Wednesday, October 28, 2009


This blog is dedicated to all who long for a green, healthy environment. We are building a green home on a budget and hope our experiences will be encouraging and inspiring to others. Here is how the story began...

Although it is sometimes more green to remodel an existing home, we had decided to build because we've accumulated a list of design requirements over the years that are not easily factored into existing floorplans. And, we were moving to the Austin, Texas area from California. Our main living area in California overlooked the San Francisco Bay, and we knew we would miss that terribly. So, we purchased two lots in Jonestown, Texas with great views of Lake Travis and the dream of building a custom home.

Fortunately, the culture of Austin fosters green thinking and we were able to find a number of architects that designed green homes. Unfortunately, when we interviewed several, we were told that we would need to increase our budget substantially to get the home and green features we wanted.

We moved from California to Texas in 2006 and continued to research our options. Since we are nearing retirement age, we really want to limit the cost of the home because it will be the basis for property tax assessment. We researched owner building, modular homes, earth-sheltered homes, kit homes, and more. All had advantages and disadvantages. The biggest challenge we faced was the steep slope of the lots and our desire for a custom floor plan.

Early in 2009 we saw a newly built green home for sale on Craigslist. It was unusually affordable. We inquired but it was under contract already. The agent suggested that we call the builder, Don Groody. What a surprise to find out that he lived only a short distance from our lots and on the same street!

Don does both design and build and has a wealth of experience building on the difficult lots around north side of the lake. What impressed us most was the fact that he didn't flinch when we mentioned our budget. When we enumerated our long wish list of green features, he stated that he'd been using some of these techniques for years because they just made sense. And, when I explained that we wanted to save money by really shopping around and getting bargains if we could beat the prices he could find, he was willing to work with it.

The happy ending to this opening chapter is that we've been working with Don on the design and it's almost final. In my next post, I will include the floorplan and elevations.

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