Adventures and Advice in Home Remodeling

February 13, 2009

A few years ago, my husband and I embarked upon our first real renovating adventure.  Married just over a year, we had just moved, my husband had begun a new job, our first child was a few months old, and we had just bought a condo that had been poorly cared for and was in desperate need of cosmetic remodeling.

New paint, cleaning, patching up the drywall holes…that was the easy part of our journey.  All of the flooring needed to be replaced, (other than the ceramic tile in the entry), and the kitchen cabinets were waterdamaged and in need of repair or replacement.

We decided to use hardwood throughout the main floor, and carpet  in the lower level and loft above.  At the time we knew nothing about finishes, let alone green choices, but we had a cousin’s father in the flooring business.  After visiting a few other local flooring shops, we chose to use our family connection and ordered the carpet and wood flooring.  (Oh that we’d known about cork and FLOR carpeting)!

Meanwhile, after doing some local research on cabinetry, we decided that replacement was definitely out of our budget.  A family friend and interior designer, Kris, from Pinto Pony Designs, recommended a local painter who does cabinetry painting in several styles, including our desired, antique style.  Soon, the doors to our cabinets were off to her garage.  (Once again, knowing about VOCs in paint would have been Read more

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Are Your Cabinets Eco-friendly? Or, do they contain formaldehyde?

October 1, 2008

Living ‘green’ definitely has it’s benefits. Not only is it good for our environment and health, but purchasing certain products will actually avoid carcinogens found in chemicals. Most cabinets these days are made of particle board that is full of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

Sure, it seems that these days, there are carcinogens everywhere, so why are formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) so harmful? Unfortunately, kitchen cabinets are the main source of formaldehyde emissions in the home. This of course is alarming to me because the kitchen is the room my kiddos and I spend the majority of our day. One problem with formaldehyde is that it can actually make you more sensitive to other chemicals. To ensure avoiding this sensitizer when remodeling your home and kitchen, make sure and install eco-friendly cabinets.

When searching for ‘green’ cabinets, ask questions about:

  • glues – make sure they are VOC free and water based
  • veneers, plywood and laminates – are they held together with formaldehyde?
  • toxic finishes – look for water based or natural finishes (those that use natural oil and wax such as linseed oil and beeswax).
  • paint – look for water based and low to no VOC
  • particle board/plywood substitutes – such as Purebond and Medite

Make sure that you understand and feel comfortable about your Read more

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How do you finance or lease solar panels and electricity for your home?

September 15, 2008

Considering solar power for your home during your residential remodel?  Financing solar panels is the big hurdle for most us.  Fortunately, the financing options for solar panels is becoming more obtainable.

Whether you are looking at solar panel suppliers and installers such as SolarCity, SunPower, and others, you now have options.  For example, SolarCity offers a leasing program that is targeted at delivering you solar power at a monthly payment less than your exiting monthy electicity/power bill.  With leasing options such as this, any repairs are typically covered, and at the end of the lease you can upgrade, purchase or return.

This timely LA Times article offers additional details and several homeowner examples of how solar panel lease and financing options have helped residents afford solar power for their homes: Solar Power Hits Home

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