FAQ from the 2015 Cool House Tour

FAQ from the 2015 Cool House Tour

Once again this year the Solluna team was met with a constant stream of enthusiastic tour-goers visiting our Rosedale Rebuild home during the 19th annual Austin Cool House Tour held on Sunday, June 7. This home also earned 5 stars from the Austin Energy Green Building Program. As always, we had a blast meeting folks on the tour, answering questions, and showing them around. Here are just a few of the questions we answered most often.

Read More

Helmet Time

Helmet Time

While researching for a blog topic this month, I spent some time looking back at all the past articles we’ve written. Do you know we’ve been writing and sending out these newsletters for almost five years? Five years! That’s a lot of material on the same general topic of sustainable home building. But -- as Monty Python would say – now for something completely different.

Read More

Working with the Environment

Working with the Environment

As a follow-up to my blog post Building in a Boom Town, I want to talk a little bit about working with the environment. Now I’m not going to go all Al Gore on you and start preaching about how building green is good for the environment. Nope, I’m going to talk about the specific space where you will be building, or about the house you will be remodeling.

Read More

Building in a Boom Town

Building in a Boom Town

Recent discussions with prospective clients have got me thinking about a problem we face here in Central Texas: a shortage of lots for custom homes. I’ve heard from clients who want to be within walking distance of a certain school. Others want to be located in a certain Austin neighborhood that was built 60 years ago. Others want to build a “tiny house” in a subdivision of McMansions. I get it. These are all nice ideas. We’re still seeing impressive growth in Austin. They tell us 100 to 110 people move to the Austin area every day. Due to this explosive growth, any larger tracts of land are quickly snatched up by developers with deep pockets as soon as the land comes on the market. And do we really need another high-rise condo building?

Read More

Ways to Save Energy, Cut Your Bills

Ways to Save Energy, Cut Your Bills

Last week, we met with representatives from Green Mountain Energy, who asked to tour the net-zero energy home we built in Round Rock a few years back. Their company is the electrical provider for the home. They’re interested in helping their customers find ways to live more sustainably and reduce their energy costs at home, so they asked lots of questions about what motivated the homeowners to invest in energy-efficient features, in the geothermal heating/cooling system, and in solar photovoltaics.

Read More

Why you need this book

Why you need this book

Thinking about building a new home?  Thinking about building a green, energy-efficient home? Just dreaming about it but don’t know what to dream? Let me tell you why I like the new book Green Home Building: Money Savings Strategies for an Affordable, Healthy, High-Performance Homeand why you need it on your bookshelf.

Read More

Are We There Yet?

Are We There Yet?

As I prepare for my much needed vacation, I’m reminded of the times our family would load up the Vista Cruiser station wagon and take off on a road trip. With three boys in the back seat, it quickly became a chorus of “Are we there yet?” So I would like to ask the same question about sustainable home building. “Are we there yet?” The answer is quite simple, “Yes, no, maybe.” Let me throw out a few tidbits to gnaw on while you think about that answer.

Read More

FAQs from the 2014 Cool House Tour

FAQs from the 2014 Cool House Tour

A sizeable, enthusiastic crowd of curious tour-goers visited our Blissful Oaks custom home during the 18th annual Austin Cool House Tour on Sunday, June 8.  This home earned 5 stars from the Austin Energy Green Building Program, and it won the 2014 Max Award for Best Green Home.  As always, we had a blast meeting folks on the tour, answering questions, and showing them around. Here are just a few of the questions we answered most often.

Read More

Universal design

Universal design

What would happen if you broke a leg and had to hobble around on crutches? Stop and imagine: What level of independence can you expect? Can you navigate in your own home? Worse, what if you needed a wheelchair for a while? Can you get from the driveway into your home? Can you fit through the door into your bathroom? How will you use the toilet? Take a shower? Scramble an egg?

Read More

Custom cabinets -- apples to apples

Custom cabinets -- apples to apples

In today’s faster and cheaper world, a lot of the most important decisions are based solely on price and how fast we can get it. Sometimes faster and cheaper is just that. When you’re comparing remote controls, you might stand there for 20 minutes looking at all the options before you decide. You pride yourself on finding the most bang for your buck, and move on. Maybe later you realize that you should have taken a little more time, and bought that one that was $5 more. We all do it, and usually end up buying twice.

Read More

Should you get multiple bids?

Should you get multiple bids?

When planning a new custom home, most folks come to me with their builder already in tow. In fact, I'm surprised when a new client doesn't already have a builder as part of their team. The builder is often the single, most important person who will have the longest, closest contact with homeowners throughout the construction process, possibly even years after construction is done.

Read More

Building on Conservancy Land

Building on Conservancy Land

“Can you see it now?" “Nope.” I’m standing on the road with Candy and Sue. They’re siblings, both retired. We’re going to build their home here on this beautiful piece of land. Wayne is back there somewhere, holding a long string tied to a red helium balloon. He’s bushwhacking his way through tall brush, weaving between the trees, and talking into his cell phone. “How about now? Can you see it now?”

Read More

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been

My apologies to Jerry Garcia and the boys, but at this time of year I’m always thinking about the words from an oldGrateful Dead song.  During the holidays and at the end of the year, we take the time to look back and see where we’ve been to help decide where we’re going. It’s especially interesting because this month we celebrate 10 years of Solluna Builders.  And what a wild ride it’s been. We’ve weathered ups and downs in the economy and changes in the building industry, and we’re still having fun.

Read More

The Green Building Pyramid

The Green Building Pyramid

Back in my former career in high-tech product development, I sat in long technical meetings. To stay focused (and to entertain myself), I’d listen, collect jargon, and see how many buzzwords, acronyms, and worn-out metaphors I could write down. Jargon’s really pretty useful as shorthand for team communications. And even certain worn-out metaphors are useful. For example, a favorite metaphor of mine is “pick the low-hanging fruit,” meaning, first go after the things that are easy, cost the least, and are most productive

Read More