Some say that remodeling green is an incredibly joyful adventure. Some feel that planning, choosing, and fighting with one’s spouse over the colors and materials is more painful than waxing ears. Whatever your position is, these tips will make your experience more enjoyable. Most of this advice comes from experience or friends in the community.
When remodeling green, avoid making these mistakes:
1. Getting excited about eco-chic materials first and busting your budget. It’s hard to resist starting with items like recycled glass countertops or FSC certified cabinets but do focus on upgrading you home’s energy efficiency first. Start with things like water tightening you walls, insulation, windows, furnace and solar water heater. If you have money left, go for the updates that make your nest more fun and cozy.
2. Going overboard on upgrades for the neighborhood. Significantly over-improving only feels good until you’re trying to sell your home. If you only knew how often an overpriced home simply sits on the market because the homeowners are trying to recoup their fortune that they spent on remodeling… Depending on the price range, few buyers will likely pay extra $30,000 – $50,000 above neighborhood market price, even if your home is a model of energy efficiency.
3. Failing to take a holistic approach. Often, when you change your home’s one component, it affects all others. For example, if you improve your insulation and incorporate passive solar to heat your house, you can downsize your furnace and air conditioner sizes. (Applicable if you’re replacing them anyways.) Also, making your home air tight means you may have an issue with indoor air quality. Make sure it’s addressed with an additional mechanical ventilation system.
4. Neglecting gutters and downspouts. If you hang out with property inspectors enough as I do, you’ll notice one of the first things they check for is whether the gutters and downsputs are in good condition and whether water is routed away from the house’s foundation. Water seeping into your crawlspace invites moisture and mold. Neither of them are good friends to live with. Mold can ruin your new updates and rot your mood instantly.
5. Disregarding the source of your materials. If you are concerned about your carbon footprint or pollution, consider the distance your materials had to travel and the energy they took to produce. For example, bamboo floors produced in China will have a different carbon footprint then the ones manufactured in South America. Recycled glass granite tops produced in Berkley will have a different footprint than the ones transported all the way from New York. There is a store in the area that specializes in sustainable and toxin free products. It’s The Green Pika in Santa Clara. If you visit, ask Joanne about the source of the products she has on display. She’s wonderfully knowledgeable about all this.
If you have the cash, there has not been a better time to remodel. There is an abundance of green products on the market today that can make our homes more comfortable and safer. Experience shows choosing green is fun but it’s important to do one’s homework.
P.S. If you have had some expience with green remodeling, sustainable materials and have some advice, please share it in the comments.