Getting the Design Right
At the Connor Homes factory in Middlebury, Vermont, homeowners Bill and April Harb (left side of table) customize their dream house with Connor Homes president Mike Connor (end of table) and Connor Homes architect Avery Hamilton, as TOH TV director of photography Jay Maurer films the scene.
Prepping the Site
TOH TV master carpenter Norm Abram and contractor Erik Kaminski (center) listen as subcontractor Scott McKenzie explains how he uses a battery-powered tying machine to save time setting the rebar for the concrete foundation forms.
On the Factory Floor
All the windows, as well as walls, doors, and other parts of a Connor Homes house, are built in the factory in Middlebury, Vermont.
One of the available options for the top of any Connor Homes barn-style garage is a cupola, such as this model chosen by the Harbs.
All the parts of the house—including exterior walls, floor joists, windows, and trim—are pre-built and cut, then wrapped, stacked, and labeled at the Connor Homes factory. Here, a truck is ready to roll to the site of the foundation.
With the house in pieces on-site, contractor Erik Kaminski's crew begins framing in a certain order specified by the factory. Here, on the first day of framing, Kaminski's crew installs sill plates, floor joists, and subfloor decking. Kaminski estimates that panelization cuts the framing process in half.
A framer from Erik Kaminski's crew connects the gable end on the rear of the garage, assembling the panelized pieces in a process Kaminski describes as similar to putting together a big jigsaw puzzle.
Flying the Cupola
A boom truck lifts the pre-built cupola onto the framed roof of the garage, topping off a guest suite separated from the house.
The Harb stairway, featuring oak treads and poplar risers, was built at the Connor Homes factory and shipped as one 400-pound assembly, for contractor Erik Kaminski and his crew to haul into place and install—in 15 minutes. "This would normally require an experienced finish carpenter two full days to do in place," says Kaminski.
Masters of the Closet
Contractor Erik Kaminski, left, and TOH TV host Kevin O'Connor lay out an ingenious plan for creating clothes-hanging-rods and shelves in the Harb master closet using ½-inch steel plumbing sections purchased at a home center. The $1,000 finished storage system costs far less than offerings from custom closet outfitters.
The Harbs modified the Connor Homes Federal-style farmhouse plan, widening the opening between the kitchen and dining room and upgrading to a French door from the family room to the back deck.
The Harbs sacrificed a fourth bedroom on the Connor plan to allow for a master suite.