News | 11 July 2019
Kiss House 2017 v’s 2019.
The last two years have been an awesome voyage of discovery for all of us at Kiss House.
As time has passed we’ve come to understand so much more about our deep motivations and the things that we’re really committed to.
Our 2019 launch: 6 new houses, new website and new look, is the culmination of all that has transpired, and we really hope you enjoy it. Below are some notes to explain what we’re doing, what’s different and why…
When we first launched Kiss House in June 2017 we had an idea to create a repeatable housing product based on a multi-award winning house.
That idea hasn’t gone away; in fact it’s become much more than we could have hoped for. Inevitably some things have changed as we’ve learnt more and as we’ve come to recognise and fulfil our purpose of “fundamentally changing the way that people think about housing” which is all about putting people and quality first.
Kiss House 2017 — the inspiration
Kiss House 2017 was an optimised version of Sandpath, a house designed by our founder-director Adrian James.
Sandpath was a long, narrow house. A simple cuboid form with a glazing aperture on each elevation. It was built as a one-off home by private customers. The guiding principle was simplicity and something about the design captured the public imagination which led to Sandpath winning a whole host of awards.
NB: For more on Sandpath visit Past projects in the About us section of our website and take a look at the chart comparing Sandpath with Kiss House and The Deerings (another bespoke build) in The Details section.
Kiss House 2017 — what we stood for
We always knew we’d started Kiss House to achieve something worthwhile. Everyone on the team had spent their careers determinedly striving to build high quality buildings. We were dedicated to the pursuit of excellence. With hindsight we now know that it wasn’t until sometime after the July 2017 launch that we fully articulated WHY we were creating Kiss House and WHAT it was we stood for.
This is of crucial importance because it’s the journey to understand our purpose that has led to the twists and turns, changes and refinements to what we’re doing. Our purpose focussed us more deeply on the pursuit of quality and the innovation that has arisen is as a direct result of this process. Recognising that we’re a purpose driven company was a path we were set-upon by a chance encounter with David Hieatt. It has been hugely influential and it has been embracing our purpose that has led to pushing ourselves to do bigger and better things; more on that to follow…
Kiss House 2017 — design overview
Whilst Kiss House 2017 took inspiration from Sandpath there were a series of significant differences.
Kiss House 2017 was:
- Passivhaus: built to the standard but certification was not included
- Available in 2 bed, 3 bed and 4 bed
- Available in shell only or ‘turnkey’
- Panelised for offsite manufacture and onsite construction
- Constructed out of CLT
- Available with a restricted choice of internal layouts / floor plans
- Available with an ‘off the peg’ kitchen
Kiss House 2017 — service / offer overview
Having come from the world of bespoke builds we were always keen to provide a full service / offer. However, in 2017 our offer (whilst comprehensive) didn’t go much beyond what other ‘turnkey ‘providers do as we did not offer a truly end-to-end service.
The Kiss House 2017 service included:
- Off-site manufacture
- Delivery to site
- Onsite erection
- Aftersales support
The Kiss House 2017 offer did NOT include:
- Passivhaus certification
- Groundworks and site preparation including demolition
- Connection of services / utilities
- A complete interior solution
- Modular furniture
Kiss House 2019 — introduction
In creating Kiss House 2019 we’ve worked hard to bottle the essence of Sandpath. We’ve sought to understand what resonated with so many people and why, plus how to apply that to our new designs. We’ve expanded our team to bring in new areas of expertise and we’ve demanded more from the different disciplines within our team. Where we’ve found stress points between different disciplines e.g. designers and engineers in the past on one-off projects, we’ve been able to push through to close collaboration to make the design work harder on all levels; this is the beauty of having everyone on one team!
We’ve interrogated everything we were doing and every assumption that we’d made previously, asking ourselves, ‘is it as good as it should be?’ Whilst we’re not arrogant enough to think we have all the answers we’ve been unafraid to change things where we can see how to improve quality, performance, design and buildability. This has led to many twists and turns along the way. It’s been an amazing process and has led to some exciting innovations.
We’ve done all of this within the parameters / confines dictated by the off-site manufacturing process and the requirement for repeatability (with flex!). We’ve been pushing to find the optimal point / sweet spot between repeatability, Passivhaus, off-site construction and achieving the element of uniqueness / ‘fairy dust’ that people want when building their own home.
It’s not been easy and we’ll probably die trying to nail it! However, we’re people who love a challenge so it’s what we’re striving for, that and bringing high quality housing into the main stream to make it more accessible.
Kiss House 2019 — what we stand for
Every decision and change we’ve made has happened as a result of articulating, embracing and pursuing our purpose. We believe everyone deserves brilliant housing and that standards have been too low for too long. We are incredibly excited to be part of the new wave of purpose driven housing companies who place people and quality at the heart of all we do.
We want to fundamentally change the way that people think about housing by proving that building better enables people to live better. That quality matters, because home is of deep importance. It’s the foundation upon which our safety and security rests, it’s where we experience life’s highs and lows, key life events, where we raise our families, lie low when we’re retreating from the world, entertain our friends, want to be at the end of our life. Quality should not be the preserve of the few.
Kiss House 2019 — design overview
We’ve moved to a squarer cuboid form that works on a wider variety of sites. Light and space remain of central importance. We’ve worked hard to achieve simple clean lines and open space that is also flexible and enables varied living arrangements, to better accommodate different lifestyles. We’ve carefully considered who will call the space home and how they’ll use it so we can anticipate their needs.
Let’s be honest — Passivhaus goes a long way to ensuring a fantastic living experience in comfort terms BUT it doesn’t guarantee that the space is well designed. It also doesn’t specify materials used. So we view Passivhaus as a starting point and have given careful consideration to design, space and use of materials.
We’ve made our designs work harder to offer more choice and flexibility so that everyone can make Kiss House their own.
Kiss House 2019 is:
- Passivhaus — built to the standard with certification now included.
- Available in 2 bed, 3 bed (2 options), 4 bed (2 options), 5 bed, plus a 6 bed coming soon.
- Available as a truly end-to-end turnkey package — we take care of everything!
- Constructed off-site so that we can guarantee quality, and to guarantee quality throughout the process we now complete the fit-out on site.
- Constructed out of LVL — very similar to CLT with the same quality, sustainability, thermal performance and strength but without the waste or over engineering.
- More sustainable across the board including material choices — natural wherever possible / appropriate.
- Available with more choice of internal layouts / floor plans and with improved space planning.
- Delivered with a bespoke Kiss House kitchen.
- Delivered with a new interior scheme that enables easier access to hidden services, better performance, durability and ease of cleaning – whilst also looking great!
- Delivered with a Kiss House fitted furniture package.
- Available with additional Kiss House fitted furniture according to your needs.
Kiss House 2019 — service / offer overview
We always wanted to provide a full service / offer, however in 2017 we shied away from going the whole hog — in all honesty we didn’t include groundworks / site prep / foundations / utilities connections etc because we’ve done it for years and know how tough it is!
When we interrogated this decision, we realised it was in opposition to our goal of removing the stress and hassle of building your own home. We had to include it and make our service end-to-end.
The Kiss House 2019 service includes:
- Tweaks and design changes as the structure allows.
- Full site prep, groundworks, utilities connections etc.
- An innovative new foundation system we’ve developed as a result of founder-director Mike Jacob pushing for the foundation to be as good as the houses that sit on it!
- Off-site manufacture.
- Delivery to site.
- Onsite erection.
- Aftersales support — extended handover.
What does the Kiss House 2019 offer NOT include?
- It includes everything.
- And we really do mean everything!
Kiss House 2019 — conclusion
Our 2019 launch has been the culmination of an exciting period during which we’ve pushed quality, service, design and sustainability deeper and further in the pursuit of our purpose.
Can we sit back, put our feet up and say that’s it?
Of course not!! The pursuit of excellence is on-going and never ending, that’s the challenge and the joy. It’s why we get out of bed in the morning. We’ve made big improvements and we’re excited for the future, but we won’t have achieved our vision until all housing is built to higher standards.
Interestingly where we’ve landed in 2019 feels closer to, and more aligned with the inspiring vision that Lloyd Alter had for us when he wrote about our June 2017 launch he described Kiss House as a ‘modern British, Usonian Home’. It’s a vision and ambition that we love — exceptional, accessible design. Add to that the fact that in 2019 we can achieve the quality of environment and performance that Passivhaus provides and authentically high quality housing becomes a reality.