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.