Cistern-laden trucks lumbering toward homes with low-producing wells are not an uncommon sight on the mountain roads around Steamboat Springs.
Carol Janousek and Dave Sladek used to truck more than 2,000 gallons of water to their North Routt home every six weeks in the winter.
That was before they installed a custom system that collects and treats rainwater and snowmelt for drinking and household use.
The system is part of a massive rebuilding project on the home, which Janousek and Sladek recently put up for sale.
"Rather than trucking water up here, getting our own water is just marvelous," Janousek said.
Not long after the couple moved into the home, one of two wells on the property dwindled to near empty. The other well did not produce enough water, so the couple explored other options, including tapping an underground spring or "gallery well" running through the property.
Janousek and Sladek began looking into the collection system when they realized the spring, which was dry in the winter, was not a solution to the water problem.
"The more I researched it, the more I realized it was the way to go," Sladek said about the system he designed and built.
Sladek is an engineer involved in cleaning contaminated groundwater so he had basic knowledge of water collection systems, though it was difficult determining the correct size filters for adequate water pressure, he said.
This is how it works: Rainfall or snowmelt on the home's metal roof is funneled through a gutter system into a 1,400-gallon cistern made of low-permeable concrete. Two filters clean the water of large and micron-sized particles.
From there, it is pumped into the home's mechanical room, where it runs through a glass tube and ultraviolet light that kills bacteria.
"There's nothing in the water, it's pure ... it's essentially distilled water," Sladek said.
The couple has not had any problems with the system in its two years of use. In its first year, it produced 7,000 gallons more water than the couple used.
Though labor intensive and expensive to build, the system -- which requires about $200 in new filters each year -- will ensure future owners would have plenty of water to sustain the water amenities in the new, larger home, Sladek said.
Janousek and Sladek purchased the home in 1996 with the intent of rebuilding it as a spec home. At 3,450 square feet, the rebuilt home -- on 35 acres off Routt County Road 56 -- is more than double its original size
"I would not have built as large as we did if we were to rely on well water," he said.
Janousek and Sladek lived in their home for two years while doing most of the remodel work themselves, with the help of subcontractors. Architect Steve Eggleston helped the couple devise the home's plan.
The new and improved structure hardly bares any resemblance to the former home, which Janousek estimated was built in the late 1980s.
With log accents, crushed granite countertops, hickory cabinets and a moss rock and weathered quartz wood-burning fireplace, the home has the components of a modern, comfortable mountain retreat.
The five-bedroom design includes a master suite with dual shower and his and hers walk-in closets. An oversized three-car garage can accommodate a truck with a snowplow.
In addition to radiant floor heat, solar gain warms the south-facing home in the winter. Eaves and "LoE" insulated glass windows control the sun's heat in the summer.
The design takes advantage of the full views of Mount Werner and Sleeping Giant with large windows in the great room and master suite. A covered porch entry, a huge deck off the great room and a private deck off the master suite offer sun or shade throughout the day, Sladek said.
Giant aspen trees and mature oak trees flank the rebuilt home, and horses are allowed on the property, which is listed for $1.3 million.
For more information or to schedule a showing, call listing broker Kris McGee with Colorado Group Realty at 870-8800, ext. 21.
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