Project Spotlight: Aging in Place in a Split Level

Sometimes sustainability is about enhancing the longevity of what you already have. This couple wanted to stay in the home, garden, and neighborhood they love as they look forward to aging. With modest updates and practical design by Sheri Newbold of Live Work Play, we were able to create an accessible space that will enable these homeowners to continue to live in and enjoy their home for many years to come.

A widened window in the master bedroom creates a comfortable sitting area to enjoy their garden and bird watch.

In the bathroom, we added grab bars, a fold down seat for bathing, and created a zero threshold shower. All light fixtures are energy-saving LED with dimmer switches.

Most important was how to get from the garage to the main floor of their 1960s split level home. The existing stairway would not work with a chair lift, so they chose to add a Garaventa elevator to make accessing the second story easy. They also wanted to widen the hallway and increase the width of two doorways to 36″ to access the master suite.

Check out more photos in our Flikr gallery.

Prepare Your Home for Winter

Before the weather gets too harsh, make sure you check the exterior of your home for any repair needs:

  • Gutters – clean them and ensure downspouts are effectively moving water away from your house.
  • Foundation – gaps in window caulking, cracks in masonry, or cracks around doors could signal the need for foundation repair.
  • Crawl space – check the condition of your moisture barrier and close crawl-space vents.
  • Hoses – detach outdoor hoses, drain the water, and move them inside before the first freeze.
  • Roof – make sure no shingles are missing or loose, look for dips, and consider an inspection if your roof is over 20 years old.
  • Don’t forget to check to see if your neighborhood storm drains are clear of debris.

Get Your Drains Ready for Rain

We can all do our part to help prevent flooding in our neighborhood by making sure street drains are clear of leaves and other debris. Here are a few tips from the folks at Seattle Public Utilities:

  • Avoid piling yard waste near the street where they can wash into drains. Put them directly into your yard waste bin instead!
  • Use a rake to clear leaves from storm drains to keep them from getting clogged.
  • Watch for traffic when clearing drains. Work from the curb, not the street and make sure children who want to help are supervised.
  • Report clogged drains and flooding to SPU at 206-386-1800.

More information and resources here.

Tips for a Beautiful Backsplash

The Seattle Times recently published an article highlighting the ways that simpler, subtler backsplashes are becoming more and more popular. Here are some of their best tips, alongside a Mighty House spin.

From The Seattle Times:

  • It’s worth hunting for high quality ceramic or porcelain.
  • Choose a neutral color or coordinate it with your countertops – you won’t get tired of it and neither will buyers down the road.
  • Get creative with shape or arrangement instead of color, like choosing hexagonal tiles or laying them vertically instead of horizontally.
  • If you cook a lot, be sure to stay away from big grout lines and marble so you won’t have to waste time scrubbing them down.

Additional thoughts:

  • A backsplash is not always required in a kitchen – depending on how you cook and clean. It’s also a feature that’s easy to add on later!
  • Glass tile is another great option and it’s even better if you can find it as recycled material or salvaged!
  • Natural stone, such as marble, is a mined non-renewable resource, so we discourage using it whenever possible.
  • Stainless steel behind the stove is easy to clean and has a simple, minimalist look.

Check out more backsplash inspiration on our Mighty House Flickr page and read the full Seattle Times article here.

CoBuying as an Affordable Housing Solution

As housing prices in the Puget Sound Region continue to climb, folks are coming up with innovative ways to put homeownership within reach. CoBuying involves unmarried couples, friends or family members buying a home together and sharing a mortgage payment. And it’s on the rise! There are even services like GoCoBuy.com that will help you through the process. More here.

 

NASA: Viewing the Solar Eclipse Safely

Seattle will experience a 90% solar eclipse. Are you planning to view it? Be safe! Check out this guide from NASA on how to do so without damaging your eyes. And remember, that the eclipse is only safe to look at when the moon is totally blocking the sun or if you are wearing certified solar glasses. You can pick up a pair from your local library branch! More info here.

News in the Solar Industry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is it Sunset for Solar Incentives?

The solar industry has relied heavily on government rebates and incentive programs to put the costs of purchasing and installing a system within reach for many homeowners. However, federal incentives are set to start declining in 2019. Initially Washington State programs were scheduled to follow suit in 2020, but now many solar companies are breathing a sigh of relief that the state legislature recently passed a bill extending those incentives through the year 2030. Hopefully, this extension will allow customers and businesses to “wean off” the incentives instead of having to jump off a cliff just three years from now! Read more from The Seattle Times.

Solar Roof Tiles now Available from Tesla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tesla is no longer only in the business of electric cars. Their recently released solar roof tiles provide homeowners with the ability to create an all around carbon reduction in their home. While these solar tiles are expensive, the overall cost of a solar roof will likely be less because of the significant energy savings over the lifetime of your roof. Additionally, Tesla is offering a guarantee that they will replace /repair any tiles for lifetime of your home or infinity (whichever comes first). Taking these factors into account means that a solar roof can cost as little as $21 per square foot. Check out the Solar Calculator here.

Support Solar with your Checking Account

Did you know that you can promote solar energy in Washington with your debit card? Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union is now offering a Green Rewards Checking account, which is free to sign up for, earns cash rewards for you, and helps fund their socially responsible banking actions! This year, the credit union will be donating to Puget Sound Solar. More info here.

Advocating for Living Wage Green Jobs & Internships

Though last week’s announcement that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement left many of us feeling hopeless it can also serve as a reminder of our ability to innovate and create a sustainable future on a local & national level despite federal policy. This summer, we are highlighting environmental work in our community that puts people and equity at the center. And there’s no better place to start than with Got Green, a grassroots community nonprofit based in South Seattle, that is working for climate, economic, and racial justice.

An impassioned group of young people at Got Green, known as the Young Leaders in the Green Movement have been successfully waging a campaign to increase the number of dignified, living wage green jobs for young people of color in Seattle. In fact, last fall they saw a huge win when the Seattle City Council passed the Green Pathways Resolution that will kickstart the effort by creating a definition of “Green Jobs” for our city that includes both environmental impact and social equity! Stay updated here.

 

Summer Home Maintenance

Summer is just around the corner! To keep your home in tip top shape, here are a few tasks to make time for this season:
  • Prep for cooling season by cleaning ceiling fans and filters in air conditioning units
  • Install blinds (interior or exterior) to reduce the need for cooling systems
  • Stop the majority of summer dirt from entering your home with both an interior and exterior walk-off mat
  • Check for rot and any mold/mildew or pests in your basement, deck, and attic
  • Save money and energy by installing an outdoor clothesline and hang-drying your sheets, towels, and clothes in the sun
  • Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working properly
  • If you didn’t get to washing your windows during the spring, now’s your chance
  • Have your roof and gutters cleaned
  • Plan and implement a summer schedule for landscaping and watering your lawn and plants
  • Clean and test (or consider professional service!) for the following: your range hood, bath fans, sump pump, wood stove, sprinkler system

Creative Corner: Solutions for Older Homes

Sustainability is often about creativity and working with what you’ve got. This is especially the case when remodeling older homes, many of which were not built with modern kitchen design or location in mind.

At this home in Leschi, the existing kitchen windows were lower than standard counter height. Our solution was to create a window-well behind the sink. This allowed the windows to stay in place, while also reducing cost, minimizing landfill waste and preserving the home’s old world charm.

See more photos of our kitchen remodel projects here.