Solar panels on the rear roofs of the garages in The Meadow subdivision use glycol to capture the energy of the sun. A heat exchanger then transfers that energy into a hot-water-holding tank.

Courtesy photo

Solar panels on the rear roofs of the garages in The Meadow subdivision use glycol to capture the energy of the sun. A heat exchanger then transfers that energy into a hot-water-holding tank.

Hayden subdivision features mid-range homes with solar panels

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— Steamboat Springs homebuilder Paul Flood is determined to show mid-level buyers in the Yampa Valley that "green" homes can fit within the budget of working families.

"I'm a little hardheaded," said Flood, who builds structures including exceptional insulation and solar panels. "But I just think it's where we've got to go. We absolutely have to start using alternative energy. Given a chance, people can be shown that the math works."

Flood is the principal in P.T. Flood Construction and developer of The Meadow subdivision in Hayden, where he is not selling lots, but slowly rolling out spec homes he says he can take pride in.

The town of Hayden has approved The Meadow for 29 lots, and Flood has built seven homes in the first phase of 15 lots.

Of the seven homes, five sold. Sale prices have ranged from $255,500 in 2006 to $386,000 in late 2007.

One home, the largest in the neighborhood, recently was finished, and another is due to be finished in April.

Lots range from 6,000 square feet - or about one-seventh of an acre - to between 14,000 and 15,000 square feet - almost one-third of an acre.

The most recently completed home offers 2,300 square feet, four bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths. Priced at $489,900, it is the largest home in the neighborhood and isn't typical of the slightly smaller homes to come, he said.

Building bungalows

Flood said he is contemplating going back to town government to see if he can get the second phase approved for 30 or 31 lots, so that he can build compact cottage homes in the future.

For now, Flood says he wants to keep close control of the type of housing built so that he can establish the theme of the neighborhood.

"I'd rather build spec homes right now, because I can establish the arts and craft, bungalow look," Flood said.

Flood has contracted with Matt Wagar, of Moonhill Designs, the same designer responsible for Cook Chevrolet and The Victoria in Steamboat, to help him create some of the existing homes at The Meadow. They include covered front porches with detached garages in the rear.

Flood strongly thinks that any green approach to meeting a home's energy needs has to be two-pronged.

"The whole has to start with energy efficiency," Flood said. "I use Styrofoam forms for the foundation, and we have Corbond insulation sprayed into the homes. It costs more, but I won't build a home without it anymore."

Start early

Flood tells prospective buyers that the construction phase is the time to invest in a home's efficiency, reminding them that there are many aspects of a home that can be upgraded throughout time, but you'll never re-do its exterior walls.

Realtor Scott Eggleston, of ReMax Steamboat, said Flood's homes are among the most energy-efficient he has seen.

"The house is so tight, he has to put air exchangers in there," Eggleston said.

Flood's green building practices don't end with exterior considerations. He also installs Energy Star appliances and favors renewable bamboo wood flooring.

However, for homes priced from the low $300s to the low $400s, the four solar panels on the back of the garage might be the most intriguing feature.

The system that Flood installs heats water in a holding tank by circulating glycol through coils in the panels and then running it through a small heat exchanger. Solar heat stored in the glycol is transferred to water for bathing and laundry, for example, but it also supplies the home's in-floor heating system. A natural gas-fired boiler augments the heat.

The Meadow is in a quiet Hayden neighborhood, across the street from the new Dry Creek Park. It conveniently shares a property line with Hayden Valley Elementary School.

Flood said he is proud of some of the custom features he has been able to build into the homes.

"These homes are neat on the inside," Flood said. "They're not just big boxes. They have things like build-in window seats and kitchen nooks. There are also some bonus rooms that could be used as offices."

Eggleston said he has worked with Flood for a long time and has admired his willingness to work with buyers to find terms that will help them acquire a new home.

"I've known Paul for 28 years, and he has always been very conscientious and concerned with doing the right thing," Eggleston said.

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