Remodeled College Hill house embodies ‘green’ trends that you’ll see at the Home Show

After a big brick house in College Hill burned a couple of years ago, contractor Bernie Hentzen bought it and decided to remodel it as a “green” house.

Now on the verge of being completed, the house has gone not only green but emerald, the highest certification the National Association of Home Builders gives a remodeled house. The energy-efficiency and aging-in-place features of the house are among the trends you can see next week at the Home Show at Century II.

“That was just a blast to do, to design a whole house so it works together for energy efficiency, clean air, minimizing maintenance and conserving natural resources,” Hentzen said of the College Hill house, the only one in the state to receive the “emerald” certification. “We had to do quite a bit of studying.”

Among the features that had to fit the “green” bill: windows, doors, insulation, roof shingles, tile, carpet, heating, air and the electrical system. Hentzen’s daughter’s family is going to be moving into the house, so he’ll be able to know how it all plays out in the utility bills.

Among the additions to the 75-year-old house that can help people who are getting older: a shower bench, motion-sensor faucets, a drawer microwave that’s wheelchair-accessible, a whole-house vacuum system with hoses in the walls, hardwood floors for wheelchair movement, and lots of can lights in the ceiling that should never have to be changed.

Hentzen’s business, Hentzen Contractors, will help staff the remodeling booth at the Home Show, one of 280 exhibits that will feature home-remodeling and home-building products and services.

The number of booths is up this year, filling the three halls of Century II, said Wess Galyon of the Wichita Area Builders Association. The association sponsors the show.

“I think there’s an optimistic air,” Galyon said of the home business. People are more interested in remodeling, and while new-home sales have been flat, “since January 1 there has been more traffic in new-home communities,” Galyon said.

About 32,000 people attended the Home Show last year. Seminars that are growing increasingly popular are those that deal with modifying a house so the owners can live there as they age rather than go into assisted living, Galyon says.

That’s one of the things Hentzen’s business does. He’s completed certification in what is called aging in place as well as in energy-efficient, environmentally friendly green standards.

“In particular the baby boomers want to stay in their own homes and be independent,” Hentzen said.

Among the things that can be done to make houses more adaptable for the aging: installing more lights inside and outside the house because people need more light to see as they get older, keypad entry to avoid having to fit a key in a lock, a hydraulic lift in a garage instead of a ramp that takes up lots of space, roll-in showers and step-in tubs, grab bars, motion-sensor faucets that dispense water at a set temperature, and closets that can at some point become a shaft for an elevator.

Hentzen said the improvements are not just for people with higher incomes. It’s actually a better value to outfit houses with energy-efficient and adaptive elements because they also can be lower-maintenance over time, Hentzen said.

“Those hydraulic lifts are becoming popular compared to what they have been in the past. Anybody should look into them. It is for the masses,” he said. When people think, “Rather than move into assisted care I’d like to remodel my own home,” Hentzen said, “it looks like a very economical thing to do.”