Northwestern Builder Forges Ingenious Design

New Tradition Homes in Vancouver, WA

New Tradition Homes is updating the craftsman style look with innovative features that are breaking ground in the Northwest.

By Marco Martinez

Founded in 1987, New Tradition Homes is a family owned and operated homebuilder that, after 25 years of excellence, has grown to nearly 50 employees. New Tradition Homes started in Vancouver, WA and expanded into the Tri-Cities market ten years ago. They also now build in the Portland, OR metro area, as well as in Eastern Oregon. They began as a custom builder then, over time, moved up to a production builder, building over 4,000 homes to date, and has now settled into a mix of building both production and custom homes.

Their building practices are certainly a product of their environment. “In the Northwest, green building and living is mainstream. Awareness of the environment, recycling and sustainability are quite prevalent where we live, and we feel that there an emphasis and expectation for builders to offer communities and building practices that reflect the active, healthy Northwest lifestyle. It’s part of our culture, and we embrace it and strive to meet the needs of our home buyers by taking careful consideration of this in each home and community we build,” said Kelly Helmes, vice president of New Tradition Homes.

Washington’s homebuilding industry and market is in a stage of recovery and growth. Buyers in Washington and Oregon are overall more conscious of energy efficient, sustainable green building practices, and value those aspects in a new home. “We are committed to building 100% of our homes to be ENERGY STAR® and Built Green Washington® Certified,” said Helmes, “we won’t build a home that isn’t certified, because we feel that it’s just the right thing to do.”

Being one of the leaders in green home building, New Tradition Homes knows that you’re only as good as the features, big and small, that you put into each home. Theirs run the gamut of home appliances, and include: Rinnai’s® Tankless Water Heater, 95% High Efficiency Trane® Gas Furnace, Owens Corning L77Blown-In-Blanket Insulation, ENERGY STAR® Windows with .28 U-Value Glass, ENERGY STAR® 100% Fluorescent Lighting Package, ENERGY STAR® Rated Dishwasher, Gas Fireplace w/Electronic Ignition (Varies by Amenities level), Mastic Sealed Air Ducts, GREENGUARD® Certified Blown-In™ Insulation, 4” High Efficiency Air Filter, and many more.

New Tradition Homes takes pride in having been recognized as the top regional award winner from Northwest ENERGY STAR® for 7 years in a row and “2013 Builder of the Year for Sustained Excellence.” New Tradition Homes takes what they call a ‘practical approach’ to green building, and began building ESCertified homes 10 years ago. They have an in-house Building Science Team dedicated to researching the best practical and affordable green building practices. What they’ve aimed for and what they’ve achieved is to provide every one of their homeowners a more durable, comfortable, healthier, energy efficient home with lasting value.

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Many builders offer green packages as an upgrade, but over time they have woven these energy efficient features into their building practices so that they are able to offer certified homes at no real additional cost to their buyers. New Tradition also provides HERS Energy Rating scores on every home they build. Their focus is to always stay ahead of the building code, helping push codes forward, and to work alongside local utility companies and industry leaders to test and implement the latest in building science technology.

New Tradition’s homes are not only beneficial to the environment, but, like all top builders, achieve a singular aesthetic appeal. “Our overall style in our home design is transitional. We are known for our updated/modern craftsman style that works well in the Northwest. We also build in a High Desert (stucco) style in Eastern Washington, which is the typical style in that region,” said Helmes. “We place an emphasis on diversity in architectural design, creating architecturally rich neighborhoods with many different elevation styles. You’ll see attention to detail in every home, with an emphasis on expansive front porches, covered patios, and outdoor living areas.”

This aesthetic appeal is carried out and well demonstrated in some of their most popular communities. The Mount Vista Estates and Highland Park Estates in Vancouver, WA, are two of their new upscale communities in Vancouver, WA. Both are located in a premier area called Salmon Creek, with 10,000+ sq. ft. of homesites surrounded by mature green-space and existing upscale neighborhoods. There are large single-level and two-story plans to choose from. They are in close proximity to Legacy Hospital, nearby shopping, the Washington State University Campus, walking trails, parks and freeway access.

New Tradition Homes recognizes the importance of location. The West Vineyard at Badger Mountain South in South Richland, WA is the result of an intelligent approach to community building. Their Master Planned Community combines equal access to hiking trails and a retail core. The community is equipped with smartly designed homes that can be powered by renewable energy technologies for optimal efficiency and cost savings. This mixed-use community has a vibrant sense of place that’s altogether new and yet definitively Richland.

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The lifestyle involved in their communities is all about being closer to everything. And while Badger Mountain South is an active community hub, its location offers easy access to the entirety of the Tri-Cities region. Living there puts you in the middle of over 400 acres of community and neighborhood parks, open spaces, and trails—all of it adjacent to renowned vineyards, wineries, and historic orchards. This is an entire community designed for livability—offering a wide variety of housing types and styles, with walkableneighborhood schools, a retail core, parks and expansive green spaces within a sustainable development.

However, these communities are not enveloped by uniform homes. New Tradition Homes is at the forefront of custom home building and, as Kelly Helmes explains, they are in higher demand than ever: “With the HGTV craze, websites like Houzz.com, and magazines, we are finding that buyers are placing a lot more emphasis on custom finishes and wanting to have a personal touch on their home. [New Tradition has an] in-house Design Center where all our customers (production or custom) get to make all their selections so they truly get a personalized home. Our Designers and Architects are all in-house, so we allow customers to modify plans, or bring us their own plans.”

There is a certain appeal with the average homeowner now that needs to be met. Homeowners desire more parks, common areas and a greater demand for great outdoor living spaces. New Tradition’s design is moving towards cleaner, simpler, more functional layouts with a European influence. All these features are taken into account when planning new communities and floor plan design.

Accordingly, with all great efforts, obstacles are inevitable. “Challenges we’ve faced recently when it comes to building/developing are really lie in the availability of developed land,” Helmes explains, “with the reemerging building market, land has become scarcer and development is now working on catching up to the demand. Washington also has some of the strictest guidelines when it comes to water quality regulations, which drives up the cost of land development.”

New Tradition Homes is not ready to conform to the success they have. They plan on continually improving, as well as researching with their Building Science group. They also plan on moving toward offering a Net Zero home package and furthering design and plans to come out with a more modern/urban style line of plans.

Marco Martinez is an assistant editor at Options magazine. He may be contacted at mmartinez@penpubinc.com

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