Green Remodeler Goes Behind the Drywall to Connect with Customers

Mary Butler

The selling points of green-remodeled homes are sometimes hard to get other people excited about--and sell. You can't see superior insulation and, honestly, new windows and doors look like new windows and doors regardless of their R-values.

So how do you compete against the neat old house for sale down the block that sports all the conventional (and not-so-green) high-end finishes that people love?

Rethinking the Green Remodel

An Ann Arbor, Mich. company started "Behind the Drywall" tours of unfinished remodels to demonstrate its sustainable-building practices and connect with home owners thinking about a green remodel.

"The end goal is to get customers, but also to educate them along the way," Doug Selby, president and CEO of Meadowlark Builders told Builder Online. Meadlowlark builds new homes, as well as four to eight large-scale remodels each year, and the firm seeks to build to LEED, GreenBuilt Michigan or EnergyStar standards and achieve third-party ratings.

Now in its third year, the Behind the Drywall tours are held three times annually and cost the remodeler about $1,000 a tour, but Selby said the high level of interest from the general public, as well as industry professionals, make the tours well worth the investment.

Who's in the Market for a Green Remodel?

Tours, which draw about 160 to 240 people, are given before HVAC systems are operational to demonstrate how a tight building envelope and captured body heat can keep indoor temperatures comfortable throughout the seasons and result in dramatically lower heating and cooling bills, Selby told Builder Online.

On a typical tour, Selby said, he sees a wide range of people in the market for a remodel, from couples in their 30s to to curious engineers. Over the year, Selby said he's seen plenty of the same faces on the tours. People come back as they become more serious about their remodels, which help build name recognition and good word of mouth for the builder.

Selby estimated people are willing to pay a 10 percent to 15 percent premium for a LEED platinum-certified green home.

Saving Money: Green Remodel's Strong Selling Point

A 2008 NAHB report showed that he's not alone: Builders surveyed said 74 percent of buyers would pay more for a green home. A 2008 survey of home buyers by McGraw-Hill Construction showed one-third were willing to pay a $20,000 premium for a green home.

And when it comes to selling points, saving money might just be the most convincing of all.

Sources
Monica Stern-Morales • Construction Tours Promote Green Building • Jul 21, 2009 • http://www.prosalesmagazine.comhttp://www.prosalesmagazine.com/industry-news.asp?sectionID=1942&articleID=1022294 • Builder Online,
Behind the Drywall tour touts 'green' building • Aug 20, 2009 • http://www.milannews.comhttp://www.milannews.com/stories/082009/loc_20090820014.shtml • Milan (Mich.) News

About the Author
Mary Butler is a Boulder, Colorado based writer and editor, who spends much of her free time remodeling an old house.


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