My friend, who will go unnamed, is a planner and a do-er. I knew when she and her husband decided to build a few years back that every detail would be thought of. They fought to keep the home as small as possible and focused on high quality construction which was environmentally friendly. One of their mandates was that while this would not be a LEED certified home, they would make Green decisions throughout the process. Specifically, they wanted to avoid adding potential toxins into their new home (studies show that indoor air is 3X more polluted than outdoor air). This is not a modern house by design, but the decisions that went into the construction reflect modern concerns about the environment.
First of all, my friend was the first person I knew who insisted that her subflooring contain no toxins or formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, as they will add toxic gases to the house for years to come. Hmmm, I’m immediately thinking about all the toxins to which I have exposed my three small children through the years. Crap. Why didn’t I know about this? An easy way around this problem is to simply have your builder use traditional exterior plywood for the subflooring/underlayment, thus skipping particle board all together.
She used Homasote 440 SoundBarrier fiberboard for the upstairs flooring underlayment. This is yet to be widely used and most conventional homes use OSB (oriented strand board) or particle board which, again, outgases formaldehyde. You can now purchase formaldehyde-free OSB, but Homasote still has the plus of being a 100% recycled product. www.homasote.com/
My friend has a this great mudroom/back hall entry area. The flooring choice her was Good True Linoleum – as in the real deal, not the plastic floor. Her linoleum was was purchased through Nashville Carpet Center and she chose Forbo brand’s Marmoleum, which they had installed in two ways:
1) large tiles for an offset/diagonal checkerboard effect in the back entry hall
2) as solid “sheet” linoleum in the lighter of the two checkerboard colors for the adjacent rooms which include a cleverly hidden craft room that logs many hours of use.www.thisoldhouse.com
The wood floors steal the show. They have such warmth and depth that it actually makes the house seem older because you simply don’t find floors like this in newer homes. Her floors are repurposed pine harvested from old barns and buildings here in TN and then milled into quarter sawn planks 6 inches wide by 6 feet long by Mr. Leo Burg of Fairview 615-533-2793 who is also the installer.
Lawrence Verchota owner of Verchota Floors, Inc. finished her floors using a Tung Oil Finish. Because Tung Oil was used, the floors never have to be sanded when they are refinished. She has found the floors in the past three years to be “super durable, no worries, even in the kitchen with water spills, etc.” www.verchota.com
Info about the benefits of a “natural” Tung Oil finish www.sutherlandwelles.com/
Rugs woven from natural fibers are used throughout the house including the wool wall-to-wall carpet in the upstairs bedrooms. My friend felt strongly about using wool carpet in her children’s rooms, because it is naturally stain resistant and water repellent as well as non-toxic. Synthetic carpets and the bonded urethane foam pads under them are two of the most toxic components in new homes. The carpet pads used are Karastep Casual Cushion that is made from recycled rubber. Remember to consider your choice of carpet padding as what good is the more expensive wool carpet if you’re just putting it over something that is outgasing toxins?
Not only are the colors through the house calming and beautiful, they are also non-toxic. The chosen paint was Sherwin William’s Harmony (low-odor, NO-VOC). No-Voc paints are now a common option with Benjamin Moore and Porter Paints also carrying similar lines. To see why you should consider a no VOC paint on your next painting project, see this link: www.eartheasy.com/
Other Things of Note
- Outdoor lights are on timers with CFL’s.
- zwhole-house chlorine filter to take the chlorine our of the bath/shower water.
- Cedar shake roof, because folks might need to replace the asphalt shingles on their own roofs at some point. Cedar shakes cost more but have a 30 year life, much longer than asphalt shingles, so if it’s your “forever house,” it’s worth the investment. Also it’s a renewable resource, from sustainable forestry practices.
- Builder: Ramsey-Daughtery. www.ramseydaugherty.com
- Heather Hilner of Nashville and the office of Ken Tate, Monroe, LA provided architectural design assistance.
- Cabinetry was designed by Robbie Barnhart of Nashville Custom Woodwork, Inc. and bathroom tile layouts were designed by Renaissance Tile & Bath.
- Buildinggreen.com and greenbuildingadvisor.com are good resources.