My mother’s family is from Sparta. When my Uncle Tony got married in 1967, his new bride, from Greece came to America. I was 12 years old at the time and my new Aunt explained to me that I was Spartan. I said yes I know I am Greek.
So I thought all Spartans were Greeks, but as was explained to me, Spartans were much different. The Spartans defended the Greek heartland from invaders. Without Sparta, Greece and maybe the free world, would be Persian.
The Battle of Thermopylae
The most famous Spartan battle, on which The 300 movie was based, Leonidas and his 300 Spartans along with approximately 7,000 Greeks total, fought against a Persian force estimated to be 100,000 to 800,000 , at the narrow coastal pass of Thermopylae. The vastly outnumbered Greeks held off the Persians for seven days . The Spartans took great pride on how many warriors could defend their positions and the Spartans held off the Persian Army until they were betrayed by a normal Greek. They may have lost that battle, but it left such an impression on the Persians that when the Persian army later encountered an army of 10,000 Spartans, they just gave up. The Persians were defeated in later years, and much credit went to Sparta.
My Grandfather Emanuel, came to the USA in 1938, worked hard, then went back to Sparta, and bought 150 acres of farms and ocean front in the Peloponnese that we are planning to build Green Home Sites. We are going to develop these in honor of my grandfather who gave up his life, against Communists trying to take his land, in 1948.
Both ancient and modern writers have used the Battle of Thermopylae as an example of the power of a patriotic army defending its native soil. The performance of the defenders at the Battle of of Marathon and Thermopylae is also used as an example of the advantages of training, equipment, and good use of terrain as force multipliers and has become a symbol of courage against overwhelming odds. This is my inspiration for starting Spartan Builders and strive to achieve the beauty and the simplicity of Green Building and Conservation.
A Brief History of Home-Building
The concept of a master builder was formally recognized as early as 1800 B.C. when, in ancient Mesopotamia, the Code of Hammurabi was used to design and construct all public works. A great many old and famous structures were built by master builders: Agia Sophia, the Parthenon, and London Bridge, the White House, Central Park and most of the European cathedrals. Medieval cathedrals are, in fact, remarkable examples of building mastery.
But as large buildings became more complex, increasing specialization separated the functions of design and construction into individual craftsman or teams of collaboration. Architects and engineers became the designers, and builders erected the structure from these designs.
The resulting process has become known as the design-bid-build process. Once a design was finished and plans drawn up, the project was put out for bid. The winning bidder was then responsible for building according to the design.
Spartan Design Build
Spartan Buildings is a design-builder that combines the modern form of the oldest approach to creating buildings — that of the master builder. The master builder was originally a combination architect, engineer and builder, responsible for every phase of building a structure from initial concept to completion. This is now what Spartan calls Building Science.
The Master Builder built the water and irrigation to power the project, gardens to feed people. He commanded the necessary resources: draftsmen, masons, carpenters, laborers, and metal-workers, and dedicated them to the single-minded pursuit of excellence in design and construction of projects. This is what Spartan calls Collaboration and Innovation.
Fast forward from 1800 BC -Times have changed but the concepts are still valid.
The Beauty is in the Simplicity – Spartan Services
Spartan believes that every building should be designed and built using the basic Spartan principals that are easy to understand like what is the best land use, such as the position of the house for day-lighting, good drainage and keeping the moisture and humidity out, and using the natural insulation of trees against the sun. I would say this was a good use of terrain as a force multiplier. It just so happens to be the LEED green designated objectives also where that best use of resources results in the highest levels of LEED points. And in today’s real estate market, a LEED Gold rated home can have a maximum resale value.
Getting LEED Certification, can be as simple as using the right flooring and Energy Star appliances. If a LEED Platinum level is desired, then more expensive products are used, but produce a higher living standard in your new living environment such as geothermal heating and cooling, pristine water, home automation, great energy classification.
Net Zero Energy utilizes sun, wind, Tesla Batteries, and Energy Star rated components to virtually eliminate monthly building expenses.
Spartan calls our products Smart Buildings, and we use innovation and 3D Designs to create a master plan worthy of its total design and collaboration between many LEED point categories. Spartan will deliver the following as part of our service product:
- Building Scientists who will deliver the most up to date Innovation and Design Processes
- Our focus is on building sustainable sites
- Water Efﬁciency
- Energy and Home Automation Products
- Use of safe building materials
- Conserve building resources
- Indoor Environmental Quality
- Landscape and Habitat
Spartan Building Scientists are well versed to achieve a Green Building Certification. The certification, from the US Building Council called LEED, is SIlver GOld Patinum and covers a wide variety of home improvements to achieve Platinum results.
3D Design and Visualization in Building Choices
Builders learned their craft through an informal apprenticeship process: A young builder went to work for a seasoned contractor and learned on the job how a particular house-type was built. Most builders limited themselves to one or two designs that they built over and over again, like the cookie-cutter approach.
Some homeowners did not like this trend and were insisting on a little more personality and individuality in their homes. Their needs did not justify the cost of a full architectural design, but they wanted more than the standard tract house. This is the type of solution that Spartan sells. Our idea is that a custom home could be designed as well as constructed to LEED Gold standards, we utilize 3D walk through architecture and modern simulation tools for energy savings and designing building automation system, into the home full integrated. This is the true form of design-builders, and reviving that most ancient way of building, the master builder.
What is a Design-Builder?
Most simply put, a design-builder re-consolidates the functions of design and construction under one roof rather than parceling it out between an architect or designer and a building contractor. A design-builder is not appropriate for some homes. The high-dollar, high-tech, designer homes a la Bill Gates still require the training and talents of a registered architect. But for the rest of us, design-build is the ideal way to build — combining design creativity and building expertise in one source for absolute coordination of effort, maximum efficiency and lowest cost.
Design-build represents a substantial departure from the conventional design-bid-build project delivery process. In design-bid-build, homeowners hire a designer or architect to create a plan, then put the project out for bid to contractors. During the construction process, the architect may continue to represent the owner acting as construction manager, but more often, the responsibility for management is turned over to a general contractor. In design-build, the homeowner, builder and designer collaborate from the project’s earliest stages to generate designs and establish costs. The designer answers to the contractor, who has ultimate responsibility for the entire project — including the design.
Benefits of Design-Build
The design-build process results in several significant advantages to the homeowner.
A key feature of design-build is that it fixes one source of responsibility. This concept is known as “Single Point of Accountability”. Single Point of Accountability requires you to deal with one and only one entity. Your design-builder representative is present at every meeting and is the channel for all communication. Where design and building are split between designer and separate builder, there are multiple points of responsibility, and in the event of a misunderstanding or dispute, you may end up becoming the mediator between the designer’s plan and the builder’s implementation — a role for which you are ordinarily not well prepared.
Because design and construction are overlapped, and bidding periods and redesign time are eliminated, total design and construction time can be significantly reduced. Design-build is ideal for the application of “fast track” construction techniques. Procurement and construction work begin before the working drawings are fully completed. The resulting time savings translates into lower costs and earlier occupancy. According to a study conducted in the late 1990s by the Construction Industry Institute together with Pennsylvania State University, design-build projects are completed, on average, 33% faster than traditional design-bid-build projects.
When design and crafts people work jointly on a plan, the designer has the benefits of the craftsman’s knowledge of how things actually get built, and can early on find more efficient ways of building, and cost-saving material substitutions. This process, known generally as “value engineering” is easier to accomplish when builders and designers work as one team. And the results can be plugged into the budget earlier so that savings in one place can result in added features in another. The cost savings resulting from the process are real. The Pennsylvania State University study found that on average design-build results in cost savings of 6% over conventional building. And that’s just the average. The study documented cost savings of as much as 40%. Think about that. On a $10,000 remodel, the savings can be as much as $4,000 — net cost $6,000.
Reduced Administrative Burden
Because design-build is a fully integrated process, your administrative burden is much reduced. You are not required to coordinate and arbitrate between separate design and construction providers. This reduces the inevitable stress of remodeling and permits you to focus on what is needed to speed the project to completion, like making the timely decisions that are certain to be necessary at various points in the construction process.
Early Forecasting of Project Costs
Firmer cost estimates are known far earlier in the process. The design-builder can be estimating construction costs at the same time he is formulating the concept designs. In fact he must have a good idea of these costs, because a big part of preliminary design is trading off features to reduce costs. This gives you an early opportunity for a “go, no go” decision. If the project is proving unaffordable, it can be scrapped or radically redesigned before proceeding to the much more expensive working drawing phase. This early cost forecasting is not available in the design-bid-build process. Actual costs are not known until bids are received. Before bids can be let, the final construction blueprints must be drafted. So the process is much further along before firm cost figures are available.
Reduction of Errors
When the design has an error, it will be caught in the construction stage, but often not soon enough to be fixed inexpensively. For example the architect has specified a 30″ cabinet where only a 24″ cabinet can fit. The builder has ordered the cabinet based on the specifications, but comes time to install it, the mistake is discovered — it won’t fit. Not only is the right cabinet going to have to be reordered, but also there is no refund on the wrong cabinet (after all the cabinet maker made the cabinet he was instructed to make), and there is going to be a time delay until the right cabinet arrives. Now the finger pointing starts. The builder says the designer should not have made the mistake. The architect says the builder should have premeasured before he ordered the cabinets, and could have caught the mistake early on. You, caught in the middle, usually end up paying most of the cost of the error. With design-build, the great majority of such errors are caught very early so they don’t slow down the construction, and any errors that do occur in the design or building process are solely the responsibility of the design-build team. The design-builder pays for errors, not you.