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See rammed-earth, fireproof, eco-friendly home selling for $4.2 million in Sonoma

David Caraccio | Merced Sun-Star

A Hacienda-style Sonoma, California home constructed of rammed-earth that is fireproof and doesn’t need air conditioning is for sale for $4.2 million. BY KELLY NEEDLEMAN

A Hacienda-style Sonoma home constructed of rammed-earth — rendering it fireproof and allowing the interior temperature to remain cool throughout the summer without air conditioning — is for sale for $4.2 million.

The sellers, Bruce Needleman and Edna Hayes, who own the Salsa Trading Company, built the home in 1999. The couple is selling their well-known furniture business, as well, and are retiring and relocating to Santa Barbara, according to the Compass real estate firm.

Located at 3480 Hawks Beard Drive in the exclusive gated community of George Ranch, the 4,000-square-foot, single-story home offers privacy and “old-world charm,” according to the official property listing.

Set on an 8.5-acre lot, the main residence includes three bedrooms and three baths totaling 3,475 square feet. The property has a separate 630-square-foot guest/pool house.

The home is constructed of rammed earth with thick plastered walls and tile flooring. The fireproof nature of the construction can be beneficial in wildfire-prone areas. Homes built this way are considered termite resistant and environmentally friendly, too, with little use of timber needed. Unlike brick manufacturing, there are no kilns or toxic emissions.

“One of the many benefits of a rammed-earth home is that it stays about 20 degrees cooler inside on the hot days and on cold days there is little need for heat,” listing agent David Costello of Compass said in an email. “The thick walls create almost a constant ideal temperature inside the home combined with the luxury of radiant floor heating throughout.”

Verandas surround the entire house, allowing every room to flow out to a large landscaped backyard, a pool with handcrafted Mexican tiles, and a spa. The guest house, which includes a full bath and an oversized walk-in steam shower, can be used as an additional bedroom, game or party room, or an exercise facility.

“We were inspired a lot by the mission in Sonoma, but we have that California twist of open rooms and organic living,” Edna Hayes said about the home in a 2009 SFGate article.

The estate features oversized windows that allow for incredible views of the surrounding mountains. Stone walls surround the property for privacy. Also, the energy-efficient radiant heating of the home eliminates vents and mitigates dust, according to the property listing.

“The actual design of the home, designed by local acclaimed (San Francisco) architect Michael Bauske, has a truly Spanish favor, borrowing style elements from old haciendas and missions,” Costello said.

The design evokes a casual elegance with Mexican-influenced upscale furniture pieces found throughout the home, Costello added.

The owners used a rammed-earth technique called PISÉ that speeds up the building process.

“The home is extremely livable, a place where guests feel they can put their feet up and feel like they are at a 5-star resort,” Costello added. “The indoor/outdoor living spaces, which cover over 4,000 square feet, are very conducive to relaxing and enjoying the wonderful weather by the beautiful handcrafted Mexican tiled pool.”