The Green Built Home: High Performance, Cost Effective & Low Maintenance.

The Green Built Home: High Performance, Cost Effective & Low Maintenance. 

What can you do when building a new home to lessen the harmful impact on the environment? With all the resources and knowledge available today – there is no reason not to build an environmentally conscientious, green home. Here are the 5 most important things you can do:

Don’t build more than you need. You don’t want to build too much house, instead you want your home to feel and fit “just right”. A house that is too large will contain wasted space. Unused space and cost you more to heat and cool. When planning your home, take careful consideration of your current lifestyle. By the same token, do take time to think ahead. If you plan on expanding your family, or plan on caring for your senior parents, put the right accommodations and resources into place. Will you be living in your home 10, 20 or 30 years? As you age, consider what your future needs and lifestyle are and plan for such.

Go solar. No matter where you live, build your home so you have unobstructed solar access from 9:00 in the morning until 3:00 in the afternoon with a southern exposure. Place the majority of your windows on the southern side, and place overhangs or awnings to shield the sun’s hot summer rays. Use energy efficient low-e windows that will absorb and radiate the sun’s heat.  (low-e windows can save up to 24% on heating & cooling costs) Plant trees near your home to offer natural shade on the southern sides and take advantage of skylights (with shades) to maximize the sun’s energy.

Use adequate insulation. The greatest energy savings to your home will come in the form of your home’s insulation. Spray polyurethane foam insulation (which contains no urea formaldehyde) has the highest R-Value in the market and uniformly seals cracks and crevices and eliminates drafts. And gives you a quieter indoor environment too.

Use environmentally friendly products. Everything from your roofing material, building materials, insulation, to your flooring, counters and cabinets and paints can be environmentally friendly. Many of today’s home products are made recycled materials (composite material decking, recycled glass), or are natural (cork, bamboo) and harvested sustainably. Other products are very durable (lifetime warranty shingles, granite countertops), keeping replacement waste out of landfills.

Use energy efficient products. Choose appliances and electronics with the Energy Star label for energy efficiency. For heating and cooling, consider geo-thermal. Geothermal can save up to 60% on heating & cooling compared to other systems, operates for years with little maintenance, and excess heat can be used to supplement the home hot water heater. Choose LED lighting, which can last 25 times longer than an incandescent bulb and use 75% less energy. Widespread use of LEDs could save the equivalent of $30 billion at today’s electricity prices.

Some of the choices will increase your initial building cost, but they have the potential to save you a LOT more down the road. Green is the preferred, smart way to build a home that respects the environment, saves resources and your money in the long run.


Consider all the details - large and small that make it a home for you.

Consider all the details – large and small that make it a home for you.

I read an article recently in Houzz that really resonated with me. It was written by Bud Dietrich, an architect in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, and he thought there was a perception out there that when you build a new home, you’ll never get it completely right. There will always be something you forgot, or something you’d do differently if you’d have another chance. People just believe that the house they build just won’t be 100% right.

You know what?  It’s simply not true! I’ll share with you the steps he wrote about and the ones we live by too, that will ensure that your new home will be perfect, with no regrets.

Know Thyself. Who are you? What do you like? What do you hate? What is your ideal living space arrangement? What’s your typical weekday? What’s your typical weekend? What do you enjoy doing? (We get to know you with questions like these in our own Design Outline, a step-by-step, room-by-room outline that helps you help us create the perfect home.) So yes, while we all share a lot of common traits, we are also quite unique. You can begin with a room count, square footage and a style, but then take that to the next level by tailoring the perfect plan to you and yours.

Hire a Professional. Just like there are benefits to hiring a lawyer rather than representing yourself in court, or going to a doctor to diagnose and treat an ailment, you’ll benefit by hiring professionals such as a design/ build home builder, an architect or an interior designer. They will help you in countless ways including:

  • Helping you get to know yourself and what you want
  • Guiding you to the best solutions for your particular issues
  • Asking you things that you never would have thought about

Make sure you hire the right professionals though. Doing your homework to find the right person is well worth your time. They are not all equal. An experienced professional that listens to you and whom you can work with will save you time, money and grief throughout the project.

Think Big. Don’t think “big” relates only to size; it doesn’t. Think about how your home relates to and becomes part of the landscape, and how a home is a reflection of you and who you are. Remember that “big” is what gives your home its uniqueness and defining character.

Think Small. Designing and building a home involves making many, many decisions. Some of these will be big, but many, many more will be of the small detail variety. It can seem daunting, but with the guidance of a design professional, having a universe of options available will mean you’ll select the perfect detail.

Think In-Between. From the scale of the big idea to the smallest detail, it all comes together somewhere in the middle. This is where you’ll live; where you will enjoy the outdoor sights and sounds from the screen porch, loving that the counter is at the right height, contemplating the morning vista from your bedroom window, and more. You don’t want to skimp on the amount of time you’ll spend planning and designing this middle ground.

Enjoy. It’ll take longer than you thought, and you’ll invest more than you expect. But in the end you’ll have a home like no other. The details… You’ll revel in the touch and feel of everything. You just can’t wait to be home to enjoy how the light fall across the wall, or how that little extra storage makes all the difference.  You’ll have a place that you won’t feel you need to change, to expand, to redecorate, to remodel for many, many years to come, if ever.

Welcome home!


2014 International Builders Show

Randy, Robert and Jason Thelen attended the  National Association of Home Builders  International Builder’s Show (IBS)  last week in Las Vegas, the largest annual home construction show in the world.  Randy and Robert have been attendees at the IBS nearly every year of our company’s 40 years in business and Jason has been an enthusiastic attendee for the last two years. Why? In addition to must-see products and exhibits, the IBS also offers the most up-to-date and innovative education programs available.  More than 100 sessions are taught by building industry experts from accross the country. It’s how we stay on top of  product and high performance construction trends, bringing  more value to our client’s home building experience. It’s where we see, learn, and experience everything that’s related to new home construction.

This year, the National Kitchen and Bath Show (KBIS) was also at the Las Vegas Convention Center, creating an extraordinary Design and Construction Week. Between IBS and KBIS,  over 1,100 of the industry’s most well-know manufacturers and suppliers were represented.

A  highlight of the IBS was the New American Home – the official show home of IBS.  A one-of-a-kind, 6,700 square foot home in Henderson NV. It integrates design elements that have relevance to how families live and function in homes today.  The New American Home is kind of  a ‘real world’ laboratory demonstrating design creativity, energy efficiency and construction techniques that can be replicated in whole or in part in homes built in any place and in any price range. View this “wow” house on the video link of the New American Home.

Love the imaginative, modern style of the New American Home? Or does “home” mean a traditionally styled bungalow to you? No matter what’s your architectural style – why not incorporate the best in new technology, green products  and design elements making your house a forward thinking,  functional home? We’d be happy to show you how.

2014 Ticket VoucherDreaming of a new home or want to improve your existing one?  Need inspiration? Need advice? Come visit us at the Lake Geneva Home Improvment Expo where you can meet with experts in the home improvment field. And its right in your own back yard.

  • See the latest products and attend home improvement seminars
  • Kids have fun building projects in the Little Builder Workshop
  • Enjoy food and beverage samples from the area
  • Meet Green Bay Packer Hall of Famer Dave Robinson
  • Win exciting raffle prizes!

It’s at the Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva on Saturday, February 15th and Sunday February 16th.

Expo Hours: Saturday  10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. / Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Admission: $5.oo, Children under 12 are FREE




Transitional style kitchen - a blend of contemporary and traditional.

Transitional style kitchen – a blend of contemporary and traditional. 

Home building is not an industry where big changes happen really fast. Change evolves over time.  Kiplinger’s Economic Outlook said that new home construction is expected to increase by about 16% or 580,000 homes in 2014.  So if you are going to be one of the 580,000 in 2014 building a  new home, you can rest assured that these are the trends that have been growing in acceptance over the last few years and will continue to be popular in 2014:

Flexible Floor Plans. In the United States, more households are becoming multi-generational. That change is leading to a developing trend – flex rooms. These rooms are built with change in mind. What is now an office can become a bedroom if grandparents or boomerang kids move in. Dedicated living and dining areas are being replaced by large multi-purpose family areas.  In addition, may homes include “bonus” rooms that can be adapted for a variety of specialized needs.

Smarter, less costly automated controls. With our busy lives, and automation costs coming down, it’s becoming more affordable to control a home’s systems – temperature, security, electronic, lighting and more – though a single device: iPhone, iPad or iPod. Doing so can eliminate multiple controls and make it easy to manage things around the house, even if you are not there. One example is the Nest Intelligent Thermostat, which can be controlled remotely, react intuitively to the home owners habits and adjust to conserve energy costs.

Outdoor Living Rooms and Screened Porches. The yard and garden become part of the floor plan when sliding glass doors lead to patios and decks. Blurring the lines between outdoor and indoor spaces is the rise of the screen porch. It’s  become an almost year ‘round livable space with the addition of a fireplace, mounted quartz heaters, and roll-down clear-view shades that keep you warm and cozy in cooler weather. The functionality of this casual gathering space increases with the addition of an outdoor kitchen / bar and TV / audio systems.

Healthy Home. A healthy home is one that incorporates healthy design elements, non-toxic building materials, and proper construction techniques. It is also resistant to mold. It also utilizes passive air flow, daylighting and fresh air exchange through the proper placement of windows and doors.

Accessible Home Design. Forget the spiral staircase, sunken living room and high cabinets. The homes of tomorrow will be easy to move around in, even if you or members of your family have physical limitations, and allow you to age in place. Open design, wide doors and hallways create spaciousness and don’t convey an institutional look.  For two story homes with a finished lower level, an elevator is an increasingly popular option. (And two closets can be stacked to allow for a elevator in the future.)

Energy and Water Efficiency. Efforts to conserve energy and water throughout the home continue to be popular, including low-water toilets and sinks, high efficiency furnaces and air conditioners (including using geo-thermal), closed cell insulation, and high efficiency windows.  A passive home design is built to work with the climate.

Abundant Storage. New homes feature spacious walk-in closets, and plenty of cabinets. Cathedral ceilings are losing favor as families prefer usable space below the roof. Garages are also getting bigger to accommodate more cars and other paraphernalia.

Transitional Style. A middle ground between traditional and contemporary design is becoming more popular.  Its appeal lies in having the best of both worlds: You aren’t straying too far from the familiar of traditional, and you have the flexibility of adding contemporary touches. And because you can update it indefinitely to reflect current trends, it ages well. For more about this style:

What will the homes of the future look like? Are McMansions on the way out? Are Bungalows coming back? You tell us!