The Latest in Contemporary Home Design: Q+A with Snake River Builders

Custom residential home builder John McIntosh of Snake River Builders, a full-service building company, blends contemporary and rustic materials to create majestic mountain homes in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Teton Valley, Idaho. We sat down with John to talk about his business, the role of windows and doors in contemporary home design, and the importance of builder-supplier relationships. 

Pella: You began your career in the logging industry. How has that inspired your approach to creating custom homes?

John: What’s been great to see in recent years is that there's been a resurgence really since the 70s of timber framing, a lost art. This has been great for me because it’s essentially the merging of my two careers. I’ve always been inspired by wood, and to see it become popular in contemporary architecture is really exciting.

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the building industry since you started?

There are a lot more products and ways of doing things. For a while, log homes were the mainstay of our work. Now we’re seeing more homes that are a blending of contemporary, traditional and rustic styles.

How do you work with clients to determine what they want and value most?

In my experience, one of the first things people usually care about when they come to us is what kind of view the house will have. What customers don’t realize is that the view, and this whole modern idea of light extending deep into the home, definitely can create challenges for designers and engineers. It’s not just about building a view. It’s about building something that can be just as energy-efficient as it is beautiful — even though it’s made out of glass, which isn’t as efficient as, say, a wall. But that’s what makes building in Wyoming and Idaho exciting. We have people who want to push that envelope by creating sweeping contemporary views. Fortunately, as products and materials change and grow and improve, we can do more now than we previously could.

What role do windows and doors play in the design-build process?

Windows and doors play a big role in our overall process. One of the things that comes up again and again is that balance between energy efficiency and aesthetics, which takes in the line and the view of a building. When we’re dealing with big sheets of glass, there's always a trade-off in terms of styling versus heat loss.

How important to you is having a voice and relationship with your suppliers?

We get to see what works, what doesn’t and what the problem areas are. From there, we try to give that feedback to our vendors in a positive, constructive way to say, “We’re seeing this. Can we improve this element of it?" 

We've been really happy with some of that response. In particular, we’ve been impressed with how Pella has listened to our feedback. The message has gone from the field to their designers and back to us with new products – like Pella’s contemporary line – that have helped us out a lot in terms of being able to offer homeowners the contemporary window and door offerings they desire.

Pella worked in tandem with design professionals to gather meaningful information on what architects and custom builders needed in windows and doors, their pain points and the drive behind their designs. The expanded line includes new contemporary products, which offer smart styling and clean sightlines along with stylish hardware.

Visit Pella® Architect Series® Contemporary to learn more.

This article was written by

A 10-year building industry professional, Brandon is a member of the Pella Marketing team, focused on helping make builders and contractors successful. He always enjoys trying to bring new ideas to fruition and exploring what might be. A husband, and father, Brandon spends time making memories with his family and is always up for a good competition.