08262016Fri
Last updateWed, 24 Aug 2016 12pm

News

LAH council, residents reach  cost-sharing internet agreement

LAH council, residents reach cost-sharing internet agreement


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Deputy John Prado met members of the Los Altos Hills City Council last week. Prado, a motorcycle officer, is assigned to traffic enforcement in town.

Julietta Lane’s getting the hook-up, parts of Mora Drive are ent...

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Schools

LAEF announces $3.7 million goal

The Los Altos Educational Foundation, a nonprofit organization led by a board of parent volunteers, is targeting a fundraising goal of $3.7 million for the 2016-2017 school year.

For more than 30 years, LAEF has raised funds from parents and the com...

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Community

 Foothill-De Anza chancellor highlights innovative programs in Rotary Club talk

Foothill-De Anza chancellor highlights innovative programs in Rotary Club talk


Steve Pomeroy/Rotary Club of Los Altos
Judy Miner addresses the Rotary Club of Los Altos at its Aug. 4 meeting.

Despite state funding cuts, Chancellor Judy C. Miner of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District remains positive about the colle...

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Sports

Eagles get defensive

Eagles get defensive


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos quarterback Cooper Cornell, above, hands the ball off to fullback Nick Pontius, who also starts at defensive tackle.

Football coaches can’t help but be optimistic this time of year – every team is st...

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Comment

Letters to the Editor

Remove coyotes from Los Altos

Coyotes are dangerous apex predators that are killing many cats (at least 10 in the past year) and will move on to attacking dogs and people.

Nationally, a number of people have been attacked recently, including four b...

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Special Sections

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night


Courtesy of Dick Bright
Dick Bright, a veteran Bay Area musician, manages local bands such as the Dick Bright Orchestra, Club 90 and Encore. His bands ramp up the energy at weddings.

A wedding soundtrack draws nearly everyone to the dance floor....

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Business

LAH startup aims to make startups happy

LAH startup aims to make startups happy


Whether it’s a nail salon or a car mechanic on the premises, many startups are finding creative ways to keep employees happy. Coders have come to expect services at the office, but CEOs – and overstressed human resource officers –...

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People

EDITH B. LACHENBRUCH

EDITH B. LACHENBRUCH

Nov. 4, 1927- Aug. 7, 2016

Edith B. Lachenbruch died on Sunday, August 7th surrounded by family in her Corvallis, Oregon home. She lived an engaged and thoughtful life. Those who knew her will take comfort thinking of the almost 89 years that she ...

Readmore

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News

LAH council, residents reach cost-sharing internet agreement

LAH council, residents reach  cost-sharing internet agreement

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Deputy John Prado met members of the Los Altos Hills City Council last week. Prado, a motorcycle officer, is assigned to traffic enforcement in town.

Julietta Lane’s getting the hook-up, parts of Mora Drive are entering the fold and the town’s welcoming a ne...

Readmore

Business

LAH startup aims to make startups happy

LAH startup aims to make startups happy

Whether it’s a nail salon or a car mechanic on the premises, many startups are finding creative ways to keep employees happy. Coders have come to expect services at the office, but CEOs – and overstressed human resource officers – can’t always keep up with workers’ de...

Readmore

Sports

Eagles get defensive

Eagles get defensive

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos quarterback Cooper Cornell, above, hands the ball off to fullback Nick Pontius, who also starts at defensive tackle.

Football coaches can’t help but be optimistic this time of year – every team is still undefeated. Los Altos High coach Trevor Pruitt...

Readmore

Community

Foothill-De Anza chancellor highlights innovative programs in Rotary Club talk

 Foothill-De Anza chancellor highlights innovative programs in Rotary Club talk

Steve Pomeroy/Rotary Club of Los Altos
Judy Miner addresses the Rotary Club of Los Altos at its Aug. 4 meeting.

Despite state funding cuts, Chancellor Judy C. Miner of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District remains positive about the colleges’ innovative educational programs.

Miner...

Readmore

Comment

Letters to the Editor

Remove coyotes from Los Altos

Coyotes are dangerous apex predators that are killing many cats (at least 10 in the past year) and will move on to attacking dogs and people.

Nationally, a number of people have been attacked recently, including four by rabid coyotes. There are serious problems in Los...

Readmore

Spiritual Life

'World-embracing vision' requires a shift in thinking

 

More than 120 years ago, the prophet founder of the Baha’i faith wrote, “It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”

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People

EDITH B. LACHENBRUCH

EDITH B. LACHENBRUCH

Nov. 4, 1927- Aug. 7, 2016

Edith B. Lachenbruch died on Sunday, August 7th surrounded by family in her Corvallis, Oregon home. She lived an engaged and thoughtful life. Those who knew her will take comfort thinking of the almost 89 years that she was able to be here as a living, helping, mindful,...

Readmore

Schools

LAEF announces $3.7 million goal

The Los Altos Educational Foundation, a nonprofit organization led by a board of parent volunteers, is targeting a fundraising goal of $3.7 million for the 2016-2017 school year.

For more than 30 years, LAEF has raised funds from parents and the community to provide enrichment programs and smaller ...

Readmore

Special Sections

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night

Courtesy of Dick Bright
Dick Bright, a veteran Bay Area musician, manages local bands such as the Dick Bright Orchestra, Club 90 and Encore. His bands ramp up the energy at weddings.

A wedding soundtrack draws nearly everyone to the dance floor. As the band plays a Beatles tune followed by Brun...

Readmore

Stepping Out

TheatreWorks gets 'Party' started in Mtn. View

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley is scheduled to give American audiences their first look at the London hit “The Life of the Party,” a celebration of songs by Andrew Lippa.

The musical is slated to run today through Sept. 18 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St.

Readmore

Obituaries

EDITH B. LACHENBRUCH

EDITH B. LACHENBRUCH

Nov. 4, 1927- Aug. 7, 2016

Edith B. Lachenbruch died on Sunday, August 7th surrounded by family in her Corvallis, Oregon home. She lived an engaged and thoughtful life. Those who knew her will take comfort thinking of the almost 89 years that she was able to be here as a living, helping, mindful,...

Readmore

Magazine

Festival offers fun for just about everyone

Festival offers fun for just about everyone

TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The 37th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival expects to draw thousands of people to the downtown village over the weekend. The festival features arts, crafts, food, wine, beer and children’s activities.

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Los Altos builder crafts signature homes


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bob Owen of Owen Signature Homes has built hundreds of local homes, including the Los Altos Hills residence above. Bob and his son Shawn are currently constructing a steel home in Los Altos, below.

Bob Owen loves to build houses. In fact, he’s built so many that he’s lost count.


“It’s in the hundreds,” said Owen, a product of Los Altos whose firm, Owen Signature Homes, is marking its 43rd year.


Construction runs in his blood. His father, who died at 42, founded G.H. Owen Construction in Los Altos.


“I was just a kid then,” said Owen, who raised his then 9-year-old brother.


Although Owen liked helping out in the family business as a youth, he wondered why anyone would want to be a building contractor given the ups and downs of the economy. With his parents’ hard times in mind, he changed course, graduating with a degree in finance and business from Brigham Young University.


He worked in the finance departments at Westinghouse Electric Corp. and Varian Associates Inc. before becoming disenchanted with the corporate world.


“Business is all politics, and I wanted to do something on my own,” Owen said. “I loved construction as a kid. It was so gratifying at the end of the day to stand back and look at something I had done.”


With that in mind and lessons learned from his father, he purchased a lot in Los Altos on a handshake – “I had no money” – and built his first spec house. He drew the plans, poured the foundation and did the framing and just about everything himself.


His “signature” home led to contracts for 10 more. Intel Corp.’s Andy Grove was among the first potential buyers to tour the house.


Since then, Owen’s business has grown – along with his reputation.


“He’s intensely professional,” said Peter Detkin of Los Altos Hills. “He and his team were good about communicating with us every step of the way.”


Detkin and his wife, Michelle, are “thrilled” with their custom home.


“We moved in a few weeks ago and continue to get very good service,” he said.


The couple’s spacious home with its media and exercise rooms is worlds away from the ranch homes popular when Owen started out.


Changing with the times


“In the ’70s, living spaces were defined. Every house had a living room, dining room, kitchen and family room,” Owen said. “Now there are open floor plans and great rooms.”


More people today eschew living rooms, but Owen believes a house should at least have a parlorlike area away from the action for sitting and relaxing.


“Homes in the ’70s and ’80s were pretty dark inside – now it’s just the opposite,” he said, citing the desire for volume, high ceilings, skylights, more glass and natural light.


“Houses were more budget-driven when I started out,” Owen added. “Now people have more money to venture out. And, the clientele is getting younger.”


Among the other trends Owen has noted as his construction career has evolved:


• Kitchens. There are more appliances and convenience items, such as built-in coffeemakers priced upwards of $2,000. Everything is gas. Islands are prevalent and are being “loaded up,” although Owen disdains cooktops in islands. Four or five ovens in a house are not uncommon. He recently installed a steamer oven.


• Basements and elevators. Owen has been building basements for 10 to 15 years, but they’re au courant because “people want a house as big as it can possibly be,” he said, which means going underground. He cited the example of a 12,000-square-foot house being built on a 1-acre lot. Elevators are becoming more commonplace because of multilevel dwellings and an aging population.


• Bigger rooms and specialty rooms. One of Owen’s clients wanted 20-foot-by-20-foot bedrooms for the children and a 20-foot-by-25-foot master bedroom. Media rooms, home theaters, game rooms, gyms, home offices and storage rooms have replaced dens and TV rooms.


• High-tech electronics. Think smart houses.


Builder and customer satisfaction


Does Owen have a favorite house or project?


“I love them all” is his ready reply.


What about a favorite architectural style?


“I like Mediterranean and traditional,” he paused. “And comfortable houses and ones that have a little more country feeling. I’m often asked what style I am noted for. My answer is, ‘Yes.’ Doing something different is exciting and so much fun. I like to be a trendsetter.”


His main goal is to satisfy his clients. His son Shawn, vice president and active in the business for a quarter of a century, shares the mission.


“We work hard to make clients think their house is the only one we’re building, although we may have 10 to 15 projects going at a time,” Owen said.


He is able to control costs more and accommodate clients’ needs because he is both architect and builder. There are four sets of eyes on every project – his, Shawn’s, the architect’s and the supervisor’s.


“There are two rewards for me – to see what I’ve built and to have happy clients move in,” Owen said.

Submit a Letter to the Editor

The Town Crier welcomes letters to the editor on current events pertinent to Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Write to us at 138 Main St., Los Altos 94022, Attn: Editor, or email editor Bruce Barton at bruceb@latc.com. Because editorial space is limited, please confine letters to no more than 200 words. Include a phone number for verification purposes. Anonymous letters will not be printed.

You can also have your say right here at losaltosonline.com – scroll to the bottom of any story to add a comment. 

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