New Eco home at Tonbo - sub 1 ACH and sub 50 hers.

Great new homes at Tonbo Meadow.  Super efficient design, elevator, convenient low maintenance (all landscaping taken care of by HOA) and on the "gold coast".  Ready now!


Eco-friendly Building Alternatives - What are Natural Building Materials?

Most of us are aware of the need to minimize fossil-fuel use, and limit the emission of carbon dioxide into the Earth's atmosphere.  The construction industry produces an enormous amount of carbon emissions from the synthetic building materials produced by highly-industrialized processes, and the energy consumed in the construction of the built environment.  There is a growing need to transition to methods of building, and construction materials, that are responsible for less carbon emissions in their manufacture and use.

Using a natural material when constructing new buildings or restoring old ones is 'low impact' in terms of eliminating or minimizing any lasting effects on the world in which we live.  There is a growing interest in using natural materials and techniques that are based on old technologies, but tailored to meet future constructions needs.  Unlike synthetic building materials, natural materials contain no harmful chemicals and can be vapor permeable; making it increasingly evident that these materials can not only maintain the structural fabric of the building, but also help keep its occupants in good health.

What are these natural building materials?


Hempcrete is a natural material comprised of chopped stalk of the hemp plant (shiv) mixed with a lime-based binder.  It can provide a natural, healthy, sustainable, and low-embodied-energy building that creates a negative carbon footprint.

Hempcrete is not used as a structural element, but can be used for walls, wall insulation, flooring, roofing, and more.  It is water-proof, fire-retardant, and rot-proof when used above ground, and is 100% recyclable.  All loads must be carried by internal framing - wood stud framing is most common.

 Hempcrete regulates the temperature and humidity of a building, making it an ideal building material for all types of climates, and potentially eliminating the need for heating and cooling systems.  Hempcrete has been installed at temperatures that fall below freezing with no adverse effects, but working with hempcrete above 40 F is recommend.   

A 3,400 square foot hempcrete home located in Asheville, North Carolina - the first built in the United States.

A 3,400 square foot hempcrete home located in Asheville, North Carolina - the first built in the United States.


Adobe is one of the oldest and most versatile natural building materials still in use today. It is made from primarily clay, sand and dirt.  Other organic materials such as straw and dung can be added to improve the insulation properties of the structure. Typically, the mixture is formed into blocks, left to dry, then stacked like bricks to form a structure.  

Adobe is a good thermal mass material, but does not insulate very well.  Walls made of adobe need some means of providing insulation to maintain comfort in the building. Sometimes this is accomplished by creating a double wall, with an air space, or some other insulation in between.

Adobe is recommended as a building material in mostly warm and dry climates, but can be used colder climates with careful construction techniques.  The constant freezing and thawing affiliated with colder climates can cause the bricks to crumble as they shrink and swell with the weather.

 Located in Tucson, Arizona, this adobe home was built in 1938.

 Located in Tucson, Arizona, this adobe home was built in 1938.


Rammed earth buildings start as form work - plywood structure that established the outline of a wall.  A mixture of soils is then packed tightly between the forms by hand or machine.   Once the soil is in place, the forms are removed, and a solid, stable wall remains.   It is important that the soil mixture does not have too much clay or the finished wall will shrink and crack. 

When completed, rammed earth walls can be left just as they are, or they can be finished with plasters, paints or siding. If left unfinished, the earth provides a natural, breathable wall, in comparison to artificial sidings with chemicals.

In desert climates the thermal mass of the walls can provide the sole means of heating and cooling, but in other climates, additional insulation or energy sources may be needed.

Rammed Earth home in Summerland, British Columbia.

Rammed Earth home in Summerland, British Columbia.


Straw bales were first used in construction over 100 years ago by homesteaders in the Midwest who had limited building materials. Today, some structures over 75 years old are still inhabited.  Straw bales are a low-embodied-enery, natural building material made from an agricultural waste product.  Straw is used in landscaping and animal bedding, but because of the large quantities produced, grain farmers typically burn much of their stalk waste.  Burning this waste releases CO2 into the atmosphere creating pollution and poor visibility. Grain farmers are searching for more environmentally sound way to discard their stalk waste - straw bale structures are a great alternative.  

The two basic types of straw bale construction are load-bearing and non-load-bearing.  Load-bearing structures support the weight of the roof on the bales themselves without any frame work, and are limited to small one story buildings.  Non-load-bearing structures typically use post and beam framing with straw bales filling in between.  Buildings using the non-load-bearing method can be multiple stories if need be.

Straw Bale construction creates thick walls with good insulating properties, resulting in highly energy efficient buildings.  The structures are also fire resistant due to the tightly compacted bales that deprive the flames of oxygen, and stucco/plaster finishes used specifically as fire-proofing. 

Straw bale structures are ideal in mostly dry climes, acceptable in wet climates, but difficult to deal with in humid climates.

"A bale house can stay dry from rain and still be saturated with moisture inside the plaster due to the acclimation of the bales to the area’s relative humidity. Everything eventually settles on a moisture content that is in direct relation to the relative humidity of its surroundings." -
Straw bale home in Gunnison, Colorado.

Straw bale home in Gunnison, Colorado.

Hempcrete, adobe, rammed earth, and straw bale buildings are the four natural material structures that I find the most viable and interesting.  There are numerous other natural materials that are used in building applications all over the world. 

Here are a few, check em' out:



Earth bag

Wattle and Daub









Common Architecture and Design Words You May Be Mispronouncing


An expression meaning "unimportant differences" . . . 
but really . . .
which one is it?

Why does it matter?

Improper pronunciation can lead to negative impressions, and ineffective communication.  Whether in a professional setting or casual outing, pronouncing a word incorrectly can become the source of unforeseen embarrassment or misunderstanding.

You MIGHT be saying it wrong.

Certain vocabulary used in architecture and design can be tricky to pronounce.  Many of these words are derived from Latin, French, German, and Italian, making them difficult to articulate in other dialects.

Take a look at these commonly mispronounced words used in the industry, along with their meaning and approximate phonetic pronunciation.



 Raised section of a roof with small windows.





Entry Area









A kind of hardwood


Porte cochère


A covered entrance that allows vehicles to pass through.




A real-estate agent with the National Association of Realtors.








Wood paneling on the lower part of a wall.



An apartment or condo that is not a primary residence.




A wardrobe or movable cabinet





Chaise Longue


A reclining chair with a lengthened seat




Faux Bois


An artistic imitation of wood





A piece of furniture with open shelves for displaying ornaments.




Feng shui

[fung shway]

Chinese philosophy on environmental organization.




Now, go impress the world with your impeccable pronunciation of architectural and design vocabulary. 

KBIS + IBS 2016

KBIS Vegas

Last week, members of the Fasse bldgs. team (myself included) attended Design & Construction Week (DCW) in Las Vegas, which was the co-location of the leading Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) as well as the NAHB International Builders' Show (IBS). This year, DCW also included two partner events – the International Window Coverings Expo (IWCE) and The International Surface Event (TISE). This mega-event brought together more than 110,000 builders, general contractors, remodelers, designers, flooring professionals, as well as product specifiers from around the globe. With over 4 halls the size of large airplane terminals FULL of exhibits and dynamic events on and off the show floor, KBIS & IBS were truly an explosion for the senses! 

     Pam testing out one of American Standard's freestanding tubs
Vegas Strip
Signature Kitchen's booth   

KBIS, in conjunction with the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) is an inspiring, interactive platform that showcases the latest industry products and trends. KBIS is considered the voice of the kitchen and bath industry, and has been for 50 years. Leading brands demonstrated design, technology and sustainability in kitchen and bath, thus impacting living spaces around the world. 

KBIS 2016

KBIS 2016 hosted over 500 leading brands in the kitchen and bath industry, including 40 NEW companies. This gave the Fasse bldgs. design team opportunities to source the latest industry designs, products and home technology. We met directly with current suppliers, allowing them to showcase their newest lines, designs, and innovations. We were also privy to several product launches showcased at the event, and able to forge new relationships with several suppliers representing an array of product lines, design trends, and home technologies that Fasse bldgs. will be able to integrate into our homes. 

Nothing compares to seeing, touching, and feeling all the latest and greatest! 

KBIS also presented learning opportunities and presentations from fellow colleagues in the kitchen and bath industry, offering endless networking opportunities throughout the three day event. 

IBS 2016
IBS 2016

'Discover the Building Universe' was the theme to the NAHB’s International Builders' Show (IBS), and that's exactly what attendees took away from this three-day event. From the time the show opened, until the doors closed, building industry professionals discovered an expansive universe of products and innovative concepts designed to enhance their businesses moving forward. 

We had an amazing experience at both shows, and barely scratching the surface of all Vegas has to offer. A huge THANK YOU to our friends at Longley Supply for inviting us on this amazing trip!

Longley Supply KBIS

New Project Management Tools in 2016..

Fasse bldgs. will be launching new web-based project management tools in 2016 including an online client portal and app allowing clients to make product selections, review and approve change orders, monitor their allowances and budget, request information, and track job progress. By utilizing these tools and methods, Fasse bldgs. hopes to offer a more efficient, more cost-effective, and more pleasant building process for our homeowners! #Bringiton2016

Why buy in Wilmington, NC???

North Carolina is currently one of the fastest growing states in the country, and the projected population growth for the Wilmington, NC area is definitely in line with these statistics. I was astounded by these numbers as I read the 2015 City of Wilmington Fall Newsletter. Check out the projections below for expected growth in the area...

Wilmington, NC Statistics

Wilmington, North Carolina is a strategically positioned port city that benefits immensely from its beach access. It serves as the main hub for the entire state to receive goods by ocean trade. That said, the city’s economic outlook is in good standing and continues to support a healthy housing market.  Here's a quick look at the stats:

Wilmington Housing Market Summary:

Current Median Home Price: $389,651
1-Year Appreciation Rate: 2.8%
Unemployment Rate: 4.7%
Current Population: 112,067
Median Household Income: $47,594

Wilmington continues to demonstrate an increased propensity towards business development. In fact, NerdWallet, an online financial education and empowerment leader, recently ranked Wilmington as the second best place to start a business in the country. It is not hard to see why: Wilmington has a growing population, a strong tourism industry, and is close to the beach. Perhaps even more impressively, the city boasts nearly 15 unique businesses for every 100 people.

Job growth in the coming years is expected to piggyback off of local metros, and according to Fortune Builder, we should see an impressive run in the coming years. As a popular port city, Wilmington could benefit from the huge aerospace push expected in Charlotte, NC. Several aerospace companies have expressed interest in the region, which should only contribute to an already strong job sector.

For all intents and purposes, the Wilmington housing market has made great strides since the worst of the recession. Home prices have shown sustainable growth and the job sector looks to be able to handle the growing population. There is little to suggest that Wilmington won’t prosper in the coming years. Now is definitely a great time to buy in and around Wilmington, NC!

Tonbo Meadow Alternate Layout

You have spoken, and Fasse bldgs. has listened. More storage space....we got it! Need more privacy and flex space....there's options for that as well. Ground floor master problem! Based on feedback, we have come up with some alternate layouts for the next phase of Tonbo Meadow. Take a look at one of the revised Tonbo Meadow floorplans below. There is also a plan in the works which has the master suite on the ground floor, as some clients have requested. As soon as I get a finalized version, I will be sure to get that one up as well. 

If you are interested in Tonbo Meadow, have feedback following a showing, or have certain requests for future Tonbo townhomes....we would love to hear from you! There are always options that can be tailored to suit your family/lifestyle needs. Call our office at (910) 679 4277 or email to discuss Tonbo Meadow or a Fasse bldgs. custom home. Please stay tuned for more Tonbo options and layouts as we get closer to breaking ground on phase two!

Ground Floor

Tonbo Meadow layout

Second Floor

Tonbo Meadow Layout

Third Floor (options include two-story and three-story townhomes)

Tonbo Meadow

Kitchen Trends

Kitchens are undeniably the heart of today's homes so, understandably, you want your kitchen to look its best! At Fasse bldgs, we LOVE a good kitchen! Whether you are in the market for a new custom home, a total re-do, or some useful updates, here are some kitchen design trends worth considering!

1. An 'Open' Kitchen

Open floor plans with living/dining combined and/or a more natural flow from the kitchen to the living room is ideal for family time or entertaining. In lieu of the favorable open floor plans, we are also finding kitchen nooks aren't quite as popular as they used to be. If you have a nook and can't do a complete remodel, consider the 'new age nook' with media/tv, bookshelves, or casual seating where you can hang out or integrate cooking shows in your cooking area. In line with the open design, it seems most are favoring drawers over more traditional cabinets. Forgoing some upper cabinets is another way to opens up the space, allowing for more fresh white (or whatever your preference) tile, which not only feels clean and airy, but it reflects glorious light into the space. This design also welcomes some integration of open shelving. Mixing open shelving with cabinets seems to be the best option for most people. This design allows you to still hide some some dishes, utensils, and small appliances while displaying your more favorable pieces in an organized fashion.

open floor plan
Open floor plan
                                                                                  Open Kitchen/Dining in a Neutral Color Palette 

                                                                                  Open Kitchen/Dining in a Neutral Color Palette 

                           Open shelving 

                           Open shelving 

                        Mix of upper cabinetry and open shelving

                        Mix of upper cabinetry and open shelving

2. Flow from indoor to outdoor

Now let's take the open floor plan a step further and continue to flow into the outside... Especially in our coastal climate, most want to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. Large folding glass door systems are extremely popular and allow you to completely open your kitchen to outdoor patios or porches. Screened porches also allow you to keep the space open and keep the bugs out. Outdoor kitchens or outdoor grill stations accessible to the indoor kitchen are great for enjoying the outdoors with family and friends while prepping dinner or apps on the grill. Allowing the kitchen to flow into the outside can also create more space for entertianing as well as alternative dining areas

Indoor to outdoor kitchen
flowing floor plan
modern grilling station
grilling station

3. Clean and Neutral

Clean lines, cool, clean tones and sleek finishes. Whites, grays, and neutrals help create a fresh look. Carrara marble is always a classic for countertops and even backsplashes or accents. White or gray quartz countertops are another favorite. Gray cabinets, counters, and accents are definitely popular right now, and the fresh white kitchen is timeless. Go with high gloss finishes if you prefer a more modern look, or even combine gloss and matte finishes to add some texture to your space. The subtle softness of a matte, combined with the light-reflecting shine of a gloss, can supply an additional point of interest to any installation. Just remember, you want simple elements that make a statement on their own and make the kitchen feel clean and uncluttered.  Start with a simple neutral color palette and refer to it when making your selections. 

white quartz and carrara marble
neutral kitchen
white kitchen
neutral kitchen
glass front cabinets
neutral kitchen
gray and white kitchen

4. Butler's pantries

Perfect for a cocktail or coffee station, prep area, or extra space for entertaining. Typically equipped with counters, a sink, and miscellaneous appliances such as a beverage/wine fridge, coffee/espresso maker, mini bar, or design of your choice. The trend is to keep supplies and appliances hidden, so things look clean while keeping items organized and easily accessible. This space often offers some additional storage or function, allowing for places to put outlets in corners, cabinet edges to hide cords, and often incorporates wine racks, shelving, or some sort of functional element, dependent on your lifestyle.

                                                                       Contemporary Butler's Pantry with small sink and storage

                                                                       Contemporary Butler's Pantry with small sink and storage

Cocktail station butler's pantry
transitional butlers pantry
Butler's pantry

5. Pantry & Storage Features

Cabinet, pantry, and storage features add style as well as function. Barn doors and sliders are definitely in right now. Add some texture and dimension to your kitchen with a sliding barn pantry door(s). There are several varieties, depending on your style, ranging from the classic rustic barn door to a sleek gloss or glass options. Pop open cabinetry is also very popular, providing ease of use and the option to forgo hardware for a clean flush look. It is also evident that American kitchen evolution seems to be following the more European trend, with a greater emphasis on drawers and open shelving vs. more traditional cabinets where things tend to get lost in the back. Current kitchens are well thought out and detail-oriented, featuring various useful storage features in an effort to keep the kitchen organized and clutter free....pull-out spice storage, drawer plate racks, and compartmentalized drawers, just to name a few.  

                            Transitional Barn Door System

                            Transitional Barn Door System

                                       Contemporary Pantry

                                       Contemporary Pantry

kitchen storage
spice storage
plate storage

6. Appliances & Technology

Unique appliances and smart features that enhance and simplify our lives. Here are just a few of our faves:

                     Refrigerator drawers concealed in island

                     Refrigerator drawers concealed in island

  •  Refrigerator drawers in islands or integrated into the cabinetry : these pull out fridge drawers look awesome and they are perfect for those extra beers, bottles of wine or snacks that you tend to squeeze into the fridge or would have to store in a cooler nearby
  • Zero energy appliances
  • Drawer microwave - keeps the microwave out of sight and off the countertops...this option can also go in an island as well, so it gives you more options for design/placement.
  • Steam ovens - I am a huge fan of these guys! Not only are they easy to clean, but you can cook, bake, roast, grill, steam, defrost, and even warm leftovers, making these ovens some of the most versatile appliances in the industry. Steam restores the lost moisture into your meals so that they taste as good as they did when they were first cooked (great for reheating leftovers). Steam ovens reach high temperatures and can thoroughly cook a chicken in twenty minutes, so they also cut down on cooking time. Not to mention, steam cooking is the healthiest form of cooking.
                                         Drawer Microwave

                                         Drawer Microwave

                                   Jenn-Air Wall Steam Oven

                                   Jenn-Air Wall Steam Oven

  • Usb Charging Stations for phones, laptops, and smart devices
                        Contemporary Wall Hung Charging Station

                        Contemporary Wall Hung Charging Station

                                 Drawer style charging station

                                 Drawer style charging station

  • Audio Speakers integrated into the kitchen design, often hidden in-wall or in-ceiling speakers and with bluetooth capabilities enabling you to jam out to your favorite pandora or spotify stations!
  • Lighting- One pretty useful trend is motion activated lighting...often along counter edges or subtle toe kick lighting. Under cabinet lighting as well as motion activated drawer lighting are also popular
                                                                                                       Toe kick lighting

                                                                                                       Toe kick lighting

  • Water filtration systems - lately the requests for these systems has not been limited to just kitchens, but most are opting for whole-house water filtration systems.
  • Smart appliances/ smart controls- Imagine being able to preheat your oven remotely on the way home from work OR using your smartphone to view the inside of your fridge when picking up groceries on the go. These are just a few of the things you can achieve with the latest kitchen technology options. And these options are advancing every day! 
  • In the works....look for interactive kitchens, countertops that cook, integrated appliances that suggest recipes and ingredients and connect to social media and internet sources, holographic imagery, and interactive cooking surfaces, such as this one designed by IKEA. Check out the video below, for a quick look inside Whirlpool's new connected kitchen!

The Fasse bldgs. design team takes a more lifestyle/experience driven approach when working with clients to design or remodel their homes and kitchens. We first discuss lifestyle, priorities, and concerns and then work backwards to solve problems, and design a space that makes life easier and more fun! Especially in the kitchen, we strive for ease of use, performance, time-saving/speed, and organization. To learn more about Fasse bldgs. or discuss design+build options, please call our office at (910) 679 4277.

Green Building Concepts Explained

Fasse bldgs. homes are not only "green" or "sustainable," they are NAHB Green certified. NAHB Green is a certification program from the National Association of Home Builders that allows home buyers to easily locate homes that have been built to nationally recognized green building criteria. A green home incorporates energy and water efficient products and practices; is constructed with renewable, recycled and/or more durable materials; and is designed for improved indoor air quality. Green building is a practical response to a variety of issues that affect all of us – including increasing energy prices, waning water resources, and changing weather patterns. Potential benefits can include lower operating costs, reduced maintenance, and lifestyle and health improvements. The renewable, recycled and more efficient building products used in green home construction can help to reduce a home’s impact on the environment and natural resources.

 Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. This is a graphic created by the NAHB entitled "Energy Innovation: How Homes Become Green." It illustrates a range of green building features and explains several green building concepts.

Turkey Trot 2015

Fasse bldgs. was thrilled to sponsor the 11th annual Wrightsville Beach Turkey trot this year! There were a record number of runners this year....over 2,ooo participants!  This annual event on Thanksgiving morning is held by the Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit that raises money to provide affordable housing for those in need.

“All of the proceeds we raise are going to build a Habitat home in 2016," Jessica Loeper, Habitat's Director of Communications and Outreach, said. "So a family in our community will have a home sponsored by the Turkey Trot, and everyone that participated in the Turkey Trot will actually have the opportunity to volunteer and build that house as well.”

It was a beautiful day! We had a great time at the race, and so glad to support such a wonderful cause and burn off some of those pre-Thanksgiving calories! We hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving weekend!

Wb turkey trot
Wb turkey trot sponsors

WB Turkey Trot 2015

It's that time of year again! Fasse bldgs. is a proud sponsor of the 2015 Wrightsville Beach Turkey Trot! Come get your run (or walk) on before you gobble til' you wobble! All proceeds go to Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity . Cape Fear Habitat helps many families in New Hanover and Pender counties buy decent, affordable housing. Sign up by Nov. 6th so you can be sure to get a t-shirt. We look forward to seeing everyone there to support this amazing cause!

WB Turkey Trot

The Old Wilmington Kitchen Tour was a Success!

I had a lovely time at the ROW Old Wilmington Backdoor Kitchen Tour (details discussed in last Friday's blog post here) on Saturday! If you didn't get a chance to attend this event, you should definitely put it on your bucket list for 2016! I included a few pictures below of Joan Keston's home on Dock St., which is located in Wilmington's Downtown Historic District.  

Joan's nest is a custom home, built by Fasse bldgs., and designed by B+O Design Studio. Joan has been in her home just over a year and it is great to see how she has made this house feel like a home-- a perfect reflection of her own style, experiences, and good taste. As a world traveler, Joan has art and furniture from all over the globe. She also incorporates sculpture and paintings handpicked and/or designed by local artists. Almost every accessory has a story or sentiment. Her most recent piece is an interpretive painting of the street view of her home by a local artist.... I included a picture of it on the slideshow--it's fantastic!

The home's layout and design make it perfect for entertaining and taking advantage of the outdoor living space, which has been transformed into Joan's very own outdoor sanctuary. She told me she has been working a great deal with Element Outdoor Living on fine tuning the landscaping since the house was completed last year. The additional plantings, cozy design, and attention to detail make such an impact on the outdoor living space. Joan admits she spends a great deal of her time enjoying the fresh air and garden view (sans bugs) from the comfort of her screened porch. The private patio and large gas fire feature, are also perfect areas for friends to gather around, even in the cooler months. 

Overall, I find the home to be the perfect mix of old and new. Mixed woods--- hickory floors, cypress ceilings, and mahogany porch accents. Varying countertop textures and colors also add a unique richness to the kitchen. The homeowner opted for modern elements such as a minimalistic Asian inspired master bath, while the home's exterior blends perfectly with the historic homes that surround it. The same goes for the interior design choices-- an eclectic mix of old pieces stand out against sleek surfaces. A mixture of modern, rustic, worldly, and vintage finds are sprinkled throughout, creating contrast and depth, while giving the impression of having been collected over time. 

Residents of Old Wilmington 'Back Door Kitchen Tour' Tomorrow!

One of Fasse bldgs. custom built homes will be on the Residents of Old Wilmington (ROW)  'Back Door Kitchen Tour' tomorrow! ROW's annual Back Door Kitchen Tour opens the kitchens of nine beautiful Historic District homes (ours is 614 Dock St.) to visitors.

Tour-goers see the kitchens, each with a unique combination of beauty, functionality and adaptability, as well as the gardens and other portions of the ground floors of these historic district homes. You might even see something you want to add to your kitchen! For more information or to purchase tickets, check out their site here

Definitely Stop by 614 Dock St. and see this awesome custom kitchen and home built by Fasse bldgs.!