Builder gam­bles on big, green homes

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - A LOOK AT RECENTLY SOLD HOMES IN AND AROUND WINNIP - By Sheila Brady

TYLER Jones likes to be dif­fer­ent. When the ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­can builders are looking for the ideal money-smart, small house to score sales, this Las Ve­gas builder is go­ing big, im­pres­sive and green in the Ne­vada desert.

“I have been a custom builder all my life. My dad (Stephen Jones) is a custom builder,” the owner of Blue Heron says in a tele­phone in­ter­view.

“I like to take the op­po­site ap­proach and build ab­so­lutely amaz­ing homes filled with smart tech­nolo­gies.”

The elder Jones was the green-build­ing smarts be­hind the 2004 New Amer­i­can Home when more than 150,000 builders de­scended on Las Ve­gas for the In­ter­na­tional Home Builders Show. That home used 51 per cent less en­ergy to heat and cool than a sim­i­lar home in the Ne­vada desert.

His son, Tyler, de­signed and built the 2009 New Amer­i­can Home close to the Ve­gas strip. The home is a top green per­former, built with in­su­lated con­crete and fea­tur­ing 56 so­lar pan­els, mak­ing it a Net-Zero home, which re­turns power to Ne­vada’s en­ergy grid.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we are unique and suc­cess­ful be­cause of the green tech­nol­ogy,” says the younger Jones.

Last year, the con­tem­po­rary 9,000-square­foot home sold be­fore the mam­moth show even opened to an in­vestor who spends time in Ve­gas, says Jones, who de­clines to name the sell­ing price, but says sim­i­lar homes in the exclusive com­mu­nity sell for $3.5 mil­lion. Jones has 14 half-acre lots in the neigh­bour­hood where Clark Gable and the Sul­tan of Brunei once lived. The 2009 New Amer­i­can home is across the street from the 51-acre ranch owned by en­ter­tainer Wayne New­ton.

De­spite the econ­omy, the homes are a hit be­cause of the con­tem­po­rary de­signs that in­ti­mately con­nect in­side and out­door liv­ing spa­ces.

They have a unique look, says Jones, who two years ago tried to go smaller with a se­ries of 379 af­ford­able con­dos in the desert.

The econ­omy tanked and it did not make sense, he says. The con­dos, rang­ing from 950 to 1,400 square feet, would have had an av­er­age price tag of $200,000.

But Las Ve­gas was hard hit by the sub-prime mort­gage fi­asco and homes priced at $200,000 are now priced at less than $100,000, he says. He put the plans back on the shelf, and is wait­ing for buy­ers to clear through the hous­ing in­ven­tory of bank-owned prop­er­ties.

“The in­ven­tory has sup­pressed prices, so I will con­cen­trate on my nice high-end homes for now.”

Find out more about Tyler Jones and Blue Heron at blue­heron­liv­ing.com.

— Canwest News Ser­vice

HAND­OUT

Tyler Jones’s homes fea­ture de­signs that in­ti­mately con­nect in­side and out­door liv­ing spa­ces.

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