Category Archives: energy efficient homes


Minimizing the Impact of Arizona’s Intense Sun When Designing and Building a Custom Home

As Arizona custom home builders, at Woodridge Custom Builders LLC  the position of the house as it relates the sun has always been an important consideration.  In Arizona, north or south exposures have always been the most desirable direction for a house as it sits on a lot.  In some subdivisions, the lots with north or south exposures are offered at a premium to east or west facing lots.  In some well-planned subdivisions, nearly all of the vacant lots have north and south exposures.   There is usually a main vehicular artery in the neighborhood that prohibits this completely, but as many lots as possible are created with north or south exposures.  In other parts of the country this may not be as important as in Arizona.  Outlined below are five common strategies for minimizing western sun exposures in Arizona custom homes. 

1)  At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, we work with our customers and their architect or home designer with the placement of the house on the lot for the best sun exposure, minimizing the worst sun exposures.  Turning the layout of the house on the plan, perhaps just angling the house slightly can affect how the sun’s rays hit the house and any western exposures.  Continue reading


The Eagle Solar Roof

As custom home builders, Eagle Roofing Products has been one of our suppliers at Woodridge Custom Builders LLC  for years.  Recently, Eagle Roofing has introduced a new roof solar panel.  The Eagle Solar Roof uses highly efficient silicon solar cells.  It is a solar system that powers the home, but also integrates seamlessly with the home’s roof tiles.  Integrating the functionality of a solar powered home with the beauty of its roof tiles is worth checking into.

There are significant benefits to including an Eagle Solar Roof into a custom home including:

  • Quiet and reliable power generation
  • Significant federal and state rebates and tax incentives are available
  • Bank extra power with the local utility
  • Substantially reduces or eliminates monthly energy bills
  • Increases resale value to the property
  • Reduces pollution
  • Provides safe and sustainable energy to the home

During the day the solar panels create energy for the home, at night energy is drawn from the utility grid.  Continue reading


Architectural Columns Work In Many Custom Home Styles

Working well with nearly every architectural style, architectural columns popular in Arizona custom homes offer timeless beauty and a classic look.  At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, we have installed columns in Santa Barbara style homes, and Tuscan style homes, and everything in between.  Outlined below are examples of these timeless towers of beauty that we have installed in homes of our custom home buyers.  The columns outlined in these photos were made of pre-cast concrete and then painted.  Columns can also be constructed of cantera stone and assembled.  Cantera stone columns are not usually painted, but rather used in it natural stone color.

A Santa Barbara style home is named after those homes in the southern California city of Santa Barbara.  These homes derive their origins from the Mediterranean region of Spain, Italy and Greece.  Popular features of a Santa Barbara style home include red roof tiles, smooth white stucco, huge white columns on the exterior as well as interior of the home, and wrought iron accents.  In the photos below of this Santa Barbara style home, majestic white columns support the large formal entry.  Inside the home, the white columns define the entrance to the living and dining rooms.  The rear of the home also includes exterior columns as they support the covered patio of this home.  In Arizona, the Santa Barbara style has been around for years, and because of its classic style will likely remain so for many years to come.

The Tuscan style home is also very popular in Arizona.  Columns work just as well in this home style.  The first photo below highlights an exterior column on the rear patio of a Tuscan style home.  This column has been faux finished to complement the earthy colors of this home.  The second photo emphasizes how smaller columns work well with the Tuscan style.  These small columns support the entrance gate to this home and harmonize with the stone, wood, and wrought iron gate of this home.  Highlighted in the third photo are columns used in an exterior Ramada of this Tuscan style home.  These columns, in a faux finish complement the Ramada’s arhitecture.  Click on each photo to enlarge.


For Those That Love Fabrics, in Arizona They are Back!

For those custom home buyers at Woodridge Custom Builders LLC that love fabric, it’s great to see that draperies are vogue once again. The most popular fabrics are the silks, especially Dupioni.  Full-length, fully functional draperies are becoming a larger part of the work done by sewing rooms in Arizona.  Plantation shutters, a mainstay Arizona window treatment, are still popular and will likely remain so, but many are getting accented with a non-functioning set of beautiful side panels.  The death of the balloon valence has been long overdue. 

Window draperies can also make a window look much larger and dramatic.  By making the draperies larger than the window and installing them beyond the window itself, a plain window can become a beautiful focal point.

Draperies are not just showing up on windows these days.  Sumptuous fabrics and the dramatic design of a canopy can turn a basic bedroom into an elegant retreat. Popular fabrics include silk taffetas, dupioni silks, and sheers. To pull off successful canopies, it usually takes a large amount of fabric with adequate linings and sometimes interlining.  Adequate height and proportions also help pull together these great looks.  These techniques usually take the expert advice and skill of a drapery expert.  A valence that is too long or too short, or skimping on fabric can quickly spoil the result.  There are usually design rules used to calculate the perfectly proportioned valence, again, a good reason to use a drapery expert.

Not only do draperies and canopies add the richness associated with the fabric, but they can do a great deal to reduce noise.  Since many of today’s custom homes are built with larger rooms, higher ceilings and the hard surfaces of stone or tile, noise can be a real problem.  In large rooms with so many hard surfaces, voices can echo and reverberate off the hard surfaces.   On the other hand, voices are noticeably quieter just by walking from an area of a house into a room with a lot of fabric.  In the photo below, conversation levels audibly drop as soon as one enters this master bedroom.  This bedroom has three sets of fully functional dupioni drapes lined and interlined to protect the delicate silk from Arizona sun. Along with the window draperies, a beautiful custom-made box pleat canopy that absorbs even more sound surrounds the master bed in this room.  Two covered duvets absorb more noise and provide a master retreat where sleep can be undisturbed in serene silence.  In the second photo, draperies have been embellished with beads and placed on two sides of a master bathtub.  These draperies add elegance and sophistication to a large master bathroom, while also reducing reverberated sound from the many hard surfaces in this room.

Woodridge Custom Builders LLC refers custom homebuyers to an excellent drapery maker and sewing room in Laveen, Arizona.  Sandy at Mari San Draperies does wonderful work.  She and her family have been doing this work for three generations.


The Home Office… More Than A Den

Most homes today have some type of space for the home office.  It may be a bedroom converted to an office or a dedicated space such as a den.  A specific place to pay the bills, work at the computer, do that extra work brought home from the office, or for those that work at home, space for everything a home office requires.  The needs of a person who works from home may be totally different from those that need an office area for paying the bills, making a grocery list or taking notes while talking on the phone.  Obviously, different people have different needs.  To some, a home office is a place to quietly work at a desk or computer.  To others, it is an absolute retreat, a place to work, quietly read, or watch television.  In a recent presentation on 2009 home trends conducted by Nancy Hugo, CKD, a certified kitchen designer in the Scottsdale area, a new home office trend has become to replace rented office space for working space at home.  According to Nancy, in these economic times, many people are asking themselves if it makes sense to rent office space in a business complex when they can work at home?  It is Nancy’s belief that as the economy turns around many people will remain working from home offices more than ever, even more reason to design and accent the home office to a customer’s specific needs. 


Photo 1

At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, helping our custom home buyers create a great house plan and home design incorporating the features of their perfect home office pays dividends in the end.  The old saying, “failure to plan means planning to fail” is often true for the home office.  The home office shown in the photo 1 is a home office for custom home buyers that are retired.  The office has beautiful upper and lower cabinets with a built-out desk area.  Bottom drawers in the lower cabinets are designed to hold files.  The upper cabinets include exposed bookcases as well as closed cabinets.  The office is functional in design, not overly large, included a double door entry and located off the formal areas of the house.

The next two photos highlight a beautiful home office in a Tuscan style home.  The office includes two walls of floor to ceiling bookshelves with lower cabinets.  The lower cabinets include drawers for storing files as well closed storage areas.  This custom home buyer enjoyed reading classic literature and enjoyed displaying the book collection.  The desk designed to sit freely in this home office, required the electrical, CATV, and telephone outlets be placed in the floor before the concrete slab was completed.  This takes great planning since incorrect placement can put these outlets in a walking path rather than near the desk where they were intended.  At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, we help our custom home buyers make these decisions before the house is completed and impacts furniture placement.  This office also included a wall-mounted television; again, placement of the television was pre-planned so the CATV outlets could be placed correctly.  The office included a sofa so the family could use this as a quiet reading area.  Since this office was designed as a home office, the architect included a full-size closet for storing business files, records, etc.  The dark stained alder wood cabinets, richness of the bookcases, classic furniture style mixed with contemporary pieces gives the look and feel of a very worldly office.  Adding to the worldly look are the multiple clocks displaying various times from around the world. 

Photo 2

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Photo 3

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The contractors at Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, enjoy working with customers to design and deliver the home office its custom home buyers are looking for.  Planning ahead adds to that success!


TechShield® And Time-of-Use Plans

In a 5,000 square foot home with three, zoned, 13-SEER heat pumps the highest electric bill of the year barely exceeded $313 for an August in the Phoenix metropolitan area.  How is that possible?  One of the strategies used at Woodridge Custom Builders, LLC to increase energy efficiency in the homes we build includes using TechShield® Radiant Heat Barrier.  

TechShield® Radiant Barrier Sheathing is manufactured by the Louisiana-Pacific Corporation and represents the best in energy-efficient building technology. TechShield is a thin aluminum foil barrier installed on roof sheathing materials.  With TechShield® on the roof deck, attics stay cooler, cooling loads are reduced, and energy consumption goes down.  TechShield® radiant barrier sheathing is an energy saving upgrade that consumers at Woodridge Custom Builders, LLC are willing to pay for. With its thin, laminated, aluminum layer, TechShield® prevents up to 97% of the radiant heat in the panel from radiating into the attic – passing on to the homeowners energy savings of up to 20%, and usually around 17% according to the manufacturer’s website,

In summer when radiant heat is the most intense, the sun’s rays penetrate the roof and walls of a house, but the TechShield® radiant barrier blocks this heat from penetrating the home into attic spaces.  Conversely, when temperatures cool off in the winter months, the radiant barrier prevents indoor heated air from escaping through the attic spaces and reflects it back into the house.  The house stays cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

In addition to the TechShield®, these homeowners used Phoenix-based Salt River Project’s (SRP) Time-of- Use-Plan.  This plan rewards consumers for using less electricity during peak times.  Consumers use programmable thermostats to set lower temperatures in the house when electricity is cheap.  During peak usage times, thermostats are programmed to a much higher temperature.  If the house is cooled sufficiently when electricity is cheaper, the air-conditioning units need to run very little during the daily peak periods.  The peak times change for winter and summer.  By cooling the home when energy is off-peak it costs approximately 25% per kilowatt than during on-peak times.  One-quarter as much per kilowatt than during on-peak times may be enough to try the plan in the Phoenix metropolitan area, other utility companies through-out the nation have similar plans.