It is hard to believe I’ve been a homeowner since 1992. Starting out young and with little money inspired me to think sustainable. In this post, I share Sustainable Home Renovation Ideas for New Homeowners.
Sustainable Home Renovation Ideas for New Homeowners
Owning a home is a lifelong commitment to renovations. It is a given that you will have to do some sort of update or maintenance to your home no matter how old or new it is. There are several easy sustainable renovations, from gardening to kitchen remodeling, you can complete that are cost effective and improve home value.
- Create an Outdoor Living Space by Adding a Deck or Patio
When building a deck or elevated patio, it is important to consider the material that you are using and how they are produced. Look for wood that is certified sustainable, consider using recycled wood/plastic composites, or find products that made with over 50% recycled post-consumer waste.
- Install Radiant Heat Flooring – While there are several styles of radiant floor heating, the basic concept stays the same. Your house is heated through a system that is installed under your flooring. The heat rises out of your floor and heats the room, instead of forced air systems that have to push the air down from the ceiling. Radiant heat flooring systems are energy efficient and increase the level of comfort in your home.
- Energy Seal Your Home – Homes that are energy efficient save homeowner’s money by keeping HVAC systems from working harder than necessary to maintain the temperature in the home. There are a range of projects that can help improve energy efficiency. Check your home for air leaks around doors and windows, replace or add to your insulation, update your heating and cooling system, and replace windows with an energy efficient alternatives.
- Add a ‘Whole House Fan’ to Improve Ventilation – You can cool your home during those hot summer months while keeping costs low by adding a whole-house fan. This is an affordable alternative to central air since fans provide an average energy savings of 10%. In some cities you can receive energy and tax rebates for installing a whole-house fan.
- Improve Your Landscaping – According to many sources, when done correctly, improving the gardening and landscaping around your home can increase its value by 10%. While this is a great advantage in itself, it can also help you work towards LEED home certification and reducing your energy consumption. A well laid out garden can help to increase the privacy around your house and lower your energy bill by creating shade and cooling the surrounding air. There are many ways to make your landscaping more ‘green’:
- Install a rain barrel to collect rain water to use in your garden (some cities have laws about water collection, so check with your local government first).
- Keep your gardens organic by using non-toxic pest control and natural fertilizers.
- Mix a few vegetable plants into your flower beds. When placed correctly, these will not only look great, but help lower your produce bills as well.
- Strategically place trees and shrubs in your yard and around your home to add privacy and lower your energy bill.
Spare bedroom at P.Allen Smith Home in Moss Mountain Farm in Little Rock, Arkansas
- Increase the Number of Bedrooms (Without an Addition)– Increasing the number of bedrooms in a house can increase its value by up to 15%. While full additions can be costly, with new suites averaging around $100,000, there are many alternatives to consider:
- If you have a large attached garage or multiple outbuildings, consider refinishing the garage (or part of it) into a bedroom.
- Finish a portion of an attic into an upstairs suite.
- Unfinished basements can be completed to add multiple bedrooms and common living spaces.
- Transform an unused room, like an upstairs den, into a bedroom.
It is important to verify with your local municipality on the requirements of a bedroom. In most locations for a room to qualify as a bedroom it will need to have a door, a closet and a window.
Along with following building codes you can keep your remodel costs low by installing windows that face each other to create air flow, add solar panels to lower your energy costs, and look for items that can be repurposed, instead of buying new.
Image from P.Allen Smith Home Tour 2015.
- Don’t Forget the Kitchen – While kitchen updates can be costly, they can payoff in the long run. Some builders say that you should plan on spending 25% of your home’s value on a complete kitchen upgrade. That might seem like a lot of money, but in 2015, kitchen updates averaged a 67% return on investment. Doing a kitchen remodel will provide you with many opportunities to gain LEED credits, reduce energy bills, and educate your family on healthy eating habits:
- Add an indoor herb garden to your kitchen by repurposing a wooden pallet.
- Upgrade your kitchen appliances to newer, more energy efficient versions.
- Save money and reduce waste by looking for ways to recycle items that you already have in your house. For example, an old dresser can be repurposed into a beautiful wine rack and buffet.
The work of renovating your home can seem daunting, but the increased value, return on investment, sustainability, and enjoyment will make the process worth it in the end. Always remember that if you are tackling projects on your own, make sure you are following building codes and going through the proper inspections to ensure the safety of your family and friends.
I wish I knew 20 years ago when I was a new home owner what I know now… the money I could have saved! I’d love to hear from you.. do you have any tips or stories you’d like to share about saving money as a new home owner?