Appraisers Unable to Recognize Value of Prefab Green Homes

prefab green homes

Last month, builders from around the country met in Raleigh, N.C. to share their ideas, promote new green building products, and discuss recent trends at the NAHB National Green Building Conference. Differing from years previous, builders stated they were able to sell sustainably built homes faster than traditional frame-built homes. Despite this fact, the sustainable building community agreed that low appraisals of prefab green homes remain the one bump in the road to the proliferation of green construction methods.

Historically, appraisers have had difficulty assessing the value that green features add to a home’s value. Energy efficiency, according to speakers at the conference, remains the most salient aspect of the industry’s move to sustainability, and is the one benefit that’s most easily recognized by consumers. Among the lending community, however, energy efficiency has not developed the same head of steam. Lenders remain skeptical and mortgages have yet to accurately reflect the savings in utilities that an energy efficient house provides, preventing many homeowners from getting appropriate financing. Citing Fannie Mae guidelines advising lenders not to assume that an appraiser is competent, one panelist told builders, “You have every right to say I want a competent appraiser. You do not need to roll over on this. If they have not seen or appraised a green home, ask for an appraiser who has appraised one of these homes or has knowledge in energy efficiency.”

To make appraisers and lenders more knowledgeable about the value of green, panelists suggested builders hand out or refer them to “Marshall & Swift Green Building Costs.” Selling for $98.95, the publication includes the costs of the most common green construction materials, including labor and other factors.

Another challenge green builders face is that the concept of green housing is not well understood by the general public. Conference panelists advised that builders should market the specific benefits of green building and not rely too heavily on promoting overly-complicated, technical information. Doing the latter tends to actually turn off prospective buyers and discourage sales. Clearly detailing how green building products will pay for themselves through lower operating and maintenance costs over a reasonable period of time seems to be the best strategy. With more incentives and tax savings becoming available to prospective home owners, and the price gap between traditional and prefab green homes decreasing, this strategy is slowly becoming more feasible.

Incentives offered to homeowners and prospective homeowners include:

Federal Housing Administration’s 203(k)

Although it has been hardly used, one panelist said that the Federal Housing Administration’s 203(k) is “the loan right now to get a home green and energy-efficient” and the answer to the energy retrofit that most existing homes need. The loan enables cost-effective energy-saving measures to be financed as part of the mortgage and enables the buyer to qualify for a larger loan amount by considering the monthly savings on energy and allowing higher qualifying ratios.

Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM)

An Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) is a mortgage that credits a home’s energy efficiency in the mortgage itself. EEMs give borrowers the opportunity to finance cost-effective, energy-saving measures as part of a single mortgage and stretch debt-to-income qualifying ratios on loans thereby allowing borrowers to qualify for a larger loan amount and a better, more energy-efficient home. To get an EEM a borrower typically has to have a home energy rater conduct a home energy rating before financing is approved. This rating verifies for the lender that the home is energy-efficient.

Energy Improvement Mortage (EIM)

An Energy Improvement Mortgage (EIM) allow borrowers to include the cost of energy-efficiency improvements to an existing home in the mortgage without increasing the down payment. EIMs allow the borrower to use the money saved in utility bills to finance energy improvements.

Original Article located at

Help Save Our Forests with FischerSIPS panels | FischerSIPS

FSC certified sips panels

Many of you may have recognized the small, green label located near our contact information at the bottom of the page and pondered its meaning. Established in 1993 as a response to concerns over global deforestation, The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) serves as an independent, non-governmental, not for profit organization with the sole purpose of promoting responsible management of our world’s forests. The label that appears on the bottom of our site provides a credible link between responsible production and consumption of forest products.

As an FSC certificate holder since 2008, we feel an obligation to provide our customers with environmentally conscious products. Our structural insulated panels (SIPS); are manufactured using only young, underutilized, and renewable trees. Any excess raw material created while manufacturing our SIPS panels is recycled, converted into energy, pulp chips, or bark dust.

Shockingly, in some countries as much as 80% of the timber harvested is done so illegally. This illegal deforestation often involves the violation of human rights and the destruction of protected forests. The social and environmental value of these forests is often disregarded, overshadowed by their inherent economic value.

What does this mean for you, as a consumer? By supporting FSC-certified companies, you help contribute to the global conservation effort. FSC maintains strict standards in their accreditation process and works to ensure the:

  • Conservation of natural forests around the world
  • Prevention of use of highly hazardous pesticides around the world
  • Protection of indigenous peoples around the world
  • Prohibition of genetically modified trees in the manufacturing of paper and wood products
  • Inspection of each certified operation at least once a year – and if they are found not to comply, the certificate is withdrawn.

We are extremely proud to be an FSC-certified SIPS construction company and will continue to promote the responsible usage of our world’s natural resources. Compliance with the highest social and environmental standards is something we firmly believe in and will work towards for as long as we are in business.

Prefab Home Kits Open Doors for More Affordable Housing in Kenya

A Kenyan Informal Settlement in Nairobi

Demand for housing in the African nation of Kenya has vastly exceeded supply in years past, leading to a surplus of informal settlements and an overpriced market for middle income dwellings. This could all change soon with The Ministry of Housing seriously considering the use of prefab home kits in the construction of government housing. The shift, which could potentially replace conventional stud framing, is being fuelled by the need to cut the overall cost of construction, reduce the total time taken to put up a property, and hence increase access to homes, in a country currently grappling with a shortage of housing.

Proponents of panel home kits have argued that the use of traditional building materials such as building stones, concrete blocks, and baked bricks, has made it impossible for underprivileged families to acquire decent homes.

“Prefabs have been used in the United States over the years and we are introducing them in the country which will lead to reduced cost of construction. It will take a shorter time to put up a house and they meet all the required standards,” said Tony Gichuru of Afrohomes, a SIPS panel supplier located in Nairobi.

The first housing flats to use Structural Insulated Panels (SIPS), already approved by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KBS), will be rolled out as soon as 300 houses are to be constructed in Mavoko by The National Co-operative Housing Union (NACHU).

“The housing scheme to be developed by using the &SIPS panels will allow our members to have affordable and decent houses with all the appropriate amenities,” said Mary Mathenge, chief executive officer of NACHU.

Among the many advantages of using panel home kits, SIPS have the advantage of going up 30% faster than other, less efficient building systems. SIPS homes eliminate the hassle of framing, sheathing, and insulating, and combine the three into one simple, green building product. According to Gichuru, the new technology is expected to address the issue of high cost of building materials through the use of the SIPS.

“The prefabricated SIPS are assembled way before the construction hence reducing the associated cost of construction by as much as 20 per cent.”

In addition, prefab home kits eliminate the need for a stationed, onsite contractor. Because the kits are sizeable, pilferage is reduced, resulting in a decrease of the overall cost of construction.

Prefab home kits are clearly set to transform the way the Kenyan Government approaches construction of government funded housing and should provide a means for thousands of Kenyans to acquire housing in a faster, cheaper manner.

Original Article at panel home kits.