An inside look at a Boulder spec home and advice from Fanas Architecture.

If you’ve recently strolled down the streets of any given Boulder neighborhood, you’ve likely taken notice of all the rebuilt and redesigned homes on the rise. Perhaps you’ve even considered how you could get in on this trend.

Sure, flipping homes seems like all fun and games if you’re a HGTV show with a bottomless budget, but when it comes to Boulder, there’s truth when it comes to its reputation. That’s where Elizabeth Smith offers some constructive criticism. Literally.

As one of the architects of Fanas Architecture that worked on the Meadow Lawn Park residence, Smith explains that, “Anytime you do a spec home, you’re not talking to the owner in terms of what they want, you’re trying to figure out what the market wants so that they can get the best profit margin when they sell it.

“For this project, we were looking to hit on what we were observing was in high demand in the current market—open-concept main living area, an indoor/outdoor space with a large upper floor deck, large covered backyard patio, firepit and barbeque, and an upscale, contemporary feel with enough space for people to have their own areas, without feeling separated from those they’re living with.”

Other features for the 5-bedroom home include a study, one-car garage, exposed interior ceiling beams, modern kitchen, walk-in pantry, full window wall opening to a great room area, updated basement with access to the backyard, a bedroom, family room and laundry room.

She adds, “The existing house held little appeal, but the property boasted a large site in a desirable and up and coming neighborhood. [The buyer] understood that with the right vision and the right team, the property would be a solid investment and hired Fanas Architecture to help him realize the home’s ultimate potential.”

Of course, clarifying that vision was only the first feat. Between the energy codes and solar compatibility, to name a few, Boulder is brimming with rules and regulations.

To meet Boulder standards, the Meadow Lawn Park residence incorporates solar compatibility and windows for egress to meet current code, and adheres to height, bulk plane and site coverage limitations.

Smith advises potential buyers to be mindful before jumping the gun.

“Regardless of who you are, even if you’re just trying to buy a home in Boulder and re-do it yourself, before you do anything, before you spend money on property, go into the city, sit down with a planner and find out what all the rules are for that property,” she says. “If you don’t know what the rules are and get all excited about a home you think you can build on this lot, you may end up disappointed and out of luck financially if you’ve gone ahead and bought it and you’re not able to do what you wanted to do.”

The best way to do that is give them the address, and they can pull up everything on that lot and tell you exactly what the rules will be.

Smith adds, “They’ll be happy to give that information out because they’re the ones who will be reviewing the property later to make sure it adheres to these rules.”

It’s a win-win.

Here are several questions Smith recommends checking off your list: What would I be allowed to do or not do? Is it in the floodplain? What would my height limit be? What would my step-max be? Are there any easements that run through the property that will prevent me from building on certain parts of the lot?

Ultimately, the market is still strong in Boulder, so if buyers are careful where they select and aware of what they’re getting into, spec houses are sure to have a strong presence going forward.