Ritz believes that Stone Bridge’s homes are a great option for those looking to customize their home without the hassle of building a truly custom home from the ground up. “I love that fact that people get to be involved,” she says. “It’s not the same thing as doing a custom home, but it’s a great hybrid between a production or spec home and a custom home. It gives people a great sense of ownership of their home, and I think most people like the idea of putting their own personal fingerprint on it. This way nobody else is going to have exactly the same house.”
At Stone Bridge, semi-custom goes far beyond just choosing an A or B option. “What we make are basic, core plans that we’ve had a lot of success with that we can then customize for a buyer,” Ritz explains. “We can move walls and we can add windows. We try to do quite a few things. For example, we had a buyer who had some health issues and we designed a house that would facilitate an elevator. We also had a buyer who had an elderly parent and we changed a tandem three-car garage, that could have been a study or something else, to a living space that has a full bathroom and a bedroom with its own separate access.”
And while Stone Bridge’s focus on semi-custom is the big draw for many buyers, Ritz is also dedicated to making her homes as sustainable as possible. “We don’t build the tiniest houses,” Ritz admits. “We’re a very traditional home builder and when you’re building traditional, I think it’s important that you still have a commitment to being a good steward through resource conservation and energy efficiency. Our homes are all built to Earth Advantage Silver standards and a fair number of them go to Gold,” says Ritz, refer- ring to Earth Advantage Institute’s green building certification standards. “Our houses now all have tankless hot water heaters, better insulation, low VOC paints, and most have triple-pane windows. We make it easy to make the right decision when it comes to sustainable building.”
Ritz was able to experiment with building her largest Earth Advantage Platinum home to date last summer when Stone Bridge took part in the HBA’s annual Street of Dreams. “Our house was fabulous,” Ritz says proudly. “Everyone thinks that the Street of Dreams is this big fancy home show, which it maybe is, but our house wasn’t ostentatious. We also used a lot of recycled and reclaimed materials.” Aside from the home’s Platinum rating, Ritz says her two favorite elements of the house where the sliding dining room doors that “opened the whole house to the outside,” and the 100-year-old reclaimed barn wood that was used for the flooring. These and other details, like the house’s cedar siding, metal roof, and outdoor kitchen and fire pit, helped The Oregon Dream, as it was christened, earn the People’s Choice Award for Best in Show.
In fact, the home was such a success that Ritz plans to revamp the plans for use in a new community Stone Bridge is working on in Central Oregon. “We’re bringing it down to a real person level,” she says with a laugh.