Real Estate

Finding paradise on Picardy: Award-winning green remodel

Posted June 15, 2013
Updated July 15, 2013

By Jeff Wiblitzhouser, president of Paradise Found Construction
For New Homes & Ideas, Jodi Sauerbier, Publisher

New Homes & Ideas

Mary Sue and Oscar 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 longtime 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 Dark wood paneling and solid doors separating the front of the house from the back presented a dark and outdated environment.

Green certified remodel

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 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 home’s 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.

Green certified remodel

“Healthiness” of Green Certified Homes

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.

Competitive Advantage in the Real Estate Market

These types of Green Certified Remodels represent significant value and advantage in the marketplace over similar homes in their area. 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.

Quality Assurance of Green Certified Homes – Verification to a Defined Standard

Many claims are made in the marketplace regarding the “Green” nature of 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 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.

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