Michael McKinley and Associates, LLC.

There are custom homes, and then there’s the custom home on Wamphassuc Point in Stonington, Conn.

For the better part of three decades, an area couple has fiercely held to a vision of a dream house on a spectacular pine forested site overlooking Fishers Island Sound. They even purchased the parcel back in the late 1980s in anticipation. The intervening decades were marked by occasional picnics on the idle property to imagine what their post-retirement life might be like in their magical seaside Shangri-La.

A couple years ago, the family presented their precious dream to award-winning architect Michael McKinley, AIA. McKinley is founder and principal of Michael McKinley and Associates, LLC, a regional design and project management firm specializing in coastal homes and family compounds.

Michael McKinley and Associates, LLC.

High-Efficiency Performance

“It’s a single-family residence located on Wamphassuc Point. It looks out across some very rocky shoreline and salt marshes. It has a wonderful natural panorama,” McKinley says.

McKinley designed a 4,000-square-foot, highly energy-efficient residence tucked into the sloping waterfront landscape. The owner’s insistence on best energy conservation practice included a pair of 300-foot-deep geothermal wells to mitigate energy consumption. McKinley recommended the ground-source heat pump be paired with a Warmboard radiant heating system which interfaces seamlessly to the heat pump because of the system’s low water temperature requirement.

Michael McKinley and Associates, LLC.
Michael McKinley and Associates, LLC.

No Primitive Openings

McKinley no longer specifies forced-air heating systems for several reasons. The first is aesthetics. “We spend a lot of time with floor surfaces, which are usually wood. A floor opening is primitive. A continuous, uniform wood floor without heating vents is a necessity,” he explains. “Our first-level floor plans are typically open with glazing down to the floor. Floor continuity is a real aesthetic advantage, with no penetrations.” A forced-air system’s noise, dust, and hot/cold spots also concern McKinley.

The architect is also aware that the leading alternative to a forced-air system—in-floor radiant heating—has left some homeowners cold, literally and figuratively. “You still hear stories passed around about radiant systems that weren’t effective,” McKinley says.

Michael McKinley and Associates, LLC.

Contractor’s Contractor

Instead of sorting through manufacturer’s claims, McKinley turned to the area’s top HVAC contractor, Guy Waneger of A&B Heating & Cooling. “Guy’s company is the leading installer of geothermal. He’s been doing HVAC since 1973 and geothermal since 1995, with about 500 geothermal installations. He’s an integral part of my owner presentations. I depend on my reputation. I won’t risk my name on an uncertain system.”

The architect/contractor team always advise clients to go with in-floor heating system, specifically Warmboard. “We wait on technology. Let others sort-out what works. We spec it every chance we get,” McKinley says.

The architect knows of no other heating system that offers an equivalent level of whole-house comfort, which is the leading differentiator for most homeowners. “The uniformity of the heat is a very convincing argument,” McKinley says.

Architect’s Choice

Even for his own house, now under construction, McKinley turns to the solution. “Our system was installed just a couple months ago. It’s amazing to see the strength and solidity of the Warmboard system. There’s no deflection. No storm exposure worries, either. The metal surface is indestructible,” he says.

Warmboard, Inc.

And life at Shangri-La by the sea? McKinley smiles. “Let’s just say they’re only going to call if they don’t love it. We’ve not heard about a single issue this winter.”

Learn more about the design advantages of next-generation in-floor radiant heat systems by visiting https://www.warmboard.com/architects.