Building homes from insulated concrete forms doesn’t sound too high tech, but for the 10,000 square foot home outside of Dallas prewired with a Savant home control system for audio, video, security, window shades and lighting, it gets high tech quickly.
“It’s a big, big install,” says homebuilder Alan Hoffmann of the Alan Hoffmann Company.
Hoffmann’s homes feature universal designs that include high performance technology and sustainable building practices. His homes, whether he’s building individual custom homes or neighborhoods, feature ICF shells, wood frame interiors—and in 2015 they’ll also feature home control.
The home he’s discussing features six-inch concrete walls reinforced with two inches of foam on the interior and exterior. The result is a super-insulated structure that needs less energy to heat and cool the 7,000 square feet of cooled space. The home is LEED certified, and many of Hoffmann’s homes are LEED platinum-certified.
“These big, thick foam concrete walls act as a giant cooler, they reduce energy consumption and operating costs, and provide a comfortable living space,” Hoffmann says. “Because the concrete is connected to the ambient temperature of the ground it has the thermal properties of the ground.”
“For our region—we’re susceptible to tornadoes—it’s a very safe and sound structure,” Hoffmann says. “It’s quiet and extremely comfortable.”
For two of his 24 upcoming projects Hoffmann is a step ahead of the competition, including safe rooms in his homes, six years before they will be required by Texas building codes.
“I want to stay ahead of the bar,” he adds. “I’m making panic rooms or tornado rooms standard in my homes.”
As for automation, Hoffmann is installing Clare Controls home control packages in two neighborhoods he’s building this year. He sees home automation as something homebuyers want, but don’t want to fuss with.
“I don’t jump into new fads. And I don’t think home automation is going to be a fad. I think if we can make their lives and user experience better —and make their homes more comfortable and more intuitive; well, that’s what I’m about.”
The custom homeowner selected Savant as the control system because he’s a technophile, but Hoffmann selected Clare for the other projects because of its relative simplicity and ease of use.
“As far as tech goes, I’m a real geek, but most people aren’t,” he says. “And for them, it’s just got to work.”
He’s also planning on using Clare Controls in a neighborhood featuring three or four-story town houses with elevators. Hoffman calls elevators essential for these homes—part of his universal design for aging-in-place communities.