In the Pacific Northwest, we like to think of ourselves as innovators. People around here tend to love Tesla cars, bike commuting, and urban gardening. It’s not unusual to spot chickens in a yard in Wallingford or Queen Anne, or a curbside garden on Beacon Hill.

We make our home and buildings smarter, with Nest thermostats, Ring doorbells, and Philips Hue light bulbs–and of course, an Echo or Google Home. (Or three). We are all about incorporating innovative products and practices into our increasingly busy modern lives.

But what does “innovative” mean when it comes to the homes we live in–The actual, physical structure and what’s behind the walls, or on the roof? And how do we balance innovation within a budget?

Innovative Choices

Innovation is great, and we’re particularly into sustainable innovation. But not everyone can afford to do all the cool “green”/sustainable stuff. There are always trade-offs, and things we do for our homes and our families as budget permits. Since most homeowners (or even renters) have to make budget-based choices sometimes, it’s best to know beforehand what’s important to you. Is it healthier indoor air? Or saving money on utility bills? There are many choices to ponder.

Where do you splurge vs. save when it comes to buying a more innovative and efficient home, or making upgrades?

So Much Information

From a personal perspective, I have been interested in this topic of sustainability for the better part of a decade–my whole real estate career. At most, my clients have been mildly interested in features like mini-splits or heat pumps when it comes to replacing old furnaces and/or air conditioner units. Perhaps they’ve pondered a south-facing home because it might be well-suited to solar panels. But it tends to not be something they are looking for in a new home. No one has ever said “I would like to work with you because you know about sustainable building,” but most appreciate that I can inform on features/building practices they don’t already know about it.

I get it. We are so overloaded with information these days, who has the time to sort out what to prioritize when you’re just trying to manage work, kids, sports, and all the other stuff that comes with our modern lives?

Finding Your Balance

When searching for a home or making upgrades to your existing home, here are some things to consider to help determine what is important to you, helpful to our environment, and not straining the budget:

  • Health concerns, like indoor air quality. Is someone in your household suffering from allergies or chemical sensitivities?
  • Transit/fuel usage:  What mode of transportation is used most often? Do you need EV plugins, or easy access to mass transit?
  • Utility bills: Which features and/or equipment can help lower bills, and where do you draw the line? How much smart home tech will improve your quality of life vs. give you headaches getting it all set up and working?
  • Aesthetics: What looks good to you and has a positive impact on any of the above? What about considering an efficient layout that can cut down on the home’s size, saving money on the amount of materials used–not to mention how much space will need to be cleaned!

Small Steps

Being innovative isn’t exclusive to tech. Or sustainability. To me, being innovative in our living spaces is really about considering our unique needs and balancing that with products and features in our homes that can also help make the world a better place. A little bit at a time.

Want to chat more about innovation and sustainability in real estate? Contact me

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