First Davinci Haus Rises in Sag Harbor


Balance. Craftsmanship. Performance. These are just some of the words used on the Davinci Haus website to describe the innovative product. Chances are, if you’ve driven through Bridgehampton, you have seen a tiny glass spec house that represents the German brand.
So what is a Davinci Haus, exactly? These homes, said Punit Chugh, the head of strategic business for Davinci, are customizable masterpieces. A prospective client sits down with the Davinci team to sketch out a dream home. “We basically say, ‘OK, you are looking for a 3,000-square-foot home,’ and we ask what kind of floors you want to have, basics. We sit down and do something called our design protocol,” Mr. Chugh said. During that initial consultation, a client discusses his or her budget. Because of a cost-control system already in place, Davinci promises to hit that magic number. “We don’t have transient labor, and a lack of quality control. It gives clients an assurance and a complete experience.”
Although Davinci has had a showroom in the Hamptons for several years now, the firm’s first official project — a family home in Sag Harbor — is now the first official Davinci Haus build in the United States. “They looked at what was available on the market and did not find something that really fit everything that they wanted in a home,” Mr. Chugh said of the homeowners. “They wanted to make sure that everything was good for their family and later, for an estate. They’re looking for value and something sustainable. It was their story, and it reflected their lifestyle.”
That home, which is being built in the Azurest neighborhood of Sag Harbor, includes 3,000 square feet of living space above grade, as well as 1,400 square feet of finished basement, and two custom pool cabanas. The project will take 93 days to complete and will come in “exactly to the budget that they had given us,” Mr. Chugh said. In the Hamptons, where custom builds often take years and, more often than not, run 10 to 40 percent over the initial budget, the Davinci model may feel like an architectural miracle.
In fact, that’s part of the point. The entire Davinci model is based upon cost-saving efficiency, and in eliminating the divide between builder and architect. “When we build our wall panels, or roof panels, we know our costs, because we are a perfect assembly line,” Mr. Chugh said. “Typically, we don’t have a lot of miss, because we are taking full accountability. Our windows are triple-pane, our roofs are passive roofs. The overall experience is that everything we put into it is the benchmark in the industry.” Full, insulated, dry walled panels, preassembled, arrive in shipping containers and are fit together like seamless puzzle pieces. There is low waste management as a result, as well as a much reduced labor cost. The work is in the design, not the execution, and that makes all the difference.
Although Mr. Chugh was reluctant to talk too specifically about pricing, he quoted the homes as running between $375 and $450 a square foot, depending on the level of finish. Davinci prefers that clients enter with open minds. “We don’t like to have a discussion just around the cost,” Mr. Chugh said. “We talk about the overall journey of the house. We talk about people not losing a summer. [The development of Davinci] was more about creating a stress-free, complete luxury experience for the clients.”
Currently, the Sag Harbor home is roughly halfway into its construction phase. On day 34, the structural elements were already complete, as was the roughing for the plumbing. Workers were busy in the pantry installing radiant heat floors, which will run through the entire home. Assembled panels are insulated against noise, moisture, and the cold. Studs in the walls are supported by 3-by-8 beams, rather than 2-by-4s, an extra structural consideration that lends stability to these homes, which are not prone to “settling.” The nails that hold the home together are not standard nails, either. Instead, Davinci uses foot-long nails tapered to 4 inches or so of screw. As a result, the homes are quieter, stronger, and generally more fine-tuned than some of their new-build cousins.
Ultimately, what Davinci provides, both in the Sag Harbor project, and, prospectively, in future projects, is a concierge service, whereby homebuyers can source land (in conjunction with Sotheby’s) and enjoy a detailed and personalized building experience that is both expedient and efficient. “We call it a home for a lifetime,” Mr. Chugh emphasized. In Sag Harbor, that lifetime home, much to the delight of its owners, is rapidly nearing completion.