Posts made in November, 2011

Gift Idea: Uncommon Goods

Posted By on Nov 30, 2011

I recently stumbled across this online store.  Uncommon Goods specializes in unique items.  Things like Sneaker Customization Kits, wooden ties, portable ping-pong table sets (turn any table into a ping-pong table).  Before you go off to do your browsing, I want to draw your attention to something.  Along the top of each page is the navigation bar with links to: home & garden, dining & entertaining, office, leisure, etc.  If you place your mouse over each of these topics, a drop down will appear.  On the bottom right of each category is RECYCLED…

Check it out!  There are some VERY cool gift ideas for everyone on your shopping list!

Read More

Solar Decathlon Final Standings

Posted By on Nov 23, 2011

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition has come to an end.  First time competitor, Team Massachusetts finished 9th out of 19 teams in overall standings with 856.351 points.  Maryland took the top spot with 951.151 points.

The competition is broken down into 10 scoring catagories:

  • Architecture
  • Market Appeal
  • Engineering
  • Communications
  • Affordability
  • Comfort Zone
  • Hot Water
  • Appliances
  • Home Entertainment
  • Energy Balance

If you were building a green home, which of these categories would be your top 3 most important?  For me it would be, Market Appeal (I don’t want my house to look like a UFO, and I’d to be able to sell it), Affordability (I need to be able to build and live in the home), and Energy Balance (why build a green home if it isn’t energy efficient).  Team Massachusetts placed 4th for Market Appeal, as well as for Affordability and 2nd in Energy Balance!

Great job Team Massachusetts!

Read More

Green Product Review: Burt’s Bees

Posted By on Nov 9, 2011

As time passes, it is easier and easier to find green products that fit seamlessly into your life.  Green cleaning products, CFL’s, Organic cotton clothing & bedding, as well as organic vegetables and meats can be found on the shelves at mainstream retailers nationwide.  With the holidays quickly approaching I thought I would highlight a few green products that make great gift ideas or will help you prepare for the holiday season.

Bert’s Bees make high quality personal care products and has committed to keeping conservation and sustainability as a top priority. Burt’s Bees products vary from Lip Balm to Insect Repellant to Throat Drops.  All of their products are paraben free, phthalate free, petrochemical free.  All products are 100% natural and are not tested on animals.

Burt’s Bees has recently been promoted by Green Manufacturer for their zero-landfill initiative.  They will be hosting the Green Manufacturer Network Zero-Waste-to-Landfill Workshop.  For the full article Click Here.

Burt’s Bees has lots of pre-packaged gift ideas to chose from, or you can put together your own gift sets.  Check out their website: for more information.

Read More

We have all heard the horror stories of families building a home and the contractor going WAY over budget, or worse running out of money and not completing the home… How can people building a new home avoid this disastrous situation?

  1. Don’t go it alone.  So many people think that by being the General Contact of their own building project they will save money.  In 95% of the cases where customers act as the GC, the project ended up over budget and WAY over schedule.  Find a General Contractor with a strong reputation.  Use the Better Business Bureau to check potential companies out, as well as customer referrals.
  2. Build a relationship with your General Contractor.  If you don’t trust your GC, find a different one.
  3. As you go through the sales process, listen carefully!  Beware of builders that consistently use estimates and allowances to give you pricing for your project.  There is a big difference between estimates and quotes.  Estimates are a general best guess of the cost, a quote is a real number based of the perimeter and details in the quote. Example: Estimate for Demolition of existing structure: $4500; Quote for Demolition of existing structure:  Excavator for 4 hours $4,200, 1 extra dumpsters for debris and site clean up $1,500, total $5700.  As you can see, the quote is higher than the estimate, but which figure is better?
  4. By Maine law, there must be a construction contract between the homebuyer and the builder.  A construction contract is a binding legal document that must include certain details and wording in order to meet Maine State rules & regulations.  Maine has provided an example building contract for people to refer to.  We recommend printing this document, to help you get a better understanding of what you should expect in the contract with your contractor.
  5. In the state of Maine, anyone with a hammer can claim to be a builder.  Kind of a scary thought!  Please Note: Modular Home Builders are required to be licensed through the state.  The Maine Attorney Generals office has set up a comprehensive list of items homebuyers should request from potential home builders on their website. Click here for the list.
Read More