A Better Way

3iVE Transparent House_4

Until quite recently, houses around the world — and virtually all building types, for that matter — have been designed and built in a manner allowing air flow in and out of building’s exteriors. Air flows between cracks and spaces in sheathing, joints and junctions between roofs and walls, windows and openings, sills and foundations, cracks in mortar, etc. This works well in terms of longevity as wet materials can dry and water vapor can pass in and out without getting trapped. It’s a poor recipe for energy efficiency, however. It turns out that air flow between inside and outside is the greatest energy thief of all. With the mandate to reduce energy taking hold and translating to codes, LEED requirements, and better practice guides governing building construction, new and old houses are increasingly becoming air-tight. But not all air-tight buildings are created equal, and in fact some of these houses are dangerous for their inhabitants.

Why? Without appropriate considerations, air-tight houses are more susceptible to the dangers and irritations of mold, persisting odors, and off-gassing, and are more likely to experience structural rot resulting from uncontrolled focused vapor diffusion. While the building science has evolved and produced sound principals to guide us, the appropriate application of leading thinking has been slow to make its way into code, design, and building practices. As a result, not all newly constructed houses have it right.

So how can you get an exceptionally conceived and constructed house?

Three stages in the development of your house determine its ultimate performance in terms of energy use and longevity.

3iVE detail

I. Design

The design process is the phase where your architect will draw and compose the Construction Documents — plans and specifications — governing your house’s construction. A central challege is to conceive and communicate a constructible design founded upon sound principals of building science.

II. Contract Award

The Contract Award phase is the hand-off where your selected builder will interpret the design documents and select the products, materials, and means and methods used to achieve design intent as interpreted. It is also in this phase that sub-trades will be selected to execute portions of the work. Each of these sub-trades will face the same challenge of interpretation and translation that the general contractor does.

III. Construction

The construction process is where the builder and selected trades execute the collective interpretation and translation of the design, which ultimately results in your built house. How do you know your contractor is doing a good job? How are mistakes being caught and corrected? Are the materials the same as those Specified?


Make it Better


3iVE Transparent House_4

3iVE House 5BR

Our experience has lead us to understand that problems routinely occuring in each of these phases. As a result, we have spent years developing systems, assemblies, and processes that serve as the foundation for 3iVE House.

3iVE House is the result of years of research, experience, and training in the building design and construction process. It is not just a promise of exceptional design, but of an exceptionally conceived, tried-and-true delivery method.


3iVE House comes with a refusal to accept the generic anonymity that plagues the US housing market. We do not produce kits. We do not produce stock designs. We do not begin with a premise that a plan selected from a catalogue is an appropriate starting point for a house. These practices are antithetical to 3iVE’s founding principles. The design of a house is a process that begins with a specific place on earth. Your site. It has a longitude and lattitude. It has a specific set of features and conditions, trees, views, neighbors, light. It has a unique system of access and entry that, if considered, will dramatically affect the placement, orientation, and arrangement of spaces. As such each 3iVE House begins with a specific site and is carefully designed and crafted with the belief that every place on earth has its own fingerprint, its own energy, its own personality.

And we are concerned about the people that will live in our houses, and as such care deeply about such things as light, privacy, creating spaces conducive to a purpose: A place to gather. A place to cook. And eat. A place to rest.

A place to thrive

21 Edith 3IVE HOUSE Rendering

Contract Award

3iVE is a pioneer in building commissioning — the process by which buildings are verified against their design intent. Institutional grade buildings required to perform to the highest standards for buildings have utilized our services to advise on design and verify built results to assure exceptional results. Some of these are highlighted on our website under Consulting Services. Because we have seen so many errors resulting from the misunderstanding of Construction Documents, 3iVE insists on a personal and informed relationship with the builders who execute our designs. We get to know them as individuals, train them in the theory, values, and science behind our designs, and establish an open-door relationship that welcomes questions and input. The result is an informed builder with a view of the big picture. The result is a house that truly reflects the spirit of its conception.

We partner only with smart, exceptionally skilled contractors to execute our design work. We select our contractors based upon proven results building high-end houses for discerning clients.  We seek open-minded thoughtful individuals willing to consider alternative assemblies and methods. We look for long-standing relationships with skilled and high-value local sub-trades and vendors. Most of all we value personal integrity and the commitment to a high-quality result. We have developed trust that each carefully selected builder will faithfully deliver your 3iVE house from foundation to roof top.


3iVE works closely with our selected builders and their subs before the first stone is moved on the site to insure a clear understanding of the design, the materials, and the construction type. To further assure that good judgement reflecting 3iVE House standards is exercised, we review critical product selection and submittals to verify they are appropriate for a given use and compatible with adjacent materials and assemblies. Because good products do not put themselves up, we also interview sub-contractors and collaborate with the tradesmen to help them develop an informed approach to executing the work.

Construction trust…but verify

We are committed to producing finished buildings of the highest quality. To verify results we employ a host of methods developed during our 20+ years experience with institutional grade facilities including regular site visits, ASTM and AAMA testing, thermography, and third party verification. Each 3iVE House is watched, poked, prodded, and measured. As such, 3iVE is able to provide a high degree of assurance that each 3iVE House we design is the 3iVE House that is built.

Performance, Stewardship, Value

Much of the recent dialogue on houses and architecture as a whole has featured the word “green.” Quite frankly, we’re sort of tired of it. It has become a slogan applied to everything from toilet paper to pesticides and has become a vacuous term we prefer to avoid. Rather, as agents of design and construction, we consider eco-friendly design and building practices promoting the stewardship of our environment basic responsibilities. But, while we know every physical thing will eventually bio-degrade, we are proudly committed to delaying that process for as long as possible. Your 3iVE House is designed and constructed for your overall well being. And while, yes, you can expect to see dramatically lower energy bills in a 3iVE House than one of standard construction due to its highly sophisticated exterior envelope, carefully sited solar orientation, reliance on natural light, and they deployment of safe, responsible materials throughout, you will also know that we have judiciously evaluated where and how to utilize each material and product in terms of use and value. 3iVE houses are built to last, to provide unparalleled performance, and to be source of pride and enjoyment for their inhabitants and neighbors.

For more information on 3iVE House contact 3iVE at info@3ive.com or call us at 617 625 3483.