The Biohacking Devotees Spending Hundreds of Thousands—Even Millions—to Enhance Their Homes
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The Biohacking Devotees Spending Hundreds of Thousands—Even Millions—to Enhance Their Homes

Light-therapy beds. Infrared saunas. Ozone generators. These homeowners have infused health and wellness into their properties, and then some

Fri, Aug 11, 2023 7:30amGrey Clock 7 min

Real-estate investors Ari and Kellie Rastegar are devotees of biohacking, a wellness lifestyle aimed at optimising physical and mental performance. He takes 150 custom vitamins and supplements per day; she takes 23. They eat a diet specifically tailored to their genes. They workout with a trainer almost daily. They take posture management classes. They practice Transcendental Meditation. They say affirmations.

But their biohacking isn’t limited to their bodies. They’ve also biohacked their house, an 8,200-square-foot, $22,500-per-month rental in West Lake Hills, Texas, 6 miles from downtown Austin. “Biohacking is part of our life,” says Kellie Rastegar, 37. “You’d have to go out of your way to not biohack in our home.”

Gadgets are strategically positioned throughout their seven-bedroom, eight-bathroom space which they believe will help them achieve peak health and wellness. In the guts of their house are ultraviolet light systems for air and water purification. Their kitchen has a machine that adds hydrogen to their drinking water, providing hydration that Ari Rastegar says is “infinitely more powerful than normal water.” Their bedroom has a mattress pad cooled to 64 degrees Fahrenheit for him and 72 degrees for her. Their gym is outfitted with a machine that pumps extra oxygen into their bodies during training.

There are expensive devices, like a $65,000 light-therapy bed purported to provide training recovery and a $16,990 BioCharger machine that uses light, frequencies and harmonics, voltage and pulsed electromagnetic field technology to, its makers claim, promote cellular rejuvenation, enhance cellular health and revitalise the body. There are inexpensive tools—everything from a $350 inversion table for spinal decompression to $65 toe spacers for improved toe splay and alignment. All in, the Rastegars have spent roughly $135,000 biohacking their house, which they’ve lived in with their three children since 2021. “We’ve never owned our family home, ever,” says Ari Rastegar, noting that he doesn’t know where life is going to take his family. “I want to be able to move at the end of my lease if I want to.”

‘Vitamins, minerals and food. After that, I put posture management at the f***ing top of the list,’ Ari Rastegar says. ‘Those are the staples.’ PHOTO: AMY MIKLER FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Ari Rastegar, 41, started biohacking around the time he and his wife co-founded Rastegar Property Company, in 2015. He said that his late-night-working, fast-food-eating lifestyle of his 20s and early 30s had caught up with him in the form of thinning hair, dark under-eye circles, weight issues and anxiety. An encounter with neurosurgeon Dr. Jacob Rosenstein changed his course: Rosenstein calibrated the Rastegars’ vitamins, minerals, diet and hormones, which began the couple’s biohacking journey.

Rastegar says adapting his house to support his biology is a necessary response to living in today’s world. “This is about giving myself an extra edge to show up for my kids, my wife, my clients and my staff,” says Rastegar, whose company owns, renovates, manages and develops commercial and residential properties across the U.S. “Does my skin end up looking better or whatever, too? Absolutely. But this is not an exercise in vanity. As an investor, shouldn’t I be asking: ‘How do I remodel me?’ ”

Biohacking became a buzzword around the time Silicon Valley entrepreneur Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof coffee, a.k.a. butter coffee, morphed into an energy-boosting lifestyle in the 2010s. Between then and now, biohacking has become an eclectic umbrella term encompassing everything from sleep journaling to hyperbaric oxygen therapy to human augmentation via device implantation. At the core of all biohacking, however, is one pursuit: Optimisation.

“Biohackers are looking to perform better physically or mentally using hacks,” says biohacking educator Lauren Berlingeri, co-founder of HigherDOSE, which creates at-home, self-care products that support biohacking, including wellness technology like infrared sauna blankets and red-light face masks. Her co-founder, Katie Kaps, describes a hack as receiving a disproportionate gain versus the effort put in. A straight-forward example of a hack, Kaps says, is relieving a bad hangover in 30-minutes with an IV drip.

It is difficult for medical doctors to assess biohacking’s scientific merits and safety due to biohacking’s extremely wide spectrum of tools and interventions. “The bottom line here is that someone familiar with your medical history is best equipped to advise you on whether something is safe for you,” says Dr. Jaclyn Tolentino, a Los Angeles-based senior doctor at the primary care practice Parsley Health. Dr. Tolentino appreciates that biohacking enables self-discovery. “But healthy is a relative term,” she says, noting that whether biohacking starts to veer into unhealthy territory is for each individual and their doctor to decide.

Technology entrepreneur Bryan Johnson, also known as Zero, has a team of doctors overseeing his pursuit as a “professional rejuvenation athlete.” Johnson, 45, through a project he calls Blueprint, is spending $2 million a year experimenting on himself with efforts to slow and reverse ageing. He says his five-bedroom, five-bathroom Los Angeles-area home is set up to support his quest, housing such medical-grade devices as an ultrasound system, skin-therapy devices, skin-measurement systems and infrastructure to collect blood. He also converted the garage into a gym. “It’s a good base camp for building something,” he says of his house, where 25% of his Blueprint experimentation happens; the other 75% takes place at medical facilities.

In north Scottsdale, Ariz., Brian Culhane, 48, and Kristi Culhane, 46, spent $3.5 million building a five-bedroom, six-bathroom house with 10,000 square feet of climate-controlled space. They’ve invested roughly $250,000 on at-home biohacking accoutrements, including a pool, spa, cold plunge, sauna with Himalayan salt, steam room with aromatherapy and light therapy, heated floors, a PEMF bed, an infrared machine and compression boots. Add the indoor basketball court into the tally, and the total biohacking expenditure pushes closer to $1 million.

“We spend quite a bit of money on biohacking, but we have to,” says Brian Culhane, who is the founding agent of cloud-based real-estate brokerage eXp Realty. “It’s keeping me alive. That’s how we look at it.”

In 2011, Culhane broke his hip in a bicycling accident. Thus began a long, circuitous and still-ongoing hip rehabilitation nightmare, which, in 2018, led him to start training with Troy Casey, a longevity guru based in Scottsdale, Ariz. Culhane says he inspired him to fully delve into biohacking. Culhane began traveling the world—at first by himself, and later with his wife—meeting with biohacking experts and visiting spas, until he had a realization. “I wanted to build a house into a huge training centre and bring everyone and everything to me,” he says.

Kristi Culhane getting an infrared treatment on the Culhanes’ PEMF bed. PHOTO: STEVE CRAFT FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

The Culhanes were sitting on a 1.1-acre land parcel they bought in 2018 for $546,500. In 2020, the Culhanes started building a spa-like, biohacking dream house. The project persevered through Covid-19 pandemic curveballs like difficulty getting a construction loan, the lumber shortage and the supply chain crisis—plus the couple’s own stock-portfolio fluctuations—before the Culhanes, who have three children, finished construction in late 2022.

Brian Culhane’s biohacking protocol varies day-to-day. Some days he might lie in his PEMF bed while using infrared light, wearing compression boots and receiving supplemental oxygen and IV nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) drips—a combination that leaves him, he says, “feeling jacked.” Other days, he might engage in at-home ozone therapy or stem cell shots.

Everyday, however, Culhane aspires to do the same morning routine with his wife, which includes waking up at 4:45 a.m. followed by praying, meditating and doing thought projecting; making the bed and drinking a half-cup of coffee; taking amino acid supplements; honouring the morning sunrise; doing a 30- to 45-minute workout or heavy qigong; taking a 10-minute, very hot 194 degree Fahrenheit sauna while doing breathwork; taking a 3- to 5- minute, very cold 39 degree Fahrenheit cold plunge; taking a 3- to 5- minute hot-tub dip; taking a 3- to 5- minute steam while doing breathwork focused on vocal vibrations and lymphatic draining; rinsing off in the cold plunge; drinking a green shake and taking prebiotics and more supplements; getting the kids off to school by 7:45 a.m.; doing some kind of movement like going to the gym, walking, hiking, or biking; and, finally, recovering.

“Why not build a house where you can do these things?” Brian Culhane asks. “You spend so much time at home. Your house should heal you. It should nourish you. It should rejuvenate you. It shouldn’t kill you.”

At a basic level, biohackers are onto something: Air quality, water quality and light are the top elements of indoor wellness as validated by the WELL Building Standard, a global certification used to assess a building’s effect on occupant health. The standard was launched in 2014 by New York-based company Delos and backed by research contributed by such institutions as Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic. The company’s founder and CEO Paul Scialla says sufficiently improving indoor air, water and lighting can be done for 1% of construction costs or less. “It doesn’t have to break the bank,” he says.

Considering the built environment is the approach Luke Storey, 52, took when he and his wife, Alyson Charles Storey, 44, gut renovated their 3,500-square-foot house in Texas Hill Country, about 30 minutes from downtown Austin. Storey says people call him a biohacker even though he doesn’t like the word. “The term has a reductionist, mechanistic view of the body and a person’s relationship with it,” says Storey, who is a wellness expert, spiritual guide and the Life Stylist Podcast host. “I relate to my body as an intelligent organism, but there isn’t a catchy term for that.”

The Storeys bought their now five-bedroom, three-bathroom space for $865,000 in 2021. During inspection, they discovered a dreaded wellness foe: Mould. It required the demolition of the bathroom sinks, laundry room and kitchen sink. The Storeys had been considering a less-substantial renovation, but in remediating the mould, they decided to dream bigger and to spend $500,000 creating what Storey calls a sacred healing temple.

Storey estimates there is about $150,000 in biohacking technology in the house, including an ice bath, two infrared saunas, a hydrogen water machine, a molecular hydrogen gas generator, a red-light-therapy machine, an ozone generator and PEMF devices. But making room for equipment was a secondary renovation objective. The primary goal was to replicate the natural world indoors as much as possible, what Storey refers to as creating an ancestral environment.

There are air purifiers in the HVAC system and around the house. Water goes through two purification systems; there is a separate drinking water station. White-blue light bulbs are used during the day to mimic the full spectrum of sunlight, and at night, only amber incandescent or solid red light bulbs are used—this includes orange or red landscape lighting to protect animals. There is red tape on every in-home blue light source, such as inside the fridge. Electromagnetic field (EMF)—invisible areas of energy—is reduced with ethernet wiring, WiFi with a manual on-off, an EMF kill switch in the main bedroom, EMF mitigating paint and EMF-harmonising devices and quantum energy generators.

Storey concedes that not all houses need all these things. “I go the extra mile because I’m just extra, that’s who I am,” he says. “A lot of this might sound crazy or extreme to some people.”

“To me,” he adds, “this is just basic biology.”


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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Melbourne dwelling values are now four percent below their record high and Hobart dwelling values are 11.5 percent below their record high. Both records were set more than two years ago in March 2022. The oversupply has also affected how long it takes to sell a property. The median days on market is currently 36 in Melbourne and 45 in Hobart compared to a combined capitals median of 27. It takes 55 days to sell in regional Victoria and 64 days in regional Tasmania compared to a combined regional median of 42 days.

Changes in population patterns have also contributed to higher numbers of homes for sale in recent years. Since COVID began in early 2020, thousands of families have left Melbourne because working from home meant they could buy a bigger property in more affordable areas. While many relocated to regional Victoria, a significant proportion left the state altogether, with South-East Queensland a favoured destination. Meantime, Tasmania’s surge in interstate migration during FY21 was short-lived. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows the island state has recorded a net loss of residents to other states and territories every quarter since June 2022.

Record overseas migration has more than offset interstate migration losses, thereby keeping Victoria’s and Tasmania’s populations growing. However, the impact of migrants on housing is largely seen in the rental market, so this segment of population gain has done little to support values. Growth in weekly rents has been far stronger than growth in home values over the past year, with rents up 9 percent in Melbourne and 4.8 percent in regional Victoria, and up 1 percent in Hobart and 2.7 percent in regional Tasmania.


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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