A home buyer’s guide to managing the cost of improvements to fight climate change

The Globe and Mail's personal finance columnist Rob Carrick takes a look at the plummeting costs of green home retrofits.

We undersell the cost of getting into the housing market if all we look at are high prices in cities across the country.

There’s the cost of buying a home today, and then there’s the financial burden of adapting it to climate change in the years ahead. Like no previous generation, today’s first-time buyers will have to juggle current and future housing expenses.

A thought for home buyers on managing the load: Buy a fixer-upper. You’ll pay less for the house, and be in a good position to make state-of-the-art improvements over the years to reduce your carbon footprint and deal with climate change.

The fixer-upper idea comes from Scott Meyer of Ottawa’s EnviroCentre, a non-profit organization that consults on sustainability issues and performs home energy audits. I started our conversation by asking about features that home buyers should seek out and avoid when viewing properties.

A drafty, unfinished basement seems like something to avoid, but Mr. Meyer spotted an upside. A bare concrete cellar may bring down the price of a house compared with a similar property with a fully decked out basement, and you have a chance to do a proper job of insulating it.

“You’ll have a comfortable space, and you’ll really drop the carbon footprint of your house,” Mr. Meyer said.

A basement can account for 30 per cent or more of heat loss in a home, he said. But in his experience, basement renos often don’t do a good enough job with insulation. For example, some renovations insulate only half of a basement area, while others skimp on the amount of insulation.

Read the full article at the Globe and Mail

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