Unity Homes!

  1. Hello Tedd, congratulations on your new unity homes division. I think it’s a wonderful idea and will be very lucrative. As we see it in our industry, affordability is essential now days. You’ve manage to create a great product that your average American can afford. Just so you know, we are still looking for that opportunity to bring your product out here to San Diego for a prospect. Always a fan of yours and a huge admirer.
    Your friend,
    Michel Khozam, President
    ZMK Construction

    1. Thanks much, Michel.
      It’s critical to find ways to raise the bar on home quality. I believe that once it’s proven that a better standard is possible, a better standard will take hold quickly. There’s no doubt we can build better houses and make them affordable, but there hasn’t been an industry will to do it because there’s been too much submission to the limitations determined by the current status quo.
      There are lots of builders out there building good quality homes. You are one great example. It just hasn’t yet become the national norm. I appreciate your dedication and determination also. We’re in this together. Keep it up!

  2. Congratulations, Tedd and company- I think you’ve got a winner! Terrific designs and concepts; Varm 134 is speaking to me!

    You’ve been moving toward this point for a long time. Seems like even my foggy memory recalls your FHB articles, 20 or more years ago, decrying the poor quality of typical american homes, yes?

    Mentioned the Unity inauguration to several members, at tonight’s meeting of the Cape Fear Green Builders Alliance. http://www.cfgba.org/

    Best wishes for much success,
    Wilmington, NC

  3. You are right, Karl. This goes back many years. That’s why my resume is so boring. I’ve been on this path for 40 years. I know it’s your path too. And I know this work we’re doing will play a big part in changing the assumptions of both builders and homeowners. We can make better, more sustainable homes, and we should.
    Give my best to the Cape Fear Green Builders.

  4. I think my comments were misleading, Tedd. Construction tech is just a hobby for me; I’ll need your talents, if I ever go that route!

    A couple of questions:
    While I’m glad to see them omitted in your plans, is the conspicuous absence of a fireplace going to be an issue for clients?

    How do you think your designs would fare in a hurricane zone?

    Have you seen this product? http://www.qaduct.com

  5. A week ago, October 9th, I learnt two successful cases of “Vison and Hardwork”; “iPS cell” and “Unity Homes”. There are points in common in my understanding. iPS cell is made from 4 kinds of genetic factors called Yamanaka factors. On the other hand, “Unity” is developed by 3 kinds of genetic factors of Benson Wood; “Design, Engineering and Craftsmanship” which I first knew on the signboard at the Benson Wood’s parking in 1991. Now, everybody knows that “Unity” is the result of “Vison and Hardwork” for a long time with 4 genetic factors, “Design, Engineering, Craftsmanship and Teamwork”. Congratulations!
    -one of Beam Team members in far West Coast of North America, Miyasaka-

    1. We need to think and act big if we’re going to make the important improvements to homebuilding we all believe are so important. With Unity Homes, we have a scalable business model that will allow us to keep pushing down costs and quality up. Thanks for your encouragement.

  6. Glad to see you back… and with a vengence! As I’ve been laboriously nailing the inner skin of my house onto the timber frame I’ve been thinking over how I’d do things differently if I were doing this for a living. You’ve already covered that ground and more. Your books were an inspiration for our future home… your path to building better homes for the masses is an inspiration for what I should be doing next. Thanks for everything and best of luck with Unity Homes.

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