Highland News Leader

Local contractor builds ‘home of the future’ near St. Jacob

Oasis Construction and Roof President Nathan Verning and his wife and their two children moved into their new home this week at 8729 Lower Marine Road in St. Jacob. Among the house’s amenities are 66 solar panels and a wind turbine.
Oasis Construction and Roof President Nathan Verning and his wife and their two children moved into their new home this week at 8729 Lower Marine Road in St. Jacob. Among the house’s amenities are 66 solar panels and a wind turbine. News Leader

Don’t let the blue/gray paint fool you. The home Nathan Verning has constructed between St. Jacob and Troy is really “green.”

Verning, the president of Troy-based Oasis Homes USA, built the home at 8729 Lower Marine Road, where he plans to live with his family — wife, Jennifer, and daughters, Addie, 5, and Gracie, 7.

“We have received a $1.2 million offer, but we turned it down,” said the 39-year-old Verning, who founded his company when he was just 18. “It was a couple hundred thousand dollars short. If they would have offered $1.5 million, we might have talked.”

One thing is for sure — the Vernings should have enough room. The home has four bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, a large classroom for the girls’ home-school lessons, and a 3,000-square-foot unfinished basement. In the basement, Verning plans to erect a theater with stadium seating, which double as a storm shelter. There also is a three-car attached garage and a 5,000-square-foot barn on the five-acre home site.

But size is not what sets the place apart. It’s the technology.

Among the home’s many features are 66 solar panels, a wind mill and the latest everything when it comes to energy efficiency.

See more on the home by clicking here.

The Vernings have been talking about doing a project like this for 10 years, but did not feel the time was right until recently.

“The technology is finally there and affordable,” Verning said.

Self-sufficient

The wind mill cost about $75,000 to purchase and install. The solar panels cost about $60,000. However, Verning received a $10,000 rebate check from Ameren Illinois and an additional 30 percent tax credit from the state for putting in the solar panels.

Verning said he will not be allowed to completely untether from Ameren (per their agreement), but much of the power they need will be self-generated. And they need very little, due to the home’s modern insulation, lighting and heating systems.

Last month, the house’s electric bill was the minimum rate Ameren charges, about $12. The home’s generation capacity is also tied back into the electric grid, so the Vernings can actually get net-metering credit for power they create, but don’t use.

“We are probably going to be operating at net zero,” Verning said.

The house also has well water and a septic aeration system.

“So, we are not dependent on anyone except for God,” Verning said.

Energy efficiency

Verning placed radiant tubes 12 inches apart throughout the floors. He also poured a light level of concrete below each floor to help to hold in the heat during the winter months.

All of the houses walls were constructed in Virginia and with thermo-steel and have no bridging.

“Each wall is six inches thick with a metal facing in and out. Nothing goes through the wall. So the house doesn’t breath at all,” Verning said.

Clean Air

An energy recovery vent in the basement not only promotes even more energy conservation, but the system also helps keep the house virtually dust free, which not only means less cleaning but better air quality, too.

Verning said his wife wanted the house to have good air quality because of her allergies.

To that end, the entire home is porcelain tiled, which helps cut back on allergies. He also used low VOC paints and stains.

Vented skylights, which run off solar power, also help take the stale air outside of the home.

“Not too many people know this, but that the average family of four will emit 30 gallons of moisture out of their bodies daily, Verning said.

A ‘Smart Home’

Verning has programmed the home and barn with the latest “smart technology” to control the thermostats, LED lights, security systems and television. (There is only one TV in the house, because they use so much power.) All are a linked with his smart phone and TV remote control.

“I’m still learning how to use the remote control,” he laughed.

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