Earth-friendly, pre-fabricated cabin kits

Category: Benefits (page 1 of 1)

Q Cabin Kits – Homes Designed For Extreme California Conditions

The news in California is saturated with stories of fire, drought, and earthquakes, and it is these extreme conditions that are the driving force behind a new kind of housing.

More and more, architects and builders are looking for fire-resistant, earthquake-safe, and environmentally friendly housing models to combat these extreme conditions.

Chico-based design/build contractor Design Horizons LLC designs and manufactures a pre-fabricated, non-combustible home called The Q Cabin Kits.

Vern Sneed owner of Design Horizons and designer of the Q Cabin Kits, “We have intentionally designed our building systems to ensure that these innovative, exciting structures are equipped to withstand even the most severe California conditions”.

Non-Combustible Homes   

Quite possibly the most prominent disaster in California is wildfires.

Though California has required non-combustible exteriors since the introduction of Wildfire Urban Interface Zones in 2007, substantial losses are still being incurred.

In the past six years, over 50,000 structures have been destroyed, and with them uncountable family records and mementos.

Design Horizons aims to reduce such losses by providing people with safer, more durable housing. 

Every component of the Q Cabin Kits is non-combustible, making these homes better equipped to withstand the intense heat generated by fires.

A typical forest fire can reach temperatures of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Most wood houses, combust at approximately 600 degrees Fahrenheit and cannot withstand such high temperatures.

Houses made from steel, on the other hand, combust at about 2,550 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning they are able to resist a much higher degree of heat and stay intact for a longer duration.

Steel-framed California homes

Other methods employed by Design Horizons are the elimination of soffit vents and the specification of a high-quality California-made aluminum framed window including tempered glass panels to help protect firefighters. 

In addition to wildfires, the past few decades in California have seen a significant amount of drought.

Currently, California’s drought is rated “severe” to “extreme” for the majority of the state, and is one of the main contributors to wildfires and difficulties with farming.

Design Horizons offers a way to combat these problems in the form of rain collection systems.

Vern Sneed, “The Q Cabin Kits feature systems that allow winter rain to be collected via roof troughs and redirected into a tank or cistern for storage. The stored water can then be used for watering gardens during the hot dry California summers and help supplement during peak shortages.  The state needs more storage capacity.  Reducing it down to the micro-level and using each home to collect a supplement of water is one idea that we express to our clients.”

Earthquake Resistant Homes

Earthquake resistant California homes

Earthquakes pose yet another threat in California.

As it turns out the same steel construction advantage of non-combustibility is also perfect for making earthquake-resistant buildings.

The ductility of steel allows it to “bend” with seismic waves and dissipate energy better than wood construction.

In addition to the dissipation of seismic waves,  the law of inertia implies that the lighter the building, the less force seismic waves will exert on it.

The Q Cabin Kits are one of the lightest structures available, weighing in at 1/2 of its comparable stick-built asphalt shingle house.

Quonset Design

Q Cabin Homes Quonset Design

The shape of the Q Cabin Kits also lends itself to protection against earthquakes.

Since ancient times, the arch has been considered one of the strongest shapes for transferring large structural loads.

The corrugated structure perpendicular to the arch of the Quonset ensures that both directions are as strong as possible.

To further boost the sheer strength of the Q Cabin Kit, Design Horizons makes use of a non-combustible insulated sheathing for wall shear instead of plywood.

Sneed, “Our exterior sheathing product is non-combustible, insulated, and better in sheer performance than plywood. An added bonus was that while everyone else was experiencing these huge price hikes in the lumber industry as the pandemic was ending, our sheathing price stayed consistent.”

Fire, earthquakes, and drought are not leaving the state of California anytime soon.

That’s why it is encouraging to see a California business working to solve these challenges.

As Vern Sneed puts it, “The Q Cabin Kits make great homes regardless of where you live but are especially advantageous to those living in areas prone to California’s extreme conditions. Q Cabin Kit homes are so much more than just an aesthetically pleasing structure; they are a home that can better protect you, your family, and the important things in your life from the extreme and often destructive conditions of California.”

You can click the link to learn more about the most popular models of Q Cabin Kits or give Vern Sneed a call today at (415) 533-7094 to get your questions answered or discuss your options.

A Q Cabin Kit or a Wood Framed House?


Q Cabin Kits are an all steel structure that are eco-friendly, fire resistant and structurally superior to wood frame homes. The prefabricated steel framing offers many advantages over traditional wood framing.

How so?

Let’s start by comparing the material list and length of construction time to achieve a dried in shell for a 1,400 sqft conventionally framed home versus the 1,400 sqft Mountaineer Q Cabin Kit.

The 1400 sqft conventionally framed home has over 2,000 individual components that all must be cut to length (then cut to the right length), positioned, and fastened.

Each one of these 6000 tasks takes expensive field labor to achieve.

The average conventionally framed home takes 4-6 weeks of labor billing for a 4 man crew.  The tool list required to achieve this is almost as long as the material list.  Framing subcontractors come loaded for bear with trailers of tools.  Each tool needing to be taken out and put away every day.

A factory setting like the Q Cabin Kits are built in is over 75% more time efficient than field construction.  Prefabrication is the way of the future for all construction.

A 1,400 sqft prefabricated Mountaineer Q Cabin Kit has exactly 130 field components and can be installed in 7 days by a 4 man crew.

A Q Cabin Kit including the canvas ceiling option and the spiral staircase option can save over 1000 hours of expensive and slow field labor.

Q Cabin Kits are field inspected by local building officials the same as their wood counterpart.

Next let’s compare the environmental features of the conventional wood framed home vs the all steel construction of the Q Cabin Kits.

The average conventional wood framed home consumes 15,000 board ft of lumber or 30 average sized trees. The Q Cabin Kits do use some wood, about 500 board ft or 1 average sized tree.

Our all steel construction including roof, walls, and floor are composed of over 50% recycled steel.

Q Cabin Kits are a more sustainable way to build and will outlast their wood counterpoints by decades.

Metal wall cavities do not harbor molds and are not susceptible to pests like termites.

Once mold has established itself in a wood wall cavity it will never go away, and keep in mind molds are the number one cause of unhealthy interior environments.

The cost of routine pest control adds up and structural termite damage can be catastrophic.

Finally, let’s compare the quality of field wood framing versus prefabricated steel framing.

Q Cabin Steel wall cavity

I think it is quite obvious that today’s lumber is substandard.  It comes to the jobsite wet and ready to twist.  The cull rate on a bunk of stud material is 20%.  Most lumber yards will replace that 20% but what a waste of material and time.

If you laid a steel stud and a wood stud in a field you would see in about a week that the wood stud is unusable and that after 20 years the metal stud would still be straight and strong.

It is nothing for a wood framed building to have a 1/2″ difference in the center plain of 2 studs right next to each other.

This results in terrible finishes that cause problems for the lifetime of the house.

When a problem arises with a wood framed wall like cracked sheetrock or stuck windows and doors it is always blamed on shrinking lumber that is drying out as the house ages its first year.

That same wet wood is making mold inside the wall cavity that worsens for the entire life of the house.

The Q Cabin Kit walls are perfectly straight and true and remain that way forever.

As you can see, there are all sorts of really good reasons to choose prefabricated steel framing when it comes time to build your next home.

You can see all of the benefits of choosing an option like Q Cabins Kits on the home page.

Want to make it super easy to get started? Or maybe you have more detailed questions?

Send us an email HERE of give me, Vern, a call today at (415) 533-7094.

Q Cabin Custom Design Package


Rebuild Quickly and Affordably With Q Cabins

Last time you heard from me we talked about the fire resistant features of the Q Cabins, and why that is so important.

Today I want to get a little more local.

Were you impacted by the 2017 fires? Do you have family or friends that were impacted by the fires?

It doesn’t even need to be the recent fires. Landslides? Fires from a few years back?

I’m asking because the Q Cabin Kits are likely your best option to get back into a home and rebuild quickly and affordably.

A completed Q Cabin home is under $275/sqft and can be completed faster than traditional stick built homes.

Design Horizons is here to handle your permit coordination and provide construction estimates to get your project moving.

We are a licensed California contractor (Design Horizons CA #812762) and we have crews available to start your foundation immediately.

A Q Cabin will give you the peace of mind that you will never suffer a total loss again from fire. Q Cabin homes are non-combustible.

If you know of anyone who has the need or the want to build or rebuild quickly, they need to see this and learn more about our great product.

Please forward this on to them.

To learn more about all of the great benefits of Q Cabins and how you can rest easy with your investment, visit out the Home page HERE or go ahead and give me – Vern – a call now at (415) 533-7094 and I’ll be happy to answer any and all questions you might have.

If you prefer, you can also send me an email HERE.

And this is not JUST for those who have suffered loss.

Q Cabins are perfect for anyone who has some land and wants to quickly and efficiently build a home that is environmentally friendly and will last a lifetime. Or longer.

Q Cabin Custom Design Package