Once upon a time (although not all that long ago), choosing the features of a new home was a relatively simple process. What color should the walls be? What kind of wood should form the infrastructure? Tile or linoleum? Meritage Homes is complicating that process, all in the name of sustainability. That is to say, they’re complicating it in the best way possible.
With close to 300 communities spread out across nine states, Meritage invites homeowners to curate their own energy-efficient home. The number of environmentally friendly options is staggering, from flow-smart shower heads in the bathroom to paints with low-to-zero volatile organic compounds and residences with comprehensive solar energy systems. This has resulted in a number of certifications for Meritage Homes, including being the the first full EPA triple-certified national builder and the only public builder whose entire housing stock is Energy Star compliant.
But, most importantly, Meritage Homes strives to build communities that are safe, clean, and comfortable—yet undeniably individual—for families. Here are some of the features and amenities that make two of its neighborhoods in the Orlando, Florida, area so unique. Naturally, the benefits go beyond simply being in close proximity to the Walt Disney World Resort.
With more than 800 lots spread over more than 400 acres and seven phases, Watermark allows homeowners to start from scratch or choose from a variety of “quick move-in” homes already outfitted with amenities. The four-bedroom, four-bathroom Barrett, for instance, is characterized by cherry cabinets and quartz countertops, among other nuanced details, across its 2,924 square feet.
Elsewhere, the Melville tops off at 3,717 square feet, with five bedrooms and four bathrooms. Many of its architectural features are more subtle. An upward gaze reveals tray ceilings, while espresso cabinets remain tucked away in the kitchen.
In addition to distinctions specific to each residence, all homes in Watermark (and nearby Hawks Crest) have energy-efficient features ubiquitous in all of Meritage’s properties. A state-of-the-art spray-foam insulation fortifies each house with what Meritage calls a “climate-sealed barrier,” which keeps conditioned air from escaping and hiking up energy costs. Likewise, dual-actuated toilets and Energy Star appliances enhance water efficiency.
The Watermark community has a number of unique attractions as well, including a kid’s “splash pad” with various aquatic activities and numerous swimming pools. The pool at the clubhouse even includes an observation deck for the nightly fireworks at Disney and an enormous chessboard, where guests can play with human-sized pawns, rooks, bishops, knights, kings, and queens.
Although it’s not far from Watermark, the gated community Hawks Crest has its own lineup of homes, most of which are two stories. Among them is the 4,241-square-foot Kerrville. Many of its energy-efficient features are familiar, including the spray-foam insulation and Energy Star-certified appliances as well as insulated garage doors, sealed insulated ducts, and even a weather-sensing irrigation system. The latter is an essential resource, given how unpredictable the rain can be in Florida, especially during hurricane season. Several other homes in Hawks Crest also have weather-sensing irrigation, including the 3,446-square-foot Montclair, the 3,098-square-foot Astoria, and the 3,188-square-foot Jackson.
The 2,754-square-foot Shore splits its floor plan into two luxurious halves. A large, spa-like master bathroom is the crown jewel of the “owner’s suite” while downstairs the family room connects to a covered lanai outside. In keeping with Meritage Homes’ customizability, homeowners can opt for additional lanais on the other sides of the house.
As with all of Meritage Homes’ communities, Hawks Crest has a wide range of amenities. Behind its gates lie several glistening oases—a lake, several ponds, and more swimming pools among them. Residents can dry off in the shade at a communal cabana or by walking in the sunshine around Hawks Crest’s numerous parks.