By Keysha Drexel
Mike Wedgworth said he used the same “form follows function” design principle his company is known for to create his latest entry in the Greater Birmingham Home Builder’s Association 2014 Parade of Homes.
Wedgworth Construction Company’s house at 2101 Shades Crest Road in Vestavia Hills will be open to the public during this year’s Parade of Homes April 5-6 and April 12-13.
“We approach the design of new home construction by letting function lead form,” Wedgworth said. “That means we concentrate on making sure the house reflects how people will use the interior space instead of starting with how everything will look on the exterior first. Simply put, our homes are made to live in and give you the best value.”
That inside-out approach means the houses built by Wedgworth’s company don’t have spaces that the homeowners won’t use or that don’t fit their lifestyles, he said.
“We start by asking our clients how they will use each room and then we talk about a budget and then we make it all fit together,” he said.
To get a look at the results of Wedgworth’s function-over-form design approach, Parade-goers can visit the 3,800-square-foot, one and half story home on Shades Crest Road.
The house boasts four bedrooms and three and half bathrooms, sits on a level shaded lot with a wooden fence enclosing the backyard and has a two-car garage. It is listed for $825,000.
Wedgworth said the house has a transitional design that bridges the gap between traditional and contemporary styles.
It features an expansive great room area with 16-foot vaulted ceilings that include stained wood beams with a painted V-joint ceiling.
The great room is open to the kitchen, which has a large center island, copious cabinet and storage space, a subway tile backsplash and stainless steel Bosch appliances.
The entire main level area is tied together with oak flooring, giving the interior a seamless quality.
“That’s the big theme now. People want something with cleaner lines, more neutrals and natural materials,” he said. “In the Birmingham area, we’re not quite ready to embrace a full-on contemporary home design, but this transitional design adds a bit of those crisp, clean lines.”
That contemporary edge is best reflected in the home’s master bathroom, a monochromatic spa-like retreat. White marble is used on the master bathroom’s floors, on the vanity countertops and in the roomy shower with multiple shower heads and enclosed with frameless glass doors.
“You have the traditional marble used in a very sleek way in the master bathroom,” Wedgworth said.
The master bathroom features a double vanity and plenty of cabinets and drawers so the homeowners can tuck away cosmetics, toiletries and styling tools to keep the room’s sleek look intact.
The master bathroom is illuminated by recessed light fixtures in the ceiling, sconces on either side of the large mirrors and windows near the ceiling that allow natural light to supplement the artificial light.
And it’s not just any kind of artificial light brightening the home’s master bathroom.
Like all Wedgworth houses, the Shades Crest Road home is equipped with Energy Star-rated light fixtures, LED bulbs in the recessed fixtures and compact fluorescent bulbs.
Wedgworth, who has been in the home development and building business since 1979, has been building energy-efficient homes since 2008.
“We saw the need for green building back in 2008, and that’s when we retooled our whole operation. That’s what homebuyers are looking for now. They want to save energy and they want to save money,” he said.
All Wedgworth homes are tested and certified by a third party to be at least 15 percent more energy efficient than a home built to standard codes.
“That means that in a 3,500-square-foot home, our tight building practices mean that the house can be heated and cooled for less than $3,000 a year, and that’s a real advantage for homeowners,” Wedgworth said.
Some of the key features of Wedgworth’s green building design include engineered heating, venting and air conditioning systems with sealed ductwork, Low E windows and insulated doors and an extensive attic, floor and wall insulation system.
“The point is that you have comfortable air throughout the entire house,” Wedgworth said. “There are no pockets of cold or hot air, and all of the rooms stay the same temperature.”
That comfortable indoor air is also clean air, thanks to vapor barriers, options for outside air intakes and filters, low VOC paints and formaldehyde-free MDF trim.
Additionally, the homes feature Energy Star-rated appliances, including energy-efficient natural gas for heating, water heating and cooking, 1.6-gallon flush toilets, water-saving faucets and tankless natural gas water heaters.
Wedgworth uses bricks which are made in Bessemer and smart framing systems that minimize lumber waste.
“The real nucleus of our green building approach is that the home is modeled to fit the lot, and we use a live computer model of how the house will function as a building system,” Wedgworth said.
That means Wedgworth homes are designed to fit the land and to function well on each particular lot, he said.
“Each home’s design is based on how it will best work on that particular lot. We don’t do a lot of grading and scraping away of the land to make the house fit the lot,” Wedgworth said.
Another thing that sets Wedgworth homes apart is its “one-stop shopping” services, he said.
“Instead of outsourcing a designer and a plumber and a landscape architect, we offer a design build package and put you in touch with a whole team of people that will be working on the same vision to give people the home of their dreams,” he said.
All of the team members on the design and construction project can communicate with the homeowners and each other using a Cloud-based interactive website.
“It’s about getting everyone in on the same conversation and getting input from the clients throughout the entire process,” he said. “It’s about having all these professionals working together for a more personalized, turnkey experience for the clients.”
Wedgworth said the house offers a rare opportunity to own a new home in “old Vestavia,” minutes from Vestavia Country Club and Vestavia Hills Elementary East.
For more information on the house at 2101 Shades Crest Road or other Wedgworth properties, visit www.wedgworth.net.