Building Innovation for Homeownership
Award Winners: New Mexico

PROJECT: Panoan Estates, Los Lunas, New Mexico

SUBMITTER: Johnnie F. McDonald, The House Factory, Belen, New Mexico

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Panoan Estates is a development of entry-level single-family attached and detached homes in Los Lunas, New Mexico, a bedroom community about 25 miles south of Albuquerque. The single-story homes are designed in a typical southwestern architectural style. The structural walls and roof trusses are constructed of light gauge steel panels built by unskilled labor in a controlled factory environment. The factory-setting and low-cost labor reduces fabrication costs without a loss of quality workmanship. Job site labor costs are also reduced since low-skilled workers can rapidly erect the panels. Recyclable steel components are used in place of wood, lessening the drain on natural resources. Starting price of homes in Panoan Estates is $79,9000, below the median house price in Albuquerque. The sale price includes a $500.00 landscape allowance to encourage buyers to maintain and take pride in their front yards.

PROJECT PARTICIPANTS: Johnnie F. McDonald, The House Factory, Belen, New Mexico (steel panelized home manufacturer); New Mexico Sun Homes, Inc. (builder)


PROJECT NAME: Casa de Escudero, Santa Fe, New Mexico

SUBMITTER: Rebecca Wurzburger, Santa Fe Habitat for Humanity, Santa Fe, New Mexico

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Casa de Escudero is a development of five affordable single- family detached adobe homes in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Habitat, developer/builder, created a method to construct low cost adobe homes using unskilled workers and volunteers. Adobe, used for centuries in the southwestern United States and other parts of the world, has become the building material of the wealthy due to the high labor requirements of the framing and stucco methods used today. Habitat purchased a high production hydraulic block press that produces four adobe blocks per minute, or enough blocks for a 1,200 square foot home in nine days. Unskilled laborers, future homeowners, and volunteers learned how to stack the bricks to form the house walls and also gained a marketable skill. The Santa Fe building department permitted Habitat to use traditional mud plaster on the exterior walls in lieu of stucco. Plastering became a community event for all ages. Except for forming the bricks in a machine instead of by hand, the techniques used in Casa de Escudero have roots in the southwest. The bricks and plaster are the product of local dirt.

The walls are cavity walls with insulation between to provide energy efficiency, sound protection, and longevity, with the "deep wall" look that characterizes old southwestern buildings. Although the cost of adobe construction is similar to conventionally built frame/stucco methods, adobe homes are superior in energy performance, sound protection, and longevity. Large overhangs in the Casa de Escudero homes protect walls from hot summer sun and rains but allow passive solar heating in the winter. Radiant heat augments the sun as needed. The homes sell for an average price of $60,000 to Santa Fe families earning 50 percent of local median income ($23,000 for a family of four) who meet selection criteria and provide eleven hours labor for each $1,000 of their mortgage loans to build their home. Habitat is administered by a volunteer board and officers assisted by committee members, a part-time construction manager, and part-time site-supervisor. Community volunteers donate labor and some materials.

PROJECT PARTICIPANTS: Santa Fe Habitat for Humanity (administration/developer/ builder); Rebecca Wurzburger (construction manager)


Content Archived: January 20, 2009