Second certified Passive Home builder now on staff at Edwards Smith Construction

We’re pleased to announce the addition of a second Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) Certified BuilderSM on staff. Edwards Smith Superintendent Mike Ridlehoover attended training in the fall of 2015 and recently received notification that he passed the certification exam.


Edwards Smith Construction is the first and only builder in North Idaho to achieve the PHIUS Certified Builder designation. Principal Andy Smith earned his certification in early 2015. He and Ridlehoover are currently overseeing the construction of the company’s first passive home, slated for completion later this year.


The rigorous building energy standards of passive house technology combine super-insulation with an extremely airtight building envelope to dramatically reduce temperature variation, and prevent condensation and mold issues.


“I enjoyed meeting other builders from all over the country who are interested in pursuing the passive building science. It’s also good to hear different approaches to the same process,” said Ridlehoover. “I think most professional builders would benefit from the training because some of the techniques can be applied to any type of construction.”


For more information on passive homes, contact Edwards Smith Construction at 208.765.8602 or

Mike Ridlehoover - PHIUS Certified Builder


Andy Smith named Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) Certified Builder


Most of us are familiar with those uncomfortable drafts in the winter, particularly around windows and doors and the stuffy air that results from keeping everything closed up; the challenge of maintaining a comfortable temperature in our homes during weather extremes while the cost of heating and cooling continues to rise; and the challenge of maintaining a mold-free environment when moisture in the air creates condensation.


Now imagine a draft-free home, one where the temperature variations are extremely narrow year ‘round – even near doors and windows.  How about a ventilation system that supplies continuous fresh air filtered of pollution, dust and mold?  Picture yourself opening up an energy bill that actually brings a smile to your face with the added satisfaction of knowing you’re doing your part to conserve energy – actually consuming 80 to 90 percent less heating energy than a traditional building.  It’s possible in

structures built to Passive House standards.


Andy Smith, principal of Edwards Smith Construction, is pleased to bring this innovation to the area as the first and only builder in North Idaho designated a Passive House Institute US or PHIUS Certified builder.


“It’s a completely different way to think about building,” says Smith. “Passive home design and construction consider the physics of mother nature.  Discomfort arises in a typical home due to the movement of air; heat moves toward cold surfaces and moisture moves toward dry and vice versa. The goal of a passive structure is to prevent this movement; the result is superior comfort.”


The Passive House technology was perfected in Germany and the principles can be applied to residential as well as commercial structures.  In addition to being tremendously energy efficient, passive buildings offer a number of long-term benefits.  They are extremely resilient – able to handle the typical stresses of nature – and offer superb air quality.  “Indoor air in a passive home is better than outdoor air any day of the year, " says Smith


Super-insulation combined with an extremely airtight building envelope in passive homes is what dramatically reduces temperature variation, and also prevents condensation and mold issues. Additionally, in passive homes, good for you and good for the environment go hand-in-hand.


The Passive House Building Energy Standard promoted by PHIUS is one of the most rigorous building energy standards in the world.  Those who have obtained the right through PHIUS to carry the PHIUS Certified BuilderSM designation have committed themselves to design and construction excellence along with the passive house energy performance and quality criteria.


Edwards Smith Construction is headed by Jim Edwards who started the company in 1994 and Smith who joined in 1997 and became a partner in 2008.  The two owners have over 60 years combined experience in residential and commercial building and remodeling.  Artistry and attention to detail are the hallmarks of Edwards Smith’s success.  “At Edwards Smith Construction, we recognize it’s a team effort and that it takes the entire team (architect, owner, subcontractors, builder, etc.) working together to get the outcome our clients’ desire. The result is a project in harmony – and it’s evident in everything we build – passive or otherwise."


According to their website, PHIUS has trained more than 1,700 architects, engineers, energy consultants, energy raters, and builders. It is also the leading certifier of passive buildings.


For more information on passive homes, please contact Edwards Smith Construction at


208.765.8602 or

Andy Smith - PHIUS Certified Builder


To our valued clients and fans,

Over the last month or so, we’ve unveiled a new look – a new logo and a new website. It’s making its debut on our trailers and in advertising; soon it will be showing up on business cards and at job sites.


Using our past logo as a foundation, it has been subtly tweaked for a cleaner and simpler look that we believe is also more timeless and versatile.


But one thing won’t ever change: our passion for perfection and ongoing commitment to our clients and fans. When you choose Edwards Smith Construction, we want to be sure it’s yet another smart decision.


Artistry and attention to detail remain the hallmarks of our success. It’s evident in every facet of our work – from what you see to, perhaps more importantly, what you don’t.


Stay tuned as we continue to share updates on new construction and remodels, our marketing efforts, personnel, and completed projects. You can also follow us on Facebook, Houzz, Pinterest and Twitter. And, in the meantime, if there’s something you’d like to see or to learn more about, please let us know.


On behalf of everyone at Edwards Smith Construction, we thank you for your continued support!




Jim Edwards and Andy Smith

Edwards Smith Trailer being being branded with new logo.


Iconic Architecture:

10 Must-Know Modern Homes

On some days it seems that modern architecture has 10 times as many detractors as proponents, even though the movement has influenced a great deal of residential architecture — from open floor plans to means of construction. Some of the dislike for modernism can be attributed to the way it broke with the classical tradition, even though some histories trace modern architecture from 19th-century neoclassicism and the Industrial Revolution to 20th-century manufacturing. Many views of modern architecture are oversimplified, and even the significant houses of the early and mid-20th centuries are a varied bunch that deserve close examination.

Gamble House

Year built: 1908

Architect: Greene and Greene

Location: Pasadena, California

Schröder House

Year built: 1924

Architect: Gerrit Rietveld

Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

Farnsworth House

Year built: 1951

Architect: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Location: Plano, Illinois





Touches of Cozy

for Open-Plan Designs

Open-plan living is here to stay, but sometimes you need to divide and rule within a large room. Whether you need to create a pause between cooking and dining zones, separate a bedroom from a bathing area or create a calmer spot in a living room, here are 10 ways to do the job beautifully and in a sympathetic style.

Interior window. The owners of this open-plan space have set aside a central area for work. They’ve used metal-framed glass to create a dedicated office that is connected to the adjoining areas. The lucky home worker doesn’t feel cut off but can still get the job done.

Make furniture work. A low storage cabinet cordons off a cozy corner in this vast barn space. It doesn’t interfere with the lofty grace of the building, but it does create a more human scale and a place where people can retreat to for TV watching, games and reading.

Flexible screening. This smart piece of cabinetry combines understairs storage with wooden louvers for a versatile partition that’s good looking, whether the slats are open or shut. It forms the wall of a staircase and combines drawers with a thoughtfully designed screen, which also helps with sound insulation.



Your Guide to 15 Popular Kitchen Countertop Materials

With so many choices at homeowners' fingertips, picking out a kitchen counter is no easy task. Since this surface area ends up influencing many kitchen palettes, it's important to choose something that looks good to you, will hold up under the kitchen activity of your household and has a price tag that suits your budget.


We've gathered links to our guides to 15 popular kitchen countertop materials handily in one place to help you find the choice that suits you best.

Soapstone Kitchen Counters


Often used in laboratories for its resistance to stains, chemicals and bacteria, soapstone is a durable and natural choice for a kitchen. At $80 to $100 per square foot installed, it might be on the more expensive side, but it can be a lifetime investment.


Granite Kitchen Counters


There are plenty of reasons granite is so popular — this natural stone has plenty of character, with unique grains, colors and customizable finishes. When properly sealed, it's one of the most durable options out there. While it can cost as low as $50 per square foot installed, prices can go up quickly with more exotic slabs and difficult installations.



Pinkerton Celebrates
Gold Shovel Groundbreaking

It was a gorgeous Idaho morning May 12, 2014, as Dan and Kathryn Pinkerton, founders of Pinkerton Retirement Specialists, held a photogenic “gold shovel” groundbreaking ceremony for their new company headquarters at Riverstone in Coeur d’Alene.

Wielding the gold shovels were: (left to right) Troy Tymesen, City of Coeur d’Alene; Tom Henkel and Andy Smith, Edwards Smith Construction; Kathryn and Dan Pinkerton, Pinkerton Retirement Specialists; Steve Wilson, Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce and John Eixenberger, architect.


The 21,000-square-foot headquarters on the waterfront will have 40 offices, creating additional room for growth, and is anticipated to open in the spring of 2015.


Pinkerton Retirement Specialists had five employees when it moved to Coeur d’Alene in 1997, and has since expanded to 27 employees and nearly $500 million in assets under management. The firm provides proactive, comprehensive retirement strategies for clients with more than $500,000 in investable assets.


Your Guide to a Smooth-Running Construction Project

With so many choices at homeowners' fingertips, picking out a kitchen counter is no easy task. Since this surface area ends up influencing many kitchen palettes, it's important to choose something that looks good to you, will hold up under the kitchen activity of your household and has a price tag that suits your budget.


We've gathered links to our guides to 15 popular kitchen countertop materials handily in one place to help you find the choice that suits you best.

Imagine walking into your newly built or remodeled home and seeing it exactly as you had imagined it at the start of construction: the windows are all in the right places, the flooring is the right color, and the kitchen cabinets are a perfect fit.


Now allow me to pinch you on the arm, because for most people, reality is often different from that idyllic scenario. You might see missing trim around the bedroom doors or wonder why that small change in the kitchen cost so much. Looking back, you might ask, “And why did we have to hire another subcontractor to finish the bathroom?”


Of course, there are things you just can’t plan for, but there’s plenty that you can. Costly changes and additional time-consuming work can be kept to a minimum if you fully understand what you are building before you start. By understanding the construction process, being part of the team and keeping a firm grip on the budget, your construction project can result in the home of your dreams.


1. Don’t Skimp on Design Help

2. Become Part of the Team

3. Establish Your Goals and Refer Back to Them Frequently

4. Establish Your Budget and Add at Least 10 Percent

5. Don’t Get Attached to an Optimistic Timeline

6. Consider Construction Implications Before You Start

7. Communicate Frequently With Your Team


7 Steps to

Create a New Home

Whether building new or renovating an existing structure, creating a new home is a journey of discovering who you are, what you want, how you want to live and where you want to be. It’s a chance for you to define your relationship to the world, to your family and to yourself. Creating a home is more than building “3 bedrooms, 2½ bathrooms.” It is so much more than the sum of a few parts.


As with any journey, you’ll want to do some research and plan your trip. You’ll want to have a sense of what the end result should be and how much it’ll cost. And while you’ll no doubt

be able to go it alone, having a seasoned and experienced guide show you the way

will likely mean a more enjoyable, more

enriching and overall better journey.

Let’s look at the steps, in chronological order, involved in creating a home. Keep in mind what architect Charles Moore once said:

“If you care enough you just do it. You bind the goods and trappings of your life together with your dreams to make a place that is uniquely your own. The crucial ingredient is concern, care for the way that a house is built and the shape it gives to your life."

1. Set goals.

          Questions to ask:

          • What do you want to achieve?

          • Where do you want to be?

          • What will this cost?

          • Can it really be achieved?

          • Does plan A make sense?

          • What’s plan B?


2. Establish a budget.

3. Find land or a neglected older house.

4. Assemble a team.

5. Plan, plan and plan some more.

6. Accept the inevitable.

7. Enjoy your new home.


The Faces of Edwards Smith Construction: John Vocca

On any given day, he’ll more than likely have visited most of our jobsites, delivering supplies, checking to ensure safety protocols are being followed, and even directing traffic on narrow mountain roads if that’s what needed. John Vocca (a.k.a. Captain Caveman) has worn many hats for the company in his 11+ years and continues to be a valuable asset at Edwards Smith Construction.


John has two dogs, two goats and 10 chickens, and it turns out he’s as multifaceted away from ES as he is at work. He enjoys hunting, fishing, canoeing, building furniture, bicycling, reading, model railroading, target shooting, archery and learning history, just to name a few of his hobbies. His dream car is a 1966 Chevy Malibu SS muscle car, specifically canary yellow with Cragar SS mags. I imagine he was dreaming of that car while working hard at his first job delivering newspapers.


Some time ago, John had an opportunity to buy land from an old farmer in California for $3,000 an acre. The worst advice he ever received came from a “friend” who told John the land was useless and that no one would ever want it. Several years later, that land was selling for over $500,000 an acre. Now that had to hurt! It’s no surprise that if he could sit down with his 15-year-old self, he’d tell him to invest his money in real estate and, for added measure, learn to be a giver.


Fortunately, he was also given some great advice along the way when he was told, “That’s the woman you need to marry.” So he did. John received the Air Force Commendation Medal twice for meritorious service. Given the opportunity to trade places with another person for a week, he said he would choose Jesus. A dream he’s tucked away for the moment – big surprise, he has two dreams tucked away – is to have a custom furniture shop and to get his pilot’s license. The jobs may often be thankless, John, but we know we can always count on you to get them done. You keep everyone safe and ES running smoothly, and we thank you!



The Faces of Edwards Smith Construction: Jodi Robertson

Jodi Robertson is the friendly face of human resources at Edwards Smith Construction.

And just like the traits of a great employee, Jodi has proven to be, among other things, very dependable.

She was with Smith’s Contracting Services for 12 years prior to the merger with Edwards Construction, bringing a total of 18 years of expertise to her daily duties. Her first job was with Payless Shoes where she worked for eight years. Jodi has two “spoiled” dogs – a yellow lab and a puggle and, in her free time, enjoys camping, boating, reading and hanging out with family and friends. She takes particular delight in attending any event in which her boys are on the field or on stage, from football and lacrosse games to plays and band concerts.


Her dream car – “one that is paid off!” Did I mention Jodi has a great sense of humor as well? Another dream tucked away, for the moment, is to travel to Scotland and tour the castles there.


If Jodi could sit down with her 15-year-old self, she’d tell her “you are never too young to start saving money.” Over the years, she’s learned that any sentence involving the words “I dare you” is not a path she wants to take. On the flip side, the best advice she ever received: “To own my own failures and successes and to let others have theirs.”


She said one misconception people have about her is that she’s organized. (You certainly have us fooled, Jodi.)


If she could trade places with someone for a week, she said it would be her children. By the end of the week, Jodi figures, they’d all have a new appreciation for each other. She’s proud of her husband, Neal, and their three boys and wants to be remembered as a fun and loving Mom. I don’t think there’s any doubt that’s how you’ll be remembered, Jodi, and, around here, you’re definitely one of the fun and friendly


The Faces of Edwards Smith Construction: Buff Kobs

Buff Kobs has a nickname for almost every situation it seems including Bitter Buff (because he sometimes appears gruff), The Buffer (when a situation calls for mediation) and, his favorite, Buff Daddy (given to him by his children). Whatever he’s called, Buff Kobs has been a familiar face around Edwards Smith Construction for over 20 years. He currently oversees a number of jobs in his capacity as Job Superintendent.

When asked if he had any pets, he said “no,” and added that he’d rather enjoy someone else’s pet so he doesn’t have to “deal with any extra poop.” That’s our Buff! For fun, Buff enjoys camping, drag racing motorcycles, and the occasional cocktail with friends. Seems he already owns his dream car – a Chevy Nova – and he loves it.

His first job was picking up golf range balls when he was 11 years old. Unfortunately, he received his worst piece of advice on that golf course after having worked his way into the pro shop. The head pro told him to “promise customers anything; just get their money in your hand.”


The best advice he was ever given came from his favorite aunt just before she died. He asked her how she remained so strong and didn’t cry. She told him that if she cried, everyone would cry, and Buff thought that was the bravest thing he had ever heard. His advice to his 15-year-old self would be to have some fun while you are young and try to save a little for when you are old.


Buff Kobs racing in the 2013 NHRA Divisional in Spokane, WA. When it comes to

racing, Buff has a “few” awards on his shelf, including multiple wins in National

Hot Rod Association (NHRA) races and being named two-time Divisional Champion

for North Western United States Pro Sportsmen Motorcycle Drag Racing. It’s no surprise then that Buff’s dream is to be a NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Rider, but says the fact that he’s not 5 feet tall and 110 pounds means “that ain’t happening.”

Buff is proud of his first venture into construction when he started Buff’s Drywall and remains proud of all the projects that business is involved with to this day. He wants to be remembered for being a fair and honest person that wanted to do the right thing.


When I asked who he’d trade places with if he could for a week, he said he was happy with the way things are. “I really love my life with my wife and all the good friends and family, including all of my business associates.” In addition to his association with Jim Edwards and Andy Smith, of which he is very proud, he said, “I am lucky to be working with such a great team of craftsmen, both employees and related subcontractors. [They] truly are the best of the best in our community.”

Well, Buff, we consider you one of the best of the best, bitter or otherwise!


The Faces of Edwards Smith Construction: Andy Smith

Today we’re going to feature the other principal of the Edwards Smith team – Andy Smith.

Edwards Smith Construction was formed in 2008, but, according to Andy, he and Jim have been “joined at the hip for 15 years,” back when it was just Edwards Construction.


Andy said he doesn’t have any pets, and then with a smile acknowledged “a couple.” Something tells us he has more than a few pets at home since he also serves as president of the Kootenai Humane Society.

With so much energy going into the company, he doesn’t have time for much else. He does, however, enjoy spending time with his family and watching his children play soccer. We’ve concluded that Andy

must be living the dream since he already owns his dream car – a red convertible mustang. Andy’s first job at age 14 was delivering newspapers before school. In those days, he was expected to deliver to every house on his route – paying and non-paying customers alike; then knock on every door and collect – even if they didn’t order the paper. In retrospect, Andy would tell his

15-year-old self to stay out of the newspaper business.


He said the worst piece of advice he ever received was that he needed to yell and scream at his crew to get them to do anything – that he’d never be successful if he was nice to people. Andy’s response, “I have to work there, too, and I’d rather get out of the business than work in that kind of environment.”


The best advice he ever received – to put the client’s interest above the company’s and put himself in the client’s shoes. “If money is the primary motivation for what you’re doing,” he said, “you’re going to fail with the client.” If he could trade places with any other person for a week it would be someone who would alter his perception of things – “shatter what I already know and add value to my daily life.”


A dream he’s tucked away for the moment is to travel, particularly to national parks and historical sites, to witness our country’s various landscapes, particularly the Florida Keys. Andy is proud of his family, his work for the Kootenai Humane Society and Edwards Smith Construction – “the work we do and the relationships we’ve built.” Personally and professionally, he wants to be remembered for being authentic - that the perception equals the reality. He was a pretty straight-shooter during this interview and his authenticity was coupled with a great sense of humor – an awesome combination to have at the helm of Edwards Smith Construction.


The Faces of Edwards Smith Construction: Max Martin

Our interior finish wizard, Max Martin, has been with the company for 19 years, working with Jim Edwards prior to the Edwards Smith merger. During his aggressive framing days, he was known as Mad Dog Max.


Max has quite a menagerie of pets including dogs, cats and rabbits. His most unusual, he says, are his five pigeons – one even won an award for being fast. He didn’t mention his chickens, Sophie, Starbuck & Phillis, who were featured in the Martin’s 2012 Christmas letter. Perhaps they went to roost (couldn’t help myself) elsewhere.


For fun, Max builds stuff for himself and, when he’s not doing that, he likes to hike with his dog, Maya.

That must be a very special dog because his dream “car” is a Harley Davidson Heritage Softail with a sidecar for Maya. Max’s first job was as a dishwasher at a country club in Denver, CO. If he could sit down with his 15-year-old self, he’d tell him not to be a carpenter – “get a good paying job.”


A dream he’s tucked away, for the moment, is to build a neat cabin in the forest. Towards that end, his biological build clock is not just ticking, it’s running. Edwards Smith Construction is fortunate to have a wizard like Max on the payroll, and evidence of Max’s magic is found throughout our clients’ homes.


The Faces of Edwards Smith Construction: Russ Nalley

"Wise men, when in doubt whether to speak or to keep quiet, give themselves the benefit of the doubt, and remain silent."~ Napoleon Hill


This quote seemed applicable when trying to describe Russ Nalley, Edwards Smith Construction’s labor manager. Even though he’s not one to step into the limelight, Russ is definitely someone we count on to

 get the job done. He has 15 years under his belt between working for Edwards Smith Construction and, prior to the Edwards Smith merger, Smith’s Contracting Services. Russ has a cat and a dog and, in his free time, enjoys riding four wheelers and bikes with his family. His first job was with the fairgrounds followed by work in a fruit packing shed. If he could sit down with his

15-year-old self, he’d tell him to pay attention.


When asked who he’d trade places with for a week if he could, he said something wise, indeed – that there is no one else he’d rather be. And we agree; there’s no one else we’d rather have in your place, Russ.


The Faces of Edwards Smith Construction: Sue Edwards

The other half of “The Eddies” as they’re called by old friends is Sue Edwards. Sue has worn many hats since the inception of Edwards Construction and still pops into the office from time to time to assist with various tasks, particularly some tax and end-of-year responsibilities.

 (We also appreciate Sue ensuring the office is decorated for the holidays and her coordination of the annual employee party in December.) In addition to Milo – a pit bull mix you might have met on Facebook – Sue has an Arabian gelding named Ira. Training Milo and horseback riding are on her list of fun things to do. She also enjoys hiking, camping, reading, traveling, exploring her family history and spending time with family, especially their three grandchildren. She doesn’t have a dream car, but loves her Jeep.


Sue’s first job was in a little bakery, & if she could sit down with her 15-year-old self, she’d tell her, “Don’t try to be something you’re not.” The worst piece of advice Sue ever received was “Try this…”. And, the best advice, “Don’t get dull!” when she was working very long hours and, according to Sue, her priorities were wrong. There are many people Sue might like to trade places with for a week, but she specifically mentioned Mark Twain, “especially if his wit rubbed off on me.”

A dream she’s tucked away, for the moment, is taking a trip to Africa.


Sue would like to be remembered for seeing the best in people, being optimistic and loving life. The one misconception people used to have about her was that she was timid, but she doesn’t think that’s the case anymore.


Sue is particularly proud of her family – her husband, daughter, grandchildren and parents – all, she says, who live their lives with integrity and courage. Sounds like the

very qualities we see in you, Sue!


The Faces of Edwards Smith Construction: Jim Edwards

We thought it might be fun to share a few things you may not know about the faces behind ES Construction with our loyal followers, & what better way to kick off this series of posts than with the guy who started it all nearly 20 years ago – Jim Edwards.

Jim (a.k.a. Eddie – at least when he’s playing softball) has one pet, a dog who recently made his debut on our Facebook page. For fun, Jim likes to camp, fish, target shoot, visit his grandkids & travel. His dream car is an Aston Martin.


Jim’s first job was mowing lawns & if he could sit down with his 15-year-old self, he’d tell him to

learn from his mistakes. It’s no surprise that Jim has won multiple building awards and is proud of the company he’s built and its employees. That said, a dream he’s tucked away, for the moment, is to retire.


Jim would like to be remembered for his character and says the one misconception people have about him is that he’s never happy because he doesn’t smile. Well he’s certainly smiling in these pictures and all of us at Edwards Smith are sure happy to be a part of a company built by someone of Jim’s character.


A Letter from Jim Edwards:

Your Home in Idaho

A luxury custom home is more than just a house. It's the culmination of years of your hard work. It's your dream, and your retreat. It's where you enjoy the quality moments of your life. Building your custom home in Coeur d'Alene should be among those moments.


Our process for taking your custom home from an idea to a reality is unlike any you'll find in the Northwest. Since 1994, we've developed and continued to optimize a highly systematized approach to every aspect of the custom home building process. From lot analysis, to design, through selections, and on to construction and other builder has the expertise, talent or systems that we provide.


The result is a building experience that is as exciting and rewarding as the final product of your home as an end product.  It's one of the many reasons Edwards Smith Construction has and continues to be successful.


Edwards Smith Construction is more than a high-end luxury home builder. We're able to service the needs of clients looking to remodel a bathroom, kitchen or complete home, as well. No matter what your needs, Edwards Smith will provide you with the expertise, quality, and attention to detail you expect.