Green Houses

When we went house shopping last year, we were not focused on “green” construction. Location, location, location and items such as a 3-car garage and jet tub factored more into the equation. This is where we plan to live until forced into a skilled care facility. But “green” is the new black. We visited the Clark County Parade of Homes in the Moongate development in Felida, next to Vancouver Lake. The emphasis was on green construction for homes in the $850,000 plus category. That still buys a lot of house here in Vancouver, Washington. Of the houses, there were only two that I would consider living in. The first was The Cottage. I love the French farmhouse exterior. This was also the only house that had a garden area – raised beds along the side of the house. I also loved the reclaimed farm timber flooring. The green features were in the insulation and durability of the building materials. But at 2 1/2 times the price tag of our house for less than 600 more square feet, it’s no bargain. It had a decent-sized covered patio for outside cooking, but not what I’d want for the pricetag.

The second house, the Hannah Marie, had the decor we loved – “Old World theme interior decor.” Medieval, actually, and we loved it. But the hand-scraped hickory flooring was a bit too rough hewn for my taste. And there was one element that was a deal-killer: the covered deck off the kitchen and master suite faced the street. All of your neighbors would be in on your outdoor entertaining. It is a very unfortunate part of the design. There is another patio in back, but it was off of two of the other bedrooms without any real access from the kitchen. My take home from this is the name of the designer, I may contact her to spice up our fireside room and master suite.

The Northwest Haven home looked a lot like Skamania Lodge. It had a wonderful private back patio with a terrible design flaw – it was effectively uncovered. While there were some slight overhangs and one tall overhang, it was easy to see that there was nowhere on that patio that would be shielded from the rain.

The Green Haus was built to be LEED certified. But it was obviously designed for people who mostly eat out. The kitchen was small and strangely designed, and it had only a small eating nook and no formal dining room.

The New Castle home had the best outdoor living space – a large covered patio with fireplace just off the kitchen. You could definitely have a wonderful outdoor kitchen and lounging area out of the elements. The master suite had a “Master Spa” attached. I found the layout of the spa area to be cumbersome. You have to weave around the vanities all the way to the back to get to the gigantic walk-in closet room. The closet room was gi-normous, but it was inconveniently located.

While Moongate touts its views of Vancouver Lake and “Oregon hills,” none of these homes had a view except a slight one from some of the upstairs small bedrooms. I am happy we decided not to buy in the Felida area as it is just a little too far off the beaten path. My commute would still be under 10 miles, and Rich could still catch the Pill Hill Express a couple miles away. But it is a long walk to any real grocery store. I enjoyed myself yesterday by walking the 1 mile walk to Winco to buy bread and tortillas. That is plenty far to go on foot for essentials.

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