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September 22, 2014
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Sustainability house

The contractor designed his own light fixtures made of barn board and recycled galvanized metal.


On a recent visit, with their birding binoculars always at the ready, the couple pointed out a great blue heron next to a flock of young mergansers just across the riverbank. Rebekah likes to sleep on the screened porch in summer, with the stars as her night-light. Two old upholstered rocking chairs make it easy to imagine the couple spending long evenings listening to the river as it passes by. The porch was a must-have for Lenny, who remembers the one of his boyhood in Brooklyn, its breezes cooling the city heat.

McMahon makes his client’s budget a priority in his planning process. He won’t compromise on quality of materials, but he wants to build sustainably with smart solutions. The kitchen in the River House has an induction cook-top, as do many of his homes and is all-electric. You won’t find oil, gas or propane in any of the houses McMahon builds. He is committed to energy that is sourced locally. Appliances are part of the GE Profile Series with a stainless steel look. The electric boilers he uses are rated at 100% efficiency. When the solar panels are installed, they will be tied to the grid and will refund any over-production back to the homeowners.

You might think a house with so much new technology would take time to design and build, but McMahon has streamlined his processes since he built his first home in North Branch five years ago. The owners of the River House saw the property on Earth Day in 2012, closed the deal on June 1 and were in residence by December 2012. Now they get to enjoy the pride of ownership and recognize its commitment, too. As Lenny says, “As a renter you see the sun come up and think, ‘I should get the kayak out.’ Now I think I should mow the lawn.”