Spend less money and still get a better house?

Published April 4, 2007

In the search for products that are better, faster and cheaper, engineers often say you can pick two of those attributes.

Don Thompson says you can have all three and more when it comes to his company's building materials.

"The engineers tell us this is way overbuilt," said Thompson, the head of marketing for Platinum Advanced Technologies, which makes steel-framed, insulation-packed wall panels for home construction. "People can spend less money to get a better house."

Thompson said the panels are rated against 200-mph hurricane winds. They are also waterproof and don't mold, and claim to offer the best insulation among common building materials so heating and cooling costs drop by half or more. The panels are cheaper than concrete block and on a par in cost with wood-frame construction, said Thompson.

"If you dressed yourself this morning, you can put these together," said Thompson. Four unskilled workmen can have a 2,000-square-foot house built in four days, he said.

"They can stand an entire floor in a day, while it would take a mason a week," said architect Eric Glinsboeckel, who was so impressed with the product that he changed his own plans for a home addition from block to Platinum.

Glinsboeckel had been planning to add a two-car garage and apartment to his 1925 wood-frame bungalow in Magnolia Heights. Estimates were coming in at $160,000 for the 1,800 square feet. With Platinum, it was built for $105,000.

Skeptical at first, after checking out the 2-year-old company, Glinsboeckel quickly changed his addition design and sent the new specifications for city approval.

"If a structural engineer reviews this and provides the documentation that meets our requirements, we're on board with it," said Rick Dunn, the city's building official, "especially if they can provide it more affordably."

Glinsboeckel's application was the first he had heard of, but residents will have a chance to view another this weekend, said Dunn.

During the Roser Park tour of homes, Rob Tarsitano will assemble from Platinum panels a two-story building behind his home at 720 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. S.

"I'm not looking to build a $120,000 garage," Tarsitano said of his two-car garage topped by a 480-square-foot living space. Tarsitano's structure would cost $86,000 but he is getting it at a discount because of the display and other help he's offered Platinum and his subcontractors.

The structure should be complete during the weekend's tour of homes, Tarsitano said. The finished addition may serve as a shelter because it will be sturdier than his 1923 bungalow, he said.

Even Tarsitano's next-door neighbor, a retired developer, is convinced.

"If you're going to do a site-built house, it's a very good system," said Nick Pavonetti, who consults on affordable housing for manufacturers of modular homes.

Pavonetti said modular technology, where a home is finished in a factory and assembled later on site, falls short where Platinum can help: with garages and additions.

Thompson said he wants to work with modular builders because he can supply panels that can go into those manufactured homes. He also aims to sell panels retail in home-improvement stores for people who want to build their own.

"We plan to be a $400-million to $500-million company in the next four or five years," he said. "This is an idea whose time has come."

Paul Swider can be reached at 892-2271 or pswider@sptimes.com or by participating in itsyourtimes.com.

Fast Facts:

Platinum Advanced Technologies Inc.



5999 Central Ave., Suite 102

St. Petersburg, FL 33710

On the Web: platinumadvanced.com