If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, consider creating a bella casa that functions to serve up the ultimate value proposition—homeowner health and well being. Homeowners are sophisticated and come in varieties ranging from Type A luxury estate dwellers to Type B granola eating tree huggers. The Bost Custom Homes team has taken its design-build process far beyond either of these homebuyer profile extremes by investing in rigorous research, study and execution of building practices that make a difference for both the global environment and its homeowner’s living environment.
“Green is good, but green and healthy are better,” says Rex Bost, founder of Bost Custom Homes, who is always thinking ahead to create the next innovative concept and benefit for his homeowners.
“It’s quite refreshing partnering with a builder who makes an extra effort to be environmentally sensitive,” said Desi McAllister of Kitchen & Bath Galleries. “Rex Bost brings passion and energy to all his designs and this is a logical extension of that focused and creative mindset.” When Bost Custom Homes trade partners and associates share this creative process and vision, customers are rewarded even more as they realize their dream home concepts becoming genius inspired realities, via Rex.
Bost Custom Homes client, Don Holzworth, enjoys just such a living reality in his elegant home located in Durham’s The Hills of Rosemont. From the curb, you’d never imagine the energy efficiencies, air quality system, solar energy power production, seamless backup, and management systems, or the private living and public entertaining space design features of the Holzworth’s home. Never mind the brilliant elevator, wine cellar with its own dining room, gourmet kitchen and custom designed swimming pool for exercise—yes, they are all valuable features to Holzworth who is a pioneer in the health services data industry. What he treasures are the contributions he has been able to make with responsible environmental choices for his home, his family and guests’ health, and our planet.
Holzworth met Rex through a mutual friend and client. He didn’t have plans to build a new home but after collaborating with Rex, Holzworth described his relationship with Bost as “a marriage of creative ideas” and recommended that a homeowner should choose to work with a homebuilder who “listens and explores ideas with his homeowner…. learning and embracing the clients’ ideas, (because) the creative road Rex goes down makes all the difference.” Holzworth also has a strong conviction that homebuilders and homeowners have an obligation to learn and do better. Conscious and healthy building practices are not marketing secrets anymore. Growing demand has tempered the economic and market challenges that once restrained green building. Doing better can be accomplished by builders educating themselves and their clients about energy efficiencies, responsible consumer attitudes and a mindset about making healthy living/building materials and systems choices because “it’s the right thing to do.”
Rex said that he began taking stock of his building practices once he became inspired by Holzworth’s ideas. He began thinking of all the materials, processes, and systems in his current methods and reevaluated them. Rex immediately felt pretty good about his masonry framing, windows, concrete tile roofing, large overhangs and sealed building envelope practices. Hey, he already was building environmentally friendly, but was it healthy too? That is the way he thinks now, when making choices and business decisions. Rex looks to his homeowners and his trade partners to help ensure that form and function meld into beautiful healthy homes that are more environmentally responsible.
COLLABORATIVE PARTNERSHIPS ARE REWARDING.
A conversation with a Bost Custom Homes trade partner is inspiring. The collaborative spirit and open exchange of ideas is animated and renewing for homeowner and builder alike. Rex has liberated and encouraged his team to be quality and people driven.
AirMakers Heating & Air Conditioning owner, Scott Lougue, says Rex has given him the creative and financial latitude to design and install the most energy efficient, cleanest air circulating and most comfortable living HVAC systems imaginable.
“Rex is really in tune with making a quality product. He tells me to do things the way they need to be done,” Scott explained. “When I can design a system for a house using Manual J load calculations, Manual D duct designs, multiple returns, multiple zones and knowing every detail of the house from location to construction materials, it makes for a superior system and the ultimate energy saver.” Scott flourishes when he gets in “the building science zone,” also recommending that mortgage companies could offer homeowner incentives for choosing properly zoned systems or variable speed units that would save them money on their power bills and use less energy resources, helping them qualify for the mortgage.
The partnerships and opportunities for learning and improving residential construction are unique for a team of self-employed subcontractors who also work for lots of other builders. What is amazing is how helpful each individual person wants to be. Each makes time to do the research, to test, to report the results, to invest in Rex’s initiatives and revise practices that can be replaced to produce a better product.
Herb Jeffreys of Johnson Concrete explained, “We work with the Concrete Masonry Association to educate our sales folks on new technologies that help build better homes from masonry products. We are also doing trade shows to educate the consumer on the benefits of concrete masonry framing. Longer life span of the home, resistance to wind and fire damage, energy efficiency and attractive exterior finishing options for block walls are topics we want to help our builders’ customers understand. When homebuyers see that masonry construction pays them back on their investment, they will demand masonry framed homes and we’ll all benefit.”
DID WE MENTION HELPFUL?
Johnson Concrete helped Bost get the ball rolling by investing in the reengineering of building plans for masonry construction. It’s that important to realize the value of the technology.
Matt Fields of Tri-City Contractors thinks beyond the concrete technology and materials his company uses, too. Matt explains how concrete construction utilizes thermal mass properties, employing the passive solar principles of low ground temperatures and sun warming to efficiently condition basement spaces. Beyond the science though, Matt points out how building basement space into a house can overcome the land obstacles builders now face. “A crawl space can only work with the lot as it is. A basement allows for site excavation and the addition of livable square footage on a smaller lot that may not have provided for a home with ample living space. Impervious surface restrictions and dwindling land resources drive us to design and create homes that can use limited lot space more resourcefully.”
ENERGY CONSERVATION IS ALWAYS A PRIORITY WITH BOST CUSTOM HOMES.
One fundamental way to conserve energy is to install window shading, said Keegan of Audio Advice in Raleigh. Today’s luxury homebuyers also value the convenience, privacy and comfort of automated motorized window shades. Other automated energy saving devices provide for programming interior and exterior lighting while homeowners are away and for secure lighted paths when returning home. Keegan also worked with Don Holzworth to program his HOME and AWAY lighting automation. He remembers Holzworth asking, “How much energy am I wasting? Because I want to be a part of the solution.”
Consider that Holzworth generates enough energy at home with his solar panel system to actually sell power back to the electric company! Now, there is a consumer who is contributing and is invested in doing his part. No wonder Rex was inspired to continue solar panel and energy management systems installations for his homeowners.
House of Lights of Cary shed some light on more strategies Bost Custom Homes employs to help his homeowners save energy. Terri Ekin assists Rex and his clients in the selection of lighting fixtures and accessories. In his 2007 Showcase for a Cure home, Rex is implementing one of the latest developments in residential lighting. LLF, a Morrisville company, has developed recessed LED lighting with warm color comparable to that of incandescent bulbs. This new eco-friendly technology lasts more than 20 years under normal use, is cool to the touch, uses 85% less energy than conventional incandescent bulbs, and does not contain the potentially harmful mercury of fluorescent bulbs.
A more widespread trend in energy efficiency is the use of compact fluorescent bulbs. The demand for these products continues to grow as more consumers become aware of all the benefits, including less heat (reducing air conditioning costs), less energy consumption (lowering utility bills), and longer bulb life (requiring less maintenance). Less is more and a penny saved is a penny earned.
A REPUTATION BUILT ON CONTINUED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
Rex believes he has built his reputation on continuing to be architecturally, structurally and environmentally experimental. Those innovations have evolved into finely tuned homes that are unique, having integrity built-in with every product used and a wealth of experience behind the decisions and execution. Rex said, “It’s very uplifting to realize that we can make a difference by educating our entire industry on how easy and important it is to change and manage our businesses with healthy and environmentally sustaining initiatives. We have to be conscience of the environment. Resources are limited. I shouldn’t use more than my share.”
Homebuilders, to be sure, accumulate a variety of professional, academic and personal experiences. When you consider his history, it is clear to see how Rex evolved into the exceptional homebuilder he is today. Rex’s childhood summers were spent on construction sites, helping his dad who was a masonry contractor. In college, Rex used his masonry skills to earn money. The band he played in could not pay all his bills, right? Rex added stone masonry skills to his ability to lay brick and block while working on homes during his college days. He passed on his new stone mason skills to his dad, who in turn, taught Rex, “how to get something accomplished each day.”
Some of those early stone jobs inspired Rex’s interest in architectural design. He began sketching and designing, and got a job with Raleigh builder, Gary Umstead, who taught Rex the framing trade and how to build houses right.
“Gary did things as a true craftsman. I remember he used a nail set on rough framing,” Rex gratefully recalled. Rex is still learning and teaching, creating and sharing. He is quick to recognize the value of his customers’ ideas, trade partners’ input, his organized and efficient project manager, John Houston, and his “true partner,” wife, Brenda.
GREEN AND HEALTHY ARE NOT EXACTLY THE SAME THING.
Dr Russ Greenfield and Designer/Product Specialist, Lisa Grimes, also consult and contribute to the education and choices Rex makes with his clients. For example, Lisa has researched and discovered a number of products that are beautiful, healthy and environment nurturing such as a 100% recycled carpet that emits no VOCs, a copper bath tub that is both visually stunning and therapeutic, dual flush water saving toilets and American Clay (VOC free) pigmented wall finish.
Lisa has a pharmaceutical background and has educated Rex and clients on better air quality benefits and resources, the value of innovative solutions and building materials recycling. Lisa points out that the simplest ideas can use resources wisely, such as decorating with antique furniture, using reclaimed beams from older homes or building hardscapes with the rock already excavated from a building site.
Bobby Boswell of Raleigh Decorative Hardware and Plumbing said about Lisa’s tub selection, “Our copper soaking tub not only serves as a beautiful bathing fixture, but is an excellent example of bath art. Copper is a natural element that has long been known for its role in the health and nutrition of humans. Copper inhibits the growth of harmful germs and bacteria such as E.coli.”
Dr Greenfield added, “As a physician, it’s wonderful to see a movement toward green building because of the health benefits. Green isn’t the same as healthy but they can share some common benefits such as indoor air quality improvement, lessening stress in the home environment, and making people feel better about their good decisions, while they’re physically feeling better in an optimal living environment.”
And, Dr Greenfield also recognizes that marketing the
health benefits of a Bost Home is smart!
He continued by explaining that, “A homeowner can make a statement with his wallet about what is important to him. He gets second looks, just like the extra attention he receives when driving a hybrid automobile. It’s an attractive option to be healthy. Why wouldn’t someone want to have a healthy home, given the choice? It’s an “AHA” moment. Rex gets it. He comes forward in his industry and passionately does something about healthy building because it’s the right thing to do. He is living authentically and producing an authentic product. People buy REAL, not hype or pseudogreen building.”
Another topic that frequents Rex’s ever-experimental mind concerns water. “It’s my best friend, it’s my worst enemy. I love to be on the water, I love water views,” he said. Rex thinks about water restrictions, impervious surface issues, consuming and wasting water, as well as building on a lakefront lot, installing a custom designed swimming pool for a client, storm water, water quality and health, keeping the water out, sprinkler systems and toilets using captured rainwater, 3rd world living without much water, …it goes on and on.
FreeRain® is an underground rainwater collection system Rex has developed to collect and reuse clean rainwater that runs off roofs, hardscapes and lawns. Compelling concerns and Rex’s great ideas developed into water solutions he can share with others.
Gary Phillips, owner of Splash Galleries, Inc and Raleigh Plumbing and Heating, Inc. works with Rex to address some rather interesting water issues. Inspired by some commercial plumbing efforts toward water conservation, they have collaborated and installed a low water usage urinal in a customer’s basement rec room, captured grey water to use in lawn irrigation, and reclaimed rain water from roof downspouts to use in toilets. Gary says, “If a builder pays a little extra attention, he can do so much to conserve water. With the growth our area is experiencing, we should address conservation now. We see Rex’s vision and share his concerns. Why not be a leader? Eventually municipal restrictions and code changes will require all builders to take conservation measures. Do it now or do it later.”
Direct water savings at home is an obvious solution, once you think about it. Rex has also chosen to partner with Absolute Stone Corporation, in Cary, a not-so-obvious water conservationist, quietly doing its part in the manufacturing process of its granite and marble counter top products. Absolute Stone has just moved into a new facility and showroom that enables it to walk the walk.
Victor Torres, a civil engineer and director with the company, explained, “In our former facility we used water resources for stone cutting and stored the waste (grey mud) in holding tanks that required waste service pickup and removal. In our new facility we use minimal amounts of municipal water resources and have invested in a $100,000 on-site water treatment system to recycle the water we can reuse very efficiently. We only use the city sewer system for restroom service. We do not disturb the environment’s creeks or tax the sewer system with our shop waste. We also capture the dust our shop machines create so it does not pollute the environment.” As a Cary business, Absolute Stone is setting a good example by volunteering to be responsible and doing its part to conserve and protect resources.
Carolina Glass & Mirror is another Bost Custom Homes subcontractor that has chosen to quietly “do the right thing.” About four years ago, it decided to start recycling glass scraps. It now sends the scraps to the factory, where they are used as cullet, a regular component in glass making.
But, back to water. Always the water….truly, it is an extraordinarily precious resource. Now consider how water is used very wisely and ingeniously in insulation technology. We all know water based products are healthier, in the context of paints and stains. However, the chemistry of insulation production and application has lent itself the healthy water properties too. That’s the big deal about Icynene Foam Insulation, a solution Bost Custom Homes understands and employs to save energy, lower homeowners’ utility bills, and provide a significantly improved indoor air quality.
Healthy Home Insulation owner, Tu Nguyen, said, “Icynene reduces utility bills, provides for less HVAC use, eliminates the need for attic vents, controls moisture and mold, and has EnergyStar approval.”
CHOICES TO MAKE
Whether or not we readdress special elements of domestic living like water and the air we are breathing, they still exist and concern today’s homebuyers. Can we choose to do better? Beauty lies in such details for creator, Rex Bost. And for Bost Custom Homes clients, that thoughtful detailing is beautiful to behold, and valuable indeed*
Bost Custom Homes frequently can be found on lists of sponsors, fundraisers and charity contributors. From HBA leadership to mission trips building/repairing homes at home and abroad, Rex is a giver and a steward. The latest Bost contribution is Showcase for a Cure, a project benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Eastern North Carolina Chapter. With the money raised,the Society is able to fund research, patient and family support groups, patient education programs and much more. Each year a custom builder is chosen to build a home using discounted and donated products and services, and the value of these donations benefits the Society. This year’s home style is Tuscan Lakeside Villa by Bost Custom Homes. After the Showcase is complete, the home is decorated by local designers and featured on the Parade of Homes. The home furnishings are placed on silent auction during the Parade with a portion of the proceeds going to the Society. Showcase For a Cure is the Eastern N.C. Chapter’s most efficient fundraising event with less than a 10 percent expense ratio. This year, Bost Custom Homes and Crescent Communities have each committed $50,000 towards the campaign and its mission to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and melanoma and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.