This week, the Caskey & Caskey Team was graciously invited on a systems tour of the Sunset Magazine2014 Idea Housein Manhattan Beach by the general contractor and project manager, Mike Davis of Mike Davis Custom Homes. Mike was the builder of the 2014 Idea House in Manhattan Beach. We had the excellent opportunity to learn about the nuances of this special home from the perspective of those closest to it.

Mike Davis of Mike Davis Custom Homes

Caskey & Caskey is giving away FREE tickets to Tour the fabulous Sunset Idea House. CLICK HERE TO ENTER. Mike Davis has been building custom homes in our community of Manhattan Beach for 30 years. He has built some of the most prominent homes in the area, 116 Terraza Pl being one of the landmark properties completed by Mike Davis. In fact, the Sunset Idea House, located  at 111 S. Meadows in East Manhattan Beach, abuts the secluded estate homes along Terraza Pl; many selling recently as high as $6,500,000. Directly behind the Idea House sits the former home of USC coach Lane Kiffin which was recently purchased by actor Vince Vaughn. Mike is also currently finishing a custom home in Manhattan Beach for another USC coach amongst some new projects on the horizon in the Sand Section and on The Strand. The entryway and garage of the Idea House may face Meadows Ave, but the house itself really encompasses that exclusive, resort lifestyle of the very special Terraza Place landscape. Mike told us that Sunset Magazine approached him about a new construction project he was just underway on and inquired about the possibility of adopting the site as the 2014 Idea House; the first ever in Southern California. Mike took on the challenge which accelerated his typical construction timeline of one year up to an 8 month completion deadline. With his deep ties to the community and the experience he brought to the project, he was able to fast track the project through the City, manage an overwhelming team of 80+ vendors, designers, and tradespeople, and to quickly and successfully navigate obstacles as they reared up in order to meet the Grand Opening deadline. With crews bustling about up until the very last second, the doors opened to the public on Friday, August 1, with an overwhelming response of about 350+ visitors through on the first weekend. 

Drone Pilot and freelance photographer Tyler Mason showed us how he helps Sunbrella capture images of the solar energy panels on the roof of the 2014 Idea House.

Photographers working with Sunbrella were on site when we toured through with Mike Davis and that in itself was an event to witness.  With food stylists putting the perfect touches on a shot, lighting experts setting the exact tone of a room, and state of the art video streaming from the drone taking aerial footage of the property, witnessing the production made one realize how truly special it is for those involved to have put their own touches on this unique, benchmark home. It is clear that Mike Davis Custom Homes has raised the bar for custom new construction in Manhattan Beach to another level. A PROBLEM SOLVING POOL From our sunny perch on the generous master bedroom deck overlooking the magnificent yard, we learned from Mike Davis that the innovative pool design was his idea. Months prior, when he and his right hand man, Craig Patton, were breaking for lunch sitting up in the studs of the home overlooking the plain dirt lot, Mike pondered a thought and bounced an idea off of Craig. Two things presented themselves to Mike when looking at this space. It seemed a shame to sink a pool into the yard and lose the depth of the lot. Also, there was the practical issue of where to haul the dirt off to if they did dig for a pool. The Dirt Yard in Redondo Beach has recently closed, posing a problem to builders as to where to off load excavated soil from construction sites. From here the inspiration was born to Mike Davis to elevate the pool and make it an essential feature of the property. Sitting only 4.5” down into the lot, the pool is outstanding in its concept. Functioning as both a recreational piece and an artful water feature, this salt-water pool commands attention while anchoring the concept of marrying the indoor and outdoor spaces. The pool was built by another fantastic local contractor, Kevin Cobabe of Dynamic Pool & Spa Construction, whose business is based in Redondo Beach.

The elevated pool was designed based on a collaborative concept between builder Mike Davis and custom pool contractor, Kevin Cobabe. Built by Dynamic Pool & Spa Construction of Redondo Beach.

AN INTEGRATED AND INTUITIVE HOME One obstacle to overcome was the lack of space planned for a HVAC system and ducting in the original plans. As General Contractor, Mike had to quickly devise a unique solution and in doing so, discovered a ground breaking system brand new to the residential market provided by Mitsubishi Electric (at the tune of $70k for the intuitive system). Like nothing we’ve ever seen in a custom home before, every single room has its own heating and air system. This integrated yet independent system has a monitor sensor in each room that marks entry and exit of rooms, combined body temperatures/occupancy in a given room, moisture in the air, time of day, etc. and makes automatic adjustments to provide flawless control of heating and air throughout the home. The system will stop air conditioning or heating in a room that is not being used and only focus on those rooms currently in use. Its an amazing application of technology that will only result in the most efficient home! You may notice small, horizontal, black cut outs in certain rooms of the home; they are the home’s linear diffuser system that act as output zones for the HVAC system. The linear design streamlines the output of air in the room, quickly bringing it to desired temperature and more efficiently regulating steady temperatures. To understand the impact of this system, let’s quickly talk about SEER ratings. SEER ratings are much like “miles to the gallon” in your car; the higher the number, the more efficient the system. The minimum rating allowed by the government is 13, and Mike Davis told us most homes are typically rated at 14. This system operates more around a SEER rating of 28. Wow. The energy savings of a unit with a SEER rating of 13 is about 38%; at 16 the savings amount to about 50%.  Imagine the savings at a rating of 28! 

The state of the art HVAC system in the Idea House can operate at a SEER rating of 28!

Mike Davis Custom Homes not only sourced the solution to a major obstacle in the building process, they also employed the specialized expertise of local HVAC contractors, B-Radiant in neighboring Redondo Beach to install the complex system. With 30 years in local custom building, Mike Davis knew right where to turn for assistance from the best in the business and kept it local. In fact, bringing on as many local vendors as he could to participate in the project was of utmost importance to Mike, who saw this as an opportunity not only to put another feather in the cap of the city of Manhattan Beach, but to highlight some of the truly outstanding work of so many local businesses and craftsmen right here in our neighborhood. To compliment the advanced HVAC system, builder Mike Davis then applied the Vantage Controls Home Automation for Luxury Spaces system: A 7” LCD touch screen control with unique widget environment  interfaces with your smart phone and/or tablet to mindfully and intelligently operate the home’s major systems.  The environmental experience is controlled by small motion sensors built-in throughout the home which allow the system to automatically adjust lighting (and music) room by room as one moves throughout the house. A quick touch on an iPhone can adjust the living room to ramp down the lighting to an optimal setting for watching TV or provide perfect lighting for just reading. Take it as far as setting the system to automatically start the dishwasher as soon as nighttime power rates apply, so as to take advantage of every energy saving capability of the home. CLICK HEREfor a self-guided tour through a Vantage home.SOLAR POWERED HOME EFFICIENCY Moving on to the roof, this home has a 40+ year metal roof that absorbs the heat of the sun and additionally transfers the energy to the solar panels hidden within the roof. The solar panels are difficult to detect visuallyfrom the ground level as they are tucked into the roof itself. Mike Davis showed us on the solar monitoring equipment how at that moment, the temperature on the roof was at 156 degrees; this heat was automatically being transferred to the tankless hot water system, which reads the incoming temperature and immediately adds cold water to the tank to bring the hot water down to a safe temperature for home usage. Not only that, we were then taken to the meter panel where we could literally see the amount of power being generated by the solar panels on the house that was transferring back into the grid right then and there. The home operates three distinct solar energy systems which are owned (not leased): One for the pool, which is located in the pool equipment area, and two others for the internal systems of the home. There is a backup system which allows for 12 hours of emergency power, and the refrigerator outlet is programmed to continually run off of the emergency power as the primary source in order to preserve food items in the event of a major outage. Clients of ours that have converted to solar report that they are running full air conditioning in the summer months with bills as low as $49 (as opposed to hundreds and hundreds of dollars). 

Mike Davis showcases the solar energy systems at the 2014 Idea House

 THE [DOOR] BELLS AND WHISTLES Another really cool feature of the home were the Stealth speakers whose company mission is to “put aesthetics over technology”. The speakers are out of sight, completely embedded behind the drywall, yet provide a crystal clear sound environment. Look all around the dining and living area and you will not be able to locate the source of the music. Something else you can’t see but you must know about to appreciate in this home is the application of mold resistant, anti-fungal drywall in every room. CertainTeed gypsum board achieves the best possible score of 10 for mold resistance and is GREENGUARD certified. It absorbs less than 5% water by weight after 2-hour immersion (as per ASTM C 473 testing methods). The acoustical drywall used in the ceilings adds even more efficiency to the home as well as helping to balance noise in the room. 

Look closely at the doorway and you will see the subtle design touch that shadow molding adds

One feature that really caught our eye was the application of what is called “shadow molding” throughout the home’s interior. As applied by Mike Davis in the 2014 Sunset Idea House, the shadow molding was laser measured and cut as exact “echoes” of the doorways, hallways, and window casings. Look closely at the doorways and you will see this design feature as an indent between the wall and the jamb. The effect adds a true touch of elevated luxury to something as simple as the walls. And who would believe something as simple as a doorbell would captivate the attention? The doorbell senses if someone is at the door and if the front door is NOT opened by the homeowner, it quickly snaps a photo of the person who is at the door, sends it via iPhone and stores it for later review by the homeowner. 

Mike Davis points out that the doorbell captures a photo of people at the door!

CONTACT THE BUILDER As Mike says when asked what is on the horizon for new home building in Manhattan Beach, “everything you see here, right here in this very house, is the future.” Whoever ultimately takes ownership of this cutting-edge property is not only going to have what is arguably the best backyard at the beach, but will really be able to stretch the limits of the benefits provided by all of the “green” features of this home. We were honored to have spent so much time with Mike Davis who we hold in very high esteem. To connect with Mike Davis with questions about the Idea House and/or to explore developing a home of your own with Mike Davis Custom Homes, contact his office at 310-796-5655 or send an email to Learn more about the locals who helped make the Idea House a reality; read our follow up post about the local sub contractors HERE