Dream Home

Betting that the market will improve but fuel costs will continue to escalate, Alan Resnick is building a 4,000-square-foot, $1.6 million dream home at the top of Ashland's Strawberry Lane to be super green and super energy efficient.

It's a good time to build, Resnick says. The home market might be down, but labor and materials have dropped in price, he says.

The home incorporates insulated concrete forms (ICF) as walls, structural insulated panels (SIP) in the roof and second story, photovoltaic panels, solar hot water heating, thermal solar mass and geothermal heat, which gathers the natural heat of the Earth through pipes 250 feet down and circulates it as both heating and air conditioning.

Designed by Ashland architect Carlos Delgado and contracted by green home veteran Gary Dorris of Dorris Construction, the home features dramatic roof lines, will have a stucco exterior and represents a revolution in home building, Resnick says.

You can add photovoltaic and solar hot water units to earlier homes, but "you can't retrofit an older home with ICF and SIP envelope," he says.

Making an airtight shell (with ventilation, of course) "is 50 to 75 of the battle" in making a truly green home, says Resnick.

Builder Dorris adds that the crawl space, where homes lose a large amount of heat in winter and cool air in summer, is completely sealed to the outside.

A ventilating system with small electric blower will get the house to 70 degrees through the night and, says Resnick, "if I can get it to 70, it will never see 80 degrees" in the heat of the day.

As with millions of other sellers in the choppy waters of this unpredictable economy, Resnick had to make some hard choices before moving to the Rogue Valley. He and wife Lynn's San Diego home, worth almost $2 million at the bubble's peak in 2005 — and offered in what had been one of the country's hottest markets — had to be "aggressively priced" at $1.2 million, he says.

"We took a bath," says Resnick, but the other choice was to wait out the San Diego market and that, he said, was unacceptable.

Looking at the Ashland market, Resnick says he saw a good pool of experienced, capable contractors who were reasonably priced, a market probably already at the bottom — "a year or two ahead of San Diego" — and an investment that will see appreciation in the short term, especially because it's loaded with green features.

How does it feel? "Pure excitement," says Resnick.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

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