As Helen and I are approaching 80, we're ready to move from a large beach house on Lake Michigan into a smaller house designed for seniors. 

We've been looking for a site on a big river so we can park a pontoon boat with an electric motor on our property and enjoy quiet river cruises with family and friends, even an occasional excursion to Lake Michigan. Helen is okay living along a river as long as it's in a village. We found the right site along the Kalamazoo River in the City of the Village of Douglas, Michigan. It's 4.29 acres right in the village and includes an island, Sawdust Island. Having to design and build a new house is a big plus because it gives us an opportunity to specify the design of our own home, something I've always wanted to do.

THE HOUSE 

Ideally we would like to build a home that allows us to age in place so we'll never need to go to a nursing home. It could be all on one level but the house would be more economical if it's two stories. That means we should incorporate an elevator big enough for wheel chairs.

We would like the house to be as sustainable as our budget permits. So we'll be investigating geo-thermal A/C systems, radiant floor heating and cooling, radiant snow melt systems for roof and walkways, solar collectors and a bank of batteries.

The buildable land is at present only inches above the 100 year flood plain. We plan to raise the grade about 2 feet and build a foundation on pilings. The City of Douglas has a 28 foot height limit which will mean a flat roof for our two story house. Car parking will be on the ground floor. An elevated main floor will enhance the view of the bayou above the cattails.

We'll need about 2,400 square feet of main floor living space plus another 2400 sq. ft. for garage, workshop, office and a media room. Our budget should not go over $400,000 for construction.

THE SITE

Sawdust Island and the terrace land along Water Street at the end of South Street is located at the mouth of Tannery Creek. The island's name dates from the years it was the site of the E.E. Weed basket-making factory. The factory burned down in 1927.

A NOTE ABOUT A DREAM HOUSE PROJECT IN PROCESS

Developing a site for a new house provides us with an opportunity to experiment with Dream House Design and its Matrix. This is new technology Dream House Design Company is developing. We'll be squashing bugs and adding improvements to the Matrix as we go along. 

We'll publish the Sawdust Island project in the Gallery of Dream House Design as an example of a project in process. As well, friends and neighbors in Douglas can follow the evolution of our project.

Please note that materials we may post in this Matrix project are preliminary and subject to change as we become aware of better ideas or circumstances require something different. A Matrix Project is a store-house of possible alternative building blocks for a house design. We may end up only using ten percent of the posted ideas.