Home Buying Guide Part 2

In the previous article we discussed not settling when purchasing your home and how you should start with a list of your must haves in a house. We discussed the first three essential items you should include on your list. Here are some more ideas to include in your list when you are shopping for your new home.

How many Bathrooms?

I cannot tell you the number of houses I have seen on the market that are four bedroom, one bathroom. When we purchased our house, there was a house on the same street also for sale with the same floor plan, but it only had one bathroom and our house has two. I thought at the time the second bathroom wasn’t necessary but now that we have kids, it is a must and I am so thankful the five of us don’t all have to share one bathroom. Is there a master bathroom? Some older homes don’t have this feature. After having three kids I have realized how important it is to have a master bath. So be sure to not settle for a house with just one bathroom unless you have the money and the house has a floor plan that would allow you to put an extra bath in. You may also want to get a professional sewer inspector to conduct a review of your sewer lines. The worst thing is buying a house that does not have good sewer lines. The professional should be able to tell you if you are in need of trenchless pipe repair or a sewer line replacement.

Is there a Separate Laundry Room?

I have lived in several houses where the laundry room is in the garage and now that I have children, my wife consistently complains about it. You might not have kids now and think a laundry room is not a big deal, but poll the moms you know and you will get a different answer.

Is there a Family Room?

Our house only has one living space and no entry way so all the activities take place in that one room and the fire place takes up a large amount of the space. So with three kids running around, it is crazy most of the time and not as inviting for guests. If you can get a house that has some type of rec room or family room besides the living room than you will have more room to not only live everyday life more comfortably but host guests as well.

Is there a Garage?

Is a garage important to you? We had some friends move states and they settled on a house that didn’t have a garage because they needed a place to move into before their boys started the school year. They lived to regret purchasing a house without a garage. They bought a shed to house their lawn mower and other outside tools and parked there cars outside the house, but they always wished they had a garage. We bought a house with a garage but the washer in dryer is housed in our garage so there is no room to park our cars.

This list, while fairly comprehensive is not exhaustive, so create your own list and use this as a starting place. We know there are many different factors and values that people have in their living space. You may wish to work with a realtor. Consider your family culture and traditions and how the new home may help enhance your family life. If the home seems to be a good fit then maybe it is time to make a move and purchase the home. Good luck and happy hunting!

Home Buying Guide Part 1

Buying a house for the first time can be both an exciting and a scary venture. It’s difficult to know what to even look for in a house. There are extra factors to consider as well, such as your current living situation. Sometimes first time home buyers are living in a difficult situation and the pressure to move into a better space is real. It is critical that you do not settle in your home buying purchase or sell home fast before you are ready to move into your new home.

So how do you avoid settling and spending your hard earned money on a house that you don’t love. Make a list of the absolutes that are really important to you and refer to them when you are looking for your home that meets all your criteria. List everything you cannot live without so that you can be satisfied with your new home. Here are some ideas on what should be on your list.

Price of the House

In thinking about your price point for buying your home you just consider more than just the amount you can borrow. Make sure you do your homework and know how much your mortgage is going to be including property tax. So many first time buyers think because the bank will let them borrow a certain amount that they can afford the house. This is not the case. You need to know ahead of time how much the mortgage will be and then look at your budget after all your fixed and variable costs and make sure that you are not buying a home that is going to make you house poor.

Location, Location, Location

You might think you know exactly where you want to live but be open minded. Spend some time driving through different neighborhoods and talking to the people that live there. Do you fit into the neighborhood? Is it close to the freeway, grocery store, schools, the gym, etc? What are the schools like? When we moved into our neighborhood, we loved the convenient location because it was close to everything. However, what we didn’t think about were the schools. We since realized that we like the elementary school in our neighborhood but would rather send our kids to middle school somewhere else. Also there are not many families in our neighborhood and our kids are the only young children on the block so they don’t have any friends close by to play with. These are all things to consider about the location.

How many Bedrooms

When we bought our first house we didn’t have any children and my wife was pregnant so we thought three bedrooms would be plenty. We thought we would move into our second house before we out grew the first one but the market changed and we were forced to stay in a house that is too small. So when you list how many bedrooms, you need to think about the future and how many kids you have or plan to have. Think about guest rooms. Do your in-laws visit frequently? Do you want to have a room for them or would you rather them stay somewhere else? Think about an office space. So make sure to think about all these things before you consider how many rooms you really need.

These items make up a small sample of the factors you should consider when it comes to buying a new home for yourself and family. We at Living Green have a few more items for you to consider but we will get to those in our next article. Stay tuned.

Types of Foundations

When you are looking to buy a home, the first thing you should determine is the type of foundation. The foundation is the first part of the home constructed and sets the groundwork for the remainder of the home. This is the most important part of the house and a properly designed foundation bears the weight of the entire house while protecting it from the climate, moisture, ground movement, etc. There are a few main types of foundations used by builders depending on factors such as the budget, location, soil, type of house and climate. The main types used are Slab, Crawlspace, and Basement.


This is the least expensive type of foundation and one of the easiest to build. Slab on grade foundations consist of a concrete pad poured directly on the ground. These foundations typically work well in warmer climates that do not experience freezing and thawing that can lead to the concrete cracking. The water supply and drainage pipes are encased in the concrete so if there is a problem the concrete may have to be broken in order to find a solution. However, not all slab foundations are grade on slab built on concrete directly on the ground. Some homes may be built on elevated slabs.


This type of foundation elevates the house as opposed to a slab foundation that are usually build right on the ground. However crawlspaces can create moisture which leads to mold issues because they are typically vented from the outside.


The Full Basement Foundation is the most expensive type, is the deepest of the three foundations and adds a whole floor to your house. Basements are generally at least six feet in height giving you extra living space. A full basement contains the same amount of floor space as the other levels and can be conditioned by HVAC ducts or unconditioned. The pros are the added space and the opportunity to finish the basement and use it for recreation or as a rental. However, many basements have flooding issues and if unfinished can be quite dark and dreary.

Regardless of the type of foundation you should insulate in order to conserve energy and do your part in helping the environment and living green. Insulating the foundation contributes to energy conservation for the entire home. Home foundations can be insulated from the outside or inside. There are also many other types of basement foundation repair that can be used to make your foundation more green such as building forms from plywood and aluminum and reusing forms if able. It is important to research all the conditions before deciding on a foundation if you are building. If you are buying it is important to understand the type of foundation and the materials used in the home you are purchasing and how you can make your home as green as possible.

How Affordable is Alternative Energy?

With all of the recent developments in green technology you have to wonder if the Solar Panelsalternative energy sources that are on the market are available at a reasonable rate. Most consumers will support green technology because of its positive impact on the environment and lowering of monthly expenses, however these alternative energy sources can be costly to operate and install. Here are a few of the most popular sources and what you need to know for your home:

Solar Panels

The most popular type of alternative energy on the market today is solar panels. When they first hit the market they were so costly that it was too expensive to get them installed on your home. However, the technology has become cheaper to produce which has made it easier for people to install on their own residence. Solar panels are placed towards the sun, which in turns absorbs the sun’s rays called photons. These photons are captured by the solar panel called a photovoltaic (or PV) panel. This PV panel then converts the stored energy from the sun into usable energy through the panel architecture. These panels are usually clustered together into grids so they can collect the maximum amount of energy possible. The average cost can be anywhere from $15,000 to $29,000 depending on how many panels you wish to install, and what type of weather you have at your home.

Geo-Thermal Heat

Another popular and slightly more affordable solution is fitting your home for geo-thermal heat. This process involves tapping into the earth’s temperature just below the frost line where the earth is consistently an even 50 degrees. Imagine if it is freezing out, but your home already has a baseline of 50 degrees, it is a lot easier for your home to get warm with a strong and consistent foundation. The same is also true for locations that are hot. If your home starts out with a consistent temperature of 50 degrees you will not have to move much air around to make your home comfortable and cool. There are typically tax credits and incentives for doing a program like this. A typical install of a geo-thermal unit could run anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 and depending on the tax credits and incentives you find it could be much less. Furthermore, you will receive immediate monthly savings by switching away from your existing heating and cooling system.

Water Collection Tanks

This is the most affordable method of alternative energy on this list. The method is where all of your gutters on your home funnel into a lager above ground tank. This system collects rain water from nature and allows you to save it for future use. You can have the tank heated and it can provide you with hot water for your home, or you can use it for your lawn irrigation. This is way to capture the water that nature provides without having it wash away. You will be able to access this water at your convenience when you need it. These tanks can range from $1,000 to $3,000 with installation raising the price some depending on the type of tank you purchase.

In closing, there are several options of alternative and clean energies that a home owner can consider installing in their personal residence. These options can have a pretty high price for installation but the monthly maintenance cost is reasonable and often times lower than what you were paying for already. While the cost will deter some home owners, others will proceed with this type of purchase because of the monthly bottom line and the positive effect it will have on the environment. If you are considering one of these options contact a local professional that can help make the best decision for your home and budget.


Photo Credit – www.digitalistmag.com

How to Keep the Home Buying Process Green

Green Energy HouseWith so many people showing an increased passion to live green it makes sense to consider how to proceed with the home buying process in a green fashion. Many people these days are looking to incorporate their passion for the environment by showing it in all aspects of their life. There are a few factors to consider when it comes to buying a home to make sure it is a green process.

Buy Used

Consider buying an older home or an existing home rather than a new construction because buying a used home is the best form of recycling. Many people will want the largest and newest home available on the market and while that is a fine pursuit, purchasing a home that was already built ensures that the goods and products that were used to build that home in the first place will not be wasted by being re-purposed as your new home.

Buy Small

Another important factor in buying a new home is finding the right sized home for your family. Often times, people will go for the home that is really big and has the most square feet. While some families truly need that size home many can get by with a smaller home. In fact, there is a growing movement for people to reduce their possessions and space they need to live in smaller spaces. This lifestyle is about not being wasteful of space, energy and possession. It appears to help people focus on what is truly important in their life. While families that are larger may not be able to pull this off. It is important to think that having the right size home can help you maintain a green lifestyle because you will not be able to consume as much due to the smaller space you have.

Buy Re-purposed

Another way to incorporate green life style is by planning to decorate and adorn the new home with used items that have been refinished and given new life. This can give your new home a model and clean feel like brand new furniture and decorations would but will give you peace of mind knowing that you were able to put something to use in your home that would have otherwise been put in the garbage heap.

Buy Clean

An additional way to include green living in your home buying plans is the think about how the new home could accommodate clean energy technology. You could plot out where you could place a solar panel or where you could install a water collection system to help with irrigating your yard. While some of these technologies can be expensive, it is important to consider how it could be included in your home so that you can make your passion for green living more of a reality.

In conclusion, there are many ways to make the home buying process both practical and green. If preserving the environment is important to your lifestyle and close to your values then think about how to make your next home purchase a green one as you consider where to buy and what size home to move into. Additionally be thinking about how to decorate the home with green furniture and how you might include clean energy sources.

Photo Credit – www.home-designing.com

How Can you Make your Home More Energy Effiecient

If you decide to move forward on a new home purchase you may find that the home Green Home Improvementsof your dreams is no longer the efficient home it once was. While it may have the desired layout that you wanted and has the space that you need it may be drafty and too cold at night. It certainly is discouraging that your new home is not as comfortable as you need it to be. There are however, many steps that you can take to help improve its overall efficiency.


One of the most important aspects of having a solid home is having a solid foundation. While there are many types of foundations to support your home, you should consider having a professional perform an inspection because they may find different types of basement foundation repairs that need to be done to ensure the home is safe. By sealing the foundation from the outside, you can prevent water from entering the home and causing damage to the home. Additionally, if there are cracks in the foundation a professional can repair those areas so the home would not be compromised if an earthquake occurred.


Purchasing new double pane windows for your home can really improve the curb appeal, and they also help improve the quality of your temperature control of you home. They can keep the extra hot air out of the house during the summer months, and during the winter they can keep the warm air inside instead of disappearing thus increasing your heat bill.


There are many types of heating available on the market today. From gas inserts, fire places, to baseboard heating and furnaces. No matter your source of heat you should make it a point to have a professional conduct some service work each and every year so that they work properly and perform at optimal levels. If your heating unit is under performing, you will have increased energy costs.


In older homes you may run into issues with water pipes that have been worn down over time. Many older homes have galvanized pipes that can acquire build up over time. This build up causes your water pressure to be reduced and makes it harder to get the hot or cold water you need throughout the house. Consider repiping the home to improve the quality of water and water pressure.


Another way to improve the quality of the home is to install the right type of insulation in the home. Insulation can be applied all throughout the home all of which would lead to a more comfortable living environment. There are three main locations to place insulation in a home. You can place it under the floor in the basement or sub-level. You can also make sure your exterior walls have been insulated to prevent heat from leaving the home on the sides of the home. Lastly, you can make sure there is insulation in the attic level of the home making sure the air stays in the home.

There are numerous other ideas to improve your home efficiency. While some of them may not make sense for your home and your budget, some of the items from this list could really help the quality of life that you could enjoy in your new home. Having your dream home is the most important step in feeling comfortable at home, but an additional step is taking the steps to ensure that your home is comfortable for the many years that you live there.

Photo Credit – blog.newhomesource.com

How to Clean the Green Way

Keeping a house clean can be a daunting task with all the responsibilities of work Green Cleaningand family. Most of us understand the implications of chemicals on our health and the environment but when it comes to cleaning our house especially our bathrooms, natural household items are most effective and readily available. It is easy to roam the cleaning isle at the local grocery store and pick out a product that will do the job, but what we need to know is that there are other natural inexpensive products that can do the job just as well or better.

There are basically three products you can use to clean your entire house. These are baking soda, lemon, and vinegar. With these three natural household items you can easily clean your house, save money on cleaning supplies and help the environment at the same time. You can use lemon juice mixed with water to clean the windows and mirrors in your house and straight lemon juice can also be used to clean vinyl couches, tile floors or tarnished brass and copper pieces.

When it comes to natural cleaning vinegar is the magic word. You can clean most everything in your house simply with a spray bottle of a half vinegar, half water solution. You can use this on the surfaces in your bathroom and kitchen. For clogged drains first put half a cup of baking soda then half a cup of vinegar and rinse with boiling water. Repeat if you need to and your drain will be clog free. For persistent smells you can place a bowl of vinegar in the room overnight to remove the odor.

Many of us have dealt with pesky fruit flies that are both annoying and difficult to remove. To rid your house of these flies place a plastic cup with apple cider vinegar and some dish soap in your kitchen or other areas of your house. The fruit flies are attracted to the vinegar and the dish soap traps them in the cup.

These are just a few of the ways you can use natural cleaning products to keep your house free of toxic chemicals that are detrimental to your health and the environment. These methods are easy and convenient. You can use vinegar, baking soda, and lemon to replace all the numerous specialty products such as stain remover, toilet cleaner, bathroom scum spray, counter top cleaner, oven cleaner etc. Instead of buying all these toxic products, you can now clean most of your house with just vinegar and use baking soda and lemon as needed. These methods ensure your household to be happier and healthier.

Photo Credit – www.organicfacts.net