adding value to home

Add Value to Your Home with Energy Efficient Upgrades

Energy efficiency upgrades can not only shrink your utility bill; they can also increase the value of your home.

Homebuyers are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of energy-efficient homes. In fact, they’re often willing to pay more for homes with “green” upgrades, says Sandra Adomatis, a specialist in green valuation with Adomatis Appraisal Service in Punta Gorda, Florida.

Just how much your home will increase in value depends on a number of factors, Adomatis says, like where you live, which upgrades you’ve made and how your home is marketed at sale time. The length of time to recoup the costs of green upgrades also depends on the energy costs in your area.

In 2014, upgraded homes in Los Angeles County saw a 6 percent increase in value, according to a study from Build It Green, a nonprofit based in Oakland, California, that works with home professionals. Upgraded homes in Washington, D.C., saw a 2 to 5 percent increase in 2015, according to a study Adomatis authored.

While upgrades like a brand new kitchen or a finished basement may give you more bang for your buck than energy-saving features, going green has its benefits.

Here are some common energy upgrades, from least expensive to most.

1. Insulation. A 2016 Cost vs. Value report from Remodeling magazine found that the average attic air-seal and fiberglass insulation job costs $1,268, with an added value to the home at resale within a year of completion of $1,482. That amounts to a 116 percent return on investment. And according to Energy Star, homeowners can save $200 a year in heating and cooling costs by making air sealing and insulation improvements

2. Appliances. Your appliances account for about 15 percent of your home’s energy consumption, the DOE says. Certified clothes dryers can save you $245 over the life of the machine, according to Energy Star. A certified dryer from General Electric can run from $649 to $1,399.

When upgrading, look at the kilowatt-hour usage of a new appliance and compare it to your current one — a good Energy Star rating doesn’t necessarily mean it will use less energy than your existing appliance, Adomatis says.

3. Heating and cooling systems. These systems account for about 43 percent of your energy bill, according to the DOE. Replacement costs for an entire HVAC system — heating, ventilation and air conditioning — vary widely depending on equipment brands and sizing but may run several thousand dollars. Energy Star estimates you can save 30% on cooling costs by replacing your central air conditioning unit if it’s more than 12 years old.

While addressing your home’s heating and cooling systems, bear in the mind that leaky duct systems can be the biggest wasters of energy in your home, according to Charley Cormany, executive director of Efficiency First California, a nonprofit trade organization that represents energy efficiency contractors. The cost of a professional duct test typically runs $325 to $350 in California, he says.

4. Windows. Replacing the windows in your home may cost $8,000 to $24,000, and could take decades to pay off, according to Consumer Reports. You can recoup some of that in resale value and energy savings. Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report found that installing 10 vinyl replacement windows, at a cost of $14,725, can add $10,794 in resale value. Energy Star estimates that certified windows, doors and skylights can reduce your energy bill by up to 15 percent. If you’ve already tightened the shell of your home, installing a set of new windows may not be worth the cost. But the upgrade may be worth considering if you live in a colder climate.

5. Solar panels. EnergySage, a company offering an online marketplace for purchasing and installing solar panels, says the average cost of a solar panel system is $12,500. The payoff time and the amount you’ll save will vary depending on where you live. Estimated savings over a 20-year period in Philadelphia, for example, amount to $17,985, while it’s more than twice that amount in Seattle: $39,452, according to EnergySage.

This article was written by November 7, 2016  for NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.


Setting and Managing Your Construction Project Budget in the Uncertain World of Construction Material Pricing

A recent customer emailed Mark with the following details and subsequent question:


Hey, the price is higher than what I expected.   I’m trying to do a rough calc to figure out where I think you would come in at. Tell me if I’m off with these guestimates.

Phase I – 200K (I’m trying to figure out the pricing. I would think demo would be 15K. Foundation would be 15K to 20K. Windows would be 20-25K. Am I off on these?)

Phase II
25K – Elec, 20K – Plumb, 25K –  HVAC (non GEO), 15K – Drywall, 25K – Kitchen, 25K – Baths, 10K – Flooring, 20K – Fake Stucco/Hardy etc.  Total Phase II – 360K

It’s just a guess but tell me how far off I am. If I’m close we are looking at $300/SF.  If it’s your house, what would you do to bring the cost down? Are there any obvious way’s to bring down the cost (ie kitchen vault/.windows)?  Is there a significantly cheaper way to do the roof?

Give me some feedback.



The Reply:


Hi Jeff,

When I first looked at your project, I thought 350k-400k simply based on my experience.  Cost per square foot is used by real estate people and has never been very useful in residential remodeling and is really quite unreliable. (remodeled kitchens and baths can easily top $500.00 per s.f. and many luxury baths are over $1,000.00 per s.f. and this is usually working within an existing envelope)

Your situation is not unique, I run into it all the time and I will give you the same advise I give everyone;  Establish a dollar value that you can realistically invest in your property and then work with someone that you can put your trust in to develop a project around that number and with the understanding that  you will make changes during the process that will generally add 10%-20% to your original budget. This is the only realistic approach.  Otherwise you will be talking about this project for months or even years to come while construction costs continue to rise.  Further, a project such as yours has to be for the long term and won’t produce a recovery of investment for many years to come.

Following is a short list at last check of the construction cost index for our area through May 2011:

Copper wire up 9.7%

Interior softwood plywood up 12.8%

Roofing asphalt up 14.8%

Mineral wool insulation up 12.2%

Plastic DWV pipe up 12.1%

All residential construction up 6.7%

Non-residential building construction up 8.4%

(Source: Builder’s Pulse e-Newsletter, published by Hanley Wood, July 2011)

These figures are real and regardless of any reduction in property values as of late.

Using the design/bid/build approach (which is where you are currently)  doesn’t take budget into consideration till later in the process and is quite costly to everyone involved, in many ways, especially in wasted time  and has caused more construction cost overruns  than can be enumerated. That is why more and more municipal projects are using the design/build delivery approach.

Yes, there are always ways to save money but you figure that out during the design phase. Your plans are not even close to being finished and the roof geometry and structure isn’t even addressed nor would it work as drawn.

Again, your situation isn’t uncommon. Ask the owner at the project in your neighborhood we are doing, especially about the roof plan that was designed by his Architect and put out to bid.   Fortunately, he is a structural engineer and could provide the changes in design to get his project built.

I look forward to discussing his further,


Mark T. Hendricks, CPBD, AIBD, AIA Assoc.

Rule4 Building Group