The Secret to Award-Winning Construction by Newcastle Homes
Over the last several years, John Pope—Newcastle Homes— has received the most awards in his homes’ category (2100 sq. ft. and under) from the Coastal Bend Home Builders Association’s annual Parade of Homes. In fact, this past year, Newcastle Homes won every 2017 Parade of Homes award judged in its category except for one—in a category in which the home was not entered. The annual Parade Awards have earned John Pope, founder of Newcastle Homes, a reputation for building homes that stand out above others when it comes to beauty, quality, and efficiency.
“The Parade of Homes awards have a special meaning to us because they represent a recognition of the quality craftsmanship of Newcastle Homes. This recognition is special because it is awarded to us by our peers—professionals in the industry who appreciate quality construction. We are blessed and humbled to consistently win the approval of the Parade judges,” smiled Pope.
The one award that John Pope is most proud of is the “Best Craftsmanship” award. He describes his perspective this way by using a car analogy: “We place a ‘Ferrari engine under the hood’ because of all the energy efficiency products we utilize. We can prove that with an Energy Rating Index score; however, not many people actively look for that. But excellence in craftsmanship is different. If you can transition between materials correctly, have good materials that ‘wow’ homebuyers, and construct with nice joints, that’s what I think people recognize. So we’ve also put a ‘Ferrari exterior’ on our homes, and that’s what people can actually see. Our homes make a great first impression, whether the viewer is a Parade of Homes judge or a potential homebuyer.”
Newcastle Homes’ success is based on simple principles: knowledge of good building science, especially energy efficiency—and 100% customer satisfaction. The principles are simple, but achieving them is a bit more complicated. A good understanding of building science takes years to accumulate, and it only takes one dissatisfied customer for word to get around and affect a builder’s reputation.
So what got Pope interested in good building science and energy efficient homes? “It just made sense,” Pope stated. Right out of college, he started working for a national builder that specialized in ENERGY STAR® compliant homes. It was during that time that he learned the craft inside and out. When he moved back to Corpus Christi four years later to start his company, no other building standard measured up to what he’d already learned. “I just kept doing what I’d always done in my earlier job,” he commented. And, as new materials and technologies developed, Pope’s knowledge and skills with building science and energy efficiency continued
Newcastle Homes was an early pioneer in Corpus Christi of the use of solar panels. The company has integrated these and other renewable energy systems in its homes to achieve some remarkably impressive Energy Rating Index scores—some unheard of in this area.
Newcastle’s homes have consistently scored in the low 60’s and 50’s, qualifying well above what is required by code. More impressively, Newcastle Homes has also achieved stellar scores in the low 20’s. Scores that are that low involve the use of renewable energy systems like solar panels and a builder who possesses a keen and current knowledge of the science of building a quality, energy efficient home.
Newcastle’s homes are so energy efficient that even lenders see the value. Pope stated, “Mortgage companies recognize that an energy efficient home will save the homeowner money in the long run, so they realize that the home can oftentimes qualify for the extra mortgage money needed.”
A large part of Pope’s work is in educating consumers about the benefits of his type of construction—especially about the inherent long-term savings and what the numbers mean for bottom lines. Some energy-saving systems or equipment may require higher upfront costs; however, long-term energy will not only pay for the equipment in a few years, but the end result is savings on utility bills for the life of the home. “You cannot finance utility costs, but you can finance upgrades that will reduce your utility costs,” explained Pope. “We help people understand that.”
Good building science involves a “whole-house” approach to energy efficiency and savings. It requires knowledge of the various components of a home that impact not just energy efficiency but, more importantly, the home’s comfort. After all, you do not actually feel “energy efficiency,” but you do feel a home’s comfort—every day. Newcastle Homes incorporates a variety of energy efficient elements like foam insulation, low-e windows, high-efficiency lighting, heat pump air conditioning systems, and barrel roof designs. And several of Newcastle’s homes have also been fitted with solar photovoltaic panels that produce renewable energy to save clients even more on energy bills.
Aside from saving energy and being expertly constructed, Newcastle Homes are also recognized for being beautiful. They’re designed with open concepts, jaw-dropping kitchens, and extraordinary bathrooms. “I pay special attention to all sorts of little details—details that add character, and help to personalize a home. For example, our unique showers are often the centerpiece of a home and loved by everyone,” mentioned Pope.
John Pope doesn’t want to stop achieving new things. He has his sights set on building his first Net Zero home in the near future – a home that would generate as much renewable energy as it uses. “I hope to find a buyer who is willing to recognize the value of a Net Zero home and invest in it. But … nobody recognizes the value of such an achievement more than I do, so I may just be the first one to own a Net Zero home,” he stated with a big smile.
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