Hdr Annualissue
Houses 2012
from the editors of Fine Homebuilding magazine

Pretty Exceptional Homes

“What would a pretty good home look like?” That’s the question Dan Kolbert’s building-science discussion group in Maine recently brought to our sister website, GreenBuildingAdvisor.com. It’s a question we consider carefully each year as we choose projects for the Houses issue.

We use a list of 10 criteria to evaluate houses, but the process always raises this question: What makes an award-winning house? Is a smart, problem-solving floor plan enough? Energy efficiency is a worthy goal, as are low construction costs, but what if projects are out of scale with their surroundings? Should we be judging style at all when there are plenty of measurable factors to consider? Introducing four more awards categories this year made our evaluation process even trickier.

What we realized is that you’ll never find a pretty good house in this issue. You will find only exceptional homes. While each one may have ultimately been picked for how successfully it met just one of our criteria, in most cases the projects could have taken awards in multiple categories. We have only one best energy-smart home, but there are three houses in this issue that produce as much power as they consume. There are also three welldesigned retirement homes in the issue, and all the projects are small when you consider the abundance of function and comfort they provide their owners.

Then there is the editor’s choice award, where we abandoned our practical, cost-conscious ways in favor of a project so original that it’s impossible not to admire. But again, all the projects were chosen by the editors, and all are original in the way they suit their owners’ personalities and lifestyles. With so many different viewpoints on our staff, we will likely never definitively answer Dan’s question, but we all agree that there’s a lot to learn from the projects you’ll find on the pages of this issue. Looking at these six award-winning homes as a collection, it is evident that with the right team of professionals working with engaged homeowners, there’s no need ever to settle for pretty good.

If you’ve got a project that we should consider for next year’s edition of Houses, please let us know. Find out how to submit a project on our Call for Entries page.

Brian Pontolilo

Softcover Magazine, 8-7/8 x 10-7/8 in., 106 pgs.
Published 2012, ISSN 1096-360X, # 0202227

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