Their dad is a veteran in the house building wars, so Kurt and Kris Goodjohn had a rock-solid base when it came time to strike out on their own. But while the young brothers followed in their father’s career footsteps, they got sidetracked along the way, taking a little-used path to nontraditional residential construction.
What the 27-year-old Kurt and his 30-yearold brother Kris are involved in goes by many outdated monikers: prefab, modular, or ready-tomove (RTM) housing — or these days, systems built housing.
As partners in Karoleena Custom Homes, the brothers’ first venture into this 21st-century technology is on view at the corner of 15th Street and 34th Avenue S.W. in the inner-city community of Marda Loop.
The Graycie is a stylish, modern three-storey condominium designed by the Goodjohns and manufactured by Conquest Manufacturing Ltd. in Altona, Man.
Six trucks, each with a single piece of the multi-family jigsaw strapped to its bed, drove 14 hours from the plant to Calgary — and then in about half the time, the structure was unloaded and in place.
Presto. While neighbours watched, suites in the building were lowered in place totally finished on the inside with hardwood floors, triple-pane windows, ceramic tile, fireplace and appliances. All that remained was hooking up the pre-wired suites to the main box, laying on the exterior cladding and the start of sales.
“Feedback on the project has been 100-per-cent positive,” says Kurt, the engineer in the family.
“Compared to other properties in the same pricepoint, people have said The Graycie offers much greater value.”
Including geothermal technology, home automation systems, quartz countertops, high-end appliances and a long list of upscale finishings, furnishings and components, prices for the 1, 400-square-foot, two-bedroom/two-bath residences range from $515,000 to $540,000.
Sure, the brothers had a good grounding in the business of building homes — further enhanced through Kurt’s engineering background and Kris’s architecture and design schooling — but they wanted to try something new with housing.
“I suppose we are relatively young for the building industry and I believe the fact we are young ensured we weren’t so stuck in our ways that we were unable to recognize the sheer potential of building homes a better way,” says Kurt.
“We wanted to do something totally different from everyone else and also wanted to work toward building fully-sustainable homes.”
The building’s six modules were put together using Karoleena’s designs and engineering requirements.
The 4,280-squarefoot structure was built using a combination of steel and wood.
The modules each have a high EnerGuide rating and use energy-saving fixtures and environmentally friendly products.
Exterior walls are built 16 inches on centre and interior walls 24 inches on centre.
Walls have an insulation value of R22, while the ceiling is R56. All windows are triple-paned.
Built in just 45 days in an environmentally-controlled centre where materials are never exposed to the elements, the townhouses were built to exacting standards using laser technology that kept waste to a minimum.
Kurt says the concept of systems-built construction was something he and Kris found interesting after seeing the technology outlined in a U.S. magazine.
What initially caught their attention was the modern architecture and “how it all came together,” he says.
The Goodjohns believe this is the first systems-built project to find a home in Calgary — possibly in Alberta — adding it won’t be the last by a long shot.
With The Graycie half sold and the remaining townhouses available for immediate occupancy, the Goodjohns are off and running with their next project
A pair of triplexes in Erlton that have already received city approval will have similar finishings as the Marda Loop building, but with residences ranging from 1,500 to 2,100 square feet on three floors.
Also on the books is a semidetached project in Capitol Hill, a pair of detached homes backing onto Confederation Park and a single-detached home in Ramsay.
Kris Goodjohn says the company hopes to reach a point where it can build 50 homes a year.
“In living with this technology, we have come to quickly appreciate not only the desired environmental advantages and our goal of producing as much energy as the building consumes, but how readily adaptable the system is to customization and design influences of the customer — and we are able to complete the homes in half the time of conventional construction,” he says.
While The Graycie is a model of modern design, Kris says all the upcoming projects are mixtures of modern and traditional.
“We can truly build any style of home with our process and that holds true for multi-family or single-family,” he says.
Karoleena offers a stable of pre-designed homes, or it can work with clients to come up with a custom design complete with architectural drawings and engineering plans.
“Is systems-built housing a look into the future of homebuilding? I sure hope so,” says Kurt.
“I guess the future of the industry is in the hands of our generation and companies like Karoleena. We wholeheartedly believe in our process.”
From left, Kris and Kurt Goodjohn with their ‘systems-built’ project, The Graycie.
A crane lifts part of the Graycie condo development into place.