Posted in Features on November 29, 2007
By Sarah Scrafford
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just released its fourth and final report, and the message is clear. Global warming is real, it’s a threat to human civilization, and we must act now if we have any hope of stopping it. Considering that buildings account for almost half of all annual greenhouse-gas emissions, it seems logical to begin this work against global warming at home.In fact, the Mayors of Chicago, Seattle, Miami, and Albuquerque recently proposed Resolution No. 50 [PDF], which sets a goal for carbon neutral buildings by 2030. While this resolution applies mostly to new urban buildings, you can expect to greet a burgeoning market that demands homes that use little to no fossil fuels over the next two decades.
You can increase your home’s marketability and safety by making changes now. To save money, focus on remodeling one room at a time, and look for federal or state (even local) incentives and tax credits that may be available for certain features of your green remodeling project. These tax deductions could help shorten the payback period. Energy-efficient homes do save money - financial benefits of green design are between $50 and $70 per square foot according to Resolution No. 50. And, they may prove more beneficial to your health as you reduce toxic materials and maximize fresh air and natural light.
The following tips and tricks can help you with your green home remodeling projects. The list is broken down by various topics ranging from “Before you begin” to wall options and ventilation. Throughout the list, you’ll encounter what are known as Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs. These are organic compounds that evaporates readily to the atmosphere and that are usually harmful. You want to avoid VOCs at all costs in your green remodeling.
Topics Covered in this List
Before You Begin | Hiring Help | Bathroom | Kitchen | Energy | Flooring | Roofing | Wall Options | Ventilation | Landscaping
Before You Begin
Here are a few tips to think about before you begin to tear up that carpeting or before you add solar panels…
- Buy local: Green remodeling supports buying from local businesses and using goods and services that are non-polluting and respectful of environmental resources. But, sometimes it’s impossible to find a certain green resource locally. In this case, you can reduce or offset your carbon footprint with other projects like planting trees or by purchasing carbon credits.
- Do your research before you spend a dime: Comparison shop, look for professionals with green design experience, and discuss your findings with other like-minded homeowners. Research will help you to find the right help and resources and it will also keep you from creating costly mistakes if you plan to do the work yourself. Use resources like the Oikos library and other online collections to begin your education.
- Think Universal Design: In addition to an environmentally safe home, you might consider what is known as Universal Design. This type of design, whether it’s used in a home layout or in your choice of faucet handles, strives to be a broad-spectrum solution that helps everyone, not just people with disabilities. Universal Design is a solution for many design solutions that appeal to a broader range of users.
- Identify your problems: Beyond your goals, you might take time to identify the hazards that already exist in your home and begin by eliminating those problems first. Old paints and certain plumbing types may contain lead, and you might find asbestos in the strangest places (like in your vinyl floor). The new green home will be devoid of lead-based paints (see wall options below) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride) in any shape or form. If you’re unfamiliar with PVC problems, read the fact sheet [PD] provided by Washington Toxics Coalition.
- Learn about the local salvage yards and recycling places: In addition to lessening your burden on landfills, reusing salvaged materials minimizes the demand for mining, tree harvesting, water, energy, and other natural resources, as well as toxic materials used to process, manufacture and transport new materials. This option works two ways - you can find many bargains at salvage yards and recycling places, and you can also offer your goods for salvage or recycling. Depending upon where you live and your resources, you may receive a small amount of cash, in-store credit, or the material may be considered a “donation,” meaning you can get rid of it for free (and some stores can offer a tax credit for those materials).
- Don’t reuse toxic materials: The only problem with using salvaged materials is the possibility that you might reuse of toxic materials…don’t use them ever again, even if they’re the best bargain. Additionally, you might need to find special local recycling for items you discover in your home (such as asbestos or lead paint).
- Keep lists of materials you need and sizes: Before you go salvage yard hopping, make sure that you have complete lists of things you’d like to purchase. Additionally, you will need the sizes of those ‘things,’ such as kitchen cabinets or decorative moldings. Keep this list with you at all times, as you never know when you’ll meet someone who has that slate you want for your roof.
- Free up that imagination: You don’t need to buy out the magazine stand for creative home decorating or remodeling ideas. You can search online for “junkyard” decorating ideas or “recycled interior designs.” For instance, you can use old bookshelves for steps, or you can use a birdcage for a new planter. Use those DIY sites to learn how to visit a junkyard, as well as to learn how to find great ’stuff’ once you arrive there.
- Try to avoid hazards during the remodel: Before you begin a remodel, you might look for recycling solutions for things like kitchen cabinets, old floor materials, sinks, and other items. Be sure to let anyone you hire know that you intend to recycle those items so they don’t destroy them.
- Keep hazardous remodeling to a minimum: No matter if you use a contractor or not, be sure to outline on the front end how you intend to contain dust and fumes and how you intend to clean up the remodeling mess. A wise remodeling project can protect your health, the health of those who work with you, and your neighbors.
- Watch those building codes: Work that violates building codes may also violate your insurance terms, which means you would be vulnerable to loss. The goal of your remodel is to comply with safety, health, and energy-efficient issues, and these goals also are part of any building code. Check with your county department of development before you lift a hammer to learn about your local codes and check to see if you need building permits as well.
- Include the neighborhood: Future neighborhoods will provide easy walking to local shops, bike trails, and other pedestrian-friendly amenities. You can increase the value of your home - nay, the entire neighborhood - by encouraging city officials to begin with these projects now. Pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods are safer and healthier than auto-friendly suburbs.
A remodel from a toxic home to a green environment will at times rival a new house purchase in price. Since you’re about to embark on a costly project, it makes sense to hire professionals when and if you need them.
- Learn patience and expect the worst: This may seem like a negative attitude, but it pays to lower your expectations - especially if you plan a job in a hurry. No matter if you use salvaged or new materials, a home remodel is a taxing proposition. Take it easy on yourself, expect problems (because if you don’t, then the problems will seem worse), and learn how to be gracious and helpful to your employed personnel. The adage, “You can attract more bees with honey,” has several implications, and they all apply to home remodeling. Sometimes problems may open the door to new solutions, so keep an open mind and try to use as many local resources as possible to remedy any given situation gone sour.
- Plan for a year: With all that said above, it might surprise you to learn that planning a remodel can take up to a year. If you plan to tackle just one room or one wall at a time, it still helps to plan your overall objectives first. No matter if you can’t meet those goals for years - the professionals you hire will appreciate your long-term foresight.
- Think of professionals as your ‘team’: Your architect, interior designer, and contractor will require special skills and experience, and hopefully they’ll display enthusiasm about a green project. Depending upon your goals, they may help you reach a more satisfying solution at a lower (or higher) cost. This is why it’s important for you to learn about the green remodeling process in advance, so you don’t get mired in a situation that’s nonreversible.
- Take advantage of consultations: Even if the professional you have in mind demands payment for a consultation, it might be worth the charge to lay out your ideas and to learn what that professional thinks about your goals. That professional might also know more about building codes and local environments than you, so you could stand to learn much from a consultation.
- Help your help: If you’ve conducted research on remodeling plans and materials, don’t hide your expertise or resources. If your contractor loses a roofing shipment, you might be able to point him to another resource pronto, saving time and money.
- Hire local: Not only will you save money, but you’ll also be able to tap local reviews about your choice. Most professionals maintain Web sites, so you can look at their portfolios online before you make a call. Ask around about local resources - friends, family, and coworkers can share their experiences with you so that your choice will save you time and money.
- Hire appropriately: A construction crew cannot help you with your landscaping, and an interior designer most likely won’t know how to install your solar panels. Check out the city of Seattle’s brochure [PDF] on how to hire professionals for your green remodeling project. Although this area is well ahead most of the country on establishing green building practices, you might use their leads to find local professionals in your city or town.
- Consider your health: In some cases, you may need to hire a professional to remove toxic materials. The cost of doing business with a professional in this situation may save your health in the long run. One advantage to this situation is that if you have lead paint on your walls or asbestos, then your neighbors probably do as well. Ask them if they’ve ever had to tackle those problems and ask about the professionals they used to take care of those problems.
- Be considerate to your neighbors: If you plan a huge project that will take time and that will be noisy, be sure to talk to your neighbors about your goals. Keep them in the loop about any elements in your project that may impact them directly. Will your new project cut off their views? Will they lose privacy thanks to workers who are swarming over your yard? We know of one person spent several thousand dollars for an eight-foot fence after his neighbor neglected to remove the garbage that remained from his remodeling project. Needless to say, those two neighbors aren’t on speaking terms anymore.
A bathroom remodel is second only to the kitchen in expense. Before you invest a sizable amount, be sure to do your research and plan well before you dive in.
- Replace the toilet: If your model was installed before 1992, you’ll save water by replacing it with a new efficient toilet. Older toilets can use as much as five gallons per flush (GPF), while newer models are required to use 1.6 GPF or less. Dual-flush models save even more by giving the user the option between a full or half-flush.
- Study the water heater: The simplest way to reduce energy use in a bathroom (and to minimize the risk of a scalding burn) is to keep your water heater set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. And, the easiest way to reduce costs even further is to place a shower or bath close to that water heater to minimize the distance hot water needs to travel (see more about hot water heaters below under energy).
- Install a heat recovery system: A waste-water heat recovery system captures the leftover heat that would otherwise escape down the shower drain and works well with all types of water heaters. That water is then transferred to the cold water entering the water heater. By preheating cold water, drain-water heat recovery systems help increase water heating capacity. This increased capacity really helps if you have an undersized water heater, and cost recovery usually is better if the installation is in new home construction by a professional.
- Use hot water circulation: Hot water re-circulating systems use a pump to circulate cold water sitting in the hot water pipe back to the water heater. This action eliminates the need to run a tap until the water heats. One unit installed at the point of use farthest from the hot water heater will serve an entire home. This is an easy system to install, so you might want to do this yourself.
- Get a hard-working faucet: Think durability for your bathroom faucet, since it probably is the most used faucet in the house. A lifetime warranty and ceramic disc valves (longwearing and easy to replace when damaged or worn) are key for replacements. If you want to sell your house, look for faucets that comply with the American Disabilities Act (ADA approved), as these faucets will work across a wide variety of users.
- Use a water-conserving aerator: If you can’t or don’t want to replace your faucet, see if the current faucet can be outfitted with an aerator. This device will screw onto the end of the faucet to reduce flow, and it’s easy enough for a DIY project
- Don’t lose sleep over the tub: A tub is a tub is a tub; however, if that tub needs some ‘oomph,’ it would be better and less expensive if you refinish it rather than replace it. Despite the less expensive option, tub refinishing uses toxic materials. Therefore, persons with chemical sensitivities should conduct thorough research about this option before going this route.
- Salvage yards can be useful: If your heart is set on replacing that tub (or a sink), visit the local salvage yard to find something that will match your home’s decor at a reduced price. If you opt for a totally new tub, consider cast iron or heavy steel tubs with a porcelain finish. These can last 50 years or more, although they don’t hold heat like acrylic tubs (which scratch easier). Other options are available as well, so do your homework before you buy.
- Use latex caulk when possible: Latex caulk is the least toxic of all caulks (both in manufacture and in use), and cleans up with soap and water. However, it tends to be less durable in bathrooms and in kitchens. If you plan to use something other than latex, ask a retailer for the Materials Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for the brands you are considering. If the retailer cannot provide an MSDS, you might be able to find the information online.
- Save the sink: As you’ll learn below in the kitchen remodel, sometimes it’s best to recycle the sink and refinish it. If you plan to replace it anyway, learn more about how much counter space you might need. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) recommends at least 30 inches of counter space between two bowls, measured from centerline to centerline; otherwise you’ll bump elbows with your significant other.
A kitchen remodel can be as complicated as a bathroom remodel and twice as expensive. But, if you do things right the first time, you’ll save money in the long run. And, there are ways to reduce both the cost and complexity of a kitchen renovation as you increase that room’s environmental efficiency.
- Plan for disability and aging: If you don’t plan to sell your home, how will you fit into this home in ten to thirty years from now? Universal Design reexamines basic assumptions about designing areas like kitchens and baths, and the result is a more flexible, adaptable design that’s useful to a wider range of ages, sizes, or physical abilities. The National Kitchen and Bath Association maintains a list of kitchen and bath guidelines with access standards that are easy to follow.
- Reduce utility bills: If your refrigerator and dishwasher are more than 10 years old, you can most likely reduce your utility bills by replacing these appliances with newer high-efficiency models. Start shopping at the Energy Star® website and look for the Energy Star label at a local retailer.
- About that freezer - location, location, location! In general, models with the freezer on the top use up to 25% less energy than comparable side-by-side refrigerator/freezer models.
- Remove the refrigerant before you recycle the fridge: If you want to recycle your old refrigerator, select a service that will remove the refrigerant before recycling. If you leave the refrigerant, you’re releasing ozone-depleting CFCs into the atmosphere to join the estimated foiur million pounds of other CFCs released this way every year. You may be charged a small fee, depending upon the services in your area.
- Do you really need a new stove? Ovens and ranges are not included in the Energy Star program. Given the inefficiency of these appliances (it’s estimated only six percent of the energy used to power an oven is actually absorbed by the food) it makes sense to choose wisely and decide on the appliance based upon your cooking needs. Part of the energy efficiency in this case is dependent upon how you cook.
- Get the most out of your gas stove: To get the most out of your gas stove, select one with an electric ignition so the pilot light isn’t always on. An electronic ignition uses fourty percent less energy than a standard pilot light. Also, make sure the burners on your stove are burning with blue cone-shaped flame. A yellow flames means air inlets or burners need repair. Finally, check the seal on your oven door regularly for gaps or tears that let heat escape.
- Countertop magic: A countertop that’s durable and easy to clean is a wise investment. But, before you decide that your counter needs to be replaced, you might consider a less expensive repair or renewal. Tile countertops can be re-grouted and wood countertops can be refinished. Even a laminate surface can be re-glued if it’s come loose. If you want to replace the countertop, remind yourself that fabrication and installation costs can equal up to 80% of the total price. So, if you can do the work yourself, you’ll save tons of money.
- Recycled backsplash: Since the backsplash doesn’t need to stand up to the abuse that your countertop experiences, you can get creative about your choice of materials that will make the wall behind the counter easy to clean and protect it from moisture damage. Think chalkboard slate, surplus or salvaged tempered glass, or a mosaic of salvaged tile or stone - anything that can withstand grease, scrubbing, and water.
- Recycled sink: If you’re replacing a sink, think about using enameled cast iron. Cast iron not only is durable, it’s recyclable. The downfall is that the enamel may chip and the cast iron could rust. The other choice could be stainless steel, which also is recyclable. Additionally, both types of sinks are commonly found at building salvage and industrial surplus yards, which could cut your cost tremendously.
- Think twice before replacing cabinets: If your current cabinets are from the 1950s or earlier there’s a good chance they’re built better than most on the market today. If you’re truly tired of them, consider a refacing at a fraction of the monetary and environmental cost. You can find eco-friend veneers that don’t require glue for this job. Finally, the least expensive alteration would be painting and/or staining the cabinets, but be aware that this option may also require some hazardous materials, depending upon your choices.
- Downsize: A dishwasher and refrigerator run most efficiently when full. If you find that the only thing you keep in your fridge is that proverbial Chinese take-out box and if you rarely use your dishwasher, you might consider downsizing on both items.
- Keep the faucet: Unless that faucet is so damaged that you can’t use it anymore, consider reusing it. Kitchen faucets must meet minimum standards for water efficiency and use no more than 21.2 gallons per minute (GPM). You can find the GPM marked on the aerator (nozzle) in most cases. Kitchen aerators should use no more than 2.0 GPM. You can replace an aerator, and if you want a new look, replace the handles. If you really need a new faucet, look for lifetime warranties that include the finish, replacement parts, or a full replacement. Check for ceramic disc valves, as they last longer and are less prone to drips.
An energy-efficient home is more cost-effective, and it’s also more comfortable.
- Learn about financial options: Lenders are beginning to recognize the value of ongoing savings to the homeowner through green remodeling. Mortgage Options for Resource Efficiency (MORE™) is a new program that lets you add up to $4,000 to your mortgage for home improvements that save energy or water, and HUD also has resources to help with remodeling. Learn about these programs and more at the Energy Efficient Rehab Advisor.
- Install a programmable thermostat: This tool will help to minimize unnecessary heating and cooling when not at home.
- Service your heating and cooling: Both heating and cooling systems should be serviced prior to peak seasons.
- Think propane: Propane water heaters can cost one-third less to operate than electric water heaters, and they recover hot water twice as fast as electric water heaters. You can increase your water heater’s efficiency by draining it every six months to remove lime deposits and sediment.
- On the other hand…: When buying a hot water heater or furnace, avoid naturally-vented models to avoid air leakage. Instead choose models with power venting or a combustion path that’s sealed off from the indoor air. Of course, electric water heaters eliminate the problem entirely, but you might find a propane model with power venting. Take your time, do your research, and purchase the heater that’s best for the home’s needs.
- Go photovoltaic: Cost remains the main deterrent to installing a photovoltaic (PV) system. Check local incentives from your city or county, and don’t forget to ask your utility company about their ideas. Additionally, you might ask your banker about rolling the cost of a solar system into your mortgage with a home improvement loan. One further way to cut costs is to choose a system that doubles as roofing material. If you’re ready for a roof replacement, you may see your cost returned more quickly with this option. Current products are varied, so do your homework well before you talk with your banker.
- Install a solar hot water system: These systems provide hot water for all domestic needs. The usual configuration includes panels containing fluid-filled tubes that capture the sun’s energy and uses it to preheat your water heater’s input. Solar hot water systems have a much faster payback than solar electric systems and work even on cloudy days.
- Get passive about your green activities: Passive cooling requires correct placement of windows, proper shading of windows by trees or constructed shade (see landscaping below), light-colored roofs and walls that reflect heat, nighttime ventilation, and thermal mass to prevent overheating in hot, sunny weather. Large west-facing glass areas usually present a risk of unwanted summer afternoon heat gains. If the house is designed properly, you can avoid many cooling costs. In some areas of the country, you might avoid air-conditioning altogether.
- Learn about thermal mass: Thermal mass inside a building moderates temperature swings by storing heat when the sun is shining and releasing heat back into the building when it begins to cool off. Materials commonly used for mass include water, concrete, masonry, and earth. Mass and glazing (also a component) may vary depending upon where you live.
- Spend time observing your location: You may have lived in that house for ten years, but you may not know how the sun travels across your yard during different seasons. Time spent observing sun, wind, rain, and ground water processes on your property pays off when you begin to plan for passive or active solar energy. You’ll learn where to place windows, perhaps where to plant that tree. And, you’ll learn more about the materials you need to reach your goals successfully.
- Go underground: Earth-sheltered homes reduce heat loss and thermal swings. You already may have a basement, so you can take advantage of this feature by expanding use of the lower floor and limiting use to the upper areas of your home.
- Plan for the future: Even if you cannot afford solar or passive energy now, plan for the inclusion of this green option in the future. Leave room for solar/mechanical equipment, for extra pipe and conduit runs, and for materials that might be needed to expand structural support.
- Downsize: Smaller homes mean fewer emissions, less expensive heating and cooling costs, and a cozier environment (with no room for overt consumerism!). Instead of remodeling all those bedrooms, you might consider removing them totally. Then, concentrate on that large yard and its fantastic possibilities for curb appeal.
Eliminate or cover up that toxic old vinyl floor and mix it up throughout the house when it comes to floors. Some of the least expensive and most environmentally ideal options include salvaged wood and concrete. Carpet would be ideal for bedrooms, and recycled rubber might be the ticket for that kitchen. Learn more about your options below, and remember that you’ll always save money if you choose an environmentally friendly do-it-yourself option:
- Bamboo: If you ever get the chance to visit a bamboo stand, you’ll be amazed - you can actually hear bamboo grow! This plant is a fast-growing, rapidly renewable member of the grass family that is cut into strips and assembled into planks for flooring. But, while this type of floor often is touted as more durable than hardwood, some users would beg to differ with that opinion. Plus, if you read the Treehugger article in that previous link, you may discover that the demand for bamboo has placed it in a precarious position ecologically. Plus, most bamboo is imported from Asia, so you’re working against the environment through transportation issues. If you do decide to use this flooring, it doesn’t need to be stained or painted, but it must be sealed. You also need to watch for low VOC content and try to avoid bamboo planks that have a wood core, especially if you’re going to use this flooring in an area that might get damp (kitchen, bathroom, etc.). Bamboo will expand at different rates than wood, and this composite might fall apart under these demands. Shop around and use that Treehugger article as a guide.
- Carpets and rugs: The carpet and rug industry now uses a labeling system to identify materials with fewer VOCs in carpet fiber or in installation adhesives. Such carpeting improves indoor air quality, a major consideration of green building. The Green Label Plus program, directed by the Carpet and Rug Institute, certifies environmentally friendly carpeting products (Cushions, currently tested under the Green Label program, will soon undergo more rigorous testing standards under the Green Label Plus program as well). Learn more about these carpets and how to limit health hazards from a fact sheet [PDF] produced by Washington Toxics Coalition.
- Certified sustainable wood: Sustainable forest management makes it possible to harvest wood without any serious impact on the environment, because trees are a renewable resource that can be replaced time and time again, according to the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA). But, you might consider using reclaimed or salvaged wood for floors. This wood comes from either re-sawn salvaged lumber, logs reclaimed from river bottoms, or urban salvage - trees that are removed from properties because they’re storm damaged or a safety hazard. Both certified and salvaged wood have the advantage of being locally available in most cases. Finish wood with water- or plant-based products like linseed oil or beeswax, or order it factory finished for convenience.
- Concrete: For homes with a concrete slab foundation, consider a finish layer of concrete using various types of decorative concrete techniques. Concrete is durable, although it can produce cracks and stains over time. Concrete also is hard on the feet, even when layered with carpet. But, a concrete floor is an ideal candidate for radiant in-floor heating. Finally, a concrete floor, if used wisely, can contribute to a home’s energy efficiency as part of a passive solar system. It absorbs heat during the day and releases it as temperatures drop at night. Take a look around the Internet to see the possibilities, as you can color concrete with natural nontoxic pigments that will last the life of the floor, or treat the concrete with other design applications.
- Cork: The bark from the cork tree is removed every nine years to create bottle corks, and the scrap from this process is used for other products, including floors. You can order these materials unfinished or pre-finished, and natural finishes are available from manufacturers. Cork has great resilience, which makes it very comfortable for standing for long periods such as in the kitchen. Since cork is imported from Europe, you face the environmental downside of not buying local. Additionally, you need to keep your eye peeled for products sealed with low-toxic, low-VOC, or plant-based wax sealer. Cork is long-lasting, but heavy furniture can dent the floor. Additionally, cork will fade in direct sunlight, it may yellow with age, and cork reacts to changes in relative humidity and heat.Wet mopping, for instance, may cause the seams to swell.
- Laminates: Laminates usually consist of a thin layer of color or pattern over a tongue-in-groove base of wood or wood fiber that’s glued together, but not to the subfloor. This creates a single piece of flooring that floats above the subfloor with edges covered by molding (which is why this type of floor also is called “floating floor”). While durability and environmental benefits are uncertain, you can find laminates with recycled content, and some versions are made with bamboo and cork layers. Some floating floors snap together, rather than use glue, and a floating floor is an ideal do-it-yourself project.
- Natural linoleum: Natural linoleum is made primarily from linseed oil, pine resin, sawdust, cork dust, limestone and jute. It is an all-natural alternative to resilient flooring, including sheet vinyl and vinyl composition tile, which are made from polyvinyl chloride. Available in tiles and sheets, natural linoleum is naturally anti-static and antibacterial. It also has ‘give,’ making it more comfortable for a standing surface. The environmental drawback is that this material currently is transported from Europe, which results in transport issues and high cost (about twice as much as vinyl, but it lasts twice as long). Linoleum tiles are a good do-it-yourself project, but professional installation is recommended for linoleum sheet.
- Recycled rubber: Recycled rubber flooring gives you the option of rolls or tiles that can be cut, shaped and customized to any length needed for easy installation. Usually made from rubber reclaimed from salvage and landfills, this flooring is ideal for standing for long periods as it’s even more resilient than cork - in fact, recycled rubber floors are now being used in fitness centers and as sidewalks. The industry has become creative, so you can find various textures, thickness, and colors to choose from, both for indoor and outdoor flooring projects. Recycled rubber resists buckling and cracking, and is said to last three times longer than concrete in outdoor projects. Hopefully, a new factory will open near you, as the rubber is heavy, and the main cost is in the shipping.
- Salvaged stone: Like concrete, stone is extremely durable, and just as hard on the feet. So, you might want to avoid using this material in rooms where you stand for a long period of time (like the kitchen). But, on the plus side, stone floors also are candidates for in-floor heating. If you use salvaged stone - especially if you find that stone on your own - you can save more than half the cost of new stone. If you plan to seal the stone, use low-toxic water-based sealers.
- Tile: Walls present a great reason to use tile, especially glass tile that contains recycled materials. Learn about tile flooring in the wall options section below.
- Vinyl: Vinyl flooring has been a popular flooring choice for decades, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. However, vinyl sheet flooring manufactured before the mid-1980s may contain high levels of asbestos in its backing material. Additionally, vinyl tiles - especially the 9″ x 9″ tiles - from this era also may contain asbestos. The asbestos in the tiles is usually much less likely to be released into the air than from the sheet vinyl backing. In either case, if your home contains this type of flooring you might want to replace it. But, you also might be required to use professionals [PDF] for this removal job, depending upon your local laws. Sometimes it might be safer to lay a new floor over the vinyl rather than remove it.
Here are some tips about whether you should or shouldn’t replace that roof. Plus, we’ve included information about your many roofing options, and the end result of a very environmentally friendly roof - rainwater collection! You do want to save on that water bill and have a great looking yard, right?
- Use quality the first time: You can choose high-quality recycled materials or your roof and escape the landfill altogether with this option. Plus, since rainwater carries toxins from roofing tiles to groundwater, you help to protect water quality when you choose nontoxic materials. So go with quality the first time around to avoid another roofing expense too soon down the road.
- Do you need a new roof? If you inspect your roof annually for deterioration or damage, you’ll stay on top of any repairs that need to be made. Inspections can be coordinated with gutter cleaning. Use binoculars when possible, as some roof surfaces damage easily with foot traffic, especially asphalt shingle in hot or cold weather. Look for curling shingles, broken tiles, asphalt shingles that lose their granular layer, and excessive moss (the latter sign may mean your roof needs cleaning, rather than replacing).
- Check the attic: Sometimes a leak or other problem will originate in the attic rather than outside on the roof. Often, the culprit is failed or improperly installed flashing
in especially vulnerable areas.
- Research the contractor: You can buy the best roof in the world with the longest known warranty and still have a lousy installation. Don’t always go with the lowest bid, as those low bids often smell of desperation. Instead, get bids, ask around about the professional, check the local Better Business Bureau, and talk with the contractor to find out if he/she has used recycled materials before. A well-done job on the front end will save you many years of repairs and grief.
- Not all recyclable materials are equal: Inquire about the roofing products’ suitability for rainwater harvest, because not all have been tested for water-quality impact. Different products vary in recycled content as well, but you can discover the specifics from the manufacturer or the retailer. No matter what you do, use high-quality stainless steel fasteners. Stainless steel products are water-friendly and often have warranties for up to 75 years. In fact, you might consider a stainless steel roof, but you need to watch for scratches, as that scratch will produce rust.
- Avoid asphalt: Asphalt is, after all, a crude oil product. And, asphalt tiles that contain built-in moss inhibitors may contain zinc, copper and other toxins that harm aquatic life, and may render water unusable for landscape or other rainwater harvest applications.
- Aluminum: You can find 100% recycled content aluminum shingles along with baked-on resin finishes that meet National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) standards for rainwater harvest. Look for anodized finishes.
- Clay: Also known as terracotta, you often can find used tiles as the tiles tend to outlast the buildings that they shelter. Like concrete, however, you may need to install reinforcing structures because clay weighs in at 600-900 lbs. per square. This roof often is considered the best choice from a water quality perspective.
- Concrete: Concrete roofs last a long time, and this is a good thing because the manufacture of concrete tile requires a large amount of energy to produce. Plus, you may need extra structural support, as the weight of concrete may strain your existing supports. Finally, your concrete roof may need to be waterproofed to ensure a long-lasting roof.
- Recycled or certified wood shake: Wood shake roofs are environmentally friendly, especially if they’re made from responsible harvests, including FSC-certified products. Storm-damaged trees and older wood left over from previous harvests resists rot, but some wood still may not fare well in areas with heavy rain and/or snowfall.
- Slate: Outside of clay, this is one of the most water-quality-friendly choices for your roof. Although expensive, 100-year warranties aren’t uncommon. Additionally, slate goes from quarry to roof with minimal processing. But, since most of the slate quarries are located in the northeast U.S., transportation would prove non-friendly to the environment for west coast residents. Additionally, some slate is produced abroad; before you purchase, you might want to learn about the slate’s origins. Like clay and cement, slate may require extra structural support, as it weighs as much as terracotta. Slate roofing has been in use in this country since before the Revolutionary War, so search for used or recycled slate tiles to save money.
- Go totally green: Ecoroofs have captured the minds of city officials as well as organic hippies. Ecoroofs are vegetated roof systems used in place of a conventional roof. Cost estimates come in at approximately twice per square foot of a quality metal roof, but this cost can vary depending upon roof design and your willingness to participate in labor. Over the long term, however, the extended life span of a green roof makes this option extremely competitive. Plus, some homeowners may find city incentives to ‘grow’ a green roof, an option that provides great insulation, treats rainwater with respect, and may extend the space for your garden!
- Collect rainwater: You probably wondered about the “water-quality” notes in the roofing materials above. This is the deal - not only does excessive amounts of rainwater get wasted as it’s diverted into storm or sewer systems, it also damages local natural water resources. However, if you collect that rainwater, you can store it for later use. Yes, you can use rain barrels; but a better option might be a cistern that can hold from several hundred to thousands of gallons of water. This amount of water is enough to reduce or even eliminate the need to use municipal water for landscaping, especially if you landscape wisely. Learn more from the Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting [PDF].
Wall decoration and protection choices are extensive, but many of your choices could be based upon whether you plan to stay in that home or if you plan to sell sometime soon. In the latter instance, staging is important, and good staging advice includes the use of neutral paints. But, if you plan to pass that house on to the grandkids, you can use many options, including recycled wallpaper and tiles and more.
- Get the lead out: If you own an older home (built before 1978, for instance), it almost certainly will contain some lead-based paint. The presence of this paint makes renovation and repainting hazardous. Before you begin to paint, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) information site and download their fact sheet [PDF] on “Remodeling or renovating a home with lead-based paint.” You can also order it by calling (800) 424-LEAD (5323). Additionally, The Washington Toxics Coalition also offers an excellent fact sheet [PDF], “Reducing Exposure to Lead in Older Homes,” which has a specific section on remodeling and paint removal.
- Indoor paint: Some people are especially sensitive to various compounds found in paints, such as formaldehyde, chemical preservatives and fungicides. It’s best for your green remodel that you avoid any paints with the words, “poison” and “warning” on the labels. Instead, use eco-friendly paints that contain low or no levels of VOCs that can cause eye or skin damage. The advantage is that they’re odorless, and these paints may actually improve the overall air quality since they’re safe for the environment. You can find these paints in a variety of colors, and they’re cost efficient.
- Do it right the first time: Learn more about the types of paint available and what to use indoors and outdoors. Then, choose your brushes and rollers accordingly. Choose colors carefully, so you don’t waste time, money, and the environment with extra purchases. You can find great tips on painting and the tools you’ll need through an online brochure [PDF] produced by Seattle, Washington’s Department of Planning and Development.
- Paint first: Before you plan a carpet-elimination party, paint your walls. You should still use tarps and/or drop clothes, but you won’t damage the floor under that carpet if you paint after you remove it.
- Avoid sprayers: It’s human nature these days to want to finish a project yesterday. So, sprayers seem to make sense since they appear to get a painting job done quickly and easily. However, Paint sprayers can also be dangerous, injecting paint under the skin and into the bloodstream. Because of these potential hazards, the use of paint spray equipment is best left to professionals.
- Tile: Tile usually is considered an environmental choice because it’s durable and it’s made from natural materials (primarily clays and talc combined with water, pressed or poured into forms, then fired in a kiln). Look for locally produced designs to avoid shipping and transportation costs when possible. Also, you can find tiles with recycled contest, such as waste glass, feldspar tailings, or reprocessed porcelain. Note, however, that 100% recycled glass time makes for a slippery surface, so it’s best suited for walls or accents. While most professionals suggest hand-applied mortar and galvanized reinforcing mesh for a tile base, cement board applied to a sufficiently rigid subfloor is adequate for tile flooring. Cost of tile will soar dramatically depending upon materials used, quality, size of tile, and complexity of tile design or the installed design. Remember to avoid sealers free of formaldehyde and low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when you finish installing your tile.
- Use recycled wallboard and insulation when possible: More companies are jumping on the recycling bandwagon as they realize the potential in reusing materials rather than producing them new. Recycled wallboard represents one of those options, and if you hunt around you also can find recycled insulation. Remember that your wallboard and insulation may be recyclable as well, and some companies may pay to haul it away for you. Use the GreenHomeGuide and other resources to help decide what type of insulation you might need for your home.
- Wallpapers: Just because that wallpaper’s graphics detail endangered species, it doesn’t mean that product is environmentally sound in its manufacturing. The problem with wallpapers is that they take time to install; so if you plan to resell that home the new owners might not take to your taste. For reselling, it’s best to stick to paint in neutral colors. But, if you need to remove wallpaper, do your research. Older wallpaper often can be removed with steamers. Newer wallpaper pastes, however, were made to resist moisture, so you may need to find a professional wallpaper removal service for this situation. If you can’t avoid using wallpapers, try to look at some recycled options and kits, or choose papers made from sustainable wood pulp, formaldehyde-free, and printed with water-based inks.
- Visit online sites for ideas: Sites like Apartment Therapy aren’t just for apartments. You can glean great tips from this site, such as this idea for recycled aluminum tiles for your walls.
Levels of indoor air pollution can be two to five times higher than outdoor levels, thanks to toxic building materials, molds, allergens, and poor ventilation. The following tips will help you bring fresh air indoors and circulate that air more efficiently:
- Replace inefficient windows: Replacing windows can make a big difference to your utility bills. Because it’s a fairly challenging job for the average homeowner, most folks will want to bring in a contractor for this job.
- Stop drafts: Use caulk or weather stripping to seal doors and windows and close vents and doors to unused rooms. Random leakage isn’t effective ventilation, because it’s not reliable, regulated or distributed.
- But you still need to vent: A tight home is fine, as long as it comes with a controlled ventilation system. The controlled ventilation described in this article is intended to maintain overall indoor air quality as ventilation systems should expel toxic air and increase the flow of fresh air.
- Check filters: Change cooling and heating filters monthly to allow for better air flow.
- Keep that range hood small: The hankering for commercial stoves has created a ventilation problem. Larger hoods can suck exhaust gases out of a fireplace, wood stove, water heater or furnace, adding to toxic fumes in the home with backdrafts. The Home Ventilating Institute (HVI), a fan manufacturers’ trade association, recommends range hood capacity of 40 to 50 CFM per linear foot of range, or about 120 to 150 CFM for the standard 30-in. range. Keep it small, or no larger than what you absolutely need.
- Test for carbon monoxide: If you insist on that large range hood, it might be wise to test for Carbon Monoxide in your home. There are many hundreds of fatalities every year from Carbon Monoxide (CO) and just a small amount of CO in your living area can cause major problems over time. If you outfit your new green abode with a CO detector, it will provide you and future owners with peace of mind, especially if you own a fireplace.
- Replace attic vents with soffit and ridge vents: If you own an older home, you may discover that you need more ventilation in your attic (your county building codes will be instructive in this case). If so, you might want to adopt the soffit and ridge vent combination, which seems to work well to distribute fresh air, to lower energy costs, and to keep your attic dry. Search for this combination on the Internet, and you’ll find various ‘how to’ articles that can shed light on how to install this type of ventilation.
- Avoid ceiling fans: It’s long been held that ceiling fans reduce energy use because users can raise thermostat setting point two or three degrees. However, a field study by the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) revealed that there was no correlation between using ceiling fans and saving energy. Instead, a computer simulation showed a potential energy use increase of ten percent, as the energy used to run the fans exceeded the potential savings. Additionally, waste heat from the fan motos added to the building’s cooling load.monitored energy use and surveyed the occupants of 400 new homes in central Florida. They also collected indoor temperature readings for 63 homes. The average home had four or five ceiling fans that operated 13 to 14 hours per day.
Learning how to landscape with an environmental objective may seem foreign to you at first. But, the links and tips below will help to guide you along the way as you begin to restore your landscape to its natural ecological functions, and reduce your need for water, fertilizer, pesticides, and other toxic chemicals.
- Rethink your attitude: The EPA estimates that the average American spends more than 90% of his or her life indoors. Considering that indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air, you might look at your yard in a new light. Consider that yard as a healthy extension to your home, an investment in your health, and as added value to your home.
- Head back to the local planning department: Before you decide to build shelters or outbuildings, check with the county planning and development department for codes that you might need to abide by and for permits that you may need to build.
- Consider taking a course: Local colleges might have what is known as a “Master Gardener” course that residents can take. These courses are worth their weight in gold, as they look at local resources and environments and teach you what plants and grasses you might use to help conserve that environment.
- Plan long and hard: Taking a course is well within your time frame, as a landscaping revamp is a time-consuming project. Doing it right the first time around will save you time and money in the long run. Search online for “landscape symbols” and print some out. Play around with graph paper and these images as you learn about local environments and you’ll discover the landscape plan suited for your home.
- Study Xeriscaping: Xeriscape began in Colorado as a means to promote creative approaches to water conserving. These environmentally specific landscape techniques help people to conserve water, maintenance, and other resources by using techniques, plants, and grasses that are indigenous to a given area. In other words, you wouldn’t want to grow plants from the northeast U.S. in the southwest, as you’ll need to use too much water to keep that plant alive. Nor would you want to try to grow cactus in Seattle, as the amount of rainwater in that city would kill the effort. Some cities have adopted local Xeriscape centers, so conduct some research to see what you have available locally.
- Learn about construction options: Once again, the city of Seattle pulls through with a great brochure [PDF] that provides information about various landscape construction materials and mulches. They also offer information on decks, fences, raised rockbeds, irrigation, and ‘found objects’ as yard art. The only disappointment is that they don’t include recycled rubber as a choice for walkways (see Flooring above).
- Watch HGTV: Although the Home and Garden television station isn’t always about greening your home (although they now maintain a new green mission), they have some great ideas for curb appeal. If you threw out your TV along with your meat-eating habits, then visit the HGTV site online for ideas. Other green landscaping sites also carry some creative thoughts that might fit with your ideals and with your home.
Without a doubt, the green movement is on, it’s real, and you’ll be left behind if you don’t begin making changes now. But, don’t feel as though you need to complete a total remodel within the next year. Take your time, learn as much as possible about your choices, and have fun with the process. You are, after all, improving your health along the way, and - as a result - you might live longer to enjoy the changes that you’ve wrought.
Posted in Features on November 20, 2007
Did you know that millions of people worldwide live underground? In fact, over twenty million people live in caves in China alone. These numbers don’t count the numbers of individuals who work in underground laboratories, urban cities, and on construction sites as more and more underground facilities are being built.Some individuals live underground or in caves because they’re simply following the paths of their ancestors. Others, like Gerald Fitzpatrick, have taken on the task of refurbishing underground facilities like this missile silo located in Champion, New York. Still others desire a move beneath the ground in order to avoid overcrowded cities and ground surface pollution. Some of these individuals are minimalists, and others live high on the hog. Finally, there are the survivalists - individuals who want to hunker down in some flat space in Middle America.
The following list, which is in no particular order, includes real modern-day cavemen, but it also looks at the other millions of people who reside in underground housing projects, urban cities, and other cave-like structures. Don’t feel left out - plenty of these habitats are for sale!
Posted in Features on November 8, 2007
- Andalusian Cave Houses - Caves are being rediscovered and refurbished like never before and the resident cave market is booming in Guadix Village, Granada Province, Spain. From Guadix to Galera and all across the Altiplano area near the Sierra Nevada, beautiful homes are carved out of the Andalusian mountainous rocks. The 21st century Andalusian cave house is well equipped with necessary water and electricity supplies; many have phones (and in some cases broadband connection), while others even come complete with Jacuzzi and swimming pool. Want to purchase a cave dwelling? You can find many houses in the region for sale (like the one shown here).
- Dongzhong Cave Students - Primary school students at a Miao village in Ziyun county, southwest China’s Guizhou province attend classes at the Dongzhong (literally meaning “in cave”). The actual school is built inside a natural cave that was carved out of a mountain naturally by winds, water, and seismic shifts. Although the buildings are used, classes often are held “outside” in the cave.
- Tunisian Troglodytes - You can find troglodytes (cave dwellers) in desert villages spread around North Africa; however, Matmata and Bulla Regia, both in Tunisia, serve as prime examples of this type of dwelling. Troglodytes are believed to be a relatively recent invention in Saharan architecture, dating from about 1200 AD. While the structures proved to be a success, their uses are limited. This area is also popular for nomads and their Bedouin tents and for ‘regular’ housing. Matmata is home to Sidi Driss, the only troglodyte hotel. This building was used as the actual house of Uncle Owen and Aunt B, the underground home of Luke Skywalker in the “Star Wars” movies.
- Tunisian Takeover - On the opposite side of the coin, some Tunisian desert people have become inhabitants of the futuristic houses built by George Lucas and company. This set, built in the 1970s, is located a mere three-hour drive from Matmata, mentioned in #3. The dwellers who reside on this movie set may actually help the set from being destroyed or marred with graffiti, as they welcome guests and offer tea in very passive and lean surroundings.
- Coober Pedy - Coober Pedy, located in South Australia, is the “Opal Capital of the World.” Many of the residents live underground in dug-out modern homes to escape the outside desert heat. Crocodile Harry, one of Coober Pedy’s most infamous characters, resides in one of the most bizarre dugouts. Many people know him through the Lonely Planet’s Guidebook to Australia. Others may recognize his home from the underground scenes of “Mad Max-Beyond the Thunderdome.”
- The Man in the Hole - Dan Price is a “modern day hobbit” who lives undergound in an eight-foot circular space near Joseph, Oregon. Although Price has access to underground electricity that powers his lamps and photocopier, he plans to go completely off the grid as he makes a switch to propane within the upcoming year. He’s worked it out so that he can survive on $5,000 per year (including his land rent of $100 per year), and he makes his money through subscriptions to his publication, Moonlight Chronicles. Other supplies are garnered through various corporate entities that sponsor his minimalist quest.
- The Geotropolis Concept - Since the last acre in Tokyo went for US$7.8, the Japanese must become more creative about how to house residents. Since the price of property is now so expensive, it makes economic sense to build underground. More than 50 meters under the earth in the western part of Tokyo, researchers are working on the development of a comfortable subterranean living environment. This SubTerranean Urban Development (STUD) project, which began in 1989, is conducted by Tokyu Construction Co., Ltd. Their lab is located at the end of that 50-meter tunnel, where they develop new technologies that will ensure safety and comfort for underground living.
- Gamirasu Cave House Hotel - Gamirasu is located in in Ayvali Village near Ürgüp in the heart of Cappadocia, Turkey. This eleven-room hotel was restored from a one-thousand-year-old Byzantine monastic retreat, and it provides the chance for any international traveler to become a part-time cave dweller. It offers modern conveniences without distracting from the historic ambiance of the area. You can also view a Christian Byzantine Church, but you will need to wait a number of years before you can tour the underground city located just across from the hotel, as that city has yet to be excavated.
- Underground Housing - If you want to build a home that will protect you from hurricanes, tornados, mobs, and atomic fallout, then you might consider an underground home designed by modern-day underground idealist, Mike Oehler. If you can’t hire Mike, you can order his book, which shows you how to build underground homes from $50 and up. You will learn how to build a house under flat land, drain the house using gravity, and ways to pass or otherwise deal with the building codes.
- Yaodong Cave Dwellings - the Yaodong cave dwellings stretch across six provinces in north central China, and almost 20 million people currently living in traditional cave dwellings across the entire northwest Chinese landscape. This architecture currently is being replicated as sustainable and affordable housing for many residents. This particular region in China serves as a model for this architecture, because its yaodongs once served as the early headquarters of a rebel leader named Mao Tse-Tung.
- Bill Gates’ House - This mansion is a large earth-sheltered abode built into the side of a hill overlooking Lake Washington in Medina, Washington. According to Wikipedia, The house is a modern design in the Pacific lodge style, with classic features such as a large private library and a domed reading room. The house occupies 50,000 square feet on a 5.15-acre lot. Garage space and outbuildings may occupy an additional 16,000 square feet. Property records indicate eight bedrooms and four building levels.
- Dennis Weaver’s Earthship - Dennis Weaver, the late actor-environmentalist, built an earthship near Ridgway, Colorado. An earthship uses tires, aluminum cans, and other recycled material as part of the overall structure, and all or a portion of the home may be built underground. This house uses solar mass to conserve heat and solar power. The home is now for sale.
- The Underground House: This is Cumbria’s first underground home (U.K.), built in an old, disused quarry site. The house has been built into the hole left by the removal of stone from the quarry, making it invisible from behind or the sides. All that can be seen from the front are the double height conservatory and a small array of photovoltaic tiles above the front door, as seen at right in the photo. Combining the shelter of the earth with high levels of insulation means that the house needs no heating whatsoever – all of the heat it needs is available from the sun alone.
- Underground Hobbit House: This link leads to pictures and the story of an owner-built home inspired by “The $50 and up Underground House” book (by Mike Oehler - see #8). Using log pole and heavy timber framing with about 18″ of soil and compost on the roof, this underground family uses simple sheds for drainage. The inside photos reveal a comfortable ski-lodge type atmosphere. Follow the link on the Hobbit House page to the forums, where you can find more images of this hand-built underground home.
- Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station - The original South Pole station, now referred to as “Old Pole,” was built partially underground in 1956 in order to protect its inhabitants from the worst imaginable weather. As with all structures at the South Pole, the original station caused wind-blown snow to build up in the surrounding area. This snow accumulation resulted in the structure being further buried by about four feet of snow per year. The station, abandoned since 1975, is now deeply buried, and the pressure has caused the mostly wooden roof to cave in. The site is therefore a hazardous area and off limits to all visitors. The station was relocated and rebuilt in 1975 as a geodesic dome 50 meters wide and 16 meters high, with 14×24 m steel archways, modular buildings, fuel bladders, and equipment (shown here). But, that building is also becoming buried and unsafe, so another building was constructed in 1999 - this time above ground and with rounded corners so that the wind will scour away the snow and keep the building from being buried under the annual eight inches of accumulated snow.
- The Caves - You, too, can be a caveman with a dining experience for those who stay at The Caves resort in Negril, Jamaica. Enjoy a “Cocktail Cliffhanger” while you listen to the waves and wait for your dinner to be served in this seaside grotto. While the cottages are above ground and built from conventional materials, the restaurant is nestled in one of the local seaside caves.
- Alice City - This is another Japanese project, spearheaded by the Taisei Corporation. This $4 billion project would incorporate a very wide and deep shaft, within which would be built levels for habitation, all looking in toward a hollow core topped with a huge skylight. The cost is negligible, considering the cost of the last acre for sale in Tokyo (see #6). Named for Alice in Wonderland, This office/shopping/living space will carry absolutely no heating costs and inhabitants and workers can avoid above-ground pollution. According to Dr. Tomorrow, this concept and the expertise acquired to build this underground “city” will bode well for the Japanese, who may be called upon to help other burgeoning cities to meet population demands.
- Montreal’s Underground City - This “La ville souterraine” (French) is the largest underground network in the world (others situated in places such as China, Paris, Germany, etc.), with 32 kilometers of tunnel that cover more than 41 city blocks (about 12 square kilometers). More than 2,000 shops and 40 cinemas line the passageways. Tourists often visit various attractions in the underground city, which is used by an average of half a million Montrealers per day. Eight metro stations link to smaller networks that are not yet part of the central network, such as Berri UQAM in the eastern part of downtown, and Pie-IX which links venues from the 1976 Summer Olympics. Additionally, other underground networks exist that are not part of the metro system, such as the La Cité housing and retail complex. You can view a map [PDF] to learn more about how far this underground “city” extends.
- Sassi di Matera - Literally, the “Stones of Matera,” Sassi are houses dug into the rock itself in Italy, known locally as “Tufo.” This is the city where Mel Gibson staged his film, “The Passion of the Christ,” a perfect setting as the city looks as though it woke up after a long nap that began about 2,000 years ago. From the photograph, it appears that you’re looking at a ‘regular’ ancient city, because the facades are actually built with bricks, however, as soon as you cross the threshold, you discover that you are inside the mountain.
- ICBM Missile Silo Living - You’d need to be a fairly well-to-do caveman to purchase this refurbished ICBM missile silo in Kansas for $1.5million. It went up for auction on eBay in 2001, with a total of 16,000 sq. ft underground floor space and a. 4,000 sq. ft. launch control building that was refurbished into living space. Did you know that you could fit an 1100-gallon hot tub, sauna, kitchen, 3 large carpeted living areas, a home theatre and more into an underground silo? Above ground, the twenty-eight acres included with this purchase included 15 fresh water wells, water pumping windmill, fruit, nut and pine trees and two sewage disposal systems. Primitive, right?
- The Hockerton Housing Project - Become one of the first ‘cavemen’ to reside in the UK’s first earth sheltered, self-sufficient ecological housing development. HHP residents generate their own clean energy, harvest their own water and recycle waste materials causing no pollution or carbon dioxide emissions. The houses are amongst the most energy efficient, purpose built dwellings in Europe. Take some time to learn how the modern caveman lives, as HHP also runs a wide variety of events based at the project, from basic tours to all day technical workshops, from art events to venue hire.
- Beckham Creek Cave Haven - How would you like to vacation in a cave that holds a living area, pool room, and kitchen, along with a venue that can handle a wedding or some other special event? This 2,000 sq. ft. cave house is located in the Buffalo National River country with all the wild beauty of the Ozark countryside in Arkansas. The home is a multi-level five-bedroom facility that offers a family or small group complete privacy for a getaway. The kitchen, which holds a grill, microwave, bread maker, and even two refrigerators, is located toward the front of the cave dwelling, where huge windows provide plenty of light, and where it’s convenient to haul in all those cave-dwelling groceries from the parking lot.
- Malcolm Wells - This man often is proclaimed as the ‘father of modern earth-sheltered architecture.’ Whether you agree with this sentiment or not, his Web site holds plenty of valuable information for anyone who wants to build an underground structure. But, be prepared for his purist tendencies, as he states that, “…A building should consume its own waste, maintain itself, match nature’s pace, provide wildlife habitat, moderate climate and weather and be beautiful. That’s a series of pass/fail evaluation criteria….” No matter - most folks who want to build underground structures probably would agree with this man’s ecological perspective.
- Stover House - Andy Davis is a regular guy who lives underground in a Springfield, Illinois suburb. His disguise is so good that his home looks like a regular home from the front. But, once inside, you discover that some parts of this home are as deep as twenty-two feet underground. The spacious 8,000-square-foot home allows the living room, family room and dining room to soak in the morning sun. Ceramic tiles absorb the heat while the white walls allow for maximum light. As you burrow deeper into the ground, you’ll discover a cozy den and reading room that gets much of its light from a fireplace
- The Mars Homestead Project - Cavemen in the future may live in cave-like structures on other planets. The Mars Homestead Project, the main project of the Mars Foundation, is developing a unified plan for building the first habitat on Mars by exploiting local materials. One consideration for this project is underground living, which would help to insure that residents are sheltered from the high-radiation environment. According to the Caves of Mars, a NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts funded program, natural subsurface cavities and subsurface constructs present the most mission effective habitat alternative for future human missions.
According to the National Association of Realtors, the typical FSBO (For Sale By Owner) home sold for $187,200 compared to $247,000 for agent-assisted home sales this past year. And, almost half of those sales were made through yard signs and through friends and family. But, not all home sales are that simple. Almost sixteen percent of home owners stated that the paperwork was the worst part of the selling experience, and a full eleven percent couldn’t get the right price.
The worst part of the home selling experience, according to eighteen percent of the home sellers, was preparing and fixing up the home for sale. Staging, open houses, curb appeal and more can be trials filled with tons of errors when home owners don’t know what they’re doing. So, we figured that a good list of contractors, home improvement ideas, thoughts on how to sell a home and more was needed. This list provides those tools and more.
The topics listed below are in alphabetical order, and the sites listed within those categories also are listed in alphabetical order. So, please don’t take the numbers as a ranking.
Topics Covered In This List
Advice | Appraisers | Auctioneers | Blogs | Contractors | For Rent by Owner | Home Improvement | Inspection | Investing | Land & Condos | Listings | News
If you’ve never sold property before, you’ll need to do a bit of research to learn how to be successful in your endeavor. Even if you’re a seasoned pro, you know that others may have a solution for various problems that arise. The sites listed below cover everything you can possibly imagine about FSBO topics. And, they undoubtedly cover topics that may not have crossed your mind…
- AOL Real Estate: Research local or distant markets, learn about valuations, and utilize real estate tools and more at this site. This site also includes listings.
- Get-Ready-Sell-First-House-Smart: Despite this site’s silly name, the author has compiled some sane advice for selling your home. All the topics are categorized, and tips range from DIY staging to success stories.
- Home Buying/Selling: Elizabeth Weintraub at About.com can tell you all about buying or selling a home, from checking a sewer before you buy to using dual agents when you sell. You’ll find hundreds of pages filled with solid information at this site.
- Home Sellers Information Center: You will find everything related to selling a house here, from the preparation of your home, choosing whether or not to use an agent, how to set the price for your house, to how to best show your house when it is on the market and more.
- HUD: The U.S. Deparment of Housing and Urban Development provides tons of information for homeowners, sellers, and buyers. You don’t need to use their services to take advantage of the news and advice that they offer.
- MSN Real Estate: This link will take you to the “Selling Your Home” section, where MSN provides news, updates, and advice on selling your home with or without an agent.
- Real Estate ABC: RealEstateABC.com was started in March 1998 with the goal of providing a site that candidly informs homebuyers and home sellers about the real world of real estate, without puff, hype or sensationalism. You can find an extensive list of how-to articles here that will help you brave the world of home selling.
- Sell My Home 101: This Web site is packed with timely and useful information for home sellers about real estate. You’ll learn about real estate, the process of selling a home, what to look for in a realtor, pricing your home to sell, and much, more.
- SmartMoney: This link will take you to SmartMoney’s real estate section, where you can find advice on everything from buying to mortgages, along with worksheets to help you stay ahead of the game.
- Yahoo! Real Estate: You can list your home for sale, check the value of a home in any given community and more at this real estate news and self-service portal.
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You may believe your property is worth a zillion dollars, but an appraiser could help you land softly in the real world. It would be impossible to list every appraiser here, so this list is about the best of appraiser directories and tools.
- AppraisalEdge: AppraisalEdge.com prides itself on not only being a national real estate appraisal directory but an information resource for real estate appraisers, consumers and loan originators alike.
- Appraisers.com: This is the oldest existing appraiser listing service on the Internet. This service is designed to help consumers and financial institutions quickly find real estate appraisers serving any county in the USA.
- e-Appraise: This site is filled with tools for the appraiser as well as for the homeowner. You can find appraisers through their directory, but you might want to snoop around to use the calculators, read the classifieds, and more.
- FeeAppraiser.com: Feeappraiser.com was developed by real estate appraisers, professional database managers and website designers to provide those who hire appraisers a quick and easy way to find fee real estate appraisers (appraisers directly available for hire) in every area of the United States and the 4 territories licensed under the Appraisal Foundation.
- HomePrice: This program operates on a national level with two types of reports, the Property Value Estimator and the HomePrice Report. Both products are designed for existing residential properties from single-family homes to high-rise condominiums. Reports will not be available for new construction, multi-family or mobile homes.
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You might think you’ll never need an auctioneer to sell property; but these folks come in handy when you want to finalize a will or probate for a family member or when you need to sell property quickly. The following auctioneers were chosen simply for the amount of territory that they cover within the U.S.
- A. J. Billig & Co.: Established in 1918, this is a family business with a professional reputation.They produce hundreds of auctions every year, and they’re known as a dynamic business participant throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region.
- Christenson-Elms: This company specializes exclusively in the sale of distinctive real estate for premier developers and builders. Located in Florida, they handle estate sales and auctions nationwide, and have sold in excess of 24,000 properties.
- Deiro & Associates: Deiro & Associates has been one of America’s premier family owned real estate, auction and liquidation companies for 30 years. They advertise as a national company, but they seem to focus on Western properties.
- Fuchs Auction and Realty: This company provides all the brokerage services as if the property were sold using the private traditional negotiated method. And in addition they provide packaging, promoting, showing and conducting the auction from the sale to the closing. You set the date and time of the sale, as well as the terms and conditions.
- Grand Estates Auction Co.: This company specializes in the marketing and sale by auction of luxury real estate throughout North America and the Caribbean. By offering only the finest luxury properties at auction they can create a more concentrated marketing effort to maximize interest and expedite the selling cycle, allowing for both buyers and sellers to take part in a swift and seamless transaction.
- Higgenbotham Auctioneers International: Since 1959, Higgenbotham Auctioneers International has had tremendous success marketing real estate and other assets using the auction method throughout the U.S. Their president, Martin Higgenbotham, is a member of the National Auctioneers Association Hall of Fame.
- LandAuction.com: LandAuction.com has been doing business in the State of California since 1990 with a goal of becoming the largest auctioneer of raw land for sale in North America. LandAuction.com purchases the property before they put it up for sale at auction.
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Unfortunately, there’s a real dearth of FSBO-specific blogs that are both useful and up-to-date. However, we did find some FSBO blogs and included them here, along with great blogs that focus on real estate investments, home staging, and other topics within the FSBO realm.
- Best Home Selling Tips: John Wen is a licensed real estate agent in Georgia who shares his home selling secretes, ideas, strategies, and effective marketing methods.
- Blog.ByTheOwner.com: A blog about the real estate market and the for sale by owner process, sponsored by ByTheOwner.com, Canada’s popular private sale website.
- Building an Empire: Trisha Allen is 32-year-old full-time real estate investor and realtor has been investing in real estate for over four years. She brings her personal insights into the ups and downs of building a personal real estate empire.
- For Sale By Locals (A New Real Estate Approach): A blog that is an offshoot of the “For Sale by Locals” Web site. Entries include business information, tips, and advice on how to work with online real estate services.
- For Sale By Owner - FSBO - Law Blog: Craig Blackmon, a Seattle, Washington attorney whose practice is centered on residential real estate, authors this blog. He handles both transactions (including FSBO) and litigation.
- Get Happy Home: This FSBO blog is sponsored by the Get Happy Home listings. Although the blog hasn’t been recently updated, you can find some useful information here, especially on remodeling.
- Home Staging Blog: Nickie Rothwell provides homeowners with news and ideas about home staging so you can sell your home as quickly as possible and at the best possible price.
- Home Staging, Rants & Ravings: Craig Schiller, a professional home stager and founder of Real Estaging (Chicago), is behind this property merchandising and home staging blog.
- Landlord Shmandlord: This is a blog about being a landlord and investing in real estate.
- The FSBO Blog: This is the best and most up-to-date FSBO blog around. The authors of this blog work at or own multiple real estate companies, including some “For Sale By Owner” service companies. Everything written at this blog, however, is their personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. You’ll gain insight into the news, tools, and issues of the FSBO “real estate revolution.”
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Before you sell you may need to make some major alterations to your property. If you don’t have the time to do those repairs or changes yourself, you can contact any one of the nationwide companies listed below. They will put you in touch with a local contractor(s) who will do the job, no matter if it’s large or small.
- ANDY OnCall: This company will send a handyman out to your home for a free estimate on small jobs, repairs and maintenance. Whether to fix a fence, caulk a tub, or hang a blind, ANDY OnCall® has a craftsman for your job.
- Handyman Connection: From painting and electrical work to basement, bath and kitchen remodeling, this company will get your project done right. They’ll match your large or small project with the skills of a talented craftsman who has at least 10 years of professional experience.
- Handyman Matters: Choose among over 1,000 services provided by this company. They have a “preferred price” option, where you only pay for the time spent on your project.
- Home Improvement Hub: Tell this company about your home improvement project and they’ll match you up with up to four price quotes. These are free estimates with no obligation.
- ImproveNet: ImproveNet has been matching homeowners with contractors for home improvement, remodeling, .maintenance and repairs since 1996. Improvenet is a free service with no obligation, and is powered by a nationwide, screened network of home improvement contractors.
- My Handyman: Also known as Mr. Handyman, you can hire this company for small jobs like hanging curtains or larger jobs like installing tile in the bathroom. All technicians are insured.
- NARI: The National Association of Remodeling Industry (NARI) helps homeowners find the right professional partner to do their remodeling. Whether it is updating a kitchen to make it more efficient, turning an ordinary bathroom into a haven of rest and relaxation, or adding a room to meet the needs of a growing family, NARI wants each homeowner to get the maximum value or enjoyment for the dollars they invest in their remodeling.
- ServiceMagic: Click on a category, describe your needs, and ServiceMagic will match you with a screened contractor that will fit the bill.
- ServiceMaster: You probably know this company by their leading brands, like TruGreen, Terminix, Merry Maids, and more. All you need to do is schedule the service and they do the work.
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For Rent by Owner
Have you toyed with the idea of renting rather than selling your home? For rent by owner (FRBO) sites have proliferated over the past few years. Some homes can be considered vacation rentals, while others are more serviceable. Either way, you will become a landlord! Some of these sites include listings, but they also include other features such as articles, tips, and links to other sites that will help you manage your rental properties.
- HomeAway: HomeAway is a community for vacation rental owners. Although the site represents more than 95,000 vacation rental homes, condos, guesthouses, cottages, and cabins in more than 90 countries, it also provides information for home owners who want to rent their property.
- HotPads: HotPads is a nationwide map-based rental housing search engine. Whether you are a property manager with hundreds of units or just want to rent out your basement, listing your property on HotPads is free.
- How to Rent by Owner: Christine Karpinski has written the book on how to rent by owner. Although this site promotes her book, the advice she offers online is well worth the visit.
- iVacationOnline: Joe Godar created this community so like minded vacation rental owners may share ideas and techniques for everyone’s benefit.
- Lay My Hat: Lay My Hat is a unique resource for holiday rental home-owners, by holiday rental owners - it’s full of free advice, ideas and discussions focused on the goal of more bookings.
- Premier Properties Only: Advertise your luxury home, estate home and luxury real estate properties on this site for a flat annual fee.
- Renters.org: This site lists rental properties, but it also provides a forum for addressing issues affecting the industry, and the resources for promoting the highest professional standards for vacation home landlords. Landlords can find useful tools here, including a universal availability calendar and more.
- Vacation Home Advisors: With financial, technology and real estate credentials in one firm, Vacation Home Advisors (VHA) provides guidance for owners of seasonal resort rental homes and condominiums, vacation home website development and hosting, and real estate seminars to the investing public.
- VacationsFRBO: List as many vacation homes as you wish for no charge, and upload as many photos as you want. A vacation rental property may not be listed in more than one city, and a property must be listed as a vacation rental only during the time that the property is open to rent.
- VRBO: Find or list vacation rentals by owner, listed by state. A flat fee includes up to three photos, community support, and - if you already have a Web site - a free link to that site.
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So you purchased a fixer-upper and you want to make a profit? Learn how to improve that property without damaging the bottom line. The Web sites below focus on all areas of a property, but some - like the DIY landscaping - are included to focus on curb appeal. If you’d rather hire a handyman, use the list under ‘Contractors’ above and use the following sites for ideas.
- DIY Home Improvement: From interior to exterior, this site covers everything you’d want to know about DIY basics and more.
- Energy Star: You can’t go wrong with an Energy Star compliant home. The mere mention of these energy-efficient practices will increase a home’s value.
- HGTV: From curb appeal to wallpaper, this site has it all. The site runs in conjunction with the popular Home and Garden Television programming.
- HomeTime: Like HGTV, this site leans on a televised program, but it’s not as extensive. HomeTime is, after all, just one show, and it’s focused on heavy-duty changes that can alter your curb appeal or change your floor from tile to wood.
- The SideRoad: Jeanette Fisher is a design psychology professor who has expanded her expertise into real estate. She maintains several sites on interior design along with a focus on homemakers and real estate investors.
- This Old House: If you can’t get your hands on the magazine or watch the show on television, then this Web site is the next best thing to learn how to improve that old house. Top notch tips from experts on everything to improve the inside and outside of that property.
- DIY Landscape Design: You’ll be exposed to professional knowledge, advice, tips, recommendations, and do-it-yourself landscape resources and pictures at this site.
- Landscape Ideas: The authors have spent thousands of hours developing useful content, taking thousands of landscaping pictures and getting advice from expert landscaping contractors to put this site together for you. Peruse information on everything from decks to tropical designs.
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As with appraisers, we cannot possibly bring you all the inspectors listed in the U.S. However, we can point you to some national businesses that will provide food for thought on home inspections, and some organizations that your inspector should belong to in order to be certified or just downright reliable.
- Allstate Home Inspection: This home inspection franchise features a directory of affiliate offices in the U.S. plus information on training and franchise opportunities. Their local franchises will conduct home inspections as well as household environmental testing.
- AmeriSpec: Over 350 independently owned and operated businesses within this company conduct in excess of 150,000 AmeriSpec inspections annually in the U.S. and Canada.
- ASHI: American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) is the largest and most respected professional association for home inspectors in North America, with 6,000 members. ASHI’s Standards of Practice, covering all of a home’s major systems, are specifically noted in state and federal legislation and recognized by consumers as the definitive standard for professional home inspection.
- Building Specs Inc.: National network of home inspectors provides standards-based home inspections and hands-on home inspector training programs. Includes online search for US inspectors.
- Criterium Engineers: You’ll find a directory of licensed professional engineers offering home inspections and other building related engineering services in the US and Canada. Includes services, pricing, company overview, office locator, FAQs.
- HomeTeam Inspection Service: This franchise utilizes a team approach to home inspections and offers a directory of inspectors across the US and Canada.
- HouseMaster: Ordering a home inspection before you list a home for sale is a great idea for people who are interested in getting to a closing quickly and with fewer surprises. HouseMaster home inspectors have collectively performed almost 2 million inspections.
- NACHI: The National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) is an international non-profit organization helping home inspectors achieve financial success and maintain inspection excellence. If your inspector belongs to this association, then he/she is certified.
- NAHI: The National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. (NAHI) was established in 1987 as a nonprofit association to promote and develop the home inspection industry. NAHI now has over 1300 members in 49 U.S. states, Cayman Islands and Singapore.
- Pillar to Post: All Pillar To Post home inspectors are members of regional, national, state and provincial associations, and are fully trained, certified and E&O insured. These franchises are located throughout the U.S. and Canada. They also were named #1 in the Home Inspections category by Entrepreneur Magazine’s 28th Annual Franchise 500® issue.
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When you sell a home, you’re selling perhaps the largest investment vehicle in your portfolio. No matter if you’re rushing into purchasing a new home, settling back to purchase a second home, or looking at real estate as an addition to a diverse portfolio - the following sites can help you discover whether these types of investments are right for you.
- American Investors in Real Estate Online: This organization is committed to providing the highest quality information, services and products for Real Estate Investors of all experience levels from novice to experienced pro alike.
- Free and Low Cost Real Estate Forms: Find a plethora of forms here for buying and selling real estate. You will have the option to fill-out your form online and print it or you may save it to your own computer for later editing and printing. You can also alter the forms to fit your particular situation.
- National REIA: National REIA’s mission is to develop, support and promote local real estate investor organizations while serving the interests of the real estate investment industry through networking, education, leadership on legislative issues, and promoting professionalism and standards of excellence in the industry.
- Property Investing: You’ll find free property investment advice, information, insights, ideas and support for people interested in making money from investment property. They also include the latest property news and special reports on property hotspots.
- Real Estate Investment Alliance: This group’s research methodology targets rapidly growing real estate markets with strong demographics in Florida, Texas, North Carolina, and the Caribbean. They focus on turnkey and hassle free products.
- REI Club: This Real Estate Investment Club can educate you on creative real estate, wholesaling, 1031 exchanges, asset protection, commercial real estate, hard money lenders, IRA investing, landlording, lease options, mobile homes, no money down, owner financing, rehabbing, tax liens, and more. Much of the material is free, and you can also search for an investment club near you.
- Tax Rules for Second Homes: Brought to you by Kiplinger.com. This is a great article to read over before you make that ’second home jump’ and especially before you rent that home out on weekends.
- Yaerd: If you want to invest in some development, you might spend a little time at this site first. Yaerd provides preconstruction investment, new construction investment, residential investment, and commercial investment advice, information, resources, and listings. They also provide property listings for the most promising real estate investment opportunities to help you make the best decision on where and how to invest in real estate (so consider this a great place to list your investment property as well).
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Land & Condos
The following Web sites focus entireley on either condo or land marketing and sales. In all cases you can list the land or condos for sale yourself if you’re the seller.
- condoDomain: The reader will find topics that include architecture, new condo developments, mortgage and financing, condo-hotel, design and other categories that deal with urban metropolitan markets around the US & Canada. This blog attempts to connect condominium buyers, brokers and developers.
- Condo.com: This company has over 300,000 condos listed on the site from the U.S. and 70 countries around the world valued at over $100 billion. Condo.com provides a low-cost, high impact marketing channel for condo sellers.
- Land FSBO: Advertise vacant land, lots, acreage, commercial property and rural farm land. All land listings are listed by owner so you are in direct contact with the buyer.
- LandAndFarm.com: This site the global marketplace for rural property, and the flagship of RPB Media. RPB Media was established in 2004 through the merger of LandAndFarm.com and Rural Property Bulletin, a quarter-century print leader in rural property advertising. Now headquartered near Boston, Massachusetts, RPB Media offers a variety of print and electronic advertising vehicles for sellers of land of all kinds, and a safe, effective way for buyers to find their target purchase.
- LandFlip: Single to unlimited land listings for a monthly fee and no contracts, comissions or referral fees.
- LandsofAmerica: LandsofAmerica.com is the largest rural land listing service in the nation. They advertise farms, ranches, timberland, mountain and waterfront properties for a monthly fee.
- New Condos Online: This blog is quickly becoming a relevant resource on the Internet for buyers to find and compare new condos, pre-construction condos, condo conversions, town homes, and lofts across the country.
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Urbanism is the architectural topic for the early twenty-first century. These blogs deconstruct, analyze, critic, discuss, and practice urban architecture, even when that architecture consists of homeless landscapes.
- 1-800-by-Owner: This company specializes in residential property, real estate and new homes for sale. They also offer high-end homes and real estate for sale or for rent. For a flat fee, this service guarantees to advertise your property until it is sold. Rates vary depending upon size of package and area in which the property is located.
- America’s Choice: America’s Choice® and Canada’s Choice® empower sellers and buyers of residential real estate to find each other and to easily work through the steps of real estate transaction. This company provides marketing, prescreens potential buyers and provides full services at a flat fee. All you need to do is show the home, and they even provide training for that process.
- Assist-2-Sell: Assist-2-Sell has over 620 offices in 46 states and Canada with more joining monthly. Each office is independently owned and operated. Each office offers sellers a “menu” of services from a paperwork-only low “flat fee” to a full-blown Multiple Listing Service (MLS®) marketing program.
- FSBO: FSBO charges a one-time advertising fee for a nine-month listing. Use images or videos to sell your property.
- For Sale by Owner: Advertise your home to nearly 2 million monthly visitors. If you can’t sell your home through this site, they offer a guarantee where they will work with you to find a real estate agent in your area. Once you have sold your home through an agent referred to you by us, you are entitled to a refund of the money you spent with ForSaleByOwner.com or other options, depending on the value of your home sale.
- Help-U-Sell: Help-U-Sell is a fee-for-service real estate franchise with nearly 1,000 offices in 46 states and 12 offices in South Africa. Help-U-Sell is a full-service set-fee organization and the company’s licensed professionals manage the entire home sale process from start to finish, including handling all negotiations, providing referrals, showing the seller’s home, and providing expert advice and representation.
- HomesByOwner: Serving FSBO’s since 1994 with 1000’s of homes for sale across the US and Canada. The company is operated by Wayne Strobel and his partner, Ken Hamric, and now serves more than half of the nation’s For Sale By Owner magazine publishers and numerous other affiliates - offering clients national exposure coupled with local experts.
- International Listings: This is the premier listing service for luxury homes worldwide, where you can list your home for a flat fee. You also can use up to 12 high-resolution photographs of interior and exterior of property on your own Web page.
- Owners.com: With Owners.com you skip the realtor’s fee and restrictive contracts, and you can list your home for free. Owners.com makes their profit through advertising, not through their listings.
- Zillow: Zillow helps consumers make smarter real estate decisions by providing them with access to the same information and tools agents use to value homes. Additionally, homeowners can take advantage of the Zestimate™ home valuation as a starting point for anyone to see - for free - for most homes in the U.S. Advertise homes for sale for free.
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If you’re about to sell a home, you might read some real estate news first. Headlines and analyses can help you time your sale to your advantage.
- CNN Money Real Estate News: This site falls between real estate advice and vanilla real estate news, as you can find calculators and other tools here that can ease your paperwork.
- Forbes Real Estate: If you’re searching for DIY here, you might be in the wrong place. Forbes focuses on luxury real estate, from the mansion of the week to how to own a second (or third or fourth) home. But you can find plenty of practical advice here as well.
- Inman News: Inman Real Estate News provides brokers, agents, consumers and industry insiders with the latest news from the Real Estate Industry. As a seller, it would be good to know what these folks know so you can feel both efficient and confident.
- MSNBC Real Estate: This link will take you to the top real estate news story and dozens of links for other headlines under this topic.
- Real Estate Journal: This Wall Street Journal guide to real estate helps home sellers arm themselves with the information they need to get the most for their money. Readers can browse entries on everything from mortgage rates and residential market trends to relocation and economic issues, home improvement ideas and advice on buying, selling and enjoying a home.
- Realty Times: Daily articles covering topics of interest to buyers, sellers, and real estate professionals.
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