I read a good article this morning about sustainable building practices for new homes. They mention some great tips, but don’t mention the “greener” aproach of not building, and remodeling instead. You can incorporate all the things they reccomend for a new building in your existing home. It will make your house more energy effiecent, healthier, and keep from building on undisturbed land. I can’t stress this enough–it is better for everyone if you improve the home you are in rather then building something new.
Remodeling Now Can Save You Money Later November 20, 2008
I have two thoughts on why you remodeling now is a good idea. First it can save you money in energy costs. An Atlanta paper wrote an interesting article about how clients have saved money in the long run by spending some money up front.
Another good reason to remodel right now is that home improvement retail is suffering, as reported by Forbes. This could mean that you can find really fantastic deals, and perhaps save thousands of dollars on your remodel.
Making a Home to Sell, a Dream to Buyers November 19, 2008
With the current housing market there is an overflow of houses to choose from, so if you are planning to sell your home how can you get an edge up? Do some design work! The first thing a person sees when they pull up to a house is the yard–if it has been sitting on the market a while, why not clean it up. Here is an article talking about what you can do for better curb appeal. Your next best thing is to do some redesign inside. Here is a long list of things you can do to improve your home for resale. You can do any of these things yourself, or you can hire a designer to do it all for you. In the long run, it may keep you from having to drop the price and sell your house faster.
Why “0” VOC’s is important (and what are VOC’s anyway?) November 18, 2008
Imagine walking into a kitchen showroom with a 2 month old granddaughter (she was awake and happy for the moment). They are remodeling the space and using a lacquer thinner to clean up a new counter installation. Some people don’t mind the smell; I can’t stay in the space for very long. Now we know that not only is that smell not healthy for you, it is awful for an infant.
Just what is that smell? VOC’s — Volatile Organic Compounds that off-gas. They are said to add to poor air quality and can be harmful to our health — so who would want to expose an infant to those odors? Not me. So we left the showroom and walked outside for some fresh air.
That showroom is just a reminder of watching out for our continued good health. It was easy to escape from that smell, but, what about your home? As interior designers, we are constantly on alert for the makeup of the materials that we specify. Your cabinets, counter-tops, flooring, PAINT – all can be chosen with off-gassing in mind. If you want to find out more about a product, the GREENGUARD website is a place to start. They list products they have certified, as well having information about children and indoor health.
With the winter season upon us, it is even more important to consider the materials we bring into our homes and the health of our families.
Here’s to your good health!
Often when it comes to sustainable design we get all wrapped up in the building and forget about what’s right outside the window. Trees can be a huge way to conserve energy when it comes to home design. A properly located tree can provide shade in the summer and still allow light in in the winter. Here is some information on planting trees and thinking about energy conservation. Portland Spaces wrote a nice article about a local tree farmer who just published a book about planting trees for all seasons.
Being Green is Tough November 17, 2008
The New York Times had an article talking about all the hype when it comes to green products and projects. All the hype is causing an information overload for people looking to do sustainable remodels on their home. I figure the best thing they can do is call a designer. The next best thing is to do a smaller project, here is an interesting site on what can be done on a budget.
McMansion Overload & the Need for Sustainable Spaces November 12, 2008
I was just reading an article about how when the dust settles in the houseing market that new homes will NOT be of the McMansion style. You can catch the article here.
One of the big reasons for this is their large energy cost. Another reason, as stated here, is that they take up so much land. Why this is bad? Well, the larger a residential home is the more resources it is taking to build it: no matter how “Green” it is or isn’t. Also, the land that it is taking up could be used for more sustainable gardening, or natural plants to help out with the displaced wildlife.
However, there is still a desire, if not a need for more space. I think most people have two or three options; if you own a McMansion OR you are thinking of purchasing one, do whatever you can to make it more energy efficient.
Most of these homes have numerous gables on them, which can be fitted for solar panels. Here is a link to a solar panel retailer, where you can learn more about solar panels. Another way of cutting energy cost is to create “zones” in the house for heating and cooling. This is a popular product that was shown to me when I worked at a large Design/Build firm here in Portland, most contractors can get you hooked up with a good system. This will help keep you from heating rooms with 14′ ceilings when you are never in them. The last, but best thing to do, is make sure you have no heating leaks in the house, see link, and to make sure your house is well “winterized.” This goes for any home.
If you don’t want the hassle of owning one of these giants, but still need more space, why not add an addition to your home. I think this is the most sustainable way of increasing living space–other then doing nothing. Almost all homes can have more space added to them, and it can be done in a sustainable way. It is also a good excuse to update your heating system, replace old windows, and check the insulation.
My only concern when it comes to additions is that when it is all done and said, it does not look like an addition. If the new section of the housing looks completely different from the original house, then likely it will get redone down the road, and that is NOT sustainable design. So please! work with a designer or architect to design an addition that fits the existing property.
The third and final option I have for you: call a designer to work with what you have. Get organized, remodel the basement or attic, and/or rearrange how you “flow” through the house. By “flow” I mean, maybe you should consider knocking out a few walls to create bigger spaces, or a master suite. All depends on what you need the extra space for.
If you have more questions, please comment, or contact us at Green & Milligan Design