EMPLOYEE-OWNED RED HOUSE BUILDING OFFERS HIGH END & HIGH EFFICIENCY HOMES04/13/2023 11:21AM ● By Rebecca Liebson
Whether it’s a quaint ski cottage near Stowe, a net-zero energy getaway above Warren Village, or a 12,000 square-foot mansion on Lake Champlain, Red House Building has been delivering comfortable and sustainable homes that suit the Vermont lifestyle for roughly three decades.
“We work a pretty broad range in terms of scale of project, budget, and architectural styles,” said Chris Quinn, a general manager for the company.
Over the years, Red House Building has won
praise not only for its craftsmanship, but for
its unique way of doing business. In 2003 the company restructured and it is now entirely employee-owned.
“We created a model where employees that work for us for three years or longer can buy in and have an ownership stake in the company,” said Dunbar Oehmig, the company’s founder and general manager. “This business model is hard to come by in the building industry.”
Red House Building currently has 57 people on staff and, according to its website, more than half hold ownership shares in the company. Red House Building has done a handful of restoration projects and worked on some boutique commercial properties here and there, but the company’s main focus is building custom, new-construction homes that emphasize energy efficiency.
“I often say that we build high-end by Vermont standards,” Chris said, noting that that tends to look very different from what a high-end customer in New York or Miami might request.
The team at Red House Building does not design the homes they build. Instead, they partner with outside architects to help bring the client’s vision to life. Red House Building recently worked with architect Elizabeth Herrmann to build the “Offset House,” a one-story, 2,500 square- foot home in Charlotte overlooking the Champlain Basin.
The 3-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom home sits atop a hillside facing the Green Mountains. The design combines agrarian tradition with modern sensibility. The sloped roof and broad overhang are reminiscent of a New England barn.
Inside you’ll find white oak flooring and cabinets, marble countertops and ceramic tiles in the bathroom. The home’s exterior includes charred Japanese cypress siding and cedar soffits.
“We wanted to use low and no-maintenance
materials but keep the palette natural,”
said Alex Terry from Elizabeth Herrmann Architecture + Design. “The siding and simple forms are what give the house its unique character—both understated and dramatic at the same time. The cabinetry, tiles and light fixtures bring handmade touches and warmth to the spaces.”
The client approached Red House Building in the very early stages of the project. They were living in Warren and wanted to build a home closer to where they work in Colchester. They also requested to keep the entire home on one floor so that they would be able to age in place. Above all else, they wanted a home with a connection to the landscape.
Danby marble and white oak used throughout the kitchen and baths provide the perfect touch of warmth and luxury. Custom cabinets: Stark Mountain Woodworking Countertops: Burlington Marble and Granite.
An office nook in the entry is tucked behind a custom barn-style sliding door; perfect for everyday living and easy to conceal when entertaining.
Red House Building accompanied the client through the entire process from buying the land, to selecting the architect. Much of the company’s work on the project involved finding solutions to logistical challenges.
“One of the client’s goals was to get southerly views and it took some creativity to get there,” explained Chris. The client’s request to keep the house one story added to the challenge.
Ultimately, Dunbar said they had to build the house at a particular elevation on the hillside and clear some of the land in order to get the views the client wanted. The home took about 10 months to build from start to finish. Chris said that supply chain shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic affected their construction timelines in some cases.
Above: The design of this home capture the sweeping views of the Champlain Valley and surroundings throughout. Several vignettes provide the ideal space to enjoy breakfast or relax after a long day.
“After the first year of the pandemic we kind of learned and recalibrated the development of a lot of our projects with the designers and the architects,” he said. This meant identifying which products tended to have the longest wait times and prioritizing selecting those aspects of the home during the design process.
The home is as functional as it is beautiful. There is a 20 kilowatt solar panel system on the roof, heat-pump powered heating and air conditioning and a Tesla powerwall as the backup electrical source in case of a power outage.
“We’re always looking to make recommendations that make the project more cost efficient or more high performing without impacting the aesthetics,” Dunbar said.
PHOTOS BY LINDSAY SELIN
Red House Building
382 Hercules Dr., Ste. 5 & 6
Colchester, VT 05446