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Construction Law

: Home Contractor vs. Homeowner

The Unrealized Value of Owning a Green High Performance Home.

By Andrea Goldman, Esq.

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From Tony Marnella's Blog at http://tonymarnella.wordpress.com/.

I wrote back in January about the behind the scenes inspections and testing that the green high performance homes get that many don?t know about or if they do, don?t appreciate the intensity of them. Since we continue to hear about Buyers wanting the ?Best Deal? or the ?Best Value?, it occurred to me that the Value of these homes is also not being realized.

For instance, 100% of the homes we build here at Marnella Homes are built to the Earth Advantage/Energy Star ?Gold? level. Our homes are extremely well sealed and with blow-in insulation achieve a very low leakage rating. Also, with our 95%+ HVAC systems, fully sealed ducting and all inside the home in conditioned space. Our home owners save on average $40 ? $50 a month in our 1400 ? 1600 sqft homes over a similiar sized code built home.

Home owners have been sold over the years all the features that builders put in and are told how great they are and sometimes even how many years the home owner will receive a payback from these features. What so many times doesn?t get either explained or truly appreciated by the home owner or buyer is the value of these features. We took on the venture of Green performance building with the ?What?s in it for me? approach. Thinking just selling features to someone who doesn?t know much about the industry will tend to make their eyes glaze over. So, we have tried to show our home owners and buyers ?what is in it for them?.

In the case of a monthly savings, this is a direct savings over what they would be paying for utilities at any other new code built home. Plus, even with many builders getting on the green built performance band wagon most are doing just the minimum to get their homes certified so, we are outperforming most builders in our area. This is money that can be for that massage every month, the manicure, dinner, a movie with the family, a ski lift ticket in the winter, etc. So, many things that these homes make easier to afford. Because, isn?t the old saying, ?a penny saved is a penny earned? more relevant today than ever before in our life time?

Now that I have addressed the actual savings, let?s look at the added value. Using the $40 ? $50 a month in savings, at today?s interest rates that is about $8,000 to $10,000 in additional value to the home. Of course, our lenders aren?t going to let you borrow more because we can show the energy savings, but wouldn?t it be great to know that you have built-in additional financial strength due to the lower monthly cost of home ownership? I do believe that some lenders will eventually see this value and want to work with builders like us once this resonates with them. However, I am not holding my breath for this to happen anytime soon.

Lastly, now that real estate has moved back to a more traditional style of ownership, I feel that the long term value that these homes offer is also important. Energy costs are going to continually rise so, in 5, 7, 10 years or so when we sell our homes doesn?t it seem that it will be a added value to your buyer that your home saves a considerable amount in monthly utility costs over the resale homes that will be on the market at the same time? I think it should now and most assuredly then.

So, buying a home isn?t just the countertops, the carpet and appliances. Sure those are the features that you can see, feel and touch, but don?t over look some of the most important features that truly create the ?value? in your home. You can always change your carpet, appliances and countertops, but it tends to be a little harder to retrofit a high performance HVAC system inside your home in the conditioned space if you are replacing a traditional system it?s not very easy to go back and effectively caulk and seal up a home that is already completed.

Please share your comments. I would like to hear from you.


Full post as published by Home Contractor vs. Homeowner on June 20, 2009 (boomark / email).

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