The U.S. Department of Energy is pleased to announce that the submission for the Samish Solar Home from Powerhouse Designs and TC Legend Homes has been selected as a 2023 Housing Innovation Award Winner!
This national award represents a significant achievement, recognizing the most impressive and advanced homes among leading DOE Zero Energy Ready Home builders. Our standard-setting leadership serves as an example of what every homebuyer in the nation should come to expect and demand from their home.
This Housing Innovation Award helps us celebrate our success in providing our customers with the best in energy efficiency, indoor air quality, comfort, and construction quality. Awardees this year are being recognized for innovative use of off-the-shelf technologies and strategies to achieve advanced performance; innovative use of leading-edge technologies and strategies to achieve advanced performance; market transformation through education efforts; and innovative implementation of decarbonization strategies.
We will find out more details come Awards Summit in October about which category we won!
Here are some quick stats on the house: o Insulation: R-29 walls & R-59 ceiling o PV: 10.8kW solar array with Enphase microinverters and battery ready o Air Sealing: 0.27ACH o HERS Index: -20 o Est. Annual Energy Cost Savings: $2432 o Certifications: DOE Zero Energy Ready Home certified, ENERGY STAR certified, EPA Indoor airPLUS certified, anticipated Built Green 5-star certified
TC Legend – A Value’s Based Company – A Feminine Perspective
Written by: Senna Scott (Edited by: Sarah DesRosiers)
Something that we don’t hear much about in the construction industry, is the voice and perspective of the Feminine. I am grateful to say that there has been so much growth, progress, and change over the past 10 years that I’m hoping more women consider entering the industry.
We’ve posted about many of our accomplishments, the houses we’ve built, our team wins, awards, and events. But what is it like for a female, behind the scenes, at TC Legend?
I’m Senna. I am the Office Manager and head of HR, at TC Legend Homes. I primarily run our finances, books, taxes, payroll, marketing, safety, employee relations and IT. We’re still a small business, so we all wear many hats to get the job done!
This topic is very dear to my heart and is an article I’ve been wanting to write for a long time now. For the past 12 years, I have worked in the Energy Engineering & Construction Industry, at various corporate companies. Being a young woman employed in a male-dominated industry, I’ve had to overcome a lot of adversity. Working for TC Legend Homes has been unlike any other experience I’ve had.
I was the first woman to work for TC Legend back in 2015. When I started, I worked half-time on the job-site and half-time in the office. I was eager to learn how to build an energy efficient home. I remember vividly the day that I received my first tool belt from Dan, one of our crew members. I loved being a part of the crew! While I only worked for the company for 6 months, before returning to a corporate job, a seed had been planted. There was something different about this company compared to other jobs in the industry. This prompted me to stay in contact with Ted, TC’s founder, over the next few years. In 2019, the company went through a reorganization of management and ownership. Norm DesRosiers became co-owner of the company and office staff was also going through a major transformation. Life had brought me back to Bellingham, and in early 2020, Ted reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in coming back to work for TC. I agreed, eagerly! The driving force behind my decision to return to this company was that I consider it to be a heart-based company. By heart-based company, I mean we really flipping CARE! We care about the work we do, our clients, and each other.
I’m a very empathetic person, which means I feel the energy and people’s feelings easily. Often, I know how someone is feeling even before they do. I can sense the ‘energy’ of a person or a company’s intentions very quickly. My sense of TC has been spot on and vastly different from that of the corporate companies I have previously been employed. It is a company that truly values equality, integrity, and a deep desire to make the world a better place.
We care about our customers. We care about our employees. We care about the earth. We care about the work we do. We care about every house we build. We care about future generations and about our kids having options to own a safe, affordable, and efficient home one day. We care about the industry and want to change how things have been!
TC is such a contrast from other jobs I have had in the field. Before TC, I worked among money-driven managers, employees, teams, and customers. I had hoped to do meaningful work, but I felt so drained, and even suffered health problems from over-working 50, 60, and sometimes even 70 hour work weeks. I never saw where my efforts and energy went. I have experienced work environments where bosses and general managers have belittled, made sexual implications or jokes, who have completely disregarded what I’ve said, who have taken the credit for my ideas or work, and who have even slapped a female co-worker’s bottom on my shift. Unfortunately, I know there are many women who share similar and far worse stories of misogyny in the workforce. Women have had to ‘fight’ their way to ‘prove’ themselves, particularly in this industry. Often, women in the workforce, have to choose between work and family, missing out on child rearing and homelife. TC Legend Homes is nothing like these other work experiences. It is a safe work environment.
I feel so grateful and privileged to say that I don’t have to sacrifice time, with my kiddo, for work. TC Legend values the importance of family life and caring for our children. I am a single Mom. As an employee at TC, I can work from home. I am able to balance work, family, and social life with ease. Plus, I love the work I do! At TC, my voice and ideas are heard and valued.
Working for this company has healed me in many ways. I have grown as an individual and shed some of my wounding after working in misogynistic work environments. For example, I used to swear a lot because that is how I observed men talking in the corporate world and I was trying to “keep up with the men.” I also used to make crude jokes. I recall Ted pointing out that I swore more than anyone else in the company. This surprised me as I was unaware that I was doing this and it forced me to discover why I felt the need to use foul language around men. This feedback from my boss prompted me to examine how working in a male-dominated industry had not only shaped me, but how this didn’t have to be the way I engage in a work environment anymore. I don’t need to “keep up with the men.” I can be me.
This is just one example of my own internalized patriarchy. The fight against sexism, which is work we all must do, regardless of gender, if we want to build a better future and a safer industry!
At TC Legend, there is a high intolerance for unnecessary profanity. There is also a high intolerance toward misogynistic behavior and sexual harassment. We care about the safety of our employees!
A heart-based company is only accomplished by having great leaders who are solid in their shared values and who hire passionate and value-driven employees.
Ted is one of the most idealistic people I’ve ever met. I laugh looking back over all his soap-box speeches of the future and what we need to do to improve as an industry as well as a society. I met him at a Built Green Conference, in Seattle, back in 2014.I remember vividly his long, grown-out orange beard. He was wearing an orange sweatshirt, with his kids’ painted hand prints. I remember thinking “I want THAT guy as a boss!”
One book Ted lives by is called Let My People Go Surfing, by Patagonia’s CEO and founder Yvon Chouinard, who shares his unique philosophy. Ted has loaned me the book before, and no, I never read it. I’m more of an audio book type *cough* millennial *cough* , but the message is clear in the title. Take care of your employees, give them a good work/life balance, and your business will thrive.
And this is very clear in how we operate. When there’s conflict, I have witnessed time and time again, an honest and proactive approach to find resolve, and a solution that takes care of the employee.
Our crew has a Four Day work week. Hopefully, America can one day mandate this for all . We give Ski season passes as a benefit to boost morale in the winter months. We genuinely want happy and healthy employees. I like to joke that Ted could write the book Let My People Go Skiing!
Co-owner, Norm, is one of the most grounded (for a water sign 😉), neutral, perspective-honoring, humble, objective, and driven humans. He has an impeccable work ethic. He’s such a great balance to Ted. Norm is also caring. He cares deeply about our planet and lives life in alignment with the native philosophy, “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” Norm cares about our employees and strives to manage the company and client relationships with integrity. Norm has a lovely wife and two girls. One of my first memories of him was being on our weekly meeting call and Jake asking him what color his nails were painted that week. They were pink! He let his girls paint his nails!
What I appreciate most about both Ted and Norm, is the level of respect they’ve given me over the years. They care about my counsel, my ideas, and look to me as an equal. They are both examples of men that honor their own ‘feminine.’ By this, I mean, they honor their own and individual’s emotions, having great respect for women, apologize when wrong, and prioritize harmony, safety and balance for themselves and their employees.
Our not-so-spoken-about philosophy is one of balance and equality. When we recognize the strengths of our employees, regardless of gender, we all thrive. When we also honor and recognize strengths we can utilize from gender, we also thrive. When we offer equal pay, benefits, offer leveraging opportunities for women and minorities, we set a new precedent.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve hired on two more *amazing* young women that have significantly shaped and enhanced both TC Legend Homes and our sister Design Company, Powerhouse Designs.
Talia, a recent graduate from Western Washington University, with her passion for designing and building zero-energy ready homes, has learned the role of a Draftswoman at an incredible pace. She’s gotten down our formula of net-zero energy homes and is capable of leading her own clients through the Design Phase. With her love for the STEM world and all things technical, she’s even developed a whole new sector for our business, offering Consulting services for certifying Built Green (which the requirements have been changing) AND offering Embodied Carbon Calculation Services!!
(I’ll leave it to Talia to educate us more on Embodied Carbon & her calculations in future blogs!)
Nicole, another passionate graduate from Western Washington University with former years of experience coordinating and managing in the housing industry. She has taken on Project Manager and Office Admin support! She supports our clients with product selections, ordering materials, making sure they arrive on site, handling contracts, draws, and profitability analysis. From applying for awards, attending events, being in the ‘know’ about regulations and code changes, she has significantly improved many of our systems! The amount of work she’s taken off of Ted & Norm, so they can spend more time managing on site, handling technical operations, doing more profit- generating tasks, and spending more time with their families is invaluable! Above all else she has significantly improved our client communication and has given our clients even more of a voice – that’s HUGE!
And lest I forget, Jake, our head Draftsman of Powerhouse Designs, who used to be a stay-at-home Dad, is one of the warmest and most eccentric people, with a brilliant mind! He’s been another pillar of supporting myself over the years and training Talia to his level, and beyond!
Our whole crew are brilliant, unique individuals (I’ll be show casing our construction crew in future blogs)! It’s truly an honor to work alongside such educated, progressive and value-based individuals! I know every day I am showing up to make a difference, even if it’s from behind-the-scenes. 😊
We are one of many companies that are raising the bar – stepping in the right direction of creating a new standard. Truthfully, one that should have always been the norm. May we honor the women that have come before us in the workforce, and the men who stand beside us, lift us up, and who strive to make the world a better place for our daughters and granddaughters!
Together, we are creating a brighter future for generations to come!
Congratulations TC team for completing another epic Ski to Sea race!!!
With Isaac on the x-country ski, Ted on the downhill ski, Talia doing the running portion, Miles on the road bike, Dan & Travis in the canoe this year, and Norm finishing us to the end in the kayak, we ranked **65th** out of 478 teams!
This ranks us in the 13th percentile and 6th in the corporate division! Hawt dawg!
That is phenomenal!! Last year our 58th ranking was out of 293 teams (19th percentile).
Big thanks to Isaac, Ted & Talia for getting up so early to race!!
Show out to Miles for being in 50th place during the road biking portion!
And great work Norm for getting through the Kayak run right before the shut down the leg due to high winds, choppy conditions and capsizes!!
The TC crew gathered at Ted’s house after for a BBQ feast made by ‘Racer Mom’ Senna.
Special shout out to Team Captain, Nicole (aka Racer Auntie), for all the behind-the-scenes work of rounding us up and making our racer packets!
We are all so grateful to be a part of a fun and festive community! So glad we have accomplished another safe and fun race – nice work everyone!
Currently both Washington State and the City of Bellingham are proposing changes to the current ADU regulations and process. From the outside it may seem complicated and long winded, but we’ve been keeping up to date with it, so you don’t have to!
But first let’s back up. Why is this such an important topic? All over the state, including Bellingham, we are seeing both a housing shortage and unaffordable costs for both renters and home buyers. Accessory Dwelling Units, aka ADUs, are seen as a tool to help fight both of these issues. While ADUs are certainly not the only answer to the affordability crisis, they are a start to addressing the issue. ADUs are, however, thought to have a much bigger effect on addressing the housing shortage. According to 2020 Census data, 71% of Bellingham households are made up of only 1-2 people. This means that medium and large sized single-family residences are not what Bellingham needs in order to solve the housing crisis. It needs ADUs and other forms of middle housing. As it stands right now, State and City regulations make it more difficult than it needs to be in order to permit and build ADUs (and middle housing). So, at both levels reform to the current ordinances are being proposed in order to ease these restrictions, allowing for more ADUs to be built and with less needless regulations.
-At the State level: There were two bills currently addressing changes to ADU regulations for the entire state. These are bills HB 1276 and HB 1337. Bill HB 1276 is essentially the watered-down version of HB 1337. However, bill HB 1337 recently passed out of the House Housing Committee with no amendments. Next steps for HB 1337 are to pass through the Rules committee and then through the Floor. Organizations who support HB 1337 vocally as of the first hearing include Homes4WA, Sightline Institute, FutureWise, League of Women Voters, Habitat For Humanity, American Farmland Trust, Kirkland Planning Commission and a handful of architects and builders. TC Legend also supported HB 1337 over HB 1276.
-At the City level: There is one ordinance being proposed to amend Bellingham Municipal Code Titles 20 and 21 regarding ADU regulations and processes. This ordinance is essentially bill HB 1337 specifically for Bellingham. Whatcom Housing Alliance’s recommendations to the changes being put forth have been the main reference point for many community members and organizations. You can find their recommendations HERE. After the first hearing, City Council has sent the ordinance back to the Planning Commission for revisions for further clarification, data and feedback. Once the Planning Commission has finished this review, it will be presented to City Council again. They may need to revise again, or they will vote at that time. Once the ordinance passes through City Council it will take a bit of time for the Planning Commission to update their current ADU ordinance and implement the changes. However, assuming all goes smoothly, we should see the changes being implement most likely by the end of the year.
-Remove Owner Occupancy Requirements: This is arguably the most contested topic in the City level ADU reform. The amendment states that the owner of the ADU is no longer required to live in either the main SFR or the ADU while renting and can therefore rent both out at the same time. On one hand, this would allow flexibility for homeowners who need to go out of town for extended period of time, or are elderly, and would increase housing availability. On the other hand, if there are not restrictions added to this amendment, it could open up Bellingham to more large-scale investors, taking control of our rental market and potentially further pricing out locals.
-Remove Off-Street Parking Requirements: The requirement of off-street parking, while may seem necessary to some, is typically not necessary or feasible on infill lots which are already near shopping centers and bus stops. Cities are using this as a technique to incentivize alternative modes of transportation, while also recognizing the limitations that come with infill lots.
-Condo-ization of ADU’s: Opening ADU’s to purchase is thought to help homeownership among the many small households that are currently struggling to afford the houses currently on the market and are therefore forced to remain renting. It is debatable as to whether this would create an affordable option or not. But the best way to create an equitable housing market is for more homeownership among the lower and middle class.
-Removing Appearance Requirements: Currently there are height restrictions and appearance requirements on DADU’s stating that they must match the aesthetic of the neighborhood, however current SFR’s are not even held to that same standard. The amendment would also allow the height of the ADU to increase to 25’ from 20’. There are some arguments to increase this limit even more or get rid of the restriction altogether to be able to accommodate a second floor and higher ceilings.
Other Bills To Watch
Washington State has at least 50 proposed housing bills. So if you want to take action and help sculpt the trajectory of housing in our state, look out for these bills and submit your commentary to the Housing Committee.
Among those proposed housing bills, HB 1110 / SB 5190 should be highlighted as they are important in legalizing middle housing.
If you are a renter, then you’ll want to watch out for HB 1124 which increases the timeframe that landlords must notify tenants of any increases to rent. There are also HB 1389 / SB 5435 which puts a cap on rent increase to either the rate of inflation or 3% (whichever is greater).
For more information on the State and City level ADU reform, see the following related articles.
This just in and hot off the press – the House in the Hollow Case Study! TC Legend built this net-zero house through the winter of 2020/ 2021.
The house-in-a-hollow isn’t really in a hollow, it’s on a knoll, above protected wetlands, northeast of Bellingham. The hollow is formed by the trees, which were preserved to shield the house from overheating, and to conserve the flora of the native wetlands.
Measuring 1950 square feet, this Department-of-Energy certified Net Zero clerestory design has a central kitchen and a 1st floor aging-in-place floorplan. Designed for an Alaskan couple whose love of the outdoors demanded a house that fully engaged with the landscape, plenty of daylight is admitted & access to outdoor living is easy.
“Builder TC Legend Homes of Bellingham, Washington, aims for quality and sustainability in every home it constructs and company founder Ted Clifton Jr. has found the U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home program is an ideal way to achieve that goal.”
“The DOE Zero Energy Ready Home program is a great benchmark not only for ourselves, but for all those looking to build or purchase a home that is eco-friendly. Since the program incorporates ENERGY STAR and Indoor airPLUS, holds high standards for energy efficiency, and is nationwide, it is an easy way to compare homes across the board and that reduces confusion for purchasers,” said Clifton.
“It’s also great that the DOE program has a very low cost barrier. There are many other certification programs that charge large fees, making it difficult for small builders to participate. Or, the cost of the fees gets passed along in higher home prices, increasing the barrier to purchase for many people,” Clifton added.
Since 2015, TC Legend Homes has built all of its homes to the DOE program criteria. The builder typically constructs one spec home and five or six custom homes for buyers each year and currently has nine homes under construction. In 2022, the builder was recognized by DOE for its efforts with a Housing Innovation Grand Award in the category “Custom for Buyer under 2,500 ft2.”
Modeled Performance Data of House in the Hollow:
• HERS INDEX: without PV: 33 with PV: -23
• Annual Energy Costs: without PV: $600; with PV: $-280
• Annual Energy Cost Savings: without PV: $1,200; with PV: $2,150
• Annual Energy Savings: without PV: 8,400 kWh; with PV: 20,350 kWh
• Savings in the First 30 Years: without PV: $48,930; with PV: $86,550