Sunset Magazine’s 2012 Idea House Think Green … Build Blu
Updated: Feb 11
(Originally published in the Napa Valley Register)
Sunset Magazine is once again on the verge of treating the public to its annual Idea House. Since 1998, these houses have showcased the latest technologies and innovations in home design. This year, Sunset chose the pre-fabricated, energy-efficient “Breezehouse” set in Healdsburg and built by Blu Homes.
During its construction in April, I was thrilled to have had a sneak peak and tour by Bill Haney, president and founder of Blu Homes, and Sarah Gaffney, senior marketing manager at Sunset Magazine. I was also thrilled to see the prefabrication of the Breezehouse taking place at our own Mare Island Naval Shipyard. Hurray! Using all American-made steel. Hurray!
The Breezehouse, updated and enlarged since making its 2005 debut in Sunset magazine, pairs harmoniously with Sunset’s focus of indoor-outdoor living. This is due, in large part, to its unique, heavy-duty steel framing. As opposed to wood framing that requires studs placed every 16 inches, steel framing only requires them every 12 feet. Consequently, this allows for large spans of windows and “sliding glass walls”.
At the heart of the Breezehouse are opposing sets of these glass walls which open to both the front and back courtyards. When open, the heart becomes a “breezeway” with increased airflow and natural light. If you like sunshine and starry skies, fresh air, and nature’s vistas, this house is for you.
Like the other six models designed and built by Blu Homes, the Breezehouse has modern lines, high ceilings, strategic storage systems, and is built with eco-friendly materials. Its steel construction is not only extraordinarily strong but also renders termites, mold, and mildew nuisances of the past. Energy-efficient appliances come with the house and are largely responsible for an average of 70% energy savings.
Key to this year’s Sunset Idea House is the method in which it was designed, built, and delivered. Bill Haney’s trademarked and cutting-edge online program, the Configurator, simplified and personalized the process. Much was done by the homeowners with a click of a mouse. After choosing the Breezehouse model, they made various selections such as exterior siding, appliances, flooring, cabinetry, and finishes from a host of options. The Configurator then created a 3-D image and virtual tour of rotating and zooming views – all amazingly adjusted to their eye levels. Costs were calculated right on the spot. The homebuyers then worked directly with a Blu Homes representative to implement and complete the process.
As with all Blu Homes, buyers provide their lots and pour the foundations. Blu Homes is responsible for the rest, including the acquisition of permits and any additional needs such as seismic fitting.
My tour at Mare Island was impressive and even nostalgic. How many of your fathers, grandfathers, or great-grandfathers took part in its historic shipbuilding contribution? No doubt, with all their mechanical talent, they would appreciate one of Blu’s snazziest inventions – an industrial hinge mechanism. Once a house is ready to ship, the hinges fold it – and all of its contents - into a precisely fine-tuned eight-foot wide rectangle, small enough to fit on the bed of a truck! A Blu Homes crew and a readied crane then meet the delivery at the homeowner’s site, lower the house onto the foundation, and unfold it like a birthday gift with a bow.
Bill Haney’s vision in developing Blu Homes is ever-expanding and evolving through new technology. “Blu” is not a color, nor a surname. Blu is a concept. “Beyond the beyond”. Innovative home building with no bounds. Like the architecture and philosophy of Frank Lloyd Wright, Blu Homes bridges the relationship between its houses and nature.
Models come in a variety of sizes, configurations, and price points. One to four bedrooms range between $125,000 and $525,000. My newly empty-nester client, looking for a state-of-the-art home, can hardly wait for the Breezehouse opening. We’re going. Hope to see you there.
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