Structure Fits Architecture in Custom Homes

Residential structural engineering for custom home at West Dry Creek Residence in California wine country

Residential Studio Background 

Our residential studio was founded in 2006 by Principal Denny Kwan. Over the years, Denny and the residential team have grown our practice through client referrals and close relationships forged with architects, contractors, and developers. As residential structural engineers, we service custom homes across cities and terrains—including Seattle, the San Francisco Bay Area, Wine Country, the Sierras, Pacific Coast, Greater Los Angeles, Texas, and more.

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Exterior of West Dry Creek Custom Home with Pool and Cantilevered Roof in Healdsburg Wine Country California
Architectural Screen Detail at West Dry Creek Residence in Healdsburg Wine Country California
West Dry Creek - Healdsburg
Residential Structural Engineering Concrete Walls and Screen at West Dry Creek Residence Custom Home in Healdsburg Wine Country California
West Dry Creek - Healdsburg

It’s no secret that custom homes require custom engineering. Holmes’ dedicated Residential Studio goes above and beyond in providing this service. Through collaborative, open communication we fold the engineering into the architecture, ever guided by the client’s goals as our true north. Our approach is never stock standard, not even for relatively conventional challenges: we honor each dwelling’s unique context and conditions. In tune with the project team, we realize homes that are as nuanced as their owners. Holmes provides thoughtful structural engineering solutions. Additionally, for some remote residences, we provide mitigating strategies to protect residences in Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) which may include site planning, design and detailing and even maintenance or evacuation strategies.

Northstar Townhomes at Ski Resort: Residential Structural Engineering of roofs accommodate snowload in Truckee Tahoe Region California
Northstar Townhomes Equipped for Snow Loads - Truckee
Custom Home Interior with Exposed Wood Beams in Portola Valley California
Portola Valley Residence
Architectural Rendering of Custom Home in Santa Monica California
Santa Monica Residence

A Reputation for Cost-Effectiveness

We put a high degree of thoughtfulness and creativity into devising cost-efficient solutions. We strive to limit construction costs through structural designs that take construction sequencing and materials into account in lieu of providing a pedestrian or over-engineered product. For example, rather than weigh down plans and budgets with cumbersome and expensive steel moment frames, we often look for opportunities to redistribute loads by methodically locating structure within the architectural program. Outside of our own residential portfolio, numerous architects and contractors approach us for second opinions on cost reduction strategies.

Holmes Structures Residential Studio Lead Principal Denny Kwan Onsite for Custom Home Construction in California
Denny and Team Onsite

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Through close communication with our project teams, we accomplish stunning feats tailored to each home’s goals. Together with our partners we’ve achieved incomparable cantilevers; elegant butterfly roofs; beautifully exposed and deftly concealed structures; seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor spaces; sculptural feature stairs; steep hillside excavations; expansive floor-to-ceiling windows with sliding doors; operable glazing and framing; radiant floor heating; mass timber applications new to the United States; a Net Zero Home; and so much more—all across highly seismic regions.

Dramatic Butterfly Roof at Night with Glowing Interior at Zen Spa in Sonoma Wine Country California
Zen Spa - Sonoma
Residential Glass-Enclosed Elevator at Residence 950 Interior San Francisco California
Glass-Encased Elevator
Wooden Feature Stair
Holmes Structures Residential Studio Leads Denny Kwan and Adam Azofeifa Review Custom Home Plans

We are extremely collaborative, innovative, and thoughtful in our process. We develop structure that adheres to the client’s and architect’s visions.

Adam Azofeifa — Residential Studio
Structurally Engineered Floor-to-Ceiling Windows Overlooking Bay at Residence 2750 in San Francisco California
Residence 2750 - San Francisco

Setting Performance Objectives to Minimize Risk

Protecting one’s assets from risk, especially as they relate to earthquakes, is an early conversation we have with all of our clients. Equipped with our deep knowledge of code and breadth of experience, we keep clients informed and aware of options for better performing homes. Some clients take precautions to design a higher performing building than code requires—increasing the likelihood of remaining in the home with minimal damage after an earthquake. We have conversations with both the client and the architect to understand the risks and rewards of different design options and structural systems. Upon the client’s selection, we achieve the targeted performance objectives through effective construction within budget.

Facade of Custom Victorian Home at Alamo Square Residence, San Francisco California
Victorian Facade, Alamo Square Residence - San Francisco
Rear Facade, Alamo Square Residence - San Francisco

Whether strengthening an existing residence or building from the ground-up, we meet each client’s performance objectives.

Residence 950 - San Francisco

More Perspectives

We know we’re onto something when the engineering becomes a thing of beauty.

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