At Sunlight Homes, we have received a variety of different questions regarding the design and construction of our homes. Below, you can find our answers to some of our more commonly asked questions. If you can’t find what your looking for here, we invite you to contact us so we can answer any questions you may have about Sunlight Homes!

General Questions

How many homes have you designed?

We have been designing homes for three decades, which can make it hard to keep track of the exact number, but well over 400. We are a small company who prefers to work on a couple of projects at any given time.

Have you had success in finding good contractors to build your homes?

Absolutely! Finding a good, eco-friendly homebuilder isn’t hard to find if you ask the right questions. We like to interview our clients potential contractors to get a sense of their quality. Since we have personally built homes, we ask questions that help us get a good feel for their experience and values of a contractor. We pass this information on to our clients, who make the final decision.

Over the years, we have learned a lot about setting up successful building projects and we pass this information on to you, from setting a realistic budget, to choosing a good builder. We also design your home well so that it can be built without a hitch. If the initial conditions are right, the rest will all fall into place.

What problems have you encountered building your homes?

Over the course of our history, the vast majority of our projects have gone without major problems and we have hundreds of happy customers as a result. However, occasionally there will be a weather or delivery delay and we sometimes have to work more closely with a builder or an owner/builder, but this comes with the territory of being a home designer. Regardless of the build, a green custom home is always a greater challenge than simply building a subdivision using only one cookie-cutter plan, which is why our plans are always drawn with a greater level of detail. From time to time, mistakes happen, they can always be corrected. Regardless of the build, we help our clients handle any issues that may come up during construction. They are building a Sunlight home, after all!

Design Questions

We are looking for a lot that takes full advantage of your design philosophy. What is the best lot orientation to achieve this?

A lot with a good southern exposure is always the best place to start with a passive solar home, as solar homes need south-facing windows to collect solar heat. Usually, this means putting the rooms with the highest usage on the southern side, while leaving lesser-used rooms on the other directions. If you want your south windows to face the street, choose a lot that is on the north side of an east-west street. If you would like south windows to face your back yard, choose a lot on the south side of the street.

Regardless of your preference, we will fine-tune solar calculations for your home during the design process. One thing we do avoid is a north entry, as they are dark and uninviting in all climates.

We would like a rustic home with exposed beams, but we don't see any of these homes on your website. Is this possible with your design techniques?

Simply put, yes! Any style you desire will be integrated into the  design of your home from the beginning and augmented with appropriate finishes.

Can we visit any of your past projects in the Albuquerque area?

Although we would love to give you a tour of our past projects, they are currently being lived in by our past clients and we like to respect their privacy. If you would like to see an example of our design work, however, consider the home of our owner, Evan Davis. We can take a tour of our home/office so you can get a feel of exactly what goes into a Sunlight Home.

Can you do a timber frame design?

Absolutely! In fact, the timber design actually works very well with SIP construction. Feel free to contact us to ask about more specific details of our timber designs!

Building Questions

How do you handle plumbing and electrical in a SIP home?

Our homes are designed so that the majority of plumbing and wiring can be run in the crawlspace under the floor and through interior frame walls.

Usually some wiring is necessary in the exterior SIP walls for switches, lights and plugs. In these cases, an electrician will make a conduit into the SIP for these units. We have found that some electricians have trouble with this procedure and may charge more for their efforts.

In our homes we nail 2”x2″ wood furring strips vertically every 16″ and leave a space at the bottom of each strip. The wiring is stapled directly to the inside OSB skin of the panel. Shallow electrical boxes are used because they don’t require cutting into the panels. Once the wiring is run, the drywall is applied to the furring strips. This method simplifies the electrical work and remodeling and meets code. It also makes future remodeling much easier.

On rare occasions, the only suitable location to run plumbing is an exterior wall (plumbing vents being the most common culprit). Depending on the size of the required piping we fur out the wall with 2×2’s or 2×4’s to create the space needed.

How long does it take to build a Sunlight Home?

Our typical design process usually takes about 3 to 6 months from concept to completion and will vary depending on the complexity of your home.

In most cases, the construction of a home will range from 4-8 months depending on the size and complexity of the project, weather and availability of labor.

I was told I would have a hard time finding a development that would accept the construction of a "manufactured structure." Is this true?

35+ years ago, this may have been an issue. Today, however, almost all banks and architectural review boards easily accept our homes, and can easily be convinced once they are educated about our construction methods.

In fact, we have never been denied acceptance—even in areas with the strictest of covenants and restrictions.

Can you add onto or remodel a Sunlight SIP Home?

A SIP home can be modified or remodeled like any other building system.

If you are planning for a future addition, we can even make considerations in your initial design to allow for easy addition to your home.

Can we use reclaimed or finish materials into the design of our home?

Except for the exterior shell,  all other materials are supplied by you and/or your builder. You certainly can use whatever materials you want in your new home. It’s your home, after all!

We want to use (adobe/rastra/rammed earth/straw bale/concrete) for our home design. Is this possible?

We design Sunlight homes exclusively for SIPs. Any other materials would require a whole new approach to the design process.

It would be an option, however, to build an adobe or rammed earth wall inside the home for aesthetic reasons. It would also be good thermal mass!

Pricing Questions

Your homes are slightly more expensive than standard homes and we're on a budget. Can you make this work?

If you’re on a budget, let’s get in touch. We can discuss your needs, wants and priorities and will recommend options moving forward.

All in all, deciding where to put your money in a new home project is an individual matter and depends on your priorities.

How do you design for a budget?

By maintaining a current, working knowledge of building methods, materials and costs, as well as designing our homes with construction in mind, we accurately design for your budget.

Are there any ways to trim the cost of out new home?

In our opinion, the places NOT to cut costs are in the design and structural shell of a home, as these elements are difficult, if not impossible, to change after the fact.

In contrast, finishes such as flooring, lighting and even appliances and cabinetry can be updated further down the line.

Why do smaller homes cost more per square foot than larger ones?

All homes require expensive rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms. Where the difference lies, however, is that larger homes have more less expensive rooms, such as bedrooms and living areas, that add square footage to a home, and with it, lower cost per square foot.

Despite the cost per square foot being less in larger homes, it is important to remember that the total cost of these homes is always more that a smaller home.

Can we finance a Sunlight Home with a traditional mortgage?

Yes! Our homes are financed just like any other custom home.

Some financiers may have questions about your home design before lending you money. In these cases, simply refer them to our website or have them give us a call to provide them with the information they require.