Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nifty Cost-to-Build Calculator for 30 Bucks

Yeah, so I still am trying to stay current even though our project is on hold. I came across this really neat cost-to-build calculator for $29.95 that may be very useful to you guys. Here's the link:

It seems easy to use, and great for when you're in planning mode if you know some details of your house. It seems you can buy a stock plan and input your criteria in there and it will do an approximate cost to build of the house.

If you try this out, please comment on here to see if it's worth anyone's while. I have yet to play around with it, since I have done my own spreadsheet, but might like to see what number it generates since mine was pretty high.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

EPA Fugitive List?!? And other things... like India and our house budget updated

So... not only do we have to worry about terrorists, but also eco-fugitives??? I saw this on the news and was extremely surprised at the audacity of some people:

It's unbelievable how people can consciously, nevermind unconsciously, destroy the planet!

Anyway, I haven't posted in awhile and wanted to put something interesting on here since our project is ON HOLD. You know, it is actually turning out to work better this way, since I found out recently that both my husband and I may have a 1-2 year job assignment in India! This is another blessing in disguise since we will have the ability to save more cash if we live there for a bit. And since we didn't start the house yet, it makes us more mobile, which will work to our advantage. Everything is turning out well, so I am actually pretty happy.

Also, I have been getting a couple inquiries on our house budget. Since I no longer am in the bidding process, I am posting the budget to help anyone. Now, keep in mind that in Austin, we have different style homes that may be more expensive to build (like we use a lot of stucco and stone compared to siding and brick). Our job market can affect the cost of subs as well, as we have cheap labor from Mexico, as well as the construction industry is still apparently doing well. Also, there are some trades/subcontractors' bids that are more expensive and special to SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels used for walls and roof), for example the electrical wiring and framing bids. Hope it will be useful and write me if you have questions!

Good luck to you and your projects! You all have been lovely and supportive people, so keep in touch - we'll be building our dream home soon enough when the stars align and things are feeling right... and by the way, have a Merry Christmas and Great New Year!!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

News on the house...

I have to inform you that after many attempts with brokers and banks, we were unable to get financing on our house :-(. The reasons cited:

- need more cash reserves/savings, even though a lot of it was used toward design, fees, etc.
- too high of a budget (which can be reduced, but we still need point 1 above to work first)
- the economy, the state of the mortgage industry is making EVERYONE 10 times stricter than normal! Even people with $40,000 in the bank are not getting approved because of hella-strict guidelines (at least that's what my banker told me, or maybe she was trying to make me feel better???). Oh well.... :-I

Actually, I don't feel as bad as I thought because we think maybe the timing is just not right for us. I am dealing with health issues right now and so I need to heal. Maybe it's just not in the cards right now to start this stressful project and deal with huge house payments when the situation is not ideal.

BUT... I am optimistic that we WILL start this house, but it's going to be later rather than sooner, I promise! For the next 6 months we're going to be frugal and cheap - no more eating out excessively or we'll have to find a way to hit a jackpot! We're going to SAVE SAVE SAVE. I will let you know when that time comes.

Please feel free to come back to our blog and check it out! Thanks guys for all your support, but it's not over yet!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Want to always stay updated on the oil crisis?

I suggest you visit this website for tons of shocking information about our oil dependencies, our global impact and what's being done in the industry:

Silence & A New Solar School in Austin

Silence is not golden in our case. Sorry it's been too long since the last post! Let me tell you, it's been one LONG ride to the financing finish line, but it will come, I promise. We are working on getting it, it's just taking much longer because of the current economic climate. I'm confident we'll get the money soon. Pray or meditate for us that it will happen sooner rather than later!

Anyway, I wanted to let you know about this Solar Design Workshop class we found at this non-profit company that wants to promote solar solutions and new technologies by way of education. This organization is newly formed in Austin and offering an off-grid course including lunch for $40 this Saturday! We are definitely going to go. Here's the link to learn more:

This is a part theory/part hands-on course that will allow us to design, build, and install a photovoltaic(PV) system. We will have an exciting opportunity to build a 500+ watt off-grid trailer complete with solar panels, wind generator, inverter, charge controller, and battery bank. This would be a valuable lesson for us, because we need to save money on our expensive dream green home. Every dollar will help, because PV systems are definitely not cheap.

I will report what we've learned. Also, I'm thinking of starting a green e-book series that will address various topics and will be available SOON!

Friday, June 20, 2008

We're coming back, promise! See ya at the Austin Cool House tour?

Yes, it has been too long, but things are finally coming together. So, you should hopefully be hearing back soon!!!

Also, I wanted to post the Austin Cool House tour brochure, because there are a lot of COOL (figuratively speaking too!)& green modern houses on this tour. It will be Sunday, June 22nd from 12 noon to 6 pm. You can download it here.

Hope to see some of you there.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Budget & appraisal being updated, and bathroom dreaming...

Sorry, I've decided to update my budget so I took it offline and edited out this post.

I'll just leave you with dreamy photos of our beautiful, contemporary Japanese soaking tub that's made of stainless steel. You can get these luxurious tubs at Diamond Spas.

Imagine meditating in one these after 8 hours of work!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Our green home brochure...

Now available, a brochure giving you details and background on how we came to build green! Feel free to download the Sjödin Residence Brochure in PDF format.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Property rights gone wild....

I had to post these hilarious pics of signage we saw while driving around the Garden Oaks area of Houston. This disturbed "patriot" (see flags in background) posted these signs ALL OVER his front yard and let his neighbors and passerby's know EXACTLY what he will not put up with.

No, I'm not joking with you... these signs are FOR REAL. And, the real kicker is this sign below (see graphic if you don't understand what "defecate" means... heeheehee)

What I really loved are the complementary graphics that accompanied the text. Like people need a visual... hahaha. And this was just a sampling! We didn't have time to snap photos of his other colorful signs posted like every 4 feet....
"Smile at the Camera: God is Watching You"
"Do not throw condoms, needles or other trash on property"

I would have loved to talked to the owner to find the background of how he came to put up these signs, but was afraid I'd be shot if I stepped a toe over his property line. :-)

Where's Myleen (and other goodies: LEED-H certification for homes, SIPs weekend, LED lights)

I know I've been silent for some time, but for good reason. I am just waiting patiently for the money to hit the bank so we can get this party started! My champagne bottles are still chilling, and I'm waiting for the big day when we can sign our construction loan.

I had such a great weekend in Houston. First, the weather was unusually and pleasantly cool and dry, which is a rare treat in April. We were outside enjoying the weather in Kemah and staring at some sail boats that Jan wants to eventually get. My poor baby doesn't want much, but a boat is his goal. He's been perusing boat ads for weeks now. :-)

Then we saw Ted, who gave us some great information for getting your home LEED-H certified. If you go to this link, you can download an Excel spreadsheet to tabulate the number of points of your home to determine your certification level. You can go certified, gold, silver and platinum. Guess what we figured? Platinum!!! Woohoo! Although, I'm not sure I did it completely right. Anyway, this is thanks to high efficiency appliances, xeriscaping, geothermal, rainwater collection and site stewardship. I didn't realize that it doesn't cost all that much to get rated. Here's a chart:

We also went out to see Ted's other client's SIP home (Theresa). I have pictures for you to see of her house frame, which we'll post later with more details. She's compiling a list of "What Not to Do for a SIP Home" that I'm going to be following with great interest. It will be of tremendous help because we will be about 2 months behind them and so we can learn from their little hiccups, but it's going relatively smoothly so far! There are a few things to watch out for, because SIPs are so precise, you have to take extra care of how you lay it up and put it in. Check out her blog, as she has put in videos of her framing.

Also, we talked a lot about lighting and Jan wants to use white light LEDs on all the track lighting, and compact flourescents in the recess cans. Why LED? Because they are so much more energy efficient and don't get very hot like halogens. They have come out with SUPERLEDs that are even brighter than halogens! There are now dimmer switches for the LEDs that are relatively new on the market. Now all the above is super expensive unless you build your own, which of course, Jan wants to do. He is the self proclaimed do-it-yourselfer... he can't stand paying for something that he can do better, so we'll have a lot of his inventions around the house :-).

Besides all the above, we have a lot of business and marketing ideas brewing in our heads that will help promote SIPs, our green home and green building in general! I am working on getting our spec sheet, home article and ads out to home tours, building green mags, and other outlets. Stay tuned, because I want to get more people to build this way! Mail me if you want to learn more (free information).

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pictures of the complete casa, garage & rainwater tank storage facility

Yay, Jan finished the house, garage, rainwater tank storage area & retaining walls, so here they are!

And for those of you needing more technical detail or need some ideas on how we will do our garage, gabions, and rainwater collection system, check out these graphics:

Monday, March 17, 2008

A more detailed video on SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels)

They will answer questions like

Why they will save you 50% in energy bills...
Why they are superior in strength...
Why they are highly insulative...
Why they are earth friendly...
Why they are easy to build...
Why any framer can learn SIPs...

Check out this longer video