In October of 2016 Jon and his team sat down with us to talk about helping us design and build our “forever home.” My wife, Alissa, and I have four children and currently live in our 150-year-old home in Hartford, VT. We love the proximity to my workplace, good schools and the central location in the Upper Valley. However, with our kids growing older, we’re filling up this space quickly. When we went to Jon we had a lot of questions about various building techniques that we could use to approach our custom design ideas. In all our meetings, we think ICF is the way to proceed. At the end of the day, what sold us on an ICF home is the potential for long-lasting efficiency. Not only in utility costs, but in durability of materials. Also, what caught my wife and I particularly is the ability for us to customize our design to truly fit our needs. We have a son who is in a wheelchair and as such there are specifics that are non-negotiables when we’re thinking about our living situation. This freedom to be picky in what we want is a huge selling point for us, but more than that, it’s necessary for our son and his general experience when he’s in our home.
Some of the specifics we’re looking for include:
· Close proximity to work. I work in Hanover, NH and would like to find a location no farther north than Thetford.
· The nature of my work occasionally requires me to work remotely, therefore I will need high-speed internet access. This may limit us to our areas we can search for property to build.
· Alissa and I aren’t adamant about our home being “net-zero”, but we do want something that’s energy efficient. With four kids at home, being budget-conscious is an essential component we have to be aware of consistently.
· All of the entries on our first floor must be wheelchair accessible. This includes the outside entrances, any garage, doorways within the home, and the hallways must be accessible for our son. For years we’ve used a ramp at our current home, but as he’s getting older and has more needs, it would be helpful for the main floor to be entirely accessible to our son so that he may be more independent.
· Alissa is particularly interested in radiant flooring. One specific piece of this we’re interested in is the ability to turn the radiant flooring components on and off depending on where we are in our home. For instance, having a timer set so that in the mornings the bedrooms, bathrooms and common living areas are heated with the ability to turn them off during times of the day that we don’t utilize those spaces.
· With the long winter months in New England, one request that is fairly high on our list is a lot of southern exposure in our high-traffic rooms, i.e. living room, kitchen, dining room. We hope to be able to orient our home so that we can maximize on solar energy, as well.
Right now, our plan is to put our home on the market and have it sold by this spring. Working with Jon and his team, we will be scouting out properties in the Upper Valley to find the optimum plot of land that will meet our needs.
I have high hopes for being able to assist in the building of our home for a couple of reasons. One, I want to have some involvement in the assembly of the structure. I've helped family members and friends in the past with the building of their own homes, and the process was rewarding. Two, the obvious cut in costs of labor is a huge draw for me.
So, stay tuned for more updates in our process of building an ICF house. We will post about our hunt for property, design details and the building process. We're excited to move forward!