Our demonstration home in Murphy, North Carolina

The Bellview community in Murphy, North Carolina

What was needed:
A home that demonstrates a better way to live in the mountains. If people could see how my ideas could work for them, they might want some of them for their homes, ideas like...

...energy efficiency.
While most green projects focus on complicated and expensive systems, we focus on what is the most simple and cost effective. For this home we used a combination of ideas. First is increasing winter sunshine, while shading summer sunshine. This was easily done by sizing the roof overhang for the different sun angles in each season. We also took this to another level with a two story glass solarium. This space is designed to absorb a lot of heat from the winter sun. By opening the doors between the solarium and the house, this heat will flow through every room inside. At night the solarium will get cold, and we can close the doors to keep the heat in. An automatic blower will take full advantage of this free heat when we are not home. Soil against the walls on the north, west, and east sides will keep the home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Higher quality insulation and air tight construction will help too. This home is also designed to exhaust the heat in the summer.

Floor Plan, upper level

Floor Plan, lower level

...indoor air quality.
Using a central vacuum system to clean the floors and dust the house is an effective way to reduce allergy causing pollen and dust mites. The walls will be covered with the same lime plaster used centuries ago in Italy. This is too alkaline to support mold. We chose acid stained concrete floors for the same reasons, plus these materials are durable, easy to clean, and beautiful. And they don't off gas the chemicals found in many manufactured materials.

A beautiful and practical organic garden
Raised bed gardening

Cutting trees into our lumber
Making lumber

...food self-sufficiency.
The building site for this home is covered with very large trees. We did not want to clear them for a large garden. So we planned attractive raised bed gardens in front of the house. Filled with natural compost, they grow more food in less space, and with much less work. They make organic gardening easy. A kitchen was planned for large food gatherings. A restaurant sink and energy efficient portable induction cooking burners make this kitchen versatile and efficient. But our favorite feature is an improved root cellar. Behind the kitchen is a food storage room that will stay 55F all year long. It is built with walls that are covered with earth. The warmest air in the cellar will rise up through a vent pipe. Another buried pipe will bring in ground chilled air to replace it, keeping the area cool. This will also ventilate the gases given off by foods that cause them to overripen. This is the ideal environment to keep produce and age wine, and without using any electricity. The glass solarium provides sunny space for growing food indoors in the winter.

Most clients don't want to think about future problems. But a little planning now could save a lot of work and cost in the future. And it could make a home easier to sell. So we demonstrated ideas in this home that improve accessibility without looking like a nursing home: The only steps between the parking and the house are a 1" step up at the front door. We planned the traffic paths to reduce obstacles and changes in direction. (This also reduces wasted square footage). And the home is designed with sleeping, living, cooking, dining, bathing, and working on the ground level. One of these bathrooms has a wheel in shower and a roll under sink. We wanted to show people that accessibility can be beautiful.

...living smaller.
Most homes have a lot of wasted space. One of the easiest ways to reduce this in a new home is to plan more specifically for the clients' needs, property, and budget. Why include what you would never use? This home was designed for a family of up to six children with parents working at home. This family lives and entertains informally, so a dining room and foyer were not needed. Playing and listening to music is important to this family. A living room to seat 13 was designed with good acoustics. Muted light levels make a projector television work better. Dining space for up to 13 is included in the kitchen. The large table can also provide food prep space for large gatherings. The small loft bathroom has two areas to allow one child privacy while another two are using the sinks. The children's bedrooms include four personal desk spaces and closets. The playing loft and the upper level of the solarium are accessible from the children's rooms to provide a little separate space they might need in a large family.

...working at home.
Having worked at home since 1987 while raising four children, I have had a little experience here. To make a home office client friendy, a space is needed that can be separated for a quiet meeting when the kids are noisey. A view of the parking area would be helpful to see when clients arrive. While a professional quality office might not be expected, it should be attractive and convenient for work. A separate bathroom would be a plus. For this office we faced the glass toward the parking area and the winter sun. Small windows on the north side provide a cross breeze. Air conditioning will not be needed. Natural lighting comes from two directions to reduce shadows on the work. A projector extends the image from a computer to the wall behind the desk for clients to easily see a 10 foot wide image.

Mountain model home under construction
Under construction

Would you like to see this home under construction? Contact me for an appointment. Or perhaps you would enjoy seeing its progress in our Construction Diary (This takes you to our old web site until we finish this new one).

Home Page
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Other pages are under Construction. More coming June, 2018.
Meanwhile you may visit Our Old Site

Contact Richard C. MacCrea...
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(800)738-8781 P.O. Box 446, Murphy, North Carolina 28906

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