Building Better Townhomes

This idea has several sub-thoughts that are loosely related.  I’ve lived in a townhouse for more than five years now, and here are some things that I think could be improved.

Basement/Garage

I’ve lived in a townhouse for the past five years, and, in general, I’m quite happy with the layout of my unit and the development as a whole.  One problem in the area is parking.  Despite each unit having a two car garage, there is always a shortage of parking space around some of the buildings.  I soon realized that one cause of this problem is that many people have a bunch of crap in their garage, or have more than two vehicles that need to be parked.  So I would like to see townhouses developed where the entire garage and basement is combined into a single uninterrupted space that is two car lengths deep.  This way people could more easily store their garage related items while still parking two vehicles in the garage.  This large space would also allow four cars to be parked in the garage– in a two by two configuration.  OK, so maybe it couldn’t “officially” be called a four car garage, but people looking at buying a unit could see the possibilities.  Can someone get on that?  Thanks!

Radiant Heating

This has been around for a while now where deep wells are dug near a building and loops of plastic tubes are placed in the holes.  The holes are filled back up and a mixture of water and antifreeze is pumped down the wells and back up.  The constant temperature of the ground can be used to cool or heat building through more tubes running beneath the upper floors.  This is a really good system requiring minimal electricity to move the liquid, but digging the wells can cost tens of thousands of dollars.  Would it be possible to build a house with tubes running in the concrete foundation and connecting to the tubes in the floors?  If there is enough thermal mass in the floor of the basement it could cut the cost of radiant heating by an order of magnitude by eliminating the expensive drilling step.

Keeping Houses Cool

In the summer time a lot of houses can get hot, and people spend a lot of time and money to keep this from happening.  Houses get hot inside in part because the sun is shining on the outside part of the house.  (That’s not exactly rocket science there)  Making houses that reflect most of that light instead of absorbing it would result in a much cooler house.  How about taking a few thousand blank CDs, tying them together to create a flat, hexagonal pattern, and sticking it to the roof during the summer.  This would reflect most of the energy off the roof and lower the temperature of the house.  If that works, someone could manufacture inexpensive interlocking reflective plastic squares to make the process even easier.  I would try this myself, but I would like to avoid a lengthy legal dispute with my homeowner’s association.

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