When Dave Yates received a call from Bob Myers, a local building industry entrepreneur, to tell him that he was planning to build a new home, he also learned that his firm - York, PA-based F. W. Behler Inc. - was already chosen to do the job. The business owner informed Yates that he had researched Behler's work and reputation thoroughly and knew he'd made the right choice.
Several weeks after the call, Yates got an urgent request that he visit Myers at his office complex one day. As Yates put it, he dropped everything ("Even the baby in my hands, if there'd been one"), jumped in the truck and was at the customer's facility 10 minutes later.
Home built around the mechanical system
Myers was at his desk, perusing new house plans just in from the architect. According to Yates, the blueprints were first rate. Yet, as Yates bore down on the details, he made several suggestions, changes that would permit easier, more sensible plumbing and mechanical solutions. His customer made notes, approving each recommendation quickly.
"Before long, it was apparent to me that Bob Myers was indeed very concerned about the quality of mechanical and comfort systems for the home. Essentially, he built the home around his desire for the best work we could do."
Blueprints revealed plans for a home that would be 8,500 s.f. when complete, with an additional 4,000 s.f. of living space below ground. There, the mechanical room would be nestled among a fully equipped exercise room, a wet sauna, a 50s style snack bar with soda n' beer jerks and a movie theater.
Up above, the home's focal point was an interior entryway with a curved rock wall, as though built around an old German fortress, and a great room with exposed beams 30 feet off the ground and surrounded by a galley. A grand fireplace and, opposite that, a wall of windows, was fit for a king. Next the large garage there was a full-sized basketball court, radiantly-heated, of course.
When excavation for the home was complete, preparations were made for the basement's concrete slab. This included two inches of rigid insulation under the entire home, and its perimeter - "It looked like a giant, pink swimming pool," said Yates.
Following that work, Yates' crews showed up at the site with truckloads of Onix, Watts Radiant's EPDM rubber radiant tubing with aluminum oxygen barrier. "We put in about 12,000 lineal feet of tubing in the concrete slab at 9- and 12-inch centers and the day after we were done tying it down the trucks arrived with concrete. The construction schedule at that point was going like clockwork."
Though, as the house progressed plans changed . "At certain stages, there were changes on top of changes," continued Yates. "But because that was the nature of the job, we adjusted to it."
A few months later one of the most interesting facets of the job took place. Yates and his crews installed 14,000 s.f. of Watts Radiant SubRay above-subfloor panels. This task took more that a week and made way for the installation of many more miles of Onix tubing, easily laid in SubRay channels.
"This radiant heat solution puts BTUs close to the finished floor surface, so we were able to reduce system delivery temperatures dramatically," said Yates. Because of the SubRay, and with an extremely well insulated home, Yates said that - even with ambient temperatures at zero degrees last year - they were warming the entire home with first- and second-floor temperatures of 88°F, and basement slab temps of just 78°F on a design day.
Yates' crews also installed three Watts home-run domestic water manifolds and miles of WaterPEX tubing to feed them.
"The Behler crews did an incredible job for us," said the homeowner this spring, shortly after experiencing their first winter in the home. "He'll tell you, I'm sure: the job was a challenge from time to time, but through all the changes they lived up to their promise to do the best possible job. It was an adventure for all of us."