A Home With a View to Talk About

By Scott McCourtney

Asingle lot infill named Cleary is a new quality LEED Silver certified home in Portland, Oregon. Built by Renaissance Homes, Cleary is surrounded by houses with an embankment below. The property has a shared driveway with rare panoramic views of downtown Portland, Mt. Hood and the Willamette River from nearly every room in the house. Even the guest suite on the main floor of the three-story home sees Mt. Hood perfectly. This secret gem of a house is a unique energy efficient home in a town known for their effort in “Green”. The three bedroom, 2.5 bath 2,868 sq. ft. home is a quality custom built home.

“The view takes center stage and it was designed to have a contemporary, Northwest feel,” said Sandie Hume, Director of Design for Renaissance Homes.

“We were interested in the unique location and opportunity to build something truly special. The location offers rare panoramic views. We took our floor plan and customized it to take advantage of the views. Through a combination of stone, tile and hardwoods, the rooms intertwine and the space feels harmonious with nature. The colors are subdued; the vantage point isn’t,” explained Kelly Asmus, Director of Marketing for Renaissance Homes.

All main rooms in the three-story home angle toward the east and feature walls of glass. Two levels of expansive decks were added to bring the outside in and provide extended entertaining space for outdoor living. There are also built-in heaters on the decks to keep everyone warm. The upper deck is accessible from the master bedroom, creating a private tranquil space for the homeowner. With fir box beam ceilings, topof- the-line Viking appliances, an open cable rail staircase and earth-toned materials throughout, the home’s neutral elements provide a calm backdrop to breathe in Oregon at its best.

“The floor plan is called the Cleary and is part of our Renaissance Vintage collection. We design and build LEED certified new homes that fit in with the character of Old Portland neighborhoods. The exterior features a modern, mid-century, Prairie elevation. The interior is modern and features a northwest contemporary palette. The view takes center stage, so we left the color palette neutral so as not to compete with the view,” described Asmus.

Cleary is LEED Certified Silver and has an Energy Performance Score (EPS) of 87. The home is equipped with vented Rain Screen siding, Polar Blanket Insulation, high-efficiency gas tankless water heater, Energy Star appliances, compact fluorescent lighting, open web floor trusses, efficient ductwork designed and mastic sealed, Milgard high-efficiency vinyl windows with Low-E coating, caulking along the top and bottom exterior wall connections, spray foam inside rim joists, vents protected during construction, Low- VOC paint and adhesives, and caulking to create a complete “green” custom build.

Renaissance purchased this overlooked lot in August of 2012. Construction started in December of 2012 and completed in late April of 2013. This was an overlooked lot with an amazing view. The homesite had a lot of slope to it, so there were some challenges to figuring out how the builder could best place the home on the lot, plus maximize the unique characteristics of the location. The builder knew the challenge was possible and through the innovative team at Renaissance, the site was reworked for the home and the floor plan was reconfigured to maximize the view.
“The homesite itself was challenging with a lot of slope to it. We sited the home with the garage on the downslope to minimize excavation. We also worked closely with all the neighbors to minimize construction intrusion as the home shares a driveway with several homes. We worked with neighbors and added landscaping, fixed driveways and fences as a result of our adding a new home to their street. The neighbors were very pleased we built something that melded with their current neighborhood,” said Asmus.

In infill projects neighbors are usually very concerned with privacy, construction debris, noise, removing trees and how the style of the home being built fits in with the existing neighborhood. The builder sent out notices to all neighbors prior to construction to alert them of the pending home start. Renaissance had their construction manager work closely with neighbors to solve issues. The landscape architect made sure to moderate and replant trees whenever a tree was removed in the building pad and they tried to save as many trees as possible outside the building pad.

The designer at Renaissance worked very hard to design a home that fits in with the character and charm of the existing street. They often held open houses and people would come in and ask, “Is this a remodel?” To the builder and architect, this was a compliment as Cleary fit in so well with the street that the neighbors weren’t sure if it was a new build or a really good remodel. That was the designer’s goal. To fit in on the street and make the architecture of the home match the style on the street, but offer energy efficiency and modern home design on the inside.

Cleary was entered into the Portland Homebuilder’s Association Ultimate Open House show and had great results from visitors. People were surprised that a 2,868 sq ft. home had a yearly average of $113 a month for gas and electricity.

Kelly Asmus had very nice things to say about the unique features of this project. “The energy efficient features, the view, the midcentury Prairie elevation, the contemporary Northwest color palette and of course the special location. There are very few new homes in this neighborhood as it has such a close proximity to downtown.”

Cleary is located in a close-in neighborhood only a short commute to downtown Portland. The neighborhood is walkable and bike-able to area cafes, shops, transit and Oregon Health and Sciences University. Renaissance plans on introducing a collection of English style cottages with one car garages. Renaissance is also under development on a collection of 1600-1800 sq ft modern homes with open concept plans, mixed use of materials, lots of glass and clean, crisp lines. Both collections will be LEED certified.

Scott McCourtney is an assistant editor for Builder and Developer magazine. He may be contacted at smccourtney@penpubinc.com.

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