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If you know us in real life, you know that my husband and I are chronic renters. This is partially financial and partially because we are both commitment-phobic and terrible at any kind of maintenance or handywork. As we have discovered since living in this particular house for the past 9 months, we are no good at yard work either. Our poor neighbors, I know they must be embarrassed for our yard to be on their street!
At least in the last 5 years we have rented houses, rather than apartments, like we did when we were single and then when we were newly married. After living in rental houses for so long, I have realized there are far more things I want in a “real” house some day than are ever going to be available in a rental property.
I have composed a list of things I have learned from experience that we would need/want in a house. Many of these things would help the house run “cleaner” and “greener” but would also be convenient, or just plain common sense.
- Bathrooms larger than a closet. There’s nothing “green” about this one except that 4 ft by 4 ft is not big enough for a pregnant woman and her husband to share, especially when the door opens INWARD, taking up 75% of the floor space when it’s open. And I included the space that the sink and toilet take up in that measurement. In reality, there is only about 2 ft by 2 ft of floor space.
- Two sinks in master bath. Similar reason.
- There should be central heating/cooling in the bathrooms. Because when there is no heating or cooling in a bathroom, when it is 12 degrees outside, it is 20 degrees in the bathroom and when it is 110 degrees outside, it is 115 in the bathroom. The result is longer showers and more water used.
- I really, really want tankless water heaters like they have in Japan. The cost savings of these water heaters are debated but they definitely result in less water usage.
- Digital thermostat that can be automatically programmed to drop or raise the temperature at certain times of the day and on particular days. We had this at our last rental house and it was awesome. Again, very energy efficient.
- Insulation, of any kind, anywhere in the house. I don’t know why landlords skip this one (probably because they don’t pay the utilities) but none of the rentals we’ve lived in have any insulation at all. Ideally, I would choose a combination of a radiant barrier and eco-friendly insulation.
- Xeriscaping – because not only are we terrible at yardwork, but pouring hundreds of gallons of water into the ground every year is wasteful and expensive.
- Vent the gas stove into the attic rather than right back into the kitchen. Seriously, it’s a fire hazard to throw gas fumes right back into the kitchen. Not to mention, when it is 110 degrees outside we can’t even use the oven or the stove because the automatic fan kicks in and blows all the heat back into the middle of the room. Who decided this was OK??
- Laundry waste-water pipes should be inside an interior wall, not one that is on the outside of the house. Cause when it is below 20 degrees for 48 hours, there is no way to keep these pipes from freezing (since the are inside the wall and cannot be wrapped…and again, there is no insulation in this house) unless you run the washing machine 24/7 and that wastes huge amounts of water. So when the pipes do freeze from all that cold, the water can’t drain from your washing machine, which is filled with clothes the baby peed on… and you can’t wash your cloth diapers either.
- A garden area in the morning sun but shaded from the evening sun. In our first house, the only places we could plant things were either in the direct sun all day or in the full shade all day. If I bring plants in the house, the cats eat them. In this curent house, I could build a raised garden, but I have been pregnant since we moved here and unable to do that much manual labor. We really hope to be moving houses shortly after this baby is born. One day I want to grow my own herbs.
- Linen closet, kitchen cabinets, a coat closet, garage, closets larger than the back seat of a compact car. Basically – storage space. Rental houses don’t have it. We really do not have that much “stuff” but I’d like somewhere to keep what we do have. Like, say, our clothing and our towels.
- Open kitchen. I have been lucky enough to have one of these everywhere we’ve lived because it is a requirement for me. By having a kitchen that is open to the living areas, it’s easier and more sociable to cook meals. If I have to choose between cooking and hanging out with everyone else in the house or in the family, I would cook a lot less. Which is a lot less healthy!
That’s all I can think of right now but I’m sure there are more.
What attributes do you look for in a house?
2 thoughts on “My green home wish list”
B. and I are just like you and the hubby! I always thought that the reason we remain renters is because of money, but really, if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s partly because we just can’t stand the thought of being “stuck” in one place for what will probably seem like forever. I’ve never actually lived in a home my family owned (I grew up in a family of renters), so I guess that apple stayed glued to THAT tree. Even when I was single, I kept thinking, “Damn, I never want to own a home!”
Still, I’m with you. Now that I’m almost 40, married for several years and with two dogs I consider my “kids,” I’m done with renting. I’d love a house that I can finally call home and just settle. (Never thought I’d say that!) So we’re looking and will be saving up for that all-important down payment!
And yes, two sinks in the bath = happy marriage. Our one regret with this current apartment is that we favored it because of its attached garage over a larger apartment that didn’t have an attached garage but DID have dual sinks in the bathroom. Sigh.
I have secret fantasies about you and Christian renting our home while Roger and I move to Singapore or Bangkok or somewhere “exotic”. LOL.
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