A Better Way
Instead of working independently, the key consultants on the Lake Cunningham Village project merged planning, engineering, and architecture at initial design stages to develop a more affordable and better housing solution for the Omaha market. The main goal was to concentrate on the end customer – the living quality of the family living in each home and the security of their investment. At every step of the way, the professional group worked as a cohesive team under the direction of A1 Development, Inc., either in person at SEH’s Omaha office or through team webinars.
To control cost, the site design had to take advantage of the natural terrain without excessive dirt movement. This was a huge task because of the land’s steep slopes – everywhere. To eliminate costly retaining walls, we used large areas of landscaped slopes (maximin 3:1) and created architecture that would embrace the terrain with walkouts and lookouts; this increased the value of the homes while reducing grading issues. Severe slopes along the east side of the site allow homes to be situated to view Lake Cunningham which is to the northeast of the tract.
Reducing street lengths reduced right-of-way that would have been dedicated to the city and went back instead into lot sizes and open spaces. This allows more area of useable land, increases distances between homes and allows transitioning slopes without retaining walls, (or at least very few of them). Less earthwork and fewer retaining walls translates into significant savings. Depending upon location in the nation, a developer could expect an average savings between $3,000 and $10,000 or much more each lot. Instead of using that cost reduction as profit, those funds can be used for better architectural and landscaping elements and a far superior product at competitive pricing.
By designing floor plans to coordinate with the open spaces around the homes, we increased premium views from living spaces within the homes – something typically reserved for custom homes on a large lot. To achieve density targets without creating a “garage-grove project” we utilized architectural shaping. Architectural shaping merges the coved lot’s nonrectangular shape and home design to make the house wider at the front or rear than could typically fit on a grid-like subdivision. A home that is wider at the front has more curb appeal, a fuller front porch. A home that is wider at front or rear can reduce hallways, making rooms within a targeted square footage larger and more usable. All of this creates a neighborhood that hides the increased density we achieve on the site.