Eco-novice's Advice and Rules for a Green Remodel

About a year ago, my husband and I purchased a home that needed some remodeling. I'm no green building expert. I'm just an eco-novice who needed to make some renovations to a home. But I'll share with you what I learned during my crash course in eco-remodeling. If I could give you one piece of advice, should you need to make renovations, it would be to hire a green contractor. Make sure you get a good one of course and still ask a whole lot of questions, but by doing this one thing you will probably save yourself countless hours of research and a lot of anguish and even the regret that comes with 20-20 hindsight.

I, however, couldn't afford a contractor, much less a green contractor for most of our renovations. The next best thing to using a green contractor, I believe, is to find a green building supply store, and then pick the employees' brains (and buy lots of materials from them too). Late in the game I found an incredibly helpful person at a green buildings supply store near me when I was shopping for paint. How I wish I had met her sooner (and had purchased more things from her)! During our renovations process, I also found information by searching the web and checking out books about green building from the library.

So here's my Green Remodel Advice
  1. Hire a green contractor.
  2. If you can't do that, find a green buildings supply store near you. Ask them all your green building questions and buy lots of materials from them.
  3. Check out books about green building from the library and search the web to help you make decision and choose materials.

I also developed some Green Remodel Rules for myself, that went something like this:
  1. Keep anything functional unless it's toxic. 
  2. Use quality materials that are built to last. 
  3. Use the greenest materials you can afford.
  4. Invest in energy efficiency, which will most likely pay for itself soon enough.
  5. Do as much renovating as possible before you move into your home to limit your family's exposure to toxic substances.

The vinyl floor is gone, but the pink tub and pink and gray tile live on!

Also keep in mind that everything will cost twice as much and take twice as long as you think, as anyone who has remodeled can tell you. This isn't because people give you incorrect or deceptive quotes. It's because when it comes to remodeling, one thing always leads to another. Performing renovation A reveals that B and C also need to be done, and so on. It's good to keep this in mind going in so that you aren't living in a constant state of shock.

And there you have it! My first Green Remodel post.

P.S. In case you didn't figure it out from the above, when it comes to remodeling, we are not DIYers.


  1. I love "keep anything functional unless it's toxic"! I dislike it in home reno shows when they rip out a whole kitchen because the cabinets are outdated, they don't like the countertops and the appliances aren't stainless steel. Often the homes look like move-in quality and yet they don't like them. First world problems!

    I agree with investing in energy efficiency. We had to replace our aging furnace when we moved 3 years ago and I'm glad we went with a more energy efficient, albeit more expensive, option.

    By the way, I LOVE the pink tile in your bathroom! It looks so inviting.

    1. Trust me, it looks better in the photo than in real life. The pink/ gray tile is the original 60s tile and rather dated, but we're willing to live with it. Our workers often told me about fixing up a home (with cheap materials and labor) to sell it and then being hired months later to tear out the very same kitchen/ bathroom they'd installed b/c the new owner was remodeling. Madness! I was glad the sellers didn't fix anything up on the cheap but mostly left as is and let us decide what to do. I've lived in some rentals that were cheaply renovated with shoddy workmanship and they are the worst.


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