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Doug Ross has two defining principles for the large custom homes he constructs in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. He excels in exceeding his customers’ expectations and in building extremely energy-efficient homes.

Ross’ talents made him an ideal match as the builder of the Second Home Living 2019 Inspiration Home. The home, the latest in a series of Inspiration Homes developed by Dave Leathers, president of Showcase Publishing, is being built in partnership with the Missouri Propane Education & Research Council (MOPERC) to highlight the superior comfort and efficiency benefits of propane living. Those benefits are characteristics that are shared by Ross’ high-end homes. In fact, Ross builds the majority of his homes with propane in order to provide the gas-fueled lifestyle amenities and efficient mechanical systems his clients expect.

The Inspiration Home overlooks two attractive homes below, with views to the main channel of the Lake of the Ozarks. Credit: Lake of the Ozarks Second Home Living magazine.

The Inspiration Home is packed with those features. Located in a high-end subdivision called the Villages at Shawnee Bend, it has a gorgeous view of the Lake of the Ozarks. The home makes the most of those views with an upstairs screened-in porch, a lower-level deck, and an outdoor kitchen with a 42-inch propane-fueled Coyote grill.

“That view is what’s going to sell this house,” says Ross, whose construction firm is called RC Homes. “You’re looking straight out the cove to the main channel. It’ll be very, very nice — some very nice sunsets off the back deck.” Ross made the kitchen area more functional by using a waterproof concrete on the deck above. “It can be raining, but you can still enjoy that outdoor kitchen down below because you’ve got a concrete deck above you.”

Lifestyle comforts

The lifestyle benefits of gas cooking extend inside, where Ross outfitted the kitchen with quartz countertops and backsplashes, and a 48-inch propane Wolf range with six burners, infrared griddle, and convection and non-convection ovens that makes the most of the gas cooking option. “If you talk to any professional chef, you know they always want to be cooking on gas,” says Ross, whose son has worked as a professional chef and food scientist. “At least with the gas, I know exactly how high the heat is on the frying pan there.”

Ross always includes gas or propane fireplaces in his homes, and the Inspiration Home includes a Napoleon Accent propane fireplace in the upstairs living room. Ross says he never plans to install another wood-burning unit. “I’ve had them and they’re such a pain because you’re always having to schlep that wood in and clean up the ashes, and you’ve got all that stuff floating through the air,” he says.

Excelling in efficiency

While customer satisfaction is a priority for Ross, he’s equally committed to building homes with excellent energy efficiency. Standard features on his homes include high-density cellulose insulation, a thermal break around the foundation wall, crack-filling with foam insulation, and high-efficiency mechanical systems. Ross sometimes includes a geothermal or heat pump system on his projects but says these systems have serious comfort drawbacks.

“I hate geothermal or heat pumps in the winter because it doesn’t feel warm when it blows on you,” he says. “I want to feel that heat when the furnace kicks on in the winter.” The Inspiration Home is heated by two Rheem high-efficiency propane furnaces rated at 95 percent efficiency. The furnaces will provide warm, steady heat regardless of the outdoor temperature.

“I hate geothermal or heat pumps in the winter because it doesn’t feel warm when it blows on you.” – Doug Ross, RC Homes

Ross always uses propane or gas water heaters because they offer faster recovery times than electric systems. Although he typically uses direct-vent tank-style water heaters, the Inspiration Home has a Navien propane tankless water heater that offers a continuous supply of hot water on demand.

The Inspiration Home will include an added level of peace of mind for the owner with a Kohler propane standby generator.

The propane lifestyle

The Missouri Propane Education & Research Council is highlighting the superior comfort and efficiency benefits of propane living with the Welcome Home campaign, featuring the Inspiration Home. Credit: Lake of the Ozarks Second Home Living magazine.

Although the Lake of the Ozarks does have a natural gas utility, not every home in the lakeside community has access to it, making propane a critical option for providing the efficiency and performance benefits of gas. The gas utility also has a steep minimum monthly charge that can turn off homeowners, Ross says. So he frequently chooses to install a propane tank that gives the homeowner more independence. “Now I’ve got the authority that I can buy from anyone I want to around here,” he says. “It puts me in charge, rather than somebody else.”

MOPERC is highlighting the Inspiration Home and the propane lifestyle in its Welcome Home campaign, which features a printed magazine and digital flipbook that highlight propane’s benefits alongside other design elements that appeal to homebuyers. But as with previous Inspiration Homes, the sale of the home will also benefit a cause: Leathers and Showcase Publishing will donate profits from the sale of the home to Share the Harvest Food Pantry, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting hunger at the Lake of the Ozarks and surrounding areas.

Top photo credit: Lake of the Ozarks Second Home Living magazine.