Poll: If you could have one high-end custom feature in your home, it would be…

If you could have one high-end custom feature in your home, it would be...

  • an outdoor (heated) pool (2%, 5 Votes)
  • a full featured home theater (5%, 10 Votes)
  • a gourmet kitchen (36%, 74 Votes)
  • a game room (pool, foosball, arcade, etc.) (3%, 7 Votes)
  • green power / heating (solar, wind, etc.) (32%, 65 Votes)
  • a custom garage or workshop (14%, 28 Votes)
  • something else... (share in comments) (7%, 14 Votes)

Total Voters: 203

This poll was active 11.04.2012 through 11.10.2012

  

About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

67 comments:

  1. 1
    Blurtman says:

    Helipad with helicopter.

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  2. 2
    The Tim says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 1 – I found just the home for you. Only one problem… it’s in Texas.

    http://www.redfin.com/TX/Dripping-Springs/690-Autumn-Ln-78620/home/33793621 (photo #19)

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  3. 3
    Ballarder says:

    Garden beds with well established soil.

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  4. 4
    Toad37 says:

    How about an indoor heated pool.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  5. 5
    me says:

    Heated floors. High ceilings. Sunroom. Garden. Sauna. Tiled bathroom.

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  6. 6

    A hermetically sealed bunker with a large capacity for canned goods.

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  7. 7
    Peter Witting says:

    10 foot ceilings and great natural light.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  8. 8
    Howard says:

    I don’t believe that green/solar/energy efficient should be considered a luxury. With the tax incentives and utility rebates it is pretty easy to make an economic case for it. We have had solar electric, solar hot water (both domestic and heating) along with a modulating condensing boiler in our past house. With the Federal, State and utility incentives the solar electric paid for in under 5 years, the hot water in under 7. The boiler not so much, but it was replacing a failed system.

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  9. 9
    pfft says:

    stripper pole.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  10. 10
    pfft says:

    ATM.

    Brooklyn Nets Player Charges Friends $4.50 To Use His “Cool” Kitchen ATM
    http://gothamist.com/2012/06/01/brooklyn_nets_player_proud_of_cool.php

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  11. 11
    redmondjp says:

    Central vacuum.

    It should be standard in every home.

    In Richland where I grew up, one builder installed the piping and outlets standard in every home, leaving it to the new owner as to whether they wanted to complete the system by purchasing a power unit and hose/attachments.

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  12. 12
    No Name Guy says:

    Not silly “green” crap (solar – Ha, there’s a joke especially at midnight, wind – yeah, and when it does’t blow, then what?) – I’ll take something that actually works. How about a Stirling Cycle combined heat / hot water / electricity generator powered by Nat Gas with alternate fuels of propane and gasoline / diesel with the flip of a switch and / or 30 minute or less DIY level retrofit kit for when the nat gas system is down.

    “Waste” heat from running the gen is used for hot water and central heating. In summer, when power use is low – meh, run the LED / CFL lights from the cheap coal fired / hydro base load grid.

    All of this system is programmed with the current rates for each energy source so that the system can automatically determine which is the least costly way to provide the utility services to the home – heat, hot water, electricity, and choose the most cost effective source (either the nat gas generator / heat or base load) for providing the demanded service (as in when a light switch if flipped, or the thermostat kicks on for heat).

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  13. 13
    Howard says:

    The economical wal to make solar or wind is to be grid tied with net metering. It fits in well with demand. Peak grid demand occurs during the day, just when solar is peaking. Winds tend to die down at night as well. Photovoltaic has no moving parts and grid tied without batteries has proven to be extremely reliable. Small wind still needs more repairs.

    When we all go to demand pricing, photovoltaic makes more sense.

    By No Name Guy @ 12:

    Not silly “green” crap (solar – Ha, there’s a joke especially at midnight, wind – yeah, and when it does’t blow, then what?) – I’ll take something that actually works. How about a Stirling Cycle combined heat / hot water / electricity generator powered by Nat Gas with alternate fuels of propane and gasoline / diesel with the flip of a switch and / or 30 minute or less DIY level retrofit kit for when the nat gas system is down.

    “Waste” heat from running the gen is used for hot water and central heating. In summer, when power use is low – meh, run the LED / CFL lights from the cheap coal fired / hydro base load grid.

    All of this system is programmed with the current rates for each energy source so that the system can automatically determine which is the least costly way to provide the utility services to the home – heat, hot water, electricity, and choose the most cost effective source (either the nat gas generator / heat or base load) for providing the demanded service (as in when a light switch if flipped, or the thermostat kicks on for heat).

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  14. 14
    wreckingbull says:

    I think the best high-end ‘feature’ is a properly built, modestly sized, passive solar home. When built properly, these need very little energy, thus negating the need for the complex system advocated by No Name Guy. Keep it simple.

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  15. 15

    An indoor bowling alley of which the floor retracts with a heated swimming pool beneath plus an indoor driving range. Is that so much to ask!……oh yeah, and an indoor 3000ft ski hill that always has fresh powder!

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  16. 16

    By redmondjp @ 11:

    Central vacuum.

    It should be standard in every home.

    In Richland where I grew up, one builder installed the piping and outlets standard in every home, leaving it to the new owner as to whether they wanted to complete the system by purchasing a power unit and hose/attachments.

    I think that approach makes since. First, not everyone likes central vacs. I’d rather drag around a small 25′ power cord attached to a vacuum than a 25′ 2″ vacuum hose, especially since to have a power head you might have to pull that power cord around too with some systems. I just don’t see the appeal of central vacs.

    Second, if the buyer does want a central vac, it allows the buyer to get something better than a builder grade central vac. Not having been in the market, my information is second-hand, but I’ve heard there are some choices you can make.

    The main advantage I see of the central vac is it exhausts outside, so the quality of filtering is not an issue. And I have seen some systems where the hose is in the wall at each station, so you don’t have to carry that hose from room to room or find a place to store it. I assume that’s fairly expensive though.

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  17. 17

    By Conor MacEvilly @ 15:

    An indoor bowling alley of which the floor retracts with a heated swimming pool beneath plus an indoor driving range. Is that so much to ask!……oh yeah, and an indoor 3000ft ski hill that always has fresh powder!

    You forgot the indoor gun range. I knew someone who had one, although it was separate from the house–probably a good idea due to lead concerns.

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  18. 18
    Peter says:

    This week I’m finishing a DIY Geothermal Heat Pump to replace a 34yr old electric furnace. Contractor bid price $30,000, Do It Myself price $8500, payback in 4 years.

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  19. 19

    RE: Peter @ 18 – I’ve always been interested in that type of system. Do you have any links you found particularly useful for designing your system?

    I think your payoff though might be a bit short. Maybe your house is bigger, or you live in a colder climate, but I don’t spend that much on energy in 4 years, so to have that short of a payback I’d need a system that generated power.

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  20. 20
    David Losh says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 19RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 17RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 16

    Your constant commenting is just exhausting.

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  21. 21

    RE: David Losh @ 20 – Your constant posting of nonsense is exhausting. But hey, before you keep complaining, back up your BS claim from the other thread. You can’t, because your full of it.

    Sorry though if you don’t like my opinion on central vacs. The post on the indoor gun range was having fun with another post having fun. You can’t even understand that!

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  22. 22
    Peter says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 19 – Some additional numbers I didn’t list are a 1/3 federal tax credit for geothermal which will get me $2,500 back. I spent a little over $2,200 for electric heat last winter for a 3800 sq ft house. It was built in 1978 so it isn’t as tight as something newer. Based on a 4x efficiency of a heat pump vs.electric heat I hope to pay closer to $600 for heat this winter. That would put me in the ball park of a 4 year payback. I live in Clark County so it’s 2 degrees warmer than Seattle.(LOL)

    My next “green” ( as in-more green left in my pocket) project will be using geothermal to preheat all my hot water. This is my 2nd biggest electrical expense.

    I can’t point to a single source of information. I will say that I spent a lot of time gathering free information. This is a fairly complex for a DIY project but the mechanics of the system are actually pretty simple. The three things you need to figure out are; heat pump size, loop length and configuration, and recirculation pump size.

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  23. 23
    softwarengineer says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 1 – A

    They Build Flying Car Roof Pads

    I’ll take one of those and launch my alcohol powered flying car completely auto-piloted by GPS from my roof. They sell ‘em already, for about $50K. They get about 20mpg with one passenger, more like 30 mpg, considering you fly to work in a straight line with no mpg killing lights and trains.

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  24. 24
    No Name Guy says:

    RE: Howard @ 13

    And that sure would be nice – however my current (fully paid for) home wasn’t designed that way so I have to go the next best dream. Plus, it doesn’t do much good on those cloudy winter days here on the west side of the Cascades. I could see passive solar working far better east of the mountains.

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  25. 25
    redmondjp says:

    By Peter @ 18:

    This week I�m finishing a DIY Geothermal Heat Pump to replace a 34yr old electric furnace. Contractor bid price $30,000, Do It Myself price $8500, payback in 4 years.

    Did you bury a spare tubing circuit or two, in case the primary loop develops a leak? As I understand it, the tubing is pretty inexpensive and doing this could save a lot of labor in the future.

    Or are you using well water as a heat source?

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  26. 26
    Peter says:

    RE: redmondjp @ 25 – I placed 5 slinky loops when I probably only need 4.I buried them about 5 ft. I also left room to excavate one or two more should the need arise. HDPE is pretty durable stuff and I have pretty soft ground. Should last for 50 years. I hope to documant all of it on a website by spring.

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  27. 27
    Blurtman says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 23 – Would that be inter-convertible to a drone launching pad?

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  28. 28
    Doug says:

    I’m going to say a gourmet kitchen. We plan on renting out our house in ten years or so, and that’s a pretty popular feature. Not to mention I’m a pretty mean chef, and our kitchen layout is far from optimal. (It could really use an island, even one of those ones that wheels around)

    Solar power CAN be expensive to maintain (inverters), though I hear some outfits insure their work nowadays. They’re also a bit of an eyesore (not to mention I have an HOA who would flip their lid). I’ll wait until the price of electricity goes up significantly in the region, or the price of solar panels comes down before I go alt energy. I only spend around $1200 a year on gas and electric combined, so it’s not a pressing concern.

    My game room is pretty simple: the dining room.
    Poker, Pinnochle, cribbage, Spades, and dominoes. Settlers of Catan, Cranium, Trivial Pursuit… what more could you want?

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  29. 29
    nico says:

    A heated 25M Lap Pool. What’s a gourmet kitchen anyway?

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  30. 30
    David Losh says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 21

    No, I don’t understand. Every day you have a constant barrage of comments that I used to appreciate for the content, but now it’s exhausting.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  31. 31
    David Losh says:

    RE: Peter @ 18

    We have about the same size of house, and at first I wanted a boiler system at, as you say, $30K to start. Last week I went to a supplier, and the boiler system complete is $9417. From what the vendor tells me the system is idiot proof. I already have the gas, and water piped.

    So what is the geo thermal heat pump, and how is it different?

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  32. 32
    David Losh says:

    By David Losh @ 31:

    RE: Peter @ 18

    the boiler system complete is $9417.

    I just reread the vendor list of parts, and he quoted two sizes of boilers, so the parts would be $7267, if we go with the larger boiler.

    He also included a schematic showing the lay out, and yeah, it looks pretty easy.

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  33. 33
    whatsmyname says:

    Batcave

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  34. 34
    ARDELL says:

    I would appreciate it if someone could define “gourmet kitchen”, as I have seen that wording in listing advertising…and the kitchen looked like every other kitchen I have ever seen.

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  35. 35
    pfft says:

    By Peter @ 18:

    This week I�m finishing a DIY Geothermal Heat Pump to replace a 34yr old electric furnace. Contractor bid price $30,000, Do It Myself price $8500, payback in 4 years.

    that is a great return. you’ll be ranked as one of the best returning hedge fund managers for years to come;)

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  36. 36
    David Losh says:

    RE: ARDELL @ 34

    granite, stainless steel, a Wolfe stove, and sub zero. Miele for the diswasher, and a space big enough for an island.

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  37. 37

    By David Losh @ 36:

    granite, stainless steel, a Wolfe stove, and sub zero. Miele for the diswasher, and a space big enough for an island.

    I can see the stove and dishwasher, but I’ve always wondered about Sub Zero refrigerators. What do they really do for you that isn’t done by an ordinary refrigerator? Is their zero degrees somehow better than another maker’s zero degrees? It is though, good for resale!

    That said, we have a Jenn Air refrigerator, and there are some design decisions which are not very good. For example, just the lack of a notch on one side’s rail that holds up the shelves keeps you from setting a shelf at a certain level. I’d hope Sub Zero wouldn’t make that type of mistake.

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  38. 38

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 37
    It’s all what’s perceived as gourmet, not how practical or useful it is. If it’s Wolfe or Jen Air or Viking, it’s going to be perceived as gourmet, even if the Kenmore works a lot better. We had a Fisher and Paykel dishwasher, and boy was it a piece o’crap. Insanely expensive and required tons of maintenance and repairs. When it finally died, I was so happy so we could replace it with a normal dishwasher.

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  39. 39

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 38 – You could probably say the same thing about cars. For example, Land Rover and Mercedes are not exactly known for their reliability. Well, they are, but they’re known for their lack of reliability.

    Mass production in large numbers has advantages.

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  40. 40
    ChrisM says:

    RE: nico @ 29 – “What’s a gourmet kitchen anyway?”

    Hmm, did Tim get the idea for this poll from a recent Slashdot post? A good comment about high-end kitchens here:

    http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3214163&cid=41796389

    Original story here:
    http://tech.slashdot.org/story/12/10/28/1214257/ask-slashdot-ideas-for-a-geek-remodel

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  41. 41
    gr8day says:

    RE: Central Vac-
    You need to have lots of outlets. If you do not, you have to pull the hose around corners. This will damage your millwork.

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  42. 42
    redmondjp says:

    By gr8day @ 41:

    RE: Central Vac-
    You need to have lots of outlets. If you do not, you have to pull the hose around corners. This will damage your millwork.

    True – this can be mitigated somewhat by the protective sock that is available for the hose. Most vacuum hoses are in the 30′ to 40′ range in length, so from one centrally-located outlet, it is possible to reach several rooms. But you are not the only one I know of who has made the comment about damage to trim from the hose. Personally I think this is a user education issue.

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  43. 43
    The Tim says:

    By ChrisM @ 40:

    Hmm, did Tim get the idea for this poll from a recent Slashdot post?

    Heh, well I did see that post, although I didn’t really spend time reading the comments. I wasn’t thinking of that post when I penned this poll, but it’s quite possible that it’s what planted the seed in my mind.

    I do occasionally nod to Slashdot’s polls with my “you insensitive clod” option.

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  44. 44
    ARDELL says:

    RE: ChrisM @ 40

    Thanks for that link though I must say I am still surprised that no description of “Gourmet Kitchen” requires a gas cooktop or gas range. I don’t know many or any “gourmet cooks” who prefer cooking on an electric burner to a gas one.

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  45. 45
    ChrisM says:

    RE: ARDELL @ 44 – Maybe it is just assumed? :-)

    But we’ve discussed induction stoves before – they look interesting but I’ve never used one.

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  46. 46
    Howard says:

    By ARDELL @ 44:

    RE: ChrisM @ 40

    Thanks for that link though I must say I am still surprised that no description of “Gourmet Kitchen” requires a gas cooktop or gas range. I don’t know many or any “gourmet cooks” who prefer cooking on an electric burner to a gas one.

    Induction Cooktop?

    I find the whole ktichen thing funny. I have cooked professionally for 15 years. Owned/built/operated a 100 seat microbrewery pub. Worked in Hyatts and Ritz Carletons, in addition to attending the Culinary Inistitue of America.

    Any “professional” will tell you that the only counter space they need is about 2×4′, a little larger than their cutting board. Of course if you are rolling out massive sheets of dough it is a bit different. A lot of the “gourmet” kitchens I have seen have more counter space than restaurants that serve 100s. There refrigerator/freezer space, dishwashing space are larger. There are of course larger devices (mixers/kettles/grills) but really how much room does one need to “spread out”

    Then again, I find myself going ‘eeewwww’ when I see formica, tile, and white appliances. I like the look of the higer end stuff.

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  47. 47
    Peter says:

    RE: David Losh @ 31 – A heat pump basically works like your refregerator to transfer heat. A normal Heat Pump (or A/C unit) is called an Air Source Heat Pump because it has one heat exchanger exposed to the outside air. A Geothermal Heat Pump is actually a Ground Source Heat Pump. It exchanges heat with the ground by using a water loop. You can do that horisontally by trenching or vertically by drilling wells. A ground source is more efficient because in the winter the ground is warmer than the air. This is when you are trying to heat. In the summer the ground is cooler when you are trying to cool.

    What ever you do it is worth educating yourself rather than paying an extra $20,000.

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  48. 48
    David S says:

    RE: Peter @ 47 – I engineer these units at the factory here. I like your explanation.

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  49. 49

    RE: Peter @ 47 – Here I thought a Geo Thermal Heat Pump was a system to transfer hot fluids into a beverage container that is factory installed in a 3 cylinder GM import. ;-)

    Seriously, I always thought that system made a lot more sense because the air can get very cold in the winter, making a regular heat pump totally inappropriate at some level, and the same is true with hot air A/C in the summer to a lesser extent. What I can’t quite get my head around is the ability of the ground to absorb and give up heat–how much area is needed.

    BTW, I’ve never actually seen one that was installed. Am I correct in assuming that they don’t make much/any noise? That, IMHO is one of the big disadvantages of a “normal” style heat pump.

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  50. 50
    ARDELL says:

    RE: ChrisM @ 45

    When I see “gourmet kitchen” in the real estate advertising, and walk in and see electric (not induction or gas) stove top burners, that is not “a match” to me.

    So I’m wondering given so many people voted for “Gourmet Kitchen” if electric burners would pass their personal sniff test of “gourmet kitchen”.

    I have found a method of “gourmet cooking” on electric burners that might be of interest to some. I put all burners on at different temperatures and move the pot or pan to the different temperature as needed, especially for sauces and gravies that require a high browning temp and then a quick down to way low for simmering, without waiting for the electric burner to change it’s temp. This method replicates high fire to low fire fairly well, to move from high burner to low burner by physically moving the pot or sauce pan.

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  51. 51
    ARDELL says:

    RE: Howard @ 46

    Lasagna noodles…I need a lot of room to dry them before they go in the pan or they will dilute my “gravy”. :)

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  52. 52
    David Losh says:

    RE: Peter @ 47

    I agree about doing the research. Like I said about the boiler; really it’s nothing to drop it in place, and connect, all the parts are $7500, so where would all of that labor be?

    My buddy, with the help of a couple of other guys, and I, put up a roof truss package over a week end. The bid by a contractor was $22K. The truss package was less than $3K.

    So I’ll research the geothermal part, because we do have a section of dirt we could work with. It must be better than solar.

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  53. 53

    Home theater/video game room in my bedroom with super comfy bed.

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  54. 54
    David Losh says:

    RE: Howard @ 46

    You need the space for entertaining, so people can watch you cook, drink wine, and have a little event in the home. It’s a combination thing of an open kitchen concept.

    As for the cook top, you need five gas burners for wok cooking, and six for anything else. There again you need those big commercial burners, black on black with a stainless steel front, Viking, or Wolf, just to fit the gourmet image.

    I have also had restaurants with residential ranges, and they worked fine. The place I’m working on now has a residential range, and the work space of a walk in closet.

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  55. 55

    I may have asked this before, and I have researched it, but I’ve yet to find a good answer.

    Why is a gas cook top not a carbon monoxide risk? It never seems to get mentioned. For the oven you’re heating a much smaller area than what a furnace would heat, but with Dave mentioning six burners, seemingly you have some real significant BTUs of heat being produced at times.

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  56. 56
    Erin says:

    To us, a gourmet kitchen meant:

    – a gas stove (and no Kenmore stove will provide as much heat as a Viking/Wolf/Thermador/etc.);
    – oversized sink (can fit a pot…ideally with an offset drain)
    – moderate amount of counterspace (as someone pointed out above, a good cook doesn’t need a huge kitchen/workspace…in fact, too big can be impractical)
    – very important that nobody mentioned yet: a PROPER HOOD! This means a hood that vents out, not one that recirculates air. We were amazed to find professional gas stoves sitting in middle kitchen islands with no real way to vent out. This means that every time you sear something the entire house will fill up with smoke and/or aromas. A good stove without a proper hood is wasted since you cannot really use it as designed.

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  57. 57
    David S says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 55 – Fully developed standing flame from simple hydrocarbons has complete combustion occurring and therefore produces little more than CO2 and H2O. Stove tops, kerosene space heaters, these are examples of standing flames. Smoldering combustion like charcoal and internal combustion engines produce high levels of CO.

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  58. 58
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 55 – A properly functioning natural gas burner creates very little carbon monoxide, as it operates close to stoichiometric levels. You get CO2 instead of CO. I’d still suggest a detector, though.

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  59. 59

    RE: wreckingbull @ 58RE: David S @ 57 – Thanks and thanks, but how is that different from a gas furnace? They seem to burn pretty well too.

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  60. 60
    David S says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 59 – Same.

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  61. 61
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 59 A furnace does burn a much greater volume of gas, so that alone certainly increases the risk, and probably has a higher risk of an incomplete burn due to other factors, such as complexity introduced by things like the heat exchanger. Who knows, maybe we have an HVAC reader who can confirm this. I still think they are quite safe when compared to oil-burning furnaces.

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  62. 62
    redmondjp says:

    RE: wreckingbull @ 61 – What dangers are you thinking of related to oil-burning furnaces (other than CO gas in the exhaust)? I have an all-gas house myself, but will be the first one to admit that my house could easily go boom if something as simple as a stove burner knob gets bumped and it is not noticed for a long time.

    Every year in this country, one or more houses are completely destroyed by natural gas explosions, such as happened locally in both north Seattle and Bellevue in the past few years.

    For homes with natural gas, in addition to a CO detector, one should also have at least one combustible gas detector, mounted up high on the wall (natural gas is lighter than air, whereas LPG is heavier than air) somewhere within the living space.

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  63. 63

    RE: redmondjp @ 62 – There are also automatic earthquake shutoff valves.

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  64. 64
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: redmondjp @ 62 – I was speaking in the context of CO. I had a malfunctioning oil furnace that just about killed me. Luckily I figured it out by blowing my nose and seeing the black soot-covered hanky and realized what was going on. No detector in the house.

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  65. 65
    Peter says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 49 – It’s true that the ground is not a good conductor. The HDPE pipe I buried isn’t either. It’s cheap though, so you can make up for it by additng footage. It looks like the average is 1 well, or a 6-800 foot slinkey loop, per ton of capacity. I used slinkey loops (google geothermal slinky loops). Each of my 800 foot loops required a trench 3′ wide, 5′ deep, and 100′ long. I placed 5 loops in my yard, I suspect most Seattle residents would chose the wells.

    As far as noise goes, you still have a fan to circulate the air. in addition, you have a compressor, which is little louder than my refrigerator.

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  66. 66

    RE: Peter @ 65 – Thanks. Not sure that would work for my lot, because most the land is opposite where the heating system would be located. Now if I could get an easement from the golf course. ;-)

    I was talking about noise outside. I’ve seen places on acreage where you could hear the neighbor’s HP.

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  67. 67
    Waverly says:

    A special room with a cedar Japanese-style soaking tub. Also, a sauna.

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