The 2015 New American Home is big, beige and foamy

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Promo image The New American Home

It's one of my favorite times of the year, when the giant International Builders Show takes over Las Vegas and I get to have so much fun with my annual trashing of The New American Home.

Since it started modestly in 1984 as a showcase for products and builders which is then sold to the public, it has grown into an extravagant display of wretched excess and more recently, horrific greenwashing. (see past TNAH posts at bottom under related links)

This year's home is 5,800 square feet and according to the Wall Street Journal, will sell for about $ 2.5 million. According to builder Tyler Jones of Blue Heron Homes,

The overall, core goal of the home was to show the architecture, interior design, and construction industries that all of the most amazing, latest technology, all the latest design trends, the most cutting-edge concepts and feature can all be integrated into a home that doesn’t have to be a five-million-dollar custom home.

Right, just a two point five million dollar custom home. That makes all the difference. Blue Heron is a design-build firm, meaning that there is no outside architect; It's all done in-house. Designer Miquel Hutton notes some of the features:

Of course, we’re in Las Vegas so we had to add a little Vegas bling. As a result, the design is punctuated with some unforgettable show-stoppers, including two back-lit bars, the ultimate entertainment courtyard, and a glass table that creates the illusion that a drink placed on top is suspended in water.

But behind the bling, there are some serious numbers and labels. It's better than Net Zero with a HERS rating of -13; Under the National Green Building Standard, it's in Emerald City; it's going for LEED Platinum. It's got 15 Kw of photovoltaics on the roof and something I didn't know existed, energy efficient LEED lighting.

The most noteworthy energy efficiency features of TNAH include the air tightness of its thermal envelope and the use of solar energy for space conditioning. Under blower door testing, the thermal envelope achieves 4.81 air changes at 50 Pa, an amount that is considered very airtight. Spray foam material was used in the exterior walls, on the underside of the roof deck, as well as around any penetrations, and framing to prevent air leakage and to provide thermal insulation.

In fact when you watch this video, it seems like the house is virtually built out of foam. I guess they have never heard of Ken Levenson's 13 reasons you shouldn't use the stuff in green building. Read more on the performance of the house here.

The plan is almost restrained by THAH standards, (especially compared to Blue Heron's 3013 home) but a bit strange. There doesn't appear to be a front door, what with the three car garage covering the entire front facade. Oh wait, there is a walkway down the side of the house and the front door is towards the rear of the courtyard. There is a weird bedroom behind the garage that has no apparent entrance except via a stair from the second floor deck. Update: from a press release I learn that "The second floor includes a private casita, which can be used for a nanny, visiting guests or as an in-law suite for aging relatives," who I suppose then get trapped downstairs.

In 2013 I noted that I could have fit my whole house in their kitchen. This year's is a bit more modest, but still has more islands than the Bahamas. The owners could set up an open-kitchen style restaurant with overlooking eating bar and two dining tables inside, two outside. I count 25 dining chairs on the plan. In the photos they appear to have deleted one of the tables.

Last year I complained that it was all so beige, but this year's model out-beiges the last, it is totally uniform and consistent in its beigeness inside and out. In fact, as you go back through all of TNAHs, they are all beige, beige, beige. Somewhere, please, could we have a little color in the New American Home?

Upstairs, there is another lounge and bar overlooking the lower living room, three bedrooms and yet another lounge overlooking that strange bedroom with no door on the ground floor. with three more sitting areas outside and one in the master bedroom, they do a lot of lounging.

Here's the upstairs main lounge and big bar, with a wall decorated with wine bottles. Beside lounging the do a lot of drinking.

To their credit, they do not call this the greenest home ever. They are almost modest in saying "The 2015 New American Home offers a master class in the cutting edge of design, performance, and sustainability". They parked it in a lot near existing community resources. They used recycled content materials, certified wood, indigenous materials and efficient windows.

In the end it's not the most over-the-top TNAH we have seen, and certainly doesn't make the extravagant claims that last year's entry did. It's not the biggest we have seen, but sure wastes a ton of space on living rooms and bars and lounges that seem to be everywhere. It may be the beigeist and loungeiest and possibly the foamiest. The technology section is missing from the website so I can't tell if it is the smartest but will update this site when the information becomes available. On a scale from Bellagio to Hooters, I'd give it a Mirage, right in the middle.

Take a virtual tour here.

rear deck© Trent Bell

The 2015 New American Home is big, beige and foamy
They call it "a master class in the cutting edge of design, performance, and sustainability." Not.

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