Not only do Danielle and Jesse Younger, owners of Younger Homes, talk the talk, they walk the walk when it comes to designing and building sustainable, green homes. “We believe that the home is where families spend the most time, energy, and resources, and it is in this place where we can all make a difference,” Danielle states. That belief shows in the design of their own gorgeous green home that we’ll be touring today. Along with interior designer, Haley Manning, they crafted an intentional home that they are proud to stand behind—and they work with so many others to do the same. Paired with imagery by Madeline Harper, we’re getting an inside look of the sustainable build process and how Danielle and Jesse dreamt up their own home, in our interview below.
What are your top priorities when building beautiful homes?
Building quality homes to withstand the test of time, that are as energy efficient and healthy as possible, while reflecting and preserving the beauty of the surrounding environment.
How would you describe the style of your home? How did you craft a “sustainable” home?
Our Hill Country Modern Younger Home was built with sustainability and integrated design in mind to compliment the everyday lifestyle of our Texas Hill Country family. The starting point for integrated design, was site placement – working with aspects such as solar orientation, tree locations, wind/breeze directions, slope, view, accessibility, and outdoor living spaces.
Like many homes in the Texas Hill Country, the home site has a great view, paired with a severely sloped topography. Determining the homes position, while designing for the most efficient use of building and foundation materials, was challenging, but cost effective and was one of the first places integrated design paid off in the home design process. When designing for energy efficiency, a southerly facing home is most ideal. This home was placed on the land to capture not only perfectly framed lake views, but also for solar orientation and collecting prevailing breezes, especially coming up from the water in the valley. Due to this and integrating a daylight basement and crawl space, large overhangs, efficient orientation, and other sustainable features, this 4,243-square foot home can operate on one HVAC unit, and achieve Energy Star Certification.
Other subtle sustainable features include a roof that is simple but elegant and provides an excellent foundation for green features such as rainwater collection and solar panels. For comfort in everyday living, the design allows for optimal traffic flow and pleasing visual flow, while keeping private spaces private, public areas open with good sight lines, and careful consideration of views of the lake and surrounding mature hardwood trees.
We spy what look like concrete countertops, are you loving yours? What are the pros/cons?
While they look like concrete, the countertops in the kitchen and utility room are actually quartz, made to mimic concrete. This is one of the many pro’s to using quartz, the color palate is almost limitless (e.g. there are probably 10+ selections that mimicked concrete). We chose the concrete look because we wanted to tie in the natural concrete flooring from the lower level of the home, as well as design with natural materials. Quartz is an amazingly durable product and extremely low maintenance. Perfect for families with children, or anyone that doesn’t want to worry about stains, burning, chipping, cleaning, etc.! In our mind there are no cons to designing and installing quartz.
What is your favorite feature in the house and why?
Not a day goes by that the perfectly framed views of the Hill Country don’t take our breath away. We moved to the Hill Country to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, and we are reminded of that peace every day by the pristine views our home captures!
What is your biggest piece of advice for others currently building, renovating or designing their home?
As most know, a home is one of the biggest investments most will make in a lifetime. It is important to choose a builder who you have the upmost confidence in the delivery of a quality product. Building a home isn’t like building out a new car, where all salesmen are selling the same product. There is huge variability in home builders, and the biggest advice we can give is, make a thoroughly informed decision when choosing a builder. We love it when new clients come to us with a list of questions, because we know they are doing their due diligence while we get to earn their respect and trust.
Most challenging aspect of the build and/or design process?
Because we’re doing something so different than other builders, from our view at Younger Homes, it’s probably educating potential clients about quality construction, integrated design and building intentionally; versus what many aim to do, which is build a “custom” home for the least expensive price. The first thing we like to do with potential clients is spend about an hour with them in our Model Home, educating them on what it means to own a sustainable, energy efficient, healthy and truly custom home. What we typically see after this meeting, are clients that can tangibly see our attention to even the smallest of details, and this allows them to make the most informed decision when they choose a builder. Construction is the easy part!
What makes Younger Homes stand out among other home builders?
That is hard to put into words, but at a high level (without nerding out about actual construction techniques), we’re just doing something so different! I’m not sure if it’s the sheer amount of knowledge that backs all our builds, our heart for selfless service, or our mission to support a more intentional way of living, but whatever it is, our clients see it, feel it, and appreciate it!
Can you tell us a bit more about what the process looks like to build a sustainable, green home?
The skill set behind the Younger Homes and Haley Manning Design Team are the perfect combination of deep technical expertise in green home building, environmental stewardship and public health, customer service and breathtaking custom design. Combining this with hearts focused on intentionally building homes that are sustainable have allowed us to build energy star certified, beautiful, truly custom homes, for happy customers.
Thinking of building a new home? Before you do anything, we encourage our clients to work with a financial adviser + mortgage company to determine their all-in budget. We say all-in, because there are two phases of building a truly custom home: (1) design of the home and (2) construction of the home. Knowing your all-in build budget helps us determine many important variables in design so we can be good stewards of our client’s budget, and helps our clients prioritize features that are really important to them!
Next, we love to work with local realtors to help our clients find the best land for the type of home they want to build. We may just be builders at the surface, but back to our core value of sustainability, we want to help our clients find the best land for building their dream home. Many factors go into the term “best”, but a few things we help our clients work through are: land topography (e.g. sloping land), capturing optimal views, livability based on lifestyle, orientation of the home site as related to energy efficiency, and availability of utilities in rural areas. Having a builder involved in this process limits the number of surprises when it comes to construction.
After land is purchased, we dig deeper into our clients needs, wants and wishes for their home, and accompany them during the design phase. This is where we involve the experts, while shepherding our clients and fielding questions about budget and build-ability. When we say experts we mean, accredited architects, Haley Manning Design, structural engineers, a geotechnical specialist, a septic designer and energy star specialists. Involving this team from the beginning is the core of integrated design allows us to treat the home as a complete system so we can build the best quality house for the best budget. We tell our clients it’s a little more time and expense up front, but the reward is a home built with little to no surprises along the way, and as energy efficient as possible which equals savings in time and money throughout the lifecycle of the project!
Finally, with a full set of architectural and engineered stamped plans, accompanied with designer mood boards, we can start building their home! We try to make the build process as informed as possible for each client. The more transparent we are with the build schedule and key milestones along the way, leads to more involved clients, and that is what makes the best team!
Bespoke design and construction that focuses on creating an intentionally built home both for sustainability and lifestyle is what sets a Younger Home apart. All Younger Homes are truly custom in construction and design, which means we utilize trade secret building techniques with emphasis on improving air, water and light quality, while preserving the natural environment, as well as focusing on building to Green Building Codes. While in design we work with our clients to present the best choices from a holistic view, with a limitless supply of windows, lighting + plumbing fixtures, paints, flooring, countertops and backsplash, appliances, etc.! This makes the house truly unique and fit for a specific lifestyle and budget but is also why it is so important to be surrounded by a team of professionals to help guide our clients in each decision along the way.
Learn more about Younger Homes and their build process here!