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Quick Move In Homes


Homebuilders Accept Work As Remodelers During Slump

Published 08-02-2011
By Dale Quinn

With residential construction having slowed to a crawl, no job is too small for Tucson homebuilders nowadays.

One local builder, for instance, Pepper Viner Homes, recently partnered with Native Tucson Builders, a company that specializes in renovating and upgrading existing homes. The financial terms of the partnership weren't disclosed.

While Pepper Viner has seen its primary business decrease, Grant Lovallo of Native Tucson Builders said his company needed additional resources.

As homeowners realize it could take years for property values to begin increasing, they start thinking about making their home a place they'd want to stay for the long haul, Lovallo said.

"People are looking at their homes and saying, 'I'll invest my money here,' " he said.

Lovallo said he started looking for a company to partner with, and Pepper Viner provided a good fit. "I was faced with either having to staff myself up or find a partner," Lovallo said.

Pepper Viner is expanding its business into remodeling as new-home construction founders.

This year it's likely that no more than 1,700 permits for new-home construction will be issued in the Tucson area, experts who track the residential market say. By contrast, in 2005, when homebuilding peaked, builders took out more than 11,000 such permits.

Pepper Viner has seen a similar drop-off.

When the housing market was booming, the company had nearly 80 employees building about 280 homes per year, said Chief Executive Officer Bill Viner. Now the company is down to about 20 employees and will likely only build between 60 and 70 homes this year.

Pepper Viner isn't the only company that's seen its business model change as the real estate market crashed.

"It's certainly a sign of the times when homebuilders are looking for continuing opportunities" outside their core business, said David Godlewski, president of the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association.

SAHBA doesn't track exactly what types of new work homebuilders have taken on, but it's clear that construction companies aren't necessarily in a position to turn business away.

John Wesley Miller, a local pioneer in energy-efficient homebuilding, has launched a marketing campaign that proclaims there's "no job too small" for his company.

Miller said people might not otherwise realize that his company will do just about any type of renovation or add-on.

With construction on custom homes "dead," Miller said, his company would take pretty much any job, such as turning a carport into a garage, or adding an enclosed patio, or Arizona room, to a house.

Another local homebuilder, Miramonte Homes, has turned to a different side business - building luxury rental homes with attached garages. The company is building those rentals with a specific renter in mind - former homeowners who walked away from their homes and "strategically" defaulted, even though they could afford their mortgages, because their homes were worth less than what they owed on them.

For Becklin Construction, custom-home construction made up the bulk of business during the boom, said Richard Fink, a managing member of the company.

While Becklin always did renovations - usually on homes the company built - that wasn't the primary source of work.

But with new-home construction at a standstill, Becklin now also does light commercial improvements to retail properties and apartment complexes.

Becklin's website still features its custom-home building. But Fink said the company - which subcontracts out most of its work - hasn't actually built a home in about a year. "We've gotten more into the remodeling business in the current marketplace."

Copyright 2011 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved.

Diversification is Key for Pepper Viner Homes

Tucson Builder Opens Remodeling, Renovation and Restoration Division


by: Patricia Dunham

Being nimble and flexible is playing a big role in how homebuilders can endure or, even, prosper in today’s housing market. Pepper Viner Homes, a three-time Southern Arizona Home Builder of the Year, is using diversification as the key to making changes that will keep them profitable in both the short and long term. Most recently, they have announced the opening of a remodeling, renovation and restoration division. “The current climate for new home construction has been an impetus for many homebuilders, including Pepper Viner Homes, to move in different directions,” says Bill Viner, CEO. “While our industry has taken a tremendous hit, we all may emerge as stronger and more multifaceted companies.”

Pepper Viner Homes sought an existing remodeling company with a strong reputation and customer referral base to partner with in creating a remodeling division. Native Tucson Builders had been active in the Southern Arizona market for seven years before becoming a division of Pepper Viner Homes. The new partnership increases the services both companies can offer to their individual clients and creates a strong, new face for remodeling work throughout Southern Arizona.

Pepper Viner Homes is also currently working on two other projects outside of their own new home communities. “In addition to adding our new remodeling division, Pepper Viner Homes has sought other business partners,” Viner says. “We are currently working with local Tucson nonprofit agencies on a contract to build sustainable, green, low-income housing and we are also building single-family homes on the campus of one of Southern Arizona’s best known retirement campuses: La Posada in Green Valley. The Green Valley project is a first for both of us. It’s the first time the retirement community has offered single-family homes on a long-term lease as part of their continuum of care, and it marked our first venture in building a community other than our own.”

The partnership with Native Tucson Builders is a win-win situation for both companies. “Over the years, we have had many requests to undertake remodeling and renovation for our home buyers,” says Viner, “With our new partnership, we will be able to fulfill those requests and offer the highest standards of remodeling, renovation and restoration construction to every homeowner, whether or not they live in a Pepper Viner home. The excellent reputation of Native Tucson Builders and their strong client network gives us an outstanding foundation for this new venture.” The new partnership will retain the Native Tucson Builders’ name, and owner Grant Lovallo will head this new Pepper Viner Division.

Native Tucson Builders has offered complete remodeling, renovation and restoration services for the past seven years. “This company is an excellent fit for us,” Viner says. “They ascribe to the same high standards as Pepper Viner Homes. In fact, their company roots come from Grant’s grandfather, who was a master carpenter.”

Pepper Viner Homes is one of 1.5 percent of builders nationwide to meet the exacting standards of the Builder’s Challenge, building production homes that offer energy savings of 50 percent or more over homes built to standard code. “We are very excited to offer our clients the possibilities to include high performance, energy-saving features in their construction,” says Lovallo. “Pepper Viner is a leader in green building and brings a wealth of knowledge regarding building science and energy conservation to the table. By pooling our strengths, we will be able to offer our clients more options as they undertake remodeling their homes.”

Viner feels that the remodeling division is opening at an optimum time. “Homeowners are realizing that it’s a good time to invest in their homes. Interest rates and construction costs are both at historic lows,” he says. “Currently, selling a home often means taking a loss, but remodeling builds for the future. It gives the home buyer the home they want now, and when the market turns around -- and it will -- they will have created additional equity in their homes.”

© 2011 Mino Media LLC

Builders Zero In on New Goal of Energy-Neutral Housing

The Wall Street Journal

by: Jim Carlton

The green building movement is targeting a goal once thought virtually unattainable: zero net energy use.

While the trend is nascent, dozens of "net zero" and "near net zero" developments -- projects designed to use only about as much power from the public grid as they can save or produce on their own -- have sprung up across the U.S. over the past five years.

In Greenfield, Mass., nonprofit Rural Development Inc. has completed eight of 20 planned duplex homes that use almost no net energy. In Berkeley, Calif., ZETA Communities Inc. plans to build a 30-unit net-zero apartment building after opening a factory that can construct 400 to 500 prefabricated net-zero homes a year. And in Green Valley, Ariz., builder Pepper Viner Homes says it plans to incorporate green techniques into a senior housing community so that it reduces energy use more than 50%. U.S. officials are working to wean federal buildings off fossil fuel by 2020, a step they say will help the buildings become almost net-zero energy users.

Behind the push is the fact that buildings are a major consumer of power, accounting for an estimated 40% of energy usage in the U.S.

But a bigger shift toward net-zero construction faces hurdles, largely because such buildings often are more expensive to build. To reach zero energy use, for instance, a building needs to produce its own power such as through solar or wind. Rooftop solar panels can cost upward of $10,000 on a three-bedroom home alone.

Some industry analysts say the costs of erecting net-zero homes have declined somewhat as green building has become more mainstream. With energy costs more than doubling across the U.S. in the past decade, energy-savings measures have become more attractive to builders.

In Greenfield, Mass., where Rural Development is putting up duplexes, the premium for a net-zero home is as much as 15%. For example, it has one three-bedroom home on the market for $240,000, compared with about $203,000 for a comparable home without net-zero features, says Anne Perkins, a Rural Development director. Most of that extra cost is for solar systems, she says.

Eight of Rural Development's net-zero homes built so far have been purchased. One selling point: energy bills that can run more than $2,700 a year are cut to about $700, and total energy savings allow buyers to recoup the purchase premium in roughly 12 years after tax incentives and rebates are included.

Officials of Western Massachusetts Electric Co., which provided financial incentives for the development, say they want to see more projects like this. "The more you can have of this type of work, the less power plants you have to put on line," says John Walsh, a conservation supervisor at the utility.

Some consumers have found a way to add green features to their homes without piling on extra costs. In Hermosa Beach, Calif., Robert and Monica Fortunato are planning to expand their 50-year-old home, adding 611 square feet to their existing 1,329 square feet. The two are committed environmentalists, and their plan is to make the home net zero, despite the increase in size. They expect the work to cost $400,000, about the same as a conventional remodeling that lacked energy savings.

Mr. Fortunato, a management consultant, says he and his wife, an occupational therapist, plan to use special insulation panels that help modulate room temperatures by melting and resolidifying of paraffin wax inside, which reduces energy costs. They would offset the cost of the panels by not having to buy a big furnace.

"We want to save the planet," says Ms. Fortunato.

© 2010 The Wall Street Journal

Pepper Viner/BASF High-Performance Home to serve as demonstration site for city residential gray water ordinance

Tucson Metropolitan Chamber News

The City of Tucson will use Pepper Viner/BASF's new High Performance Home in Civano North Ridge as a demonstration site for the Residential Gray Water Ordinance. The ordinance, which will take effect on June 1, 2010, requires the installation of gray water "stub-outs" in new residential construction.

Pepper Viner Homes and BASF partnered to build the High-Performance home which includes a number of water efficiency features and is 81% more energy efficient than the typical new home. "This is a home that is remarkably close to being a net zero home," said Bill Viner, CEO. The house was built with Structural Insulated Panels with BASF Styropor®, SIPS. The concrete foundation is made with 40% recycled fly ash. Attention to indoor air quality and green products were given throughout the home.

Water savings were incorporated into the home with both active and passive water collection system, a gray water system, dual flush toilets and the use of water conserving lavatory faucets and showerheads. "The landscaping includes bioswales or water collection areas that help water plants. There is a rain harvesting system to reduce the use of potable water for watering plants and the gray water system delivers directly to the roots of the trees," explained Viner.
Tucson Water will provide brochures and signs explaining how the gray water system was designed and is being used for irrigation.

Ward IV Councilwoman Shirley Scott will be at the grand opening of the Pepper Viner/BASF High Performance Home on Saturday, October 17. She will join keynote speaker U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords at the grand opening and ribbon cutting which starts at 10:30 a.m. The event will be held in connection with the 10th Anniversary of Civano, a community designed with many elements of sustainability. To reach Civano North Ridge, take Houghton Road south of Irvington Road to Civano Boulevard, turn east to Sixto Molina Lane and follow the signs.

© 2009 Chamber News

Pepper Viner wins the Common Ground Award for 'Green Project' at Civano North Ridge

Metropolitan Pima Alliance's (MPA) Common Ground Awards recognizes community leaders, projects and events with successful collaboration for the overall benefit of the community. Whether it is land development, economic development or community development, it is pertinent for all parties to find common ground and the Board selected winners are bestowed their Common Ground Award at this annual banquet ceremony attended by hundreds. Pepper Viner homes was selected as this years winner of the Common Ground Award for 'Green Project.'

For more details visit the website: www.mpaaz.org/events/common-ground

Ribbon Cutting Grand Opening for our High Performance Home in Civano North Ridge

Ribbon Cutting.

Presentation inside the High Performace Home.

Presentation inside the High Performace Home.

SIPS Panel.

Gabrielle Giffords and Jack Armstrong.

Phil Pepper, Gabrielle Giffords, and Bill Viner.

Phil Pepper, Bill Viner, and Richard Barna.

Green Valley is getting even greener for retirees at La Posada

By Mae Lee Sun, Inside Tucson Business
Published on Thursday, July 02, 2009

The sun, the warm weather, golf and the arts are what typically attract retirees to Southern Arizona. For those choosing to live at La Posada in Green Valley, there’s a new consideration: green living.

“The average age of our residents is in the mid-80s. They are a very politically active and environmentally conscious population,” says Tim Carmichael, director of marketing for the nonprofit continuing care retirement community for people ages 62 and up. “Most of the changes we’ve been making at La Posada have come about through our residents suggestions who are concerned about water and energy usage. So we’ve taken that on and have hired Pepper Viner Homes as the developer for the planned Park Centre Homes neighborhood which we hope to break ground on by the end of 2009.”

None of the 35 homes to be built will be owned by residents. Instead they’ll pay an “entrance fee” that on average will be about $450,000 — 70 percent of which gets returned when the resident leaves. The fee, along with additional monthly maintenance costs also provides for of having medical staff nearby. La Posada’s 35 homes won’t be for sale, residents will instead pay a partially refundable “entrance fee.” Advertisement As for being green, all of the homes will be energey efficient and built with low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) in the cabinetry, paints and flooring. (VOC are carbon-based chemicals that evaporate at room temperature and can be harmful, especially from sustained exposure.)

Not only will the homes be energy efficient, their construction will be cost-efficient as well, says Richard Barna, director of green building and building science for Pepper-Viner Homes and a member of the executive board of the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association.

“We are still able to have a profit margin by sticking within La Posada’s budget because we have been working with energy think-tanks to pull out all the stops and not settle for cheaply built houses because of money,” Barna said. “It’s more about the science of it actually and applying the Pima County standards for green building rather than LEED’s which doesn’t account for issues specifically related to our region. A 50 percent savings for the consumer is our goal on all power usage and much of that will happen by using structural insulated panels (SIPS) instead of wood frame construction. It’s one of the greenest products out there.”

He also said the concrete that will be used is made with 40 percent fly ash - a glass-like powder that is a waste product of coal-generated power. It’s used as a stronger replacement for cement, where most green building programs utilize only 20 percent.

Each home will also be built specific to each site to maximize the passive solar heating and cooling. So far, Carmichael says the homes will be built in two sizes with a choice of two different floor plans. The curb appeal will be native desert plants and landscaping.

While the homes will be plumbed for solar, gray water systems and solar hot water, Carmichael says they’re waiting for the technology in solar tiles to evolve before actually offering the complete package. But in general, the Park Centre Homes will be a major change in how retirement and continuing care communities are thought of.

Meanwhile, the existing apartments and suites on the La Posada campus in Green Valley, while not having been built from the ground up as “green,” are undergoing a retrofit.

A resident at La Posada, Bob Venuti, 84, says things like that show the management is cognizant of the needs of the older generation, which is why he chose to move there three years ago.

“Green is a broad subject. It can mean anything,” Venuti said. “On the things that were obvious, like lighting and recycling, the changes have already been made. The management has the attitude that they live here with us. And to help further their efforts, I volunteer with a lot of others to educate the community on how to live more green and what the benefits are.”

© 2009 Inside Tucson Business

New Pepper Viner Southside Subdivision

Pepper Viner Homes broke ground last week on Sunnyside Pointe Homes, a 267-lot housing subdivision near Irvington Road and Park Avenue. The lots will be developed for affordable senior housing and market rate homes by three nonprofits: La Frontera Center, Old Pueblo Community Foundation, and Tucson Urban League.

Each nonprofit partner has received funds from sources including Pima County bond funds and the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco’s affordable housing program. The funds will be used to reduce the prices of homes to buyers through substantial down payments.

The first phase of the project includes 90 homes for first-time buyers. The homes will have three or four bedrooms with two bathrooms and a single car garage. The plan is for the first homes to available in March 2010.

Builders Challenge - Recognizing Energy Leadership in Homebuilding - Pepper Viner Homes at Civano North Ridge

For Immediate Release
For further information call,
Patricia Dunham (520) 745-9905

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY TO TOUR PEPPER VINER HOMES Tucson Builder Develops Community of Homes To Meet DOE’s Challenge And Receive “EnergySmart” Home Scales

Tucson, AZ -- Pepper Viner Homes has announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will tour their model homes at Civano Northridge on Tuesday, October 21 at 4:30 p.m. DOE will recognize Pepper Viner for qualifying their homes as part of Tucson’s first project where every home will meet the Challenge.

“We are the first production builder in Southern Arizona to reach this milestone and earn this accreditation,” said Bill Viner, president. “We have made a strong commitment to green building.” All Pepper Viner Homes, in every new home community, are now rated Energy Star Homes. Every home at Civano North Ridge will receive the DOE E-Scale for meeting the requirements of the Builders Challenge.

“I commend Pepper Viner Homes for their tremendous energy saving initiatives underway here at Civano Northridge,” said Ed Pollock, project lead for DOE’s Builders Challenge program. “Their participation in the Builders Challenge is just the beginning of a movement toward giving consumers information about the energy efficiency of their homes so they can make smart choices that save them money and contribute to America’s energy-independence.”

Earlier this year, DOE launched the challenge to the home building industry to build 220,000 high-performance energy efficient homes by 2012. By 2030, DOE’s Building America program will have completed research to enable Americans to purchase cost-effective Net Zero Energy Homes. The 1.3 million homes built to the Builders Challenge between now and then, will save Americans an estimated $1.7 billion in energy costs, or the carbon equivalent of taking 606,000 cars off the road.

“We have changed the way we build homes. To meet the strict energy savings standards, our homes have to be built better. They are tighter, quieter and offer better indoor air quality,” Viner continued. “We have learned that by using building science, we can produce homes that offer our buyers a lifetime of savings and a price comparable to similar homes without the energy saving features.”

To date, The U.S. Department of Energy has qualified 600 homes across the nation as part of the Builders Challenge. The E-Scale is a national metric that enables homebuyers to better understand energy efficiency when purchasing a home.

Civano North Ridge is located east of Houghton and south of Irvington. The tour will be at the model located at 5131 S. Hanna Heather Place.


Star's Festival of Books with UA will fete literacy

Published 03-15-2008
By Valerie Vinyard

Imagine a free festival, full of authors, readings and most of all, books.

In one year, that will be a reality. The first Arizona Daily Star Tucson Festival of Books with The University of Arizona will take place March 13-15, 2009, at the UA.

The Tucson Festival of Books will promote a region-wide public celebration of reading and literacy.

"For several years, we've been aware of the L.A. Times Festival of Books and the impact it's had on the community." said Bill Viner, CEO of Pepper Viner Homes and one of the founders of the festival. "We wanted to bring that same type of event to our community.

"We're reaching very far to try to get the best authors we can for this inaugural event."

Viner's wife, Brenda, Bruce Beach and Frank Farias also helped found the event.

"I wanted to have a fun celebration for the whole community to engage in literacy," said Beach, CEO and chairman of Beach, Fleischman & Co. "We hope to raise the awareness of the literacy opportunities we have in this community."

"There's nothing like this in Arizona, nothing of this maqnitude," Viner said. "It crosses all age ranges."

Viner visualizes 15 to 18 different venues and stages at the event. Many of them will be at the UA mall and inside nearby buildings. A large food court will be centered on the mall.

Viner said the committee is hoping for 300 authors, vying for local, regional and national names.

"There are some very big names being tossed around/ said Viner, declining to name any authors yet.

"We've been talking about this for over a year/ Viner said. "The enthusiasm is terrific, people are excited about literacy and reading, and hopefully this will encourage people to read more. There's nothing like reading."

The group is planning to make the festival an annual event: "It's too big just to do it one time," Viner said.

Festival activities will include lectures, interviews and signings with local, regional and national authors; workshops for aspiring authors; poetry readings and contests; book reviews and panel discussions; kids author appearances, interactive stage presentations, storytelling and arts and crafts activities; and book

Proceeds will benefit local literacy groups and programs. Exhibitors will include booksellers, publishers and literacy and cultural organizations.

"We are thrilled to be among the lead organizers largely because reading is central to our mission," said John M. Humenik, publisher and editor of the Arizona Daily Star. "It's a logical fit for our newspaper, which celebrates daily the craft of communicating with words and images."

In addition to the Star and the UA, the Festival of Books Steering Committee includes Pepper Viner Homes; Beach, Fleischman & Co.; Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau; Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities; the Metropolitan Tucson Chamber of Commerce; Pima County Public Library; the Literacy Leadership Coalition/ Community Foundation of Southern Arizona; local author groups; children's literacy groups; Clear Channel; and Tucson Pima Arts Council.

Visit the website for Tucson Festival of Books

Pepper Viner Wins Southern Arizona New Home Builder of the Year Award

For Immediate Release
For further information,
call Patricia Dunham, 520-745-9905

Pepper Viner Homes has been named the Builder of the Year by the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association.   “While it may seem a bit of an oxymoron in a down market, this has been a good year for Pepper Viner Homes,” said Bill Viner, President.  “We have been able to focus on our future and have implemented four initiatives that truly change the way we build homes and the way we do business.”

            First, the builder opened the first community in Southern Arizona where every home qualified for both the new Energy Star rating and met the standards of EPAct 2005 as enacted by the US Department of Energy.  The High Performance – High Design homes were introduced and are available at Pepper Viner’s Civano North Ridge community.

            “To meet these standards, every home must be third-party verified and offer energy savings of at least 50% when compared to homes built to standard code.  We chose to ‘go green’ because we wanted to offer our homebuyers on-going savings and because we felt it was the right thing to do for our environment.  However, it paid off by giving us a better quality product and we think that significantly contributed to winning this award. Simply, each home must be tighter, quieter and better built,” Viner continued.  “This will be the way we will build our homes as we go forward.  All upcoming communities will meet these standards.”

            Next, Pepper Viner instituted a national program, First Time Quality, and paid for each of its trade partners to complete the training.  The course meets and exceeds the National Association of Home Builders certification requirements and is the work of Ed Caldeira, the past Director of Quality for NAHB.  “This program empowers each trade partner and identifies problem areas and bottlenecks so they can be corrected,” Viner explained. “This was a substantial investment on our part but it is already paying off with a more efficient job site, and that creates actual dollar savings we can pass on to our buyer.”

            The final two initiatives instituted by Pepper Viner Homes were to establish a new program of homebuyer surveys and to execute a new software program that makes complete information about each home available both in the office and in the field.  “Traditionally, homebuyers are surveyed after they are given the keys.  We realized that if a client was unhappy or dissatisfied, there wasn’t much we could do about it after the fact.  We now survey at four benchmarks during the construction process.  It gives the buyer a real voice during the building of the home and it gives us the opportunity to correct any problems while they are still minor problems,” Viner continued.  “Finally, we tied everything together with new software that makes it possible for our staff to access the complete information they need quickly and easily. 

            “We know that this has been a hard year for new construction, but it also gave us the breathing space we needed to make real and lasting changes to prepare us for the future.  We know that the things we have done make us stronger and we feel that played a major role in helping us win this award.  Still, when recognition comes from your industry – the people most knowledgeable about what you do and how you do it – it is unmatched recognition.  Every member of our staff has a part in this award.  There is no way we could reach this pinnacle of success without the effort of every single person on our team,” Viner concluded.

            The SAHBA Builder of the Year Award is based on a number of criteria, starting with professionalism, product quality and business ethics, but also including safety, community service and professional education, training and certification.  Pepper Viner Homes won for the middle category, builders producing 100 to 449 units in the year. 

Subdivision firm partly shifting to individual homes

AZ Daily Star - BUSINESS - Real Estate - Christie Smythe 1.22.2008

In many places across the country, it’s a rough time to be a home builder.

New-home sales are dropping nationwide, prices are being slashed, and the value of one of builders’ prime assets, land for subdivisions, may be slipping as demand cools.

Taking a turn away from all the doom and gloom, one local builder is trying a new business tactic.

Pepper Viner Homes Inc., based in Tucson, wants to take its building services out of subdivisions and go straight to individual property owners.

For a price somewhat above that of a home built in a subdivision, and somewhat below that of a true custom home, Pepper Viner will send a crew to a person’s own lot to build a Pepper Viner home, said Michael Whyde, executive vice president of Pepper Viner and a partner in the company.

Whyde said the idea sprung mainly from customer requests.

“People like our floor plans, but (some) don’t want to live in a more traditional community,” said Whyde, referring to the production-home subdivisions where his company usually builds.

As part of the new strategy, the builder has also retooled some of its floor plans to fit smaller lots in the city’s core, rather than just larger lots on the metro area’s outskirts.

While most of its homes in new subdivisions range from 2000 to 5000 square feet, Pepper Viner’s plans for more urban lots include square footage from 2000 to about 2800, Whyde said.

Meanwhile, the company is continuing its mainline business of selling homes in subdivisions.

Whyde said the new track was not intended as a response to a difficult market.

“I don’t think this has changed our business strategy,” Whyde said. “We’re just expanding our opportunities.”

But undeniably, home builders in Tucson are coping with a dramatic shift.

In 2007, residential building permits in the Tucson area dropped to 5098, slightly below the level in 1996, and a decline of 41 percent from 2006, according to December’s Southern Arizona Housing Market Letter from Bright Future Business Consultants.

Local new-home-market consultant Lucinda Smedley said Pepper Viner’s new tactic has been tried by other builders in the past, and it may help the builder cope with the market.

“I think it helps them to diversify their business and protect themselves a little bit more against the downturn,” she said.

Pepper Viner Homes Introduces First Time Quality Program

It’s really a simple equation. “If the crews are winning, the trade is winning. If the trade is winning, Pepper Viner is winning. If the builder is winning, the homebuyer wins.” That’s how Rick Stephenson, Director of Construction, sums up the First Time Quality program.

“It’s working! We have about 30 different trades from every discipline of construction involved in the program,” Stephenson continued. “It’s total teamwork.” Pepper Viner introduced First Time Quality at a seminar for all the trade partners. The independent program is designed to insure a smooth running jobsite where every crew will find their home job-ready and callbacks will be reduced. After the introductory seminar, Pepper Viner then offered to reimburse the costs of any trade who took and passed the entire First Time Quality training.

There’s a domino effect on jobsites. If one crew is late, doesn’t finish their work or does something wrong, the next trade partner can’t get their work completed. “First Time Quality is a system that recognizes the wasted money and time. They also realize that these costs are part of every bid," Stephenson continued. “First Time Quality asks each trade partner to start with self-analysis of what they would change in their process. Then, it asks them to think about what costs they put in their bids because of other trades damaging their work or leaving a mess.”

“The system causes a paradigm shift in the way we all think. Trade partners are empowered to talk to each other, to share problems and solve them together. An alliance system is created,” Stephenson said. Quality First is implemented with a reporting system that creates a checklist that goes from the crews to their foreman to the building superintendent and, finally, is included in weekly reports.

“We are already seeing very positive results. This is an investment in our trade partners and in our work process that is going to pay for itself over and over again,” Stephenson concluded.

Building Green… Building Better!

Our first High Performance – High Design homes are sold and under construction. The cooperation from the key trades who are involved in framing, stuccoing, insulating and the mechanical systems at Civano North Ridge has been outstanding.

As these new homes take shape, we are proudest of the outstanding quality. To meet the new Energy Star standards and win EPAct 2005 certification, you simply have to build a great house.

To be certified, each High Performance – High Design home has to offer heating and cooling savings of at least 50% over a home built to standard code. And, to do that, we have to build a home that is tighter, quieter – better. “We can document the level of value to our homebuyers. The pride of ownership in these homes is going to be tremendous,” said Richard Barna, Construction Manager. “Satisfied homebuyers are the best thing a builder can have and we’re going to have them. They will have the security of knowing, in the face of rising prices, that their energy savings will go on and on.”

Going green has been a learning process from day one when we invited RESNET Energy Rater Eric Shoberg to take a look at our models and see if we could qualify for the new Energy Star rating. With his encouragement and help, we continued down the path to a new goal – EPAct 2005. It’s been an education. We’re using new materials, like the DuPont Tyvek housewrap, new trusses and a new mechanical system.

“As our first homes reach completion, it’s looking like all systems are a go,” Barna continued. “The mechanicals are quiet and steady with no blast furnace effect. Third-party testing shows compliance.” Collaboration is also continuing. “Our architect and structural engineer are involved and monitoring the building process. They’re also working on our next generation High Performance – High Design homes. Southwest Gas has been a big partner. They’re onsite often advising and testing,” Barna explained. There’s even been another visitor – staff from the National Association of Home Builders Research Lab has been on site taking a look at what Pepper Viner is doing as part of the Building America Program.

“Pepper Viner Homes has made a real commitment to building High Performance homes. We want to keep pushing the limits and finding better ways to build a better home. We’re looking at solar photovoltaic systems, a tankless back-up to our solar hot water heater and we’re testing a new Tyvek roof underlayment,” Barna concluded. “We are going to continue to offer our homebuyers more savings, more value and beautiful, livable homes.”

Pepper Viner Home Believes in Giving Back to the Tucson Community

Pepper Viner Homes is a local builder and believes that part of their responsibility is to give back to the Tucson community. In 2007 Pepper Viner has supported many worthy causes including the Ronald McDonald House, Vail School District, Tucson Housing Trust Fund, Jewish Community Center, Steele Memorial Children’s Research Center and Chad’s Open for Autism. Whenever possible, Pepper Viner is hands-on in our charitable activities. For example, many of our employees turned out to build a playground for physically and mentally challenged children on the Tucson Medical Center campus. In September 2007, a number of our employees participated in the Leukemia/Lymphoma Walk in support of the son of an employee.

Some of the other charities supported by Pepper Viner in 2007 are:

Alzheimer’s Association
Arizona Theater Company
Boy Scouts of America, Catalina Council
City of Tucson – Rosa Parks Scholarship Fund
Community Food Bank
Jewish Family and Children’s Services
University of Arizona Department of Radiation Oncology
Tucson Children’s Museum
Tucson Hebrew Academy

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