Green Building

I stained our concrete floor with fertilizer. On purpose.

Andrea and I think it looks awesome. It was also absurdly cheap and easy to do. So absurdly cheap and easy, it was harder to write this blog post than stain the floor. Okay, maybe that’s because I am actually not a fan of writing blog posts and uploading pictures, and I have more fun installing toilets than using a computer, but still… absurdly cheap and easy.

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Back at the end of September we had the drywall done. It was a radical transformation of the inside. It was also something of an experience to see all my labor at electrical and plumbing concealed for the next fifty years (hopefully).


The drywallers did an excellent job.

The best part: I didn’t have to do it! Doing this addition mostly DIY taught me a lot about the value of labor. I actually enjoy doing drywall, but it is a very time-consuming process for me and it was totally worth it to have a crew come in and hang everything in one day, then tape everything in one day, then spend a few hours texturing over two or three days. If I had done it, it would have taken weeks.

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Our bathroom addition isn’t going for any sort of “Green” certification, but I am trying to make it as “greenish” as possible. I’ve definitely had some Green Building Fails, like the foundation using seven cubic yards of concrete. That’s seven cubic yards of carbon into the atmosphere for a piddly bathroom, compliments of yours truly. I definitely could have done better!

But it vastly exceeds insulation requirements for our climate, is sited for passive solar, is built using durable materials and methods, specifies no mechanical heating or cooling, specifies energy-efficient or low-water-use appliances and fixtures, provides a permanent greywater reuse system, and it even calls for a rain barrel. Perhaps it will look cool enough that future owners won’t decide it’s ugly and tear it apart for remodeling.

Most of those green features really don’t add much to the cost of the addition. Some even qualify for rebates and tax credits. But sometimes trying to find stuff is a real pain (try asking a local lumberyard about Forest Stewarship Council-certified lumber). Trying to determine what really is environmentally responsible versus what is simply “greenwashed” is a challenge, too.

Given that, I think our addition should qualify for some kind of Green award after all. Maybe if I give my kids some markers and green construction paper they’ll make one for me. (They’ll have to learn how to spell first.)