Busy first weekend for Tour of Homes

Home No. 17 is a traditional craftsman single-family residence that measures 1,931 square feet. It has three bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms and is extremely energy-efficient, with thick walls, triple-pane windows, and heating and cooling via a ductless heat pump.

The residence was built by custom-home builder Scott Homes Inc. of Olympia. Tom Stevens, the owner of the home, was on hand Sunday giving tours and explaining details of his house. The owner of Scott Homes, Scott Bergford, also was there, happy to explain the work that he does.

That’s just part of what can be seen on the Olympia Master Builders’ Tour of Homes, a longtime event that takes place over two weekends and highlights local builders and remodelers and the work they do. This year’s tour has 19 stops, a combination of new construction and remodeling projects in Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and Yelm.

Saturday was busy and Sunday was steady, said Bergford about the customer traffic through Stevens’ house in south Thurston County. Sunday wrapped up the first weekend of the tour, but it happens all over next weekend, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 23-24. The tour is free and self-guided.

Bergford has regularly participated in the tour, he said. The custom home builder averages about 10 homes a year and has found a niche in the home-building industry that kept him busy during the recession. Now he is even busier, he said, with 16 home-building projects under contract.

Bergford builds extremely energy-efficient homes. The Washington State University Extension energy program in Olympia has tracked the efficiency of his houses, he said, producing data that show that it costs about $189 a year in heating costs. And that has caught on with buyers, he said.

“People want and expect it as part of their home-building package,” said Bergford about the energy efficiency.

That, however, wasn’t what led the owner, Stevens, to Scott Homes. His focus was on design, and he searched the Internet for designs that appealed to him, which finally led him to Scott Homes. The energy efficiency came with it, he said.

Not far from there is another stop on the tour in Tumwater at The Preserve at Tumwater Place, a 544-lot subdivision that was bought by UCP Inc., formerly Union Community Partners, of San Jose, California. Benchmark Communities, a division of UCP, is building and selling homes on the site.

The tour proved busy for them, too, with 150 people stopping by to check out model homes through midday Sunday, said Loretta Law, a senior sales counselor for Benchmark. The Preserve opened four months ago and so far has sold 28 homes, Law said. They are building eight styles of homes: two ramblers and six, two-story models, she said. Prices start at $230,000. Some homes are move-in ready, some are not and they also do pre-sales, Law said.