I started my own construction company in a small town in Northeast Ohio in 1979. Then, in 1993, Larraine and I moved to Colorado. Home building back then was so different than it is today, especially in the areas of design, energy, and size. Homes then were smaller and simpler. However, before leaving Ohio, I did have the opportunity to build some large, traditional, stylish, homes just outside Akron. In some ways, that’s where I really cut my teeth on building to a different level of quality.
I recently had the opportunity to take my mom to see one of the homes I built back then. It was a large Tudor style home on a beautiful lot. Even 40 years later, it was still a classic.
I also built a home that was different than most. The home did not have a large physical footprint, but it was four floors tall! When we were on the roof sheathing, I noticed you could move and shake the entire house. “Wow,” I thought, wondering if the drywall would crack as time went by and wind took its toll on the house. Actually, I believe it was the drywall that eventually locked the house together as it was being finished. I remember how strange it was that the house wiggled. But that was then, and this is now.
We moved into a rental home the first year in Colorado. In the fall, Larraine and I noticed it was getting really windy outside. Coming from Ohio where wind meant a storm was coming, we thought there would be a real doozy of a storm behind this wind. But as we watched, it just stayed windy for days. Then it just stopped. “Welcome to Colorado,” I thought. I realized wind was just part of living in Estes Park and the Colorado Rockies.
I quickly learned that building in Colorado required different structural designs, you know, so the house wouldn’t blow over! I learned about methods and materials that were used to help with homes and their performance. The real learning curve came from building a few homes and then living in them. I must be honest and let you know I’ve learned so much from living in the homes I’ve built over the years.
Today, we build large custom homes with tons of glass. These homes need to be built in such a way that they won’t move, not even a wiggle.
This winter is as normal as any other. Some days it is cold and windy with lots of sunshine. Other winter days can be sunny with blue skies and no wind. Beautiful days like these are the reason people like us love to live in Colorado.
On one particular Tuesday this winter, the wind kicked up and the weather forecast was predicting 70 MPH gusts. What a difference from just the day before. On that very windy day, I was driving around to job sites to make sure everything was secure. Thankfully, things were just fine at all job sites.
However, on the way home that afternoon, I drove past one of our Estes Park gas stations. As I approached the gas station, I saw there were fire engines and emergency vehicles out front. As I got closer, I saw the steel roof structure that covers the gas pumps had blown over. Wow! It had been there for at least 10 years. I know it was windy in years past, but this day it was strong enough to blow that baby over. A few days later, I spoke with a friend who measured wind gusts at 145 mph those couple of days.
During hurricane season, the National Weather Service bestows names on storms with winds like what we experience in Estes Park. But there are no special names for the wind events in Estes Park. Here, we just deal with it. After I came home that night, I had a nice fire going in the wood burner, and supper was on the stove. Larraine and I were snug as a bug in a rug sitting inside our cozy home. You may ask, “How can that be with hurricane force winds?” Well, the fact is, Darling Enterprise has been very intentional making sure the homes we build are carefully designed and properly insulated. Not just any insulation, but a very special insulation package starting from the “Insulated Concrete Forms” (ICF) foundation all the way up to the roof, and everything in between.
Our insulation techniques are state-of-the-art. Our custom-built homes also feature steel reinforcement, particularly around the windows. One of my workers commented recently, “Don, your homes are the best insulated homes I’ve seen.” With the care, design and amazing insulation packages, Darling Enterprise homes are as good as it gets. This means our homes are comfortable, quiet, efficient, and just wonderful to live in. After all, Larraine and I live in a custom designed and built Darling Home right now!
It’s important to me that owners living in a strong Darling Enterprise home feel safe, warm and protected from the outside winds and elements.