Our Homelink show home aims to dispel some old notions about design and technology in new homes.

By Boyce Thompson

When it comes time to buy a car, most people don't go look at used cars first, do they? No, they visit new-car dealerships, so they can see first-hand the advances in technology and design. They believe that new cars are built and designed better than old cars.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said about the way most Americans view housing. Many people say they prefer older homes. Some think that older homes were built better. Other may be drawn by an old home that comes with mature trees and great schools.

New is better

With our Homelink show home, we set out to overcome the objections that people might have to new homes and change perceptions in the process. For starters, we sited the house in a wonderful new neighborhood, with fiber optic cable underground and thousands of mature trees above ground. Then we designed a home that looks every bit as good as ones built in the '20s and '30s.

The floor plan and technology inside, by contrast, are very much about facilitating today's lifestyle, something you can't find in the cramped kitchens of old homes. This home is completely wired for the Internet. It's long on spaces that today's families value and short on ones that aren't used. And it's built much better than nearly any home on the market.

Boyce Thompson

Photo: Katherine Lambert

Homelink is an incredibly ambitious show home. Together with Morrison Homes, our builder, we examined every system within the house, and, with the help of industry consultants, put in the very latest that building science has to offer. We set out to do what car makers do every time they introduce a new model.

It's easier for the automotive industry, with only a handful of major manufacturers, to advance the state of the art than it is the home building industry, with more than 100,000 companies doing business. Show homes can fill the gap, focusing attention on innovation that's ready for the marketplace.

With its high-efficiency windows and HVAC system--and an engineered frame that provides room for added insulation--this house is an energy-mizer. It's also designed to control humidity levels and prevent water infiltration. And we took our best shot at putting in a system to hold down the formation of mold, a burgeoning problem for our industry, even though, I'm sure, it's much worse in used homes.

Take a look

I think you'll enjoy the elevations and floor plan drawn by architect Carson Looney, principal with the Memphis, Tenn.-based firm, Looney Ricks Kiss. People just love this home. You should have seen all the neighbors who rushed in to visit while we were doing our photo shoot. We took several chances with the floor plan--there's no formal living room and the dining room doubles as a library. But we gave people much more of what they really want: great spaces to live in. It's easy to imagine a wonderful life inside this home.

There's a lot to study in Homelink house. If you want to learn even more about the house--and see the earlier stories we did about the framing plan and HVAC--go to www.builderonline.com/homelink2002. And I welcome you, while you're at the International Builders' Show in Atlanta next month, to come see the house. We'll have buses leaving from the convention center on the half hour. You're welcome to drive out as well. I hope to see you there.

Boyce Thompson

Editor in Chief

e-mail: bthompso@hanley-wood.com