Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

2016 Home of the Year: Green

As fans of energy-efficient abodes, Zolina Cook and Jason Jevack pull together the right crew to create a distinctive prefab home with an eco-friendly twist on Pittsburgh’s North Side.




The homeowner customized all of the cabinetry and trim, carrying a theme of black, white and grey throughout the first-floor space. PHOTOS BY JEFF ZOET

 

When it comes to artwork, Zolina Cook enjoys portraiture.

The first floor of her home on the North Side features several pieces depicting faces. Occasionally, a new face in the window joins them, as passersby can’t resist peeking in the room’s tall windows. Cook can’t blame them. Everything about the modular home on Reddour Street is intriguing, from its angular exterior to its energy-efficient inner workings.

“It’s just a stunning house,” says Cook, a freelance financial consultant. “It’s just striking, and it fits the street so well. You notice the house, but it doesn’t look out of place.”

The home Cook has shared with husband Jason Jevack, a performance support manager for NiSource, daughter Ziola, 10, and son Zieben, 8, since last summer earned a Judges’ Distinction/Green Award from the panel of judges who selected Pittsburgh Magazine’s Homes of the Year 2016.
 


The home’s first-floor living space features 10-foot ceilings, tall windows and white walls.

 

“It’s highly efficient with a functional plan and simple construction, yet it’s technologically advanced in terms of the approach to climate and energy,” says judge Jack

Alan Bialosky Jr., senior principal of Cleveland-based Bialosky + Partners Architects. “It feels spacious and airy in spite of the fact that it’s compact. It really takes the idea of modular construction and explodes it in a way that makes it very affordable and aesthetically pleasing.”
 

Cook and her family lived in the neighborhood for 12 years before buying the vacant lot on which they would place their new home. As fans of high-performance and modular building, they searched Google for a person who could deliver their ideal home, and the first result ended up being the right one: Elliot Fabri Jr. of South Fayette-based EcoCraft Homes, Inc.

“The beauty of pre-fab is you’re taking out the majority of the variables that you have in construction — weather and on-site conditions and things like that,” Fabri says.

“When you’re working in a factory and a quality-controlled environment, you end up with a much more consistent, higher-quality product.”
 


The master bedroom on the third floor opens to a 360-square-foot rooftop deck.

 

​Fabri worked with Mike Gwin, a principal with the Strip District-based architectural firm Rothschild Doyno Collaborative, to bring the modular design to an urban setting.
“The house was designed to be universal, and it fits a typical City of Pittsburgh lot well,” says Gwin. “It’s a designed idea but with a lot of open-ended flexibility.”

Construction took mere weeks, thanks to an offer from DIY Network’s “Breakneck Builds.” In order to appear on the show, the builders were required to construct the home in eight weeks — about half of the typical time. They met that goal, and the episode aired in late 2015. “It was a good challenge and certainly a lot of fun,” Fabri says. “We didn’t rush through anything. We just had a really coordinated effort to pull this whole thing together.”

Cook declined to provide a total cost for the home, but the price advertised on the EcoCraft website for such a project is $300,000. The home’s five modules sit atop a prefabricated concrete basement. Crews drove each one through narrow North Side alleys and stacked one atop another in front of an audience of captivated neighbors.

“It was like a barn-raising, this coordinated event with these big parts of the house going up in the air,” Gwin says. “I was one of the people standing there in awe, and other people were stopping on the street to find out what was going on.”

The home is highly insulated, with south-facing glass, high-efficiency windows and two energy-recovery ventilators that exchange stale exhaust with fresh air. IBACOS, a homebuilding innovation company in the Strip District, is studying the home’s air quality, energy usage and other features through small, strategically placed monitors in hopes of using the data to further advance HVAC systems for other energy-efficient homes.

​Aesthetically, the home is spacious yet inviting, with a first-floor open living space featuring 10-foot ceilings, 8-foot doors, tall windows and white walls. Cook customized all of the cabinetry and trim, carrying a theme of black, white and grey throughout, accented with industrial elements such as a baker’s rack Jevack constructed of metal rods and wood planks he salvaged from the family’s former home and elsewhere.
 

The second story is the kids’ domain, with two bedrooms, a full bathroom and their own lounge area. One floor up is the third-story master suite with cathedral ceilings reaching to 9-and-a-half feet. The bedroom opens to a 360-square-foot rooftop deck offering views of Downtown, Mount Washington, the North Side and beyond.
Cook plans to landscape the small yard space and plant a garden this spring.

“It flows,” she says of her family’s dream home. “Everyone moves throughout the house throughout the day. Nobody hibernates in any one section. We didn’t know that was going to happen, but we absolutely notice it in the family dynamic.” 
 

VENDORS

Mike Gwin of Rothschild Doyno Collaborative: Architect
EcoCraft Homes, Inc.: Contractor
Structural Modulars, Inc.: Fabricator
Superior Walls by Collier Foundation Systems, Inc.: Precast Foundation
WOLF Classic Cabinets: Cabinetry
Shaw Floors: Flooring and Tiles
Simonton Windows: Windows
Kwikset: Door Hardware
IBACOS: HVAC Consulting
Climatech: HVAC Contractor
Dettson Industries: HVAC Equipment
EnergySoft: Electrical
Bufalini’s Plumbing Solutions: Plumbing
Duro-Last PVC: Roofing Membrane
Lux Ornamental Iron Works: Railings
James Hardie Industries: Siding
Trex: Decking
Universal Forest Products: Lumber Products
J&G Landscape & Design: Landscaping
 

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

The Potential of Prevention Against Chronic Diseases

America’s metabolism is broken, and doctors have a new strategy: diagnose patients before they become patients.

Take Our Wellness Quiz

Lifestyle changes such as eating healthier and exercising more can combat prediabetes and prehypertension. Take our Wellness Quiz to find out how you are doing.

First Look: A Sculpture Garden Blooms at Hartwood Acres

Pittsburgh Magazine shares what’s taking shape with the sculpture collection at Hartwood Acres.

Restaurant Review: Fairlane in Mt. Lebanon

Graham Foster and Lauren Zanardelli’s restaurant hits the right notes with a casual, thoughtful menu which includes a terrific hamburger and a stellar pickle plate.

A Pittsburgh Photographer Doubles Down on a Model Marathon

Elaborate photography portraits sessions can last for hours -- this photographer plans to shoot 48 of them in one day.

The Famous People Who Visited WQED in its First 65 Years

The parade of prominent people started early and continues today.

Our 50 Years: Revisiting Our Snarky Period

Back in the bodacious ’80s, the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine were more than happy to roast deserving targets in a yearly round-up of shame.

Underdogs United: Trading Jerseys for Water

Underdogs United’s global jersey exchange connects star athletes with Kenyan kids.

Heritage Craft Butchers Is a Gem That's Worth Driving To

The trio behind the Marianna butcher shop hope their rural storefront will become a destination.

Cinderlands Warehouse Set to Open in Strip District

The brewery and restaurant, located in the Old Spaghetti Warehouse space, will hold more than 350 people.

Steelers’ Draft Should Start with a Devin, After That, Who Knows?

Sifting through the prospects and trying to determine the significance of Batman suits, Hall-of-Fame relatives, The New Yorker and Whataburger is all a part of the annual challenge facing Steelers GM Kevin Colbert and company.

Get Weird with Row House's Stop-Motion Animation Week

A bizarre new release headlines a group that includes three Oscar nominees.

PM on KD: What Pittsburgh Sports Teams Could Have Been

PM associate editor Sean Collier appeared on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to discuss our May issue features: What Pittsburgh's sports teams could have been called, the new sculpture garden at Hartwood Acres and the annual Best Doctors list.

How Well Do You Know Pittsburgh?

What do you know about the fountain of youth in North Park? The relics at St. Anthony’s? The history of Pittsburghese? We bring you all this and more in our guide to Pittsburgh lore full of insider info and fun facts. Plus, take our quizzes to test your expertise of all things Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Team Names That Might've Been

We've known them for decades as the Pirates, Steelers and Penguins, but for a few twists of fate, the closets of dedicated fans could look a lot different.