While Taos homeowners typically crave sweeping views, outdoor living areas and walls for artwork, in Taos Ski Valley it’s all about getting on and off the slopes easily, kicking back after shredding a million moguls, and being able sleep a LOT of people in a relatively compact home.
This is certainly true of the TSV homes Magee Design Works has built over the last three years. All are situated on Upper Twining Road where they enjoy the advantage of being just across the creek from the return trail. Cross over a bridge, buckle up, and in five minutes you’re in the lift line. At the end of the day, return to the bridge and in moments you’re in the hot tub – a skier’s dream!
“10K” (the nickname for Jed Magee’s most recent TSV project) has all that and more – beginning with a bombproof slopeside entry with a rubber floor and cubbies, racks and boot warmers to organize, thaw out, and dry a forest of gear before morning.
Bedrooms and baths are arrayed on two levels, providing more space than is common in many ski homes, where accommodations are often just big enough to shower, sleep, and stash a weekend’s worth of layers. There’s a TV room on the guest level, and an ingenious bunkroom for the kids. Sofa beds pull out in the event of overflow.
The heart of the house is a striking Great Room with an open kitchen where many cooks and onlookers can work and hang out. The nearby dining table seats twelve, and there’s cushy seating around the fireplace. Outside on the deck, a hot tub is dramatically sequestered on a runway that projects out into the trees.
The challenge for any Ski Valley builder is to somehow shoehorn a complex building onto a ridiculously small, steep and boulder-laden building site – and to get it done in a building season that can be as short as six months between snowstorms.
For Jed, the solution at 10K was to collaborate with Collective Carpentry of Invermere, British Columbia, a company specializing in high performance structures pre-fabricated offsite before being trucked to the destination and erected on prepared foundations.
10K features 16” thick double-framed walls and 18” thick roof panels, both densely packed with non-toxic cellulose and rock wool insulation. The sections are tightly joined with integral gaskets, and the vaporproof siding is taped to eliminate cold air infiltration. Four 18-wheelers delivered the entire package, which was hoisted into place panel-by-panel – from bare foundations to a complete structure in a matter of days!
If that sounds easy, it’s not. The concrete foundation walls have to be incredibly precise to accept the prefabricated walls – there’s just no wiggle room. It’s a high performance building system that has to be matched with high performance construction skills at every step.
Jed’s current project, also across from the return trail, is his second Collective Carpentry collaboration. While the slope is not as steep as 10K, one section of the house had to be entirely cantilevered on steel beams over a stream that could not be disturbed. This delayed construction, forcing Jed and the foundation crew to work furiously ahead of the arrival of the building. The 80-panel structure was up in under a week, and the last roof panel was fastened as the first snowflakes fell!
“Giggling with relief,” was how Jed put it. Now he can finish the house through the winter at a normal pace. Just another season for a TSV builder!
Vishu Magee has designed homes in Taos for nearly fifty years and may be reached at VishuMagee.com