The Mrs. and I have been house shopping for a few years now, and we've seen dozens of offerings by the bigger housing companies in Japan such as Sekisui House, PanaHome, Tama Home, and Mitsui House. The designs offered by these companies, while modern and (mostly) attractive, all suffer the same types of flaws, though: their best homes are clearly not designed for young families.
Since moving to 柏市 from 岐阜県, we've been fortunate enough to find some more offerings, including some that offer very western-style homes. One such company is Millcreek Homes, who seems to have something very close to what the wife and I would like to buy in the near future. We were invited to walk through a recently constructed house not too far from here and, while it's not yet completed, it's quite a bit more family friendly than we've seen from the competition.
Here are a few pictures from the visit.
One interesting fact to note is that the exterior panels are made neither of wood nor aluminum, but instead concrete. This rock-like material is used extensively in every construction project I've seen in Japan, but this is the first time I've heard of it being used as siding. When we asked the sales rep about it, he informed us that it's a requirement due to building codes. While it's true that concrete is a lot less flammable than wood, I do wonder how easy it would be to replace a panel or two should they become cracked from earthquakes, storms, or general age.
The closets in this home are incredible. You could hide an entire classroom of elementary school children in each, and there were five closets throughout the house. Incredible storage capacity! On top of this, the homes can come with CAT6 cabling throughout the house, which is something I'm seriously considering. I don't want to have wireless access points throughout the house, but instead put some 10GBit Ethernet to use and ensure the bits can fly through the house without bogging anyone down. The wireless will be used mainly to surf the web. Content will be delivered via cables.
We took quite a few pictures of the upstairs, too … but I'll save those for another post. This one is sure to take a while to load as it is.
All in all, the Mrs. and I come away more impressed with the homes produced by Millcreek every time we visit. While we haven't yet finalized our decision, this company is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition when it comes to who will win our money.