By: consumer Advocate for Georgia Weekly Post
As you drive around one of those beautful rich cities, you encounter those freshly placed signs.They all welcome you to green cities. You go to any of the major box stores and you see signs offering green remodeling, green siding, green bulbs, green energy, then you start thinking of Al Gore!
Many homeowners, young and old are left wondering, if this is for real. family health, air quality, energy efficiency and water are becoming of concern to most families in DeKalb and fulton counties. Many cities have offered free plants and made it harder to take trees down without a permit. Cities such as Duwoody charges homeowners a fee to take down a tree. Dunwoody's new $300,000 zoning rewrite made it clear, there is a fee to be paid.
Many home improvements contractors are offering their knowledge and services of "greening" their homes for extra costs.
Despite energy-efficiency and air-quality concerns, homeowners are questioning whether to invest in upgrades for green remodeling projects.
Are homeowners growing tired of the additional costs surrounding green and sustainable remodeling projects?
The rising cost of green or sustainable remodeling features combined with the long-term return on investment continues to hinder these types of remodeling projects, according to home imrovments' contractors and home builders.
According to surveys conducted by trade publications, homeowners remain hesitant to pay a premium for green remodeling products and services, which has been the case for the past few years.
Seventy-five percent of builders and contractors reported that “consumers in Georgia including DeKalb and Fulton counties are not willing to pay a premium” for green or sustainable remodels. Most of the work is paid for by local governments. Homeowners and taxpayers are ultimately footing the bills through tax increases.
Nearly 50 percent of respondents said, “consumers are not willing to pay a premium” as a “very significant” factor. Another factor hindering green or sustainable remodeling projects is “insufficient return on investment,” which was cited as an obstacle by 65 percent of home builders, construction giants and small contractors.
“Cost is the number one factor. Home owners and buyers want green or sustainable products but they do not want to pay for the upgrades,” says a leading developer in Sandy Springs.
“No matter how we explain why we are using new energy-efficient products, it still boils down to the overall cost of the project,” adds another builder in Dunwoody.
Forty-three percent of builders and contractors reported green features do indeed help them sell remodeling projects, and 41 percent market their remodeling company as “green”.
As in years past, getting the home owners and buyers to pay enough to cover the added cost of green or sustainable features remains a significant challenge to home builders.
Just over 70 percent of contractors said clients will pay up to 5 percent or more for green features.
This is down from 80 percent in 2013, and closer to the 75 percent recorded in 2012.
Only 15 percent of homeowners are willing to pay more than a 5 percent premium for green or sustainable remodeling work, down slightly from 20 percent recorded last year.
Fifty-one percent of home builders and contractors indicated that adding green or sustainable features to a home improvement project increases the project’s cost by more than 5 percent.
Just under half of those home builders and contractors indicated clients are willing to pay at least 5-percent more for green new homes or home imrovements' features.
“With all the mega millions spent building gated mega mansions, getting even super rich customers to pay for green…they all want to be green until it costs them more money. They would rather see it in the pool,” said a builder, known for his manicured mansions' in Buckhead and Johns Creek.
Local, state, and federal government tax credits and rebates still drive some green projects by offsetting costs; however, the numbers have plateaued according to experts, who indicate many programs are coming to an end if they don’t already cease to exist. "It is just talk and signs. It is fashionable to talk green," Georgia Weekly Post was told by a small contrcator from Duluth. He travels every day for the past 23 years, to DeKalb Fulton Counties doing home imrovements at homes in Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and Buckhead. His customers do not seem to care to spend more for green. "They prefer to have a new kitchen or a new bathroom or paint the house", he said.
Sixty percent of remodelers indicate homeowners are taking advantage of government incentives for green improvements. This number is similar to the last two years. Just 26 percent of remodelers indicated homeowners are using the tax credits or rebates on more than 10 percent of projects, which is similar to the number recorded in last year’s survey, but down from 38 percent recorded two years ago.
▲Green technologies provided by vendors and home builders. going green is a choice. Is it too expensive?
In 2014, the green mood did not change. Pocket book is the key when it comes to savings. Similar to previous surveys, energy efficiency remains the top concern for homeowners.
Sixty percent of the contractors who responded to a survey indicated their clients remain “very concerned” about energy efficiency while 70 percent were at least “somewhat concerned.”
Georgia's hot summers are here to stay. Energy efficiency and indoor air quality are the only two factors that are a concern for more than half of home and condo owners, according to local home builders, developers, and contractors surveyed.
In 2013, water efficiency was the concern of greater than 50 percent of homeowners; however, it was a concern to only 43 percent of home imrovements clients in this year’s survey.
Nineteen percent of contractors said their clients were “very concerned” about the environmental impact of the products used for their projects.
Similar to previous years, contractors are still diversifying their business to either enter or maintain their position as part of the energy-efficiency home improvment and building market by specifically adding energy audits as part of their proposed services.
Forty-three percent of contractors indicated they now offer energy assessments as part of their remodeling business.
Living among the beautiful rich five of DeKalb and Fulton counties makes it more costly to home owners. Local contractors are known for charging those communites much more than those with lower property values.
Reaching out to local contractors, 81 percent of respondents indicated they only perform energy audits when it is profitable to other aspects of their business.
Products and remodeling methods focused on energy efficiency continue to be the most popular attributes that builders and home imrovements contarctors are implementing in green or sustainable remodeling services.
Energy-efficient windows were used by 65 percent of remodelers on all their projects and 97 percent use energy-efficient windows on at least some of their projects.
Enhanced insulation, energy-efficient appliances, and energy-efficient lighting were all used by more than 90 % of contractors.
Everyday, home owners go to a big box store shopping for bulbs.
Thinking green, one home owner puts energy-efficiency and price into "the bulb test". He steps to the electric supplies deprtment where all kinds of light bulbs are kept. LED bulbs are in fashion. They are green.
They are energy-efficient. He picks one. Little heavy.
The price tag is $62.00 plus tax.
How many will this home owners buy? How much will he save?
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