Homearama 2011: Outside In Living

Real Estate Agent with REMAX Champions

1. Green Building

This trend has been going strong for some time but make no mistake, green building in Louisville is here to stay. Most Homearama homes tout at least a few energy efficient home features. Whether it is the Low-E windows and doors (most have these) or the high-efficiency HVAC systems (most also have these) or a geothermal system (only in one that I found), it's clear that consumers are looking for energy savings and many of Louisville's builders are cooperating. When I spoke with Martin Madden of Geothermal by Design, I learned something new. Typically, loops are installed horizontally just several feet below the surface of the ground. This requires a decent sized lot, something Norton Commons doesn't offer. But Martin said that loops could be installed vertically as well. So for #6 Robbens Nest, even though the home isn't sitting on a very large lot, geothermal is possible. This is especially important while still tax incentives from the Federal government are in play.

RESIDENTIAL RENEWABLE ENERGY TAX CREDITS Consumers who install solar energy systems (including solar water heating and solar electric systems), small wind systems, geothermal heat pumps, and residential fuel cell and microturbine systems can receive a 30% tax credit for systems placed in service before December 31, 2016; the previous tax credit cap no longer applies.

2. Outside In Living

The second major theme I took away from this year's Homearama was the emphasis on outdoor living. Due to the scarcity of land in Norton Commons, architects and designers have to work overtime to find ways to not only maximize the outdoor space that they do have, but also look for opportunities to bring as much of the outdoors inside, as possible.

This outside courtyard is made extra special with the addition of this wrought iron pergola and miniature balcony. Twinkle lights just add to the ambiance.

Most homes had at least one courtyard or covered porch; several had more than one. A few even had a third story (or lookout room!) full of windows to capture even more natural light. It's certainly a challenge to accomodate these small lot sizes but several layouts stood out to me for doing a better job bringing the outside in, they were these six: #3 Grafton Manor, #7 The St. James, #10 The Barkley, #12 La Bella Vita, #20 Metropolitan and #21 The Athena. (Editor's Note: After clicking a link, make sure to view the home's floorplan to see how porches/courtyards in these homes were certain focal points.)

Porches, especially front porches, are such a major feature in Norton Commons. Deed restrictions require garages to be at the rear of the lot opening up the front for more outside seating to people watch on all the sidewalks.

3. Modern Gaining Ground on Traditional

Speaking with Jeremy McGraw of Provident Homes, who built Homearama 2009's Favorite Home by the way, we discussed current trends in Louisville home building. One thing that surprised both he and I was how more and more people are looking to modernize their home's interior even as they maintain a more traditional exterior. From high-end appliances to more current furniture, flooring and fixture designs, modern is finally coming to Louisville. I say, "It's about time!" [Make sure you read Angie Bogg's piece about interior design of this year's Homearamawhich highlights some of the more modern trends that are popping up with more regularity.]

Noteworthy Homes

#16 The Madison, by Stacye Love, is representative of the kind of homes you'll find in Norton Commons, albeit with some added zest for the Homearama crowd.

With so many homes to choose from it's easy to get them confused. Usually what happens is that a certain feature, let's say a grand kitchen or outrageously cool media room, will stick in your mind, which will often dictate your vote. But if you take the time to evaluate the homes, not only by luxury features but also by smart floorplan design and quality of construction you'll arrive at a more reasonable selection. Sure, it takes more time but, "Heck, I love new houses!" Given that these homes all faced a grand green space complete with large fountain, I find that rooftop porches give a far superior view than side-yard ones. Then when you add the open floorplan of The Barkley, along with it's great use the courtyard, this was my favorite home. #8 Benvenuti a Casacame in a close second.

Here you can see the stats for each of the homes and how the averages pan out.

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