India Anderson Cox didn’t become a Realtor just to conduct real estate transactions. She also wanted to be the kind of agent that exceeds her clients’ expectations. Teaming up with design-build firm Antidote on the new Antidote Living project is allowing her to make that vision a reality.
“I wanted to be a part of the milestone process of buying a home,” Cox, a Berkshire Hathaway agent, says. “My goal is to find something that not only meets the needs of my clients and supports their lifestyle, it also costs them less to maintain and operate than the typical house.”
This makes Cox a good fit for what Antidote is doing with Antidote Living. Tyler Smith, owner of the design-build firm, says their name says it all. “We’re trying to push the envelope of building standards in terms of using healthy, responsible materials and implementing energy efficient principals into our homes,” he says.
To ensure a quality build, Antidote does everything it can to use only materials produced in the U.S. And the closer to Chattanooga the stuff is, the better. From the Southern Yellow Pine that comes straight from nearby mills, to the fasteners Smith says were very difficult to find in the U.S., Antidote is going all in with the concept of buying local (or at least American).
“When we buy materials that are made close by, our local economy gets a boost,” Smith says. “And the closer we are to where these materials are manufactured, the more we reduce our carbon footprint when shipping the materials.”
Antidote isn’t just interested in building up the local economy; the firm also wants to create healthy living spaces. This is done by eliminating volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, from the build environment. In other words, Smith and his team have said goodbye to toxic paints, floor stains that off-gas, and glues that contain formaldehyde. Even the cabinets are Greenguard certified.
“Everyone loves the fresh paint smell, but that’s actually off-gassing of formaldehyde,” Smith says. “People spend 90 percent of their time indoors, and houses are become more and more air tight, so there’s less opportunity for those chemicals to be flushed out over time. That’s why we’re focusing on healthier materials.”
The evidence is in the lack of a fresh paint smell. When Antidote was done building seven apartments in the Fleetwood Building, a mixed use development on 11th Street, there was a noticeable lack of odor. He calls it the “new new smell.”
“The apartments smelled a little sawdusty from our builders cutting lumber, but that’s it,” he says.
Antidote doesn’t stop at using quality materials that create a healthy living environment; they also aim to create the tightest possible envelope in order to reduce utility bills. They appear to be succeeding. The code for air exchanges per hour (the number of times per hour the air inside a house is exchanged with air outside the house) is seven; in a net positive home Antidote recently built, they measured the air exchanges at .5 per hour. “It’s one of the tightest houses in Chattanooga,” Smith says. “We used quality windows and it’s insulated well. We minimized energy consumption as much as possible.”
Antidote is using these same building principles on Antidote Living, which currently encompasses three houses in various stages of construction in North Chattanooga. The furthest along is 1219 Worthington, a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom home within walking distance of Normal Park School. “It has a one-car garage, which is becoming hard to find in Chattanooga,” says Cox, “and it has a massive back yard with a wonderful view. It’s going to be a great place for entertaining once the decking is complete.”
Cox says air-tight does not mean small. The Worthington house is 2,200 square feet plus an unfinished basement, an open living room and dining area, and a sizeable laundry room. “People like to have that space,” Cox says.
Antidote is building additional homes on Oliver and Lanoka Streets.
Using quality, healthy products doesn’t translate into higher costs, either, says Cox. Rather, each of the three houses that are a part of Antidote Living are priced competitively. “When you talk with someone about building green and using energy efficient practices, they often believe the price point is going to be inflated,” she says. “But all of these things are included at a price that makes sense for new construction in North Chattanooga.”
Antidote Living is more than a business endeavor for everyone involved; it’s also a passion project. India and her husband have two small children, as do Smith and his wife, Jennifer. This makes the project as much about their families as their clients.
“I live, work, and play in North Chattanooga, and I want to make it a better place for my kids and for the people who reside here. The best way I can think to do that is by pushing the envelope with regard to building practices,” says Smith. “We’re trying to lead by example.”
Cox, who became a Realtor three years ago, also considers Antidote Living to be a learning opportunity for her. And with her increase in knowledge has come greater passion for what Smith and his team are doing. “I’m proud to know people who are hopefully going to set a new standard in building and design practices in Chattanooga,” Cox says. “This is a neat concept and an amazing project.”
For more information, visit antidotelivinghomes.com.