Thursday, January 2, 2014

How we upgraded our home. (Part 1)

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.  

*Part 2 of this article will be published on January 7th

How we went about the changes and upgrades to our home. 
(Part 1)

Based on previous properties that we had upgraded over the years we had a good idea how and where to begin with the 1978 home we purchased on October 15, 2010.

While this was a well built home, structurally sound, very few upgrades had been done and it was a rental for a while as well. So it definitely needed work.

The first thing we did when preparing for the move was to look for boxes from local businesses that we could reuse. While we do keep a lot of packaging materials from things we receive, we knew we were going to need a lot more for the 3-hour drive to the new community, so we picked up some extra packaging material from the local newspaper, which often had roll ends of clean paper left over from the printing machines. We also reused our towels and cloths and even some of our clothing and blankets to cushion breakable items. And upon moving into the new home, we flattened and stored the boxes for future use or recycling, and kept the wadded paper packaging for recycling or campfire use.

As we brought the moving boxes in, we put a stack of paper in a thin binder and started a running list of things that needed repairing, or upgrading. The second thing we did was to create a temporary area in the yard for a small compost pile making a circle loop out of some of the garden wire fencing we brought with us as temporary containment walls. This way we weren’t wasting any organics during the settling in period.

Luckily our region was having rebates from the government, from utility companies and some manufacturers were having rebates as well – and while we could claim any upgrades and receive all three rebates, there was a deadline involved. Part of the criteria for obtaining the government rebates was that we had to have an eco-energy audit done on the house prior to making any upgrades. So we made the appointment and the fella came in and checked everything and I mean everything. He gave us a package listing the most important things to do right away and things we could do later. He had to come back after the most important things were done to do another evaluation and sign off on the package… enabling us to claim the government rebates.

The first thing we did was make arrangements for a company to come in and replace all the windows. Then we purchased and installed new insulated metal doors with dead locks and secondary locks (which insurance people love to see). The next thing we had to do was make arrangements for someone to install a new furnace and on demand hot water system. So while the workmen were doing their thing – Dave and I went about installing new light switches and outlet sockets, along with insulation and plastic plug in stoppers (to reduce drafts). That done we looked for manufacture rebates on select models of appliances and gradually upgraded all but one – the kitchen stove.

Then we added insulation in the attic, improved the attic door entrance seal and installed proper venting up there. We then went around the exterior of the home and put caulking around the window and door casings.

That first summer our big project was finishing the basement – ½ the basement was still in stud wall mode so we put in proper insulation, drywall, paint, floorings… and a drop down ceiling made of insulated tiles that hung on a metal crosshatch frame from the beams. We also put in a 2–piece basement bathroom, including a utility sink and dual flush toilet.

We hired some help to create a parking area on one end of the sloping yard which required a retaining wall – and the crew dug up a lot of native soil and replaced it with drainage material. So we had them put that soil on the other side of the yard in a huge 14’ wide 6’ tall pile. Later on that summer we were also able to build a stain wood fence surrounding the property, with cedar posts buried 2 feet in the ground and cemented in.   
Just before snow fell we finished constructing the first 2 bins in our 3-bin compost system so that we could start building soil for the garden. That winter we went around the home and replaced all the interior and exterior lighting with CFL’s, except for one room in the basement that has tiny halogen light bulbs on a track system

So that is what we did from Oct 15 2010 to Oct 15 2011

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1 comment:

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