Boulder's Green Hickory Home by VaST

Hickory Home

This green home was built in 2003, so it’s not anything new in particular, but I wanted to share some of the green concepts the homeowners worked through during process of building it.  First, the owners, Brandy LeMae + Joseph Vigil, purchased an odd-shaped lot near a well-traveled road for $157k.  It was rather cheap, with some lots in Boulder costing nearly $400k, so the design would have to solve the noise and space problem.  Second, they wanted a green home on a budget.  In the end, they were able to build the Hickory House for about $91 psf.  There’s an excellent article from Dwell about their process, but I’m going to explain a little below.

The owners raved about structural insulated panels, or SIPs, which went up quickly, were cut to size, allowed for minimal waste, and helped to defray the costs of the project.  They also used Forbo natural linoleum countertops, radiant heating in the concrete floors, and denim by-product cotton insulation.  LeMae + Vigil tried to keep the design simple — the more complicated the design is, the less money there is to go towards green things (check out VaST’s 3 Design Strategies to Build Green + Save Money).  Vigil also designed a foot-wide concrete-block wall stuffed with foam insulation for the west side of the house.  By doing this, he was able to block out noise from the road and provide shading for the home.  They finished up with some interior design straight from IKEA and were happy with the final product.  Looks great from this angle.  More images below. 



Some images from VaST.

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  • Chad Ludeman

    Great example of an affordably built modern and green home! It is especially encouraging to see that they used component like SIPs and radiant floor heating which are two systems many conventional builders baulk at due to their associated “expense.”

    I wonder what the average, conventional builder is ending up at per square foot in the area. I have to imagine it’s over $100.

  • Preston


    You’re absolutely right. One thing to remember for the $91 psf is that the house was built for VaST’s President and Vice-President, so I’m thinking the cost doesn’t include architectural design services. That said, it’s heartening to see such technology in an incredible looking home!

  • Avinash

    A brilliant piece of architectural design!

  • Chad Ludeman

    I typically consider architecture fees to be a soft cost and not included in psf estimates. Anything less than $100 psf for a modern and green home is exceptional pretty much anywhere in the country from my research. In the Delaware valley where I live average homes are being built for $115-$125 psf at best and green homes are often higher…

    I think one thing that brings their cost down in the total sq footage. If the home was closer to the ~2,000 sq ft average home there would be less open space to offset the more expensive kitchen and bath spaces. This would probably bring their average up above $100 psf but it would still be a great achievement!

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