The new Bishopsgate condominium development near Powell, OH - a golf course community next to Wedgewood Country Club - has rolled out the ultimate warm welcome to homeowners. As prospective buyers tour the homes this winter, they're encouraged to remove their shoes to feel that warmth in a way that leaves a lasting, positive impression.
Long before construction of the homes began, developer Terry O'Keefe decided that he would make Bishopsgate the first residential development in Ohio that provides radiantly-heated floors for all of its homes. "Though we make a higher investment in the homes to provide radiant heat, we find that homeowners are enamored with it. That's one of the reasons Better Homes & Gardens calls radiant heat one of the hottest trends in the home construction industry," said Terry O'Keefe.
"It's remarkable technology," said Kourtney O'Keefe, one of Terry's daughters; she and her sister Katie are actively involved in the firm's activities. "The floors of each home gently radiate the heat where you most want it - at your feet and toes. It's got an 'Oooh-ahhh' quality that's remarkable - it romances you from the start."
"We took a bit of a gamble with it, but we knew - especially at this time of year when temperatures are at their lowest - that when people felt it, they'd be struck by its comfort. There's really nothing quite like it for its coziness in the winter months," added Terry O'Keefe. "Of course, we also knew that by making this development exclusively radiant, we'd have a nice way to differentiate our development, and these homes, from those offered by others."
All of the homes are heated hydronically. All of the slab-on-grade homes have Watts Radiant RadiantPEX tubing in the concrete slab foundation. The tubing is connected to reinforcement wire just above a layer of Insultarp. The second story areas are all heated by staple-up application of highly flexible Onix tubing, an EPDM/synthetic rubber tubing also manufactured by Watts Radiant.
"We're pretty fixed on Onix because it's so easy to install," said Tony Fischer, project manager for Columbus-based Freeland Contracting Company, the firm that is installing all of the heating systems at Bishopsgate. "It has the feel and flexibility of installing a three-quarter inch piece of hemp rope - it's got substance and great flexibility at almost any temperature. Attempting to do PEX staple-up in the spring, fall and winter is like a wrestling match. Onix goes where you want it with no fight at all. It comes off the spool perfectly."
"Another key advantage is that, when it's stapled-up, it flattens slightly," added Fischer. "That's exactly what it's designed to do. The flattening of the tubing against the subfloor above increases the surface contact with the wood, dramatically improving thermal transfer from the pipe to the floor above. That's why heat transfer plates aren't needed with Onix. That saves a lot of time and expense. Of course, we use foil-faced insulation from below to complete installation of the staple-up sections."
"Radiant heat is a great investment for homeowners," he added. "Not only do you get incomparable comfort, and the highest energy efficiency available - typically, a 25% to 40% improvement over forced air - but with no air grates, radiators or baseboard to factor-in, there's also no interference with room function or furniture layout."
The radiant heat system adds about $7,500 to the cost of each home, an investment that will - because of the higher operational efficiency - reward homeowners with full "payback" in six to seven years.
"Without question, warm floors are the most comfortable form of heat you can have," says Hanse Cromer, a manufacturer's representative for Steffens-Shulz, a Columbus firm that specializes in plumbing and mechanical components. "For years, we've been beating that drum in Columbus, and finally we're seeing broad acceptance of radiant heat."
"We feel very good about our decision to go with radiant at Bishopsgate" added Terry O'Keefe. "We were introduced to it years ago when we installed it for an addition to our home. For me, it was like one of those 'love at first sight' experiences. We enjoy it for its comfort, and for the energy efficiency."
"It's an amenity that complements the feel and luxury of the 39 detached condominiums at Bishopsgate," said Katie O'Keefe. "The homes have the look and feel of English country cottages, with steep roofs and stone veneer chimneys. But they also have a contemporary, open floor plan with high ceilings and lots of attention to detail and convenience."
"All of the Bishopsgate homes feature spacious master suites with vaulted ceilings, two walk-in closets and a luxurious bathing area, including a large whirlpool tub," said Chris Reese, Metro II Realty, the Columbus realty firm chosen by O'Keefe to market the properties. "Kitchens are elegantly designed with abundant cabinetry, large center island, and easy access to a private patio and an open view of the great room.
Inspired by homebuyer interest in radiant heat, Terry O'Keefe has just broken ground on two new, Columbus-area condo developments that will also be radiantly-heated.
O'Keefe describes his interest in radiant heat as something of a conversion. "It's time that more people learn about it, and to discover the incredible comfort it offers," he concluded.