January 11th, 2017 by Darcy

Don’t underestimate or undervalue what can be done with minor and major renovations to the existing housing stock. Buying a home in a great neighborhood that may need some work may be the best investment and decision. It is certainly good for the planet.

Everything that has already been constructed or manufactured has what is called “embodied energy.” Embodied energy is the energy consumed by all of the processes associated with the production of a building, from the mining and processing of natural resources to manufacturing, transport and product delivery.

So don’t casually call in the bulldozer or buy a house with an unreasonable commute by overlooking a fixer upper.

There may also be more complex reasons to buy a fixer upper that involves permitting issues. Sometimes there are homes that have “existing non-conforming” structures. This means that the existing house can continue to exist but if torn down, a new house would need to strictly follow current building codes and practices.

We have one client that was able to retain a 3-story house by doing a major renovation. If they had taken the contractor’s advice and demolished the existing home and started from scratch, the current codes would have allowed only a 2-story home. They would have lost valuable square footage as well as their awesome view.

Work with your realtor to find you a fixer upper in your dream neighborhood. And ask Green Sand to evaluate what potential exists, this is a cost effective way to determine potential before dismissing a house that may not be pretty to look at. Take a second and third look at that worse house in the best neighborhood and visualize and see the potential.

If you are like most people and have trouble imagining what could be, ask Green Sand to sketch it up or do a 3D rendering to help you see the potential. This is money well spent to potentially avoid a long commute or to get into that perfect neighborhood. The project below is a wonderful example of looking past the current horrible condition to the potential that existed.


Rhonda Goyke
Green Sand Architecture + Sustainability

Email D’Arcy Kerrigan for more information about finding YOUR sustainable new home in Hawaii.

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