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22: Buying and Selling an Energy-Efficient Home in Visual Studio .NET
22: Buying and Selling an Energy-Efficient Home
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If you think power rates are going to go through the roof in the future, an efficient home is worth more Keep in mind that past records are fine and dandy, but it s the future that counts Energy-efficient homes not only cost you less in energy bills, but they will also see less increase when rates go up When you buy into energy efficiency, you re insuring your future against severe cost jolts This is worth something, although it s very hard to enumerate Determine how much it s worth to you to mitigate pollution See 5 for a method of enumerating this rather intangible issue The bottom line is that we re all going to be paying to accomplish this laudable goal Call your homeowner s insurance agent and ask about solar equipment and how it might affect your insurance rates and terms If the equipment has not been inspected and permitted by the local building department, bring this up Ask about any odd construction techniques, like rammed earth Some insurance companies won t insure this kind of dwelling because state law mandates them to build an identical house in the event of a claim It may be impossible to get an identical house if the one you re looking at is an oddball (geodesic domes, watch out!) As you would with any house, think about how long you anticipate living there If you re going to be staying for a long time, you don t need to worry about selling a home, only about buying it If you re going to be living in the area for a short time, you should be as concerned about selling as you are about buying Maybe the most important question to ask yourself is whether you would buy this house if it were exactly the same structure, but without any efficiency equipment How much you would pay for it then How much you re willing to pay comes down to how much you want the house That s the bottom line Your realtor is going to have to help you come up with a competitive offer, which is far beyond the scope of this book
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Buying an Existing Home to Upgrade
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There are good reasons for buying an existing conventional home and installing energy-efficiency equipment yourself, as opposed to buying a completed efficient home: You have a lot more options In some areas, efficient homes are a real rarity and you may not even be able to find one that s for sale Your equipment will be brand new with a full warranty Because homeowners rarely install expensive equipment right before they sell, the
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Part IV: Considering Efficiency When You Buy, Build, or Sell a Home
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equipment on existing efficient homes is usually older, which can mean more maintenance and less efficiency New equipment is always better than old because technology is always improving Plus, your improvements may qualify for subsidies or tax incentives; see 4 for details If you re a do-it-yourselfer, you can install equipment for much less than a professional contractor That means the value you place on some types of efficiency equipment will be less than what a seller is probably going to demand for a completed home You will know the equipment better, and you won t have to trust a seller s claims of performance Keep in mind, though, that you may be able to get a guarantee of performance when you buy an efficient home When you do the installs yourself, there are no guarantees of any kind, or at the very least, they are hazy You can install equipment as the need arises, timing your efficiency improvements in ways that most benefit you This is especially important if you finance the purchase of your home with a first mortgage, which won t include your equipment improvements This means you ll have to find another way to pay for your upgrades Doing them a little at a time is one option Another is getting an equity loan, but ultimately this will cost you more (in monthly payments) than simply buying a completed energy-efficient home and wrapping all the extra value into one first mortgage You may be able to demand that some improvements be done before you buy an existing home Perhaps you can get a seller to install some solar or other energy-efficiency equipment as a condition of sale If a water heater is shot, perhaps you can demand a solar water heating system be put in its place, for example If you re going to buy an existing conventional home and install your own efficiency equipment, you need to carefully and accurately evaluate its suitability Here s a checklist: Read 21 on designing and building an efficient home from scratch When you re looking at a prospective home, compare its features with the ideals expressed in 21 Make a list of all the efficiency investments that will work in your new home; then estimate the costs for doing each project, based on the construction and layout of the house This is relatively easy for active solar energy, like PV and hot water, and for installing things like fireplaces and stoves, where you can get a good idea of the cost by simply talking to a local retailer But it s going to be tougher for passive features, those built right into the home s design, such as skylights and
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