Westmont Magazine This Cool House
During his 26 years as a builder, Rich Sands ’65 has never built the same home twice. Repetition doesn’t interest him. Fascinated by design, he plays with shapes to create unique exteriors and interiors. “We build houses that live well, last long and look cool,” he says.
“I like to be edgy,” Rich explains. “My style is interpretive rather than replicative. I may start with a typical Victorian feature, like a 12-and-12-pitch roof, but then I tweak it — do something funky and poke a little fun at it. The roof ends up a little off-kilter.”
Rich gets involved in the design of his homes and looks for architects who share his interests. For example, he likes to combine different styles, such as a farm house, bunk house and barn, into one structure. While he builds some homes on spec, he also works with people interested in his definition of cool.
As he has grown more daring in recent years, Rich has gained recognition. Metropolitan Home magazine gave one of his Santa Cruz houses an honorable mention in their annual Home of the Year contest. Sunset magazine has featured design elements from his buildings, and he has won awards from Custom Home magazine and Builder magazine. Special publications from Women’s Day and Better Homes and Gardens have featured his work, along with Colorado Homes & Lifestyles and the Rocky Mountain News.
After majoring in psychology at Westmont, Rich earned a master’s degree from Pepperdine University. He spent 10 years with Lockheed as an industrial psychologist. “I got tired of dealing with intangibles,” he says. “I was never sure what I was accomplishing. I’m more of a nuts-and-bolts kind of guy.”
Chatting with a family friend about his construction business helped Rich understand his own interest in building. Unexpectedly, he left Lockheed to start a company with his friend. “Everyone thought I was crazy,” he recalls.
Hammerwell began building spec homes in the San Jose area in 1977. After several years, Rich bought out his partner, and he has completed about three or four homes a year ever since.
Rich and his wife, Janice Schardt Sands ’66, lived in Santa Cruz and never thought of leaving until one of their sons settled in Boulder, Colo., and Rich decided to collaborate on two Colorado homes with him. At the same time, two big California projects fell through, and the Sands decided to relocate in 1996.
“Boulder prides itself on being progressive and liberal, but they’ve never been to Santa Cruz,” Rich laughs. “We feel more at home in Boulder; Santa Cruz was an interesting place, but it wasn’t like we were among our own. People in Boulder are more in line with our thinking. And we love the four seasons.”
Rich confesses to being a bit of a rebel at Westmont, where he had the chance to do “stupid things in a safe environment.” When his two sons became teenagers, he got back in touch with his faith. “I suddenly realized there was more to raising kids and understanding life,” he says. “Someone else is in control and has a bigger plan. I definitely felt led to move to Boulder.”
To get a taste of Rich’s style, visit the Hammerwell Web site, www. hammerwell.com.