It means meeting the highest standards of energy efficiency and practices that not only protect the environment, but ensure maximum comfort and savings for homeowners.
“The Washington State Energy Code is one of the strictest in the nation,” explains Rob Rice who has been building homes in the South Sound for more than 30 years. “When we look at how we build a house today versus how we built one 10 or 15 years ago, there is no comparison.”
Superior Contractors and Products
What allows Rob Rice Homes to meet and often exceed the stringent standards of Washington energy code are the top quality contractors, vendors and products for building his homes.
Many of his partners have worked for him as long as 20 or 30 years, which assures him that his standards will be met, and his customers are taken care of.
One of those companies is Sunset Air, which installs the heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems in every Rob Rice Home.
As with many of Rob Rice’s sub-contractors, Sunset Air may be a more expensive system to install but Rob spares no expense to ensure superior quality and service.
“Rob Rice doesn’t cut corners and wants the best,” says Brian Fluetsch, president of Sunset Air, who has partnered with the local builder for nearly 25 years. “And, that is especially true with the heating and cooling system in a home. When you are talking about the HVAC system, it is the mechanical side of a home. In the middle of winter if your heat goes down, it is critical and to some, even life threatening.”
Brian shares Rob’s commitment to improving the efficiency of a home’s heating and cooling system.
“We ask ourselves if we are using the latest technology and techniques for the most efficient transfer of the heat from the furnace into the home,” Brian explains. “The furnaces we install are highly efficient and we use the most advanced thermostats available to control the system for the most energy savings for those homeowners.”
Two tests are conducted on each and every Rob Rice Home to ensure its energy efficiency.
The first test is a “blower door test” which de-pressurizes the home to determine if there is any air leakage from the outside. The second test is the “duct blaster test”, which determines any leakage in the duct system.
“Duct testing substantiates that what we install meets the requirements,” Brian adds. “We get air delivered.”
Energy savings in long lasting features
There are many other ways Rob Rice Homes ensures that their homes have enduring value and have less of an impact on the environment.
- Energy Efficient Exterior Framing – Rob Rice Homes builds 2×6 exterior walls to achieve energy code requirements. These walls have a greater capacity for insulation and provide more structural stability.
- Hot Water Tanks – Highly efficient, insulated 40-50 gallon gas hot water tanks that use less gas to heat water and meet new energy requirements are installed in every Rob Rice Home.
- Windows – As required by state’s energy code, the windows installed in a Rob Rice Home are vinyl and dual-paned. What is exceptional is that they are made by Milgard, a local company in Tacoma that backs them with a lifetime warranty.
- Exterior Paint – The “Best of South Sound” Builder uses a higher grade satin water-soluble paint that resists fading and lasts between 8 to12 years compared to a less expensive paint that only lasts for five.
“We stepped up with a paint that costs 40 percent more,” says Larry Hanson, owner of Imperial Painting another longstanding partner with Rob Rice Homes since 1986. “It is better for the homes, is more environmentally-friendly and lasts longer.”
- Lumber Conservation – To eliminate waste, the lumber used on the majority of Rob Rice Homes is all pre-cut specifically for a home before it gets to the job.
- Quartz – The new Quartz countertops are a standard feature offered to nearly every homebuyer, another quality item that is a natural and a lifelong product. Quartz requires little maintenance, resists damage and rarely has to be replaced.
“Rob Rice picks superior partners who share his commitment to quality,” Brian Fluetsch concludes. “We don’t look at how cheap or how fast something can be put in. Energy efficiency is about well-built homes, customer comfort and savings, and protecting the environment. Rob Rice Homes and his superior partners do all of them extremely well.”
Rob Rice is Thurston County’s largest local home builder and was voted the Best of South Sound for 2013. He and his wife Helena live in Olympia with their two sons; Alex Michael and Carson. Rob is a graduate of Washington State University with degrees in construction management and architecture.