2012 COBA Tour of Homes: A Road Map of Home Design Trends

2012 COBA Tour of Homes: A Road Map of Home Design Trends

Talk about a golden opportunity to see what’s new in the world of home design: The 2012 COBA Tour of Homes, which is open to the public July 20-22 and July 27-29, offers participants a chance to check out innovations in area home-building at just about every price point (well, from $150,000 to $2 million plus). The 35 homes featured on the tour are scattered throughout Central Oregon — with stops in Bend, Tumalo, Redmond, Sisters, Powell Butte, Pronghorn Resort and Caldera Springs. Participating builders include Pahlisch Homes, SolAire Homebuilders, Arrowood Development, Sage Builders, Sunterra Homes, BlackRock Construction, Woodhill Homes, Greg Welch Construction, Hayden Homes and Pacwest Homes, among others. So if you’re considering building a home in Central Oregon (and, these days, more and more people are), here’s an outstanding opportunity to see the latest handiwork of many of the area’s premier builders. It’s also a great way to spot emerging trends. One of the fastest-growing changes: sustainable design (aka green building), which has supplanted “extravagance” as a common request among new-home buyers. Look for innovative new approaches not only to materials used (such as sustainable wood flooring and cabinetry, LED lighting and no-VOC finishes) but to overall construction (a more tightly insulated home shell, solar energy and solar hot-water sources, whole-house ventilation systems, high-efficiency duct systems, triple-pane windows). The ultimate goal: finding innovative and attractive ways to reduce energy use and natural-resource consumption while improving indoor air quality and overall quality of life. This year’s featured homes will be open for touring during the upcoming two weekends: Fridays from noon-6, Saturdays & Sundays from 10-6. Free admission. Printed copies...
From Parcel to Finished Product: A Client Unveils a Passive Solar Home in Sisters

From Parcel to Finished Product: A Client Unveils a Passive Solar Home in Sisters

I first met Mark and Cindy Armstrong in October 2010, when I represented them in their purchase of a mountain-view lot in the Sisters subdivision known as Pine Meadow Village. This is what the property looked like then.           What a difference a year makes: Fast-forward  to October 2011. Work had begun on the Armstrongs’ new passive-solar home.   I caught my first peek of the home while driving through Pine Meadow Village one stormy fall day. Every couple of months, I used to drive by and check on the progress. I felt a bit like a proud parent watching her child take his first steps. I couldn’t wait to see what would be unveiled next. Yesterday, I got the grand tour of the just-finished product –- and I have to say, I was impressed. There aren’t a ton of custom homes being built today, so it’s nice to see one that’s been so thoughtfully designed. It’s especially refreshing to see such attention to detail, not just when it comes to the elements of the home that are obvious — high-end finishes and woodwork, for example -– but in the overall construction of the home. This home was built to last –- and to use less energy in the process. The home was designed by Paul DeJong of Rainbow Valley Design in Eugene. In creating their home, the Armstrongs incorporated what’s known as the Passive House concept, the goal of which is reduce the heating energy consumption of buildings by up to 90 percent — without applying “active” technologies like photovoltaics or solar thermal hot-water systems. A Passive House...
Green-Building Basics: A Glossery of Sustainable-Design Terms

Green-Building Basics: A Glossery of Sustainable-Design Terms

These days, more and more people are being introduced to the world of sustainable design (aka “green building”). If you, like me, are new to the industry, however, you may feel like you’ve just entered extremely foreign territory. For one thing, this fast-growing segment of the home-building industry has developed a language all its own –- riddled with unfamiliar entities, tongue-twisting acronyms and dauntingly scientific-sounding systems. Not only that, but the sustainable-design industry doesn’t have a single best-practices ratings system — it has several. There’s LEED, CSBA, BREEAM, Earth Advantage, Energy Star. (Here’s a blog post detailing the different green-building certification options popular in Central Oregon.) What’s more, there are countless green-focused resources available to tackle just about every aspect of home building and home renovation –- everything from the materials used to frame your house to the plants used to surround it, the paint used to coat the inside of it, the systems used to heat and cool it, and the décor used to furnish it. Like I said, it’s a whole new world…one that, with time, no doubt will forever change the way the home-building process is approached. Some Oft-Heard Green-building Terms Here’s a glossary of some of the most common terms you’ll find in the green-building world (with input from the following sources: LEED, Green Resource Council, Wikipedia, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment). Active Solar Power: A system using mechanical devices (such as pumps or fans) that converts the sun’s energy into electricity for the home. Adaptive Reuse: The renovation of a space for a purpose different from...
Green-Building Basics: Understanding the Various Certifications

Green-Building Basics: Understanding the Various Certifications

When I recently listed a LEED-certified home in NorthWest Crossing, I received a crash course in sustainable building. Although I was already familiar with the concept of green building, I hadn’t previously worked with clients actively involved in what is shaping up to be a significant segment of the new-construction business, especially in the Pacific Northwest. Luckily for me, my client, architect ML Vidas, designed this house, and it’s about as green as they get. Every aspect of the home — from site selection, floor plan design and interior/exterior construction to ventilation system, lighting and finishing details –- was approached with the intention of selecting materials and processes that were the most environmentally friendly, most energy-efficient and healthiest options available. Throughout the house, Vidas and her husband, Allan Staley (along with their builder, SolAire Homebuilders), incorporated local resources and chose state-of-the-art systems and materials that dramatically reduce energy use, improve air quality and minimize waste. When ML, Allan and I first toured their home together, I was overwhelmed by the amount of thought that went into even the smallest detail of the house. I was also overwhelmed with the amount of information there was to learn about their home –- and the green-building community as a whole. For starters, green building has its own distinct language, which is riddled with unfamiliar terms and acronyms, like ERV, VOC, PV, FSC, HERS and MERV. Also, to the uninitiated, the list of cutting-edge sustainable resources and products can seem rather intimidating (not to mention, impressively long). With that thought in mind, I decided to write a series of green-building-related blog posts that...
A Rare Gem on the Market: LEED Platinum Home in NorthWest Crossing

A Rare Gem on the Market: LEED Platinum Home in NorthWest Crossing

It isn’t every day I list a property like 2446 NW Dorion Way in Bend’s NorthWest Crossing. But then, it isn’t every day that anyone lists a property like this one — there are only a handful of homes like it in Central Oregon. One thing that makes this home so special (and it is, in fact, extremely special) is that it’s LEED Platinum-certified. That means it has achieved the global benchmark of high-performance green-building standards. By attaining this prestigious level of LEED certification, it can be counted among the greenest buildings in the world. So not only does the home generate much of its own power and hot water, but it was designed for more healthier living using as many renewable resources as possible. Best of all, it was designed by the homeowner, architect ML Vidas, whose goal wasn’t just to create something that was “green,” but to also create something that was beautiful and comfortable. And in that she has succeeded –- the home she designed for herself and her husband, Allan Staley, is indeed a beautiful, very livable residence that is a reflection of its Central Oregon surroundings. Vidas chose as her contractor SolAire Homebuilders, an award-winning, Bend-based company known for its high-quality green-built custom homes. Their focus is on providing superior construction that incorporates sustainable, extremely energy-efficient materials in homes designed to last Since the two-story, 2,243-square-foot home was built in 2008, it has garnered numerous awards. It was featured on the 2008 COBA Tour of Homes and won three COBA tour awards in its categories: the Green Building Award, Best Architectural Design and Best...