Eco-reality check

Market Watch posted a great article that was in the Wall Street Journal about some of the difficulties encountered when trying to make-over a kitchen in a green way.

I love this quote:

“Forget courage, this was a selfish endeavor. A recent study of real-estate listings in Seattle found that certified green homes sold for an 11% premium per square foot and sat on the market for a quarter less time.”

Read The Eco-Kitchen Challenge.

Announcing a new meeting for Green Spaces Real Estate!

What: A Walking Tour of High Point, a Built Green Community

When: Sunday, June 8, 12:15 PM

Where: Click the link below to find out!

Who should come: Anyone who would like to learn more about Built Green Community and Home features (two different checklists)

Why: High Point is special – don’t miss out!

Meeting Description:
High Point is a vast in-city redevelopment that has received many accolades and both national and international awards. The first phase is nearly complete and almost fully occupied.

Get an up-close and personal look at the environmental aspects of this Built Green certified community:

~ Bioswales

~ Porous streets and sidewalks

~ Community gardens

~ Pocket parks

~ Pond and waterfall features

There are 3 and 4 star Built Green Certified homes for sale in the neighborhood. Some are new construction, some are resales with just one owner. If you would like, you can tour available models and resale homes currently on the market on the day of the walk. You will need to consult with the Organizer prior to the meetup if you wish to tour homes.

The organizer and tour guide, Wendy Hughes-Jelen, is a licensed real estate agent and holds the designation of “Built Green Certified Professional: Real Estate”. She has lived in the area for over 10 years (West Seattle). When she saw the new HP she sold her home to move to High Point.

Learn more here:

Speaking of modular housing…

I wrote about this last fall – the Inhabit prefab apartment units that can stack. There is an update in today’s paper – Unico Development’s first planned apartment complex on Dexter Avenue North. This is exciting stuff, and if I was a 20-something wanting to live downtown, I’d be standing in line with my holding deposit.

The prefab apartment units are built in Burlington (Skagit County). The units are small, 675 and 480 square feet, and according to plans most of the apartments at the Dexter Avenue project would be 450-square-foot studios or 525-square-foot one-bedroom units. Top units have “green” roofs to treat rainwater runoff, are energy efficient, and have floor-to-ceiling windows. Some floor plans even have decks!

Read How will market for prefab apartments stack up in Seattle?

Note: Photos are linked from the Seattle Times article online and are by THOMAS JAMES HURST / THE SEATTLE TIMES. More photos appear with the article.

FLASHBACK: Read my original post, iApartment, Euro-Style, dated 11/11/07, and includes links to a news story and a video tour of the units.

Forbo Marmoleum and My Husband

Our personal experience with Forbo Marmoleum

This is a follow-up to a post titled “Forbo Marmoleum and Me” that I posted last month in which I told the story of saving my sanity by covering up an old ugly vinyl floor with Marmoleum. Last summer we sold our house and bought a townhome in the Built Green certified redevelopment of High Point in our beloved community of West Seattle. My dog, Sophia, a wonderful Italian greyhound, had a little trouble with the transition from a home with a dog door and 1/4 acre fenced yard to a home with no outdoor access other than that afforded by me and three walks a day.

So the “flex space” off of the garage, which is subterranean, has been a site of pet accidents more than we knew and before long it became a problem that wasn’t fixable. We were not able to get the smell out of the carpet pad. We considered tearing out the carpet and painting the concrete floor a neat color until we were ready to put down bamboo or cork flooring. As you know, everyone’s budget is tight these days and we’re not ready to spend the money for the permanent fix. But we couldn’t live with the carpet anymore, so something had to be done.

Deciding painting would tie up the space for too long with drying time (and inconvenience the cats) we turned to Marmoleum, a wonderful natural floor covering that we had previous experience with. ecohaus (formerly Environmental Home Center) has carried Forbo products for years. We stopped by the shop on 4th Ave South and discovered Marmoleum now came in a “click” format, easy to install tongue-in-groove planks. Even novice and reluctant home remodelers seemed sure to have success with it. And it is on sale! (Still being advertised at a sale price on their web site here.)

We came home and played with floor patterns. Plank-style click flooring lets you create various patterns. Altho I am not a big fan of checks, I did want to do something interesting in the space. Strangely enough, we both agreed on red (called Van Gogh) and yellow (called Natural Corn). Steve used one of his computer programs to design the pattern and compute how many boxes of planks of which color we would need to do the space. (It’s amazing how many ways you can design with this flooring, be sure to check out the gallery on their web site.)

I am happy to give credit where credit is due – my husband did this entire project in about 10 days without any help. That includes moving the piano all around the room, and also our near-ceiling high closets, with sliders. It was not an easy job. I’ve spent most of the last month sick so can barely recollect most of the project, except I do remember some saw noise from the garage and him banging the planks together.

He did one half of the room, than moved the furniture to the finished side and did the other half. The finished result is great – the floor has a great natural smell to it (a million times better than the smell that we had been living with), it looks neat, and we even moved the loveseat down there so when it gets too hot this summer we have someplace to escape to and read (since we have decided to be Earth-friendly and NOT buy an air conditioner).

Here are some photos from the project. Thank for doing such an amazing job, Steve! He was horrified to hear me declare this the most interesting room in the house and that the rest of the house looked really “blah beige carpet boring” now. Perish the thought!

Now if only the dog would learn that this is the room to have an accident if she needs to – not “the carpet”. Unfortunately I discovered a little wet spot in our walk-in closet the other day! I’ve put a little throw rug down here now to see if that solves the problem (and it is easily launderable). We can’t afford to redo all of the floors quite yet!

First MLS Analysis Shows BUILT GREEN Certified Projects Carry Higher Value

Today’s post is hot out of the Inbox, from the May Built GreenTM News which has a Letter from the Director of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish County. It is good to read the proof is in the certification! I am in the process of refinancing to get into a better loan at a lower interest rate than what we used to buy our 3-star Built Green certified townhome in the Seattle redevelopment of High Point. The appraisal completed earlier this week showed 8.86% appreciation in 9 months. Based on the prices I am seeing on the resales coming on the market now here in my community, that seems to be on target for most of the pricing here.

This MLS news actually came out on Wednesday but my entire townhouse was torn apart yesterday while the builder came in the correct an oversight by some contractor who hopefully ends up in court someday. Polygon paid for a company to come out and screw down the subflooring – a nice extra step they take to ensure against future floor squeaks. Our 9 month old townhome developed more floors squeaks than the 1929 farmhouse we sold to buy it! It was driving us crazy and I have to give credit to Polygon for standing by their product, even tho it was a major hassle. I lost an entire day of work, and kept having to yell “Keep the door closed” at any one of the ten workers hired to move furniture, move carpeting, or screw down the floor, relay the pad and carpet, and put the furniture back (we didn’t want one of the freaked out cats to bolt). It was an all-day (and into the night) project and they are going to have to come back for another round since they still didn’t manage to get to the whole house. They even leveled out some of the flooring because the yahoo who put in the joists put some in upside down and they figured while they had the floor torn up trying to find the popping water pipe noise that was also driving us crazy they would fix that while they were at it. The cats were freaked out, the dog curled in a ball and lay with her eyes wide open, and my husband and I took turns going to our various appointments scheduled for the day. We actually got a lot done – I got to two doctors appointments, he went to the dentist, and we took turns going out for haircuts. The noise was incredible, saws and hammers and three foot long screw drills, and who knows what else. Had some minor breakage of wine glasses and champagne flutes (including some stemless ones that were gifts for our 10th anniversary this year), but to be able to live in a home with a silent floor is worth the loss.

First MLS Analysis Shows Certified Projects Carry Higher Value

A new analysis of MLS green home sales data done by Greenworks Realty shows what may be a bright spot in today’s real estate market. Between September 2007 and March 2008, environmentally-certified homes sold for 4.8 percent more and stayed on the market for 24 percent less time than comparable homes sold last year.

In the first year since it began tracking environmentally certified homes, 19.8 percent of new homes in Seattle sold on the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) were environmentally certified. These homes (which include townhomes as well as single family homes) averaged 1,477 square feet, just slightly smaller than the 1,492 square foot average for all new homes sold. On a square-foot basis, this means green homes sold for a 5.9 percent premium. Green homes certified by a third party such as 4-Star and 5-Star Built Green homes sold for a 10.5 percent premium on a square foot basis.

In King County, 13.5 percent of new homes were environmentally certified. These homes had 21.5 percent less square feet and sold for a 1.2 percent premium. On a square-foot basis, this means green homes sold for a 28.9 percent premium.

“In today’s changing market, this is an important finding for homeowners to consider,” noted Ben Kaufman, founder of GreenWorks Realty. He added, “environmentally-certified homes offer homeowners a way to get the most value and sell faster.”

Environmentally-certified homes include those certified by Built Green®, Energy Star® or LEED for HomesTM. From Sept. 1, 2007 to March 31, 2008, 168 environmentally-certified, single-family new homes were sold in the City of Seattle out of a total of 848 new homes sold. 285 environmentally-certified, single-family homes were sold in King County out of 2,109 new homes sold.

Between the three programs, 241 homes were certified through Built Green, 106 through Energy Star Homes Northwest, and 4 through LEED-H.

Until now, the idea that people are willing to pay more for environmentally-certified housing has been based on consumer surveys and our expectations. Now, for the first time anywhere in the country, we have hard sales data to back up what many of us have believed– consumers value green homes more.

So now homebuyers have one more reason to by a certified green home, they carry more resale value in addition to the many other benefits. It seems more people are realizing that sound financial planning and environmental stewardship can be one in the same.

The resident High Point Green Agent reports

If you are hung up on new construction, I just got an email from The High Point marketing team. Lyle Homes is the last developer in Phase 1 still building. They have 3 homes and 2 carriage homes left to sell:

• 2 Carriage Homes, 1100 sq. ft., from $289,950
• 2 Single Family Homes, 1,352 and 1,418 sq. ft., from $409,950
• 1 View Home at 2,600 sq. ft. for $589,950

Become a part of one of the most exciting new master-planned communities in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. The community’s infrastructure, as well as the homes, have been Built Green™. Walkable sidewalks and community parks offer opportunities to meet your neighbors. Enjoy the new library, medical/dental clinic and senior housing right in the neighborhood.

There are a smattering of resales in the neighborhood as well. I have toured almost all of them. All homes are 2006 or newer. Buying a resale often means it’s been beautifully painted and the finishing touches have been added, like really nice window treatments and other features that have become a permanent part of the home. I’ve been really impressed by my neighbors’ taste! Current resales are all townhomes or single family detached homes – no condominium suites right now! (and they are nice, too

Click here to see all of the current listing in the Built Green-certified community of High Point in West Seattle. And of course EMAIL ME if you would like a tour of the neighborhood and any of these homes for sale.

Have a nice weekend!