Surely you've seen, on TV and Internet home improvement sites, those fabulous green building projects where funds seem unlimited, where remodeling costs are astronomical, where the houses are so grandiose they look like castles.
Well, this isn't one of those.
If you're looking for granite counters and marble bathrooms, you won't find them here.
On the green side, I have to confess that my green home isn't going to be 100% green.
There are several reasons for this, one of them being that many green materials are not available in the small village where I live.
Another obstacle in my green path is the sheer cost of transport: for
example, it costs over $3,000 to ship a $1,000 rainwater storage tank to
New Brunswick (Canada) from New York state, and that's practically next
door. (See this quote.) So, for now I will only be harvesting rainwater for the gardens.
On the other hand, we lower-income folks have every right to energy efficient homes, lower energy bills, and the pride that goes with doing our bit for the planet.
So, modest though it is in money terms and in environmental terms, I want to share this project and its remodeling costs with you, dollar by dollar, in the hope that it will encourage you to undertake your own green remodeling project - however small. If you're remodeling on a budget, you've come to the right place.
And if you can afford to go all the way, you will still find some very useful hints here.
In this section, I will be sharing the financial aspects of my green home makeover.
If you haven't been here before, please refer to the navigation buttons for a list of the phases that have already been completed and documented.Do come back and visit often!
When it comes to accounting, I'm strictly an amateur. Worse than that, though I love my Mac I hate spreadsheets! Therefore, the book-keeping system I use for keeping track of my remodeling costs is mostly manual and it goes like this:
This was the template that I used -- I printed it out in green ink on legal size paper:
These Detailed Account Sheets
showed every transaction by date and expense category. As the project progressed, the headings changed -- easy to do with word processing software. All invoices got
stapled to their corresponding sheet. It made them easier to find
later, if necessary. (It's the same system I use for my business; it helps tremendously at income tax time.)
To see all the reports, just click on the appropriate PDF link at the bottom of this page.
(Please note that invoices are entered only once paid, which explains the discrepancies between estimates and actual expenses.)
I wish I could tell you what my budget is for this project, but I have no idea how much it's going to cost because I have decided to be my own contractor.
Anyway, I don't have a choice. In my village there is only one electrician and one plumber and the other tradesmen also prefer to work for an hourly rate.
Let's just say I hope it will be under $50,000. (Excluding the $10,000 purchase price of the house.)
I was lucky to have sufficient funds from the proceeds of the sale of my previous house, but what if you need a mortgage loan for your green remodeling project? If you live in Canada your bank or credit union is the place to go, and if you live in the U.S. be sure to check out this HUD website before signing on the dotted line.
If you live in New Zealand, they tell me that before making any decision wise homeowners head for Abacus Finance for information and advice about home improvement financing.
I often read advice about getting three quotes before deciding on the contractor.
As you can see if you've been following this story, I'm usually grateful if someone is willing to spend one day on my job site, and ecstatic if he happens to have a crew of two or three men, because then I really get my money's worth.
This means that I don't have any choice but to pay for nearly everything by the hour.
But if you're in the enviable situation of being able to get several estimates, do not hesitate for a moment. It's really frustrating to work the way I do.
Have you ever wondered how, on TV interior design makeover shows, they manage to completely redo a room for under $2,000 in remodeling costs? They can do that because they cheat by only listing the cost of materials. No labor costs!
I promise you that there will not be any cheating here. (However, I have omitted most names to protect the privacy of those involved.)
This section is not about showing how clever I am with money (I'm not - as you'll find out soon enough!); it's meant to reflect reality. I make mistakes, and you're going to make mistakes, and mistakes are costly but they have to be factored into your remodeling costs.
Hopefully, though, you won't repeat my mistakes and that may help you save thousands of dollars.
The following reports are available as PDF documents:
I finally broke down and purchased the Microsoft Office Suite for Mac (how could I resist? It was on sale for $99!), so from now on, the reports will be on these fabulous new templates that remember everything for you.
|"LIKE" THIS SITE!|
clicked to your site and found a great wealth of information. I'm about
the least tool oriented person there is around, but I'm passionate
about many of the topics you write about. And I find the writing to be
very well done and informative even for a non-handy person like me. Well
Prague, Czech Republic
I would just like to thank you for maintaining this resource. It's essential that information about environmental issues are easily and broadly accessible.
Thank you so much for sharing your exquisitely well-told stories! I have spent the last 2 hours reading the whole saga, and I appreciate all of the detail that went into your decision making. I hope you are enjoying your green home with cozy surroundings and energy efficiency.
Thank you for taking the time to write down your experiences. It is truly a valuable service.
Thanks for all the info on this site, it is very thorough.
Very well documented and I appreciate the work and the effort you have put into this.
Hey! Just wanted to compliment you on
your site! I'm a new, first time homeowner, with a dirt crawlspace and
have searched for hours on how to set it up.
Living here in Montreal, and the conditions aren't easy on a house and this site sure helped to answer some questions.
Thank you for displaying your work and experience!
Have to say I absolutely love your site. Really complete, well thought out, and has me clicking from page to page...
I just wanted to say I love your site! Well done!
Love your web site. You are an inspiration to me. I am 66 and I want to build a small green home on my land. [...] Your green home looks beautiful. I wish you luck in all your endeavors!
A few years ago, I bought this fixer-upper for $10,000.
It had been vacant for six years, had no water supply, needed a new roof, and was likely to conceal an unsuspected number of nasty flaws.
Don't believe me? See these "Before" pictures.
My intention was to turn it into as "green" as home as I could, within my physical, financial, and geographical limits – and to share this adventure with you, step-by-step and dollar-by-dollar.
I'm not quite finished, but I do have a few "After" pictures to show.
If you want to follow me on this exciting adventure, you can subscribe to this site by RSS feed -- see the box below the navigation bar on the left.