new construction – So good, or SOOOO bad

I used to work for a very large home-builder. In fact, they often have “#1 home-builder” on their sign. Which, I can say from first hand knowledge must mean that it is simply the largest builder & not anything as lofty or admirable as being chosen from a peer review group as being somehow #1 at anything other than mass production. Which, when I think about it, really means nothing to someone buying the house and actually in my opinion has negative implications like, a. we’ve so streamlined the home building process that there is no charm or thoughtfulness in our homes or b. we take no consideration of what an individual actually wants in the home, we are just trying to make as much margin as possible on the sale (I don’t fault a builder who does this, since it is the business they are in- I just don’t particularly want to own one of there homes). I think a real statement for a home-builder would be “local & meticulous home-builder”. Probably not that catchy.Anyway, I was driving by a neighborhood today that was developed by my former employer and noticing something that has driven me absolutely nuts about mass-produced neighborhoods forever. They have a facade to them, as though they are a set for a play. The front of the home gets masonry accents (usually poorly conceived) and trim around the windows – sometimes they get shutters or other decorative accents. What do the other 3-sides get? Nothing but siding. Not even trim around the windows for crying-out-loud! And it’s not as though the other 3-sides are hidden, considering the hallmark of these types of neighborhoods is typically barren landscapes or tiny seedlings of trees (which are often poorly placed and will need to be removed by the time they are big enough to be lovely and shady). I can almost instantly write-off a construction project as something I will like if I drive-up and there is only window trim on the front of the house!

On the other hand, these projects stand in stark contrast to a new home that has been lovingly considered and executed. You know these homes when you see them. Here are just a few examples:

My husband and I were walking in NW Portland years back and stumbled upon this little in-fill development (Jake’s Run – developed by Nick Stearns of Salient Properties) that I just couldn’t get over- it is so lovely! And it will stand the test of time (it already has, at over 10 years old. Think about most new construction from 10 years ago, already outdated, like a wedding dress):

These next homes are from the prolific architect Ross Chapin. I fell in love with his tiny houses years ago & he has gone on to create beautiful houses of all sizes. A few years ago we stumbled on a mixed development of his tiny cottages and full-sized homes in White Salmon, WA. As soon as we drove by them (& then got out and poked our head into all the windows) I freaked out, yelling at my husband that they had to be Ross Chapin Plans. I recognized his attention to every detail and sweet elevations (that is the fancy term for the way the front of a home looks). For more of his fabulous work check out

In beautiful Bend, Oregon there are 2 new construction projects that have been developed in the last decade that are note-worthy. Actually the entire town is note-worthy, but I’ll save that for another post…First, is a town home project in the Mill Quarter (where an Old Mill was converted to a fabulous shopping/living/events hub). Again, we drove by this when it was being developed and had to go inside (we can’t help it – there is a reason we both got into real estate) so we wrangled a sweet, local agent into giving us a tour. In this case, the exterior far out-wowed the interior details…But really the majority of the world will only ever experience the outside and the developer really out-did themselves when they planned these gorgeous homes (one that we saw even had an amazing roof-top deck).

Lastly, Here is a home in Northwest Crossing. A new neighborhood (also in Bend) that has somehow captured the charm of a long-established neighborhood. Again, I think the thoughtfulness of the architecture (much of which is from the Bend based Bungalow Company) will stand the test of time.

I hope you are inspired that new construction can be done really, really well. I am!

p.s. ANY home is a blessing, whether or not it has trim around the windows on all 4 sides – I get it.n