[caption id="attachment_40510" align="alignleft" width="350" caption="Simon Fairweather expanded the design-builder's shop sixfold for more prefabrication space and storage of reclaimed materials."][/caption]
SANTA ROSA -- Sebastopol-based custom homebuilder Fairweather & Associates has set up a new 12,000-square-foot shop in Santa Rosa to help speed construction through prefabrication, allow greater use of reclaimed materials and launch a new furniture-making division.
Fairweather's primary line of work is building and helping to design custom homes. Though some new projects have stalled at the last minute in the past few years because of the economy, the company has grown from a full-time staff of seven to 16 and from one home a year to at least two, according to owner Simon Fairweather.
The company had a 2,400-square-foot warehouse and shop in northwest Santa Rosa and before that a 2,000-square-foot warehouse in the Industry West Industrial Park in the southwest area of the city. This summer, the 12-year-old company leased a portion of the former Hosogawa-Bepex manufacturing plant just south of Industry West and outfitted it with wood-processing equipment.
"Our new space on Todd Road will allow us to expand our storage and processing of reclaimed materials as well as allow us to create subassemblies of components to be erected at our building sites," Mr. Fairweather said.
Up to this point, the company shop has processed into lumber redwood felled a century ago and forgotten until recently, old redwood wine tank staves, walnut trees removed during power-line work and 18,000 linear feet of pine and maple planking from a former bowling alley near Sacramento. The wood is purchased from salvage yards, namely Evan Shively's large reclaimed-wood yard in west Marin.
Fairweather's shop has built arbors, outdoor benches, custom window frames as well as exposed roof framing for Craftsman-style homes with such wood. Wood flooring is reworked and laid in a new home.
"Our goal is to acquire materials that would otherwise be mulched or end up in a landfill, remanfacture the material into furnishings using local workers and breathe new life into an existing Sonoma County manufacturing facility," Mr. Fairweather said.
The larger space and large overhead cranes will allow the shop to prefabricate entire wall assemblies that can be trucked to the job site and lifted by crane into place with fewer workers than if the walls were framed on site, he said. Also possible now are moves into modern panelized construction, such as structurally insulated panels, which integrate wall insulation and framing.
Furniture also is a new direction for Fairweather & Associates, which could be launched as early as this year.
"I believe that there is an unmet demand for furnishings from reclaimed materials," he said.
The company employs five in the office and 10 in the shop or at job sites. The goal is to hire one or two more woodworkers or cabinetmakers for the shop. The operation owns a flatbed truck and small container trucks for moving the final products.
Revenue was $2.4 million last year, and the volume is expected to be about the same this year. Mr. Fairweather doesn't know yet how much furniture sales would add to the business.
Mike Flitner of Keegan & Coppin represented Fairweather in the Todd Road lease. Jim Sartain, Bill Faherty and Joel Jaman of that brokerage represented owner Todd Associates LLC.