Shane and Erinn Farrell never planned on tearing down their early 1900s bungalow in Minneapolis. For the first six years they lived there, the modest two-bedroom home was perfect for just the two of them, but they needed more room for a family, according to the Kansas City Star.
At first they considered adding a second story for a nursery and master bedroom. But architect Eric Odor, of SALA Architects in Minneapolis, discovered that the existing foundation wouldn't support a new second story, the front porch was sagging and the basement ceiling was awfully low.
"With all the needed improvements, it would cost virtually the same to build a new home," Odor said. "If we just put on a second story, they would still have this 100-year-old house."
After crunching the numbers, the Farrells agreed.
"We decided that it would make more sense financially to start over," said Shane. "Then we could take advantage of the new technologies and build green."
Designing a new house from scratch offered endless options. But the couple were clear about their top priorities: an open floor plan, lots of glass for natural light, three bedrooms upstairs, and maximum energy efficiency. And lastly, Shane requested an unfinished basement to serve as his floor-hockey rink and bike-repair workshop.
The couple's desire for eco-friendly features and SALA's commitment to sustainability led Odor to register the house as a LEED for Homes project, with a gold rating expected this month.
"Building a LEED house wasn't on our radar at first," Shane said. "But we wanted to do something socially responsible and we knew we would make up the costs eventually in our energy bills."
Read more about building a green home.