Collection by Lou Maxon

Building the Maxon House: Week 18


In our latest Backstory series, Seattleite Lou Maxon recounts the thrills and trials of ditching the suburbs, buying property, and designing and building a modern house with Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects. Week 18: Meet the Contractor.

Having completed the schematic phase of our future residence, our next step was to price out the schematic set and select one of the three contractors Tom Kundig proposed (he'd worked with all three before). During our review process, we used the following determining factors:

1) Price. Obviously this is a huge consideration. Tom Kundig was deliberate in advising us that the lowest or highest prices also come with their own pluses and minuses. It’s important to ask things including: Does this price include applicable sales tax? What is included and not included? Is this a capped price or are there percentage variations on cost overruns?

2) Fit. Just as we interviewed architects and design/builders at the beginning of this process, it's essential that you find a contractor you can get along with, collaborate with, and feel comfortable pushing back on.

3) References. We not only talked to owners who worked with our selected contractor, but we visited their spaces, both completed and in-progress.

We had the opportunity to meet with two of three contractors in person and after reviewing each of the three bids we selected Tanner Construction out of Seattle. A good contractor (in our humble opinion) provides support without being a cheerleader, provides reality in the midst of clients' crazy ideas, and keeps the project team grounded and things moving in the right direction. Tanner was all these things and more. Here, a glimpse into our research and decision-making process.

Tanner Construction got rave reviews from all their references.
Our family trekked out to Mazama, Washington, to stay nights at the Rolling Huts and meet and talk to the owner of the...
"The Herd" as they are often referred to, sit out in the open in breathtaking scenery.
Delta Shelter, a cabin getaway on the same property as the Rolling Huts.
A digital photo we snapped on a recent trek out to the rolling huts.
A peek inside a Rolling Hut. Photo by Tim Bies.
Inside a Rolling Hut by Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects, a metal fireplace keeps the compact interior of the...
Delta Shelter by Tom Kundig, in collaboration with Phil Turner of Turner Exhibits.
A peek inside Riley's cove, a mid-century remodel by Olson Kundig and Tanner Construction.
The kitchen inside the Riley's Cove project.