Imagine a home that would adapt as family dynamics change, one that is also energy efficient and promotes wellness and peace of mind. That’s the goal of a new concept house introduced at the 2018 International Builders Show in Orlando. A joint project of Hanley Wood, Builder Magazine and Meritage Homes, the “ReNEWable” house could be a game changer for new construction.
“With this project, homeowners will have the power of choice to demand more from their homes, and thereby improve their immediate surroundings in ways that improve their lives,” explained Peter Goldstone, CEO of Hanley Wood. The approximately 5,778-square-foot floorplan, designed by BSB Architects, can be adapted to a number of scenarios from comfortably making room for aging parents and boomerang kids to providing options for rental income. The home’s initial configuration has seven bedrooms and five bathrooms, with flex spaces that can be manipulated to an individual buyer’s unique needs.
Rather than an extra tacked on to a traditional plan, creating a house in which housing two or more adult age groups can live, even thrive, was central to the concept behind the ReNEWable house. BSB’s plan includes plenty of common shared areas, distributed between two levels inside and outside, intended to promote resident interaction along with several distinct private areas. Each private space is large enough to be a discrete living space, something research shows is important to those shopping for a multigenerational home. Along with a large master suite, indulgent bath and sitting room with access to a patio, the main level includes a suite ideal for aging parents.
On the second floor, a large open gathering space with a bar is surrounded on one side by bedrooms and a smaller room purposed as an office. On the opposite side of this level, a second gathering space and small kitchen can be used in a variety of ways, including as a media room or game room. An adjoining bedroom and bath also could turn it into a separate hipster hideout with an additional outside entry from the garage.
Multigenerational living is more than the newest buzz in real estate. It’s rooted in real world changes in family structure. “We designed the ReNEWable Living Home to educate the industry on the evolving needs of the estimated 60 million people living in a multigenerational household,” said John McManus, editorial director of Hanley Wood’s Residential Group. “When Builder and Metrostudy surveyed builders across the U.S., 90 percent said they have had multigenerational buyers shop their projects in the last 12 months. And, 71 percent report that they have had multigenerational buyers finalize a purchase with them. Two-thirds of the respondents also said that they plan to create floorplans that speak to the preferences of this buyer type.”
A focus on sustainable construction, energy use
There’s more than a versatile floor plan that makes this home remarkable. It also establishes new benchmarks for sustainable construction, energy efficiency and wellness.
An innovative construction method uses a panelized and insulated concrete wall system called Hercu Wall that reduces the time it takes to build interior and exterior walls. For example, the first floor was completed in a day compared to the two weeks that conventional methods would have required. Designed to withstand storms, Hercu Wall has been tested to resist 200-plus mile per hour winds and is mold, rot, pest and water resistant.
These panels coupled with insulation under the slab result in a home that is five times more efficient than the typical American home. The roof tiles also repel UV rays. Beyond simply being efficient, this home contains enough renewable energy sources to be compliant with a Net Zero Energy standard. Unlike conventional homes that have daily peaks and valleys due to changing weather, the ReNEWable home also stores energy and also eliminates erratic energy consumption. The advanced HVAC design includes an intelligent control system, Carrier Heat Pump with Greenspeed, which keeps interior temperatures on an even keel.
Creating a healthy and calm living space
Wellness, particularly air quality, is another growing priority for consumers. A power ventilation system adjusts for the weather and the season, ensuring healthful levels of humidity. The drywall also renews the air by turning VOCs and formaldehyde into inert compounds.
Wellness was also a consideration in the selection of interior finishes. A calming neutral palette runs throughout the house, creating a sense of cohesion despite the many diverse areas of the house. A butler’s pantry or morning kitchen corrals appliances and much of the clutter that is less than calming.
Looking ahead, industry experts expect more buyers to look for plans that will accommodate extended family. Research from John Burns Real Estate Consulting shows that 44 percent of baby boomers say they want to make room for their parents in their next home, and 42 percent expect to house adult children.
Camilla McLaughlin is an award-winning writer specializing in house and home. Her work has appeared in leading online and print publications, such as Yahoo! Real Estate, Unique Homes magazine and Realtor magazine. She has also freelanced for the Associated Press.