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'The people have spoken'

Tour's favorite house 'really special, different'

By Heather Wood
published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Real Estate section
Saturday, November 22, 2008

What makes a winner?

At the 2008 Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association's "Haciendas -- A Parade of Homes," visitors made their choice clear: The People's Choice Award for the most favored house on the tour went to a spec home at 37 Rabbit Brush (in the La Vida subdivision near Las Campanas), built by father-son team of Charles and Chuck Rudolph of Rudolph Design and Development, LLC.

Although this was the first time the design and development duo participated in the SFAHBA tour, the Hacienda rookies took home not only the coveted People's Choice Award, but also two others in their category ($1.575 million to $2 million) awarded by the tour judges' panel -- the "Most Creative and Innovative Award" and the "Unique Detail Award" for their show-stopping wine room.

What makes this house special?

"Santa Fe has an ambiance about itself, and the home reflects that on the outside," Chuck Rudolph explained, adding that "the interior of the house is really special, different. I've toured homes in all parts of the city, and there are some beautiful homes," he added, "but you can see where builders cut corners to meet the bottom line."

But no expense was spared at 37 Rabbit Brush, Chuck said. Instead, the house is filled with a variety of imported stone -- such as Turkish travertine, Italian marble and Cantera stone from Mexico -- that supplies both focal points and details throughout the home.

"It's about the application of the stone," Chuck said. "In the kitchen, we inlaid brick in herringbone pattern in the beams ... people loved that. Every room has a special detail. People describe it as, 'over the top,' 'magnificent,' and 'luxurious.' ... It has touches that you'd see in a $5 million house," he added.

Peter Merrill, who sat on the judges' panel, is a construction arbitrator, member of the SFAHBA, and the state representative for the National Association of Home Builders. He is "very, very impressed" with 37 Rabbit Brush, he said, pointing out that he deals with bad construction and he know details. "The finish work was really well done, very nicely coordinated. The floor plan flows nicely ... and the roof drainage system is impressive," he said.

A runaway favorite

According to SFAHBA marketing and communications director Cheri Johansen, 2,650 tickets were sold to this year's tour of 40 homes. Those who purchased a ticket were able to vote online for their favorite home at www.santafehometour.com, and nearly 400 votes were cast, she says.

"We had no access to the comments on the voting," Charles Rudolph said, "but we got a lot of e-mails via our Web site, 37rabbitbrush.shutterfly.com. The adjectives used were things like 'most fabulous,' 'couldn't believe the attention to detail in the house,' etc., ... just general raving about the house."

Johansen confirms an overwhelming majority of visitors who cast votes cast them in support of the Rudolphs' entry.

"Since the Parade of Homes was (held over) two weekends," Charles said, "we had people visit over and over. They brought their friends back," he said. And what brought them back, the builder believes, were the home's details -- Venetian finishes and unusual ceiling details in every room of the 4,440-square-foot house.

The home at 37 Rabbit Brush, which Chuck describes as "Spanish revival, updating something you'd see in Old Mexico," includes three bedrooms, a great room, formal dining room and study, three fireplaces and the much-applauded temperature-controlled wine room that can hold nearly 800 bottles. It is currently listed for $1.95 million.

Doing it right

Charles Rudolph Sr. grew up in Las Vegas, N.M., and moved to Santa Fe in 1964.

"I've always been creative," he said when asked how he got started in the home-building business. "Since I was a kid, I'd get boards from the backyard and build things. I have a unique talent to visualize a finished product in my mind."

A former state corporation commissioner, Charles started building professionally when he retired from that job. "I got my contractor's license and built entry-level homes," he said. "Now I'm doing high-end homes. The last three are over $1 million. My son and I are partners in business ... and have built approximately 15 homes in eight years."

Son Chuck (Charles Rudolph Jr.) is a licensed New Mexico Qualifying Broker. He owns Santa Fe Luxury Properties and makes his home in both the City Different and Scottsdale, Ariz.

"Our philosophy is that if we're going to build high-end homes, we're going to do it right," Chuck said. "The last home we had on the market, also located in La Vida, was on (the market) for only 72 days."

Both men are proud of the home they built at 37 Rabbit Brush and pleased with the recognition it has received. "In my opinion, the People's Choice is the best award out there," Chuck said. "The people have spoken."

Heather Wood is a freelance writer who writes regularly for the Santa Fe New Mexican. She can be reached through her website at www.HeatherWoodFreelance.com.

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