Remodeling ‘Green’, ‘Eco’ and ‘Sustainable’ can be a daunting task, especially if products are not readily available in your area. Fortunately we have the Internet to at least investigate products and determine what we want or don’t want. I hate to say, see and post this but many stores are going out of business and this is a prime time to look for all sorts of discounted, free and reusable products. The goal is to make your home look and work better for both you and the environment. Sustainable is replacing products and materials with products that will last almost forever and minimize effects on the environment. Contrary to popular belief, green does not have to be costly.
Studies are coming out that ‘Green Buildings’ are selling for 11% more than non-green. That means ‘Greening Your Home’ can be a great investment. The most cost effective thing you can do is to change lighting, faucets, showerheads, and energy efficient heating and cooling. For quick economic fixes go to any of these website:NuWire, Service Magic, Kitchen Ideas from Renovation Experts, Bathroom Ideas
The Top Six Important Areas in Green Remodeling
1.) Ways to save water: Faucets, Showerheads, Toilets, Irrigation
2.) Ways to Save Energy, Lighting, Heating and Cooling, Appliances (All Energy Star Appliances) Lighting is a huge consideration.
3.) Ways to Reuse, Rethink or Re-purpose your existing materials and products. Have old 50’s and 60’s go to Retro Renovations
4.) Ways to purchase and use Products that come from and are green certified.’ (Reduce Waste)
5.) Ways to Improve Air Quality: Low VOC’s from wood, flooring, panels, surfaces, paint, sealants, grout.
6.) Ways to Reduce Maintenance: The less maintenance, the less products/energy used.
Before you Start to Green:
1.) What are you trying to achieve? Your look and design. The one thing you should know, once you start, it never ends! A new bathroom leads to a new kitchen! I just had this conversation with a friend of mine last night. I own a very small 1924 bungalow, of which I had to replace almost the full kitchen and bath.(The plumbing had rusted all the way through, everything leaked!) Everybody kept telling me do this, do that, but I knew that the more I did, the more I would have to do. Once you start, the rest of the house will look outdated. So I did the basics of what I needed to do and am perfectly satisfied, because if I had taken my friends recommendations, it would have cost me $1,000’s of dollars and I know it never would have ended. My friend started a small remodeling which is now led to over $100,000. Little things like the decking didn’t match, which led to new railing, which led to new siding and of course the next project is new stairs. My advice, don’t remodel because that’s what your friends tell you to do. It is always easier to spend other people’s money.
2.) Are you going to be using your same footprint? Every time you change the footprint, you are looking at more demolition (landfill), different plumbing and electrical (cost and energy) When I started with the living room, I had to take down some walls, this lead to ‘ trussing’ a header board, replacing some hardwood floors, finding an old asbestos heater and a few other details. In older homes, you never know what is beneath the surface. Changing the footprint is definitely more expensive in areas where you have a load bearing wall.
3.) Measure 3x: The old saying, measure twice- cut once, is quite accurate. CARRY Those measurements with you at all times. Measure everything. Your floor plan (by room), Appliance measurements, cabinet measurement, countertop, sinks, bathtubs, lighting fixtures. If you are remodeling Green on a budget, you have to be prepared at all times.
4,.) Your Budget: You can save in many areas, but there are some areas you will have to spend, especially in heating and cooling. Remember the true cost is the savings over time.( ROI, Return on Investment) Also remember to add 20% on to your initial cost. For some cost analysis go to Lets Renovate to renovate Green go to Green and Save
Again, I caution you put in an extra 20%. If you want to know if you can get a loan, here is a great calculator from National Association of The Remodeling Industry
I have a budget, where I have decided to spend is the flooring. I love the Marmoleum Click. I went to a garage sale and bought all this leftover tile from a home remodel. ($125.) It’s not enough to do the whole house, but could do most of it. Once home, after cleaning it up, I hate it. My wish list was the Marmoleum, whose pricing can run from $4.00 a square foot (without installation). Therefore, I will save in other areas, I’m keeping my sink and remaking a dresser into a vanity. Savings will be over $1000.
5.) Time: To remodel on a budget can take time. You have to keep your eyes open and constantly be on a search. If you don’t have time and want done all at once call a contractor. My best advice, if you have the time and the space, start collecting now and store in your garage. I missed out on 2 perfect new sinks for my bathroom ($5.00 each) at ReStores, because I didn’t have the measurements with me and didn’t know what I wanted.
6.) Living, Selling or Renting? If you are going to live there, do what you want. If you are renting, consider products that can be replaced easily, such as rubber or carpet squares. If you are renting and paying the water bill, consider tanklesss water heaters, and WaterSense Faucets. If you are reselling, you have to look at the whole picture, the most neutral colors will resell best.
7.) Go to a Big Box Warehouse: such as Home Depot and get a general idea of pricing. My suggestion, is make a list of everything that needs to be replaced. Have a line item worksheet with columns on each item and write the pricing down. This will give you an idea of what is a ‘good deal’. I missed out on brand new Pfister Faucets retailing for $500 being sold on Craigslist for $150.00.
8.) Can you Trade or Barter? I have seen many flooring installers willing to trade or barter. Listings are in the paper as well as Craigslist The most expensive item in remodeling is labor cost. Plumbers, Electricians and Handyman charge over $40.00 an hour. The quotes I have gotten on my remodel have been over $40,000 and that does not include all materials. $20,000 of that were for labor. Currently, I am negotiating free room and board for labor. Savings about $20,000/
9.) Use this Green Checklist from BuiltGreen:
10.) Put together a packet🙁 recyclable tote bag) that you carry with you, that contains: Your measurements, your listing of things you need (measurement of each item), color samples and a measuring tape. Have with you magazine articles, wish list product pricing and alternatives. For Example, if you are looking for sinks, please reference sinks under sinks in an earlier post.
11.) Installation: Are you going to do this yourself? How handy are you? Do you have the time to do it yourself? If you are going to do it yourself, evaluate the product and ease of installation. Do you need a contractor or will a handyman do? Are you going to act as your own general contractor?
12.) Be Flexible: If you are adamant about your exact color, materials, style, it will take you longer. For instance if you want 18′ travertine flooring and nothing else will do, it may take longer to amass that much flooring. (depending on the room) Being flexible is taking advantage of a great deal of 12′ travertine instead, or considering some decorative touches with the 18′ travertine.
13.) Are you a Shopper?: If you do not like to shop, get a thrill out of the chase, going green on a budget may not be for you. I hate shopping and have little patience for it although I’m doing it anyway. My lesson: because I hate to shop, I didn’t go prepared and so now I have to shop more, because I wasn’t prepared. If you are a shopper, this is your opportunity to shop and spend.!
14.) Be Ready to Make a Decision: There’s no going back. No warranty, no returns. When you are prepared, make the purchase, pick up that sink from the curb, carry cash with you. I have wasted countless hours because I was unwilling to make the decision.
15 Places to Look for Greening On A Budget:
If you have the time, you can scavenge almost everything. If you are tied into a particular color scheme, it will take you more time. For instance, finding a blue toilet will not be as easy to find as a white toilet.
Where to Look:
2.) Classified Ads: They also list Free For the Taking, Auctions and Construction Materials.
3.) Swap Thing
5.) Freecycle: This is free to join, all you have to post what you want. A little review from Sierra Club on Freecycle.
6.) Salvage Yards (see earlier posts)
7.) Garage Sales
8.) Local Contractor: Remember it cost them to take things to the dump. If you see a construction site, stop and ask them
9.) Your Friends, who are thinking of remodeling.
10.) Habitat Restores,
11.) Flea Markets, Swap Meets
12.) Dumpster Diving: You cannot believe what people throw away! All my patio furniture is from Dumpster Diving! The best time to look is Trash Day!
12.) Resale, Secondhand, Thrift Stores
13.) Sites such as Free Market
14.) Go any Retail Outlet, that has showrooms and ask them what they do with the demos and overstocks.
15.) Tax Credits: Even though this has expired, it is supposed to be extended.
What is Easy to Find
Remember, that most people don’t want to take their demolition to the Dump. It’s a hassle, it cost money and they may not have the transportation available.
Tile: If you are patient, you can get smaller quantities of tile for free or at huge savings. Some people don’t want the hassle of posting and answering. The quantities are usually available in smaller amounts to do kitchens and bathrooms. So know first your exact measurements and put in 10-30% extra for waste. Go to Tile Counter for measurement. My recommendation is to input all sizes of tiles needed per room. If you are close, you can always wait for some decorative or trim tile to fill it out.
Toilets: As much as you may want to keep them out of the landfills, it may be better to buy a new Dual Flush Model. I have seen dual flush toilets available on craigslist. In Greening your home, saving water is a prime consideration, thus you should have a Low Flush Toilet. Even if you are not sure the toilet is a low flush toilet, a quick fix is to put a large rock or something similar in the tank.
Wood: Pallets are very available, but many people have available wood, you have to specify wood in Craigslist. Very common is scrap wood, which can be used in many ways.
Bathtubs: I have seen bathtubs from free to $900. All Types are available
Kitchen Cabinets: This require some patience. Many Kitchen stores, resell their showroom samples, which you can get the whole Showroom. Today there is a full kitchen available for $3600, including microwave, cabinets, refrig, stove oven if you take it out. About a $15,000 value. What I am seeing more of, people remodeling and not wanting to pay for the demolition and are offering cabinets an more if you do the demolition.
Doors: Especially Shower doors, Closet. You have to be careful on doors, really consider the right size.
Sinks: Bathroom and Kitchen:
Countertops and Vanities: It is very easy to find stand alone, single sink vanities on Craigslist. To find Dual Sink Countertops with the right size takes a little more searching. I have seen brand new Corian, Cultured Marbled Dual Sink Vanities for less than $100.00. With or without the cabinets.
Dressers, Armoires: You can use these to Re-think and Re-purpose. Dressers make great custom bathroom vanities and more. Dressers, you can get from Free to $500 and the same with Armoires. What to look for in a Dresser Vanity Conversion, Garden Box . Due to the increase in Flat Paneled TV’s many people are getting rid of their armoires. Some ideas to re-purpose an Armoire. Other uses- Pantrys, Extra Closet, Computer Station, and Mini- Bars
Mirrors: All sizes and usually free. This is something that most people rarely think about. Every house has mirrors, at least in the bathroom! Where are they used, over fireplaces, Backs of Doors, Ceilings, Hallways. They are very easy to repair. Because I have very little storage, I will be re-making a large medicine cabinets with free mirrors.!
Ceiling Fans: These are hard to find for free. I have seen from $5.00 on, new and used.
Lighting Fixtures: You can often get these for free, if old. If you are handy and crafty, many can be updated and re-purposed. Pricing is from $5.00 up. New fixtures will run from 30 to 60% off retail
Faucets: In the Green re-model one of the biggest things to consider is water usage. It is important to look for products that have a WaterSense label. Although for about $10.00 you can put an aerator on the faucet.
Refrigerators: Watch For Energy Star Rating
Dishwashers: Have Energy Star Rating
Washer Dryer: Watch for Energy Star