If you have spent time in Steamboat Springs, you probably know that the Sanctuary is one of Steamboat’s most sought after luxury neighborhoods. With its mountainous landscape and proximity to Fish Creek, not to mention its prime location between the ski area and downtown, it’s hard to disagree. With so many beautiful homes in the area, it is tough for any one home to stand out. However, just off Forest View Drive, we think we found “the one.”
A stunning mountain modern home sits on the edge of the Sanctuary, with Little Fish Creek running right along it. While the views and the architectural brilliance alone make this property a gem, what we found most unique is that this home was a spec home. So how was such a beautiful home built on one of the most amazing slices of property in the area without the vision of a homeowner? And isn’t building a luxurious spec home a bit of a risk? These are all questions that we had, so we went straight to the source and asked some of the folks that were behind the build of this amazing home. Darrin Fryer, of Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty, comes from a unique perspective as both an investor/builder and the seller. We asked Fryer a few questions while getting some additional insight from builder Brian Boos and Interior Designer Kathleen Rosencrantz of Roy Seven Designs.
HL: Where did the passion and vision come from in building this home?
DF: For the past 12 years, I have enjoyed the fluid process of working with a lot of potential home buyers. I’ve digested their tastes and preferences and blended them with my own stamp of what I feel is a highly sought-after product. It’s a really great feeling when you find a buyer who is the perfect fit for how the home was designed. In the end, it is really about making someone happy… that they have found the home of their dreams and to be a part of that is a great feeling.
HL: What does it take to build a spec home in Steamboat Springs?
DF: First, it takes partners who are prepared to take on financial risk. Second, choosing a special lot in this price point is extremely important. Then, a critical part is identifying your target buyer. The design has to be built around that profile. Only a handful of homes per year in the $2M+ range sell in town, and these buyers don’t have to buy. This is a discretionary choice, and the home needs to be as close to their vision of their perfect house or they won’t buy.
HL: How is building a spec home different from building a home where the buyers are a part of the entire process?
DF: It is actually extremely similar except for one drastically important difference–you don’t get to ask questions of the client. You need the knowledge, experience, and a true understanding of what a buyer will want and make decisions accordingly. In contrast, the good part of building a spec home is there are not too many stop/starts and big family discussions on every design point of the property and building process. Our design team starts out with the vision and determines 40 or 50 elements that are required, then designs all of them upfront. There are endless discussions regarding every dimension: how to choose stain color; how the boards are matching the sheen of paint; the curvature of driveways; and the creative rock placement in architectural gardens. It’s a lot of work but a labor of love! The value engineering process also happens as a critical element in the design process. We need to make sure it meets the budget that fits within the market price point a buyer is willing to pay. This is where it varies considerably from a person designing their own home in that the owner’s general lack of experience can design their way into way more expensive construction than they ever imagined.
HL: It seems as though when building a spec home, without having a buyer, you would take some short cuts to offset risk. Was that the case with this home?
DF: It’s actually the opposite. In terms of finishes, the home went the other direction and we spent more on artisan level steelwork, high-grade exterior and fine select cedar. We also wanted to give this home the highest caliber of smart home technology. This was a very critical element for the procurement of the buyer as the home now has the most amazing audio, visual, and remote-controlled options. With an app, the buyer can control the home remotely. A press of the button turns all of the lights on and off at different settings, controls the blinds and fireplace and even remotely turns on the oven to warm up some cookies while the owner is heading home from the mountain.
HL: In the Sanctuary, where homes are much larger than average, how does this home fit in terms of square footage?
DF: The home has been designed to be on the lower square footage range compared to most in the Sanctuary, but has been cleverly designed with no wasted space. For example, there are no hallways. But more importantly, our market knowledge demonstrates that buyers these days are looking for more efficient spaces and not the grandiose homes that we might have seen in the early 2000s. People who are generally in the higher end of the market are concerned about wasted space, excess utilities, and inefficiency. Looking at the last 10 years of sales this home ranks 11th out of 46 sales in terms of square footage.
HL: It is important to build homes that are here to last. Long-lasting homes save homeowners on future expenses as well as conserve resources. What steps were taken to ensure this was considered and achieved?
DF: The home was insulated with closed cell foam which is a high R-value product for insulating the home and preventing any exterior noise. This also assists in making the home very utility efficient with the 97% efficiency boiler and in-floor heat.
HL: When did the selling process begin? How long was this home on the market after it was completed?
DF: We marketed the home for almost a year during the construction knowing most buyers want to see a finished product. Once it was finished, it didn’t take more than a few weeks to go under contract.
HL: Who were the key contributors to this project? What makes them special?
DF: This is obviously the critical part–it takes a team to bring this all together. Wes Fountain is a talented finish carpenter and fine detail specialist. He is a major reason the home has the finesse and feeling of perfection. Then of course you need a good builder, such as Brian Boos, who handled the bulk of the key building components and ensured quality construction. The architect, Travis Mathey, is a brilliant designer who realized our vision. Kat Rosencrantz is the interior designer responsible for the fullness of the interior as well as creating a design that allow a buyer to augment the home with their own personal touch and vision in a variety of directions. It takes a small village of talent! And then of course there are the investor partners who help bring the financing to the table and make this vision become a reality.
HL: The interior design component seems like a tall task given the personal tastes of individual home owners. How did you manage this?
Kathleen Rosencrantz (Interior Designer): It can be challenging because the home needs to be unique, but neutral enough, and still appealing to all potential buyers. I needed to accomplish that while being budget-conscious and building a custom luxury home. Something we wanted to emphasize was the contrast of colors and materials, such as white paint with dark wood accents, dark cabinetry with lighter flooring and steel with stone. Also, lighting is such a personal choice we had to be careful about the fixture selections. I wanted to keep them simple yet dramatic with features that complement the surrounding finishes and spaces.
Additionally, Scott Graham with SG Cabinetry supplied the custom cabinets and closet systems. The kitchen was done in an engineered veneer with the grain running horizontally, on slab panel doors and drawers. Keeping the contemporary look, the bathroom vanities have slab panels on solid wood.
HL: As the contractor on this home, you know all of the ins and outs. What makes this home unique?
Brian Boos (Builder): I feel that the location and design of this house is very unique. Little Fish Creek runs through the back of the home site. It adds to the beauty of the lot and provides natural, soothing sounds. Both the architect and the designer did a fantastic job on the overall home and are both wonderful to work with.
As for the uniqueness of the build, we used boulders excavated from the lot for landscaping and stone walls. We used a mix of natural stone, cedar siding, vertical grain cedar siding, hot rolled steel and custom trim for the exterior medians. The interior doors and trim are all vertical grain fir. The fireplace and kitchen bar have hot rolled steel as well as natural stone. The tile material and workmanship is truly exceptional through the entire home.