The Design Awards judges were amazed by the amount of energy-minded technologies and luxurious custom touches that builder Jake Joines squeezed into Terra Caelo for barely more than $200 a square foot.
For instance, to keep insulation costs down without compromising efficiency, Joines speced two inches of closed-cell spray foam followed by blown-in fiberglass in the walls and roof for R-values of 24 to 50. To beat the desert heat, small Mitsubishi mini-split air handlers in each room allow for precision control of air conditioning so that a west-facing office stays comfortable in the summer without freezing out the rest of the home and rarely used areas can be shut off when not in use.
The construction budget even included renewable energy systems, including a Schuco solar domestic water heater and a grid-connected 3.75-kW Enphase PV system. The owners, former Apple employees who relocated from Los Altos, Calif., carefully monitor the home’s energy use and generation using smartphones and iPads loaded with apps from Schuco, Enphase, and Mitsubishi. “They can watch how much energy each individual PV panel is producing throughout the day and can control each mini-split remotely,” Joines says.
The home’s striking but understated interior finishes got high marks from the judges, who also approved of the way the three-tiered home blends into its gently sloping site. “It made more sense to basically create three elevations rather than digging out all of the terrain and making huge retaining walls,” Joines says. “That way we disturbed less of the native vegetation.”