Escobedo Group Develops DARIO Panelized System to Assemble Homes Quickly
The family-run business recently utilized their signature method to construct a special guest house, nestled among tall trees
By Darcie Duttweiler
Photos by Cate Black
Anyone who’s building a home — no matter what state you live in — has had the same headaches over the last few years: shortages and supply chain issues, long waits and figuring out how to construct a new home sustainably and ethically.
That’s where the Escobedo Group comes in.
The 35-year-old family-run construction business has developed a prefab system called the DARIO Panelized System, which can assemble a home on site in a matter of days — not months — and create way less waste.
Owner David Escobedo says, “Instead of five dumpsters on a job site, I would like to reduce it down to five garbage bags.” DARIO is a panelized construction method where the building is constructed in the Escobedo Group’s 60,000-square-foot, state of the art controlled facility in panels and then erected on site with minimal impact to the job site or environment. Every panel is constructed from light gauge and structured steel and measured to exact precision, ensuring a seamless final product that’s transported to the final site and built within a few days.
According to David, it’s the future of construction. Escobedo Group has already built almost 100 homes using this method, and that’s only the beginning. The group also offers one of the most streamlined luxury construction processes of all: the DARIO Villas. Owners can pick between three different floor plans and sizes (one-, two- and three-bedroom), choose their interior finishings, and then DARIO Villas are built in Escobedo’s controlled facilities. This fresh, new elevated living option starts at $600,000 for a one-bedroom and one million-plus for the larger options. All Villas come with the same high-caliber details that the Escobedo Group is known for such as steel framing and a pier and beam foundation. The entire process from nothing to move-in can be achieved in just a few months.
“You know, this has been done all over the world,” David explains. “Americans are just slow at catching on. There are a lot of people in the U.S. that are trying to do this, but they’re trying to do tiny homes, where our focus has always been on the high-end market. The Europeans are all building using a system like this, but obviously they don’t build 10,000, 20,000-square-foot houses.”
But it’s not just luxury homes the Escobedo Group is building.
One recent project utilizing the DARIO method was a special guest house suspended 12 feet up in the air and nestled into the trees. Originally dreamed up by two little girls, the owners reached out to David and his son Matt through a referral from Ryan Street Architects, and together they all created something special.
“If you can dream it, we can build it in DARIO,” Matt says. Set atop a steel support system designed to mimic large tree trunks, the guesthouse is seemingly floating in air amongst the foliage. Clad in reclaimed Douglas fir that mimics the owners’ main home on the property, its mirrored panels reflect the tree canopy and lake. Other key elements, such as the floor-to-ceiling mirrored glass cubes that form the bedroom and bathroom spaces in the tree house, are intentionally unique to the structure.
The original sketch the daughters drew is framed above the kitchen sink, and their beds line the top floor, where they are treated to unparalleled views of Lake Austin, while downstairs acts as a guesthouse for those visiting the property.
“This started as a tree house for the clients’ children and morphed into an art project that everyone wants to stay in,” says interior designer Fern Santini.
While David admits that building the tree house was a special moment for him, he also is keen to note that the DARIO method is named after his father, whose footsteps he followed into the construction industry.
“When I was starting out helping my dad, I didn’t think about following in his footsteps — it was just a way to make some extra money,” David explains. “But working with my wife, my son and my daughters to grow my father’s business and then being known as innovators in construction, it means so much to create this family tradition. And my dad is the inspiration for all of that.”