Labor costs to design and build in the Mountain Regions are usually greater than elsewhere in the US. A higher cost of living and frequent manpower shortages contribute to the price structure. But it is also true that designing and building homes in the high country requires a level of talent and expertise not generally required as a part of the production tract home building process. Highly engineered architecturally complex homes with computerized energy and environment management systems require design and build experts at the top of their profession. Add to that the costs of municipal development and building inspection personnel, and the manpower costs to build a mountain home must inevitably be higher. A high altitude environment also contributes to a lengthened build period and higher labor costs.
Other factors determine costs. Location; it certainly costs more to build in Aspen than Summit County. Work force housing initiatives and other tax measures designed to support common elements and municipal programs also come into effect dependent on locale. But the driving force behind the relatively high cost of mountain homes is most significantly influenced by one thing: outstanding quality.
Mountain Homes in the US are without a doubt designed and built to the highest standards in the world. They are designed more thoroughly and thoughtfully, engineered to be tougher and stronger, consist of higher quality materials, are built by extremely capable builders and contractors, and are the product of an extraordinarily introspective and involved review and construction inspection process.
The mountain homes being built today will stand for centuries longer than many of their lowland counterparts. And that kind of quality and longevity simply cost more.
Municipalities in the high country, especially those with a strong historical preservation imperative, often impose strict design guidelines governing the architectural style and use of exterior materials within historic districts. New homes and remodels in the Victorian Era ski town of Breckenridge, Colorado must “fit in” with their historic neighborhoods in terms of design, color, height, and size, allowing the town to remain true to its heritage. These strict design and review requirements extend the approval and design process resulting in higher costs. Many Home Owner Associations in the high country impose design requirements to include specific and costly exterior materials, a certain percentage of quarried stone per elevation, extensive landscaping, and a high standard of architectural quality, diversity, and complexity all resulting in a multi-layered design review process that could take as long as 6 months to complete. The result of all this additional attention to detail is usually a distinct community populated by homes with strong architectural integrity and character.
Our next blog posting concludes the discussion while considering labor and location costs.
This article was printed in Mountain Town Magazine
High Country Homes: The Best Built Homes in the World
It is a fact: generally speaking the cost of designing and building a home in the high country is considerably more than the costs for a lowland counterpart. The same holds true for multi-family residences including condos and town homes. Are architects and builders simply charging more and profiting handsomely as a result of a high country luxury real estate market? The answer in most cases would be a resounding no. The case may be that average homes in the high country are simply better design and constructed. In fact, they may just be the most finely crafted homes on the planet. (This article will mostly focus on single-family homes but most comparisons also apply to multi-family as well.)
Much of the additional cost of designing and building a mountain home is regulatory in nature. In other words, the result of building codes and design standards imposed by Home Owners Associations and municipalities. Are these higher standards unreasonable in nature? For the most part no because they rest on the notion that homes in the high country must be built to withstand some of the harshest climactic conditions on the planet as well as contribute in a positive manner to the neighborhoods in which they are built.
In the US, most mountain regions in the northern latitudes or west of the Mississippi are considered Climate Zone 7, as is most of Alaska. Nationwide changes in 2012 residential building codes address the construction of all new homes in the country but particularly impact homes built in Zone 7 because the code changes demonstrably increased standards for energy efficiency. Not only must the physical structure of a mountain home withstand hurricane force winds and enormous roof snow loads of 100 pounds per square foot in many place, those roofs need to be framed 14” thick to accommodate the required amount of fiberglass insulation. Newly adopted codes also mandate thicker and denser wall insulation, ultra high efficient window systems, and caulking and sealing requirements to make the structural envelope of the home less prone to heat leakage. In fact, these new homes will be so “tight” that codes require mechanical ventilation as insurance against excess levels of interior air contamination from habitants and outgassing of building materials. Additional steps to prevent excess levels of radon are a part of the new codes. In many cases fire suppression systems and monitored smoke alarm systems have also been mandated. Automated environmental, lighting, and window shade systems are not only convenience features but are part of the energy control equation. Energy efficient appliance and heating systems, as well as active and passive solar designs, are highly regarded as part of an energy scorecard that must reach a certain “score” before a building permit is issued by the municipality.
Our next blog post will continue the article with a discussion of costs imposed by HOA’s and government entities.
is THIS WEEK! Trilogy Partners is this year’s “Community Sponsor” and will be there to help launch the opening night film Thursday at 7p as well as others to be presented at The Riverwalk in Breckenridge with our “Passion for the Extraordinary” salute to filmmakers which can be previewed here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/f2v5h121juide0x/BFF2015Promo.mov?dl=0
We hope you can join us for films and festivities! Follow the links below for information about scheduled showings at The Riverwalk.
When it comes to your custom home design, don’t forget about the smaller details that can help you create a more eco-friendly home. For example, the home fixtures that you use in your kitchen and bathrooms. The following are a few home fixtures you should consider investing in to help reduce your water usage:
WaterSense faucets – These faucets can help to reduce the flow of water by as much as 30 percent without sacrificing performance. This could end up saving you as much as 500 gallons of water a year.
Dual-flush toilets – Toilets consume more water than any other indoor fixture. A dual-flush toilet has two different flush options, one for liquid waste that uses less water and one for solid waste.
Graywater reuse – A graywater reuse system allows you to use the water that you wasted in the sink for a nearby toilet for use in flushing. Basically, the system lets you recycle water.
Urinals – Obviously, the urinal only works for the boys; however, you’ll conserve way more water. Some manufacturers even offer waterless urinals.
These are some home fixtures that you can use to help save water. Contact Trilogy Builds for more tips on creating a green home.
Beautiful homes don’t just sprout from the ground. They are the culmination of months, sometimes even years of dedicated planning and preparation. When you are planning a building project, the following are three of the most important tips to follow so that the process will go as smooth as possible.
Choose a design team. Your team should include an architect, an interior designer, and a builder.
Identify features and size. From the number of bedrooms to the wine cellar and game room, itemize the general framework of what your home will look like.
Create blueprints. Once your architect has the overall feel for what you want, have them draft blueprints you can review and amend.
Once all of these tasks are complete, construction can begin and since your team has worked together from the start, they will be able to finish your home quickly and to the precise specifications you have created together.
Planning a building project? Contact Trilogy Partners and we will be happy to show you some of the homes we have recently completed in the area and tell you more about the planning that went into them.
Green housing solutions are the hottest trend in construction and Trilogy is helping our clients “green up” their lifestyles. From carefully selecting the light fixtures to upgrading the appliances they use, the following are some ways you can use green design to your advantage.
More Windows and Skylights. This allows more light into the home and reduces the reliance on electric lights during the day.
Repurposing. Old wood can be made to look new and stylish. A little elbow grease is all it takes to turn the old into fabulous furniture, flooring, or paneling.
LEED Certified Appliances. From dishwashers to refrigerators, the higher the LEED rating, the more efficient the unit will operate. Not only do these appliances looks stylish, most will pay for themselves over their lifespan.
Zoning. Zoning the home’s HVAC system gives you greater control over the interior climate. This allows you to “shut down” rooms when they’re not in use so that you’re not wasting energy throughout the year.
Trilogy can help you build the green housing solutions you desire. We encourage you to contact us for more information about this year’s trends and the features we recommend including in your plans.
One of the features that many homeowners are beginning to implement when they plan their custom home designs is home automation. Planning your home for home automation will not only help make your home more convenient, it will also help make your home more energy efficient as well.
There are a lot of ways in which home automation can save energy around the home. Take for example a smart thermostat. While many homeowners have programmable thermostats, few actually take advantage of it in order to save energy. However, with a smart thermostat, you can control the programmable thermostat from your smartphone, making it much more convenient and easier to set the thermostat. This allows you to adjust your settings on the go. For example, maybe you forgot to program it before heading off for a two week vacation. You can now do so from your phone.
There are plenty of other ways you can save energy as well. You can control your home’s lighting from your smartphone through home automation, meaning you’ll never forget to turn the lights off again.
When designing a custom home, you should strongly consider making it as energy efficient as possible in order to not only reduce your environmental footprint as much as you can, but to save a substantial amount of energy costs over the long term. The following are three examples of energy-efficient homes that we hope will inspire you:
The R-House – This house was built to meet Germany’s passive house principles, which means that it is airtight deu to its super insulated exteriors that boast minimal thermal bridging, heat-recovery ventilators and highly insulated windows. Electrical consumption in this house is roughly 70 percent less than a typical home in the Syracuse area.
The TED House – This three-story house uses closed-cell spray foam insulation in addition to a zip-panel air barrier, densely packed cellulose, R-10 windows and a metal panel rain screen to achieve passive house standards.
Live/Work/Home – This uniquely designed home boasts a retractable front screen that helps maintain privacy and filter sunlight. It also makes use of linear single-story plan instead of combining parcels like other passive homes.
Different communities have different building codes. These building codes are meant to ensure the safety of the homeowner. There are also green building codes that you will have to abide by in different communities that are meant to help protect the environment that the community is located in.
Communities all over the country deal with various issues, from flooding and water pollution to droughts and smog. In order to keep these issues from occurring – or from getting too bad – green building codes are implemented. These codes establish a set of minimum standards for air quality, water consumption, storm water management, building efficiency, the toxicity of materials and general waste reduction. So, for example, in order to meet water conservation codes, you might have to meet certain requirements for your plumbing fixtures and landscape designs.
Many green building codes often help reduce the environmental impact by also prohibiting certain local plants and trees from being killed during the building of a new home. This would require you to take into account the environment of your property before beginning construction.