It seems that more and more homes buyers are discovering that there is value in seeking out environmentally friendly homes, particularly if the green features will save them money in the long run.
A recent survey conducted by the National Association of Green Agents and Brokers, NAGAB, shows that 72% of Canadians will be looking for Green Improved Properties in their next Home Purchase. As well, 63% of Buyers are prepared to pay more for an Environmentally Friendly Home.
What’s their motivation? Lower energy bills, improved health benefits and/or reducing their environmental impact. Green Real Estate is not a “fad”, nor will not go out of style. Who could argue with almost three-quarters of Canadians?
We see older and dated homes every day, and so do the buyers. People are not buying these homes to move in and do nothing. They are buying them because of the location, neighbourhood, schools etc. And just like our parents, will renovate to suit their family’s needs and stay put until the kids go off to University.
Renovations are costly, no doubt. But they will certainly pay for themselves in time and if done properly, and efficiently, they could end up paying you back while you still live in the home.
Easy fixes like replacing and/or upgrading windows, weather stripping and caulking around doors and windows to prevent drafts, changing light fixtures or simply changing the bulbs are some low cost green improvements that can be done immediately.
There are thousands of small improvements that can be done by you, today, to improve your living environment, and boost your bottom line; adjusting the thermostat both in winter and summer months, greener cleaning products, recycling and composting. We all know these things and yet we don’t consider these tasks “green”...well, they are!
It’s entirely up to you how far you want to go making your home environmentally friendly. Let me tell you about our personal experience....our laundry room not only contained a full size washer/dryer, it also was home to a huge hot water tank, and of course our furnace. What we had to do is find a home for was our mid-size freezer.
Solution: a tankless water heater...water on demand. We Love It!! Not only for the space saving, but the money as well. Compared to the cost of the rental for the tankless unit and the cost to heat the water VS the BIG water heater, our savings is close to $100.00 per year...
Did you know that 27% of people asked in the survey said that they have already started a green home renovation, while 29% want to, however, do not know where to begin?
As a homeowner, I can appreciate the “not knowing”. Where will it impact me the most...environment VS wallet??
You do as little or as much as you want. No one is here to judge you or guilt you...we are simply here to provide you with information so you can begin thinking about improving the structure of your home, your living environment, your bank account.
The best information we can provide you with IF you are on the fence about making some improvement on your home: DO IT. Believe us, when it comes down to Listing your home for sale and telling potential buyers about it, you do not want to have 3 out of 4 buyers discount the price of your home because they have to do the improvements.
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Here are 10 Tips to help you assess your Next Home Improvement:
1. Make a List
Even before you pick up a hammer it’s important to clearly define your wants and needs. Ask yourself; what is it you like about your house? Are the bills getting to you (and not because of your personal use)? Where are the dark areas in the house where you can bring in natural light? Stay focused on the big picture...as you begin to plan the project you can focus on the details.
2. Find Your Contracting GREEN Team
Like qualifying any contractor, it’s important to interview experts and find the one with solid references, fair costs, and one whom you can work with. Remember, when finding a green contractor, not only are they a skilled building tradesperson, they figure out how to design while being energy, water, and resource efficient.
3. Create Your Master Plan
Work with your team on creating your master plan of your project. It might be useful to look at the plan from a “Systems” perspective. Will you need to tear down walls breaking the thermal barrier to the outside? Is a new HVAC system needed? If in the basement, will you need to address basement windows and wells? Or are you heading in a different direction; downsizing? Are you planning to reconfigure your space? Keep in mind, the bigger the footprint is of you structure, the larger the environmental footprint as well.
4. Avoid the Battle – Hot vs. Cold
Improving your home will allow you to address your heating and cooling needs. This can be done any number of ways including a new furnace and/or AC, using the natural heat of the sun to your advantage, or even upgrading your insulation can make life more comfortable. Consider a Home Energy Audit. This will help you understand where you are leaking and how to repair as well; there are many grants and incentives to help in the cost of the renovations.
5. Make Water Your Friend
Water has long been thought to be a homeowners enemy...as soon as it enters the home you need to do something...and usually it’s the roof or the basement and we are talking BIG $$!!. When you begin your renovation you might consider the cost / benefit of harvesting rain water. Your benefit may be twofold: you can minimize your water use and maximize your water distribution effectiveness. Consider where water is used in the house. Can you curb your water consumption by introducing new fixtures like; dual flush toilets, low-flow shower heads, more water efficient appliances including dishwashers and clothes washers. As mentioned, tankless heaters are a great addition.
6. Fixtures and Lighting – Work Your Wiring
Take the opportunity now to include a plan for future wiring and cable needs not only for your lighting and outlets but consider your electronics and appliances. Lighting alone is a major cost to be considered so try go with LED compatible fixtures, install timers and motion sensors and absolutely turn off the lights when you walk out of the room.
7. Be the Director of Demolition
Your home is a store of riches with materials ranging from copper piping, light fixtures and even wood beams. Can you re-use any of the old materials in your new build? Or can you find a company that will accept renewed and intact building materials? Try to dismantle with surgical precision...unscrew the sheet rock and take down in large pieces. If you are demolishing walls made of original material, be cautious of any hazardous materials you might find. And please, where a mask and goggles!
8. Purchase Reclaimed
Especially for the floors! If you are looking at setting your home apart from anyone else, reclaimed flooring is not only cheaper but you can’t buy the same quality today nor will you impact the look with new floors. Other options can be the installation of salvaged door and cabinetry. Habitats for Humanity ReStores are a great way to find hidden treasures.
9. Choose New Materials Carefully
It’s inevitable; you will have to use brand new products at some point during your renovation. You will need to purchase paint, caulking, counter tops, flooring, insulation and even drywall. What you should be considering when you make these purchases is which products are most durable, easy to maintain, and will age well. Try to purchase products that have a high content of recycled material and even better...local products if you can. Keep your eye out for the Green Seal for paints and coatings and Energy Star for appliances.
10. Guard Your Green Renovations
Maintenance is the key to success. The goal is to ensure that the products you have used will last for decades rather than just years. Good Luck!
Here are some HOT Links you might be interested in checking out for your renovation or for your interest.