Townhomes go green

Steamboat Pilot

One of the most prolific homebuilders in West Steamboat has launched the first four-plex building in a new townhome project between downtown and the mountain.

K.J. Otterman, of Classic Homes, is the developer of Eco Corral, of Steamboat. Plans call for 24 townhomes and four deed-restricted affordable condominiums on Clermont Circle, just off Hilltop Parkway at Sandhill Court. Otterman has built more than 20 homes in Steamboat and Craig since 2001, many of them in Silverview Estates and Heritage Park.

He said he’s determined to build homes that have many sustainable qualities but remain attainable for families that live and work here. Toward that end, he has become a member of Built Green Colorado, a program of the Homebuilders Association of Denver, and he will register each home. He will spend about $4,000 per unit to certify them as green built. But the additional costs associated with green building will add up to $30,000 per unit, he said.

“We want to offer people a real home in the market with solar hot water and heat for under $600,000,” Otterman said.

Not coincidentally, the listing Realtor for Eco Corral is Otterman’s stepmother, Joy Rasmussen, an eco-broker and owner at Colorado Group Realty. His business manager is his father, Ken Otterman, who purchased his first home-built solar panel in 1977. Other members of the team include Rasmussen’s colleague and broker/owner at Colorado Group Kris McGee, Wade Gebhardt at Wells Fargo Bank, Jake’s Drafting and JSM Builders on a consulting basis.

After growing up in a family that valued alternative energy as long as 30 years ago, building sustainability into his homes came naturally to Otterman.

“You’ve heard that expression, ‘I was country before country was cool?'” he asked. “Well, we were green before green was cool. It was our standard practice.”

Otterman for years has been building homes with insulated concrete forms and structurally insulated panels that contribute to an airtight wall.

“If we can build better and smarter, that would be the way we want to do it,” Otterman said.

Buyers’ choice

Doug Seiter, former state coordinator for Built Green Colorado, said energy efficiency and sustainability may not be the top reasons for building a home, but it’s clear that to an increasing degree, they can be deciding features.

Otterman said he is required to score 75 points from a menu of green standards in order to become certified by Built Green Colorado. He said he intends to score 242 points on the townhomes at Eco Corral.

A handful of the qualities he is shooting for include: tentatively using bamboo flooring instead of hardwoods, an active solar heating system that provides more than 20 percent of the homes’ annual heating, an energy efficient Star furnace/boiler, low-leakage ducting, a building ventilation system, and energy efficient windows and doors.

Otterman is particularly proud of the concrete countertops he has built in many custom homes. But he said buyers can choose from a variety of surfaces that meet green standards.

Seiter said Built Green Colorado assembled a working group of planners, builders and developers along with government representatives to help builders assemble a checklist that addresses green practices inside the home and within a community or subdivision.

Truly green neighborhoods offer pedestrian-friendly connections, clustered buildings and water conservation among other qualities, he said.

Rasmussen said she hopes the sustainable qualities of the townhomes at Eco Corral will provide a competitive advantage in a tough real estate market. A large majority of customers now ask questions about how efficient and sustainable new homes are, she said.

In addition to sustainable qualities, the townhomes at Eco Corral will offer a spacious great room on the main level and a neighborhood park where children can play in full view of their parents.

Of the four units currently under construction, three are sold and the fourth is reserved as a model unit.