In the News

June 11, 2018

3 tips to avoid smart home frustration

It made national news when tech magnate Bill Gates built a technology laden home in his home state of Washington. With features like a high-tech sensor system that helps guests monitor a room’s climate and lighting, an underwater music system and computer screens that change artwork to match your preference, the home still seems ahead of its time.

However, high tech features are prized by more than just Bill Gates. A 2015 report by Wealth-X and Sotheby’s highlights the rising popularity of smart home features, particularly with those who own multiple homes:

“They often include numerous networking technologies and communication interfaces such as energy management systems, security and access control systems, HVAC control systems, entertainment control systems, and health monitoring systems. All these devices help to connect key electrical appliances with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets and permit the users to remotely control, monitor, and access their residences.”

Monitoring your home’s security through your iPad while you’re away is ideal, but the reality can be a disappointment.

Candy’s Dirt, a popular real estate blog featured a Sebastian-built home, lauding the property’s high tech features:

“This Mediterranean villa marries Old World feel with state-of-the-art technology. The entire property is integrated with HomeTronics, and every room has an iPad for control. You can sit in chair and turn on fireplaces, open drapes and blinds, adjust temperatures, turn off lights, or lock doors, indoor and out. There’s also whole-house surround sound, controlled from smart devices and the iPads.”

Jerry Nogalski, Client Concierge for Sebastian Construction Group notes that the biggest post-move in complaint he hears from clients is that their overly-complex home frustrates them – particularly audio-visual systems and lighting control.

“I would tell the homeowner know what they are getting into and understand the limitations of the system. Most of our clients have whole house systems and have had good and bad experiences with them.”

Jerry offers a few pieces of advice to keep enjoyment levels high and frustration to a minimum:

1. Keep your systems as simple as possible. Avoid the temptation to connect multiple systems into one.

“The biggest issue is when the home loses power.  A generator or battery backup may turn on, but some of these systems are so sensitive that it may cause other parts of the system to go down, which causes client frustrations.”

2. Expect to invest in upgrades.

“People need to remember technology changes every day and their system can be out of date within a year of it being installed.  The biggest thing is to make sure that their system has the capability to upgrade. And know that the updates will come with an additional cost.”

3. Work with a reliable integrator.

The technology is nothing without an experienced company to install it, train you on its use and to be available when there are problems. Several of the companies we frequently work with offer 24/7/365 service teams to keep your smart home running optimally.


In the News

April 17, 2018

2018 Survey: the results are in!

The State of High End Residential Architecture in 2018

We surveyed residential architects to determine what trends they’ve been seeing in the high-end market segment. We asked about project costs, size, the health of the market, recruiting and more.

The report will give you insights into the latest high end residential architecture developments and priorities, including:

-Average company size

-The percentage of designed projects that go unbuilt

-The most popular design style

-The average square footage of our architects’ projects

-Which ranks as the most challenging aspect of a project

Take a look and learn how your firm compares.

In the News

March 12, 2018

Texas Estate in Forbes

If the picture below looks familiar, that’s because you’ve seen this Texas beauty in the news more than a few times. Known as the Crespi Estate, this gorgeous Dallas home was featured in a Forbes video (click the image below to get a virtual tour.)

Once featured in Time Magazine as America’s Most Expensive Home, Sebastian had the opportunity to partner with famed New York architect Peter Marino on the renovations of the Crespi Hicks estate. (He’s known as the go-to architect for the most exclusive fashion brands. Christian Dior, Bulgari, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hublot, Zegna – Marino’s firm has designed boutiques for all of them.)

His residential architectural clients reportedly include billionaires as well as some of the most recognizable celebrities in the world, but Marino is the model of discretion and won’t discuss his private clients.

Sebastian Construction Group, together with Marino and London-based landscape architect, Arabella Lennox-Boyd, completed a 33-month renovation and expansion project, creating what Private Air Luxury Homes called ‘The Finest Estate Home in America.’

Commissioned in 1938 by Italian Count Pio Crespi, the estate was later purchased and renovated by Dallas businessman and sports enthusiast, Tom Hicks. The property is a rare find in the Dallas area – a 25 acre estate just minutes from downtown. It includes a 10 bedroom main house, guest house and pool house.

In 2016, Mr. and Mrs. Hicks sold this one-of-a-kind property to Texas banker and investor Andy Beal, who recently sold it.

In the News

February 19, 2018

Three TxA Design Award winners

The Oscars aren’t the only springtime awards show on our must-see list. Each year, the Texas Society of Architects (TxA) presents its Design Awards to a small number of projects that meet its mission to ”recognize outstanding architectural projects by architects practicing in Texas and promote public interest in architectural excellence.”

TxA’s 2017 Design Awards were given to 11 projects, selected from the 313 entries. Jurors David Miller, FAIA, of Miller Hall, Julie Snow, FAIA, of Snow Kreilich Architects and Andy Tinucci, AIA of Woodhouse Tinucci Architects reviewed the entries and made the selections.

Texas Society of Architects

The Texas Society of Architects is a state component of the American Institute of Architects. Founded in 1939, TxA is one of the nation’s largest organizations for the architectural profession, with 18 regional components and  7,200 members. TxA is headquartered in Austin.

This week, we’re taking a closer look at three of the 2017 Texas Society of Architects Design Award winners. (Why these three? They happen to be architecture firms that Sebastian has had the pleasure to team with on residential projects.)

All the winners were featured in the September/October 2017 issue of Texas Architect and videos were created featuring juror commentary on each project.

Max Levy Architect

In addition to the Design Award, the 2017 jury for the Texas Society of Architects O’Neil Ford Medal for Design Achievement named Max Levy, FAIA, as this year’s honoree.

“Working in a small studio, Levy and his collaborators make optimistic and cheerful buildings that are sensitive and exquisitely scaled to their settings.” commended O’Neil Ford Medal jurors in Texas Architect magazine.

Sebastian worked with Max Levy on the Twin Coves Residence project, one that is indeed “sensitive and exquisitely scaled” to its setting.

Levy’s Prospect House, a wedding and special event venue was named a TxA’s 2017 Design Award winner. Click the image below to view the video of juror’s comments about the project.

Lake | Flato Architects

The teams at Lake | Flato Architect are no strangers to winning awards either. The firm, named one of the Ten Most Innovative Architecture Firms in World by Fast Company, seeks to create buildings that are “tactile and modern, environmentally responsible and authentic, artful and crafted.”

Sebastian Construction Group teamed with Lake|Flato on the Watuaga Residence, (below) a home that is rooted in its surroundings and demonstrates the high quality construction and craftsmanship that both firms are known for.

Sebastian Construction Group built modern architecture, Watuaga, stone

Lake |Flato Architect’s 2017 Design Award was given to its Midtown Arts And Theater Center, in Houston. (The firm collaborated with Studio RED Architects on the project.) Click the image below to watch the video.

Ford, Powell & Carson

San Antonio architectural institution Ford Powell & Carson has designed some of the most iconic buildings in the city, such as the Tower of the Americas, the Alamo and the Spanish colonial missions, Trinity University, the Urban Segment of the Museum Reach of the River Walk, and the San Fernando Cathedral.

The firm was founded, back in 1939, by O’Neil Ford (the namesake of the medal recently awarded to Max Levy, above.)

Sebastian’s work with Ford, Powell & Carson is, of course, centered on building custom residences in Texas. Like Sebastian, Ford Powell & Carson commonly designs custom residences for second and third generations of the same family.

Brazos Ranch, one of our premier San Antonio homes, bears the hallmarks of the firm’s signature style: living in harmony with nature.

Ford, Powell & Carson’s work on the The Robert Irwin Project brought home the TxA Design award for the firm. (See the video by clicking on the image below.)

“Blurring of the distinction between where art stops and architecture starts…,” juror Julie Snow, FAIA of Snow Kreilich Architects describes The Robert Irwin Project. “It challenges architecture to be as powerful as that particular project, every time.”