Thursday, July 1, 2021

Is an Electric Home Right for Me?

If you are building for buyers who care about energy efficiency and clean indoor air, it might be worth exploring electric homes.

That’s the advice of John Barrows of P3 Builder Group, a custom builder in Wainscott, N.Y., and consultant Karla Butterfield of Norwalk, Conn.-based Steven Winter Associates, who spoke at the virtual International Builders Show in February about building all-electric homes.

“It might be a healthier, simpler, and more economical way to build,” Butterfield suggested.

While all-electric homes are not typical, the numbers are larger than builders might expect, thanks to growing use of renewables and policy shifts in some areas. According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, 25% of U.S. homes in 2015 were all-electric. (Those are the most recent statistics available; the agency is still collecting data for the 2020 survey.)  “Electrification is becoming more and more popular in many municipalities and states,” Barrows said. “We’re seeing more legislation promoting it.”


Here are three reasons why he and Butterfield suggest that builders should consider building electric homes, based on their presentation.

1. All electric homes are healthier.

For buyers who prioritize indoor air quality as part of their desire for a healthy home, electric--not gas--is a logical choice. “Sixty percent of homes that cook with gas one time per week reach pollutant levels exceeding federal standards for nitrogen, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide,” said Butterfield, who noted that gas cooktops require more ventilation than electric cooktops. Eliminating natural gas or propane from a house also reduces the risks of fire and explosion in a home.  

2. Heat pumps, a key component of HVAC in all-electric homes, have improved significantly.

“In the past, heat pumps have been mostly thought of as air conditioners and used in the South as a heat source in the wintertime, and it gave [heat pumps] a bad rap, because they didn’t perform well in cold weather,” said Barrows. “Nowadays the technology has improved so much that we can really see where it can be used in colder climates.”

Options include air-source heat pumps that can provide heating and cooling as well as hot water; ground-source heat pumps (also known as geothermal); and inverters or variable-speed compressors. Some are ducted, some are ductless, and others can be a mix of ducted, ductless with both indoor and outdoor components. Geothermal systems can be expensive, but localities may offer a rebate or other incentives that allow you--or your buyer--to justify the investment.

Whatever you choose for a home, just make sure you size the system correctly. “It’s important not to oversize a heat pump,” Butterfield said. “As you oversize the heat pump, it lowers the fan speed and lowers the efficiency.”

3. High-performance electric homes can be extremely economical to operate. 

While the United States’ electrical grid itself can be inefficient, smart builders can construct extraordinarily efficient electric homes, particularly if they incorporate renewable energy such solar.

That’s what Barrows did in New York, building a 2,200-square-foot all-electric house using passive house techniques, 12 kW of solar panels, and a systems approach. “There were homeowner priorities of being energy conscious, sustainable, targeting net zero, and most importantly, they wanted something for the long term that seamlessly integrated with the rest of the building,” explained Barrows, who achieved a HERS rating of -22 for the house and annual energy bills of $240

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

2020 Tahoe Quarterly Mountain Home Best Lakefront Award

We are thrilled to announce that we have won the Tahoe Quarterly's prestigious Best Lakefront Home Award for 2020.  This home is nestled on the north shore of Lake Tahoe and was designed for a full-time family of four and their two dogs.  The lot is on a steep slope and presented numerous challenges, but the result is a stunning mountain home with contemporary flare.  For the full article and to see more of our work, please visit or check out all the winners at

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

No More Shoveling!

With snow in the forecast, many are groaning at the thought of shoveling their walkways, patios and driveways.  Under paver snowmelt systems have come a long way and could be the ideal solution to your shoveling woes. 

There are two primary system types: electric and hydronic.  Electric systems cost less to install and maintain, but cost more to run since current is drawn continuously when the system is on.  Hydronic systems circulate a mix of glycol and water to melt the snow, which costs more to install and requires a plumber, but is less expensive to operate.  (Although if you are doing a project, you will have a plumber there anyway).  Hydronic can cost about $600 per month in gas during the height of snow season with an efficient moisture/temperature sensor.

Another alternative is to have the snowmelt installed only in select strips on your driveway to prevent ice where build-up typically occurs.  You can also have a remote activation so that the system is only turned on during extreme conditions or when snow removal is unavailable.

Whether you choose electric or hydronic, both systems provide many long-term benefits.  With a snowmelt system, fears of slipping on icy walkways is eliminated, as is the need for salt and other topical snowmelts which are bad for the environment and your garden.  These systems also prolong the life and beauty of your paver system.  The one negative is that using these systems within the Tahoe basin prevents homeowners from utilizing the potential 25% coverage reduction offered by the TRPA when using qualified permeable pavers.

 If you are interested in learning more about these systems, please give us a call and we’d be happy to assist you.

Happy Holidays!

Elise Fett & Associates

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Example of the Success of Teamwork!

What happens when the owners, builder, and architect/interior designer work together from the onset of a project?  A dynamite project that received the "best lakefront" award from Tahoe Quarterly magazine!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Elise Fett Design in Mill Creek Sold for $725/sf!

Local contractor Brent Robinson of High Vista Construction and Development teamed up with Elise Fett and the result was a beautiful 4,210 sf home that just sold for $3,050,000!  The home is located in the Mill Creek subdivision of Incline Village.  Designed for Brent and his wife to be their primary residence, this custom home features a 3-car garage, 4 bedrooms.  The open floor plan maximizes the site’s light and views and is great for entertaining.

(This price is not typical for the area, similar residences in the same neighborhood are currently going for $450-600/sf.)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

2013 Residential Remodel Project of the Year

Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe (CATT) awarded Elise Fett & Associates with a 2013 Residential Remodel Project of the Year for the lakefront residence located at 514 Gonowabie Road in Crystal Bay. The CATT awards are designed to recognize superior performance by local professionals.

Keep your eye out for an article in Sierra Sun!

Gonowabie remodel description:

This home was originally built in 1974, so in addition to adding a more functional layout, one of the primary goals was to bring the appliances, lighting, heating systems, insulation etc. up to date. The owner wanted to increase the curb and lakeside appeal, as well as views and create larger and more functional entry and living spaces.  Additional bedrooms and bathrooms were desired, as well as a detached garage with a work/study space below and a space for a generator that would isolate the noise as much as possible.  With careful planning and creative design, all objectives were met despite limited coverage available on site and height limitations. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

TRPA Consulting

When people who have built outside of Lake Tahoe come here for the first time looking to build new or renovate existing, they are often times overwhelmed by TRPA requirements.  The code of ordinances is over six hundred pages and even the most experienced professionals can find themselves lost in the process.

Having over 20 years of experience in the Lake Tahoe area alone could qualify us to claim "TRPA Experts", but it is our proven track record and commitment to staying current with their latest policies that validates the claim.  

As you may have heard, "Land Coverage Exemptions for Residential Improvements Special incentives are now available to homeowners through the updated Code of Ordinances that may exempt certain structures from land coverage".  This is a change that went into effect earlier this summer  and was surrounded by a lot of confusion and questions as to exactly how to take advantage of the new code.  

Since then, Elise Fett & Associates, Ltd.-Architecture & Engineering have successfully submitted multiple projects that take advantage of the new code and would be happy to offer our services to anyone who would like to do the same.

What our clients already know is that when you hire us to be your architecture firm, you automatically get our TRPA expertise because we offer full project services under one roof.  What people may not know, however, is that if you already have an architect or are building a home yourself and just need help with the paperwork, we offer stand-alone TRPA consulting services as well.  

So don't go it alone, contact us today for a quote and let us provide a clear path through the murky permitting process.

Not ready for a quote?  Look us up on Facebook, follow us on Houzz or check out our website which is being updated daily with testimonials, project photos and more.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sardella Residence Nominated for a Tahoe Quarterly Award

The Sardella remodel shown below is being considered for a Tahoe Quarterly Remodel Award!  Sends us good vibes, judging is scheduled for October 2013.  A detailed description of the project can be found on our website

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Carnelian Bay Home Awards

Our office has been awarded by two different entities for the remodel of the Rempfer residence in Carnelian Bay, Lake Tahoe, CA.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tahoe Quarterly TV Green Building Segment

A review of green and sustainable materials in the field as well as passive and solar techniques. Filmed in the Donner Lake area.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Northern Nevada Business Weekly Interview

The following text is taken from the interview in the link above, courtesy of Northern Nevada Business Weekly

In her own words: Incline Village architect Elise Fett

NNBW staff, 5/31/2010

Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about your company— its specialties, its history, the size of its staff.

Elise Fett: We provide architectural, engineering and TRPA (Tahoe Regional Planning Agency) consultation and design for residential, multi-family and small commercial projects. Because of our ability to carry the project through all phases, (including our understanding of existing and proposed structures plus our award-winning reputation with TRPA), we thrive on the complexity of projects around Lake Tahoe. I’m personally very fond of the small house remodel projects where inches matter and creative design is critical while maintaining “Old Tahoe Charm.”

NNBW: What role do you play in the company?

Fett: Architect, engineer, TRPA consultant, president, manager and marriage counselor to couples designing, building and remolding their homes.

NNBW: How did you get into this profession?

Fett: I had a passion for architectural design and a natural strength for math as I was growing up. My father suggested that I acquire education and experience in a combination of both disciplines so that I could design projects efficiently.

NNBW: What is something no one knows about your job?

Fett: It is most important for me that the clients enjoy the process and have a project they love in the end. The work necessary to acquire TRPA permits is unpredictable and more difficult than acquiring building permits.

NNBW: If you could have had any other profession what would it have been? Why wasn’t it your first choice?

Fett: This was my first choice and I’m so pleased that I was passionate and persistent enough to not only achieve the goal of architectural engineer but to have great clients in beautiful and challenging environments. I would love to be a professional dancer on the side. Who knows, maybe I will get on “Dancing with the Stars.” NNBW: What do you like to do when you’re not working? Fett: Play at the beaches or in the snow here in Lake Tahoe with my son plus bike, snorkel, ski, kayak, row, fly and enjoy the company of my friends and family while I do those activities. Having a celebration and being surrounded by good people is the best.

NNBW: Have any advice for someone who wants to enter your profession?

Fett: Persistence, positive attitude, people skills, gratitude and paying attention to details like any profession. Initially, during education and internships, take the jobs that give the best experience for what you want to specialize in over the highest pay.

NNBW: If you could have one super-power, what would it be and why would you want it?

Fett: I would love to have super intuition and insight so I could better care for my clients, friends and family.

NNBW: What person, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with, and why?

Fett: My father. He was a wealth of knowledge, brilliant, insightful and wonderful company. There is not enough room or time to fully explain. I have learned to accept that there is never enough time.

NNBW: What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Fett: There isn’t a best. All of it is good, but for me the most basic and crucial to a good life are: If you don’t have your health you don’t have anything. Walk in another man’s shoes. Don’t judge people by their appearance.

NNBW:What do you like most about your job? What do you like least?

Fett: Best: Creating comfortable spaces and structures that please people. Least: Inconsistency in how codes are interpreted. It is an inefficient use of time and energy.

NNBW: What five words would most people use to describe you?

Fett: Personable, diligent, artistically resourceful, empathetic and multi-faceted.

The basics:

Name: Elise Fett, president of Elise Fett & Associates, Ltd., Incline Village.

How long have you been in this job? 17 years

How long in the profession? 30 years if you count the years working during college

Education: Bachelor of Architecture, Master of Civil Engineering

Best book you’ve read? “The Not So Big House, A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live” by Sarah Susanka with Kira Obolensky

What’s on your iPod? Some of this, some of that, all genres from classical to rock, jazz to county, Latin to Reggae

The movie ever? “4 Weddings and a Funeral”

Spouse, kids or pets? Husband, Robert Lober; son, Halen Fett Hanson; my plants

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Elise Fett & Associates, Ltd is one of the winners in the 7th annual Mountain Home Awards presented by Tahoe Quarterly in the Mountin Home 2010 issue.

The Gordon residence in Elks Point, NV was the recipient of this award on pages 106 thru 109 of the Mountain Home 2010 edition.

See the 12/10/09 TRPA award post and the Elks Point post below for pictures.

Article courtesy of Tahoe Quarterly

Thursday, February 25, 2010