Aging in Place DesignFeatured Content

Inclusivity and Sustainability at The Westlake

Sareth Builders constructs Zero Energy Ready Home with aging-in-place design

By Hanna Heiss

Sareth Builders, established in 2009, has achieved a strong reputation as a niche builder of premium high performance custom homes in the western suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. With a commitment to green home building by certifying all projects to exceed the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) standard, the custom homebuilder builds durable, energy-efficient, high-performance homes, specializing in aging-in-place design. Its core business model is based on low volume, enabling the builder to produce unique, sustainable custom homes for like-minded clients who share Sareth Builders’ renewable energy and sustainability goals and climate concerns.

The Westlake measures up to 9,956 square feet, built on approximately four acres, and has five bedrooms, two kitchens and 6.5 bathrooms.

Chosen for its commitment to energy-efficiency and aging-in-place designs, Sareth Builders began construction on The Weslake custom home project in 2016 in Westlake, Ohio with build out completed in 2018.

Sareth Builders worked alongside Arcus Group Architects, chosen for their detailed drawings and designs that focus on both appearance and sustainability.

The development of the project began with an inquiry to build a large, sustainable home with an indoor pool that could accommodate extended family and grandchildren visits. Specifically, the client wanted an energy-efficient, low-maintenance, durable and healthy home that they could incorporate efficient, practical design characteristics as well as aging-in-place design elements. 

Aging-in-place design is rooted in universal, inclusive design principles that focus on environmental elements that are comfortable and safe for those of all ages. Inclusive design offers fluidity within spaces, allowing for accommodation of those as they age and potentially lose some or all mobility. These designs can include wider doorways and hallways, curbless shower entries, easy access entry and exit areas, pull-out cabinet shelves, varying countertop heights, raised electrical outlet height, easy lift windows and set aside space to accommodate the possible edition of an elevator.

Sareth Builders’ The Westlake specifically features doors and hallways wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers, light switches and electrical outlets that are easily accessible while sitting along with step-less access from the garage and pool house. The master bath was also designed with wheelchairs in mind, allowing for enough space to turn around as well as the garage being designed to allow for the addition of a ramp if necessary.

The Westlake measures up to 9,956 square feet and has five bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms. The project is built on four acres, formally an asparagus farm, and is both ENERGY STAR and ZERH certified. The home features energy-efficiency in its Passive House characteristics of orientation to maximize passive solar gain, super insulation, air tightness and elimination of thermal bridges where practical. 

Also included are triple pane windows, advanced framing at 24” O.C. (on center), continuous exterior insulation with drainage, structured hybrid hot water system with return, sub-slab insulation, vehicle charger pre-wiring, ZIP R sheathing and electrical conduits installed throughout the home and attic to accommodate future photovoltaics (PV). The home operates under a slight negative pressure in coordination with energy recovery ventilation (ERV) and whole home dehumidification in order to mechanically control moisture and fresh air. Insulation and airtight attic access was provided by Battic Door, LED lighting by Maxim and the hybrid hot water tank by A.O. Smith.

Another green feature of the home is raised heel trusses, allowing for insulation to remain level across all points of the attic rather than diminishing at the exterior walls, something Sareth Builders has their architects include in all of their projects.

The 24’ by 48’ indoor pool, designed inclusively for both residents and guests, is located in a 3,000-sq. ft. pool house. Specifically designed to resist moisture and maintain indoor air quality and balance, the pool house features special drywall, a double ceiling and a self-sealing entry-door among other elements.

The Westlake team did experience some challenges throughout the construction process but they educated their “sub-contractors on doing things differently than their standard practice in order to achieve quality construction, sustainability and High Performance goals. Patience, tolerance and a lot of training really helped,” said Stephan E. Kamrass, principal at Sareth Builders.

The third-party-certified home has also collected quite a few awards. Those of which include Runner Up for the 2018 U.S. Department of Energy ZERH Home Innovation Award, the Gold award for the 2019 National Association of Home Builders’ 55+ Housing Awards’ Best of 55+ Detached Home over 3,000 square feet, two first place awards for the 2018 Home Builders Association of Greater Cleveland’s Best Overall Custom Home over $1,000,000 award, Best Green Built Home, the Most Efficient Home over 2,500 square feet for the 2018 Columbia Gas Efficiency Crafted Homes, State of Ohio awards and was the North American Winner and International Finalist for the 2019 CertainTeed Gypsum Trophy in the category of Sustainability.

Catering to the needs of its clients, The Westlake offers insight into the realm of inclusive and sustainable design for years to come through its many energy-efficient and aging-in-place features.

Hanna Heiss is the Senior Editor for 50+ Builder Magazine. She may be reached at