Client-builder partnership helped forge a healthy home showcase By: DuoBuilding

April 3, 2017
Design, Green Products, Reclaimed Material, Unique Custom Homes

Building healthy homes has always been important for us at DUO Building. The average person spends much of their time indoors. As much as we can, we want to ensure that the building materials we use do not impact the health of our clients.

This is important for any home and office occupant, and especially for those who have health sensitivities, like Michael and Patti.

Michael, a physician, has asthma and his wife, Patti has a rare autoimmune disease called GPA (granulomatosis with polyangiitis). Last year they approached us to build their very first house, and our second custom build. We’ve been renovating homes since 1979, and had been considering building new houses for some time.

Michael and Patti offered us an opportunity to not only create a healthy-home show piece, but to expand our knowledge on the latest non-toxic building materials and energy efficient building practices all while forging a strong and equal partnership with our clients.

Our first step was to educate ourselves on how best to build their dream house – a chemical-free retreat. We sourced the lowest volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and no-VOC products and materials that are locally produced. VOCs can be found in some paints and adhesives. They can be airborne, even for long periods of time, causing long-term health problems. We ended up using low or no VOC cabinets, paint, hardwood and Marmoleum flooring.

Marmoleum is made of non-toxic materials such as solidified linseed oil and pine rosin.

“Marmoleum ticked all the right boxes and we were so excited to find such a healthy, environmentally-friendly and design-forward product,” wrote the couple in an email to DUO. “Now that we’ve lived with it for a few months, we can say that it has absolutely lived up to our expectations. We’ve had several guests ask for details about it because they love it too.”

Walking Michael and Patti through this selection process helped them make decisions that would best meet their needs. They also appreciated the locally-sourced pine that we used outside and inside the home, and stainless steel island in the kitchen, which is non-toxic, durable, easy to clean, affordable and looks great.

Our clients were also educating themselves – and us – on what new ideas were coming on stream that could be incorporated into their home. Working on this project was a partnership, one that we truly valued.

In addition to healthy products, the couple wanted to reduce their home’s energy use.

“We thought quite a bit about the position of the house on the land and making sure it maximized light, made use of passive solar energy and maximized view while minimizing disruption from the road (and to a lesser extent, the railway),” they wrote. “We were really pleased with how much DUO knew about insulation and we felt that you provided strong guidance so our house could be as energy efficient as possible within our budget.”

Michael and Patti also wanted a wood burning fireplace.

Elmira Stove Works were really great to deal with. They helped us chose a high efficiency model that has minimum emissions, heats up our space effectively, and is airtight, important considering our breathing problems. We’re also very happy with the reclaimed brick.”

As the build progressed, our Lead Carpenter, Keelan and Lead Estimator, Mark were in weekly if not daily contact with Patti and Michael. Weekly meetings were the norm to ensure that everyone was on the same page and to prevent mistakes. As a result of this process, Keelan redid the bathroom design because the selected fixtures didn’t work in the initial layout, and Mark helped rearrange the kitchen layout. His suggestion of putting a pantry in the corner with a frosted glass door was a big hit!

This project was a joy to work on. We valued the collaborative partnership with Michael and Patti. Building in the country reduced the obstacles we typically experience in the city. And, our team is very proud of their involvement in DUO’s second custom build!

The best part, Michael and Patti love their new home and loved the building process!

“We don’t know how you could improve because we’re totally satisfied,” they wrote in the final evaluation. “The entire process went very smoothly. Keenan and Mark were always available for any questions. We enjoyed the whole process! Very high quality workmanship.”

In addition to expanding our knowledge on healthy building material, this experience is a great example of the importance of open and honest communication with our clients, and in forging long term relationships. Thank you Michael and Patti!