Custom home builder nails first NAHB gold rating

Colorado’s first National Association of Homebuilder’s Green Building gold level home was built in Pine Creek.

Colorado’s first National Association of Homebuilder’s Green Building gold level home was built in Pine Creek.

A local custom home builder who was ready to build a spec home in Pine Creek when recession hit in 2007 decided to take a chance on the home with green building — and made history in the process.

Charlie and Nancy Shea, owners of C.R. Shea Homes, won the state’s National Association of Home Builders’ first-ever gold rating.

Their $1.5 million, four-bedroom, seven-bathroom home at 9950 Highland Glen Place, completed during 2009, was submitted for Gold Level NAHB rating and was inspected by a third party team.

The home was selected and became the 457th in the country to earn gold, but was the first in Colorado.

“There was one other house in our state to qualify, but it didn’t earn gold,” Shea said, adding that his company was not a newcomer to green building.

“We’d been proactive for many years, using eco-friendly products, energy-saving equipment and prudent resource utilization, but based on the current move toward green we needed to have foot up to position ourselves for what’s out there (in green building).”

Both Shea and his wife and partner, Nancy, became NAHB Certified Green Professionals last July.

“Going the extra mile pays off — absolutely,” he said of his green commitment, adding that some features such as geothermal heat or active photovoltaic solar panels  require a longer payback time than others. “It’s also important that homeowners understand how to maximize their energy saving features.”

While the luxury home market remains quiet due to tight credit and limited lending for new projects, Shea said his company is already benefiting from the “green” page on its Web site, www.csrshea.com and from a separate site for the home, www.9950Highlandglenplace.com.

Prospects brighten

While he’s certainly not expecting a market return to the days of 2005 or 2006, Shea does see signs that 2010 may be better.

“The advantage we’ll all [as builders] have, is that we’re seeing a reduction in inventory. That means those homes available now will have more exposure in the market. There’s less supply and increasing demand. While we won’t see another boom time for some time, I hope to see a nice increase, at least for the duration of my career.”

He’s confident that the green market, especially for upper-end buyers, will continue to grow.

“Sooner or later, all builders will be forced to integrate green features and energy savings. Consumers will demand — and city codes will require it. It’s a shame more builders aren’t jumping on the bandwagon. Green building doesn’t have to cost a lot more, and the market [for green homes] is not going away.”

Builder members of the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs Smart Green Council meet monthly for lunch and educational programs. For more information, visit www.cshba.com.

Becky Hurley covers real estate for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.