Stellar Homes Group
Environmentally sustainable products come standard in all Stellar Homes Group’s homes as it works to change the south Florida market. By Janice Hoppe
Stellar Homes Group is revolutionizing real estate development in south Florida as it reshapes the residential landscape with environmentally friendly projects. “I thoroughly believe we are ahead of the curve in terms of renewable energy,” Vice President Tony Valle says. “We know it is coming and feel by 2018 sustainability will be in everyone’s business plans. The ability to create your own resources in your home is a thing of the future.”
The Fort Lauderdale-based company is building sustainable homes in Florida’s Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties that will allow people to handle their own energy consumption needs. Valle says he believes homeowners will one day not have the need to depend on the utilities for power or water. “Green products make economical sense by saving money on utilities and social sense because you are being environmentally friendly and making the world a better place,” Valle explains. “It’s now feasible for the consumer and the right social thing to do.”
Green building has been around for years and the cost used to be a deterrent for many homeowners. Five years ago, for example, it would take 36 years for a homeowner to break even after installing solar panels to power their home. Today, it is less than 10 years. “As each year progresses the technology gets better and we can pass that along to the consumer,” Valle says. “The investment is a lot better. There is a cost associated with this, but the value you get is much greater than anyone else in town.”
A Sustainable Standard
Green products come standard in Stellar Homes Group developments. The company says its standard green features are “off the charts” because it incorporates materials no one else in the industry considers unless it is an upgrade.
Stellar Homes Group designs its homes with passive solar day lighting in mind, which means the home is oriented to the sun to capture natural light. Each home is also equipped with a hybrid water heater that is located in the garage. “All of our heaters are in the garage because it’s the hottest spot,” Valle explains. “The water heater pulls in the hot air and forces it down a copper tube that is wrapped inside the water heater to heat the water. It’s 70 percent more efficient and that comes standard in all our homes.”
The company uses core foam insulation along with a foil backed insulation on the exterior block walls. This open cell foam expands and blocks voids in the concrete, resulting in an approximate cost savings of $90 to $112 per month, depending on ones monthly consumption. Stellar Homes Group also includes down spouts on every home pre-plumbed for a rainwater collection system that’s offered as an additional upgrade.
All homes in every Stellar community has an electric car charging station located in the garage. The charging station is a tier II charger that can charge just about every electric car on the market. Each home also comes with an organic vegetable garden stocked with plants to promote a healthy diet.
“Those are just a few things we offer as a standard and no one else is looking at these options to pass along the savings to the consumer,” Valle says. “We are changing real estate development in regards to the sites. Some things we will do in the future are use green elements in clubhouses and streetlights, as well as include solar power and irrigation pumps to help the community and save on HOA fees. The equipment lasts for 30 years.”
Stellar Homes Group knows the south Florida market well, says Managing Partner Larry Baum. There are six million people living in south Florida and the demand for home ownership has increased because it is 20 percent cheaper than renting. Clients want homes near good schools, in urban areas, where there are facilities in walking distance and “just in places people desire to live.” “We have been in the business for a long time already and our neighborhoods are the most desirable and where people want to live,” he adds.
Stellar Homes Group is meeting the increased demand for home ownership while focusing on saving the environment for the future. The company often has to educate its clients on green building because they don’t understand the savings comes later.
“We will help with your pocketbook,” Valle says. “We are going to be conserving energy and saving money there. It’s more of an education process and sharing that this is what we can do socially to advance and be more cognizant of our surroundings.”
Education starts with the sales and marketing departments that have developed a brochure explaining green building in layman’s terms, which Valle says people appreciate. “We have gotten so much attention and a lot of people are taking to it,” he adds. “They see something new and different, and not the same old business model.”
Life on the Water
Velero at Sailboat Bend features four exclusive townhomes on the shore of the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale’s historic Sailboat Bend neighborhood. “The location is ideal,” Valle says. “It’s on the water with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean. The units will come with deeded docks to accommodate rather large-sized boats.”
The townhomes are minutes away from Los Olas Boulevard where there are restaurants and shops, as well as Fort Lauderdale beach. Light rail is coming to downtown Fort Lauderdale and will be minutes from Velero. “It’s urban, infill living with a private dock,” Baum says.
The four-bedroom, 2,290-square-foot, townhomes feature 10-foot ceilings, two-car garages equipped with an electric car-charging station and a metal roof, and are designed for solar passive day lighting. Velero townhomes are Key West-style, which is the new design trend in south Florida.
Each unit is under $850,000, which is a steal in the area as most townhomes are priced at more than $1.2 million. “Our price point is right in line with standard features,” Baum notes. “People ask how we are doing this? We are doing it because we are not greedy and we are passing along savings to our buyers.”
Located right on the river, Stellar Homes Group used a “tremendous” amount of steel and footers to serve as support at Velero to ensure the townhome floors do not crack over time. “We sectioned off six to eight mini monolithic slabs and put 72 pilings 36 feet into the bedrock to support the structure in that area,” Valle says. “Whoever moves in there will never have to worry about cracking or a hurricane.”
Stellar Homes Group is developing the Cavalia Estates, which means “horse” in Italian and features 10 single-family homes. “It’s located in Davie, Fla., and even though it’s south Florida you can still drive around and see horses,” Valle notes. “It’s a horse-friendly and family oriented area.”
The homes in Cavalia will come standard with five-kilowatt solar powered systems, which for a 4,000-square-foot, six-bedroom, five-bathroom home translates into about $100 a month in electric savings. Combining the solar powered system with its standard hybrid water heater and the core foam/foil backed insulation features, Stellar Homes Group drops the utility bill from an estimated $350 to $400 a month to about $50 to $70 a month, Baum says.
“We include serious finishes that most companies in town you have to pay extra for,” he adds. “Our pricing is very competitive with everyone in town. Once we release these homes, they will be sold out in a week or less.”
The company also has homes under construction in the luxurious Boca Villas community located within walking distance of Minzer Park in Boca Raton. Each home has a resort-style backyard with large pools, spas and fire pits. The homes range in price from $1.6 to $2.8 million and have been selling within two weeks of being offered to the public, Valle notes.
The homes feature the three key energy savings elements that Stellar homes gives as a standard in all its communities. “Solar, upgraded insulation and the hybrid water heating should give the homebuyers piece of mind knowing their monthly electric bills will be reduced by 75 percent or more,” Valle says.
Wave of the Future
Moving forward, Stellar Homes Group plans to continue focusing on residential development in the south Florida market. Although most of its work is single-family homes and townhouses, the company diversifies itself by also specializing in multifamily homes and condos development. “The demand for new homes is through the roof,” Valle adds.
The company is building a 286-unit multifamily complex in Dania, Beach, Fla., which it expects will be completed next year. Stellar Homes Group is also partnering with architect Rene Gonzalez on an upcoming project in Wilton Manors, Fla.
Stellar Homes Group prides itself on being able to lead the way for environmentally sustainable communities in Florida. “Other states like California, Washington and Colorado are more advanced than Florida in building environmentally sustainable buildings and practices,” Baum says. “This needs to change. We feel that if we all do our part we can change the world for the better to pass on to future generations. Let’s build beautiful buildings that are welcome to the market in an environmentally sustainable way.”