During a question and answer session at a recent industry conference, a home builder asked Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi for his thoughts about the labor
This spec-built hacienda gave pause to many who toured it in September during the HBA of Greater Austin 2002 Parade of Homes in historic Georgetown, Texas.
|Designed to reflect the timeless appeal of a gracious, centuries-old Mexican hacienda, this home was constructed using the latest products and materials in construction technology, including an insulated concrete forming system for the exterior walls.
Christened "Casina del Sueno" - "The Dream House" - by custom builder Steve Richmond, this spec-built hacienda gave pause to many who toured it in September during the HBA of Greater Austin 2002 Parade of Homes in historic Georgetown, Texas.
The Spanish Colonial home's corner location made it the first in a line of five luxury residences open for public tour in the new high-end development Cimarron Hills, north of Austin, which counts a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course among its many amenities.
The house was also the last stop for many visitors, says Richmond. "What I noticed was that many people came back through it more than once. IÆd see them again and again. They would finally just end up relaxing in the outdoor living room out back."
While they could not necessarily put their finger on why, he says, people just seemed to sense that there was something very different about this home.
|The home gets its distinctive exterior look from a combination of stucco walls and Texas sandstone laid in a chinked Mexican Rejoneado style. Guests enter the courtyard through antique gates|
"I received numerous comments about how livable the house felt from people who went through it during the parade," says architect Rick O'Donnell, who worked closely with Richmond on its design. "I took this as a great compliment because my goal was not to create a monument, but a home where people can really be comfortable."
"Other builders in the area are doing some of this, but not combined to this extent," Richmond says.
Because this was a spec-built project, Richmond let his passion for Spanish Colonial and Mexican architecture set the tone for its design. Richmond and his wife, Susan, toured numerous homes in the Southwest and in Mexico, seeking the inspiration, design details and finish materials that would make this project special. Salvaged doors, light fixtures, fountains and tile contribute to the home's charm.
|The kitchen has every modern convenience, including commercial-grade appliances, a wine cooler, a warming drawer and a built-in coffee system. The custom-designed and -built cabinetry is faux-finished alder. The countertops are Cancun red limestone. The wood top for the island was handcrafted in Guadalajara, Mexico, and the terra cotta tile flooring also was imported.|
"I have a real love for this type of architecture," says Richmond. "And this really dovetailed with the restriction set by the developer for Cimarron Hills that all of the homes feature Spanish- or Southwestern-influenced architectural design."
O'Donnell says Richmond "may have the best feel for architectural design and details of all of the builders I've worked with over the years. This really made a project that was as complex as this one go so much more smoothly."
The home features well-defined formal and informal entertaining areas wrapped around a beautifully landscaped exterior courtyard that adds 1,700 square feet of outdoor living space. This includes a covered terrace and an outdoor living room with a cooking center, a dining area and a kiva fireplace.
The interaction of indoor and outdoor space is a key element of the design, O'Donnell says. "I try to create rooms that have windows on at least two sides. This is a great way to increase interior light, provide natural ventilation and maximize views."
Inside, the floor plan includes two zones for sleeping space. A private wing is reserved for the owner's retreat, which has a sitting area, a porch and a wonderful bath that extends out to a secluded courtyard with an outdoor shower. A second suite in this wing also has a full bath and provides the ideal location for a nursery, study or guest quarters. Two secondary bedrooms at the opposite end of the home each have private access from the garage elevation, allowing guests or older children to come and go without disrupting other residents' daily activities.
"Lighting was also an important feature that we used to show off the home's intricate design and details," Richmond says. In addition to 10 skylights that flood the interior with natural light, the home has a combination of recessed cans and refurbished French, Spanish and Italian iron fixtures.
The buyer profile for this exclusive development of primary residences is a mix of upscale professionals and athletes with young families and empty nesters/retirees. Richmond says the flexibility of the living space in this four-bedroom home makes it suitable for either market.
|The soothing sound of trickling water emanates from a cantera fountain from central Mexico in the rear courtyard. Approximately 1,700 square feet of porches and outdoor living space are arranged around the courtyard, including a 621-square-foot veranda with a cooking center, a dining area and a solid-masonry kiva fireplace. Mexican granite was used for paving.|
Style of Home 17th century Spanish Colonial
Location Georgetown, Texas
Total Square Footage 4,955 (interior); 1,700 porches and outdoor living space
Market Value $1.9 million
Builder Richmond Construction, Georgetown
Architect Rick O'Donnell Architect, Georgetown
Interior Designer Jacqueline Burke, Austin, Texas
Spec-built home for Home Builders Association of Greater Austin 2002 Parade of Homes
Major Products Used | Appliances: Thermador (gas range, double oven, warming drawer, microwave oven, outdoor gas grill), Sub-Zero (refrigerator, wine cooler), Miele (coffee system), Fisher & Paykel (dishwasher)|Countertops: Austin Stoneworks (Cancun red limestone)|Plumbing Fixtures: Rohl|Cabinetry: custom alder|Doors: custom, antique|Windows: Andersen|Exterior Wall System: Trilogy Materials Ltd.|HVAC: Allied Thermal Systems, Polaris (water heater)|Audio Control: Niles|Water-Leak Detection System: FloodStopper Systems of Texas|Roofing: Redland Tile