Clawson Construction


I’m modern, don’t call me contemporary.


That’s the message designers are pitching these days.  The "in" style has always been a moving target, but the train now whisks past by high speed rail, driven by an eclectic mix of omnipresent options available to anyone at the click of a button. 


No more waiting a month for the next edition of Architectural Digest.  No more careful study of the New York Times, Style pages.  Today the images blink right past, one after another, served and correlated by web dominating sites like Houzz and Pinterest.  The images are associated in an endless stream of similarity, and users browse until they see what they want.


Then they want what they see.


So the pressure on designers and builders to stay fresh is acute.  Traditional is yesterday, and contemporary is so passé.  I recently heard a designer explain, “We don’t do ordinary”.  Well that’s fine, except in this age, with all the possibilities readily available, ordinary is hard to define.  Minimalist?  Extravagant?  Expensive?  Take a gander at Houzz, and see the volumes of ordinary under any given search term.  Search “Magnificent Fireplace” and you’ll see what I’m seeing.


A whole lot of ordinary.  But as you scan the images, browsing what’s possible, some image will stand out.  Something smart.  Something grand.  Something just your style—you’re sure to stumble on it.  Sometimes the job of a builder is simply to replicate it, but more often than not the builder’s job is to associate that image with your circumstance.  It’s the builder’s job to put that photo into the proper of context of your living room, your ceiling height, and your gorgeous, reclaimed cedar beams.       


At Clawson Construction, we enjoy our part in this process, sometimes with the help of a designer and sometimes not, but always with the end vision of our clients in mind.  It’s your vision for your home.  Our job is to see it too—and then build it.


Modern style is what’s possible.  Take a look and see.  Discover what modern means to you.


Matt Clawson




About the permit process . . .


Congratulations, you’ve decided to do it!  Like the gutsy, big dreaming doer you are, you’re going to build your dream home.   It’s time to find an architect, pick a builder, and get this thing off the ground. 


Not so fast.


Oh how it saddens me to say this as a builder, but not so fast.


The first question we’re always asked is, “What will it cost?”


The second is, "How long will it take?


There are some easy answers.  To build a new custom home takes ten to fourteen months, depending on all the variables.  To come up with a new home design with an architect typically takes about four months.  But the biggest time variable is the permit process itself, and let me tell you, estimating this period can prove one doozy of a riddle.


First, the good news.  In some instances the permit process is predictable.  Building within a new subdivision of freshly approved lots, we can sometimes estimate the permit review period by a matter of days.  The same can be true of simple remodels not requiring a variance, but this varies widely by jurisdiction.  When working within a region where the requirements are clear and understood, the process can be seamless when managed by an experienced, organized team.


It’s a reason to seek advice from an experienced local builder you trust early in the process.  Architects often ask us to be responsible for submittals when plans are ready, and we typically further assist in the permit process by proactively communicating with inspectors and plan reviewers to keep the plan approval on track.  We become your squeaky wheel, thus ensuring your plan gets the oil.


But some jurisdictions are understaffed and overwhelmed.  Furthermore, submittal requirements vary widely and are often open to interpretation.  These problems are exasperated by ever changing requirements, and sometimes the new requirements (like the California Energy Commission’s 2014 energy efficiency guidelines also known as Title 24 Requirements) are seemingly impossible to achieve.  A Title 24 officer recently told me just that, as the approval process for a new home he was calculating underwent a month delay as different county departments argued over responsibility. 


Some jurisdictions fail to efficiently disburse plans concurrently by department, leading to an inefficient review process that can result in surprises, and some planning departments are dedicated to nothing more than suppressing growth.  Homeowner’s associations, water and utility companies, public works departments and sewer districts all work with the intent to efficiently serve and protect their communities (or so I’ve heard) but this does not always translate to an intent to efficiently approve your new project.


Surprise requirements can sometimes be avoided, sometimes massaged, and sometimes one should listen closely to what the plan reviewer asks for and give it to them.  The role of a good, experienced builder is critical in determining which course of action is warranted.       


Well that was it.  Now you heard the bad news, but even in this there’s a ray of sunlight.  These difficulties are not fun, but an experienced team understands the difference between a hurdle and an obstacle.  An experienced builder, having developed relationships with a jurisdiction and an understanding of their processes, can inform customer expectations and ensure proper steps are taken to achieve the fastest approval possible.      


It’s one of the most valuable services we provide our customers, all in the shared mission to get sticks in the air, and begin transforming that design on paper into your home in reality.  


Matt Clawson







It’s a hard fence to walk.  You want to personalize your space.  You want a unique design that speaks to you, but how to execute the vision without seeming to try too hard?  It’s a dilemma we face in our designs and implementations all the time. 


Nothing is worse than finished designs that look, shall we say, overeager?


I’ve provided two links below to recent articles that speak to this dilemma in different ways. 


The first is an article on Houzz about floating countertops.  The big blocky, tank of an island is beginning to look a bit like a world war relic.  But you need the space!  The solution could be a sleek floating countertop, and they only look like miracles of physics.


I especially like the examples utilizing simple and natural, somewhat industrial materials, blending nicely with a more contemporary form.  Take a look.


The second is a recent post from Architectural Digest.  It’s simply a group of Living Room Showcase Finalists submitted by designers, but I like every one of these design examples for different reasons.  They all toe the line, if you ask me, yet the variety runs the gamut from traditional to flat out sexy modern, and just looking at those gorgeous but empty chairs, it’s hard not to imagine the different respective owners inhabiting each space.   


Our mission is to help you build your space, and seat you comfortably and happily in your own lovely chair.


Matt Clawson



Simply put for simple answers.


Is that an oversimplification?  I know, stop already, because your mind has started winding down the rabbit hole of what's possible.


You like that.  You like this.  What a fabulous elevation!  And another, and another .  .  . where does the bottomless pit end? 


With one answer, and we'll help you find it, but first let's define the question.


Is the exterior style of your home elevation the starting point?  It often is.  Sometimes our clients know they want sleek, contemporary lines conforming to the contours of a sloping hillside, or possibly it's that traditional farm house reminiscent of their Midwestern roots.  Sometimes the question is a no brainer.


I'm talking to the rest of you.  Those hemming and hawing over every decision, and nothing is singing "RIGHT!"


You need to look for just one thing that does.  It may be the perfect pool lagoon you saw on Pinterest, with a waterfall and idyllic patio nestled beside, all surrounded by lush gardens.  Other times it's even simpler; a lovely little entry door, the cooktop wall anchored by a perfectly weathered, copper hood, or that grand staircase straight out of a Bond movie.  The one choice, as long as it’s a confident one, goes far in helping define the rest of your decisions.  The little entry door may belong to a cottage, and the copper hood could beg for a French formal trim scheme, and as easy as that, voila—you're off and running.


It begins with a question.  What do you love?  A good builder and design team falls in love right alongside you, delighting at your whimsy while holding your hand, guiding you down the long path leading straight to your vision.


Because a truly talented, experienced team doesn't make one up.  They help you see yours, before assisting every step of the way, taking you right up to that homey, quaintly sized, cottage door, waiting to be opened.  


Matt Clawson