Focusing on detached structures has been a positive experience for Turman and he recommends it to those considering taking it on. “Discovering this client base has been good for us,” he adds. “The extended family is really the idea behind it and that’s how it should be sold.”
Turman has designed a variety of detached structures including pool houses, game rooms and home offices. Turman designed the Tea House shown on page 19 in association with builder Masao Wani and associate Greg Lemley.
The owner of the Tea House is a psychologist who will use the space to bring clients, as well as give herself a sanctuary away from daily stressors. “As she gets older, it will be a place where she writes and paints,” Turman adds.
The design for these structures is important and shouldn’t be ignored, Turman says. “We’re trying to make a sophisticated detached structure. We’re not just plunking another building somewhere.”
For Turman, the challenges surround solving the equation of square footage and the space between structures. “Figuring out how to put the square footage on the lot without crowding it and still creating an extended living structure [is the biggest challenge],” Turman says. “The space in between is important.”
Detached Outdoor Living
Finding a niche in any industry can take years, or possibly require a shift in career paths. Bryan Gordon, president, B. Gordon Builders in Walnut Creek, Calif., has been successfully building in his niche within the custom home market for 16 years. His claims to fame are his detached outdoor structures designed, engineered, approved and constructed by his own team.
Gordon designs and builds almost any outdoor structure he’s asked to create, but he stays away from remodeling projects. “There are times when people offer me a remodel project and I turn it down because I want to stay focused on being the best in outdoor structure building,” he adds. “We build pavilions, cabana pool houses, outdoor theme structures with posts or stone columns, arbors, gates, decks and more.”
Gordon and his team work closely with his clients to guarantee the outdoor structure complements the style of the existing home. “[The process starts by us] meeting with the client and finding out what they want. We look at the architecture of the home and design these structures to enhance or match the structure of the [existing] property,” he adds.
B. Gordon Builders handles everything from the drawings to the approval by governmental officials. “We do the architectural drawings in-house and provide all the structural or other types of engineering needed. We also deal with the cities and counties to [get the outdoor structures] approved. Ultimately, we get the plans drawn, get the project engineered if necessary and build the structure,” Gordon says.
A unique outdoor structure Gordon designed and built was a veranda with recessed drop-down curtains. “The curtains were 20 ft. long on all sides of the structure that were dropped down via a remote, and invisible when not in use. The roof structure had an 8-ft. wide by 16-ft. long retractable skylight that was also operated by remote control. The whole roof would open — it was really neat,” Gordon adds.
After 16 years of building only detached structures, Gordon still enjoys his job. “Being able to meet with clients, see their excitement, listen to their needs, put that on paper, build the project and exceed their expectations, is why I love what I do,” Gordon adds. “These outdoor structures are very much a visible piece in the yard and the clients enjoy them for years — and I get to do that approximately 50 times a year.”