Sunday, January 12, 2014

How to upgrades a home (Part 3, final installment)

In response to a lot of questions we've received, I thought I would write a series of articles (3) to answer your interest in how to go about greening a home and yard. We have been on this property for 3 years as of Oct 15, 2013. So I thought the best way to go about sharing what we did was to describe the order we did things in, one year at a time.  I hope this article series helps you in your own journey of greening your home and yard.

*Part 1 of this article was  published on January 2nd; Part 2 was  published on January 7th... today is the final installment of this series.

Year 3: Oct 15, 2012 – Oct. 15, 2013

Before winter came in, we closed in the front of the garage with an insulated wall and insulated automatic door. The other walls of the garage are covered only with corrugated plastic roof materials – however, we intend to cover them properly with siding to match the rest of the exterior and insulate them properly next year.

This last year we focused mainly on getting the 3 garden beds planted, maintaining and harvesting from them, and processing the produce. Throughout the year we built 3 more garden beds, filled with good soil as described in the previous article in this 3-part series. We also installed soaker hoses for all of the raised garden beds.

We also did several yard improvement projects including filling in low spots in the yard using some of the dirt from the shrinking pile, proper drainage in some wet spots of the lawn, reseeded the lawn and pulled weeds from the lawn.

During the summer season we put in proper steps, making them wide and strong to last a lifetime. We put in a rock wall garden between the steps and the driveway, using large rocks that were already on the property along with a few others that we scrounged up. We had that area completed and filled with good drainage rock topped with lots of excellent, nutrient rich soil by late fall – just in time for the clearance sales at the local nurseries. So we went shopping and purchased a diverse array of 6-8 perennials that will dress up the entrance, and provide nectar for other living creatures throughout the year.

We had to hire help again however this fall/early winter season to have the deck rebuilt and extended. The old “tea” deck was starting to rot and we knew it was better to have it done now before the problem got worse. Because the old deck was pretty much useless being so narrow, we had them extend one side of it and put a roof on – so now we can have the table and chairs out year round.

…which pretty much closed out our 3rd year here, and now we are at the start of the 4th year in this home. It has been a lot of work, and at times expensive even though we did much of the work ourselves… it is worth it in the end. For one thing, we saw electric and gas bills go from nearly $200 a month down to $60 or less. We were able to improve the value of our home, the sell-ability of the home, the curb appeal and comfort of the home. And we are now able to produce $1000 worth of produce from the garden annually.

What about this year, our 4th year here?

This next year (or two) we have a lot of other projects in mind… we have a few small projects to do in the interior of the house such as replacing some ceiling light covers, and replace the halogen track lighting in that room downstairs with something more energy efficient. We’ve also decided to replace any burned out CFL bulbs with LED’s but that will be a while yet as CFL’s last quite a while. Dave suggested that when that happens to make sure the LED bulbs are in the rooms and areas we use most – so we’ll switch the bulbs around the house if necessary. In the summer, as I mentioned earlier we’ll be replacing some of the siding on the house, repairs and side the garage walls properly and do a lot of caulking and painting out there. We hope to be able to insulate the garage walls and cover them with drywall. The garden shed needs a new floor/base and we hope to build 2 or possibly 3 more garden and landscape beds. We intend to replace the other ceiling fan in the living room when they go on sale in February this year. If time allows we’ll get started on some kind of organization of the storage areas and hopefully some interior painting as well… but time will only tell on that. There’s always next year.

So as you can see we didn’t do all of this at once and we aren’t done yet. I’d love to tear out the old carpet and do some work in the kitchen taking out a small wall that doesn’t need to be there to create an island, etc. I’d love to replace the kitchen flooring as well and would love to get an updated range/oven for the kitchen… resurface the driveway, put in landscaping, a pond and many other projects - but they are not a priority at the moment.

The trick is to find what is most important to you, what the return on investment will be for you in the long run, which projects improve the value of your home the most and whether you can make use of any rebates that are available before their deadline runs out and the rebate is no longer available. So sometimes you have to do some juggling as to what gets done first, what is a priority, and what fits your budget at that time. 

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