by Jill Williams | Mar, 2023 | Article, Green Building, Living, Material Salvage + Reuse, Tips + Inspiration
3 Eco-friendly Essentials to Include in Your Upcoming Remodel
Focusing on the quality and purity of the air in your home.
This might not be top of mind for most homeowners, but any well-insulated building also needs excellent airflow. This ensures that moist, stale, and contaminated air moves out of the home and prevents the accumulation of mold and mildew. This is why a powerful air renewal system is highly desired in the sustainable design world. Many of our design partners consider air quality in their design work and have seen an uptick in demand lately – especially with the rise of summer wildfires over the past few years. Read more on breathing clean air and what can you do to minimize your chances of breathing viral particles and standing smoke.
Thermal insulation is an eco-friendly home essential.
Insulating your home will make your space more comfortable throughout the year as you will enjoy consistent indoor temperatures. In many cases. Intentional design that creates passive heating and cooling through the tactical placement of windows and shading is an environmentally conscious strategy for keeping temperatures comfortable. But it’s those intentional choices made during the construction process that helps turns the home into a self-contained, eco-friendly oasis.
Using salvaged materials.
Salvaged or reclaimed materials are building materials that have been recycled specifically for reuse. Sometimes it is merely reusing the materials already available in your home, but most are building materials that were carefully deconstructed from other homes or buildings for reuse and can greatly lighten your remodel’s carbon impact. Not only does the reuse of materials lessen the overall impact on the planet, but it also can lessen the impact on your wallet while also adding a unique character that is hard (and sometimes impossible) to replicate. Learn more about the benefits of using salvaged materials.
by Jill Williams | Nov, 2022 | Article, Design + Architecture, Green Building, Living, Tips + Inspiration
Backyard Cottage and DADUs
Maximize the assets you already own, like your home and your property.
The holidays are a perfect opportunity to re-evaluate the functionality and usefulness of your home. Entertaining friends, family, and pets for one-day celebrations as well as hosting guests for extended stays, really highlight what works, what doesn’t, and what the dream may be. Maybe it is a remodel to open up the kitchen to the living space – perfect or entertaining – or the need for extra space to accommodate extended family for longer periods of time – whichever, both are good to start discussing immediately if you are considering having it done in time for the 2023 holiday season!
ADUs grow out of a variety of design opportunities. When the additional living space is contained within (think basement, attic) or physically attached (like a converted attached garage or an addition) they are called ADU – or attached accessory dwelling unit. An ADU has the design advantage of feeling like just another part of your home if you want it to and has less of a cost impact due to the easy access to systems/utilities and building no or less exterior walls.
Sometimes, however, it makes sense to have the additional space detached – which is often referred to as a backyard cottage or detached accessory dwelling unit (DADU). More costly than an ADU, but with other advantages (like sound, and privacy for just two) that have additional opportunities for increased value as well.
In today’s crazy world, maximizing your existing assets — like your home and property – is not only smart but sometimes the “easiest” solution for maximum return.
If you find lack of space is your biggest obstacle, many people consider finishing out a basement or adding square footage to the existing home. Neither are an inexpensive endeavor when done right, so we often encourage families to consider diving deeper and maximizing the effort by expanding scope into an Additional Dwelling Unit (ADU). Yes, it costs more and there is often equal to not more value added to your home immediately – not many investments can boast that kind of return!
A few reasons why ADUs pencil out:
Perfect Guest Space
While most of us love having friends and family at our house, things can get a little uncomfortable, especially if you don’t have extra space to begin with. A backyard cottage makes for the perfect guest house friends and family will love!
Ideal for Family Members
These structures make for the perfect in-law suite or multi-generational housing options. Whether you have an aging-in-place family member or your young adult just graduated from college, an ADU allows independence while saving money and being close by to provide support.
Income Generating Rental Opportunities
Have you ever considered investing in rental properties? If so, an ADU is a smart choice! You can rent it out for short periods or fill it with a full-time tenant. Because these units have their own entrance, bedroom, and bathroom, they make for the perfect vacation destination or long-term rental.
Increase Your Property Value
Another benefit of building an ADU is that it will increase your property value. With rental housing costs and the lack of available units, ADUs are becoming more and more popular and are in high demand. Having one on your property will give your home a competitive edge when it comes time to sell.
Sustainable Housing Solutions
The new generation of homeowners and renters are much more concerned with their ecological footprint than ever before. Accessory dwelling units are low-impact housing solutions that tend to use far fewer harmful resources compared to building traditional homes. Because they are small in size, they also require less energy to light, heat, and cool. And utilizing space on an existing housing property rather than breaking new ground is always the more environmentally-friendly approach!
This holiday season, consider giving yourself the gift of more or more flexible space, and consider the real estate investment opportunity “right in your own backyard.” Reach out to us today to help you get started on that path!
Check out our photo gallery page to view a few of our recent backyard cottage, DADU, and ADU projects.
by Jill Williams | Oct, 2022 | Green Building, Living, Tips + Inspiration, Uncategorized
Shorter days and cooler nights are here. You may have already broken out the sweaters and pumpkin-spice lattes, which means it is time to prep your home for the Fall season. Get started by taking inventory and creating an eco-friendly fall maintenance checklist.
- Inspect your roof. Be sure to replace missing, worn, loose, or mildewed shingles.
- Prepare your fireplace for the cool weather. Have your chimney thoroughly cleaned and inspected by a professional each year.
- Secure doors and windows. Reduce air leaks by weather stripping or caulking the doors and windows of your home.
- Schedule an HVAC system checkup. These checkups will normally include a carbon monoxide test and will examine the heat output of your unit.
- Clean gutters and debris. Clear leaves, twigs, and other items around the exterior of your home and in your gutters before the bulk of the leaves start to fall.
- Test your smoke detectors. Smoke detectors can last up to 10 years, while carbon monoxide detectors last about six.
- Fertilize your lawn. Apply fertilizer to your grass in the fall to prevent winter damage. You can also use compost you’ve made yourself from the yard and kitchen scraps.
- Weatherproof your outdoor furniture. You can protect your furniture by placing it under a covered patio or underneath a sturdy waterproof cover to ensure it looks just as good as it did when you first bought it.
- Choose a clean electricity plan. You’ll be doing the planet a favor by choosing to power your home with 100% clean energy.
by Jill Williams | Sep, 2022 | Green Building, Living, Tips + Inspiration, Uncategorized
Eco-friendly advantages to retrofitting rather than building new.
We are thrilled to see more people seeking ways to reduce the environmental impact of their lives and homes. From buying/using less plastics to slowing down fast fashion, eating more local foods, and even driving a hybrid or electric car. But what about when it comes to making significant changes to your home?
Green building trends are becoming much more desirable these days. Techniques and super efficient and healthy products are super accessible. Yet, the number of builders intentionally integrating these solutions is still alarmingly low. (We’re happy to be amongst the small community authentically striving to build better!)
With so many new building techniques for high-efficiency homes and with the cost of retrofitting – we often get asked if it is “better” to build all new or keep as much as we can and retrofit/remodel?
In most cases, retrofitting a home already in existence is greener, more sustainable, more efficient, and overall less impactful on the environment and carbon outputs than building something new. New construction has been blamed for over 30% of all global emissions – from extracting new materials to transporting them and disposing of the old materials (which also involves lots of transportation). Renovating your current home eliminates the sourcing and use of new materials and allows you to incorporate some of the same modern, eco-friendly/carbon-impacting technologies that can lead your home towards the inspirational, new Net-Zero and Passive House homes being built.
We are huge advocates for looking at the whole system of your home and establishing a master plan for what is appropriate to tackle at what stages. Often times that is also means taking a look at not just system upgrades but how you anticipate shifting the interior or exterior spaces of your home over time as also a discussion point to when to do some of the system upgrades.
to set up a consulting appointment and start envisioning your future sustainable and carbon-friendly home.
by Jill Williams | May, 2022 | Green Building, Living, Tips + Inspiration, Uncategorized
We regard lighting to be a crucial component of any sustainable building, which includes everything from the health of the inhabitants that live in it to the amount of energy it consumes.
While energy-efficient lighting is a simple and effective alternative for your home and your carbon footprint, it is important to consider the cheapest and most renewable source of healthy light, the sun. The challenge is to find ways to utilize the sun’s light inside your home throughout the day.
An intentionally well-designed new build or remodel can produce ample amounts of natural light. Well-placed windows, skylights, doors, (and one of our favorites) Solatubes allow in the sun’s light, even in your home’s darker spaces. Letting in natural light will lower your energy bills and contribute to happier and healthier lives.
If installing new windows, skylights, or Solatubes is not in your budget; there are cheaper alternatives that can help maximize light throughout your home. Choosing light-colored paints, shiny flooring like linoleum, and reflective materials for your walls and ceiling can create a lot of fluid light that will brighten up even the darkest of rooms.
Learn more about different lighting solutions in recent Mighty House projects, including this video from the 2021 NW Green Home Tour, showcasing Solatubes and the reasons for specific placement. Please reach out to us and let us know how we can help adapt your home to allow in the most natural light possible for a healthy, eco-friendly, and happy home.
by Jill Williams | Oct, 2021 | Article, Design + Architecture, Green Building, Tips + Inspiration
Integrating a safe and eco-friendly fireplace into your design.
If you watch HGTV regularly or constantly browsing Pintrest, you will undoubtedly see the trend of adding fireplaces (sometimes in the most unique places) into the design of new builds and remodels. Who doesn’t love the idea of a cozy warm fireplace in their home? Although we recognize that most of the appeal is in the ambience itself, to keep our commitment to provide sustainable innovative solutions, we usually try to steer our clients away from installing wood-burning units.
In general there are no true eco-friendly fireplaces that burn wood or gas. Even though some companies manufacture high-efficiency, wood-burning fireplaces (those that feature a firebox separated from the interior of the home by a sheet of ceramic, heat resistant glass), if they are not maintained regularly and specifically, they lose their efficiency and their particulate rates begin to climb.
If the ultimate goal is to create a cozy fireplace ambiance, we recommend an electric or white (light) gas option. Along with the help of Entero Design
, we installed this beautiful white gas fireplace into the design of a recent remodel in Bellevue (see photo above). This particular fireplace is from ecosmartfire.com, that offers a premium range of ethanol fireplaces and electric fires that comes in many colors, styles and finishes to perfectly accompany the look and feel of your home.
to see more living spaces we have completed over the years and let us know
if we can help you integrate a safe and eco-friendly fireplace into your upcoming design.
If you already have an existing fireplace in your home that you use regularly, especially for heat, here a few tips on eco-friendly ways to use your wood burning fireplace:
- Always burn seasoned firewood. Using dry firewood greatly reduces the particulate matter that is released into the indoor and outdoor environment.
- Burn hardwood trees. Hardwoods burn hotter, longer, and cleaner than softwoods.
- Avoid a smoldering fire. A smoldering fire yields a lot of smoke and releases hazardous particulate matter into the indoor and outdoor air.
- Keep your chimney clean and in good working condition.