Ted Cushman

As a specialist in meeting the stringent Passive House energy-efficiency and air-tightness spec, Boston design/build company Placetailor aims for extremely high-level performance. But as a developer, the company often has its own money on the line, so it can't afford to invest in labor or materials whose cost won't be earned back.

In that business environment, Placetailor must come up with designs that work effectively but are simple and cheap to build. And since many of the company's key personnel are both architects and hands-on builders, it's common to see designs evolve on the fly during the construction process. "We won't change a facade or a floor plan without...

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