Your Eco-Friendly Home: Buying, Building, or Remodeling Green [NOOK Book]


More and more people are becoming interested not just in living green, but particularly in living in a home that's ecologically sound. With thousands of new eco-minded houses being built, and the real estate market becoming more attuned to home-buyers' interests, demand for ecologically efficient living spaces is still exceeding the supply. Yet few resources exist for those wanting to build, buy, or remodel their own home to use less energy and be environmentally sensitive. Your Eco-Friendly Home shows readers ...
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Your Eco-Friendly Home: Buying, Building, or Remodeling Green

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More and more people are becoming interested not just in living green, but particularly in living in a home that's ecologically sound. With thousands of new eco-minded houses being built, and the real estate market becoming more attuned to home-buyers' interests, demand for ecologically efficient living spaces is still exceeding the supply. Yet few resources exist for those wanting to build, buy, or remodel their own home to use less energy and be environmentally sensitive. Your Eco-Friendly Home shows readers how they can: find, finance, and buy eco-friendly real estate • work with eco-conscious agents and brokers • use environmentally friendly materials and techniques for interiors and exteriors • make their homes and landscaping more efficient • take advantage of tax incentives for going green This practical, reader-friendly guide gives readers all the guidance they need to easily become ecologically responsible homeowners.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814410387
  • Publisher: AMACOM
  • Publication date: 11/12/2008
  • Series: PRIME VII Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,425,620
  • File size: 990 KB

Meet the Author

Sid Davis (Farmington, UT) is the owner of Sid Davis & Associates, a real estate firm. He is the author of The First-Time Homeowner's Survival Guide (978-0-8144-7372-6), A Survival Guide for Buying a Home (978-0-8144-7196-8), A Survival Guide to Selling a
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Read an Excerpt


Over the past few decades, the awareness that resources are finite and that the materials we use and our methods of disposal are harming our environment is reaching critical mass. So many people are now demanding that these problems be addressed that builders, suppliers, homebuyers, and remodelers are listening,

As a result, working with natural materials, energy conservation, and recycling are becoming mainstream, and even mandatory in some areas. And homebuyers are starting to demand green building products, appliances, and recycled materials.

Actually, recycling began long ago on the American frontier. When early settlers needed to move, it is said they would burn down their cabins to reclaim the nails, which could be used in building their next home.

While we no longer burn down our homes to reclaim materials, more homeowners than ever are becoming recycling conscious. They are separating their trash and taking old appliances, fixtures, and construction debris to recycling centers. And from these recycled materials, companies are emerging that are able to turn them into stunning countertops, insulation, cabinets, flooring, roofing, and just about every building product you would need to build your green home.

To further advance the green movement, governments and building trade associations are realizing that this is not just a passing fad; it’s serious and it’s the future. The growing consensus today among builders and suppliers is, either get with the programs or risk being left behind.

And like a sluggish giant, this country’s homeowners are starting to stir and realize that eco-friendly and energy efficient buildings are the best ways to go. With a little prodding and more education, homeowners are certain to demand and buy homes constructed to green home building standards.

To further help the green building movement, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), whose members build about 80 percent of the country’s new homes each year, has adopted a green building standard for its members.

Another giant in the green building industry, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), has launched its version of the LEED® (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification program. The LEED rating system for green homes has four award levels—certified, silver, gold, and platinum. Your rating depends on the number of points you score for sustainability, energy efficiency, environmental impact, design, and so on.

These standards put green builders, manufacturers, and suppliers on the same page, speaking the same language. What all this means to you as a homeowner or prospective owner is that you can be assured that when you buy, build, or remodel a home to these standards, you’re getting what you want and what you’re paying for.

From the homeowners’ perspective, as the competition for energy, land, building resources, and a reasonable commute becomes more challenging, it’s obvious that changes are needed to maintain the lifestyle the majority of us want. And that means we are going to have to incorporate resource management and recycling into our lives and evangelize others to do the same in order to make a noticeable difference.

Of course, this not only applies to conservation but to taking on the personal responsibility of educating ourselves and seeking out products and processes that are energy and environmentally positive.

Builders build, manufacturers make, and suppliers stock what homeowners buy. If we demand green products, more and better building and energy efficient products will appear on the market.

One successful example is the Department of Energy’s Energy Star® program (, which rates appliances for their energy efficiency. This program has made it easier for us to determine upfront if a home or its components are energy efficient and meet specific environmental standards. The program is so successful that the rating expanded to cover insulation, fixtures, windows and other building products. And it happened because we consumers voted for it with our checkbooks and credit cards.

As you’re probably aware, the current popular buzz word for environmental awareness and energy efficiency is “green.” And why not? Green is a good nature color even though not everyone looks good wearing it, according to my wife.

Throughout the book, I’ll use the terms “green” and “eccofriendly” interchangeably to refer to environmentally friendly, and energy efficient organizations, products, and ideas. The intent here is to clarify and ease communication, not to advance any political agenda or belief.

Interestingly, over the past twentyfive years I’ve noticed that many homeowners want to be more environmentally responsible by saving energy and using sustainable products. First time homeowners especially have wanted to become more involved but haven’t known how to start. It’s for these homebuyers especially that this book has been written.

The route I’ve suggested for beginning homebuyers is to buy a home and then fix it up to be energy efficient. Although few can afford to remodel green all at once, they can do projects as their budget allows, and eventually they’ll have a green home they can be proud to live in. Many homebuyers start out with this intent but get discouraged because they don’t have a plan of action.

For those who are already home owners and want to make their homesite eco-friendly, I’ve suggested ways to help them triage their projects so that they can attain their goal of a green home. While it may take a while, the result will be worth it.

Included as well is a chapter of tips and traps to avoid for firsttime homeowners who want to buy or build a new home from a green builder. Many builders advertise their projects as green, but in reality they overlook many energysaving possibilities.

For those who have a building lot and are excited about building their eco-friendly dream home, I’ve also included tips on finding a green architect who shares your dream and working with a builder to make it a reality.

Throughout this book I’ve tried, without getting too technical, to provide an overview of the products both needed and available to create an eco-friendly home. If you want more data on specific items, check out the websites offered in the sidebars.

This book is divided into three parts. The first part focuses on finding, financing, and buying an eco-friendly home. This includes qualifying for an Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM); finding an eco-friendly agent to work with you to find green properties, as well as shopping for an green home on your own. There are also successful strategies you can use when making an offer on a home, getting sellers to pay concessions, and buying a home warranty to save yourself money.

The second part deals with building an eco-friendly home. This includes finding and working with a green architect; planning your new green home, which is comprised of using passive energy saving options, ventilating your new home, determining whether solar or wind power are for you, and using sustainable products and cutting costs; and green landscaping, which focuses on creating a landscaping plan of action, working with the characteristics of your soil, determining where and what to plant, planning a sustainable landscape, and applying and conserving water.

The third part of the book covers remodeling to make your existing home eco-friendly. This includes chapters on planning your green remodel and working with a green architect and contractors; remodeling your home’s exterior with eco-friendly materials, with a special emphasis on making your roof environmentally friendly, replacing your siding with eco-friendly materials, upgrading to energy efficient windows, using eco-friendly stains and paints, building an environmentally friendly deck, patio, or fence, and recycling and disposing of construction waste; and remodeling your home’s interior with eco-friendly systems and materials, focusing on ventilating your energy efficient home, upgrading your heating and cooling systems to make them energy efficient, choosing and using eco-friendly stains and paints, selecting eco-friendly floor coverings, remodeling your kitchen using green appliances and materials, and upgrading your bathroom with eco-friendly fixtures and materials.

While no book can detail everything that’s happening with the rapidly expanding green real estate movement, Your Eco-Friendly Home will give you an overview and a good starting point. Whether you’re planning to buy, build, or remodel to have a home that’s environmentally friendly, be assured that your efforts and contribution to protecting our resources and reducing our energy dependence is important to us all.

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Table of Contents




Introduction      1




Chapter 1:  Finding and Qualifying for Eco-Friendly Financing 7


Understanding Leverage, Appreciation, and Equity, 9

Qualifying for a Mortgage, 10


• The Importance of Your Credit Score, 12

• Improving Your Credit Score, 14

• Correcting Credit Problems, 15

• Determining How Big a House Payment You Can Afford, 15


Getting an Energy Efficient Mortgage, 17 


• Obtaining a Home Energy Ratings Systems Report, 18

• Shopping for the Best EEM Deal, 20

• Steps to Getting an EEM, 21

• Finding a Lender with the Best Deal, 21

• Avoiding Garbage Fees, 24

• Negotiating Lender Fees, 24


Case Study: How It All Works, 26


Chapter 2:  Finding and Working with an Eco-Friendly Agent 29


Finding an Eco-Friendly Agent, 30


• Beginning Your Search, 30

• Narrowing Your Search to an Agent Who Shares Your Dream, 32

• The Buyer’s Agency: Who Does the Agent Represent?, 34


Working with Your Agent to Find Green Properties, 36


• Buying a Fixer-Upper, 40

• Buying a Foreclosure to Rehab Can Be Tricky, 41

• Eleven Things to Consider Before Making an Offer, 42


Shopping for an Eco-Friendly Home on Your Own, 43


• Making an Offer on a Home That’s For Sale by Owner (FSOB), 45


Chapter 3: Buying a Green Home 49


Learning About Eco-Friendly Homes, 50


Successful Strategies for Making an Offer on a Home, 51


• Deciding What to Offer on a Home, 52

• Handling an Overpriced Home, 54

• Making It Easy for the Seller to Accept Your Offer, 56

• Protecting Yourself When You Make an Offer, 57


Getting the Seller to Pay Concessions, 58

Getting the Seller to Pay All or Part of Your Closing Costs, 60


• Seller Allowances, 61

• Concessions Due to Inspection Problems, 62

• Appraisals and Repairs, 62

• Combining Grants and Seller Concessions, 63


Filling Out the Purchase Agreement Paperwork, 63


Buying a Home Warranty Can Save You Money, 64


• How Home Warranties Work, 65

• What to Look for in a Home Warranty, 65


Taking Advantage of Bank REOs and Short Sales, 66


• Buying REOs, 67

• Short Sales, 68




Chapter 4: Finding and Working with a Green Builder 73


What Constitutes a Green Home?, 74


• Minimum Green Building Standards, 74

• Confusion in Green Building Standards, 75


Planning Your Environmentally Friendly Home, 76


• Does It Cost More to Build Green?, 77

• How Much Money Do You Have to Work with?, 78

• Why Use an Architect?, 79


Finding and Working with a Green Architect, 80


• Finding a Green Architect, 80

• Questions to Ask During Your Interviews, 81


Finding and Working with a Green Builder, 82


• Finding a Green Builder, 83

• Questions to Ask During Your Interviews, 84

• Deciding on Which Bid to Accept, 85

• What If You Can’t Find a Green Builder in Your Area?, 85


Protecting Yourself with Good Paperwork, 86


• Paying the Contractor and Managing Your Costs, 88

• Adding Sweat Equity to Your Project, 88

• Shopping for a Green Home in a New Subdivision, 89

• Eight Things You Should Check Out Before You Commit, 89


Chapter 5: Planning Your New Green Home   93


Utilizing Passive Energy Saving Options, 94


• Positioning Your Home for Southern Exposure, 95

• Creating an Energy Efficient Floor Plan, 96

• Designing for Efficient Air Distribution, 97

• Installing Energy Efficient Windows, 98

• Using Green Heating and Cooling Technology, 100

• Installing Green Insulation, 102


Ventilating Your New Home, 105


• Causes of Poor Air Quality, 105

• Incorporating a Whole-House Ventilation System into Plans for Your Home, 106

• Home Ventilation Standards, 107


Determining Whether Solar or Wind Power Are for You, 107


• Generating Solar Power, 108

• Generating Wind Power, 109


Using Sustainable Products and Cutting Costs, 110


• Doing the Up-Front Work, 110

• Handling the Tradeoffs, 111


Avoiding the Seven Biggest Mistakes That 

Many New Green Homeowners Make, 112


Chapter 6: Green Landscaping  115


Creating a Landscape Plan of Action, 116


• Using Xeriscaping Principals, 117

• Planning a Landscape, 117

• Utilizing Seven Design Elements of Eco-Friendly Landscaping, 118

• Considering Whether to Hire a Professional Designer or

Landscaper, 120


Working with Your Soil’s Characteristics, 123


• Getting to Know Your Soil, 123

• Determining Your Soil’s pH, 124


Determining Where and What to Plant and Landscaping Mistakes to Avoid, 125


Planning a Sustainable Landscape, 127


• The Art of Composting, 127

• What to Feed Your Compost Pile, 128

• The Value of Mulch, 129

• Fertilizers and How to Reduce the Need for Them, 129


Applying and Conserving Water, 131


• Determining When to Water, 132

• Using the Right Type of Irrigation System for 

Your Location and Needs, 133

• Capturing Water for Garden Use, 134

• Recycling Water for Landscaping, 135




Chapter 7:  Planning Your Green Remodel and Working with a Green Architect and Contractor, 139


Financing Your Green Remodeling Project, 141


• Home Equity Lines of Credit, 142 

• Refinancing Your Mortgage, 143

• Second Mortgages, 143

• Miscellaneous Sources of Remodeling Funds, 144


Planning Your Green Project, 144


• Finding a Green Architect, 144

• Handling Trade-Offs, 145

• Planning Tips and Traps, 147


Finding and Working with a Green Contractor, 148


• Shopping Tips for Finding a Contractor, 149

• Deciding on which Bid to Accept, 151

• What If There Are Few Contractors in Your Area?, 152


Minimizing Problems with Complete and Accurate Paperwork, 153


Paying the Contractor and Managing Your Costs, 154


• Cost-Plus or Time-and-Materials, 154 

• Fixed-Fee Agreement, 155

• Capped Cost-Plus, 155

• Other Ways of Managing Your Costs, 155


Handling the Final Walk-Through and Punch List, 156


• Before the Final Walk-Through, 156

• The Punch List, 157


Chapter 8:  Remodeling Your Home’s Exterior with Eco-Friendly Materials


Making Your Roof Eco-Friendly, 160


• Finding a Quality Roofer, 162

• Taking Advantage of Green Roofing Options, 163

• Insulating and Weatherproofing Your Roof, 164

• Using Flashing to Prevent Water Damage, 165


Replacing Your Siding with Eco-Friendly Materials, 166


• Insulating Your Walls, 166

• Protecting Your Home with Housewrap, 167

• Making Use of Green Siding Options, 168


Upgrading to Energy Efficient Windows, 170


Using Eco-Friendly Stains and Paints, 172


• Selecting Green Stains and Sealers, 173

• Choosing Green Paints, 173


Building an Eco-Friendly Deck, Patio, or Fence, 175


• Adding a Deck Using Green Materials, 175

• Constructing a Patio as an Alternative to a Deck, 176

• Building a Fence with Green Products, 177


Recycling and Disposing of Construction Waste, 178


Chapter 9:  Remodeling Your Home’s Interior with Eco-Friendly Systems and Materials 179


Ventilating Your Energy Efficient Home, 180


• Designing a Whole House Ventilation System, 181

• Minimizing Humidity in Hot and Humid Climates, 182

• Installing Ventilation Systems in Other Areas of Your Home, 182


Upgrading Your Heating and Cooling Systems to Make Them Energy Efficient, 183


• Considering Green Heating Options, 183

• Replacing Your Water Heater, 186

• Upgrading or Installing an Energy Efficient Fireplace, 187

• Reducing Your Air Conditioner Usage, 187

• Finding a Competent HVAC Contractor/Installer, 188


Choosing and Using Eco-Friendly Stains and Paints, 190


Selecting Eco-Friendly Floor Coverings, 191


• Shopping for Environmentally Friendly Carpeting, 191

• Choosing Between Vinyl Flooring and Linoleum, 192

• Consider Tile for Your Floor Covering, 193

• Contemplating Wood or Laminate Flooring, 193


Remodeling Your Kitchen Using Green Appliances and Materials, 195


• Picking Out New Green Appliances, 195

• Upgrading Your Kitchen Cabinets, 196

• Replacing Your Countertops, 197


Upgrading Your Bathroom with Eco-Friendly Fixtures and Materials, 200


• Replacing Toilets, Showers, and Sinks to Conserve Water, 200

• Shopping for Bathroom Flooring, 201

• Changing Your Bathroom Cabinets, 201

• Replacing Your Bathroom Lights, 202


Appendix A: Tips on Selling an Eco-Friendly&

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