Others have used the term “house for life” and we couldn’t agree more with that concept. This house is built with the best, most cost effective list of sustainable/durable materials we could find after countless hours (years) of product research and three consecutive years of consultations with manufacturers at the annual International Builders Show (IBS). Moreover, our commitment to creating a flexible design that can fit the needs of several types of multi-generational occupants is a perfect match to the investment in a zero net energy home that generates as much energy from renewable sources, as it uses. It’s not a political design solution, it’s a conservative solution of minimizing waste and maximizing efficiency. It’s not about the points, it’s about the performance. It’s also about the dignity of human life and the possibilities of growing old and dying in your own home.
Also experienced in nursing, home care, end of life care, and caregiving, we always kept a mind towards short-term needs and long-term options. Not everything needs to be built day one, but the ability to easily add or change a building needs to be well understood in advance. Grab bars, shower seats, and automatic door openers (the list goes on) may never be needed, but they do need to be planned for. Sometimes planning means blocking, sometimes it means pre-wiring, but mostly it requires spatially thinking ahead. Our full size laundry room in the lower level off the 2nd bathroom works wonderfully if you are mobile enough to climb stairs; and when you are not, the stackable washer/dryer hook-up in the entryway closet with its four bi-fold doors will convert marvelously into a condo style laundry room. The ramp inside the garage along with the extra interior space is all ready if you need to manage a wheelchair, but is lovely already just to be able to wheel anything heavy into the house. The storage room inside the garage is great for anyone who doesn’t like stairs, young or old. The ability to sit out in the 3-season room and watch nature all around you each day for 75% of the year is marvelous, and without a worry about energy use. And whether you are young enough to enjoy the luxury, or old enough to need the therapy of an outdoor spa tub, it’s great to know you are powering it off your own energy supply.
The house is capable of withstanding the harshest winters and the hottest summers that northern New England can dish out. It has all the heating, cooling, lighting, and fresh air systems required to maintain a safe, comfortable, healthy, and efficient environment, free from either internal or external hazards. LED lighting products already capture over 90% of the lighting fixtures and low use, low energy, fluorescent fixtures in places like the garages and under cabinets, handle the rest. Even the highly used and highly necessary site/security lights that are used 365 days a year are LED. Unlike the current clamor for full automation, we like to keep the “controls” as simple, accessible and straightforward as possible. Simple controls can still be used to manage sophisticated equipment and technology. The mind is not always clear at 85, so heating, lighting and security controls need to be kept simple enough for the aged to operate without a caregiver or technician to undertake daily tasks.