HGTV Dream Home 2014: Saving Resources on Site

Whenever possible, existing vegetation and landscape elements were protected during the build of the 18th annual HGTV Dream Home.


House building is messy work. Trees are uprooted, heavy trucks and equipment crush plants and buried roots and the process often strips away topsoil and compacts the earth that's left behind.

And then the house itself completely changes the way water moves across the terrain. Rain and snowmelt that would soak harmlessly into the soil instead run off the roof and driveway in rivulets that can easily cause damaging soil erosion.

But at HGTV Dream Home 2014, the team was just as concerned with protecting the beautiful site as with building the beautiful house.

Surgical Approach

The entire work site was surrounded by silt fencing to prevent any materials or other project debris from washing into the surrounding area. And plastic security fencing ensured that materials, trucks and equipment stayed far away from the most sensitive parts of the existing landscape. “This environment has been untouched for 100 years,” says project contractor Mike Efstratis, “and we want it to stay that way — just with a few carefully placed additions — for the next hundred.”

Saving Trees

The site was dotted with 80- to 100-foot-tall ponderosa and Jeffrey pines, and project architect David Bourke worked the placement of the house around the existing trees as much as possible, saving four specimens from the bulldozers. Another four were cut down, but not an ounce of their wood was wasted. The branches were chipped into mulch for use right on site, and their long, straight trunks were sent to a local mill to become prized lumber.

Reusing Boulders

During the excavation work, crews found many large granite boulders, between 3 and 4 feet in diameter. So landscape contractor Lebo Newman worked those into his landscape as accent pieces, using six flat-topped stones for seating around the backyard fireplace, and others for two custom water fountains: Stacked boulders have a small hole drilled down through their centers. Water bubbles up through that passage, then runs over the stones and back to a pond-less, unseen pump underground.

Driftwood Sculpture

Newman also created a piece of sculptural backyard art from driftwood he collected along a local lakeshore. “They’re probably bristlecone pines that fell during a storm years ago,” he says. “So they feel totally natural here.”

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