Want to Make Green Renovations to Your Chicago Home? Keep These 3 Things In Mind

“Green” is more than a buzzword. In today’s real estate market, buyers, sellers, and homeowners are thinking about sustainability and green design choices more than ever before. 

If you’re among the countless Chicago homeowners or sellers who have made the decision to transform your home to be more environmentally friendly, it’s important to consider everything that comes next. You’re ready to make your home more green - now, it’s time to nail down the concrete steps you can take to move your property in the right direction. 

You may choose to focus on smaller fixes inside and outside of the house, or strive for the larger-scale green renovations that can dramatically minimize the carbon footprint of your home. Either way, you’re making big strides to bring your property into the future, which could help lower your bills, make your home more livable, and also make a dramatic difference when it’s time to sell. 

Indeed, recent research has highlighted the incredible power of green renovations when it comes to helping maximize the appeal and value of real estate listings. According to Energy Save, for instance, one study done by a Department of Energy-affiliated research lab found that installing solar panels can add an average of $20,000 to a home’s resale value. That’s just one financially smart and eco-friendly renovation idea that you could add to your green renovation strategy - there are countless other projects, large and small, that can also make a difference. 

For instance? As our friends at Baird & Warner have noted, more than half of consumers in a recent survey ranked green features and energy efficiency as “top requirements” for their next homes. A 2016 research study out of Washington, D.C. also found that properties with sustainable updates may just sell faster, and at higher prices, than comparable homes without environmentally friendly touches.

So, what should you keep in mind as you start the journey of making green renovations and updates to your Chicago property? Here are four key things to consider: 

1.) Seeking Out the Right Help

Whether you’re looking for guidance on small home upgrades, or you’re ready to perform a green overhaul on your Chicago home, it’s important to work with the right team. 

While you might have a trusted contractor or architect who has helped you in past renovations or remodels, it’s important you find professionals with extensive experience in green design and building. That could mean going back to a trusted pro, or it could mean looking for a new partner, who is trained, knowledgeable, and certified in all things sustainable. 

For instance? You may consider working with a team that follows Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines, a certification handled by the U.S. Green Building Council. In general, for a building to become LEED certified, it will need to follow the processes of “Green Building,” which is “the practice of designing, constructing and operating buildings to maximize occupant health and productivity, use fewer resources, reduce waste and negative environmental impacts, and decrease life cycle costs,” according to the U.S Green Building Council

Looking for help finding a green design or construction firm? You may want to start by consulting with an experienced local real estate broker in your market. In addition to their keen insights into  the real estate market, a locally focused real estate agent has a network of contacts, which could help you narrow down your search.  It’s also a smart idea to seek out homes nearby that have already gone green. Consulting with friends, family, or neighbors can provide inspiration and help you gain referrals for trusted experts, who may be the right fit to help your environmentally oriented renovations or remodel come to life. 

2.) Working Your Way From Small to Large 

Once you’ve found a team of helpful and eco-conscious experts, you’ll need to decide what parts of your home you want to adapt to be more sustainable. There are no right or wrong answers here! Finding the right strategy is ultimately going to come down to your unique circumstances - your budget, your goals, and your preferences. 

If you’re looking for insights, one powerful step may be to consult with an experienced real estate broker in your area. A real estate professional can help offer a perspective on the market trends for your area, and offer personal experience, research, and data as you consider the projects that might be the most helpful or lucrative down the line. 

Whether you’re upgrading your home to sell or to enjoy for yourself, one idea may be to start small. In other words, you may want to try to first focus on smaller green features, experimenting with minor updates before moving on to extensive and expensive “big ticket” projects.

There are all sorts of projects to consider, including updating your kitchen or bath with energy-efficient appliances, installing an on-demand water heater, adding programmable smart lighting and thermostat systems, or switching to low-flow faucets and showerheads.  You may also consider making some cosmetic updates. For instance, you could look into updating your wall paints, flooring, and varnishes to have low or no VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), which can contribute to unwanted indoor air pollution within your home. Similarly, even making minor repairs to your plumbing, windows, and insulation, among other spots, can all dramatically improve your home’s energy efficiency. 

3.) Which Big Fixes Should You Prioritize?

Looking to make a major impact on your home’s environmental footprint? After making small updates and fixes - such as making the switch to eco-friendly household appliances, servicing your plumbing systems, or performing a few other small but mighty changes - it’s time to consider your goals, evaluate your budget, and consult with a real estate professional, to see if you’re ready and able to take the next step, and pursue more major green renovations. 

There are no shortage of projects to consider, working closely with designers, contractors, real estate brokers, and other members of your personal “green team.” 

As an example? One common “big ticket” project is to focus on your roof, especially if it’s in need of a few repairs. One of the most eco-friendly options is adding solar panels to your rooftop. Not only will you help the environment by lowering your carbon footprint, but you’ll also save on energy costs. However, covering your roof with solar panels can be a large commitment. If you’re looking for other green roofing, consider a metal roofing material, such as aluminum, which is recyclable! 

Beyond the roof, projects might include redoing your flooring to be more environmentally friendly, completely remodeling the kitchen, weatherizing your home, or refreshing your  landscaping elements. 

Just as importantly? While your renovations are in motion, consult with your green team about reusing existing materials, recycling products wherever possible, and focusing on making  local purchases. By focusing on reusing what you can and locally sourcing your fresh materials, including cabinetry, countertops, hardware, and more, you’ll reduce your carbon mileage and might be able to save money, to boot. 

Want to Talk All Things Chicagoland Real Estate With Local Market Experts? 

Are you ready to make eco-friendly changes and renovations to your home, but need a trusted referral? Curious about how helping your property “go green” could affect the sale of your home? Interested in learning more about ongoing housing market trends and conditions for your area? 

You should have real estate experts you trust on hand to offer guidance, insight, and assistance throughout your entire home selling or buying journey. That’s where Real Group RE comes in. Don’t hesitate to drop us a line to get the conversation started! 

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