There are many designs, shapes, and textures to homes today. Some are large, and some are. Some are tall, and some are wide. While I feel only a few restrictions should be placed on homes in comparison today in regards to designs, I feel that the house should be dramatically changed from what they are today.
The reason is the home is the cause of 45% of the greenhouse gases. Imagine if every home was to these standards, we could cut our pollution by almost half. These proposals of requirements are based on technology of today, and while a little more expensive (expect +25%), this would be a dramatic savings to the environment (small carbon footprint), nature (small reality footprint), and the pocket (smaller impact on your finances). However, considering the dramatic changes, these would probably be best for new homes.
Now, considering this would be new home construction, the process of removing the old house should be considered. Deconstruction instead of demolition. Deconstruction involves removing the parts of the house that is good such as wiring, plumbing, and doors, and separating the remaining for recycling, then landfill. The new house would be made with almost completely landfill free material.
Once the old is removed, then the new can be prepared. Even if the new is the exact same specs of the old, there would need to be additional preparation. First, a grey water and rain water collection system will be in place. Every time the water leaves the drain, it goes to the sewer. With proper treatment, this water could be harvested and used as toilet water. In an old standard, the water in the toilet is the exact same as the water that comes out of the faucet. This hurts a person paying for water twice. First grey water which could be used to tend to toilets is going to the sewage. Second perfectly clean water is filling your commodes. With a grey water system in place, the water can go from drain to grey water tank and then fill the commode. This means that you are making full use of the water before needing to be disposed.
However, grey water should never be used in parts where it is used for consumption. Gardens, fruit bearing trees, sprinklers, and other areas where people would most likely come in contact with the water should never be used. This is where rain water collection comes in. Your house normally sends water collected from the roofs via the drains to the sewage system. While this water is not meant for the same standards as the water from the tap, it is still clean water and once filtered, it could be used for laundry, property cleaning, and feeding plants. If one has a pool, it could be used to provide water for the pool, and tend to the radiant systems (discussed later). If 1/4 of the homes had this system, it would virtually eliminate sewer flooding that very heavy downpours cause. In addition, instead of the rain water going to waste, causing flooding, and hurting infrastructure, it could be collected, used, possibly reused, and then disposed where it won’t strain the system.
Next, in-ground heating systems on sidewalks, driveways, and walking paths would be installed. This would only be done where below freezing temperature is a norm. When these paths would hit at freezing (therefore – ice), the ground would heat up just enough to keep ice from forming. This does a few things. One, it provides safety as this system would be on when needed. A blizzard in the middle of the night – the paths would be clear of snow and ice. Two, it prevents elderly and unhealthy people from having to tend to this dangerous activity. At worse, a sprinkle of rock salt would do the trick. Where possible, this heating would be provided through Geo-Thermal systems.
Depending on whether the garage would be inground, or above ground would depend on the preparation for the basement. If inground (preferred), the basement would have an automobile turntable. This would allow an average house to support three or four cars without increasing the footprint, and therefore – increase usability. In the event of above ground garages, slabs would be used, and protecting the tanks.
All new homes should be LEED certified. This should be a standard rather than some excellence award. When did you ever get a gold star in school for coming on time, and not calling the teacher an ugly hag? You shouldn’t get rewarded for doing what is expected. LEED certification should be the same way. Next, prefabrication should be standard, and only avoided when it’s not feasible. A prefabricated home does not mean cheap, but it means that the material is used with maximum efficiency. All of the resources are aided by CAD, and literally put together in an environmental control building. Once everything is assured to work properly, it is then disassembled, and trucked to the site. If something was miscalculated, the pieces remain at the factory where it is used for another project. It is not thrown in a dump truck to be hauled in a landfill. It could be raining, snowing, or a heat wave that may make "conventional construction" impossible, but in a environmentally controlled center – this is not a problem.
This also means that plumbing, electrical, and heating is installed at the prefabrication. Appropriate professionals would hook these together while the building is going up, but everything would be up to code. A wall could even be prepared for painting. This means that all electrical, coaxial, and fiber optics can be installed with maximum efficiency. Old style plumbing with copper pipes wrapped in insulation would be a thing of the past with flexible plastic tubing. This is the same kind of tubing that is used to run scolding hot water through under floor radiant heating, and this system would be used as well.
When possible, local renewable resources would be used. Some exceptions maybe corkwood flooring, and paper stone – both renewable, and both intended to make the house more pleasant. Recycled glass tiles would be used for kitchens, and bathrooms. Shafts for elevators, and spiral stairs would be made. openings for mail boxes would be prepared, and the modular ends would allow for expansion with minimal fuss. The home would be design at an optimum roof angle for solar if it faces north/south, or flat roof with access for a living roof design if facing east/west. Solar tube lighting would also be installed at the prefabrication to allow energy efficiency to increase.
Shatter proofing the triple pane windows would also be done. It would make the windows more expensive, but it would deter break ins, help against threatening weather, and in the event the windows breaks – the shards would be contained in a film making replacement safely easier. Also accidents like the kids play ball would also protect from such.
Car ports are a waste of resources. The do little more than keep rain and snow off of the car. And while cars are a mainstay of society today, it is best to address how to place the car. There are two real alternatives. The first is inground garages which will basically consume most of your basement. The second is above ground garages which requires a larger reality footprint. In either instance, there would be magnetic resonance pads for the vehicle to park above. Authorized electric vehicles would simply be filling up while parked.
Inground garages would have a vehicle turntable. You drive forward in the garage. Your car parks on the turntable, the turntable rotates the car to your parking space. You pull into the space. When you leave, you drive on the turntable which rotates you to where you exit forward. This means instead of you having 2 cars, you can park 3 or 4 in the same space.
Above ground garages would have to make up for the used footprint. In turn, there would no long be 1 storey garages. A garage would be on the first floor, and either bedrooms, storage, guest or rental unit would be above the garage. In most cases
, the garage should have a east/west face. The roof would be flat, and therefore a living roof. Above ground garages would be adjacent to the kitchen as it would require less work when bringing groceries in.
One of the biggest issues is not the home outgrowing people, but a person, or couple can’t live there because of accessibility. A person crippled, and relying on a wheelchair, or someone with severe arthritis won’t be able to climb stairs. At best, they are stuck on the first floor. At worst, they have to move, and either sell or rent their home out. This is counter productive.
So, every new home would have features intended to address this. Even if the owner doesn’t expect to be in the circumstance, or only wishing to rent out – it would only raise the capital value of the home. Exterior doors would be level or have a ramp. In addition, halls would be 36" wide. This would as well be enough for a wheelchair, and allow someone else to walk through as well. Light switches, and control panels would be at waist level, and counters would be slightly lower.
To get to each floor would be spiral stairs. While this may seem counter-productive for accessibility, this is to make room for a dedicated elevator. The elevator would allow movement of heavy items like dressers, and tend to those who are not able to climb stairs. This would actually eliminate the need for the larger footprint ranch style homes.
Interior doors would be sliding so when you open, instead of swinging, it would go in the wall. This would mean more room for a particular room. It would also be safer as not would get the door slammed accidently. Common rooms would serve multiple purposes. In example, instead of there being a living room, and a dining room – there would be a great room.
Bedrooms would also be made different. A bedroom would have its own lavatory. A lavatory is a room with just a toilet, and sink. There would be an actual bathroom for every 2 – 3 bedrooms. The tub would be a bath/shower combination and a dedicated flip shower seat for those that can’t stand long.
Every new home should have a brain. This would be a central computer server that does one thing, and that would allow control of the home. This would most likely be built around a virus free environment preventing programs other than updates from being installed. Very cheap RFID tags would be able to attached to all devices and therefore such would be known by the system. Such appliances would have to be programmed for this, but this would be easily done by attaching a RJ-45 cable. The System would recognize the device by the RFID, and pair it with the IP address. It would then gather the commands for that device. Signals can be sent to and from the server to do commands. This server would also be attached to the outside world via the house’s broadband connection, and a phone line. Some cases, this would be VOIP (hardware or software), or via cellular. This would allow residents to dial in to the server and perform basic things, such as back up PC. It would send a WOL command to the notebook, login, and perform the backup. Once finished, it would log off, and shut down. The home would also use the line to make out going calls and faxes. In an example, if someone breaks in, the server can call the owner, and request authorization to act. In which case, it receives the authorization, and calls the authorities. Everyone living in the home would have an RFID tag, which would tell the server where everyone is at. If Johnny is listening to his music, and goes to the bathroom, the server can turn the speakers off in the bedroom, and move the music to the bathroom.
There are a few safety features already designed into the standards. Such would be inground heating, and shatterproof glass. Let’s address the other features. First, home automation would do many things automatically. In example, smoke and CO detectors would be wired into the system. If there is a dangerous level, it can immediately contact ambulance and fire. If there is a fire, it would be able to sense where the fire is and use any built in dry chemical extinguishing. Voice recognition can allow a person who fallen and can’t get up to use voice recognition. They could simply yell "Home, Call Help". The system would dial emergency response, and through the home’s speakers, and mics – they can speak with a dispatcher. Illuminated address numbers, and porch lights that can blink when help is called would make it easier for help to find the right location.
Corkwood flooring, and paper stone would not only be environment friendly but acts as a natural discouragement for pests. This means less chemical treatment for pest control, and therefore less pest, and less or no chemicals. In addition with central vacuum – the dust, and dirt would go out of the house in a collection tank that is sealed. Shatterproof glass offers protection from the elements or misfiring baseballs.
The same means that provides safety would also provide security. Even if a burglar were to cut the lines, the server would have the option to use cellular network services to make the call. Shatter-proof glass would make it harder for someone to break in, and the residents have the option of either a portcullis, or swing door that would provide a discouragement to breaking in. Also, in the event of a break in, the closed doors would automatically lock, and all security cameras would be on. This would help protect the family, and provide authority with video evidence of the crime. Elevator would automatically go to the top floor, and remain there until it is safe to be used.
And forget loosing your keys. You would have RFID as a means of entering. If a tag is lost, it could be called in as invalid. Once an authorized tag reaches within 5 feet of an exterior entry, it would disable the alarm, unlock, and ajar the door. Exterior doors would have a record of allowed tags, and battery back up in case no power to the house is available.
A mail slot is on every floor. This would send all mail to a dedicated mail box. The mail box has an exterior door, and an interior door. Any mail and packages would be placed in the box, and only mail delivery services have access to the exterior door via a key or RFID. The interior door would be accessible from inside the home, or entry. This would discourage theft, and keep packages dry from rain. When the carrier opens the box, he would see a light blinking if there is something for him to pick up. Once he picks up the outgoing mail, and closes the door, a green LED light would be steady to notify the residents the mail came and went.
Consumption and Utilities
At least until networked TVs become standard, there would be a need for coaxial. However, there would only be one cabling, and a termination point which would allow the home to have a selection of cable, OTA, or Satellite. This cable would be limited so for more flexibility, Wifi-N or RJ-45 connections would be sought. RJ-11 has no place in the modern home. VOIP has already proven almost as reliable, and cheaper. Call quality is the same, and the design is more flexible. What is needed is more wifi phones. UMA (once promoted properly), and cellular would be the winner even among VOIP. VOIP would serve mostly as fax, or PC communications.
Dual band access points (both inside and out) would offer Internet services and access to music and videos from anywhere in the network. Dual band offers separate bands with one Wifi-G, and Wifi-N. Wifi-G band would take on only devices using G while the N would take on compatible devices without being slow down because they are sharing the band with G devices. This would be connected by one of the major broadband sources, however Cable, and DSL would eventually fade and either offer fiber optic, or BPL. In the end, earlier homes would have coaxial and RJ-11 at the termination point, but BPL, and RJ-45 would be most likely the winning choice.
Gas stove lovers would hate this. Gas would only be used as a means of a backup generator for electric. Everything through the home would run off of electricity for most things, and either electricity or Geo-thermal for AC and heat. Electricity would be produced by solar panels and grid for houses facing north/south and almost grid completely for those facing east/west. Solar tube lighting would be provided on all houses to bring light into places where little or no light exists such as closets. To reduce the demand of electricity – OLED lighting would be installed. In addition new houses would be built with the lower energy demand LCD in mind. Big Bulky kilowatt powered desktops would be specialty machines only, and the norm would cater to the 65 watt notebook. All homes would be outfitted with Magnetic Resonance Power which would provide power to notebooks, MP3 players, wifi phones, and cell phones without any intervention on the user. Such power distribution would also be provided to electric vehicles, so no need to worry if you plugged in.
And that pestering sun that provides you with light, and power can also cook your dinner. On hot days, most homes would have solar ovens which while take longer – would allow you to not heat your home to cook your dinner. And don’t worry about the AC. The house would have a requirement of being a certain R Value to keep the heat out, and be allowed to breathe. The house would most likely have breezeways to allow a breeze to come in through the house, and even with houses facing east/west – the living roof can be used to have a growing garden, and acts as natural insulation. This in turn helps offset the loss of very little or no solar power.