Dwell Magazine Digital: “The Efficient Home”

19 12 2012



The FHA 203k Renovation Loan Is The Real “Green Home Loan” As Energy-Efficient Improvments And Non-Toxic Building Materials Can Be Combined To Into One Renovation Transaction

7 06 2011
  • A “Green Home” conserves energy and uses of non-toxic building materials
  • The conservation of energy saves on heating and cooling costs
  • The of non-toxic materials is very important for health and environmental reasons
  • Energy inefficient homes increase the overall monthly costs of a home
  • The use of toxic materials can damage health and actually create serious health problems like asthma, allergies, skin issues, headaches, eye irritation and dizziness
  • The FHA 203k Rehabilitation mortgage allows a borrower to purchase or refinance a home while financing the costs of renovation to the property
  • A home renovation can utilize non-toxic building materials such as non-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints; sealants that contain polyether rather than urethane or silicone bases; plywood that is free of formaldehyde; and natural clay plaster for walls instead of drywall (gypsum board)
  • This turns a “K” into a “Green K”, helping a borrower create a much healthier environment for the family living in the property
  • The FHA 203k can significantly reduce the time required to purge the market of real estate-owned (REO) and bank-owned stock
  • The REO stock move faster and the banks could sell their REOs for higher prices
  • Because the condition of a typical REO property is often quite poor, an owner-occupied homebuyer won’t have the cash to fix it up
  • The bank would have to drop the price drasticly to attract investors with the cash to renovate it
  • But the homebuyer who uses an FHA 203k Renovation loan can pay a higher price and have the money to renovate

For more:  http://nationalmortgageprofessional.com/news25436/help-clients-go-green-fha

Green Home Renovation: Australian Home Builder Creates Water-Conserving House That Captures And Treats 100% Of Its Own Water

25 05 2011


  • Many areas of Australia are operating under severe water restrictions
  • Architects and builders throughout Australia are incorporating advanced water-efficient measures that U.S. water experts point to as practical solutions for our own looming crisis

    The collection tanks feed into the main 32,000-liter tank at the back of the house, where the water is filtered before use via the chemical-free Ecotrol-Radfire system from Australian manufacturer Puretec. The ultraviolet-light treatment destroys microorganisms found in unchlorinated water such as bacteria, viruses, mold, and fungal spores. It operates at a flow rate of 91 liters per minute.

  • Builder Joe Mercieca produced a user-friendly and extremely water-conserving house that won last year’s GreenSmart Award for Water Efficiency from the Australian Housing Industry Association
  • The house, completed last April, captures and treats 100% of its own water, making use of it twice inside the house before employing it for irrigation
  • The whole-house water processing system cost $54,000 (about $55,300 in U.S. dollars)
  • For emergency purposes, the house is tied in to the municipal water system
  • But the reservoir tanks hold a 250-day supply of water so that even with no rainfall his family of five could live in the home for more than six months without tapping into the town’s water supply
  • Rainwater collects on the 3,700-square-foot home’s four slanted and curved corrugated metal roofs and flows into three tanks
  • It is screened and gravity-fed into a 32,000-liter main tank at the rear of the house
  • There are four tanks are capable of holding 90,000 liters
  • The water in the main tank is pressurized and pumped into the house for showers, cooking, drinking, and dish washing
  • To bring it to drinking water standards, it is cartridge particle- and UV-filtered before entering the house
  • A compact greywater system re-treats wastewater from this first round of use and prepares it for washing laundry or cars, toilet flushing and above-ground garden watering
  • A 3,000-liter polyethylene tank at the back of the house holds the treated greywater
  • Once it is utilized a second time, the water diverts into the blackwater system’s 1,500-liter underground tank
  • This water undergoes a sanitizing process with the wastewater irrigating the site’s 5 acres of lawns and gardens
  • The house has no access to the municipal sewer system
  • The home is also miserly in how much it uses, with dual-flush toilets, low-flow faucets and showerheads, and an ultra-efficient washing machine and dishwasher
  • The fixtures are certified to a minimum 4-star rating out of 6 in the country’s Water Efficient Labelling and Standards (WELS) initiative, a joint program of federal, state, and local governments.

For more:  http://www.ecohomemagazine.com/water-conservation/self-sufficient-down-under.aspx

Green Home Remodels And Renovations: Contractors And Architects Must Educate Homeowners On The Most Effective Way To Maximize A Home’s “Geography, Structure, Systems And Aesthetics”

17 12 2010

The FHA 203k Renovation Loan is the only true Green Home loan.

The remodeling contractor has to educate the homeowner to take the most effective approach for the project.

  • Geography :  “If you’re building a new home, the lot is the most important thing. If you’re doing a retrofit, you have to respect the existing architecture. You have to understand where the home is, what direction it faces, what you may need to change about the overhangs, things like that.”
  • Structural: “A rammed earth house may work great in New Mexico but it’s perfectly worthless in Michigan. You have to respect the structural aspects. People read about a certain system and want to build their addition in that way, but I have to tell them I can’t build that for you in this state. I’m in the Mid- Atlantic region where we have a mixed-humid climate that is just vicious to build in. You have to be on your toes to know what you’re designing in that market.”
  • Systems: “If you have a super air-tight house you don’t need a huge mechanical system. Or if you can use radiant instead of forced air or you can use less plumbing, or if you’re using solar thermal you don’t need as big a water heater. The structure will tell you a lot about what kind of systems to use.”
  • Aesthetics: “Too often homeowners start with the aesthetics, but that’s stuff you can go back and change. You have to know the systems first before you pick out recycled glass tile or a sustainable bamboo floor.”

For more:  http://www.proudgreenhome.com/article/178202/Successful-green-remodeling-comes-down-to-education-and-compromise

FundMyRemodel “Green Homes”: 1950’s Palm Springs Home Is Renovated Using Sustainable Materials And Energy-Efficient Design (Video)

8 11 2010

A look at a mid-century green remodel of a modern home in Palm Springs by architect Eric Corey Freed and contractors Green Guys Construction.

Prepared for the 3rd Annual Palm Springs Sustainability Summit.

SOURCE: KPSP News 2 – Eye on the Desert
ARCHITECT: http://www.organicarchitect.com
CONTRACTOR: http://www.greenguys.net
DATE: November 2, 2010

Green Home Renovation: Fall 2010 Issue Of “EcoHome” Features Alex Wilson, Founder Of Environmental Building News (EBN) And Nationally Recognized Champion Of Sustainable Building

31 10 2010


“FundMyRemodel.com” Contractor Update: Homeowners Should Interview Qualified Contractors At Home For Remodels Where They Should Provide References And Perform A Thorough Energy-Efficiency Review Of Entire Home

28 10 2010

“Some had planned on getting a bigger house as their family expanded, but they can’t sell, so they’re adding another bedroom instead,”

“Anyone who’s legit in this business has four or five references saved on their phone,”

Many clients of First Choice Carpentry are looking to add value to their homes and improve their energy efficiency, according to Max Capestany, the Issaquah-based company’s project specialist.

The company has worked extensively in the Snoqualmie Valley, including framing houses on Snoqualmie Ridge. The tight housing market has changed some homeowners’ plans, he said.

“Some had planned on getting a bigger house as their family expanded, but they can’t sell, so they’re adding another bedroom instead,” he said.

Other homeowners are taking advantage of tax credits to improve their houses’ energy efficiency and save on their heating bills. Some are just taking advantage of a buyers’ market.

While it will continue to be a buyers’ market for the near future, tax credits for energy improvements will go away soon. The credits in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2008 expire at the end of the year.

Until then, homeowners can receive tax credit for installing Energy Star materials or appliances. The credit is up to 30 percent of the project’s cost or $1,500, whichever is lower.

Plenty of things have an Energy Star rating: windows, dishwashers, insulation, shingles and so on. A home remodel project is a big commitment for a homeowner, and there are some things they should keep in mind, Capestany said.

The first question they should ask is “Who’s doing the work?”

“The temptation of every homeowner is to get caught up in the types of materials being used,” Capestany said. “What’s most important is who you have doing the work.”

Don’t just go for the cheapest contractor. Check out their credentials and track record first.

When a contractor comes out to look at your house, ask for references on the spot, Capestany said.

“Anyone who’s legit in this business has four or five references saved on their phone,” he said.

Ask for the person’s contractor license number, and look it up on the website for the Washington State Department of Labor and Industry.

Check Angie’s List for customer reviews.

Talk to the contractor about how he or she does his or her work.

“Just taking time with the contractor in the home before any documents are signed” can save major headaches down the road, Capestany said.

If it is a general contractor, ask for a thorough energy-efficiency inspection of your house. This simple task can prevent a homeowner from wasting hundreds or thousands of dollars, he said.

Capestany recalled one house where the owner had installed an air conditioning unit because inside was sweltering hot in the summer.

The owner didn’t have a general contractor look at the house, which would have revealed that the attic was not properly ventilated and causing the house to heat up.

Walking around a house, Capestany said, he can quickly spot where a home is losing heat.

“Sometimes, I’ll go into a house and see 1970’s-era single-pane windows with aluminum casing,” he said. “When you stand next to the window, you can literally feel the cold air coming in.”

When crunching numbers, homeowners should consider a project’s cost versus the expected savings, Capestany said. Remodeling Magazine has useful cost-versus-value comparisons.

Seek information from professionals.

“Home shows are a great source of information,” he said.

Some homeowners are also taking advantage of the fact that it is a buyers’ market.

Ahren and Allie Johnson hired First Choice Carpentry to redo the exterior of their home in North Bend.

The project involved adding gutters, masonry work, a new entryway, new window trim and painting.

For more:   http://snovalleystar.com/2010/10/27/remodels-can-add-value-and-beauty