ADUs: Net Zero Tiny Homes

Project of the Month by Borkholder Building & Supply

by Karen Knapstein

Dwayne Borkholder spends more time than most thinking of others. The president of Borkholder Building and Supply as well as New Energy Homes, of Nappanee, Indiana, modestly has been a part of humanitarian projects all over the world.

Hurricanes and earthquakes in Haiti have long since inspired Borkholder to design a durable, compact and affordable home kit that would help the situation. Borkholder is hoping that someday, his Net Zero post-frame “Tiny Homes,” can provide a humanitarian solution. The Tiny Homes are constructed for strength and energy efficiency, with durable products, like the Multi-Rib metal roof and wall panels from McElroy Metal [www.mcelroymetal.com].

Net Zero home. Courtesy of Borkholder Building & Supply/McElroy Metal

“It’s always been a part of my philosophy to build a home with materials that won’t have to be replaced before the 30-year mortgage is paid off,” Borkholder says. “With (asphalt) shingles you get 10 or 15, maybe 20 years. Vinyl siding has to be replaced after 20-25 years. If you can use a product like metal, that has a proven record of lasting longer, why wouldn’t you use it?”

While the plan to get package homes into Haiti is not yet feasible, there has been some interest in the Tiny Homes right in Borkholder’s backyard. A professor putting together a sustainability department at nearby Indiana University has asked about the Tiny Homes and has brought Borkholder into the classroom to educate IU students. There’s also been some interest in erecting Tiny Homes for Habitats for Humanity.

Borkholder says that South Bend, Indiana, has, in the last few years, changed its ordinances to allow for the construction of an Auxiliary Dwelling Unit, or an ADU, on city lots. By erecting an ADU, there’s no need to purchase additional land or add infrastructure like electricity and water. It adds value to the property and creates a source for added revenue as a rental space.

“New Energy Homes are post-frame structures, built to be affordable, with a focus on the building envelope,” Borkholder says. “It has to have a Net Zero footprint with a high-performance envelope. Post-frame offers an affordable, but very durable and very dynamic system.”

The homes are 600 square feet, but have a spacious feel because of the way they are designed by Borkholder and his staff architect, Mike Blue. They have nine models available on the New Energy Homes website [https://newenergybuilding.com] with plans for more. The homes were submitted for consideration in the 2021 Builders Showcase of the Home Builders Association of St. Joseph Valley and garnered several awards, including Best of Show.

In addition to the metal panels from McElroy Metal, other sustainable products used on the project included metal panels from Quality Edge Vesta in Gilded Grain, entry doors from Therma-Tru, thin-film laminate solar panels from MiaSolé and balcony railing from Westbury Aluminum Railing’s Tuscany line.

Why metal? Borkholder sites three reasons: Aesthetics, longevity and energy efficiency.

Net Zero Home
Net Zero home. Courtesy of Borkholder Building & Supply/McElroy Metal

“The look of metal and wood grain are in right now,” he says. “When you look at barns around here in Amish country, you’ll see galvanized roofs that are 50, 60 or 70 years old. They may have a little rust in spots, but they’re not leaking and if you can get that kind of life expectancy out of metal as roofing, just think how long it will last as a wall panel, where it doesn’t endure the direct weather that a roof does.”

When it comes to energy efficiency, Sherwin-Williams Fluropon PVDF reflective paint colors help reduce heat transfer. McElroy Metal’s Multi-Rib roofing and wall panels on the tiny house are Matte Black.

Borkholder says orders aren’t flooding in, but the inquiries are. It takes some time for people to buy into a new and extreme idea.

“Steel has a lot more value than most people think,” Borkholder says. “People need to see and feel what it’s like, they need to ‘experience’ the Tiny Homes.”

Of the first two Tiny Homes, one was sold to an executive at Inovateus Solar, the MiaSolé solar panel supplier. The second remains available on Air BNB. 

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