Top 10 Green Home Improvement Upgrades, Plus Costs & ROI

This year, homeowners are more focused on renovating their houses rather than buying new, especially in places with booming economy like Seattle. Hot real estate markets mean that it’s often too expensive to buy a new place for many people, but it’s a great time to fix up your current home! 😉

If you can’t afford to move, but you are getting bored or frustrated with your house, a properly planned remodel can help make it feel like a brand new place! 🙂 And if you ever decide to sell your home in the future, strategically-done home improvements will help make it more desirable and attractive in the eyes of potential buyers.

solar-thermal-panels-on-a-metal-roof

No matter whether you’re remodeling to make yourself more comfortable or to entice potential buyers, it’s a no-brainer to lean towards environmentally-friendly design. Most green home remodeling projects result in huge savings on your energy bills, in addition to simply being the right thing to do for the future.

And green is really in right now: a recent study found that homebuyers are willing to pay 3.46% more for a home with green features than a home without.

A lot of people are under the impression that green remodeling will cost them a fortune, but that’s not necessarily true. We’ve rounded up a set of 10 awesome (and cost-effective) green remodeling projects for your consideration. Read on to get the scoop on what goes into each project, how much each one might cost you, the kind of return on investment you can expect, and more.

1. Energy-efficient exterior doors

energy-efficient-door

Replacing an old exterior door is a great way to improve your home’s energy efficiency. If your current door is worn, cracked, or isn’t energy efficient, replacing it with an Energy Star-certified exterior door can result in a savings of as much as 10% on your costs to heat and cool your home.

To replace your door, you’ll need to first choose what kind of new door you want. While there are a variety of options, the most energy-efficient and durable kinds are fiberglass and steel.

door-energy-efficiency

Fiberglass doors are often better looking, since they more closely mimic the look of authentic wood doors. They are also ideal for harsh climates (very cold or very humid), since unlike steel, they don’t sweat when exposed to cold or moisture. However, they are more expensive than steel, and easier for intruders to break into.

Steel doors, on the other hand, are cheaper, stronger, and usually more energy efficient in temperate or hot, dry climates. However, they may not be as attractive, and they can rust if not treated properly and exposed to the elements.

Many doors come in pre-hung in a frame and pre-drilled and can be installed yourself, but if you are choosing a door that is not the exact same size as your old door, you’ll need to hire a contractor (usually a carpenter) to install the door.

A new exterior door offers some of the very best returns on your investment. This year, the average cost of a new exterior fiberglass door, including installation, is $3,276, and tends to add an average value of $2,550 to your home, for a 77.8% ROI.

The average cost of a new exterior steel door, including installation, is only $1,826, and tends to add value of $1,368, giving a respectable 75% ROI.

2. Non-toxic carpet

Non-toxic-Carpet via ServiceExpress.co

If you want to install or replace your carpet, you should be aware that not all new carpets are the same. A lot of new carpets and their adhesives contain chemicals called VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which are not only bad for the environment, but also dangerous to breathe in, causing a host of symptoms like dizziness, nausea, and fatigue.

Still, there is an ever-widening variety of Eco-friendly, non-toxic carpet available on the market today, and there are benefits of carpet over wood or laminate floors: carpet is cheaper and provides comfort, noise damping, and – most importantly – energy conservation. They are a great way of keeping the warmth in your house in the wintertime without turning up your heater.

When picking a green carpeting solution, look for carpets labelled “low VOC” and made from natural fibers like wool, jute, seagrass, or sisal. Choose lightweight carpets without petroleum-based padding – either no padding or padding made from felt is ideal. If the carpet requires adhesive, go for water-based, low-VOC glues, or ask your carpet installer to use these eco-friendly products.

This year, new wool carpet is running about $8-$10 per square foot. Installation is typically between $2.00-$4.00 per square foot. While return on investment data is somewhat hard to find on carpet alone (as opposed to a whole room remodel), there is widespread general agreement that potential buyers are turned off by old or dirty carpet, making replacing carpet a winning resale strategy.

Read more

Top 15 Tiny House Design Ideas and their Costs

Sustainable Home Living Ideas for Minimalism and Comfort Explained in a fun way, plus beautiful examples of Tiny Homes!

When I found out about the tiny house trend, my first thought was “why on earth would anyone want to live in a house the size of a shoebox?”. 😉 As it turns out, this is a superficial way of looking at things. Let me explain the potential reasons why the tiny house movement is so popular.

via FYI, Tiny House Nation

While the average house in the US measures 2,600 sq. ft., a tiny house is no bigger than 100-400 sq. ft. Let’s say you want to buy a typical single family house that costs roughly $290,000. The bank requires a down payment of about $60,000, if you want to save on mortgage insurance (almost all conventional home loans with less than 20% down-payment will require an additional monthly payment in a form of mortgage insurance), so the principal is $230,000. Even at current low interest rates, you are still paying a fortune over the life of a 30-year loan. Does this sound like something you want to do?

According to CBS News, at least one third of an American’s income goes into his house. This is one of the reasons why many people are living paycheck to paycheck. 29.3% of US homeowners have mortgages compared with 68% tiny house owners who don’t. Moreover, 55% of tiny house owners have more savings than the average American who has about $10,000 in savings.

So, the first reason is related to costs and if you extrapolate, people who have more money to attend to their pleasures are happier than those who spend most of their income on what’s needed to have a decent living. Other reasons revolve around environmental concerns and the fact that some people feel more comfortable in a cozy small home. That being said, let’s see 15 tiny house designs that will hopefully make you consider this more efficient way to live.

Toy box house

toybox-tiny-home

Via Toy Box Tiny Home

Based on the idea that a home is place of peace and simplicity, this design combines modern elements with Eco-friendly materials. The white roofing membrane is made of thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) to address the issue of durability commonly encountered with EPDM, and to provide superior energy efficiency. The walls are made of fiberglass and natural cedar, while the base that’s also made of cedar wood makes the outline of this tiny house on wheels. On the other side of the house you will notice a large sliding door made of glass that ensures proper ventilation and allows natural daylight to come inside the structure. The size of the construction is customizable and the base price is $79,000.

Water Woody houseboat

the-water-woody-houseboat

Via Tiny House for Us

The single most important feature of this design is that it runs on both water and land since you can attach it as a trailer to your car anytime you want to go on a road trip. The house is very self-sufficient having solar panels for electricity and a system that collects rainwater for later use. There is also a composting toilet onboard. This house is perfect for anyone who wants to sail and to travel the world by car. The minimum price for this marvel is $125,000.

Read more