About Us & Our Designs

We are Jim Cameron and Kathleen Jardine, a married design/build team with over thirty years of building experience. Our educational backgrounds are in art. Jim is a licensed contractor in North Carolina, and has a BCA degree from UNC-Charlotte; Kathleen has an MFA from UNC-Chapel Hill. We are respectively from Michigan and California. Kathleen is a painter and you can see her work at www.kathleenjardine.com.

We began designing houses in 1985 when we first looked around for existing plans that contained all the features we describe here on our website: there were none. We especially wanted plans for a passive solar house with classic features.

Our first design was a passive solar farmhouse with a conventional wall system; we built it for ourselves while camping out for seven months with our eight year old son, Will.

As a contractor, Jim initially built conventional houses from other designers' plans; this work especially helped us define our thinking about the built landscape, and fueled our creative collaboration in finding better ideas.

With the 1992 opening of the first American AAC manufacturing plant, we had our critical missing design component: a better wall system. We convinced a client to let us use the material. Hers was the second AAC house built in North Carolina. We were thrilled with the material (and jealous of our client) so we built two of these passive solar AAC houses for ourselves – between designing and building them for others. It turned out that lots of other people wanted better houses, too.

We consider a couple of factors to be crucial to our design work: we have lived in three of the houses we designed, so we intimately know how our house designs feel to live in. We refined many of our ideas by directly experiencing the faults of our own houses. And we have built many of our custom plans for clients, so we know what our ideas cost and how the parts actually go together. These two factors guide us in making practical, easy-to-build plans for houses that we know will feel wonderful to live in.

Our design sense is classical. Our houses have been called “fairy tale houses”, and they employ many of the affordable classical features we observed in trips to Thailand, France, Scotland and Italy, as well as our own America. Our plans do not employ trendy, expensive, hard-to-build elements. We aim for the most square footage for the least cost. We emphasize comfort and practicality, which inevitably contribute to natural beauty in a home. We look for lots of storage, and nooks that may hold special features that can be added organically and over time if desired. Elements that are hard to maintain or that don’t last do not appear in our plans. We always look for the most affordable solution with the lowest environmental impact.

And last but not least, we design strictly to a client’s budget.