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January 8, 2024

A decade ago, Connect Homes built its very first home in Sonoma, CA. In the years since, owner Carrie Kramlich has repurposed the home again and again.

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In 2013, Carrie Kramlich built a Connect 5 for her mother Jean, in her 80s at the time, to age in place. The 1600 sq. ft. home was installed just down the hill from the 8000+ sq. ft. home Kramlich shares with her husband. This ensured that the couple would be close enough to keep an eye on Jean, while also preserving the older woman’s independence. 

The Connect 5 is one story with an open floor plan—an ideal design for aging in place. Kramlich worked with Connect Homes to add even more accessibility features, like a walk-in tub and a drawer dishwasher.

Why didn’t they choose to do a traditional stick build, which is how they built their primary home? “Stick builds are wonderful because the world is full of options,” says Kramlich, “but the cost containment is a problem. The surprises are endless. I don’t know anyone who’s done a stick build that’s come in on budget.” The transparent, predictable pricing and timing that Connect Homes offered were appealing. “We had a fixed budget, and the project came in on time and on budget.” 

Jean Kramlich had been living in an urban area, and the move to the wilds of Sonoma was an exciting new beginning. The floor-to-ceiling glass facing the undeveloped valley became her picture window to the world. “She’d get up at 5:30 to watch the sunrise,” says Kramlich. “This wasn't her habit before—it was new.” A lifelong artist, Jean would often sit in the living room and paint what she saw out the wall of glass. “She painted the same views, but the art changed according to the light and her mood.” 

The expansive windows also brought her in close contact with wildlife. “We live on a large piece of land with a lot of wild animals. Sometimes 40 turkeys would walk by,” says Kramlich, “At one time, Mom had little fox babies that were 30 feet away from her window.”

Kramlich’s mom required a wheelchair in the final years of her life. The accessible design of the Connect 5 made this transition easier. The open floor plan, along with the lack of stairs and thresholds, made it possible for Jean to continue living in the home. 


After Jean passed, Carrie and her husband restyled the Connect 5 as a guest house and a place to entertain. “We have a large dining room in our main house, but it’s overwhelming for a small party,” Kramich explains. “We like the intimacy of the Connect 5.” She and her guests enjoy the view of the Sonoma Valley, the way the large sliding glass doors invite the outdoors in, and the ample patio space. 

The small house always leaves a big impression on guests. “When we tell people it's a modular prefab, they think the floors are going to bounce when they walk in. We’ve never had someone walk in who wasn’t surprised,” says Kramlich. “They’re not expecting the substantial quality. They say, ‘Wow, this is a real house.’ They want one.” 



Kramlich says that in many ways, she and her husband prefer the smaller Connect 5 house to their much-larger primary home. “The house is calm, comfortable, and peaceful. The functionality is top notch. And every square foot is well used.” They’re so fond of the home, in fact, that Kramlich and her husband plan to downsize from their 8000 sq. ft. residence and move into the Connect 5. 

Before making the move, they first want to add a couple of bedrooms and bathrooms. They plan to either work with an architect and traditional builder to expand the existing Connect 5, or buy another Connect Homes model and place it near the Connect 5. No matter the building route they choose, Kramlich says the heart of their future home will be the original Connect 5. “We’ll enjoy the same beauty, comfort, and coziness that my mother did. We’ll just have more bedrooms and bathrooms.” 

The one-story accessibility of the home is also a draw. ”My husband and I are mature enough that we want to think about that,” says Kramlich. 


How is the house holding up after 10 years? “We’ve had no problems,” says Kramlich. “Not a leak, not a crack, not a mechanical problem. We did have some mice and woodpeckers, but mechanically and structurally, it’s been gold. We’ve had issues with our big house, but not this one.”

Model Design Series Connect 5
Size 1600 sq. ft.
Year built 2013
Location Sonoma, CA