Timber Home Nation

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Builder Insight: Q&A with Rick Stockmann of Specialty Built Construction

If you're a Timber Home Living subscriber, have picked up the latest issue on newsstands or downloaded a visual copy to your tablet, chances are you've noticed Russ and Jessica Peterson's beautiful Washington State timber home on the cover of our new Outdoor Living issue. With stunning views of the Cascade Mountains, mature evergreen trees surrounding the property and the picturesque Sultan River running through the landscape, the home truly is a natural wonder. And that doesn't even take into consideration the energy-efficient and sustainable elements in the home, and the all-natural materials, including local glacial stone, standing-dead Douglas fir beams and cedar shakes.

While you can tour the house and read the homeowners' story on TimberHomeLiving.com, we wanted to share our bonus Q&A with the Petersons' builder on the Timber Home Nation. Here, Rick Stockmann of Specialty Built Construction in Bellevue, WA, answers our questions about the construction process, how the home achieved a 5 Star Built Green award and his favorite part about the Petersons' finished house. (Here's a hint: It's our favorite part, too.)


Timber Home Living: First things first — how did you get involved with the Peterson home project?


Rick Stockmann: I got involved through my website. The Petersons looked online for a builder and supplier for a timber-frame home, and Specialty Built offered both. I interviewed with them and then offered them the the opportunity to tour numerous timber-frame homes that I had built, including some published in Timber Home Living. They also got to meet a few homeowners. The best reference a builder can get is to have a potential client actually meet with the homeowners. Touring these homes allowed for the Petersons to be able to design their home more effectively once we got started.


THL: Once you got started on the Peterson build, how did it go? Did you run into any roadblocks along the way?

Rick: The build-out of the Peterson home was very smooth at times, and had it's challenges at times, as do all custom homes. There where changes in the plan as we were building the home. This occurred as Russ and Jessica walked though the home while it was being built and could see that the plans needed to be changed to better fit their lifestyle. There are always roadblocks on a custom home that has never been built before. With that said, going through the Built Green evaluation, which was always being updated with newer upgrades to the qualification manual, proved to be the biggest roadblock while building this home.
THL: Let's talk about that process. The Peterson house was awarded 5 stars for Built Green and features elements like high-efficiency windows, Energy Star appliances and an all-natural landscape — just to name a few. How was it decided to build such a green, efficient home?

Rick: The Built Green award was a goal for the Petersons and Specialty Built was chosen as the builder due to my "Building Green achievements" in the past. The original plan was to build a 4-Star Built Green home, but as we went through the building process, it was decided to improve to a 5-Star home. This is where there the real challenge began because we needed to make building changes in the middle of the build-out. I really enjoy building green homes, and once you've been certified and built several homes the process is easier to follow. The biggest challenge with this level of home is that the evaluation qualifications keeps growing and changing every year.
THL: In your opinion, if you're building a green home like the Petersons, what are the smartest ways to achieve such a space? 

Rick: The smartest ways to achieve an efficient Built Green home is to go with a builder and architect certified in Built Green/LEED Building programs, or someone who has built either type of homes in the past. This will help ensure the greatest design for your site, space efficiency, energy savings and sustainability. Once this has occurred, then we can choose the energy-efficient products to enclose the home, including smart windows, insulation, radiant flooring and appliances. Building green can sometimes be more expensive upfront, but in the long run you will get the return. You need to live in the home 7 years or more in my opinion before you begin to see the money return on your investment.
THL: Clearly the setting of the Peterson home is beautiful, but the design of the home itself is just as stunning. What is your favorite thing about the Peterson house?

Rick: My most favorite part of the Peterson home is how it flows. The open space provided by the timber frame allows the kitchen, dining and great room to all be one living area, but still separate spaces. The most enjoyable timber frame area is the outdoor fireplace. Special note: All the rocks for for the entry and indoor and outdoor fireplaces were excavated from the home's site. Each rock was power washed and hand scrubbed by Russ and Jessica Peterson. That was a remarkable feat in itself.

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