Progressive Builders Making Money in Taos, with Green Projects

I could not have been more surprised when I met Tom Lopez, owner of Vista Primavera Homes

Energy Efficient Homes with Taos Mountain in the background, a beautiful combination

in Taos, New Mexico. He had asked me to meet him and see some houses that he had built, with hopes that our appraisal firm could give value to the enhancements of his properties. My wife was kind enough to drive, and as we headed for Taos, I thought about how beautiful the mountains of New Mexico are.

In Taos, I expected to find a typical "custom" style home with traditional materials. Upon arriving, I saw state of the art homes, with the best quality solar water heating, and enough PV panels to actually pay the electric bill for these homes. Plus, the view of Taos Mountain,presented a beautiful setting, with design features giving excellent design consistent with the Taos culture.

What is the "Taos culture"? It is a connection with history, appreciation of natural resources, and unique styling, using traditional finishes, combines with a certain "feeling" of connection with the rich heritage of these mountains.

Tom Lopez owns Santa Barbara Builders, Inc. and has spent a lifetime building a reputation for quality and integrity. He is successful and does not have to cut corners. Plus he has a skilled team behind him.

"My daughter is the energy GURU and she goes over each plan, even moves walls and changes design, to see that these homes are the most energy efficient for the buyers."

Tom has built and worked throughout New Mexico since 1972, but in recent years has done much in Taos. Tom has another "Team" member in Rudy Abeyta, the Broker of Abeyta Realty. Rudy is a well connected, honest and aggressive broker, who appreciates "Green" building. Indeed, as a member of the Taos City Council, he has been a part of Tao's-city efforts to encourage use of more renewable energy. "I know the buildings that Tom Lopez is creating are of superior quality. Plus the green features save the homeowners thousands of

dollars a year." said Rudy Abeyta. In most parts of the nation, you find "Green advocates" who go to meetings, and talk. 

In Taos, Tom Lopez and Rudy Abeyta don't just talk, they "do".

"We are building the new Taos, because it is the right thing to do and because it is the future. In the future, it is the "green" and "sustainable" buildings that will be of appeal. said Tom Lopez.

Tom and I did some calculations. As President of Appraisers and Valuations, I was able to help Tom calculate the appraisal impact on the "Green Features" for his houses: One luxury home, had approximately 2700 s.f. of living area.

The house would normally have an energy bill of $700 per month, or $7,800 per year. But with the high "R-Factor" walls of structural insulated panels, put in by Santa Barbara Builders and the extra energy created with the solar panels and solar water heating, the energy bill on one home was $500 per YEAR. The homeowner was saving on average $7,000 per year in utility bills. (This figure will go up as energy prices go up over the years).

In appraisal practice, the rule is: V=I/R (Value = Income/Rate). By capitalizing the expense saved, we essentially are capitalizing income. $7,000 / .08 = $87,500. In other words, the use of the energy savings features of this real estate property increases the capitalized value by $87,500. Recalculate it at $6,000 per year savings and the value still increases by $75,000. The "Green enhancements" make the house more appealing, it gives this homeowner an energy source even if the grid fails.

This is particularly poignant because in early 2011 all of Northern New Mexico had a natural gas crisis with no natural gas for several days. While many homeowners were out of gas for washing, cooking, and heating, Tom Lopez's homes were powered by the sun, and as long as the sun shines a few hours a day, they are making electricity and "running the meter backward" . Santa Barbara Builder's motto is: "We Build High Performance Homes" and they are right on target.

But these homes are also well insulated, quiet, beautiful, and built with luxury finishes, with striking "open" view treatments, as well as "Water Recapture" systems, with underground tanks to store rain water, to water the yard, or use as "grey water" back up system. The homes also have double insulated "xenon gas" insulated windows, that provide views of the New Mexico mountains. "I love to broker these products, because they are superior, and on target with what educated home buyers seek." said Rudy Abeyta. Rudy Abeyta, has become the "Green Broker" of Taos. He loves and brings expertise and experience in bringing the latest in renewable energized home to consumers. I found it interesting. Rudy Abeyta is 52, I am 62, and Tom Lopez is 72. At least 2 of us could qualify for the "Grumpy Old Men" movie cast. Certainly we are not young "yuppies" or "nerds". 

Yet, with our "average" age of 62, we are the ones bringing the "future" of sustainable 2 575-587-1975 building to Taos, New Mexico. Rudy Abeyata is the "Green Broker". Tom Lopez the "Green Builder" Ben Boothe, the "Appraiser who reflects values in green enhancements"   All of those idealistic "kids" who spend time going to "green meetings" should pick up a hammer and start building something, if they wish to catch up with us! When they ask, we will share our experience freely, because we believe in the concept.  

Perhaps there is wisdom in age. Tom Lopez appreciates the heritage of New Mexicans and their historic appreciation for water conservation and energy mindedness. Saving money and building a superior product, using wind, solar, or natural ideas such as harvesting your rain water have been done in New Mexico for 100 years. If you want to see the most modern, beautiful, and energy efficient homes in New Mexico, call Tom Lopes of Santa Barbara Homes (, or contact Rudy Abeyta at Abeyta Realty. They are the future.