If there's such a thing as being "economically incorrect," this house is it.
With consumers around the country mired in financial anxiety, the National Assn. of Home Builders nonetheless last month unveiled a showcase home in Las Vegas where its high-roller inhabitants will loll about in 8,800 square feet of spare-no-expense luxury. And they chose to build it in a city where the housing market is so bad it ought to be declared a disaster area.
Once you get past those little incongruities, however, the New American Home, a showcase for attendees of the home builders' recent annual convention, has some merits -- particularly its designers' efforts to pack one green feature on top of another. And another.
Among its bragging points, the annual gas and electric bills for the sprawling, four-level house in the desert are predicted to total $2,500. Its builders claim it achieves a 75% savings over the benchmark set by the federal Department of Energy's Building America program.
It gets there by using, among other things:
* Photovoltaic (solar) panels to generate some of its electricity;
* Insulated concrete forms in its structure and spray-foam insulation to max its thermal performance;
* A natural-gas-powered heating and cooling system making its American debut in the home, after extensive residential use in Japan;
* Windows with low-emission coatings and mechanized sunshades to shield some of the desert sun.
(Find more specs are at tnah.com.)
This is the builders' 26th New American Home. Many of its predecessors were rapped for bloated excess, and though this house certainly couldn't be accused of modesty, it sure makes a case for desert cool -- one can envision a reincarnated Rat Pack hanging out here, though one suspects Frank Sinatra and the guys wouldn't know what to make of its Zen garden or "rejuvenation room" for meditation and yoga. The architect is Danielian Associates of Irvine.
Desert cool doesn't come cheaply, though the builders aren't disclosing a price tag because the house has been sold to a buyer who stipulated silence, according to Bill Nolan, an Altamonte Springs, Fla., builder who helped organize the project.
"Let's just say it was in the millions," Nolan said. Some published reports, however, put the cost at $4 million.
The house will be used for 18 months as a model for its builder, Blue Heron Inc., which has other lots nearby for homes for high rollers -- preferably green ones.