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Monday, April 23, 2018

An Evolution of Homebuilding

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An Evolution of Homebuilding

Suncrest Homes

Story by Lynn Leissler

Photography provided by Suncrest Homes

 

“The only thing I guarantee, it’s going to be different down the road.” Charlie Hamilton of Suncrest Homes has adopted his father’s wisdom in his personal and business life. Hamilton and his wife Mary relocated to Southern Oregon from Southern California almost thirty years ago. While starting on one of his first projects in Ashland, a small subdivision, he met Mike Thirkill and was impressed with Mike’s work. Charlie asked him, “Want to build a house?” Long on enthusiasm and short on cash, they borrowed what they could and bought a lot, bought an old backhoe, prepared the lot, drew up the plans, presented at city council, and did the infrastructure—just the two of them. Hamilton brought to the table experience as a land use planner and real estate agent, Thirkill his experience as a builder and developer. Eventually Mike Hale, who started as a general contractor and framer, became a partner in the company.

“One thing I’m most proud of is evolving,” says Hamilton, his concept of how he has moved forward in business. Suncrest first built Craftsman homes, striving for authenticity while utilizing modern construction standards. All was going well until the recession hit in the early 2000s. They were in a solid position, so they pulled back and created the Lot Purchase Program. When a potential homeowner signs on, Suncrest handles the lot purchase and manages construction costs and financing, which eliminates much of the headache a buyer endures with a new build. The owner closes escrow when the home is finished. In a way, Hamilton and Thirkill’s early necessity of doing it all became a business model. Suncrest diversified from subdivisions to custom homes in its next evolution.

In 2009, Suncrest Homes started building sustainable Earth Advantage homes. Earth Advantage is a third-party verified certification program developed in 2000. A home qualifies based on points in five categories: energy efficiency, healthy indoor air quality, resource efficiency, environmental responsibility, and water conservation. The program requires two verification visits. When the house is complete, it is pressurized to detect any air leaks. 

Suncrest’s Verde Village in Ashland is a planned community, each home certified Earth Advantage Platinum and planned to be Net Zero Ready. That means that after the installation of solar panels, the home generates as much energy as it uses, benefitting both the environment and the homeowner’s wallet. Prior to construction, energy needs are calculated. True South Solar of Ashland studies the results and recommends the number of panels needed. While Suncrest directs the process, they allow homeowners to pay for the panels directly so they can receive the tax credit. Forty percent of the owners in Phase I have installed panels, the cost of which have come down in recent years. Sustainability is not limited to the homes, but carries into the neighborhood environment as well. Phase II will be even more earth friendly, including features such as bioswales.

Verde Village features homes designed with modern adaptations to the mid-century look. People see such homes in Portland and Seattle, and they want them here in Southern Oregon. Although the homes follow an architectural theme on the outside, Charlie urges people to do whatever they want inside, to make it truly theirs. 

Changes kept coming, new evolutions. Some folks approached Charlie about building a two-bedroom/two-bath home. Considering practicality and resale, he tried to persuade them to rethink their idea. But they insisted, so he went ahead, though skeptically. Eventually, he admitted he had been wrong. Young professionals and retirees who are downsizing like the smaller units, some at six-hundred square feet, others at a thousand. With land scarce in Talent and a city committed to urban density, Charlie and Mike have taken on William Way, where smaller homes will sit on small lots—detached, common wall, and zero-lot line. The closeness allows a sense of community. Suncrest has plans for townhouses and apartments as well. They envision retirees moving into a setting that will allow them to age in place. They also hope for younger families to help create a healthy neighborhood balance that’s beneficial for old and young alike. Here, too, the homes are Earth Advantage certified.

For over fourteen years, Suncrest Homes has been listing build packages with Realtor Greg Goebelt. Through this partnership, Goebelt became one of the first Earth Advantage certified brokers in the Rogue Valley. Greg speaks enthusiastically about Charlie as a great communicator. He notes that Charlie builds an effective team by hiring the right people and letting them do their jobs. Greg’s enthusiasm spreads to the homes he pledges to sell, feeling that the quality of each home speaks for itself.

In an age when we are becoming increasingly concerned with the environment, Suncrest Homes provides a product to suit a broad range of buyers—from modestly priced smaller homes to luxury custom homes, all earth friendly.

With over 300 homes in the Suncrest portfolio, Charlie Hamilton has no intention of slowing down. He’s committed to continue doing what has worked well for them. He also stands ready for the next evolution in building, whether that’s an entirely new concept or fine-tuning what they already do well. “In the end, everybody is happy,” he says.

  

Suncrest Homes

328 Talent Ave., Talent

541-535-8641

www.homesbysuncrest.com

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