erich leatham

1 Highland Park Road
East Flat Rock, NC 28726

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Custom Homes in Western NC

For more than 20 years, Mountain West Construction (MWC) has been building custom homes that meet and exceed homeowners high expectations. Erich Leatham understands that a home isn't just a building, it's where you build your life.

From the initial steps of examining a potential lot or acreage to help a homeowner make a wise choice, to installing a new well, to designing a home that takes advantage of the lay of the land, maximizes views, and complements the natural surroundings, Mountain West Construction doesn't leave anything to chance. Careful preparation is the key to a successful new home construction project.

Give Erich Leatham a call at 828.697.8894 to learn more about how to make your dream home a reality in Western North Carolia. 

There are many misconceptions about what �green� is and how it pertains to your home. While there are green building products that are made using recycled and recyclable materials, green is so much more. The goal of green is to reduce our carbon footprint, use less energy and resources, and to produce less waste. Mountain West Construction can help you GO GREEN, from foundation to finish!

How can I make my home more GREEN?

You do not have to add solar panels and recycle your shower water to make your home more green. There are many small, affordable options that will help make your home more green and will put green back in your wallet as well.

Reduce your energy costs:

Did you know that in most homes, up to 45% of their energy is lost through the attic? The simple solution; add more insulation. Many homes have only 3 or 4 inches of insulation in the attic. Increase this to 10 or 12 inches, and you can save about 20% on your energy bill.

Change out your windows. If your home is more than 10 years old, check to see if you have insulated windows. Replacing your old windows with Low-E windows will decrease your energy loss by 50%! If you can�t afford to change out all of your windows, use cellular blinds. The cells trap air and prevent heat transfer which saves you money.

Seal your exterior doorways. Make sure you have good weather stripping around your doorways. When your door is closed, there should be no areas around it where light passes through. If light can pass through, your heating or a/c is passing through as well.

Replace your thermostat with a programmable thermostat. While you are away, the temperature inside your home will be allowed to rise or fall outside what you may find comfortable, but will return to your desired temperature when you are back. This can save you on average 8-10% on your energy bill.

Conserve water:

Buying some new shower heads can mean less water going down the drain. The average shower lasts 13 minutes. If you use a conventional shower head, you use 2.5 gallons per minute which rounds out to about 32.5 gallons per shower. A water-saving shower head using 1.6 gallons per minute cuts the waste by 36%.

The average US toilet uses about 3.5 gallons per flush. Replace your toilet with one that uses 1.6 gallons per flush and you reduce the waste by 55%.

Update your appliances:

Throughout each home are a number of appliances that make up for a good bit of your power bill every month. Newer technology has created more energy efficient appliances that still perform at the levels we expect. Look for Energy Star rated appliances and see how much energy you can save by replacing your old ones.

Change your light bulbs:

Did you know that you can replace a 60 watt incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent one and receive the same amount of light but use less than � of the electricity, and they last up to 5 times longer?

Other ways to GO GREEN include installing a more efficient heating and cooling unit, using solar energy, collecting and reusing rainwater, and recycling household materials.

What are some GREEN building products?

If you are considering having your home built or doing a major remodel in your home, there are a number of GREEN building products available. These are products that make little environmental impact through the production and installation process. They may be made of recycled material or have been developed to replace other products that release harmful vapors into the atmosphere.

  • Green Insulation ranges from recycled denim to formaldehyde free fiberglass insulation.
  • Green Wood has been recovered from pre-existing structures prior to their destruction. The most common among these reclaimed wood materials are hardwood flooring and pine beams.
  • Green Paint uses plant based binders, pigments, and additives instead of petroleum based ones. This goes beyond the issue of human health and minimizes harmful waste.
  • Recycled Materials from sheetrock to cement board, there are a number of building materials that are made from recycled products. Other materials reduce energy usage or provide an alternate energy source such as solar panels, tank-less water heaters, and water saving plumbing fixtures. If you are interested in going green, or would like more information on green building products, contact us at 828-697-8894.

The average home today utilizes systems for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, and most homes are not built as efficiently as they could be, all of which results in high energy consumption. The U.S. Department of Energy believes if current buildings were green-improved, they would use $20 billion less energy per year. Green remodeling puts a strong emphasis on making homes as efficient as possible with modifications like energy efficient appliances and thermostats that can be programmed at different temperatures for different times of the day.

Is your home energy efficient? Find out by taking this test.

Tax credits exist to help pay for improving the energy efficency of your home. They vary from year-to-year, so check the government site each year to see what tax credits are available.

A helpful pdf explains more about energy loss and how sealing and insulation can have an impact on energy expenses.

Give Erich Leatham a call to learn more about reducing your home's energy consumption: 828.697.8894. 

As the "baby boomers" reach retirement age, they are much younger in spirit than past aging populations. The idea of retirement is often pushed off into their 70s. The pending retirees are healthier, more active and less likely to slow down any time soon.

However, it makes sense to prepare your home for the eventual time when physical challenges present themselves. MWC is experienced in making adjustments to a home to make it more "livable" for a longer period of time.

Items to consider:


Low-maintenance exterior (vinyl, brick)
Low-maintenance shrubs and plants
Deck, patio, or balcony surfaces are no more than a half inch below interior floor level if made of wood

Overall Floor Plan

Main living on a single story, including full bath
No steps between rooms/areas on the same level
5-foot by 5-foot clear/turn space in living area, kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom


Minimum of 36-inches wide, wider preferred
Well lit


Accessible path of travel to the home
At least one no-step entry with a cover
Sensor light at exterior no-step entry focusing on the front-door lock
There needs to be 32-inches of clear width, which requires a 36-inch door
Non-slip flooring in foyer
Entry door sidelight or high/low peep hole viewer; sidelight should provide both privacy and safety
Doorbell in accessible location
Surface to place packages on when opening door


Flush preferable
Exterior maximum of a half inch beveled
Interior maximum of a quarter inch

Interior Doors

There needs to be 32-inches of clear width, which requires a 36-inch door
Levered door hardware


Plenty of windows for natural light
Lowered windows or taller windows with lower sill height
Low maintenance exterior and interior finishes
Easy to operate hardware

Garage or Carport

Covered carports and boarding spaces
Wider than average carports to accommodate lifts on vans
Door heights may need to be nine feet to accommodate some raised roof vans
Five-foot minimum access aisle between accessible van and car in garage
If code requires floor to be several inches below entrance to house for fume protection, can slope entire floor from front to back to eliminate need for ramp or step
Ramp to doorway, if needed
Handrail, if steps


Lever handles or pedal-controlled
Thermostatic or anti-scald controls
Pressure balanced faucets

Kitchen and Laundry


Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets
Upper wall cabinetry three inches lower than conventional height
Accented stripes on edge of countertops to provide visual orientation to the workspace
Counter space for dish landing adjacent to or opposite all appliances
Base cabinet with roll out trays and lazy susans
Pull-down shelving
Glass-front cabinet doors
Open shelving for easy access to frequently used items


Easy to read controls
Washing machine and dryer raised 12-15 inches above floor
Front loading laundry machines
Microwave oven at counter height or in wall
Side-by-side refrigerator/freezer
Side-swing or wall oven
Raised dishwasher with push-button controls
Electric cook top with level burners for safety in transferring between the burners, front controls and downdraft feature to pull heat away from user; light to indicate when surface is hot


30-inch by 48-inch clear space at appliances or 60-inch diameter clear space for turns
Multi-level work areas to accommodate cooks of different heights
Open under-counter seated work areas
Placement of task lighting in appropriate work areas
Loop handles for easy grip and pull
Pull-out spray faucet; levered handles
In multi-story homes, laundry chute or laundry facilities in master bedroom


Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets
Contrasting color edge border at countertops
At least one wheelchair maneuverable bath on main level with 60-inch turning radius or acceptable T-turn space and 36-inch by 36-inch or 30-inch by 48-inch clear space
Bracing in walls around tub, shower, shower seat, and toilet for installation of grab bars to support 250-300 pounds
If stand-up shower is used in main bath, it is curbless and minimum of 36-inches wide
Bathtub - lower for easier access
Fold down seat in the shower
Adjustable/handheld showerheads, 6-foot hose
Tub/shower controls offset from center
Shower stall with built-in antibacterial protection
Light in shower stall
Toilet two and half inches higher than standard toilet (17-19 inches) or height-adjustable
Design of the toilet paper holder allows rolls to be changed with one hand
Wall-hung sink with knee space and panel to protect user from pipes
Slip-resistant flooring in bathroom and shower

Stairways, Lifts, and Elevators

Adequate hand rails on both sides of stairway, one and a quarter inch diameter
Increased visibility of stairs through contrast strip on top and bottom stairs, color contrast between treads and risers on stairs and use of lighting
Multi-story homes may provide either pre-framed shaft (i.e., stacked closets) for future elevator, or stairway width must be minimum of four feet to allow space for lift
Residential elevator or lift


Slope no greater than one inch rise for each 12-inches in length, adequate handrails
Five-foot landing provided at entrance
Two-inch curbs for safety


Adjustable closet rods and shelves
Lighting in closets
Easy open doors that do not obstruct access

Electrical, Lighting, Safety, and Security

Light switches by each entrance to halls and rooms
Light receptacles with at least two bulbs in vital places (exits, bathroom)
Light switches, thermostats, and other environmental controls placed in accessible locations no higher than 48 inches from floor
Electrical outlets 15-inches on center from floor; may need to be closer than 12-feet apart
Clear access space of 30-inches by 48-inches in front of switches and controls
Rocker or touch light switches
Audible and visual strobe light system to indicate when the doorbell, telephone or smoke or CO2 detectors have been activated
High-tech security/intercom system that can be monitored, with the heating, air conditioning and lighting, from any TV in the house
Easy-to-see and read thermostats
Pre-programmed thermostats
Flashing porch light or 911 switch
Direct wired to police, fire and EMS (as option)
Home wired for security
Home wired for computers


Smooth, non-glare, slip-resistant surfaces, interior and exterior
If carpeted, use low (less than a half inch high pile) density, with firm pad
Color/texture contrast to indicate change in surface levels

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning

HVAC should be designed so filters are easily accessible
Energy-efficient units
Windows that can be opened for cross ventilation, fresh air

Energy-Efficient Features

In-line framing with two by six studs spaced 24-inches on center
Air-barrier installation and sealing of duct work with mastic
Reduced-size air conditioning units with gas furnaces
Mechanical fresh air ventilation, installation of air returns in all bedrooms and use of carbon monoxide detectors
Installation of energy efficient windows with Low-E glass

Reduced Maintenance/Convenience Features

Easy to clean surfaces
Central vacuum
Built-in pet feeding system
Built-in recycling system
Video phones
Intercom system

Other Ideas

Separate apartment for rental income or future caregiver
Flex room that can used as a nursery or playroom when the children are young and as a home office later; if combined with a full bath, room could also be used for an aging parent/aging in place


Getting the lead out: New EPA lead paint rules in effect since April 2010

Beginning in April 2010, federal law now requires that contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.

It's all about the children. They aren't born with the innate knowledge to not snack on paint chips around window trim. They don't know the repercussions of putting paint chips and anything else containing lead into their mouths. And remodeling and renovation can cause lead paint to deteriorate into deadly lead dust. Unfortunately, lead can cause everything from brain and nerve damage, to behavioral and learning problems, to slowed growth and issues with their hearing, to simple headaches.

Why do you need to be concerned about lead?

Lead is a toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes. Lead also can be emitted into the air from motor vehicles and industrial sources, and lead can enter drinking water from plumbing materials. Lead may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children six years old and under are most at risk.

Basic Information from the EPA

Custom homes WNC

What makes MWC the right choice?

There is a saying in WNC: "The definition of a 'good' contractor in WNC is one who shows up." MWC is better than a "good" contractor. Not only do we "show up," we manage the project with professionalism. 

  • We deliver on time, on budget
  • We do what we said we'd do
  • We are not "done" until our clients are happy
  • We keep the "hassle" away from our clients
  • We show up!

Shirley T., Flatrock: Remarkable craftsmanship and attention to detail. They were sensitive to our concerns about security, dust, timeline, et ... Read more