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What Options Would You Like To See In A Future 100k Home?

by Nic Darling on January 28, 2009 · 18 comments

in Design

We have been fortunate to have some of the most responsive and well informed readers one could imagine. We put a post up and the conversation begins, growing from the germ of the original idea and becoming something bigger and more informative. I often learn more from the comments then I do from the research I put into a post. Some may say that this is simply a result of my aversion to extensive research, but some should learn to keep their opinions of my writing process to themselves. You, our readers, are a fantastic resource, and I never overlook a resource.

Currently, we are working on developing a range of options for our future homes. These options will be made available to potential buyers through a completely awesome process we are putting together. I am not going to tell you about that process as it would spoil all sorts of future surprises, but be assured . . . it is the height of awesomeness. If you have heard something about our plans (we are terrible at secrets), I ask that you keep it to yourself.

What I am going to do is ask for your help and input on our options. We have been scouring the information super highway (or Interweb) and local stores (like Greenable) for innovative, attractive and green products with which to outfit our future homes. In the process we have turned up a large number of products we like, but we are not so proud as to think we have found everything. This is where you come in. We want to hear about the coolest product or newest application for a product you have discovered.

You all know this by now, but I’ll reiterate for the sake of possible newcomers . . . our focus is green, modern and affordable. Of those three, the affordability aspect has the most flexibility as we are talking about optional upgrades. That said, it should still be a consideration with any suggestion.

Here are some sample categories in which we are developing options:

  • counter tops
  • flooring
  • wall coverings
  • sinks
  • faucets
  • lighting
  • house numbers
  • exterior landscaping
  • appliances
  • window coverings
  • storage

That is just a sampling. We are testing out virtually every category except the envelope and mechanical systems for possible upgrade options. Feel free to suggest any product or fixture that you think might be an interesting option in a new, green, modern home.

Those of you that actually represent products in some way are welcome to mention them, but try to bring something more to the table than marketing materials. If anything sounds too much like an advertisement, we reserve the right to edit it in such a way that the author appears foolish (not really, but we will edit).

Drop your ideas in the comment box.

If you enjoyed reading this post I can promise you'll love our new writing over at Postgreen Homes. Yeah, we know that's the same thing your favorite band said and their new album is nowhere near as good as their early stuff, but seriously, we are actually still getting better.

There also isn't much conversation to be had here . . . at least not with us. So come on over to the Postgreen Homes Blog and tell us what you think of our new(ish) digs and crazy ideas. We will be sure to tell you what we think of your opinion.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cline January 28, 2009 at 5:54 pm

I’ve always fancied a spiral staircase in the kitchen (a la Different Strokes) or a fireman’s pole (a la Batman).

2 Grant January 28, 2009 at 6:12 pm

I’m in engineering sales, and your “research method” is smart salesmanship… When you get your “customer” to help “design” and improve the product, it creates a sense of “ownership” and results in brand loyalty. Your method of soliciting feedback and ideas is an age old and very effective sales method updated for modern times as part of a blog.

3 Grant January 28, 2009 at 7:00 pm

With your limited space, I am partial to built-in drawers in the first few risers of the stairs. It’s a great place to store shoes, etc. and it is otherwise a dust collecting waste of space under the stairs. Built-in bed platforms with storage underneath would also seem to be a wise space saving solution.

I imagine you are already familiar with solatubes; they deserve serious consideration for passive lighting. They can be configured with CFL fixtures inside for night time.

I like the water conservation method of having the sink water pumped over to help fill the toilet tank. Air pressure assisted low-flow faucets and showerheads should be standard. Solar Hot Water heaters should also be standard! A rain barrel should be on the roof for use with a roof top garden.

Cork floors are durable, eco-friendly, and particularly nice in the kitchen where they soften long periods of standing on the floors. Bamboo floors are beautiful and eco-friendly, but make sure the binding agents are low VOC. Stamped concrete floors are a cost-effective and beautiful option and work well with a PEX radiant floor heat system.

I know you said mechanical systems aren’t open for discussion/upgrade, but a SWH tied into a PEX radiant floor would be an energy-efficient luxury. I hope you plan on using an ERV/HRV with supplemental conditioning. With a PEX radiant floor and an ERV/HRV, you may not need an active conditioning system at all (PassivHaus design).

If you do go with a central air system, have you considered DuctSox fabric ducts. They distribute the air more evenly (tiny holes down the length of the exposed fabric ducts) and would look really modern/chic in the 100K house.

Have you considered the option of a window that folds out becoming a balcony? A porch may not be very feasible, but a balcony folding out over the sidewalk could perform a similar social function in the neighborhood.

What about a pully system for hanging bicycles above the entry area for easy access and to limit how far the mess of the bicycle wheels enter the house? Besides, I can imagine that my Canondale would look quite stylish in the window above the door. A step up from the entry area like a Japanese Genkan could also be quite functional in a house like this. It could help keep the PA winter mess from getting tracked in.

4 Andy January 28, 2009 at 8:42 pm

An induction cooktop.

and two that are outside the scope of your question
1) A basement
2) Fire sprinkler system

5 Grant January 28, 2009 at 9:48 pm

I second the induction cooktop (it saves energy and reduces the heat released into the home).

Microwave (uses less electricity than an oven and doesn’t heat up the house as much). High-efficiency convection oven.

High-efficiency front load washer; clothesline on the roof.

Double drawer dishwasher.

Cat 5 or 6 network cabling throughout the house.

A climbing wall .

Whole house vaccum system (takes all dust, impurities, etc. out of the house envelope).

Security system

Whole house audio.

Home automation.

6 Curtis January 29, 2009 at 1:09 am

Best modern affordable sinks…..gotta be IKEA’s Lagan round single bowl for $39.95 (CDN). Put two in my Bubinga slab countertop and they rock the modern world.

7 Kerry January 29, 2009 at 12:18 pm

I’m not sure if this falls within the criteria of this article but have you explored the viability of a passive house approach. This would address your “Invest first in the building envelope and systems” comment from an earlier post.

The basic premise is that you make the envelope so efficient you don’t need a furnace to maintain a comfortable interior temperature. No heating bills and no carbon emmissions.

I found this link
and have read some articles on this approach. It sounds pretty good. The current downside is that it would be more expensive to build in the United States as there aren’t many (if any) manufacturers and distributors of the products needed to build this way.

Green moving company.
This company sounded interesting. Maybe you could offer special deals for people moving into Postgreen houses.

8 chad January 29, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Kerry – Thanks for the suggestion. We are actually looking into this for our next project. More on that soon.

For now type in “Passive House” in the little search box (this is a really helpful part of the site) and see our past posts on the subject.

9 tom toolbag January 30, 2009 at 6:50 am

Here are a couple of ideas, some that are available and some that are my thoughts.
A roll-up garage door that rolls up on itself. I have installed quite a few on car wash bays. Menard’s sells a brand of them for residential use. The space for a conventional “panel” type door could be used for storage.

Here is an idea that I come up with for maintaining an inside temp. Let’s assume that you have planned to put in radiant floor heating in light concrete, and the room for my example is a rectangle. At opposite corners, put in a whole house vac box with power supply at one corner near the ceiling in the wall, then run the pipe down into the floor(slab) to the opposite wall and put a box at the same height. The box would provide power for a small fan at each box, like a computer cooling fan, to run air through the cool concrete and return it back inside, with no need for treatment.

I have another idea that uses salt to dehumidify indoor air, with a small fan and a resovoir for the salt, it could be done minimally.

Another idea involves the bathroom, bedroom, and laudry room. Instead of a closet like most homes have, the closet would penetrate through the wall into the laundry room. After clothes are washed and dryed, the bach side of the closet would have doors that open to put the clothes in. The same for the bathroom, only you would have cabinet doors mounted on the wall, when you open the door the cabinet is there but the box is in the laundry room. If you want to “remodel” all you have to do is change the door. Don’t want curling irons on the sink, put a mirror on the wall with adjustable track lighting on the side/s of the mirror. Do the same thing, put a false drawer front on the wall that flips down for a ledge, and the wall acts as the cabinet. Women could stand or sit in front of the mirror to put on makeup or do hair prep. The sink could be a bowl type that is mounted on a metal ring, and the pee-trap is in the wall with an access door in the laundry room. The faucets could be like the old style bathtub faucets with the hot and cold knobs and the spigot coming out of the wall, again with an access door in the laundry room. You could have a dresser-type cabinet also. When you open the door, you can pull out a drawer, and that drawer can be filled from the laundry room. You could even put a lazy susan type of cabinet in instead of drawers. Underbed storage(or even overhead bed) could be used for linens and such. The same goes for a laundry “chute”. When you open the door, you can out your clothes in a basket on the other side of the wall which is in the laundry room. The laundry room could have a small counter to fold clothes on and when not in use, fold up or down, like a stow-away ironing board. We do not use a clothes dryer to dry clothes, it is only used to remove lint from towels and such after the clothes are dry. I have thought of incorporating a drying closet in the laundry room, it would have a door with a couple of hanging rod to hang clothes or even a rack to lay them on, with a small ceramic type heater blowing hot air in or even inside the closet and it could run sporadically, maybe 300 watts, to dry and heat the closet. If it gets too hot, it shuts off automatically. No more worries of a fire from the lint in the dryer exhaust pipe.

I like to call my way of design and layout P.O.U.T., point of use technology. I also use M.U.L.T.I., for design too. Multiple use lifestyle technology implementation. If you have ever seen an assembly line, they have all the tools at hand. The steps to do a certain task and the tools needed are at arms reach to minimize wasted steps and time. I thought that the laundry room should be located where you dress/undress, and clothes washing/drying, folding or hanging is done where the clothes are stored. The weekly laundry chores and the time needed to do that is minimized, especially if you have a busy schedule, or like me, I rather spend my “free” time being “free”.

10 cyndi January 30, 2009 at 8:56 am

Recycled glass countertops sound pretty

11 Matt January 30, 2009 at 12:43 pm

The ENERGY STAR Residential Light Fixture Program has an Advanced Lighting Package (ALP) that offers builders a free ALP Declaration for homes built with at least 60% of the hard wired light fixtures and 100% of the ceiling fans being ENERGY STAR qualified. This Declaration has the ENERGY STAR logo, and is a nice thing to present to new homeowners at closing. There is no charge for this.

12 Goran February 1, 2009 at 10:34 pm

Evacuated Glass Solar hot water tubes, at about the same price at flat panel. No direct experience with them myself, but the price looks good.

13 Nance February 2, 2009 at 3:00 pm

My product wish-list for options:

Eco-fridge by Vestfrost of Denmark- “Bang & Olufsen” styling with high energy efficiency.

Texas Metal Cisterns- rainwater collection for the urban gardener.

Instead of CFL’s, use LED light bulbs and fixtures. Check out all the LED task lights at

Squak Mountain Stone Countertop- constructed of recycled paper & glass, fly-ash, and cement. Complements IKEA kitchens APPLAD black or NEXUS brown-black cabinet doors/drawer fronts.

14 Gordon February 5, 2009 at 4:24 am

Your goals are laudable, your talent is obvious, your cleverness and dedication are beyond question; but there is no escaping the fact that these houses, externally at least, are cold, ugly boxes that few people would really want to live in, raise a family in, or die in. Yes, they are cool, but they are damned always to be branded by that adjective. Elsewhere you have rightly referred to “energy-efficient” tract homes as “polished turds.” These are nothing like that: they are “machines for living.” That’s the amenity you need for your next project: something that looks nice; something that looks like home.

15 chad February 5, 2009 at 9:48 am


For more on why we develop modern style of architecture, you may enjoy Nic’s recent post “Why Modern?

Having said that, I am going to state that I am getting a bit fed up with blatantly ignorant assaults on the great work that our architects, ISA, have done. If you don’t like modern architecture, that’s fine. That’s your preference or your opinion. Please simply state it as so. Coming out and calling it ugly and devoid of character is just poor. You can do better.

Look, I don’t like a lot of classic architecture (for lack of a better term), but I can tell the difference between a well designed classical building by a talented architect and the shit design that Toll Brothers and other tract home builders throw up from their in-house “drafters.”

ISA won an AIA award for this house that you call ugly. AIA awards are given by people who understand and recognize good design regardless of style. They are pros.

Lastly, Gordon, I will go ahead and take a bit of personal offense as I plan to start my family in the 100K House. My wife is expecting and will give birth to our first child which we will raise in our very own award winning “machine for living.” We couldn’t be happier about having an opportunity to not live in a chemical spewing, shoddy and poorly designed home that is the norm now in the US.

16 Grant February 7, 2009 at 5:58 pm


While this kind of “modern” is not necessarily my style, I highly respect the simple “beauty” of the 100K house design. It is actually quite a feat to make such a “simple” design have so much architectural interest. If I was interested in living in a metro row house neighborhood, I would be very interested in this home. Yes, some of the old brownstones have a lot of traditional architectural interest, and some of the rowhouses even have strong Victorian architecture that I find very beautiful. But I think the 100K house holds its own quite well…

There have always been plenty of old brick rowhouses available for renovation. Anyone who wants one can renovate cheaper than they can build a “comparable” building from scratch. The 100K houses are providing an affordable option for building a comfortable, beautiful “NEW” healthy and energy efficient home on in-fill lots that are usually public safety hazards. Additionally, these 100K homes are VERY resource efficient. The market will undoubtedly come to more fully appreciate all of these benefits.

The 100K houses have the potential to allow a young family to build an affordable home on an infill lot in neighborhoods that would otherwise be way out of their financial reach. They also have the potential to help neighborhoods with delapidated “tear-downs” have an affordable path towards revitalization. Considering that many such neighborhoods are near old public transit corridors which are once again becoming more desirable locations, the demographics make for a compellingly positive business model.

The design and the concept deserve every award that has been and will be won. Keep up the good work! This “IS” good design, even if it is not the “style” all of us might choose for ourselves. And quite honestly, the “style” grows on me more and more as I keep coming back to your website.

One of my favorite quotes comes from a scientist by the name of Eyring: “There is a simplicity, beyond complexity, which is the evidence of all true genius.” Your “good design” resembles the intentions of this quote!

17 Dave March 3, 2009 at 3:01 am

Wow. This is an interesting site.

I’m always surprised by how often floorcoverings get overlooked.

My area of specialty is Oriental Rugs. Although a lot of consumers are under the impression rugs are expensive, there are many, many low price point options out there for second hand and overstock goods.

Given interest on this site is specifically geared toward softer, greener living, this resonates well with me. What’s more renewable than wool and cotton when it comes to a durable keepsake? Persian/Oriental rugs are out there, and available for a modest investment. Online, it’s not uncommon to find decent examples starting at a few dollars per square foot.

Considering other added benefits such as temp. insulation, aesthetic value, timeless art, renewable resource, and of course the previously mentioned low price points, I definitely think this is an area I’d like to see advocated on this site. Just because a home is modern, doesn’t mean a Gabbeh rug wouldn’t fit into the mix.

Perhaps, providing you’re interested, we’d be willing to lend our experience with this intriguing project.

18 ModSquirl March 27, 2009 at 7:33 pm

Alternative exterior cladding- like hardi board architectural panels or corrugated metal siding.

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