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Sustainable house is a triple non-threat

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The award-winning house on Smith Road represents both a beginning and an end.

For ZMM architect Joe Sinclair, 35, "It's a beginning for me ... It's a showcase for my future."

For owner and builder Robert Dorsey, 60, it's a finale to a long career in the construction business.

The 2,000-square-foot Arts and Crafts-style house recently won honors for its sustainable design. Dorsey, though, was quick to say, "I am not an environmentalist."

Instead, he describes himself as a practical man who doesn't like waste and wants to use available resources in the wisest way possible.

The new house sits on the exact same footprint as the one his father built on the site in the early 1960s. "He added on seven different times," Dorsey said. "It was a real piece of junk."

Twenty years ago, Dorsey had plans drawn up for a house on the property that has been in his family for generations. About two years ago, he took those plans to Sinclair to rework to fit his current needs.

He neglected to mention the project to his wife, Angela. "I don't think she knew what we were doing for the first month," he said, laughing. "She said, 'You didn't even tell me you're building a house.'"

The couple hasn't yet moved into their new digs, awaiting sale of their house on Sherwood Road.

Dorsey concedes the new house probably has more of a masculine feel, but he's sure his wife will appreciate many features, such as the main-floor laundry room.

Actually, it's a one-story house, even though the large dormer gives the appearance from the outside of a two-story house.

The kitchen and living room are one open area with an adjoining room that will be Dorsey's study. Crossing a hallway into the private part of the house are two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a laundry room and a sewing room for Angela.

For Sinclair, the biggest challenge was getting Dorsey's vision to fit on the existing foundation.

As for Dorsey, he wanted to achieve three things: to make the house energy-efficient, accessible and ready for the end of the world.

See also: Home saves energy, accommodates aging and is prepared for disaster.

Reach Rosalie Earle at earle@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5115.


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