4 GO FOR IT Inspiration, Creativity and Dynamic Energy Flow Throughout NH State Home Show
4 GUIDE TO USING OUR VIRTUAL FLOOR MAP
6 HERE COMES THE SUN Solar Energy's Time Has Come
4 GO FOR IT Inspiration, Creativity and Dynamic Energy Flow Throughout NH State Home Show
4 GUIDE TO USING OUR VIRTUAL FLOOR MAP
6 HERE COMES THE SUN Solar Energy's Time Has Come
8 ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES Your Kitchen and Bath Reimagined
56th Annual NH State Home Show
10 FINDING YOUR DREAM HOME Let a Trusted Real Estate Agent Be Your Guide
14 ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Net-Zero Homes Win Top Awards
16 HOME IMPROVEMENT
5 Top Tips to Sell Your Home
20 FINANCING SPOTLIGHT
NH Mortgage Brokers Are Ready to Lend a Helping Hand
Saturday, March 4 (10am to 6pm) and Sunday, March 5 (10am to 4pm)
•Beer, Wine & •Antiques Appraisal
Center of NH Expo
New This Year!
•Beer, Wine & Spirits Garden
Downtown Doubletree Hotel
Saturday, March 4 (10am to 6pm) and Sunday, March 5 (10am to 4pm)
Manchester businesses in the Daily seminars product demos!
700 Elm Street, Manchester
•Antiques Appraisal Area
Over 200 businesses in the construction trade. Daily seminars and product demos! go to: NHStateHomeShow.com to learn more, buy tickets and review our list of vendors.
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Inside these walls you will find everything you need to create the project of your dreams. I challenge you to keep an open mind while roaming the aisles and be inspired by the products and services you see. You may even find something you didn’t know was possible. Make sure to swing by the Belletetes booth to find everything from doors to barns and everything in between. This year, Belletetes is celebrating their 125th anniversary (four generations of Belletetes!). Also make sure to swing by Merrimack County Savings Bank booth to chat about all of the great financing options they have to help you create the project of your dreams!
Our industry is still facing product shortages, shipping delays and lack of labor availability. These past few years have been everything but business as usual. We continue to try and find solutions to problems we never thought we would have to face. Thankfully, these delays have not totally crippled the industry, and we are still able to get projects done. None of this would be possible without the understanding and flexibility from the consumers. For that, we are thankful. We hope that you will continue to have patience with us, and know that we are all working as hard as we can to complete your projects on time and on budget!
I am happy to announce that the new Carpentry Apprenticeship program is fully launched in New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Home Builders Association (NHHBA), in partnership with ABC NH/VT, iBuild, ApprenticeshipNH, and the Manchester Community College have launched a new apprenticeship program that allows people of all ages to try their hand in the trades. This new program also makes the process easier on employers. NHHBA and ABC NH/VT will take over the majority of the backend paperwork for this program so employers aren’t bogged down with any extra work! This is an important step in helping to alleviate some of the staffing shortages we are all facing. For more information, please visit: apprenticeshipnh.com/industries/construction-infrastructure/.
NHHBA has also been hard at work fighting for small business owners. We have adopted a more aggressive lobbying effort in Concord. We are fighting proposed legislation that impedes your right to conduct business in New Hampshire. We are tackling issues of home ownership restrictions, constrictive zoning proposals and measures to bring rent control to NH.
In 2022, the NHHBA brought 17 education classes to every corner of New Hampshire thanks to our friends at NHSaves. We hope to continue this outreach in 2023 with a new round of educational opportunities for both the builder and the consumer. Please check our website for more details!
There are many exciting things to look forward to this year with the NHHBA, and we would love for you to be involved. All information on how to join or any of our upcoming events can be found at NHHBA.com.
Looking forward to a great year ahead.Karen LaMontagne Kitchen, President New Hampshire Home Builders Association
The New Hampshire Home Builders Association (NHHBA) was founded in 1952 and represents residential building, remodeling and development interests in New Hampshire. The association advocates for all housing-related issues, so that Granite State citizens can enjoy high-quality, energy-efficient and affordable home ownership.
NHHBA members enjoy strong advocacy and professional development opportunities, making them the most professional and technically knowledgeable suppliers of building-related services to the buying public.
For more information, visit nhhba.com or scan this QR code for our membership application.
“The new normal” that New Hampshire residents have mastered following the sweeping changes ushered in by the previous pandemic also includes a great push to pursue coveted home improvement projects — like a reimagined kitchen or bath, going solar and looking for the best mortgage products for either a first home or to refinance.
When they attend the 56th annual New Hampshire State Home Show at the DoubleTree by Hilton Manchester on March 4-5, they will be greeted by more than 200 vendors and exhibitors covering all aspects of the building and remodeling industry. Not only will they be inspired to move ahead with their preferred project, they will also gain valuable information on how to make it so.
“This year’s New Hampshire State Home Show promises to be the largest, most
innovative Home Show that we have held in the last 10 years. The energy of the participating vendors and the wide variety of products will make this a don't miss event,” says Eddie Olson, sales manager for Belletetes, Inc., in Jaffrey.
Olson plans to have a full team of Belletetes designers, support staff and sales people at the New Hampshire State Home Show. His advice to attendees who are ready to move forward is to bring a detailed plan and share it with experts who can quickly move along their project.
“We are going to be open and free with information,” he says. “And we want to give you the right information and coach you through whatever your project is. We’ll be your customer advocate to help you get to the end of your project.”
Home Show organizers expect this year’s attendance to be sky high now that the COVID-19 pandemic is in the rear-view
mirror. Last year’s Home Show marked a closer return to normalcy and saw 4,500 attendees. This year, we are expecting to easily surpass that total. Online ticket sales for this year’s event have been robust and more vendors will be participating. People also welcome the opportunity to meet with builders in person and learn the best way to approach their dream home improvement projects.
“The NH State Home Show is the perfect casual, no-expectations place to meet and talk to builders and other vendors concerning your upcoming project or anything else that piques your interest,” says Olson.
Produced by the New Hampshire Home Builders Association, the show provides an opportunity for homeowners to interact with builders, remodelers, decorators, landscapers and a diverse range of homesolutions providers.
“There are so many benefits to coming
to the New Hampshire State Home Show. Homeowners can gather inspiration from some of the best home design and renovation professionals in the state, meet and interact with local contractors and industry experts, stay up to date on trends and technology, and get expert advice from vendors. It's amazing to see all the different kinds of products and services that can help New Hampshire homeowners make their dream homes a reality,” says Merrill McNally, marketing manager of Black Dog Builders in Salem.
Meeting those vendors face to face also allows homeowners a chance to explore inspiration while getting a look at both how much their dream project may cost as well as when to expect a start date — which makes attendance at this year’s show particularly valuable.
“It is difficult to find decent, reliable home contractors," says Julie Blake, marketing manager at Norfolk Kitchen and Bath. “Home shows offer a great way to meet potential contractors and home specialists for your current or future needs. Usually only responsible and dedicated local businesses participate in them — the true experts in their field. With a home show, you can make appointments for estimates for many services, or ask lots of questions about products or services.”
This year, the NH State Home Show is making it easier than ever to find the right exhibitors for our attendees. Our virtual floor map (nhstatehomeshow.expofp.com) allows you to scan all of the exhibitors before talking to them, to find the ones that are most relevant. Here are some great features of the map:
• You can search for exhibitors by name and find exactly where their booth is located. If you type in their name and click on the exhibitor, the map will zoom to their exact location and give you a booth number. Exhibitors also have a profile with their contact info and photos. Some even have special deals listed!
For example, if you are looking for new cabinets, you can type that in to the search bar, and click on the category. The map will highlight all the exhibitors for that category, and you will be able to zoom in to each and read more about them.
• When navigating the show, make sure to pay attention to the aisle signs hanging from the ceiling. The first two numbers of each booth tell you the aisle the booth belongs to, and the last two numbers tell you how far down the aisle you need to go. Like street addresses, all of the odd numbers are on one side, and even numbers are on the other.
• You can bookmark which exhibitors you want to see. When you pull the map up on your phone, you can save an exhibitor by clicking the bookmark button on their profile, and they will show up on the map with a red ribbon over the booth.
• We have a series of seminars at the NH State Home Show, and for the first time, we will be having appraisers at Antique Alley in the Ballroom. You can click on the orange blocks for both of these special areas to find out more about the programs and schedules. Be sure to check out the vendors in the Beer & Wine Garden before you leave!
Most homeowners and businesses would agree that adding solar energy to decrease their reliance on fossil fuels is a great idea in the face of soaring electric rates. But working with the right solar energy provider to get the best results is critical if they wish to tap into the sun’s renewable energy.
The best place to start would be at the New Hampshire Home Builders Association’s 56th annual New Hampshire State Home Show. Several Granite State solar energy vendors will be demonstrating their wares and expertise at the two-day event.
Mains Electric LLC, in Alton, prides itself on providing a complete solar solution for its customers. Kyra Atwell, the company’s project manager, explained their company provides a personalized touch to all their customers well after an install is completed.
“Some of my customers have my personal cellphone number and they can text me or call me for whatever they may need. It’s a very friendly company. If you go with a national company, you will not get the same customer service,” Atwell explains.
Her company is also a one-stop shop provider. “We do everything in-house. We do not outsource any portion of our project. We have our own electricians. We take care of everything from start to finish.”
While some solar companies may offer certain products like micro-inverters, Atwell says Mains Electric doesn’t limit themselves to one product line. This gives her company the flexibility needed to tailor and customize each of their customer’s projects.
Solar energy in the form of rooftop solar panels or ground-based panels has long appealed to property owners who want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by turning away from fossil fuels. But the steep investment required to go solar proved to be an obstacle for many. Now in addition to climate change, Atwell explains solar costs much less per kilowatt than electricity sold by New Hampshire utility companies. The result has created a perfect situation for New Hampshire homeowners and solar energy providers.
When New Hampshire homeowners and businesses experienced the shock of higher electric bills last year, on the heels of rate increases approved by the state’s Public Utilities Commission, Atwell said Mains Electric saw a steady stream of new clients ready to harness the sun.
Instead of spending an average of $300 to $700 per month on standard electric bills, Atwell says the monthly fee for a net meter (which calculates the amount of solar power per kilowatt that is generated) is just $15 to $35.
She says the stark reality is that utility companies may continue to seek rate increases each year in the face of rising energy costs. “There is no telling whether they will increase them again,” she adds.
For a new customer, Atwell says her company will look at their home via satellite and get a copy of their electric bill. They customize a plan based on the homeowner’s monthly power usage.
Typically, Atwell says, the utility companies give homeowners six cents on the dollar for power credits from excess solar energy sold back to them. A roof-mounted solar panel system can eliminate a portion of a homeowner’s electric bill. A ground-mounted solar panel system can eliminate the electric bill entirely, she says.
Atwell says her company has been doing solar for seven years. “Our residential solar crew usually gets each system done in one week for one property. The commercial crew could be on a project for a few weeks.”
Some of the clients include the Town of Bethlehem, which is now net zero. They are currently helping the Town of Meredith add solar energy to some of their facilities, and they are installing a ground-mounted system at the Squam Lake Science Center in Holderness.
The cost of adding solar panels to a given home or business can be as low as $22,000 or as high as $120,000 depending on the project’s scope. Atwell says their customers have more options to finance solar panels now via solar and green energy loans offered by
Customers will realize a significant savings on their electricity bills immediately. Adding solar energy also brings peace of mind.
Customers who need relief from high electric bills now can con sider a lease via a power purchase agreement with a solar provider.
“We do all the legwork to see if the house qualifies, two to five months. If your house qualifies and you can get it approved, you are paying nothing out of pocket. The day that thing turns on you are saving money on every kilowatt you produce,” Robichaud says. It is up to a rate payer’s utility company to decide if their home qualifies for solar energy, he adds.
solar inverters and solar panels for New England, because they need to handle the weight of snow and ice. “We do all the work a custom er would want on every install we do.”
utility company, solar panels, an inverter and wiring.
up power. The advantage of a portable solar battery is that a home owner can detach it and use it for power at other locations such as a camp. Solar batteries require a firewall and a sprinkler system, and Robichaud says they are safer than gas-powered generators.
Robichaud's customers will typically save close to 30% of their electricity bills once the solar energy system is up and running. That 30% savings continues to grow as the utility companies continue to raise their rates. If a homeowner was paying 20 cents per kilowatt hour and sees a 30% savings, Robichaud said they will actually cut their electric bill in half.
Customers can choose their kilowatt rate and lock it in at 25 years, or go with a little lower introductory rate for the first seven to 10 years with the 2.9% escalator. But all of the electricity you get from the system cannot increase beyond the 2.9% capped rate beyond 25 years, he adds.
Be sure to look for Mains Electric and Merrimack Solar at the New Hampshire State Home Show to learn more about the cost-savings of choosing a renewable energy source.
Remodeling your kitchen and bathroom — the most used parts of your home — can increase your home’s property value and make the rooms more functional and modern.
While many homeowners recognize this, some may feel uncertain about how to successfully renovate these rooms.
“The average person will do a kitchen remodel once in their adult life. It's not like buying a car where in five years, you're going to get a new one,” says Edward Olson, sales manager of Belletetes in Jaffrey.
“It's a big investment in money. And it's a big investment in time,” says Susan Crupi, director of design services with David R. Crupi in Hollis.
Choosing a new look for your kitchen or bath that you’ll love for years is no easy feat, but with the right designer, anything is possible.
To keep on schedule and on budget, New Hampshire design firms emphasize that clients stay flexible and brainstorm alternative choices.
“A lot of people are modifying their selections to what's available,” says Olson.
That doesn’t always mean people have to give up what they want; rather, they can think of alternative choices as a chance to be open to new ideas.
“If you can't go in one direction, maybe it's because there's a better direction,” says Crupi.
Trish MacNeil, design consultant with Blackdog Builders in Salem, agrees.
“That's one thing I tell my clients — there are no rules. We can pretty much get to where you want to be. And make it functional.”
The trick to residential kitchen and bath remodels is balancing trends with timeless design.
“They don't want things that are going to go out of style too
quickly. You can be on point with trends, but in a way that is still timeless. You don't want to get tired of it,” says Crupi.
“Home has become even more important than it was before. Clients want staycations. They want home to be their sanctuary,” says Crupi.
This means kitchens should be open, airy spaces, with plenty of light — a place to enjoy making family meals and hosting special dinners.
Kitchens should also be functional and efficient to make cooking easier than it ever has been before.
“A well-designed kitchen is like having a personal assistant. Everything you need is intuitive, and it's at your fingertips. You don't really have to ask where things are, because they just make sense,” says Crupi.
For example, proper illumination can make prep time less frustrating and increase the functionality of your kitchen. Consider lighting under cabinets and near work spaces, ranges, islands and sinks.
“You don't want the light behind you in the walkway, you want the light shining down over all the contents of that cabinet and flooding it with light,” says Crupi.
“Especially in the kitchen realm, we want you to be over-themoon happy. We want you to love your sink, love your faucet, love your countertop, love your hidden trash pull-out bin — we want you to love it,” says Olson.
MacNeil has been seeing another trend in good design: creating new open spaces in kitchens and dining areas.
As remote, home-based jobs increase, traditional residential layouts may not always serve the homeowner best. Renovations reimagine these traditional spaces to make them useful and loved
regardless of original function.
“Everybody wants the walls down. We support it with either a steel beam or an LVL beam, to get that open concept,” says MacNeil.
This might mean saying goodbye to the formal dining room.
“A lot of people are breaking through to their dining rooms. They don't use them. Especially if you have a smaller house, it's nice to open it up,” says MacNeil.
McNeil explained how one client with a traditional colonial home is opening up their great room and turning the dining room into an office.
“Everyone's different. And it's really the way you use the space,” says MacNeil, adding that mid-century modern or traditional wood details are welcome too.
Bathrooms are also being reimagined into sanctuaries.
“Clients are telling me, ‘I want my primary ensuite to be like a luxury hotel spa,’” says Crupi.
Steam showers, powerful shower heads, air-jetted tubs and body sprayers are all in demand.
Another trend, says Crupi, is the self-care movement — luxury meets staycation meets wellness meets high-class efficiency.
“People want their spaces to be beautiful and they want them to be a breath of fresh air. People want them open, they want them airy, they want them bright,” says Crupi.
Materials like marble, quartz and stone merge with furniture, freestanding tubs and shower niches.
Popular colors inspiring both kitchen and bath renovations include classic relaxing whites and toned-down, softened shades of grays, greens and light blues.
Consumers’ passion for white reaches several decades into the past, says MacNeil.
“A lot of kitchens were white way back then, when they had
painted cabinets. It's just a trend that doesn't seem to be going away."
But contrasting colors can also be soothing.
“The white with the really dark, it's more of a softer feel now, the taupes and the grays. Some people love to work with color — whether it's cool, warm, lighter, softer,” says MacNeil.
In the end, the best home renovation projects align with homeowners’ budget needs and dreams. And designers want you to be as happy with your project as they are.
“I want everything to succeed. And I want it to succeed for the duration,” says Crupi.
Ultimately, it comes down to choosing the right designer to fit your needs and your budget.
“Good design can happen at any price point. And it can happen in an entry-level home, in a mid-range home and in a very grand home. You just have to really educate your client and listen and care,” Crupi says.
As customers become more flexible, designers should also be aware of their needs and ready to accommodate. Olson says Belletetes’ designers recently re-examined their vendor base, because they understand the pressure clients face.
“We selected our business partners closely, with a lot of research and diligence, so we can give customers the best chance of success,” says Olson.
The goal is to make every home renovation count.
“You're making sure that they get what they want for that investment. And it improves the value of their home,” says Crupi.
Look for these kitchen and bath designers at the New Hampshire Home Builders Association’s 56th Annual New Hampshire State Home Show.
New Hampshire is a nature lover’s paradise with the White Mountains, the Seacoast, the Lakes Region, the Great North Woods, and so much more. Regardless of market conditions, demand for prized real estate and that dream home remains strong.
A key to successfully navigating the Granite State’s real estate market is to work with a real estate agency you can trust. They have the inside scoop on how to land your new home this year. While it may take some time and effort to find your dream dwelling, it will be worth it. Some of those real estate agents will be more than happy to meet your acquaintance at the 56th annual New Hampshire State Home Show.
Brie Stephens, founder and broker of Lake Life Realty, says the Lakes Region is an attractive space for retirees and the ever-growing work-from-home crowd.
The housing market “hasn't slowed down for us at all. The Lakes Region is so desirable, the state overall is so desirable from a retirement standpoint,” Stephens adds.
People seek out homes in the Lakes Region for several reasons. Among them are
taxes and education, but most important is the quality of life. Since the pandemic, people have moved away from busy cities to rediscover the benefits of living close to nature.
And now that the craziness of the 2020 real estate market has evened off, buyers can feel more confident about their purchase. And if homeowners decide to sell, it’s still a promising investment.
“I would do it sooner than later. Interest rates have already gone down from what they were in September. This is going to get even more competitive,” says Stephens.
Stephens has been seeing two major buyer pools: remote workers from Maine or Massachusetts looking for a better quality of life, and out-of-state retirees seeking a second home.
“We see a lot of people selling their Massachusetts real estate right now, their Connecticut real estate or their New York real estate, and they're going to split their time between New Hampshire and possibly Florida or the Carolinas.”
Stephens says retirees are looking for smaller-sized, single-level homes close to amenities, that have less upkeep, but can
still accommodate visiting family members and guests.
”They're probably the most prominent buyers who are building or looking to build right now. They want to get everything they want in their final home. But they don't need something over the top. They want privacy, typically, but they want to be close to amenities at the same time — grocery store, hardware store, and hospitals,” says Stephens.
Building in the Lakes Region is also a sound real estate investment, with potential for a stable market, confides Stephens.
While there are plenty of reputable local builders there, it could take a couple of years to get started building or remodeling. But it will be worth the wait.
“The demand is there. We feel we're in a nice bubble up here. It is a good investment overall, even if they have to wait longer than they had probably hoped.”
Given demand and supply chain issues, Stephens says do the future you a favor: prepare now.
“Considering the building supply environment, start thinking of it now and don't hold off. That way it's less stressful. You can line things up and the builder can
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work with you in as reasonable a time as they can.”
And with high prices in the Lakes Region, Stephens suggests talking with your lender early, to find out whether building, remodeling or finding an existing home is right for you.
“The first step is talking to others that are going to be part of the process with you,” she says.
She recommends finding a lender who has a relationship with local contractors.
“They know the process, they know the time schedule, and can set something up on a schedule that would work best for the buyer. The lender will help guide you, or your realtor will help guide you.”
If building or remodeling seems cost-prohibitive, Stephens says don't be fearful, at least in the Lakes Region.
“Don't let it shy you away. If people can build, that's fantastic. The demand is still going to be here.”
Jennifer Madden, principal owner and managing broker with the Madden Group in Rye, says low supply is one obstacle for homebuyers today.
“I have a lot of buyers. And I have to find those buyers places
Compared with the early COVID days, people are realizing that if they sell now, their mortgage payments may go up, so staying where they are may seem more desirable.
“That tightens up the supply,” says Madden.
Madden says the Seacoast, with the exception of a few areas, is mostly built out. Some rural zoning regulations and wetlands are also further limiting construction. When housing developments do pop up, it’s limited supply and limited space.
“The potential for sprawl just isn't there,” says Madden.
Regardless, the market, cash-heavy or not, is always fluid. Madden says homeowners looking to sell should prepare their home ahead of time, so that when the market does improve, they’ll be ready. Call your contractor now rather than later to get that roof fixed, she advises.
“Make sure your house is ready. You don't want to be like, ‘Oh, that's a great house. Let me just have my contractor come over and replace my kitchen cabinets,’” says Madden.
Those looking for a home should think of it not just as an investment, but as a place you’ve always wanted to live.
“You have to look at the numbers, without a doubt. But that is only part of the story when you're talking about your home.”
Madden recommends finding a real estate agent that fits your needs. This is vital to finding the home that you’ll love. They can
“Don't look at it
And homes often appreciate, so if it’s a place you love and you happened to pay more for it, it will become a valuable piece of real estate.
“If you buy a house today, and maybe you think, ‘Oh, I paid $20,000 too much, but I love my house,’ in 10 years, you're going say, ‘Thank God I paid $20,000 too much because my house is worth so much more. And I'm happy I live here.’”
For some, building a dream home also means creating a living space that puts a high premium on energy efficiency as well as comfort and location.
Chris Roche, 86 Chase Rd., Meredith
HERS Rater: Bob Totorice, Building Alternatives, Franconia
Utility: New Hampshire Electric Cooperative
For Chris Roche, building his netzero home in Meredith represented a “crazy dream” that he and his wife were able to turn into reality.
“Our goal was to create a structure that was designed to exceed PassiveHouse standards in our climate zone. The reason we took energy efficiency to the extreme was that we wanted it to serve as a case study for how extreme high performance can be obtained, through use of advanced building techniques and materials,” Roche noted.
Roche said they worked with Legalett, a Canadian company that specializes in frost-protected raft slab insulation assemblies, built to PassiveHouse specifications.
“This allowed us to avoid blasting and provided a foundation that was impervious to moisture, as the concrete slab is fully wrapped by 8 inches of rigid EPS foam that also protects the 15 mil poly vapor barrier. With this system, the slab ‘floats’ over the bedrock and is completely isolated from moisture due to capillary wicking,” he says.
To complete the ultra-tight and super-insulated building envelope, Roches says the interior walls and ceilings are wrapped with a membrane that is continuous with the exterior walls and slab vapor and air barriers.
“For mechanical ventilation, we purchased an entropy-recovery system (ERV) through Zehnder that allows for 96% efficiency in
heat recovery and management of indoor humidity. Entropy recovery is especially important for our climate zone; New Hampshire’s humid summers and dry, cold winters represent extremes that can be brutal on a building. This system helps minimize swings in humidity and was simple to design and install ourselves. The ERV can also be used to provide passive cooling in summer months at night and additional passive cooling during winter months when passive solar gain through the south-facing windows becomes too intense,” Roche explains.
Roche adds the entire home was designed to run on electricity generated on-site with an oversized solar array. At 15 kw of capacity, the array was oversized for future use with potential outbuildings or an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit).
“The electric forced-air radiant in-floor heat system was designed as the primary heating source of the home. Taking advantage of the foundation slab’s thermal mass, the 4-inch in-floor heating tubes ‘charge’ the slab with heat during the day when the sun is shining, then slowly release it at night. The result is an interior temperature that is remarkably stable. Additionally, the forced-air radiant system has none of the leak risks associated with a hydronic radiant floor system. A single 9,000-BTU heat pump mini-split provides both backup heating as well as summer
A net-zero home strikes the balance between the power a home needs and the renewable energy it generates to match the need. Working with skilled construction companies, homeowners use a wide array of green technologies to power their homes and reduce their carbon footprint.
The New Hampshire Home Builders Association recently held their annual NH Cornerstone Awards this winter where three newly constructed homes were recognized for achieving top net-zero energy-efficiency ratings.
cooling for the entire home,” Roche elaborates.
He also notes the home’s Rheem marathon water heater is oversized at 85 gallons so that it can run on a timer switch that only produces hot water during
daylight solar-gain hours.
“A ventless heat pump dryer and drawer-style dishwasher that allow half loads of dishes to be washed are just some of the ways we incorporated energy-efficient appliances into the home,” says Roche.
Be sure to connect with green builders at the 56th annual NH Home Show on March 4-5 at the Doubletree Hilton Manchester sponsored by the New Hampshire Home Builders Association to learn more about how you can achieve a net-zero project.
Robert and Kathleen Decamp, 8 Farm View Rd., Gilford
HERS Rater: Bruce Bennett, GDS Associates, Inc., Manchester
the time they spent at their 800-square-foot camp. For the Decamps, smaller is better. Combine that with achieving net-zero energy efficiency and you have something special.
“We knew we wanted to build an ICF home. We were both fascinated by this technology. These giant Styrofoam Lego-like bricks snap together to build super-insulated walls that are then pumped full with concrete to create a sturdy and efficient home that stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter,” says Kathleen.
“Our home isn’t the traditional home, but it is perfect for us and our life style. We modeled the design after our summer camp but made changes in areas that we knew we would need if it was going to be our full-time home,” she says. Some of the features include:
• Nudura ICF construction for walls and basement floors as well as insulated ceiling technology with built-in strapping.
• Energy Star LED lighting and appliances throughout the home.
• An open-loop system for heated floors. This utilizes the heated floors for hot water instead of pulling cold water from an outside well that needs to be heated to temperature.
• Brilliant Home Controls throughout the home. These smart light switches integrate with other smart home features and allow creation of automated scenes to increase home efficiency.
• 37 solar panels with a 14.8 kilowatt area. Panels are mounted on metal standing seam roof with clips.
“In 2016, we purchased a plot of land with a large open field. We thought it would be a wonderful place to build a home someday. At that time, we were in the midst of renovating the home we were living in and didn’t consider the prospect seriously until 2018, when we started to look at different options for the most efficient and economical way to build a home,” explains Anastasia Rodzianko.
In 2019, they worked with a Vermont construction company to create the new home in Etna, which is just outside of Hanover.
“The decision to build a net-zero home was a no-brainer for the environmental and economic benefits. With our experience in (and tools for) home renovation, and to save on finishes, we opted for an unfinished interior and chose a simple, one story, three-bedroom design to accommodate our growing family,” she says.
The couple says the home features double-stud construction with superior insulation, triple-glazed windows, and its modular construction made it a relatively quick construction.
• Deep clean your house’s interior
Cleaning your house’s interior helps you sell your home in several ways. First, it prevents potential buyers from getting distracted by dust or messes. Also, it can bring out qualities of your home that may otherwise be overlooked. What’s more, it reassures homebuyers that there aren’t other neglected amenities lurking somewhere else within your house.
For older homes in particular, you may want to also consider hiring a professional cleaning service to sparkle every nook and cranny.
• Depersonalize and stage your home
Staging your home is a critical step if you’re hoping for an easier time selling. In fact, a 2021 NAR survey found nearly 50% of buyers’ agents say a house’s staging affects most homebuyers’ decisions.
Since you’ll want to make it easy for a potential buyer to picture themselves living in your house, it’s important to neutralize spaces and prepare them carefully. Here are a few ways to depersonalize your home:
1. Paint rooms in simple, neutral tones.
2. Tone down kitchen floors and backsplashes if possible.
3. Pick up clutter and store toys in totes.
4. Pack away knick-knacks.
There has never been a better time to sell your home as New Hampshire continues to find itself in a seller’s market. But in order to get the best price from a prospective buyer, homeowners should make the effort to make their home as appealing as possible. Here are a few ways to accomplish this task: Here are five projects that loom large on many wish lists. Some are variations of existing trends, but each one adds function, value and joy to houses inside and out.
If you want to place your home’s value on full display, it’s important to start by sprucing up the house’s interior. These home interior improvements can make a major impact when you decide to sell your house:
• Tackle repairs and upgrades
One of the fastest ways to set your house up for a faster sale is to dig into any deferred maintenance and knock out necessary repairs. However, it isn’t a smart idea to simply make upgrades on a whim. Each repair and update carry costs and takes time. That’s why it’s important to do your research, identify the upgrades that will grab you the highest ROI, and look for the features that are in high demand within your area.
One handy trick is to visit open houses around your area. This hands-on research can help you keep up with the preferences in the area. That way, you’ll have an idea of how to stage, paint and design your home to fit local trends.
Another great way to identify repair needs is to snag a pre-listing inspection. These are inspections that the seller pays to have done prior to listing the home. Although having an official pre-listing inspection will cost you money, it also can point out those essential repairs that could hold up your house sale later on.
Another important focus that will help sell your house is improving your house’s exterior. The outside of your house can hit your potential buyer with a lasting first impression that can easily make or break a sale. Here are a few ways to beef up your home’s exterior and lift your house’s curb appeal:
• Add outdoor amenities
Outdoor living spaces can be a major value-driver as buyers shop for a home. And they’re in especially high demand in the shadow of the pandemic. In fact, nearly 50% of agents say outdoor living areas are a top priority within their post-vaccine market.
1. Firepits and outdoor kitchens.
2. Decks or patios.
3. Outdoor lighting.
4. Exterior TVs or speakers.
Upgrading curb appeal is an easy way to help your house stand out and stick in a potential buyer’s mind. One of the best ways to enhance curb appeal is to improve landscaping. Here are some things you can do to improve your lawn’s appearance.
1. Mow the lawn and pull the weeds.
2. Trim the shrubs and trees, and remove overgrown items.
3. Edge the yard and lay down fresh mulch.
• Upgrade your home’s exterior
Maryland real estate agent Bonnie Fleishman says the first place to start when you upgrade your home’s exterior is the front door. “If that front door looks bad, you only have one chance to make that first impression.”
There are a few additional exterior upgrades to make if you want to boost your home’s curb appeal.
1. Clean and repair any chipping or peeling paint.
2. Fix sagging gutters or downspouts and remove leaves.
3. Pressure-wash the house and the driveway.
4. Clean the windows and all outdoor light fixtures.
5. Consider hiring a professional landscaper.
fore pricing your home. The agent will dig into your house’s local market, your home’s features, current trends and other important factors to set the perfect price on your home. These reports use data to back up your pricing decision — making it easier to set a price that’s high enough to make a profit but not so high that your house sits on the market.
If you want to connect with potential buyers and snag the right price for your home, it takes a holistic marketing plan. Not all sellers realize it, but real estate agents spend hours building buzz around the homes they sell. Simply put, the better you market your house, the easier it will be to sell your property at or above your asking price. Here are a few tips to help you spread the word about your home:
• Sell at the right time of the year
Timing the market right is important if you want to land an ideal sale. Different areas will have hot seasons when you could increase the price of your house and lulls when you may risk watching your house sit on the market. Before you list your house, make sure you understand the best time of the year to sell your house within your local market.
This is another area where your local real estate agent’s expertise will come in handy. Because they spend hours eyeing local market data, it’s likely they’ll know exactly how to time your home sale and snag you the highest ROI possible.
Setting the right price for your house has always boosted your chances of selling, but it’s especially important in the current housing market. As inventory remains low and buyers are scared away by high mortgage interest rates, prices set unreasonably high may lead to a house lingering on the market, which can send the message, rightly or wrongly, that something might be wrong with the house.
One of the biggest mistakes sellers make is not doing their homework before setting a price. “I think the problem (with pricing a home) is people tend to listen to family, friends and neighbors, instead of analyzing the data,” says Fleishman.
An easy way to pin down a starting price for your home is to use an online tool, such as Home Value Estimator. By entering a few details, this tool will examine similar listings in your area, look at your home’s features, and calculate the value of your home.
Still, if you want to set a profitable, yet appealing, price on your home, it’s a good idea to team up with an experienced agent. The best agents will conduct a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) be-
• Hire a professional photographer
Your home’s photos can draw in buyers or completely turn them away. That’s why it’s critical to use professional-level photographs when you sell your house.
Professional photographers will see the best angles, know how to reduce glare, and will be able to bring out the best in your house. And a good realtor should have a photographer in their network and generally will offer the service for free.
A listing is a home’s first impression. It has to be accurate and also capture attention. Here are a few tips real estate professionals suggest to help you create an attention-grabbing listing:
1. List your house on a Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
2. Include a virtual tour.
3. Update photographs whenever you can.
4. Upgrade your listing based on what you hear at showings.
5. Point out features that appeal to a buyer’s emotions.
Finding a mortgage in New Hampshire in 2023 comes with plenty of questions and concerns: Is it affordable? What mortgage programs are available? What should I know ahead of time?
While the process takes some planning, a great place to start is the 56th annual New Hampshire State Home Show.
Mortgage lenders there will be eager to talk with hopeful homebuyers, ready to finance their new homes.
“We're looking to talk to people who are planning to build their home and any contractors that are looking to help finance their clients,” offers Garry Cornelius, NMLS# 1185487, vice president of residential mortgage sales with the home lending team at Merrimack County Savings Bank.
As a portfolio lender, the bank offers its own products as well as national products through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
According to Ray Tweedie, NMLS-168746, branch manager with Waterstone Mortgage in Portsmouth, besides offering great mortgage products, they also help cut down on peoples’ stress.
“The homeowner buys a home every five to seven years. We try to reduce the amount of stress on the client throughout the process. ‘I'm writing a check for the appraiser, I'm writing a check for a home inspector, what if it doesn't go? What if something's wrong with the roof?’ We do this every day of the week. We're going to give good advice the entire way through," says Tweedie.
This includes debunking misconceptions homebuyers might come across, that lending is more difficult and future homebuyers need to come up with a large down payment.
Eric LaFleur, MB-1950520 | NMLS-165839, president of Lakeview Mortgage in Derry, adds that such news and social media reports don’t show the whole picture.
“Some of the misconceptions these days in lending are that things have tightened, there's fewer options, and there’s a need for large down payments. But that's really not true. There’s a ton of options for buyers,” LaFleur contends.
As an independent broker, Lakeview Mortgage offers just about every mortgage product — including FHA loans, loans for veterans and USDA loans. There are also specialty loans, reverse
mortgages, non-qualifying mortgage lending and more.
Two programs require zero down payment: the USDA loan and the VA loan program for veterans.
A USDA loan is for properties that have two qualifying elements: the home address is in a designated rural area, and there is an income limitation.
Veterans should also inquire about a VA mortgage.
“If you're a veteran, and you're eligible for a VA mortgage, that's 100% financing. If you're doing a rural development loan, that loan is 100% financing,” says Tweedie.
Homebuyers may also be eligible for a grant. Waterstone Mortgage offers a $10,000 forgivable grant program geared toward qualifying first-time homebuyers. The program, on a first-comefirst-serve basis, is dependent on average median income.
“It's a big chunk of money. Over a five-year period, 1/60 of that grant is forgiven every month. That $10,000 could be used for your closing costs, FHA loans, etc.,” says Tweedie.
Another of Waterstone Mortgage’s programs benefits incoming doctors by offering no money down and 100% financing. They’ll ignore doctors’ student loan payments if they’re going to work at a New Hampshire hospital.
“They can buy straight out of medical school. They can buy a home, get settled in, put roots down. That's good for the hospital. It's good for the doctor, it's good for the community,” says Tweedie.
“Some of the misconceptions these days in lending are that things have tightened, there's fewer options, and there’s a need for large down payments. But that's really not true.”
Eric LaFleur, President Lakeview Mortgage, Derry
With their “heroes” program, educators, police department employees and other emergency first responders can buy a home with
Meanwhile, Merrimack County Savings Bank is focused on local lending for homeowners in tangent with their construction products and can work with builders who have a client in need of financing.
“A lot of banks will use a third party. We brought that all in-house, which makes it a nice process from front to back on our construction products,” says Cornelius.
If you’re 55 and older, applying for a reverse mortgage might be
“Our state is graying rather quickly. (Reverse mortgage products) used to be for people 62 and older as a semi-retirement vehicle to help with homeownership and retirement.”
According to Tweedie, there are some appealing 55-plus communities and housing developments. In that scenario, someone else takes care of the property, does the yard work, and takes care of the driveway while you’re traveling or enjoying retirement.
“We have great reverse mortgage products that allow people to
and end up moving here. It's pretty phenomenal where we live,” says Tweedie.