Skycastle named one of Boulder's best custom home builders!

 
The Hoefling House

The Hoefling House

We are honored to be listed as one of Boulder’s best custom home builders by Home Builder Digest!

“Since 2001, Skycastle Construction has been one of Boulder’s leading design-build companies. The firm is known for its superbly crafted, cutting-edge green homes throughout the Boulder County area. The 11-person firm is headed by Scott Rodwin, AIA, LEED AP and Brandon David, LEED AP.

Under their leadership, Skycastle Construction has amassed a host of awards and some of the best customer review records of any builder in the state. Many Skycastle projects have also achieved the highest level of third party certification such as LEED Platinum and Net Zero Energy.  The firm relies on a team approach to their design-build delivery method, with unusually tight collaboration between the client, the architect, and the builder.

One of the firm’s impressive projects is the Hoefling House, a 3,000-square-foot modern home in Boulder. The homeowner wanted something bold and unique for this home and requested a warm material palette combined with green performance. Among the home’s magnificent features include interior Travertine tile radiant-heated floors, 14-foot ceilings on the second floor, Doug Fir ceilings, a floating staircase, and a “live roof”. The home also features 10kWh solar panels tucked onto the roof, LED lights, water-conserving plumbing fixtures, foam insulation, and EnergyStar windows and appliances. This near-Net-Zero Energy home achieved LEED Platinum Certification.”

Read the full article here.


 

Three things to consider when choosing lumber

 
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With an ever-increasing focus on green, environmentally friendly practices, many individuals and organizations are moving away from traditional lumber and going for plastic lumber to build their structures.

Plastic lumber has several benefits in addition to the benefits for the environment, and a well-known brand like SelectForce plastic lumber is used more and more frequently in construction of all kinds. Read more here.

 

Ten things to know before moving to Denver this year!

 
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Moving to a new place is overwhelming and scary. You do not know anything starting from the cost of moving to the most insignificant thing. For all those who’re contemplating moving to Denver; the Denver Times has hand-picked these ten things which you must know before proceeding, and we are pleased to have been able to contribute to the article! Read more here

 

Five eco-friendly cabinet options

 
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People around the world are recognizing the importance of staying environmentally conscious in all aspects of life. There are many ways to help out the planet apart from cutting back on plastic straw use and driving less. In fact, revamping aspects of your home to make them greener can play a large role in reducing your carbon footprint. One of those aspects is choosing furniture and flooring from organic materials. Specifically, when it comes to your kitchen, you can end up paying a fortune for cabinets that are incredibly harmful to the environment and your home’s air quality. To keep that from happening, Ecospaints have listed out some of the best eco-friendly cabinets for your kitchen. Read more here

 

Why is home construction so expensive?

 
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This is a hot topic.  There is no one cause, and therefore no silver bullet solution.  Here are the main reasons:

 Labor shortage

The single clearest reason is that the region’s seven year building boom has resulted in an intense shortage of skilled labor.  Labor prices are regional and Denver’s forest of cranes is attracting contractors who would otherwise be available to build here.  Every plumber, framer and electrician is able to command premium prices as their services are simply in high demand right now.  Since the end of the Great Recession (which devastated the construction industry and forced many skilled builders to permanently leave the field), construction prices in the area have risen roughly 9%/year every year.  Which leads us to the second part of this issue – it’s not just that prices are high, but it’s that they are higher than you saw them last year.  So if you heard that a house cost $350/sf. from your builder friend last year, anticipate that they are probably about $380/sf. this year.  Lastly, as the price of housing increases in Boulder, more and more of the folks who design and build our homes have to drive from further and further away, which increases costs.

 Building codes

The rigor of Building Codes generally increases every year.  Structural, mechanical, electrical and a host of green building codes are constantly being updated, and with each revision, it becomes more expensive to meet their requirements.  For example, in the Boulder County foothills all construction must now be ignition (fire)-resistant and all new homes must have a fire suppression (sprinkler) system. You do get a better, safer home, but it costs more.  Note that the Boulder City and (unincorporated) County areas also have more stringent codes than most surrounding municipalities, so the cost of construction here is correspondingly higher.

 Low quality, aging building stock

The cost of new construction is affected by how much we need to change.   The majority of our existing local building stock was built between 1950-1990, which was a low point for quality in the history of residential building.  So, every year, as these generally poorly designed & built homes age, the delta between them and a new code-compliant home gets larger and larger.  The more we need to change, the more expensive the work.

 Inventory shortage

You all know and understand that the constrained supply of housing accelerates the price increases. However, unpacking the issue a little further, note in most other areas when there is a demand for less expensive housing, the market has the ability to respond.  In Boulder we don’t. There are no large subdivisions being built in th City or unincorporated County, and the economy of scale of those subdivisions dramatically reduces their cost/sf. of construction.  Additionally, due to a combination of state construction defect laws and anti-density rules and politics, we have very few local condo projects – another staple of lower cost housing.  Since we have locally eliminated the two main types of entry-level housing, it means that nearly all housing is forced to be the most expensive kind – single-family custom homes.  And due to the high-land costs and banking rules for the value ratio of land-to-improvements, nearly all of these single-family homes are in the upper end.  It’s not feasible to buy a $700K lot and put a $300K house on it.

 Great Expectations

Homeowners have higher standards today than they did previously. A decade ago, if someone came to us wanting a “starter home” we might suggest plastic laminate countertops.  Nowadays, it starts at low-end granite.  This shift in expectations is true in every category of construction.

 

Fixed & Soft costs

The last issue is that Boulder’s fixed and soft costs are higher than in neighboring municipalities.  This includes the cost of permits, utility connections, and site improvements (like landscape and sidewalks).  Additionally, the amount of documentation required in Boulder to obtain a permit is dramatically higher than in other cities and this drives up design and engineering fees.  Lastly, greater risk requires greater reward and projects in the Boulder area have much higher likelihood of encountering obstacles than in other cities; therefore developers, builders, landlords and ordinary homeowners look for a higher rate of return on their development projects.

 Cumulatively, all of these forces work together to dramatically drive up the cost of housing.   Until we experience another regional slow-down in construction, I would not expect the cost of building to decrease or even level off.

 

What's Happening with Boulder's Green Codes?

 
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Boulder’s green building codes have been some of the most rigorous in the county since the City began their Green-points program in 2007, and the County with Buildsmart in 2088. Every few years, each municipality implements a code update and the green building codes have been the most aggressive area of change. Read the full article here.

 

HONORED TO HELP BRING UNIQUELY CATS VETERINARY CLINIC TO LIFE!

 
Barbara Slack-Bowden and Dr. Fern Slack, right, are co-founders of Boulder’s sole feline-only veterinary clinic.

Barbara Slack-Bowden and Dr. Fern Slack, right, are co-founders of Boulder’s sole feline-only veterinary clinic.

Pet owners all know the fear and uncertainty of realizing their animal is sick. It can be hard to determine what’s wrong and whether it’s serious enough to warrant a trip to the vet. According to Dr. Fern Slack, cofounder of Uniquely Cats Veterinary Center, cats can be especially difficult to diagnose because of their evolutionary position on the food chain. “Cats are predators, but they’re also small prey, and small prey animals all obey one behavioral rule: If you’re sick, you don’t act sick until you absolutely cannot hide it anymore,” explained Slack, a veterinary physician who has worked solely with felines since 1993. “The minute you act sick in the wild, you have a target on your back.” Read more here.

 

BRANDON DAVID NAMED PARTNER IN SKYCASTLE

 
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We are pleased to announce that Brandon David, LEED AP, Assoc. AIA, has become a Co-Owner in Skycastle and additionally has been named a Principal of Rodwin Architecture.  He has earned this through his dedication to his clients, the integrity with which he does business, and the quality he instills in all his projects.  Brandon has been with the firm for 14 years and was instrumental in creating every aspect of how we do business.  He has been the steady hand on the helm running all of our day-to day operations, as well as guiding our long-term vision and leading our amazing team.  Brandon is an expert in sustainable design and has been recognized nationally as one of Builder Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40. Some of his notable projects include the Boulder Area Realtor Association Offices, Japango Sushi, Tara Waldorf High School, Montbell’s new Denver flagship store, and Uniquely Cats Veterinary Clinic, as well as numerous award-winning green homes. He has over 20 years of construction experience and a Degree in Environmental Design from CU; this gives him the rare balance of design & construction skills that is necessary to create Skycastle’s extraordinary projects.

 

How Do You Work With A Builder?

 
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You’ve probably heard the horror stories from friends at a party as they tell you about their construction project headaches: Budgets blown. Schedules shot. Questionable quality. And lawsuits. Oh, the joy of building. Sometimes it sounds like the only thing worse would be trying to do it yourself. But there are plenty of success stories too – they just don’t make for as good a story. Here’s what you need to know to improve your chances for a happy outcome.

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