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Laredo Trail Spec Home

Sustainable Dreams Made Real: The Laredo House

3 Bedroom, 2 bath, basement

~1800 sq/ft

Location: Crestone, Colorado

Single Story - Strawbale Construction
Amenities: Custom Kitchen, grand views

Off-grid/Solar, energy efficient.

Collaboration and Material Choice

Embarking on the construction of the Laredo Trail spec house was not just a project; it felt like weaving a narrative of creativity, collaboration, and commitment to sustainability. Working alongside my colleague, Paul Koppana from Skyhawk Construction, was a journey of shared visions and aspirations. Our choice to use straw bales as the primary material was born out of a desire to challenge the norms and explore alternative, eco-friendly construction methods that were beginning to captivate our community. This choice represented more than just a building technique; it was a statement about our dedication to sustainability and innovation.


Design Inspiration and Techniques

The architecture of the house drew inspiration from a spec house designed by Michael Sandrin in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but we infused it with our unique flair. Learning from Paul, we adopted advanced framing and foundation techniques that not only emphasized energy efficiency but also enhanced the aesthetic beauty of the home. Features like windows that sat flush with the exterior, curved window corners on the inside, and a minimalist approach to trim and finishes were not just design choices; they were reflections of our commitment to simplicity, beauty, and functionality. The house was adorned with handcrafted alder cabinets, pine crown moulding, and locally sourced tongue-and-groove ceilings from La Hara, Colorado, adding a touch of artisan craftsmanship.


Sustainability Focus

Sustainability was at the core of this project, from the 2 feet of super thermally sound cellulose insulation in the attic, to the use of Adobe for thermal mass, all of which significantly boosted the house's energy efficiency. The innovative heating solutions we installed, including radiant heat tubing and an electric thermal storage (ETS) unit, demonstrated our commitment to cost-effective and sustainable living, yielding impressively low winter electricity bills for the current homeowners.


Project Success and Reflections

Built in 2005 with a budget of $140,000, the Laredo Trail house stands as a testament not only to sustainable building practices but also to the power of innovative, cost-effective heating solutions. Its durable plaster exterior, non-toxic finishes has led to exceptional performance over the years, with not a single crack on the exterior. All these details are a testament to the quality and durability of our work.

Reflecting on this venture, the construction of the Laredo Trail house was more than a building project; it was an successful creative collaboration in sustainable living. It was a process of combining tried and true materials with thermal design and non-toxic finishes to create what has become one of my favorite efficient  build projects. This project was not just about constructing a house; it was about creating a home that embodied our values and vision for a sustainable future.

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