The unexpected email came in around noon on a Friday.
“Hey! I'm Mary Sue’s daughter and I wanted to thank you for doing such a beautiful job remodeling my parents’ home! I truly love everything that you did to transform this wonderful home for the young couple that will bring new life to it. Best of luck and success with your future endeavors. Mary Sue K.”
Mary Sue’s Parents, Mary Sue and Oscar M., built their new brick ranch home on a quiet cul-de-sac on Picardy Place in the Oak Park subdivision in Raleigh in 1963, and moved in January of 1964. After their two children grew up and left home, they lived there together until Oscar’s passing in 1995. Mary Sue continued to live in the home until her health declined and she moved to an Assisted Living facility in early 2012. Her Power of Attorney (POA) and long-time family friend was tasked with selling her home as quickly as possible in order to return the funds to her estate to provide for her continuing long-term care.
The home still had the original electrical and plumbing fixtures, cabinets, flooring, and door hardware; and was largely un-insulated. Dark wood paneling and solid doors separating the front of the house from the back presented a dark and outdated environment.
Based on the sluggish Real Estate market conditions and a professional assessment of the property, her POA concluded that in its current condition the home would sit on the market for many months and that he would eventually be forced to take a fire-sale offer. He asked Cary NC Builder Jeff Wiblitzhouser, President of Paradise Found Construction, to take on the task of completely renovating the house, which included gutting and redesigning both Baths and the Kitchen, and reconfiguring walls to create a brighter and more open and inviting atmosphere. He teamed up with Interior Designer Kathy Gariboldi of Raleigh’s reInvented Spaces to help with amenity and color selections and went to work.
Wiblitzhouser understood the market value of not only updating the home to reflect current interior design trends, but also of taking the necessary steps to significantly increase the homes energy and water usage efficiency while these updates were being done. He convinced Mary Sue’s POA to make a modest investment in air-sealing measures and adding additional insulation, and install EPA Energy Star Qualified electrical fixtures and appliances, EPA Water Sense rated toilets and plumbing fixtures, and CFL lighting at little to no extra cost.
He called in Durham’s Southern Energy Management to conduct performance testing and validate the efficiency improvements in energy and water, as well as the air-sealing and indoor air quality improvements and other improvements necessary for the Home to be Certified Green under the International Code Council (ICC) 700-2008 National Green Building Standard™ developed in partnership with the National Association of Homebuilders Association (NAHB) and approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
Additional Green features of the home included refinishing the existing hardwood floors with a no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) clear coat finish, installing durable next generation porcelain tile, and using no VOC carpet and paints to create a healthy and light-filled living environment. The spectacular granite countertops featured in the kitchen and bathrooms served as the design palette used to create a wonderfully harmonious balance of muted tones throughout the home.
As a result of the updates and Green Certification, the home was sold to a young family within 3 days of construction completion.
Wiblitzhouser is passionate about Green Building, and the importance of Green Certified Remodels and New Homes to not only the Nation, but also to Local Communities.
“Finding Paradise on Picardy” is a typical example of smaller single-family homes that were built in abundance during the Economic Expansion following the end of WW II. These homes represent a significant percentage of dwellings in many communities, and are often in neighborhoods that are in desirable locations in the community, have larger lot sizes, and established traffic patterns.
At the time they were constructed, many of the building science techniques and products relating to energy and water efficiency, the minimization of air intrusion and leakage were largely unavailable or unknown. The harmful effects of chemical off-gassing of common home construction material, furniture, and cleaning chemicals were also unknown or misunderstood.
The price of energy and fresh water resources were also comparatively less expensive than they are today. These older homes inherently have significant energy and water usage inefficiencies built into them. But they can be easily renovated to remove the inefficiencies with a relatively modest investment in insulation, water usage, air sealing, and energy efficient heating and cooling equipment, light fixtures and appliances; all of which add up to huge cost savings.
As the scarcity and price of our natural resources continues to rise, it becomes increasingly critical to our National Security and our ability to maintain control over our destiny that we continue to make measurable progress toward independence from foreign sources of energy. A collective movement toward increasing the energy and water efficiencies in these older homes will contribute significantly toward achieving these vital National goals.
Rather than demolish structurally sound and functional older homes to make way for larger homes with larger carbon foot-prints, renovating them to reflect current design trends and amenities that today’s buyers want, and at the same time increasing their energy and water efficiency and indoor air quality to reduce the overall cost of ownership make these homes attractive to home buyers. It provides an opportunity to bring younger families into these older neighborhoods, giving them new life, and at the same time raising community property values.
The reduced energy and water usage of a Green Certified Home translates into real dollar savings each and every year of the home’s operation. Reduced maintenance costs obtained through the use of more durable building materials and superior building science practices also serves to reduce total Cost of Ownership of your home.
These cost savings translate into positive dollar savings every year, and contribute to paying back any initial investment costs in resource efficiency upgrades. Once the initial investment is paid back, any savings going forward (adjusted for inflation) provide a positive cash flow and return on your investment!
By lowering the total cost of ownership of these homes, they become even more affordable and attractive. This becomes particularly important for older members of the community who may depend on a fixed-income in their later years of life.
As an added benefit of the renovation process, all outdated but still usable products and building materials are easily removed and re-cycled through Community based Non-Profit Business’s such as Habitat For Humanity.
Energy and water savings enjoy a higher rate of return over traditional financial investment instruments. This is because the real rate of return of, say, a Bond or Certificate of Deposit (CD) has to be adjusted downward for inflation over the term of investment. Therefore, a CD that paying a 5% return over 3 years has to be reduced by the affect of each year’s inflation rate, resulting in a return of less than 5%.
Conversely, let’s take a corresponding investment in a more efficient Heating/Cooling unit that reduces your energy consumption and therefore your energy costs, and results in that same 5% return on your investment. But, energy costs will continue to rise every year at a higher rate than the overall inflation rate, let’s say 8%. Now, as a result of your wise investment, you are earning an additional 3% yearly on your investment.
The health and comfort of a home’s occupants is a primary goal of a Green Certified Home. Measures are taken to eliminate air intrusion (drafts), properly control humidity levels, and eliminate hot/cold spots within the home.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) can be affected by gases (including carbon monoxide, radon, volatile organic compounds), particulates, microbial contaminants (mold, bacteria) or any mass or energy stressor that can induce adverse health conditions.
Eliminating the source of these contaminants is key, and controlling the humidity, moisture, and unfiltered air of a home is critical. Filtration and the use of ventilation to dilute contaminants are the primary methods for improving indoor air quality in most buildings. Providing fresh air ventilation that improves indoor air quality, as well as maintaining optimal humidity levels and eliminating the intrusion and duration of moisture are also paramount.
The “Finding Paradise on Picardy” Green Certified Remodel project was undertaken in order to quickly sell the home, and it accomplished this by being sold within days of being listed in Triangle Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
These types of Green Certified Remodels represent significant value and advantage in the marketplace over similar homes in their area, which is especially important in the current housing downturn. Many of these homes are located in desirable neighborhoods within their communities, and remodeling them to be Green Certified and offering modern amenities makes them attractive to buyers, helping to raise other property values within the neighborhood.
Green Certified Homes continue to demonstrate increased buyer interest, command higher new construction and resale values, and spend fewer days on the market compared to traditionally built structures. The Triangle has seen an increase in the sales penetration for Certified Homes every year, comprising over 35 percent of new construction in recent Quarterly statistics from the Triangle MLS. They spend much less time on the market, and can command a premium price.
These homes also offer additional unseen and under-appreciated value. They were built from lumber from slower-growth trees (denser and harder wood), and as such offer superior structural support compared to the same home built using lumber from today's faster-growing (softer and less-dense wood) trees.
Many claims are made in the marketplace regarding the “Green” nature or products and homes, the “Increased Energy or Water Efficiency” of products and homes, and the “Healthiness” or “Increased Air Quality”. But how do you know for sure these claims are measurable or adhere to a defined standard?
The National Green Building Standard (NGBS) is the preeminent residential green building rating system. It sets green baselines for all new residential construction, development, and remodeling projects. ANSI-approved and consensus-based, the NGBS provides a menu of green building practices for builders, remodelers, and land developers to plan their green projects. These building practices, when employed in construction and development, improve the living environment for residents and reduce the project’s environmental impacts.
The NGBS requires that a qualified, independent third-party inspect the project and verify that all green design or construction practices claimed by the builder toward green certification are incorporated correctly into the project. Most projects require at least two inspections. When you buy, remodel, or build a Green Certified Home that has been Certified using the NGBS, you can be assured that your home has been verified to conform to a defined set of Green Building Standards.
Paradise Found Construction’s Whole House Green Certified Remodel was the first-ever Green Certified Remodel to be entered into the Raleigh-Wake HBA's Remodelers annual Star Awards in 2012, where it was awarded a 2012 Star Award for the Best Green Certified Remodel. The Raleigh-Wake County HBA is currently the largest local Home Builders Association in the US.
President and Owner Jeff Wiblitzhouser also entered the project for consideration as the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) 2013 National Project of the Year for Green Certified Remodel. His project was selected to be the winner of the NAHB 2013 Nation Project of the Year, Green Certified Remodel. Wiblitzhouser was honored at an NAHB Green Awards Ceremony at the International Builder Show (IBS) on January 23rd 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The National and Local Award Winning Green Certified Home “Finding Paradise on Picardy” will be open to the Public to view and experience during the Green Home Builders of the Triangle’s Green Home Tour on the weekend of April 20-21. The address of the home is 5010 Picardy Place, Raleigh NC 27612.
• Beautiful granite counter tops in the Kitchen and Baths.
• Updated electrical and plumbing fixtures, door and bath hardware, and stainless appliances.
• Solid wood cabinets in the Kitchen and Baths.
• Light and bright natural hardwood flooring through-out.
• Next generation porcelain tile in the Kitchen and Baths.
• Natural travertine tile accents in the Kitchen.
• A bright and open floor plan achieved by introducing a French door in the Kitchen and enlarging the opening between the Family Room and the Hall.
• Completely redesigned and configured Master and Hall Baths to accommodate current building codes and enlarge the Master Bath and the Shower.
• Frameless shower glass enclosure and door in the Master Shower.
• Elimination of dark wood paneling in the Family Room and brightening the Laundry paneled walls with paint.
• Brightening of the fireplace brick masonry with a multi-step faux paint.
• Certified Green Remodeled Home by the National Association Home Builders (NAHB) Research Center in conformance with the ICC 700-2008 National Green Building Standard, Section 305.5.
• Verification of conformance to ICC 700-2008 by Southern Energy Management, Inc.
• Overall verified energy usage decreased by more than 20%.
• Overall verified water usage decreased by more than 50%.
• Old cabinets and vanities, electrical and plumbing fixtures, and doors and hardware removed donated to Habitat for Humanity ReStores.
• Metal deconstruction components recycled.
• Original hardwood flooring reclaimed and refinished.
• Window and door trim removed to facilitate spray foam air sealing and insulation.
• Preservation and re-installation of original wood trim, shelving, wainscoting, and doors.
• Floors penetrations and perimeter bottom plates caulked and air sealed.
• Attic penetrations and top plates air sealed.
• HVAC duct work, returns and plenums, supply boots, and furnace re-worked and air sealed.
• Floor insulation added and un-insulated voids in crawl eliminated.
• Attic insulation increased to R38.
• Attic pull-down stairs insulated and sealed.
• Fireplace chases air sealed in crawl and attic.
• External ventilation added to the Master and Hall Baths.
• No VOC paint used on all interior surfaces.
• No VOC Bono water-based clear finish applied to hardwood flooring.
• No VOC Green Certified Carpet installed in Family Room.
• EPA Energy Star Qualified electrical fixtures installed.
• EPA WaterSense rated plumbing fixtures installed.
• HVAC supply and return ducts cleaned and vacuumed.
Paradise Found Construction is a National and Local Award Winning Green Certified and Conventional Remodeler and New Home Builder in Cary North Carolina, and serving Western Wake County and The Triangle.
They specialize in New Homes, Kitchens, Baths, Additions, Renovations, and Remodeling and excel at integrating cost-effective, energy efficient, healthy, environmentally and socially responsible building materials and products, and the latest in Building Science techniques into Residential and Commercial Construction.
Paradise Found Construction was the recipient of the NAHB 2013 National Project of the Year for Green Certified Remodeling, and the winner of the 2012 STAR Award for Best Green Certified Renovation by the Wake County Home Builders Association.
For more information please call us at 919 830 7218 or email Jeff@ParadiseFoundConstruction.com.