Plumbing Upgrades to Save you Money

custom home construction, new bathroom

Looking to find ways to save money on a custom home build or even your current home? Have you thought of upgrading or replacing plumbing fixtures as a way to add immediate value to your home, save money, provide ease of use, keep the kitchen and bathroom more sanitary, and reduce your impact on the environment? The latest advances in water-saving technologies can do all of this and more.

There is no need to wait for Cal Tech’s award-winning solar-powered toilet design that can “turn human waste into hydrogen, water, and electricity” to come on the market before you can build your new home or retrofit your existing home with innovative plumbing designs that are available today including:

  • Hands-free technology
  • Tankless water heaters
  • Low flow toilets
  • High-efficiency faucets
  • Gray water systems

Hands-free technology
A healthy home can be accomplished in a variety of ways, especially with hands-free fixtures. Hands-free faucets are designed for both bathrooms and kitchens, significantly reduce germ contamination and are very well-loved by parents with children who’ve been known to get distracted while the water’s running.  In the bathroom, the installation of a touchless toilet kit enables the user to wave their hand above the toilet tank to flush it. With some kits, the toilet lid will automatically close without slamming shut.  You can round out your kitchen and bath décor with soap or lotion dispensers that are also hands-free.

Tankless Water Heaters

The Best of 2017: Tankless Water Heaters

More and more homeowners are replacing their hot water storage tanks with the newest tankless water heaters.  Tankless water heaters supply hot water on demand and save the homeowner both the time and expense of storing hot water and constantly reheating it.  Unlike a storage tank with a limited supply of available hot water, the heat exchanger technology can provide you with an endless supply of hot water no matter the number of tasks.

Low Flow Toilets
High-efficiency, low-flow toilets are one of the easiest ways to cut down on household water consumption.  All home improvement stores and plumbing suppliers stock these high-efficiency toilets.  If the toilets in your household were installed before 1994 or if they use more than 1.6 gallons of water with each flush, there are better options today with toilets using about 1.28 gallons per flush.  Dual Flush toilets using even less water for liquid waste!  A family of four could save more than 15,000 gallons of water per year by replacing an inefficient toilet with a 1.6 gpf (gallon per flush unit) and even more with a toilet rated 1.28 gpf.

High-Efficiency Faucets
To save the average family more than 700 gallons of water year, simply replace old fixtures for new high-efficiency WaterSense labeled fixtures.  High-efficiency faucets and showerheads not only reduce water use but save energy by reducing the demand for water heaters.  WaterSense labeled bathroom sink faucets and accessories reduce water use without reducing performance. They are not the low flow products of a generation ago.  Today’s high-efficiency showerheads combine water savings with high performance.

Gray Water Systems

Not everything requires potable water.  Being able to reuse water is important to not only the environment but your budget and since no one can recall the last time the cost of water ever decreased, reducing water use is even more important.  You can reduce your non-potable water use with the implementation of a gray water system.  The State of Colorado allows water from bathtubs, showers, washing machines, as well as water from bathroom and laundry room sinks to be harvested for gray water systems.   If you are considering a new home, please talk to your Builder about integrating a gray water system into your design and make the most of every drop of water.

What is WaterSense?

The Federal Government EPA’s WaterSense program labels plumbing fixtures for efficiency and performance.  The labels indicate whether low-flow fixtures perform as well or better than similar counterparts.   Their website has tools that allow you to search for WaterSense labeled products.  WaterSense labeled products are certified to meet EPA criteria for water efficiency and performance.  Ask your local plumber or homebuilder about WaterSense labeled products.

WaterSense logos will show up on certified WaterSense products.

Plumbing may not be the first thing that comes to mind when we think about technology and its impact but these innovations can immediately impact your home’s aesthetic and impact and your budget and comfort.  Talk to your local plumber or homebuilder today.  And best of all, updating your plumbing fixtures or building with the latest technology provides you the opportunity to take advantage of multiple rebates that may be available from your local utility companies and local and state government.

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Surviving Your Custom Home Build

Over the years, we’ve built many custom homes and know what a stressful time it is for our clients. Below we’ve compiled a “Do” and “Do Not” list to make surviving your custom home build a little easier. However, we’ve also found that time and again, the best tip is assembling your Dream Team!  Each professional on your Dream Team’s job is to bring their expertise to the table to make your dream of owning a custom-built home in beautiful Durango a gratifying reality.  Each professional is filled with their own tips and tricks specific to every part of your new labor of love.

Your Dream Team:

  • The Real Estate Agent
    If you don’t already have a specific property in mind, your Realtor will prove invaluable in your search for just the right location in and among the many beautiful and diverse areas Durango has to offer. Consider bringing your builder along to give you an idea of the real cost of turning that remote land into a buildable lot.
  • The Architect
    Your architect will show you where to place the house to best take advantage of Durango’s stellar views and the varying sunlight, shadows, natural landscape and more by working through the possibilities of the site. Sharing your budget for the house with your architect will make it easier to discuss whether specific features are worth considering for your price range. Most firms have extensive libraries of floorplans that may already be ideal for your taste, needs, budget, and location. Another option includes investing in a custom home plan uniquely created for you that can fully reflect your dream.
  • The Lawyer
    Get everything in writing! This applies to subcontractors, as well. Building a home is a major investment and a small lawyer fee up front could save you thousands of dollars down the line. An extremely detailed contract will be your best friend: there to protect you, speak for you and intercede on your behalf.  If you’ve talked about it, memorialize it in writing.
  • The Structural Engineer
    A structural engineer is a licensed engineering professional who performs design services and structural evaluations. They have extensive training and can provide a wealth of knowledge when it comes to building and designing. Your Structural Engineer’s job is to ensure a sturdy and stable structure and optimal design to prevent disastrous troubles later on.
  • The Banker/Accountant
    Your banker is a critical piece of the process that can save you thousands of dollars in the beginning as well as thousands of dollars of interest over the lifetime of your mortgage. Your Accountant should not only know that Congress has passed many laws recently that are favorable for homebuyers and homebuilders but they will also know about those tax credits for the new energy-efficient windows, insulation, low-flow toilets, geothermal units and more.
  • The Builder
    A well-established local builder should have plenty of nearby subcontractors, suppliers, and resources meaning no costly delays waiting for out-of-town crews and materials. Also, choose a builder that has enough buying strength to offer you the best prices for materials. Look for a builder that has a trustworthy warranty program. And always, always check references from local vendors and previous clients.

Do and Do Not Tips:

DO:

  • Build for Your Future: When planning your home’s layout, think not only about your current lifestyle but also plan for a few years down the road. Will you have children in the home, elderly parents, or special needs? What may be right for you now, may not be right for you in five or even ten years.  And while larger houses may appeal to you now, they are also more expensive and more time-consuming to upkeep, repair, clean and insure.
  • Check References, Licensing and Reputations: Talk to previous clients in detail about how their build went. Visit the final results if you can. Was the job completed on time? On budget?  Were the materials delivered and available for the subcontractors?  Is the homeowner delighted with the design?  Did the Architect meet their needs?  What about the Banker? Or Accountant?  Was the financing in place in time? Are they satisfied with the mortgage? Word-of-mouth references from reliable sources are a good way to measure your Dream Team’s reputations so make sure you ask around.
  • Visit the site … Frequently: Survey the site for progress and assure yourself that you like the way you see things developing. Make the effort to stop by several times each week, preferably daily, to help make decisions.

DO NOT:

  • Go with the Very Latest and Greatest: The very latest technology and state of the art amenities are fantastic but may also be obsolete by the next ‘Black Friday’ sale. Save money and buy products that have been on the market for at least a year or two. And avoid obvious trends. Nothing dates a home like a trend… Have you not forgotten avocado shag carpet and orange countertops?  Consider choosing design classics so that your home always looks current.
  • Don’t skimp on the planning process. This is worth repeating: Don’t skimp on the planning process! Anything on paper is easily changed including floor plans, materials, resources, and design elements. Once you start building, deviations can become extravagant especially once the framing begins. Don’t build before you’re ready!

Many people dream of designing and building their perfect home from the ground up and turning that dream into a reality to enjoy for decades.  Choosing the right professionals can make designing and building your dream home one of life’s greatest joys.

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Outdoor Kitchen Inspiration: Ideas for the Colder Climates

There is something so delightful about eating your food outside.  Why stop there?  Have you ever given much thought to bringing the whole kitchen experience outdoors?  You may remember we talked about how you can create a dynamic outdoor space, but an outdoor kitchen may be just what you need to live a more relaxed life outdoors.

If you live in a colder part of the country, you may have thought a grill was as close as you were ever going to get to an outdoor kitchen, but not so!  While outdoor kitchens are certainly more common in some parts of the country like Arizona, New Mexico, and California, you can certainly have your own right here in Colorado!  Yes, Durango has plenty of freezes and snow, but we also enjoy very desirable weather from April through October. We don’t know about you, but the 60-80-degree weather is just about perfect weather for preparing a meal outside.  Much more suitable than 100+ degree weather!

Simple or Complete Outdoor Kitchen?

To start, you must first decide whether a simple or complete kitchen is right for you.  Your needs, desires, available space, and budget are some things to be considered when making this decision.  If there are space or budget limitations, a simple kitchen may be for you. A simple grill and counter top may be enough for you to prepare and enjoy a meal outside.  If you want to maximize your time outdoors, consider a complete outdoor kitchen.  This means a space for meal prep, cooking, and eating.  This will allow you to interact with your guests outside while you prepare food!

Some unique ideas for your kitchen might include:

Flower/Wine Sink

The bonus compartment in the sink can serve as a vase for flowers or can double as an ice bucket to keep adult beverages cold!

Wood-fired Oven

Wood-fired ovens aren’t just for pizza.  You can cook practically anything in one!  The high heat allows food to cook more quickly and if you live in Durango, you know this is a requirement of high-altitude cooking anyway.  The open flame is also a great addition to the atmosphere of your outdoor kitchen and serves as a great source of heat on those cooler nights.

Outdoor Bar

An outdoor bar complements an outdoor kitchen perfectly.  The countertop and bar stools are a great way to add seating.  Add in some open shelves and some cocktails and you are ready to play bartender!  If you’re really ambitious, you can repurpose your bar into an ice bar once the snow starts flying!

Fire Pit

This is not essential for an outdoor kitchen, but makes a great addition to an outdoor Kitchen – especially one in Colorado!  A fire pit allows you to spend more time outdoors in the Winter and provides a great centerpiece for your kitchen!  Plus, who doesn’t love sitting around a campfire after dinner?

Choose a Location

Now that you have an idea of what you’d like your outdoor kitchen to look like, think about best locations to put it!  With colder climates, you may choose an area that has more sun exposure in the Winter so it stays warmer and snow is less likely to pile up.  Think about your roof and where snow falls off.  Consider whether you must combat prevailing winds, overhead powerlines, and trees.  Do you have enough privacy?  Is the soil stable?  Are there low-hanging trees that pose a higher risk for fire?  Also, consider how smoke from your new grill may affect your neighbor.

Other considerations: If your outdoor kitchen does not include a fridge or sink, you may want to place it near your indoor kitchen to provide easy access to the refrigerator and sink while cooking.

Coverings

Though coverings are not necessary for your outdoor kitchen, they may extend your kitchen’s use and allow you to cook outdoors year-round!  If you don’t already have an extended roof line or a semi-enclosed space dedicated to your kitchen, here’s some inspiration for you.

Louvered Roofs

It is amazing the technology that is available to us these days.  Picture a roof with the ability to keep out rain and snow, but also the ability to open like shutters on sunny days.  Amazing, isn’t it?

Pergolas

We know what you’re thinking – how can a pergola be a good choice for an area that gets snow?  When built tough, pergolas can withstand a heavy snow load.  Pergolas are not only beautiful, but they are great for providing shade in the Summer and allowing in light during Winter.  If you plan on using your outdoor kitchen during snow season, a canvas or tarp can be a good seasonal solution to keep out rain or snow.  A corrugated fiberglass top is also an option when you’re looking for a solution that still lets the light in.

Best Materials for an Outdoor Kitchen

You may already have the perfect spot in mind for your outdoor kitchen, but materials for the kitchen itself are usually last on everyone’s list.  Here are some suggestions to help you decide.

Plumbing

Plumbing, probably the least exciting thing you can talk about when designing your outdoor kitchen, but it can be one of the most problematic!  If you want your outdoor kitchen to survive more than a year in Durango, be sure to use stainless steel, plastic, or solid copper.  If it does not fall into one of these categories, be sure it is approved for outdoor use.

Countertops

You may not have given much thought to countertops and their ability to hold up in weather, but it’s so important!  Living in the mountains, we experience huge temperature fluctuations.  We must prioritize function over fashion.  That means ensuring the proper thickness and using a material that will withstand freezes and thaws.  And temperature changes are not even the half of it!  Given the sheer expense of countertops, consider using a material the holds up to UV rays, doesn’t absorb stains and odors (bears!), and cleans up well.  Some suggestions would be granite, stainless steel, glazed-ceramic tile and stain-resistant stone.

Cabinets

Don’t let your cabinet material be an after-thought.  Most are a large investment and if not chosen carefully and super susceptible to the elements.  Best cabinets for an outdoor kitchen would be stainless steel, reclaimed lumber, bamboo, and even waterproof polymer.

If not built properly, an outdoor kitchen can deteriorate quickly!  Outdoor kitchens are an investment so don’t let it go up in smoke!  Talk to us – we would be happy to build you one that will last!

 

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Welcome to Buena Vista Builders, Todd!

We are so excited to announce Todd Sharp as our Project Manager!

Todd keepin’ busy hammer things.

Todd is a Durango native, but he currently resides in Oxford. He attended Fort Lewis College where he studied Anthropology. Before working for Bob and Mike, Todd was a “ski bum” and working seasonal jobs. He worked for Bob and Mike when they owned Brightwood Builders; then he framed for Mike for 20 years. What Todd enjoys the most about his job are the different trades and the great group of people he gets to work with and be around on a day-to-day basis.

What others are saying about Todd:

Ed Heinemann, Integrated Wallworks:  “You guys did a fantastic job in hiring Ole Todd, fantastic human being very personal and knows how to work with subs. I have known Todd for a quite a while. EXCELLENT CHOICE. Thank you.”

Tom & Mindy, Crimson Cliff Townhome Owner: “A brief note to say thank you for bringing prompt attention to our door issue.  Also, want to commend the addition of Todd to your team.  He is a real problem solver and very considerate in his undertakings.  Kudos!!”

We are so pleased to have him as lead “go to guy” for all of our ongoing custom home construction and custom commercial projects we have!

Make Your House Work for You: 5 Smart Home Additions for 2017

HGTV is currently having its Smart Home Giveaway for 2017 and though we’d all love to win this gorgeous house, we can’t. Sadly. But! We have come up with some simple smart home features that you can add to your home. Below are five of our favorite smart home features that you can add during a custom remodel or a custom home build. What kinds of features would you want in your home for the future?

1. Light-Up Staircases:

These add such an ease to your everyday lifestyle, easy to see at night and beautiful. Adding lights underneath your stairs can automatically update the feel of your home and gives you an excuse to redo your staircase!

 

2. Remote Controlled Shades:

Do you have a home with hard to reach windows with blinds? Problem solved with remote controlled shades. There are a few companies out there that make them and can be worth the investment.

3. Electric Glass Windows:

If remote controlled shades just aren’t for you, then a relatively new product is electric glass. This is a great option for bathrooms, large picture windows, and even offices. Watch the video below to find out more about electric glass and what it can do for your home!

4. Wireless Dimming Lights:

Dimmable lights are nice…but dimmable lights that are wireless? It’s kind of amazing. Phillips has some amazing new lights out that connect wirelessly around your house so you can control them remotely.

5. All-In-One Home Systems:

From doorbell cameras to security systems that tie into your heating and cooling units, 2017 has some really amazing technologies coming out to make you feel comfortable. Whether your custom home is your primary residence or your vacation home, have ease of mind with some of these amazing companies:

 

6. Smart Appliances:

Smart appliances are all the rage right now, and for good reason. Not only do appliances (that sync up to the Bluetooth in your devices) make your life easier, but they can also give you peace of mind. Are your hands dirty but you need to preheat the oven? Jenn-air and GE have great smart appliances that connect directly to your devices so you can voice command and Bluetooth command what’s in your kitchen. Check out some of these awesome appliances here and here.

5 Timeless BathroomTrends to Look Out for in 2017

custom home construction, new bathroom

Bathroom trends come and go (remember floor tile for countertops?) but there are ways to update your bathroom during a custom remodel that will help it remain timeless. By adding in details, updating fixtures, and increasing your storage, your bathroom appeal will change overnight. Take a look below through our top five picks for bathroom trends in 2017.

 1: Concrete Countertops

Concrete counters and sinks add a monochromatic, modern feel to any bathroom and usually look best when paired with similarly modern bathroom features, think all glass showers, bathtubs that are angular, and tons of light.

Concrete countertops in custom home construction
Concrete counters mixed with rustic features.

2: Open Shelves

 This rustic-inspired trend doesn’t look like it will be going away anytime soon and the beauty of having shelves like these is that they can easily transform depending on what you put on them. In the images below, you’ll see that there are two different styles: a modern take with clean lines and simple storage versus a rustic spin with woven baskets to add some texture.

Custom bathroom remodel, open shelving
Open shelving in a modern custom bathroom remodel keeps the space light and airy
Custom rustic bathroom remodel with open shelving
Open shelving in a bathroom remodel is kept rustic with woven baskets.

3: Natural Light

Natural light is a must for any bathroom – it makes small spaces seem bigger and makes bathrooms feel more like spa retreats. When you’re doing a remodel, ask your contractor or builder if they could add more windows to your space. If you’re limited in wall space, try adding in a skylight or bright vanity lights to help.

Custom bathroom remodel with skylights and natural light.
Natural light keeps this custom bathroom bright and inviting.
custom home construction, new bathroom
High windows above the dual sinks keep this bathroom light and airy in Durango, Colorado

4: Monochromatic Tones

Monochromatic bathrooms are back – and they look stunning. Sticking with one color palette (black, white, gray) keeps your bathroom looking classic through ages. In the photo below, you’ll notice that they added color and variation with accessories. Keeping your tiles and fixtures in line with your color palette help bring unity to the room.

Custom bathroom remodel with classic subway tiles in monochrome
Monochromatic colors keep bathrooms looking timeless, all you have to do is switch out the accessories!

5: Showpiece Tiles

To add to a monochromatic bathroom, making sure you have some focal points that are unique can really make your bathroom feel instantly updated. When working in a monochromatic color scheme, you can easily add unique tiles to your bathroom without making it seem too busy. In the pictures below, patterned tiles add to the uniqueness of the bathroom while still keeping it feeling timeless.

Custom bathroom remodel in Durango, Colorado
Unique tiles make this stand-alone shower seem trendy and classic.
Custom bathroom floor tiles, Durango, Colorado
Featured floor tiles keep this monochromatic bathroom on-trend but classic.

 

With the many options on the market these days, your bathroom can look updated but still remain timeless with a few tweaks. Let us know what you’d like to see in your custom bathroom remodels or in your custom home and we’d be more than happy to make your dreams come true!

Everything You Need To Know About: Trusses

Marrying beauty and safety is no easy task. Rarely in our world are things that are intended for safety also appealing to look at. Luckily, trusses are both extremely safe in structure while also being able to bring a bold aesthetic to your custom home. Premanufactured trusses are often able to be installed in one day, which is a significant time gain over other traditional methods. This additional speed and convenience that comes with utilizing premanufactured trusses give you a winning combination for your custom build.

Recently having become very popular, trusses are steadily overcoming traditional framing, rafters, and joist in new home builds. Typically, trusses are wooden structures that are formed to create a series of triangles that will distribute the weight of your roof outwards to the walls, though they can incorporate steel and other structural shapes. Take advantage of the strong lines that trusses offer by leaving them exposed to create a powerful design element. The use of roof trusses will also allow for a more open design within your home as they are able to span greater distances than traditional framing, therefore, requiring fewer load bearing walls inside.

Many variations of roof truss designs exist, from straight-forward, simple designs to those that are more complex and ornate; all have their advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few styles to give you an idea of the wide array of truss designs available.

Custom trusses adorn this Durango mountain home by Buena Vista Builders
This combination of steel and wood bring a balance of traditional and modern to this custom Durango mountain home.

Simple Trusses

The simplest design, the King Post Truss, consists of one vertical center post with a triangle off each side. Great for smaller homes, as its reach is more limited than other trusses, the clean design of this truss provides an open, elegant feel. Adding two additional beams gives you the Queen Post Truss with slightly more form while maintaining that simple elegance. The Modified Queen Post Truss, Howe Truss, and Double Howe Truss are all based off the original center post design of the King Post Truss with their own unique arrangements of beams of triangles. The Howe Truss is particularly strong and able to span a great distance, anywhere from 6 – 30 meters.

The Fink Truss the Double Fink Truss and Fan Truss maintain the clean lines that the King Post Truss and its variants offer while abandoning the center post design which then lends an open, airy feel to the design.

Arched Trusses

The Bowstring Truss and Gambrel Truss allow the possibility of an arched roof while still benefiting from the aesthetic and strength of trusses. A vertical center beam provides the apex height in both of the designs with additional support beams to either side as they descend.

Single Slope

Truss designs for single sloped or flat roofs can be achieved in a few different ways. You could choose a structure of parallel beams joined and supported by a series of triangles, such as in the Flat Truss and Sloping Flat Truss designs. Other triangle based options include a right triangle that utilizes the descending side as the roof, as in the Monopitch Truss or an obtuse triangle like the Inverted Truss.

Extended Length Trusses

For those projects in which you need an extra-large open space, there are truss designs that can handle huge spans starting around 20 meters to those necessary for auditoriums and other huge buildings. North Light Roof Trusses will get you all the strength you need for those 20 – 30-meter projects, while those behemoth spaces can be accommodated by Quadrangle Roof Trusses.

There are many additional options in truss designs that you may find suitable to the space you envision in your custom home. Hopefully, this list has given you an idea of just how versatile trusses can be in a home and further inspire you to find just the right look and feel for you.

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5 Benefits of Building a New Custom Home

When we think of buying a home, we think of the financial ease being the main reason we purchase an existing home. There are many benefits to purchase an existing home and those reasons can vary from person to person. In Durango, especially, we have found that the market for pre-existing homes has definitely become more limited. Building a custom home on property is becoming more and more frequent. There are so many great benefits to building a new home that is built to your custom specifications. Read below to find out our top 5 reasons to build a custom home:

  1. Energy efficiency: Custom built homes can allow for updated technologies for energy efficiency. Better windows, better insulation options, passive solar and more, as mentioned in our previous post, all contribute to the long-term benefits of having a custom built home. Energy efficiency is a standard in most custom built home but you can take your new home construction even further by incorporating energy-saving technologies like solar panels, too.
  2. Custom Appliances: Being able to add the appliances and features in the house that you want can help you save more money in the long run. Picking out the appliances and customizing them to fit your needs for your family is a huge benefit to building a new custom home. Buying a previously existing home may cost you more money when you factor in that walls, wiring, drains, or pipes may need to change to accommodate your updated and energy efficient appliances.
  3. Privacy: Building your custom home to your specifications can be built to maximize the amount of privacy that you need. Your custom home builder and architect can help you figure out which orientation is the most beneficial for achieving the results you want for the privacy that you need. They can also help you come up with creative ways to maximize natural light and views while still maintaining a private layout for your home. Purchasing an existing home may not yield as much privacy as you’d expect.
  4. Saving money: When you consider that purchasing an existing home is usually several years old, it may cost you more money when you’re constantly needing to fix, update or upgrade certain items and parts of your home. According to New Home Source, “in September 2014, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported that the median price of a new home was $259,000, while the median price of an existing home was $210,300. The key to comparing new versus older home prices, however, is to make sure you are comparing apples to apples, cautions Ed Hudson, director of Marketing Research for the Home Innovation Research Labs, a subsidiary of NAHB. “Comparing median prices is fine, but are the homes the same size? Do they have the same features? Newer homes typically are more spacious and have more modern features.”
  5. Sentimental Value: The ability to build the home of your dreams from the dirt up is the major benefit of new custom home construction. From everything down to the wiring to the materials used in the construction of the home have all been incorporated for a reason – the emotional value of having a custom built home is insurmountable. Creating your custom home to fit your family, your needs, your lifestyle are all really great reasons to invest in the property for your custom home.

 

When you consider that your dream home may be a home you want to live in for several years (if not decades), making sure that everything is perfect and really up to your personal standards taking the time to build your custom home becomes priceless. Sure, building a custom home may take a little longer than purchasing a pre-existing home, but when you consider the long-term benefits that can go into new custom home construction, you won’t be disappointed. Buena Vista Builders is committed to making sure that your dreams come true when it comes to new custom home construction. As a company, we pride ourselves in making sure that every step of the way is easy as possible for you. We use a program called BuilderTrend wherein you can check in to see the progress of your custom project.

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Can Your Custom Home Be Energy Efficient?

Building a custom home can be a daunting undertaking for some people – especially if your interests are aligned with environmentally friendly practices. Often the questions asked before building your custom home can be, “Can building a custom home be environmentally friendly? If I want to be environmentally friendly but still want to build a custom home, what do I do? How do I incorporate green building techniques or solutions into my custom home?”

There are several different ways to make sure your house is environmentally friendly, but the best first step is making sure that you are building your custom home that is energy efficient. At Buena Vista Builders in Durango, Colorado, we take pride in the fact that we help you maintain your custom home building goals while still keeping in line with energy efficiency.

Below you will find some energy efficient elements that you can incorporate into your custom built home:

  • Passive Solar – Considering your custom home will be drafted to your specifications on your property, there are several ways to make the most out of passive solar.
passive solar, durango, colorado, energy efficient, energy efficiency, custom home builder, custom home builds, custom remodels, general contractors, general contractor, construction, home construction
Passive solar strategies come in handy when living in Southwest Colorado!
  1. Site location and how your house is oriented on your property can help determine how much passive solar you receive. Are there mountains blocking your access to full sunlight? Are there other houses that could affect your ability to achieve passive solar? The longest side of your house should be facing true south – you can deviate up to 15º away from true south without losing significant energy. A skilled builder can help you determine where your house needs to be located in order to get the most out of your accessible solar energy.
  2. Landscaping around your ‘solar window’ (the area of your house that was pre-determined to have passive solar) should consist of lower vegetation to prevent overgrowth from blocking sunlight. Even deciduous trees can prevent you getting maximum solar energy. However, having trees (especially deciduous) on the west side of your house could help decrease heating with their bare branches allowing for a little more sunlight during the fall, spring and winter months, and protection from the summer sun when their leaves are at their fullest.
  3. Room location is also another way to get the most benefit out of your passive solar-friendly custom home. Part of being energy efficient is making sure that homes have rooms located in areas that are based on usage. Placing rooms that have the most usage (kitchens, living rooms) in areas in the passive solar areas will help keep heating costs down.
  • Insulation – By properly insulating your house and using the correct type and R-value of insulation recommended by your custom homebuilder can greatly reduce the energy consumed in the long run.
energy efficiency, energy efficient, homes, custom homes, durango, custom home builder, custom construction, custom
Where you choose to insulate your house can really add to your home’s energy efficiency. Source: Energy.Gov
  1. R-value ratings can indicate how much insulation (and which types) you should use. Making sure that your insulation is rated highly on the R-value scale is one of many ways to determine how much insulation is needed. The more insulation you install will help to increase your R-value rating and will create more heat resistance and use less energy over time. Working with qualified insulation installation experts is just one of the ways that Buena Vista Builders ensures your home is as energy efficient as possible.
  2. The type of insulation is also a huge indicator of energy savings. There are several variations of insulation that you can install – depending on the level of energy efficiency you are trying to achieve. Some environmentally conscious insulation materials are mineral wool insulation, cellulose insulation, plastic fiber insulation and natural fiber insulation. Mineral wool insulation contains an average of 75% recycled content, less prone to air convection and is comparable to high-density fiberglass batts. Cellulose insulation material is made from roughly 85% recycled paper products, is treated with borate to ensure fire and insect resiliency, and requires no moisture barrier. Plastic fiber insulation is made from recycled milk bottles and formed into batt insulation (not unlike fiberglass), harder to handle and sometimes even harder to purchase since it is not readily available in all areas. Natural fiber insulation can be made of cotton (which is a blend of 85% recycled cotton and 15% plastic, and treated with borate), sheep’s wool (treated with borate but susceptible to constant dry/wet damage), straw bale (popular 150 years ago, fused into boards without adhesives which also double as sound-proofing), or hemp.
  3. Knowing where to put your insulation to get the most out of your energy savings is just another way your custom homebuilder can bring their expertise to your project. Installing insulation in specific, strategic areas of your house will prevent long-term energy savings especially if you consider moisture control and air-leakage as factors in wasted energy. Also, if you live in a place where termites and other vermin are popular, this could affect what kinds of insulation you use and where you have it installed. Attics, ducts, exterior walls, and foundations are all areas in your home that you should consider carefully before insulating.
  • Appliances/Lighting –Home appliances account for roughly 20% of your energy bills, so when you are installing appliances there are a few things that can help to make your house as energy efficient as possible.
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A great list provided by Enery.Gov on ways you can save energy!
  1. Energy Star appliances – Picking out all new appliances for your custom home is, quite possibly, one of the fun parts – you know you’re close to being finished when these are installed. Better yet, knowing that you can have an impact on the environment when you select these items feels even better. When your home is finished, installing Energy Star rated appliances allows you to continue with environmentally conscious approaches – long after your custom home has been built. Energy star rated appliances use 10-15% less energy and water than other models. They can also save you more money on utilities down the road.
  2. Installing “smart” appliances is a great way to reduce your consumption of energy. Smart appliances shift your energy use to off-hours when you use them less. As stated in Energy.gov’s website, “Your air conditioner may run slightly less often. Or your refrigerator might delay its defrosting cycle until the middle of the night. If your utility charges lower rates for electricity at night, this could help you save on your utility bill.”
  3. Choosing lighting that can be adjusted for usage (like dimmer switches) or occupancy can help use less energy. Choosing lighting fixtures that meet Energy Star ratings, can also help you save in cost. Making sure that you choose motion-sensor outdoor lighting can also help make your home energy efficient, especially if you use lower wattage in these fixtures.

Part of what we love doing at Buena Vista Builders is making sure that you are satisfied with the level of professionalism involved in creating your custom home. Energy efficient homes are an important part of being an environmentally conscious home building company.

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