Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why O?
A: O for many reasons. The circle represents the sphere – which provides the least surface to the greatest interior area, which is at once structural, but also thermally optimum. After 20 years of designing energy efficient buildings, our design team has observed that this fundamental rule is often the most ignored. The OHOME has a surface to volume ratio which is closer to the optimum – the sphere, but with a much more practical footprint. O also stands for the completion of a very long process of prototyping and experimentation – coming full circle and arriving at what we feel is as perfect as a circle.
The actual seminal thought behind “O” has its basis in a true story about the Italian artist Giotto.
Giotto’s Perfect Circle • After sleeping for a thousand years, art woke up in Tuscany at the end of the thirteenth century. Giotto di Bondone (“Giotto”) was the most important Italian painter of the 14th century, whose works point to the innovations of the Renaissance style that developed a century later.
There are a lot of stories about Giotto. The most famous is his big O.
Pope Boniface VIII wanted to commission some paintings for St. Peter’s and so he sent a courtier around to find the best painter in Italy. The courtier asked all the artists to give him a sample of their work to send to the Pope. He came to Giotto’s workshop, explained his mission, and asked him for a drawing which would give the Pope some idea of his competence and style. “Sure,” said Giotto; and he laid down a sheet of paper, reached for a brush dipped in red paint, closed his arm to his side to make a sort of compass of it, and in one even sweep scribed a perfect circle. “There you are,” he told the courtier, handing it to him with a smile.
“That’s your drawing?” asked the courtier, who didn’t know whether Giotto was pulling his leg. “Is that all you’re going to send His Holiness?”
“That’s more than enough,” said Giotto. “Send it with your other drawings and see whether it’s understood or not.”
The Pope’s messenger took the drawing and went away trying to hold his temper. Did that little painter think he was a fool?
When he got back to Rome he showed the Pope the big O and told him how Giotto had scribed it—freehand, without a compass. The pope and his advisors DID understand the achievement of that O and gave Giotto the commission.
Q: What is the OHOME?
A: Simply put, the OHOME is a super-energy-efficient, compact, very green, faster-built, better home delivered to you by our highly-trained teams. We have selected materials and components at the highest levels of quality, durability, environmental and energy performance, which also simplify shipping and on-site assembly to cut cost and ensure quality control. What is required is some site preparation of foundation installation by a contractor, and conventional construction financing. After the construction crews have completed their work assembling the OHOME (in 4-6 weeks, depending on the size), you have a finished home, complete with all fixtures, cabinets and appliances in place and fully operational.
Q: What makes the OHOME Different?
A: High performance, low-cost, and excellent design. What we offer is a complete super-energy-efficient, compact, greener, faster, better home and for an additional fee (if you are located in close proximity to Napa) our sister company, Healthy Buildings, can construct the OHOME and put it together for you. OHOMES can achieve Net-Zero- Electric Energy and all materials have been hand selected by our design team, keeping sustainability in mind at all times.
OHOMES are the product of a decade of research and design in green building. Healthy Buildings USA has 30 years of experience in green and prefabricated construction. The OHOME is a result of the distillation of the best of everything we have learned – namely – how to do more with less. What makes the OHOME so affordable is its relatively small footprint, and prefabricated components that reduce labor costs by over 50% and takes the guesswork out of site assembly.
Q: What is OTECHNOLOGY ?
A: The technology behind the OHOME has been developed by Healthy Buildings Construction Group (our sister company), and has been used by them on several projects since 1999. Many of these projects were multi-family, e.g. townhomes and apartments, including a 44 unit project that won recognition as one of the top green neighborhoods in the S.F. Bay area in 2008. As we were developing the models for the OHOMES we realized that the building science and technology that went into OHOMES could be meshed with the technology used for the multi-family projects. Thus OTECHNOLOGY is OHOME Technology, applied to high density housing, e.g. multi-family homes.
Q: Is the OHOME or OTECHNOLOGY Modular housing?
A: Absolutely Not ! Our building system is a Hybrid System, partially factory built and fully assembled on the site. By building components, including walls, floors and roofs, in our factory we completely control the work environment, and use tools and equipment and more efficient buildings systems that are just not suitable for construction sites. In addition, using our manufacturing processes, we can keep the costs of precision fabrication down relative to conventional jobsite construction.
Modular housing requires heavy, expensive steel frames to maintain structural stability during transportation and lifting. Our OPANELS are lightweight, yet they carry 3-times the load of wood members of the same size. Our OHOMES don’t waste money on structural elements put in place just to transport and lift, as modular buildings do. In fact no heavy equipment is required to erect an OHOME. Another cost savings that is passed along to the buyer.
Q: Is the OHOME a Manufactured Home?
A: No. OHOMEs panels are factory fabricated. Manufactured Homes, are not manufactured to permanent building codes. They are prefabricated in large modules that are shipped by road and assembled at their end destination, often with cranes, on conventional foundations. Environmental performance is usually poor and maintenance can be high in manufactured housing and in many cases they do not qualify for conventional loans, nor do they have the same long term warranties that all OHOME products have.
Q: What limitations in design or construction does your OTECHNOLOGY have?
A: With the exception of a maximum height of four stories, our technologies have NO DESIGN OR CONSTRUCTION RESTRICTIONS! We do not have the limitations of a box shape that modular or manufactured housing have. Our OPANELS arrive at the site flat-packed, so there is no restriction on transportation posed by freeway overpasses or the other restrictions that Modular or Manufactured housing have. Plus we don’t have to put in heavy, expensive lifting steel as modular builders are required to do. Our buildings are much lighter, yet meet or exceed ALL U.S. Building Codes!
Better still, we can build your design, or the design or other Architects. If you want a home with multiple angles and large window expanses… we can do it. If you want a round home with a domed ceiling… we can do it. If you want a home partially built into a hill side…. We can do it. Or you can choose one of your standard designs… there are seven available to you, and save some additional money.
Q. What is the cost of OHOMES or the cost of ECO-VILLAGES built with OTECHNOLOGY?
A: Our pricing is all encompassing of everything you OHOME or Multi-Family OTECHNOLOGY village need. See the following chart for costs of various products… or contact us for a free quote on your project.
Q: What is included in the pricing for the entire OHOME system?
A: All of the specifications listed in the OHOME specification document for design are included and the sustainable elements listed in the sustainable element chart (the standard features section only) are included in the standard feature pricing listed. The land, engineering, permits, foundation, utilities, shipping and assembly are not included in the price although quotes are available upon request. When constructing the OHOME there are a couple of different options: 1) You can construct with 100% our team, 2) A Mix of our people and local support, 3) Certified OHOME contractor and your own local support.
Q: Why is the Foundation not included in your standard feature pricing?
A: Each site varies as to the structural design of the foundation and therefore we have not included it in the standard feature pricing. We can assemble an OHOME on either the slab concrete foundation or the raised floor system. OHOMEs can also be designed and assembled with two, three or four stories, and with garden roof decks, or with living roofs.
Q: What is included in the pricing for the standard feature OHOMEs for the sustainable elements?
A: Please use the table below to answer the questions.
Q: How much would each upgraded sustainable element cost?
A: Each series house will be different for upgrade costs because the size of the OHOME will create different cost values associated with the upgrade options. For an example of these upgrade costs and also for an example of the cost to build an entire OHOME from the foundation to turn-key, please contact one of our OHOME design and customer service team who will be happy to help you.
Q: Why do you use Sustainable Design Fiberboard (Medite II) instead of standard gypsum wall board?
A: Medite® II is the high performance workhorse of the SierraPine Sustainable Design Fiberboard (SDF)* product line. Rigorously tested through a long resume of applications around the world, Medite® II is proven to deliver superior design capabilities coupled with environmental stewardship. Medite® II represents the global environmental standard, matching aggressive MDF design capabilities with a formaldehyde free adhesive system. SDF products include a broad range of high quality MDF products manufactured by SierraPine to meet or exceed the most stringent global emission standards. Applications for SDF include cabinetry, furniture, moldings and millwork.
- Formaldehyde-free adhesive system
- Superior physical properties to standard MDF. Truly high performance screwholding and
- MOR capabilities, among others.
- Pre-consumer recycled wood fiber • FSC® Certified – available option
- Potential LEED® 2009 credit support: MRc4, 5, 7 & IEQc4.4
- Meets CARB
Q: What if I wanted something that is not listed as an internal or external design feature for the Base or Upgrade options?
A: Additional Upgrades are available to those who desire their own special features at an increased price. Please be aware – most of these types of upgrades would be actually considered downgrades in regard to Sustainability. For example, we purposely did not purchase gas ranges because petroleum is a nonrenewable resource and also would not be able to connect to solar/wind for NetZero ability. Therefore, if this is a purchaser’s choice we can do it, but it would not be the best choice in regards to Sustainability.
Q: How do you ensure sustainability in regards to material sources for your OHOMEs?
A: We purchase our materials always keeping in mind that all of our Sustainable Elements are achieved. Additionally, when it comes to sourcing and shipping of materials, we strive for the lowest possible consumption of petroleum in transportation. For Base and Upgraded Models, all materials have been specifically chosen in regards to sustainability first. We AIM to always source materials within a 500-mile radius of our factories where the OHOME is produced, including the harvesting process of the materials all the way to manufacturing the final product. We have some exceptions to this such as Bamboo, steel, windows and doors. For example: Bamboo has to be grown in a specific climate; therefore the location where the Bamboo is harvested is in China. But, we do make sure to use FSC international to ensure fair trade and organic quality.
Q: Does the OHOME qualify for a regular mortgage loan through a bank?
A: The OHOME qualifies once it’s built for a regular conventional mortgage. It also qualifies for a standard construction loan. Low rate and down payment FHA construction loans are available that are very similar to FHA loans; ask an HBTG person for referrals to these types of loans.
Q: What type of warranty does the OHOME have?
A: Our warranties are exactly the same as for all conventional homes. These are defined in the California Business and Professional Codes and in the California Civil Code:
- One year “Fit and Finish warranty.”
- Two year warranty on items installed under the contractors license
- Ten year warranty on structural defects
- Individual components (e.g. roof, appliances, plumbing fixtures) are warranteed by the manufacturer of the components, and warranty times vary.
Important: Warranties for the OHOME will be null and void if the construction of the OHOME is not done by an OHOME certified contractor.
Q: Can I hire HBTG to construct my OHOME or OTECHNOLOGY multi-family project ?
A: Our sister company Healthy Buildings Construction group is a licensed contractor and can build throughout California, but elsewhere, we want to partner with licensed contractors who will undertake everything, including the foundation and erection of our components. We are developing an OHOME certified contractor training and certification program for partners.
Q: Can I purchase the OHOME myself and put it together without an OHOME certified contractor?
A: No, our OHOME may only be assembled by an OHOME certified contractor. This is the only way we will be sure that our product will be assembled to our standards.
Q: How do I become an OHOME certified contractor?
A: Contact Healthy Buildings Technology Group at email@example.com and inquire about the OHOME certified contractor training.
Q: Do I have to be a licensed contractor to become an OHOME certified contractor?
A: Yes. You must carry a valid contractor’s license in the state or jurisdiction where the OHOME would be installed.
Q: If I purchase a standard feature model OHOME and do not purchase any upgraded sustainable elements and then decide to add a sustainable element after it has been built, would the price of installing the sustainable element stay the same as the original price before construction? In other words, have you built the OHOME so that it is pre-plumbed and pre-wired for all sustainable elements to be added easily later?
A: If you are considering adding a sustainable element to your OHOME, such as Greywater or Solar Photovoltaics, etc. it would be most cost-effective for you if you purchase it at the same time that you purchase your OHOME. If you wait and add on an element later, the price of adding an additional feature(s) would be higher than if you purchased it at the time of the original construction. That said, the OHOMEs can be ordered pre-plumbed or pre-wired for all sustainable elements and therefore it is possible to add certain upgrades to your OHOME at a future date.
Q: Can I put one in a trailer park?
A: We intend to launch a “Park Model” OHOME later this year which will be on wheels and which will be suitable for trailer parks. However, The 7 standard OHOME plans require conventional foundations and cannot be placed in a trailer park.
Q: Does an OHOME have fire sprinklers?
A: Yes, whenever local codes require them, or owners prefer them. However, the sprinklers will not be hidden in the ceiling space, they will be surface-mounted on the ceiling.
Q: Can an OHOME be “Off the Grid”
A: Absolutely. We love Off the Grid OHOMES Our naturally energy-efficient designs lend themselves very well to solar PV, solar thermal, wind energy, power-generators, 24V and 36V systems and other such features that would allow you to place your OHOME anywhere !
Q: Can OHOME manage a snow load?
A: Yes, OHOMES can be engineered and built for any snow load. Standard design loads are 100 p.s.f.
Q: Can OHOMES survive hurricanes?
A: OHOMES can be designed to meet the requirements of the severest hurricane code requirements. Standard windload designs are 100 MPH, but higher wind resistance is available.
Q: Is solar standard?
A: Yes, it is standard in 4 of our OHOME models, and in our EcoVillages. In the models where it is not standard solar can be added at a very reasonable price.
Q: Why do you call and OHOME Healthy?
A: Our abundance of natural light, passive heating and cooling, no added urea formaldehyde in our building materials, no off-gassing vinyl windows, no unhealthy carpet or drapes, and the use of paints and sealers with low and zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs) all result in a healthy home. Not only are the OHOMEs healthy for men and women, boys and girls of all ages, but our use of renewable materials and low water consumption plumbing and appliances mean that OHOMES are also healthy for mother earth.
Q: Can I put one in my backyard?
A: Yes, if your local authority permits it. Please give us your contact information and we will do the research for you.
Q: Can I take it apart and move it?
A: Yes, the OHOME is designed to be disassembled and fully relocatable. In addition, the materials of an OHOME are designed to be fully recyclable in true cradle to cradle fashion.
Q: What about termites and mold, I am allergic?
A: Unlike wood framing, OHOME has light gauge steel framing which resists termites and mold. Since our building envelope is very air tight, it also resists insects, spiders, and any other type of vermin.
Q: Can I get one custom-designed?
A: Yes, we would be happy to do this, but additional design fees will apply. We appreciate creative thinking and will work with anyone that is interested in a custom-designed OHOME.
Q: Can I choose my carpet and paint?
A: We discourage the use of carpet which promotes dust and dirt. Instead we encourage the use of stained concrete, cork flooring, bamboo flooring, natural linoleum floorings, sustainably harvested or recycled wood flooring. Area rugs can also be used in bedrooms or other non-wet areas. If you REALLY want wall to wall carpet, please add it after we leave (but it will null your Indoor Air Quality and any warranty in regards to that)!
We carefully select paint to meet the strictest environmental standards and discourage the use of unhealthy paints. Healthy, low or zero VOC paints are now available in virtually any color.
Q: What if I do not want heating or air conditioning?
A: Heating is required in most U.S. jurisdictions in new homes. We would be happy to omit air conditioning and credit you the appropriate amount. However, the energy balance and air tightness of the OHOME are so well engineered that air conditioning is seldom required, but a nice feature to have.
Q: Can I get around in my wheelchair in an OHOME?
A: Yes, we meet the guidelines of Universal Design. In addition, grab bars and guard rails can be ordered for any OHOME.
Q: What if I want to add on or remodel?
A: There is no difference between an OHOME and a conventional building, except for the steel framing. We would be happy to design an addition or remodel for you.
Q: What is the carbon footprint?
A: At your request we will measure and report on the carbon footprint of your OHOME as each one is built, since energy usage varies by location. That said, each OHOME and OHOME ECO VILLAGE is designed to have a very low carbon footprint relative to conventionally built homes. We encourage all of our customers to adopt a low-carbon lifestyle. One great way to do this is to live in an OHOME.
Q: Do you participate in Fair Trade / What is Fair Trade?
A: Fair Trade is the practice of only working with companies that pay their workers a living wage and that respect their human rights. We work very hard to support this! HBTG is proud to be a member of the internationally respected Social Venture Network, a non-profit entity dedicated to social equity throughout the world.
Q: If It’s steel, how do I hang pictures?
A: Very easily as you would in any home - we can provide a picture rail in any location you request, or pictures can be hung from a screw that is inserted into a stud, or via the use of an expansion anchor, just as in wood construction.
Q: Are the concrete floors cold?
A: The concrete floor will be the same temperature as the room, and in fact provides “Thermal Mass” to help regulate the homes temperature. However, it may feel cold to the bare foot. We encourage the use of area rugs in sensitive areas such as bathrooms and besides the bed.
Q: Will the steel rust?
A: No, it is galvanized and guaranteed against rust by the manufacturer for 20 years (if undamaged).
Q: What happens when my wall gets damaged?
A: Damaged walls can be repaired with spackle or bondo, just as with any drywall wall that is damaged.
Q: Can I add a second story… or a deck?
A: Yes, but the design will have to be approved by a structural engineer, as with any such addition..
Q: Can I build on a hillside?
A: Yes, as with conventional construction, there are no restrictions on where an OHOME can be built.
Q: Can I add a garage/carport?
A: Yes, we have standard designs which are economical and which match the OHOME.
Q: What if I wanted to add a pet door?
A: We are pet-friendly and would be happy to add one at no charge.
Q: Can I choose my cabinets?
A: We carefully select cabinets which are sustainably designed and manufactured, we discourage the use of non-sustainable products. However within our sustainably produced cabinets we do have several choices to offer a buyer.
Q: What if my lot does not have gas /propane?
A: If you do not have gas but want propane, we can design for that. We can also design the OHOME to be all-electric.
Q: How do I buy one ???!!!???
A: There are many ways to contact us to begin your order process. We work with you and give you personalized service.
Email : Info@hbtg.com
Phone: 707 676-8999
In Person Visit or Mail: 3432 Valle Verde Drive, Napa, CA 94558
Q: Do you work with other Builders and Developers?
A: Absolutely. We are here to serve the professional builder who may be interested in an Eco-Village, and Eco-Resort destination, multi-family projects, condominiums, townhomes or apartments. Our OTECHNOLOGY provides many, many benefits to the building industry’s professionals. They particularly like the fact that an OHOME village or multi-family project can be built in 75% to 50% of the time needed by conventional construction.
Professional builders and developers should contact our C.E.O. directly… Bob Massaro (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Q: Do you really think it will change the world?
A: Definitely! The OHOME is a product whose time has come! It is the building technology for the 21st century… and beyond !