Family Focus: Contractor’s own home built for sustainability, comfort

By Nancy Wiechec

When Flagstaff general contractor Jeff Knorr and his family planned to build their own home, they had three priorities: Family. Energy efficiency. Views.

That focus is seen and felt upon entering their newly completed residence nestled among the trees in the Westridge area just outside town.

Inside the front door is a small solarium, which receives a host of light from large south-facing windows. A wall of locally sourced malapai rock takes in and holds the radiated heat. The heat sink provides warmth even in the coldest times of the year.

“It’s like having a warming pad in the middle of the house,” said Knorr, president of his contracting firm JKC Inc. “And it’s a great place to grow tomatoes year round.”

In the central living space, the focal point is the hearth and fireplace, an Environmental Protection Agency-compliant wood-burning insert. Above the mantel, the Knorr family is depicted in front of the San Francisco Peaks in a colorful Day of the Dead styling executed by local painter Emma Gardner. The four-panel piece decoratively hides a flat-screen TV.

The Knorr’s new home is actually two residences. One for Knorr, his wife and their two children. An attached smaller dwelling is for his mother. In her senior years, the family wanted to have her nearby in case she need their help, but also wanted for her to have her own space. The apartment has its own drive and entrance.

“We wanted a family friendly house for three generations, a focus on energy efficiency, and we wanted to take advantage of our fine mountain views,” said Knorr. “We had a practical plan for a three-generation house. We wanted to keep everyone close while maintaining personal space.”

Utilizing off-the-grid technologies, the JKC home is self-sufficient from an energy perspective. All of its electricity is provided by solar panels on the south-facing metal roof. Natural light flows into rooms and halls through 12 Solatubes that bring in bright light during the daytime and glowing light in the evening through small, self-contained solar lights. Energy-saving spray foam insulation and triple-pane windows are used throughout the house. Water comes from a well, and low-flow plumbing and a recirculating pump for in-floor heating helps conserve the resource.

Beautiful knotty alder used to frame doors, windows and floors as will as for cabinets provides additional warmth with ash-brown tones. Native to the Pacific Northwest and widely available from fast-growing trees, alder wood is considered a renewable resource.

Knorr said the family spent six years conceiving their contemporary mountain home, which his company constructed in nine months.

“It’s comfortable and functional and meets our desire for a low-maintenance home,” he said. “We want to be able to enjoy the house, not spend time working on it.”

JCK’s commitment to build sustainable homes has earned the company several awards from Coconino County, including one for the Knorr residence, which received an “advanced level” sustainable build award from the county.

For more information on JCK Inc., visit

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