A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

A Shard of Pottery

On my desk is a two thousand year old shard of pottery. It is a small thing, about 1/4” by 1/4”. It would be useless to a museum, but I have held on to it for thirty years now. I picked it up at an archeological site in Mexico while I was with a professor from the University of Mexico. I thought it was just a piece of gravel, since that is what it seemed we were walking on. I look at this fragment every so often thinking about what was the daily life like for its owner.

I take a look around my own home, and I could ask what will someone find from here. David Macauly has a great book on that matter called Motel of the Mysteries. I do not think that I will be wearing my sacred collar soon (the toilet seat- an image from the Beatles Hamburg days comes to mind though). I wonder if this house will even last into the next century. Light frame constructed houses can last for two hundred years when maintained.

All of this makes me wonder in which direction homes will be going. Two competing trends are in the housing market. Large, spacious homes are dominating some areas, but energy efficient homes are coming to the fore. Green building fits with the energy efficient model. Anything with the term green attached is a key buzz word for marketers. But is this just a fad? Is green the term of the moment?

Our current means of supplying our energy needs has a while before it runs out, but high fuel costs will drive more investment dollars into developing cost effective fuel alternatives. Fuel Cell technology will probably come into the home. I think that will be seeing a better understanding of what is environmentally responsible, and that idea or way of living will become more common. Review documents or sites from different groups advocating the environment, and you will see that at this time there is no consensus on what this lifestyle could or should be. In the end, we cannot ask homeowners to give up the luxuries that have come to be such a part of our lives. Environmentalism should not be about giving up our lives, but changing them for the better.

The real growth industry will be providers of items that could retrofit a house to be more energy efficient. There is an interesting project documented on Openarchitecture.org about making an older home more efficient. I would like to see their solutions. The green and organic debate will go away, but I think that somehow finding ways to have our homes more in tune with their environments will become a standard building practice. Part of this will be energy efficiency. I suggest looking before you leap with your own home. Some technologies are not proven yet, and some technologies need improvement. Evaluate if what you are doing will be a benefit to you. I also think that you should check your local codes to find out if changes need to be made. I just read a post about water from rain does not belong to the homeowner in Colorado. They are prohibited from collecting it. They can also not use gray water for the same reason: ownership. I imagine this may be the case in several states.

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