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By purchasing acreage on an outlying block and designing the place to be built inexpensively, Shannon and the Fords found the ideal alchemy of site and structure to keep build-out costs to $170 per square foot for each of the around-1,900-square-foot units. “This project is really the sweet spot of all the different experiences we’ve had,” says Matthew. He and Tina have built and designed scads of houses and run a custom fabrication shop in Houston, both of which gave them the know-how to design homes that would be inexpensive to actually produce. An easy-to-build roof allowed them to hire a solid but inexpensive work crew; designing the cabinets themselves and having them made 90 minutes outside of Houston eliminated retail markup; nixing finish work like moldings reinforced the modernist ethos but also saved money on labor; and relying on their own custom design shop and fabrication savvy let them cheaply build the large, dramatic windows that give the simple form an aesthetic boost.

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