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How does solar power increase your home’s value?

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Solar power could be the best way to increase your property’s value, as well as reduce your energy bill.

For many people, their home is their biggest asset and maintaining it properly is crucial to ensure to ensure it holds its value. Maintenance and upgrades of your property can enhance your lifestyle, and hopefully help hold or improve your property’s market value.

Increasing the value of your home makes a lot of sense, but what is the best way to do this? Not all renovations or changes increase the value enough to cover the cost of having it done. This may not matter so much if you intend to stay in the home for many years and will get a lot of pleasure and value out of the renovation yourself.

Take a pool

For instance, a pool costs quite a lot to install and maintain and does not always increase the value of the home because not everyone wants a pool. By having a pool, the selling reach of the home may be limited to exclude seniors, couples with toddlers or others who may not want to bother with a pool. That said, younger couples without children and those with older children are more likely to be attracted to this addition to your property. It is also possible to overvalue the home compared to the neighbouring homes and find that it just won’t sell for the extra money in that location.

What about solar power?

Solar power is one improvement much more likely to improve the value of the home over many other more costly improvements. Why? Everyone needs electricity or some form of power in the home; if the cost of using electricity can be reduced by installing solar power, people will certainly view your home favourably when it’s offered for sale.

Solar assisted hot water systems have been around for many years, so people have become more used to solar power than other alternative forms of energy. There are many more solar panels on the roofs of residences these days than there were even five years ago. Statistics indicate that up to 19% of the Australian population now uses solar of some kind in their homes, whether it is just to assist with water heating, or a complete solar power unit that feeds excess power back into the grid.

The public favours solar panels

Since solar power is viewed so positively by most of the Australian public, it follows that this can be a selling point for the home. Research indicates that the more solar panels there are on the roof, the higher the value of the home – with an estimated increase of almost $6000 dollars per kilowatt of solar power. This indicates a rise of over $29,000 in the retail value of the home for a 5kW installation.

Since the price of electricity is expected to rise in the future, the advantages of having solar power will become even more evident.

Selling quickly is part of the equation

You will probably realise that when you put your home on the market, it is difficult to achieve other goals until it is sold. It is like putting your life on hold until the right buyer comes along and signs on the dotted line. Only then is it possible to move on with your own life and get settled in a new environment. If the home does not sell quickly, it can be very frustrating.

Having solar panels installed on a home can make it sell more quickly. Compared to other homes without solar power, your home could sell up to 20% faster. This too, is part of the value that solar power can add to your home and your life.

Staying with it

Even without selling the home, the advantages of having solar power installed can still be enjoyed. Over the years, the savings made will recoup the cost of the installation and go on to save on the cost of the power bill. So in short, one of the best ways to add value to the home is to install solar power. Not only will the resale value of the home be increased, there will be the benefit of future savings if you don’t sell.

Why public perception matters

Research and surveys indicate that the general public not only favour solar panels, but actually prefer homes with solar installation over those without in many cases. This includes renters, many of whom who would be willing to pay extra rent for a home with solar panels. Therefore, landlords looking to increase the value of their rental homes can benefit from this trend also. Not only can they charge more in rent, but because renters actually prefer solar power, such homes are more likely to be rented out all the time, instead of being left empty while all those interested in renting turn to the homes with solar panels. All landlords will recognise the value in that.

Henry Ruiz, Chief Product Officer of the REA Group states, “Having solar panels installed on your roof represents a valuable investment in your property, as this research shows.”

Hints for using solar power

The savings made when using solar will depend on the location of the home and the power of the solar unit that is installed, as well as the cost of electricity in your area. Here are some useful tips to get the most value from solar power.

  • Since power is produced during daylight, using it during the day is most beneficial. For instance, take showers and do the laundry in daylight hours.
  • Change your water heater to heat up during daylight, rather than the off-peak hours at night many are switched to.
  • Use LED lights or bulbs that save energy in the evenings.
  • Use the air-conditioner to cool the house during the day and switch it off at night.
  • Make sure the pool pump is set to run during the day, not the night.
  • Replace old appliances such as refrigerators that tend to gobble up power.

Sustainable design

Prefab and modular homes reduce building costs

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Prefab and modular homes are coming into their own as technology, new materials and design allow for faster and cheaper construction. And one advantage is that there are newer building materials available that have much better insulation properties than traditional building materials, meaning that the cost of running the new build will be lower.

Most people are familiar with the high cost of building. It’s traditionally been more expensive to build, than to buy a lived in home. Additionally, the cost of accommodation that is necessary as you wait for the new home to be built must also be taken into consideration. If that was not a factor, the costs of building vs. buying an older home align more closely. Then again, the type and size of the home you build or buy also has to be taken into account.

Going modular

The latest trend in money-saving new builds is going modular. A modular home is built at the factory in ‘modules’ of contained space. For example, the bedrooms may be contained in one module, while the living areas are in another.

These modules are transported to the building site, where they are easily joined together or connected by walkways, also known as breezeways. Many are constructed so owner-builders can do the do the work themselves, thus saving costs again. Because the modules are smaller than the home as a whole, they are easier to transport and put into place. Each module is finished; that is, it contains all the fixtures and fittings that the room or rooms need. Cupboards, built-in wardrobes and often appliances are all included where appropriate for the module.

Prefab homes were once considered the poor relation of the traditional homes erected by building industry tradesmen. They were accepted as being fine for a temporary home or a holiday home where the lifestyle is ultra casual, but not for a ‘real’ home. This idea has now changed, especially overseas, which over previous decades has continued to refine and improve the quality of low cost modular homes. In fact, million-dollar homes are designed and built on the factory floor in Germany, then taken to the building site where they are put together, sometimes in as few as three days.

The benefits of modular homes

  • Today’s modular homes can be custom designed by architects to suit specific locations. This means any block of land, even those with challenging geographical features, can be utilised for a modular home. Steep blocks can be built upon with little worry about getting the building into place. And because they require very little actual site construction, sensitive areas can have a home without disturbing the environment.
  • Better still, some of these homes can actually be dismantled within a few hours and taken to another location. So if you move, it’s possible to take your home with you! Such homes can be very affordable, or they can be a little more expensive, depending on your budget, location and required lifestyle.
  • Most modular homes make extensive use of green technology with passive heating and cooling – large windows and sliding doors oriented to the prevailing breeze. The frames are strong but light. The wall panels are of composite materials that have a higher thermal mass than timber and many other traditional building materials. This means that the insulation qualities are much higher, so your home is both warm in the winter and cool in the summer, requiring only minimal use of heating and cooling appliances.
  • Another benefit of modular homes (something you can appreciate if you’ve ever waited for a standard build!) is the speed at which they can be built in the factory and erected onsite.
  • Since nearly everything is done at the factory, quality controls can more easily be put into place, making the modular home one that fits together properly, as well as being top quality when finished.
  • The sizes of these homes are made to industry standards. This ensures there’s no wastage or off-cuts in materials – saving on materials, as well as pricing!

What are modular homes built from?

Most modular and prefab homes use aluminium frames, which are both light and strong.

One company builds the module walls from expanded polystyrene enclosed between manufactured wood cladding. Made from Australian plantation timber, the cladding is made of compressed 50% recycled timber and sawdust treated with magnesium oxide. The latter not only provides extra strength and durability, it also offers resistance to UV radiation, mildew, fire and water – making it an ideal medium to build a home. Once the home is up you would not know it from any other much more expensive home.

Other companies use polymers reinforced with glass fibres. Commonly used in the marine and aeronautical industries, this material has high durability and strength even in extreme conditions. It also has low maintenance needs and is very light. This makes sense when you consider planes and boats must be capable of withstanding the worst nature throws at them. A home built of the same materials is therefore sure to be strong and durable.

Ideal for remote locations

Modular homes are ideal for remote locations where it is difficult to get builders and other tradesmen to work, who may be required to camp onsite because of the distance. That may not be feasible and even if it is, can add a great deal to the cost of the home. Because the primary part of the modular home is already built, the main requirement is to transport and erect it at your location. A short time – compared to building it onsite – and ready to connect plumbing and electricity.

They are also eminently suitable for smaller suburban or even space-constrained city centre blocks. But while modular homes are popular for all these reasons, they don’t have to be small. This is the beauty of them. They can be enlarged at the beginning of the build, or later on, by adding more modules – always assuming it is proportional to the size of the block

Building a modular home is not only quick and convenient, it makes use of environmental benefits such as energy efficiency and sustainable living. This type of housing is now popular in many overseas countries and is becoming more so in Australia, as people begin to realise the many advantages.