Sunday, June 15, 2008

To legislate or not....that is the question

Bet you didn't think politics would come into play on a green remodel blog, but I can always make room for a great debate. This post focuses on government intervention and moving towards a more sustainable, renewable world. In my humble opinion, I say YES...government MUST be involved in efforts to improve our current environmental situation.  Change will not happen, at least the level of change that our world needs, unless government steps in and demands it.  

I've been thinking about this a lot.  Do you think that people would be wearing seat belts today if there weren't laws requiring us to? Well, the same is true of recycling, eliminating incandescent light bulbs, conserving water, reducing the VOC's in paint, using renewable energies...and the list goes on.  I think we can generally agree that all of us want a cleaner, less toxic earth.  But, no one wants it to impede upon their lifestyle.  Guess what folks, it has to impact your life because we don't live in isolation.  We are a community and communities need governing.  

My last rant of the blog (I think)---we have GOT to get some legislation passed (and of course the follow-up funding and enforcement) to move us in the right direction.  Why aren't solar, wind and other available sources of energy the norm???  Why aren't contractors and builders forced to recycle construction waste?  Why aren't there more "re-use" stores in our communities?  That is my piece during this election cycle.  

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What's so green about your house?

We get this question all the time from friends and family and after having read our first post, I think it is time to take another look at what makes our remodel green. I feel it important to state for the record that we are not die hard tree huggers. We are simply doing what we can to make our house safe for our kids and use materials/practices that are safer for the earth.

What makes our remodel green:
  1. Reuse existing materials from old house into new as much as possible--things like windows, red oak flooring, existing bathroom, concrete pieces as pavers
  2. Recycle existing materials for reuse with someone else--cabinets, hollow core doors, appliances, sliding door, windows, water heater, fill dirt, landscape plants, red oak flooring, garage doors
  3. Recycle of various other materials diverting approx. 2 tons from the landfill--drywall, clean wood, metal, cardboard, fill dirt
  4. Use of salvaged or reclaimed materials--all interior doors and hardware, maple floors, red oak floors, bricks
  5. Use alternative materials that are less damaging to the environment and us--denim insulation, rigid insulation, bamboo veneer cabinetry with low VOC finish, recycled paper countertops (Paperstone), low VOC/no VOC paints (Dunn Edwards and YOLO Colorhouse), MDF trims, energy efficient windows produced in CA
  6. Energy efficient appliances (I find this ridiculous to add as green because almost all new appliances are energy efficient due to federal regulations--thank God)
  7. Fluorescent lighting where possible, LED lighting on exterior, halogen everywhere else
  8. Solar panels--2.2 kW photo voltaic system
  9. Tankless water heater
  10. 2 heat pumps to enable us to "zone" our heating needs (upstairs versus downstairs)
  11. Xeriscape landscaping with drip irrigation
  12. Mulch and wood chips made from materials recycled at the dump
  13. Organic vegetable and herb garden beds and compost

I'll have to add to this post as I remember more things but that's all for now, or as they say in Hawaiian "pau for now".

Hoops anyone?

If you remember, we had the issue of not having enough red oak flooring for the house. I seriously checked out craigslist daily to try and find some, but timing is everything in the salvaging world. So, our floor guy was able to find a gym floor in a school that was being demo'ed or remodeled or whatever. Their loss is our gain. We now will have beautiful maple flooring in our entry level. It was just delivered today to acclimate (all wood needs to sit at least a week inside the area where it will be laid). It was cool to see the free throw lines and sweat marks. Our floors have quite a story to tell I am sure!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

With the best intentions

Here is my rant of the day.  I spent a LOT of time tracking down materials for us to use in our remodel--anything from wood flooring to door knobs.  Well after all that hard work, it turns out the bricks I got off craigslist weren't able to be used on our front porch because they weren't veneers.  I've got hope that we will be able to use them in our landscaping, but who knows.  

The existing red oak floors that we had on the entry level of our split home were pulled up and TOSSED to the curb by the floor guys because they were the wrong height and deemed "unusable".  The salvaged red oak flooring that I did manage to pick up is only going to cover about 6oo square feet, not 1000 sq.ft.  Light fixtures, towel racks and other various things from the old house that we were going to re-use in the remodel were tossed in the dump pile because construction folks are not used to people salvaging things.  There mindset is everything goes.  I am waiting for our old toilet (only 5 years old, actually) to be tossed, but somehow it has remained in the center of our master bedroom.  

Bottom line:  If you plan to keep anything, get is as far away from the construction site as possible.  If you plan to bring salvaged or reclaimed materials into your build, know that they may not end up working.  Them's the breaks.  Promise the next post will be a little more uplifting :) 

Friday, June 6, 2008

You never post anymore

Okay, so I admit our regular updates have turned into quarterly updates. The last post was done by Eric because even he was getting tired of waiting for something new. Who knew that the closer you get to the finish line, the more uphill the race. I have been so busy with decisions, decisions, decisions for the house that I just haven't carved out the time to post. And you know how it goes... if you miss class for three months, do you really want to go back? Well, here I am but I am not sure where to say 1,000 words. Enjoy! PS-Formatting is not my speciality!
Old bathroom tile will live on! Love the mint green.

The front porch and roof take shape.
Notice all the brick piled up--go Craigslist.
Side porch

Inside the house in the hallway. We are keeping all existing wood floors as much as possible. Some was damaged due to heavy rains and no roof---go figure.

Beginning foundation for the new roof and porch in front and side of house. It was just before Christmas and our neighborhood puts out luminarias for the holiday. We had signs up for free fill dirt and got rid of a bit of our mountains of dirt that way.

Denim jean scraps getting a new life as insulation that we put in EVERYWHERE. We are under the flight pattern in San Diego so this is seriously going to make our lives calmer.