Owner And Architect’s Energy-Efficient Love Child at 9317 Midway: The Future Is Now

A home that didn’t pull out of the Paris Accord

I like to walk with a purpose, an endpoint. Sunday was just such a day when, as a real estate writer, a cool open house is a great endpoint.  One option asked me to “imagine living in an Italian villa” (yeah, no). Then I came across the walk-worthy 9317 Midway, which looks very modern (good), but also has a fascinating story to tell, which was hinted at when I saw the rooftop solar collectors and Tesla gear in the photos. Not to be outdone by their environmental fortitude, I slipped on my shoes and headed to the open house (so there!).

The home contains five bedrooms and four full bathrooms over 4,257 square feet. It rests on nearly two-thirds of an acre (112’ x 237’ lot). It’s listed with Robert Plessinger of Keller-Williams Park Cities for $1.75 million.

The home is on Midway just north of Northwest Highway. For those in less urban environments who like a little walkability, the home of across the street from the strip center housing Fernando’s and La Madeleine restaurants and other retail outlets including the coming soon Central Market. Oh, and did I mention that this stretch of Midway has sidewalks!

A similar system to the one used at this home

That all sounds good, but you may also be thinking, “Midway is a busy street, what about noise?” To answer that, we have to talk construction. This isn’t just a house with the second installation of a Tesla Powerwall in Texas and a passel of solar panels on the roof. Part of its energy efficiency comes from being a thick, well-insulated home. Thick?  Yes, the walls are 6 inches thick.

Using a construction method popular outside the US (we’re sooo behind in energy efficiency), the home is constructed using interconnected, hollow, rigid foam blocks (foam cinderblocks) which are held in place by steel rebar. The foam provides great insulation. Then all the internal gaps are filled with concrete to increase insulation and add rigidity and strength to the structure. It’s essentially a fortress that incorporates foam to boost its R-value. To get the same R-value in wood construction, the walls would need to be twice as thick. All this is to say that what makes this home exceptionally energy efficient also makes the home tomb-quiet.

Before launching into all the cool interior pictures, let’s look at the home’s layout. Yes, it’s a big “H,” but it’s more. Walking around the home you see the owner’s love of an African safari or two captured in vivid photography. This home reminds me of a modern interpretation of a North African riad where a central gathering courtyard is surrounded by more private spaces. In a riad, the central space is open to the sky (pre-AC) to bring light in. This also translates into an efficient design with minimal space-wasting hallways. Regardless of the bedroom, outside the door is the central living room, bringing occupants together.

In this home, the 26’ x 36’ living room has a sliding wall of windows opening it up to the covered porch and pool. On the other side there are also windows to get the morning sun. Clerestory windows bring in the light and make the room feel more voluminous.

The indoor/outdoor blurring created by the open wall of windows is just for people. The leading edge of the porch contains a motorized screen that rolls down to keep the skeeters and flying cooties out of the house.

Connected to the central living room is the touchy kitchen. I say touchy because the faucet is touchless and cabinets open electrically by touch. As you can see, plenty of storage and counter space offer ease for complicated meal preparation. Or if you’re like most, the island acts as ground zero for entertaining as scads of (Central Market) take-out boxes are unpacked from the double side-by-side fridge-freezer and arranged on platters.  Bringing in more light, the back of the kitchen has windows above and below the cabinet line.

With five bedrooms, you’ll have to visit the home (or website) to see them all, but the master shows the detail. Yes, it opens to the patio for an early-morning swim, but look at the closet door. It’s a barn door with none of the clumsy barn hardware. Here, it’s just an elegant panel that slides invisibly.

The master bath is as sleek as you’d expect with what I can only call a Barbarella bathtub. It’s a perfect seating position with jets … that’s filled from a spout on the ceiling (yes, that dot in the picture). Playful “encouragement” is provided by the sexy transparent bathtub walls in full view of the adjacent, open shower (see the ceiling shower heads?) and the outdoor pool. If you’re doing it right, you’re late for work three out of five mornings.

The rear of the home offers spacious green space to tire children and pets, but also a sophisticated pool space with a positionable sail to manage shade while relaxing by/in the pool. While completely invisible on the ground, those solar panels are soaking up the sun to keep Oncor out of your billfold.

Speaking of the power company, here’s the Tesla Powerwall that first got me interested in this property. While the solar panels generate power, they also charge the batteries so that when everyone else’s power is out, yours isn’t. On the other side of the garage are a pair of car chargers (one normal, one rapid). The system’s been setup ingeniously to take advantage of promotions offering free overnight electricity the owner uses to fully charge the Powerwall and electric cars so everything begins the day fully charged.

The system comes with software that monitors the efficiency of the solar system in granular detail. There are also screens that show in dollars how much power you’ve generated yourself and what it would have cost from the grid. I was also provided the electric bills for the past seven months which ranged from $16.24 in April to $73.36 last December (Cloudy? Lots of Christmas lights?). The past seven months of electricity costs have averaged $33.22 per month for a 4,357-square-foot home.

Dang!

 

Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016 and 2017, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with two Bronze (2016, 2017) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.