GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Picture icon Hamburger Icon Close Icon Sorted

Community and Q&A

Photos of My Homes 1974-2011

HomeBuilder1975 | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

I thought it might be fun to post photos of some of my new homes, both completed and under construction and discuss how home building has changed over the years. Please don’t be to hard on me, I’m sure someone will find some screw ups!

The first home I ever built was in 1974, and of course in the 70’s there was very little talk about energy efficiency or building science in the building industry. My first homes were 2x4x8’ walls, R-11 fiberglass, I think R-19 in the ceilings, and it wasn’t until after the oil embargo of the mid 70’s that I ever heard of SEER ratings. I remember it was a big deal when we hit SEER 8, we put crappy ducts and equipment in hot attics, no radiant barrier. Mechanical wind turbines (“Whirlybirds”) were the rage to remove hot air from attics. Folks were encouraged to cover them in the winter, of course that caused humidity problems. We used 1×4 let in braces, and sheathing was something we called Gyp Board, which was 2×8 sheets of drywall with black paper on it. No caulking or foaming plates or air sealing, I first heard about OVE in 1980 when I attended my first home builder’s show. Nothing about ventilation, and of course nothing about green building. Appliances were terribly inefficient. Windows were metal, single pane, the first double pane failed like crazy. I even remember when we had a 1-2 year spell that we were told to put 6ml poly on the interior of our walls. Luckily I never did.

GBA Prime

Join the leading community of building science experts

Become a GBA Prime member and get instant access to the latest developments in green building, research, and reports from the field.


  1. user-869687 | | #1


    Despite the progress in building science that you mention, your recent work still seems out of place on this website. This is after all a place to discuss Green Building, which happens to involve building science. Green Building should be about consuming less, whereas your clients obviously consume a great deal, even by US standards.

    It's often paradoxical the way we talk about building things in order to conserve resources, when obviously we consume resources in the process. Maybe Green Builders consume even more resources in order to achieve extra high levels of efficiency. But it's possible to genuinely reduce consumption, and the first step must be to shrink the building size.

  2. 2tePuaao2B | | #2

    Nice homes Allan.
    Accurate observations Thomas. I agree.

  3. Riversong | | #3

    Architectural pornography.


    Allan, I have to think you are baiting the tread-lightly contingent here.

    I'm all in favor of every builder from large to small using building science and green best practices to improve the way they build but I hope you're prepared to turn the other cheek at the criticism likely to come over the grandeur and excess of these projects. I want to see these type of homes build better and more durable and energy / resource efficient, but there are many at this site who would prefer not to see single family homes with 400 and 600 amp electrical services built at all.

    Just please don't allow this to become a big ugly debate.

  5. Brett Moyer | | #5


    You're bragging again.

    And you're homes are not green.

  6. user-757117 | | #6

    400 and 600 amp service!?! Where do you even start...

  7. jbmoyer | | #7

    What happened to the edit function???


    One too many beers last night.

  8. Allan Edwards | | #8

    Thanks Roy, at least I got one compliment :)

    I build just a few homes a year, about 2/3 custom and 1/3 spec. I am not an architect or designer but I do have a heavy hand in the design of homes I build. Typically my specs are sold for about 2-2.5 times the price of the lot, so of course the price and the market drives the size. Clients spend 12-18 months designing their homes and all I do is build them. Of course they are generally larger than what most of us would consider necessary. I enjoy building houses and enjoy what few, substantive posts are written here.

    And Michael, you are correct on those electrical service sizes, they typically range from 400-600 amp, based on load analysis. By the way, my homes are not that large, I know a few builders here doing homes much larger. My business is actually pretty good considering the economy, although the market is very competitive.


  9. 2tePuaao2B | | #9

    What I really envy is that cool pump bb gun and the Schwinn bicycle. I hope you still have those gems.
    Thanks for sharing your photo's! Great looking family, You have a lot to be proud of.

  10. Joe W | | #10

    Well, here's another compliment for you, Allan. I really enjoy looking at houses such as you build, admire the craftsmanship especially, and appreciate the materials. I don't know whether you're baiting or not, but thanks for posting the pix as I'd been wondering what sort of places you made.

    That said, as a more personal response, my enthusiasm is limited by two factors. The first is a simple matter of architectural style ... I'm a fan of architectural minimalism, and interior design that is monochrome with strong accent color. None of those you posted are places I'd want to live, though they do remind me of the extravaganzas in various "Dream Home" exhibitions around the country. I know that "traditional" and faux arts/crafts is big stuff these days and I'm thinking of how dated it will all be in another 30 or so years.

    More to the point of this website, I'm not big on granola, but I have to agree that the expanses and furbelows smack more of gluttony and ostentation than they do of comfort or efficiency. When I visit such houses and hear about all the "green" features they've added on, I always ask if green is something to add or a place to begin.

    I mention all of this not to criticize but because, having read your posts, I'm sure you must have given it thought yourself. Where do you think we should begin to build not only a better house but a better world -- with architects and construction pros, like you and the others who post here. Or with customers who don't care for much more than bling and "the latest" and whether they can find a way to spend more than their "competition" (meaning their peers).

    I recently visited a new home, much on the quality and scale of your own work, which a retired couple had built. It had 12 bedrooms and as many baths and was 12000 square feet -- they wanted all that space for when their grandkids visited for the holidays (4 weekends a year). Have you ever been to Rhode Island and visited "The Breakers" -- carefully perched on the cliffs above Narragansett Bay -- where someone (the Vanderbilts maybe) installed solid gold hot and cold running sea water faucets in the bathroom tubs and had a staff of (maybe 56, iirc) servants ... and then abandoned the place after 7 weekends.

    The robber barons were seeking "respectability" and prestige in the Gilded Age. What is it do you think that the people who hire you want from this -- certainly it's something other than a "not so big house."

    Thanks for the reflections.

  11. Allan Edwards | | #11


    Thanks, and I agree family is one of the most important things we have and I am blessed with what I have. But I’m sad to say the bb gun, the Schwinn, the Lionel train set, and the baseball card collection from the 50’s are but a distant memory.


    As I said I just build, I don’t design them. I will say some of my clients who may appear to over build aren’t doing it to keep up with friends or create braggadocios monuments . What I see are people who have for years worked very hard, taken chances, created companies, sacrificed, and at some point they want to “be good to themselves”. So they build large, well appointed houses. I have opinions but I will not judge people as to how they live their lives or spend their money, I have a hard enough time taking care of my own life.

    How do we build better houses? I think it takes a very dedicated builder who is committed to continual improvement and education, hard work, and is ethical in dealing with their clients. In my opinion this is a very tough business and very few survive long term.

    Also, photos on a website just don’t do houses justice.

  12. Riversong | | #12

    Henry George's first book, "Progress and Poverty: An inquiry into the cause of industrial depressions and of increase of want with increase of wealth... The Remedy" was self-published in 1879. It went on to become the best-selling book ever on political economy, and in the 1880s and 1890s was said to be outsold only by the Bible.

    The book was written to answer this question: "Why does poverty become a deeper problem as a society becomes more prosperous?"

    Henry George concludes:

    The evils arising from the unequal and unjust distribution of wealth become more and more apparent as modern civilization goes on. They are not signs of progress, but tendencies that will bring progress to a halt. They will not cure themselves. Unless their cause is removed, they will expand until they sweep us back into barbarism -- the path every previous civilization has taken.

    But this truth also shows that these evils are not imposed by natural laws. They arise solely from social maladjustments that ignore natural laws. Poverty, with all the evils that flow from it, springs from a denial of justice. By allowing a few to monopolize opportunities nature freely offers to all, we have ignored the fundamental law of justice.

    In the history of every nation we may read the same truth. It is the universal law, the lesson of the centuries. Our primary social organization is a denial of justice. Allowing one person to own the land -- on which and from which others must live -- makes them slaves. The degree, or proportion, of slavery increases as material progress goes on.

    This subtle alchemy is extracting the fruits of their labor from the masses in every civilized country, in ways they do not realize. It institutes a harder and more hopeless slavery in place of the one that has been destroyed. It brings tyranny out of political freedom, and must soon transform democratic institutions into anarchy. This is what turns the blessings of material progress into a curse, what crowds human beings into squalid tenement houses, and fills the prisons and brothels. This is what plagues people with want and consumes them with greed.

    Civilization so based cannot continue. The eternal laws of the universe forbid it. The ruins of dead empires so testify. Justice herself demands that we right this wrong.

  13. MICHAEL CHANDLER | | #13

    Allan Not trying to be critical. I understand that there are customers who demand this type of home and that you do a service to provide the highest quality and durability you can. I just see the potential for a post like this to cause debate and abuse and hope that we can keep the conversation civil and positive and ignore the negative and non-productive asides (or "take them to the Tavern")

    Great craftsmanship. I'd be happy to see homes built to this scale be rated on the Energy Star 2011 and NGBS scale and push the category to ever more optimal green certification.

  14. wjrobinson | | #14

    It is unfortunate that this site has such abusive posters. But also it is amazing that some of us are losing our homes while others are building massive structures.

    Nice pics Allen, shows me you are one hell of a good person home size not withstanding.

  15. jbmoyer | | #15

    [Comment deleted by GBA team.]

  16. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #16

    Just a reminder to our readers: please refrain from posting comments that denigrate other GBA readers or point out perceived character flaws in other posters.

    It's fine to discuss green construction, construction techniques, and building science topics, of course. But we're not here to analyze the personalities of other participants.

  17. HomeBuilder1975 | | #17


    I am headed in the direction you suggest in terms of rating, and I am a very quick learner :) One problem I encounter is getting my clients as enthused as I am, that has been a challenge with some. It is sometimes hard to quantify the payback and of course that is a key factor in selling this stuff. As builders we (I) are probably doing a poor job of educating clients.

    (AJ, thanks for the kind words.)

  18. Riversong | | #18


    Why do you remove follow-up posts but leave the instigating insult.

    Is it OK to address "perceived character flaws" if they are done generically, like AJ did when he said "It is unfortunate that this site has such abusive posters" ? (post #14 here)

    [Paragraph deleted by GBA editorial team.]

    If you're going to censor comments, you should at least do so fairly and make certain that you've found the root insult.

  19. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #19

    The GBA website reserves the right to edit posts. Repeated violators of our policy may be banned from the site for two months.

    Anyone who wants to discuss our editing policy is free to contact me by e-mail: martin [at] greenbuildingadvisor [dot] com .

    AJ wrote, "It is unfortunate that this site has such abusive posters." The statement was not insulating to anyone. And I agree with his sentiment.

  20. MICHAEL CHANDLER | | #20

    Allan You want to start by scoring the last house you built on the NGBS green scoring tool and take a look at where it falls as you would usually build it and what you would easily get your team to implement at little added cost to get to a bronze or silver certification level. then approach the next client with the information in hand. "our standard way of building will earn you a bronze designation and implementing these few additional best practices will push you to silver while also improving indoor air quality, durability and energy and water efficiency. Would you be interested in having the first Green Certified home in this neighborhood?" the scoring tool is a great way to put the various best practices in context.

    I sell rain garden storm water retention systems this way all the time as in my market energy efficiency and indoor air quality are easy upgrades but water efficiency is still a hard sell.

  21. Allan Edwards | | #21


    I did go to the NGBS site and working through the scoring to see the various options on meeting the grade. Thanks, and will report back.


  22. MICHAEL CHANDLER | | #22

    Allan I put up some images of a recent large (for us) house with the NGBS gold scoring tool on my site which might give you some idea of the green strategies that would make sense for a larger house.

  23. Allan Edwards | | #23


    Nice marketing, I like the video.

Log in or create an account to post an answer.


Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |