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Green Building Curmudgeon

Green From the Start Redux, or Trying to Build Green in a Historic District

My ongoing saga with the local historic preservation commission

The historic cottage that must remain on my property. If my new house is approved, this will remain as a guest house or rental property. Here's to hoping I get approval this time.

In case you haven’t read my earlier posts about my aborted attempt to build myself a house, Green From the Start Home Edition, Green From the Start Home Edition, Volume 2, and the dismal ending to the first half my saga, What We Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate, you may want to check them out to have a good laugh at my expense.

In any case, after the failure to win approval for my plans for a new house, I mulled over my alternatives, ranging from moving to initiating legal action against the city for approval to build according to my original plans.

Rethinking everything

I looked seriously at selling my land and moving. I considered what I would likely get for my property in the current real estate market — which was not much more than I paid for it about 10 years ago.

Then I considered where I wanted to live and what I wanted to live in. Having lived in a reasonably walkable neighborhood for over five years now, I decided that I could never again live somewhere where I had to drive to all services.

That left me very few opportunities in the Atlanta area. I also considered renting rather than owning; having been a homeowner for over 30 years, the joy of that particular endeavor has lost some of its luster for me. After looking at available units in my target areas, I realized that to rent what I need in these desirable areas would probably cost me in the range of $2,000 to $2,500 per month — more than a mortgage and taxes on a house I could build for myself.

On top of this, the chance of any of these apartments or homes being even moderately green was pretty limited. I realized at this point in my life and career, I know way too much about how (badly) most homes are built that I would probably never be satisfied living in something that I was not directly involved in building.

Back to the drawing board

So, after considering my options, I decided to give up on my old plans from Barley and Pfeiffer, and start over with some local architects who happen to be old friends of mine. Shawn and Ed Alshut, with Studio A2 Design, live and work in the same town as me and my historic district.

The new plan is a very traditional four-square design that looks very much like many of the other homes on the street. The house has a one-car detached garage, and both are built in front of the existing cottage on the property, which will remain where it is, untouched. My hope is that this new plan will satisfy the neighbors and the preservation commission, but, given my past experience, I have no expectations. My hearing is scheduled for late September, and I will post the new plans soon. I’m looking forward to hearing your opinions on the new design.

One Comment

  1. Peter Troast | | #1

    Carl--maybe I missed it in the previous posts, but what's hysteric about the existing cottage?

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