Last month I posted an article about some of the important features one needs to consider when designing and building a home in mountain environments in and around the Lake Tahoe and Truckee regions.

Today, we are taking a look at what homeowners should do to prepare for the forthcoming season.  With local ski resorts vying for the bragging rights to be the ‘first to open,’ that can only mean that winter is just around the corner.  And as there are indeed inches of snow covering the higher peaks and slopes around the Lake Tahoe and Truckee region, this means we all better take note and get our homes prepared for the colder months ahead.

To help you stay ahead of whatever Mother Nature has in mind, here’s a simple list of “Top 10 Tips to Prepare Your Home For the Winter” to help you get ready for perhaps another Snowmaggeden … or maybe just another average winter.

  1. Have your Furnace Inspected.  There are several reputable HVAC professionals throughout Lake Tahoe and Truckee.  Get on their schedule nowpotentiallyso they have time to inspect your furnace, clean the ducts, and change the filters.
  2. Prepare the Fireplace. If you have a wood burning stove and are comfortable cleaning your chimney from top to bottom by yourself, great; be careful.  If not, hire a professional sooner than later.  Their services should include cleaning the lining of your chimney of creosote build-up, soot, and other potentially hazardous debris.  Some may also check for leaks, broken brick, and such.
  3. Stack Wood. My motto: ‘You can never have enough dry wood and kindling.”  Another rule of thumb: “Never stack your wood right next to your house.”
  4. Protect Your Landscaping Investments. If you have a lawn, give it a good mow for one last time and rake up any larger piles of leaves.  We always wrap our larger bushes with green stretch tape to protect them from heavy snow loads.
  5. Inspect Your Gutters and Downspouts:  Although it’s always a good practice to keep your gutters and downspouts clear of debris, now is the best time to be sure this task is off your ‘to do’ list.  Clean out your gutters and use a hose to spray the downspouts to ensure the pending rain and snowmelt have a clear path to drain off your roof.
  6. Drain The Sprinkler System. Frozen pipes are no fun. Be sure to drain your sprinkler system and drain any hoses and store them out of the winter elements for the winter.
  7. Leave the Heat On. If you plan to be out of town for an extended period of time, we turn our heat to 55 to prevent any pipes freezing in the house; you should too.
  8. Check your home’s foundations and crawlways. When you live in the mountains, you can fully expect to see mice and even raccoons trying to call your home ‘their home’ as the temps drop.  You can prevent intruders with a few simple tasks:  rake away and remove any edible vegetation from around your foundations, seal up any holes or potential entry points and secure your crawlspace entrances.
  9. Recharge your Smoke Detectors. We’ll soon be told to turn our clocks back for the fall and winter months – and with that comes additional media reminders to replace the batteries in our smoke detectors.  If you have a carbon monoxide detector, that should be checked as well.
  10. Prepare an Emergency Kit. Last winter was one great reminder about how important a generator, candles, and extra emergency supplies can be when one of those classic High Sierra storms come to visit.  Find a good, easily accessible spot in your home to have all the supplies you think you may need so you’ll be prepared for the worst – or perhaps if you’re a fan of the great outdoors, prepared for another super snowpack to come.

On behalf of the entire team at Borelli Architecture, we’re here to help our neighbors enjoy every benefit that comes with living a good life in the mountains.  From architectural tips on mountain home design, to interior design ideas as well, we enjoy every opportunity to share our experience and personal insight.  Feel free to reach out at any time.

Enjoy what is left of the beautiful fall season … it will be snowing before we know it!

James P. Borelli
Call 775 831 3060 or visit our Contact page, right here


They Have Been Named Two of the “Top 10” Mountain Towns in America!

While searching the web for information about one of my favorite mountain towns I found a great article about the community where I have designed numerous homes for year-round residents and vacation home owners.  And to my delight, Truckee, CA, has taken a top prize as one of the Top Mountain Towns in America as rated by

The article noted that Thrillist goes through quite the process to pick its Top Ten every year.  Here’s what they said:

“It’s about exceptional towns that just happen to be located on or around the hills. And while, sure, narrowing down an endless number of mountain towns in a country with myriad mountain ranges was no easy task, we took into account scenery, activities, mountain “feel,” and the bar/restaurant scene to determine the nine spots that clearly tower above the rest.”

Although the Top 10 included mountain towns that I am very familiar with, I was intrigued by a few of the others that were listed that are now a ‘must visit’ whenever time may allow in the not so distant future:  Homer, AK is at the top!

We’ll send along our congratulations now to all who made the list!  And hey, maybe they need an architect that specializes in designing custom mountain homes  within their own cool town.

  • Taos, NM
  • Homer AK
  • Lake Placid, NY
  • Telluride, CO
  • Bend OR
  • Truckee, CA
  • Coeur d’Alene, ID
  • Eureka Springs, AR
  • Asheville, NC

Got your own favorite mountain town that I should visit?  Let me know!

James P. Borelli
Call 775 831 3060 or visit our Contact page, right here


As I am in the business of designing mountain homes, ski chalets and lakefront estates in and around Truckee and Lake Tahoe, I am always watching the trends for what’s hot and what’s not.

Just this past week, our local paper, SIERRA SUN, had an interesting story about “Tiny Homes” and how they may be the answer to the drastic need for short term ski resort employee housing.  According to the article, SkiCo (of Vail Resorts) is testing the idea of getting into the business of providing Tiny Homes for their seasonal employees “It’s not for everybody. And it’s not for long,” noted project manager Phillip Jefferys who further commented it might be the solution for short term seasonal rentals.

With seasonal housing a continued challenge throughout the High Sierra, and certainly in other key ski resort communities, I think the concept has a good future.

Think I’ll go take a tour to see what my own architectural company in Lake Tahoe and Truckee might want to fabricate for what apparently may be replacing the small little ski chalets of yesteryear.  They were cool in their day, too!

Got your own ideas?  Contact me at any time. I’d love to hear your insight.

James P. Borelli
Call 775 831 3060 or visit our Contact page, right here.