07262016Tue
Last updateTue, 26 Jul 2016 5pm

News

Detectives seek to identify bank robber

Detectives seek to identify bank robber

Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office detectives have released images of a man robbing a local bank earlier this week.


The suspect

At approximately 3 p.m. Tuesday (July 19), a man wearing a black baseball cap, glasses and a black coat entered the...

Readmore

Loading...

Schools

Hofmann boys reel in customers with their new fishing business

Hofmann boys reel in customers with their new fishing business


Courtesy of Amy Hofmann
The Hofmann brothers – Grady, from left, Hayden and Baylor – fish three to five mornings a week from their family’s boat, “Party of Five,” docked in the Santa Cruz Harbor.

Three to five times per...

Readmore

Loading...

Community

Local vet: Dogs need teeth brushing, too: Pet Pause

Home oral hygiene can make a tremendous difference in your dog’s comfort and health. There are several home care oral hygiene options from which to choose, but keep in mind that anything you can do to help prevent plaque and tartar accumulation...

Readmore

Loading...

Sports

Don't tell these guys it's only an exhibition

Don't tell these guys it's only an exhibition


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Mountain View High defensive end Noah Kjos celebrates a tackle by one of his teammates. He recovered a fumble in the game.

There was nothing on the line but pride, and that proved more than enough to motivate the play...

Readmore

Loading...

Comment

Letter to the Editor

LAH should examine short-term rentals

I used to think that a short-term rental (Airbnb style) was operated by someone who has a spare bedroom to share and was thus not a big issue. Living in Los Altos Hills, I was surprised to find out that one of m...

Readmore

Loading...

Special Sections

Reading in sign,  ink and song

Reading in sign, ink and song


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A baby girl learns sign language during a program offered Wednesdays at the Los Altos Library.

Visit Los Altos Library’s community room on a Wednesday afternoon and you’ll see its plain gray expanse descend i...

Readmore

Loading...

Business

Longtime LAVA director announces resignation

Longtime LAVA director announces resignation


Dunaway

After more than 10 years on the job, Nancy Dunaway is stepping down from her role as executive director of the Los Altos Village Association (LAVA).

“It’s a good time for both the association and myself,” Dunaway said las...

Readmore

Loading...

People

DONNA MYERS

DONNA MYERS

Donna Lee Arrants Myers was born in Selma, California on Feb. 20, 1926. She passed away on June 23, 2016, at the age of 90, after suffering a stroke. Donna was the youngest of four children. She had two sisters, Jessie and Bonnie, and one brother, ...

Readmore

Loading...

News

Detectives seek to identify bank robber

Detectives seek to identify bank robber

Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office detectives have released images of a man robbing a local bank earlier this week.


The suspect

At approximately 3 p.m. Tuesday (July 19), a man wearing a black baseball cap, glasses and a black coat entered the Wells Fargo at the intersection of Foothill Expre...

Readmore

Business

Longtime LAVA director announces resignation

Longtime LAVA director announces resignation

Dunaway

After more than 10 years on the job, Nancy Dunaway is stepping down from her role as executive director of the Los Altos Village Association (LAVA).

“It’s a good time for both the association and myself,” Dunaway said last week.

Readmore

Sports

Don't tell these guys it's only an exhibition

Don't tell these guys it's only an exhibition

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Mountain View High defensive end Noah Kjos celebrates a tackle by one of his teammates. He recovered a fumble in the game.

There was nothing on the line but pride, and that proved more than enough to motivate the players in the 42nd annual Charlie Wedemeyer High Scho...

Readmore

Community

Local vet: Dogs need teeth brushing, too: Pet Pause

Home oral hygiene can make a tremendous difference in your dog’s comfort and health. There are several home care oral hygiene options from which to choose, but keep in mind that anything you can do to help prevent plaque and tartar accumulation will pay big dividends. The most important thing ...

Readmore

Comment

Letter to the Editor

LAH should examine short-term rentals

I used to think that a short-term rental (Airbnb style) was operated by someone who has a spare bedroom to share and was thus not a big issue. Living in Los Altos Hills, I was surprised to find out that one of my neighbors in a small cul-de-sac is renting out a...

Readmore

People

DONNA MYERS

DONNA MYERS

Donna Lee Arrants Myers was born in Selma, California on Feb. 20, 1926. She passed away on June 23, 2016, at the age of 90, after suffering a stroke. Donna was the youngest of four children. She had two sisters, Jessie and Bonnie, and one brother, Clyde, whom she adored. At the age of eleven, the ...

Readmore

Schools

Hofmann boys reel in customers with their new fishing business

Hofmann boys reel in customers with their new fishing business

Courtesy of Amy Hofmann
The Hofmann brothers – Grady, from left, Hayden and Baylor – fish three to five mornings a week from their family’s boat, “Party of Five,” docked in the Santa Cruz Harbor.

Three to five times per week, the Hofmann boys get up much earlier than m...

Readmore

Special Sections

Reading in sign, ink and song

Reading in sign,  ink and song

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A baby girl learns sign language during a program offered Wednesdays at the Los Altos Library.

Visit Los Altos Library’s community room on a Wednesday afternoon and you’ll see its plain gray expanse descend into a slobbering, rolling, gurgling-baby Thunderdo...

Readmore

Stepping Out

'Pan' flies into town

'Pan' flies into town

Courtesy of Pati Bristow
Valerie Hu, front, plays the title character and Ellie Schwartz is Tinkerbell in the Los Altos Youth Theatre production of “Disney’s Peter Pan Jr.”

The Los Altos Youth Theatre production of “Disney’s Peter Pan Jr.”scheduled to close Sunday.

Fly away to Neverland with P...

Readmore

Obituaries

DONNA MYERS

DONNA MYERS

Donna Lee Arrants Myers was born in Selma, California on Feb. 20, 1926. She passed away on June 23, 2016, at the age of 90, after suffering a stroke. Donna was the youngest of four children. She had two sisters, Jessie and Bonnie, and one brother, Clyde, whom she adored. At the age of eleven, the ...

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.

Readmore

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. 

Schools »

Schools
Read More

Sports »

sports
Read More

People »

people
Read More

Special Sections »

Special Sections
Read More

Photos of Los Altos

photoshelter
Browse and buy photos