Project 1: Ultimate Family Home

Co-sponsored by BUILDER and Home magazines, this idea home demonstrates how families really want to live.

Builders have been trying to improve on the concept of the suburban family home ever since the first post-World War II tract house. For a decade or more, despite a shrinking number of adults and kids under each new roof, the trend has been to accommodate the modern family lifestyle with homes that are simply bigger, if not necessarily better.

The Ultimate Family Home, at 5,300 square feet, is bigger than average ... but certainly not the biggest on the block. What makes it different--and better--is the approach taken by the project partners and sponsors to design and build a home that balances family time with private pursuits, enables absolute safety and comfort, delivers extreme (yet attainable) energy efficiency, and truly helps manage an often chaotic family schedule.

Built in Nevada Trails, a 335-acre, 1,550-unit master plan in southwest Las Vegas, the Ultimate Family Home eschews modern design trends by putting all of the bedrooms on the same level instead of in separate wings, downplaying the main staircase in favor of more open living areas, placing the laundry area near a locker room and garage workshop, and creating a home management center adjacent to the kitchen and family room so that schoolwork can be done on the computer ... in plain sight and within earshot.

Directions: (from LVCC): South on Paradise Road; right on Tropicana Avenue; left on Las Vegas Boulevard to I-215/West on-ramp; exit Rainbow Boulevard South; 1 mile to right on Robindale Road and entrance to Nevada Trails; stay on the main road (Robindale) and follow the signs to the Ultimate Family Home; the lot is on your left. Drive time: The Ultimate Family Home is approximately 15 minutes from the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The home's got luxury touches, of course, beginning with an open-air pavilion enclosing the center courtyard that features a full bath, kitchen, and television ... and steps directly into a fantasy pool area along the back of the home's 1/2-acre lot. Then there's a third-level observatory that converts from a game room to a sleeping porch; a private kids' hideaway (hint: through a touch-latched mirrored door); and an oversized, three-car garage with an air-conditioned bay and a fully equipped workshop.

For energy-efficiency wonks, this house is truly the ultimate. From its design to the systems and products installed, the Ultimate Family Home not only meets Energy Star and Comfortwise standards, but also achieves an ambitious zero-energy goal specified by the Solar Buildings Program of the DOE.

Design details such as a deep loggia wrapping the interior courtyard and resource-efficient systems including smart appliances dovetail with the real star of the home's energy program: an array of photovoltaic (PV) cells placed covertly on the southwest-facing roof and arbor, which enable the Ultimate Family Home to generate all of its own electricity. Though the house remains "on the grid" to save the cost of on-site electrical storage and as a supplemental precaution, any surplus generation will be "sold back" to the local utility in the form of energy credits.

Courtesy Bassenian/Lagoni Architects

In addition to its forward-thinking energy use, the Ultimate Family Home also features "green building" products such as engineered and certified sustainable lumber, formaldehyde-free insulation, mold-resistant drywall, electronic air filters, low-VOC paint, and carpeting made from recycled pop bottles.

The Ultimate Family Home is the result of a partnership formed by Builder magazine, Home magazine, and an award-winning design/build team of Bassenian/Lagoni Architects and Pardee Homes.

The house will be open daily during the International Builders' Show (IBS), with free, round-trip bus service from the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) and free guided tours for IBS attendees. Look for special in-depth coverage of the Ultimate Family Home in the January 2004 issue of BUILDER.

Project: Ultimate Family Home, Nevada Trails, Las Vegas; UNIT SIZE: 5,300 square feet; DEVELOPER/BUILDER: Pardee Homes, Los Angeles (Southern Nevada division); ARCHITECT: Bassenian/Lagoni Architects, Newport Beach, Calif.; INTERIOR DESIGNER: Color Design Art, Pacific Palisades, Calif.; Landscape architect: Lifescapes International, Newport Beach; Web site:

Project 2: The New American Home 2004

The 21st installment of this annual show home, sponsored by Builder magazine and the NAHB's Supplier 100, offers an alternative to suburban living with a contemporary loft design and finishes.

What do you get when you combine a Dutch architect, a French interior merchandiser, and a Las Vegas custom builder? Certainly, you'd expect something out of the ordinary ... if not a foreshadowing of the next trend in suburban housing.

The New American Home 2004, the latest in a 21-year legacy of show homes sponsored by Builder magazine and the NAHB's Supplier 100, brings the urban loft concept to the cul-de-sac with a 4,755-square-foot, tri-level home on the shores of The Lakes of West Sahara in northwest Las Vegas.

Directions: West on Desert Inn Road; right on Crystal Water Way; right on Beach View Court; right on Island View Court (The New American Home is the first house on the right). Drive time: The New American Home 2004 is about 15 minutes from the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The New American Home's greatest achievement is the flexibility of space afforded by its loft design. Aside from generous kitchen and bath areas, as well as a master suite occupying its own level, the remaining public and private spaces are at the owners' whim to use for whatever their lifestyle demands. Even better, those uses can easily convert to new ones as needs and passions evolve and change over time.

In addition to its design and finishes, the actual construction of the house is equally progressive, if also practical in its simplicity and efficiency. The builder employed insulated concrete forms (ICFs) for the home's main structure, which provides built-in energy efficiency and protection from moisture infiltration. The roof frame, meanwhile, is constructed of structural insulated panels (SIPs), which also deliver factory-built insulating qualities and, like ICFs, install in hours instead of days. Steel framing forms the interior walls, as well as the roof structure.

Meanwhile, the "blank slate" of the interiors enables the owners to furnish and decorate the house with a much wider palette of choices than a typical suburban spec home.

The New American Home will be open daily during the International Builders' Shows, with free, round-trip bus service from the convention center and guided tours for show attendees. Look for special in-depth coverage of The New American Home 2004 in the January 2004 issue of Builder.

Project: The New American Home 2004, The Lakes at West Sahara, Las Vegas; Unit size: 4,755 square feet; Builder: Merlin Contracting & Developing, Las Vegas; Architect: Food for Buildings, Den Haag, Holland; Interior designer: Source Francaise, Oregon House, Calif., and Jiun Ho Collection, San Francisco; Web site: or

Project 3: Movin' on Up

Courtesy Genesis Homes

Built on the exhibit floor of the 2004 International Builders' Show, this show home upgrades modular construction solidly into the move-up market.

You don't often hear the words custom and modular used together, but that's the goal of The Jefferson, a 2,000-square-foot, two-story home assembled on the exhibit floor of the 2004 International Builders' Show by Genesis Homes.

The newest model from the only nationwide off-site builder is the first example of Genesis Homes' Customer Design Technology (CDT), which seeks to sell customizable homes at an affordable price. Simply put, CDT enables developers, builders, and home buyers to alter floor plans and exterior finishes using interactive computer software. The program lets users access pre-engineered options--including larger bedrooms, upgraded kitchen layouts, and increased square footage--to accommodate particular lifestyle needs without sacrificing factory-built efficiencies.

Directions: The Genesis Home is located at booth no. N1011 in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Drive time: Operating a motor vehicle on the convention center exhibit floor is prohibited. Bring walking shoes instead.

Genesis cites recent NAHB research revealing that only 6 percent of buyers purchase custom homes, despite much higher demand. The ability to personalize a modular home from Genesis, says the company, addresses that demand with an affordable alternative to the traditional process--and costs--of building a custom home.

While the CDT program solves the customization component of The Jefferson and other models to follow, Genesis Homes' off-site construction process provides the affordability ... as well as reliable cycle times of 90 days or less, year-round factory construction that eliminates all but a few subs on site, and efficiencies of scale afforded a mass-production builder that shave about 15 percent off the materials cost of a site-built house.

Genesis Homes is a division of Champion Enterprises and operates 10 modular home building facilities nationwide. The Jefferson is located at booth N1011 in the exhibit hall and is open daily for unguided tours during exhibit hours of the Builders' Show.

Project: The Jefferson by Genesis Homes, Las Vegas Convention Center exhibit floor (booth #N1011); Unit size: 2,000 square feet; Builder/Architect/Interior designer: Genesis Homes (a division of Champion Enterprises), Auburn Hills, Mich.; Web site:

Project 4: Future Stock

Built just outside the Las Vegas Convention Center, the NextGen Demonstration Home carves a new path for home building technologies.

The Builders' Show is an opportunity to learn about the latest products and systems for residential construction, and occasionally a glimpse into the future. Several of those new technologies have been assembled just outside the Las Vegas Convention Center in the latest iteration of the NextGen Demonstration Home, sponsored in part by the public-private Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH).

Courtesy Design Basics

Wrapped in a 2,200-square-foot, single-story modular home, NextGen exhibits the evolution of building materials and practices that promote improved energy efficiency and indoor air quality, safer and stronger construction, affordability, and environmentally friendly building products.

Visitors to the NextGen home will confront issues of cost versus value concerning advanced technologies and products that carry premium price tags but offer lower life-cycle costs through improved durability, higher and more reliable performance, and less maintenance.

Directions: The NextGen Demonstration Home is located in the Las Vegas Convention Center parking lot, within walking distance of the exhibit halls and conference areas. Drive time: Despite being in a parking lot, the NextGen Demonstration Home is best accessed on foot.

The house also expands the definition of safety to include a healthy indoor climate and environmental issues, while exploring how new homes can be built to accommodate the breakneck speed of advanced information and communications technology.

Modular construction enables the NextGen house to deliver that advanced technology in an affordable product, with resource-efficient systems--including water-conserving measures designed for the Nevada climate--helping to further reduce monthly costs and boost affordability.

The plan offers a master suite and a secondary bedroom, with a flex room for the owners' discretion. The layout provides ample indoor/outdoor access, including an entry courtyard and a covered porch off the eating area that helps frame a rear courtyard also accessible from the master suite across the way. All of the public rooms, as well as the master bedroom, sport 11-foot cathedral ceilings, while the two-car attached garage provides extra storage and is directly accessible to the kitchen for convenience.

The NextGen Demonstration Home is produced by iShow, a Bellevue, Wash., communications company to the residential construction industry, with PATH as the primary sponsor. The house will be open during show hours for unguided tours.

Project: NextGen Demonstration Home, Las Vegas Convention Center parking lot; Unit size: 2,200 square feet; Builder: All-American Homes, Ft. Wayne, Ind.; Architectural designer: Design Basics, Omaha, Neb.; Web site:

Project 5: Space Light Order

Courtesy Hilltop Development

A showcase of architect/author Sarah Susanka's "build better, not bigger" approach to residential design goes on display near the convention center.

If you're architect/author Sarah Susanka, the logical way to launch your next best seller on housing and lifestyle is to build it ... literally. The Home By Design show house, a 2,900-square-foot, two-story dwelling assembled in the parking lot of the Stardust Hotel & Casino, is Susanka's latest version of the "not so big house" philosophy that propelled her to the national spotlight in the late 1990s.

The Prairie-style home is distinguished by a low-sloped metal roof, deep eaves on a wraparound front porch, and clapboard siding accented with stone veneer. Inside, the home encompasses up to three bedrooms plus dedicated space for homework, private pursuits, "away" space, entertaining, and outdoor living along with the requisite living, dining, and kitchen areas.

Beyond its linear layout, with the main-level master suite placed in the back and buffered from the public spaces by a laundry room, Home By Design seeks to enlighten architects, builders, and consumers with a "science meets design," systems-building approach to affordable and efficient luxury. The goal: to expose and capture a market of buyers searching for less stress, better health, lower consumption, and a higher respect for the environment.

Directions: The Home By Design show house is located in the parking lot of the Stardust Hotel & Casino on Las Vegas Boulevard (The Strip), down Convention Center Drive from the LVCC. Free shuttle bus service from the LVCC will be provided during show hours. Drive time: The Stardust is within seven blocks of the LVCC, so you can either walk (15 minutes) or make the short (5-minute) drive.

The house is a collaboration between Susanka and renowned building scientist Steve Easley, resulting in improved energy efficiency, comfort, security, and health. In addition to the deep eaves for passive cooling and Energy Star appliances throughout (among other sustainable features), the house employs structural insulated panels (SIPs) for the walls and roof to enable a higher level of both building performance and construction efficiency.

After the home is opened to the attendees of three trade shows, including the IBS, through January, it then will be moved to nearby Henderson, Nev., where its energy use and other performance standards will be studied for a year--and will perhaps have some influence on the development of LEED standards for housing through the U.S. Green Building Council.

Home By Design is produced by Building Media Inc., and is being used to help launch Susanka's latest book, Home by Design. The home will be open during show hours, with a virtual, multimedia tour "hosted" by Susanka and Easley regarding the home's science and design elements and the design-build process, and a take-home CD provided at the end.

Project: Home By Design, Stardust Hotel & Casino parking lot (3000 Las Vegas Blvd. South), Las Vegas; Unit size: 3,500 square feet; Builder: Hilltop Development, Las Vegas; Architect: Not So Big House, Raleigh, N.C.; Construction consultant: SC Easley & Associates, Danville, Calif.; Web site:

Community Tours In addition to visiting idea and demonstration homes, attendees of the 2004 International Builders' Show can also view some of the latest projects and communities in Las Vegas.

Directions: Take I-15 South to Lake Mead Drive exit. Turn left (away from the interstate) on Southern Highlands Parkway; turn left on Stonewater Lane; turn left into Southern Highlands Golf Club guard gate. Drive time: Southern Highlands Golf Club is about 30 minutes from the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Southern Highlands Golf Club

If you've got a car, take a drive down I-15 to Southern Highlands Golf Club, where one of the premier builders in the country--Christopher Homes--is showcasing nationally award-winning designs and merchandising ideas in two exclusive communities.

The Christopher Collection features 98 luxury residences among 14 plans ranging in size from 3,072 to 6,200-plus square feet and priced from the upper $500,000s to more than $1 million. Every plan can be customized to include features such as courtyard fireplaces, additional bedrooms and baths, expanded room dimensions, wine cellars, and even elevators, among other available options.

Also in Southern Highlands, The Villas offers 84 luxury residences ranging in size from 1,983 to more than 3,400 square feet and priced from the mid $300,000s. Christopher Homes encourages buyers to personalize any of the eight home plans offered with optional third floors, secondary master suites, home offices, and other customizations.

Combined, the two communities have earned more than 30 awards for residential design, merchandising, sales centers, signage, landscaping, and community planning from programs including The Nationals, Best in American Living Awards, and the Gold Nuggets.

Take the HBA Tour

As it did last year, the Southern Nevada HBA (SNHBA) will sponsor a series of home tours featuring several models in various communities throughout Las Vegas. For more information, call the SNHBA at 702-794-0117 or go online at If you get a chance to stop by the SNHBA office itself, you'll see an award-winning example of zeriscape (drought-tolerant) landscaping, as well.

Projects to See

1 Ultimate Family Home

2 The New American Home 2004

3 The Jefferson (on exhibit floor)

4 NextGen (Convention Center parking lot)

5 Home By Design (Stardust Hotel parking lot)

6 Southern Highlands Golf Club

* Convention Center

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Las Vegas, NV.