What is USGBC and LEED Certified?

‘building green’

USGBC

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.

What is LEED?

LEED is an internationally recognized green building program. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a voluntary, consensus-based, market-driven program that provides third-party verification of green buildings. From individual buildings and homes, to entire neighborhoods and communities, LEED is transforming the way built environments are designed, constructed, and operated. Comprehensive and flexible, LEED addresses the entire lifecycle of a building.

Participation in the voluntary LEED process demonstrates leadership, innovation, environmental stewardship and social responsibility. LEED provides building owners and operators the tools they need to immediately impact their building’s performance and bottom line, while providing healthy indoor spaces for a buildings occupants.

LEED projects have been successfully established in 135 countries. International projects, those outside the United State, make up more than 50% of the total LEED registered square footage. LEED unites us in a single global community and provides regional solutions, while recognizing local realities.

How it Works

For commercial buildings and neighborhoods, to earn LEED certification, a project must satisfy all LEED pre-requisites and earn a minimum 40 points on a 110 point LEED rating system scale. Homes must earn a minimum of 45 points on a 136-point scale.

Learn about LEED

LEED is developed, implemented and maintained with the help of the LEED Committees. Focusing more on the application of LEED, the LEED International Round Table identifies ways LEED can better meet the needs of global users. Together, these groups include representation from a variety of industries across the country and around the globe.

USGBC is your source for up-to-date, high quality education on the rating systems. Visit www.USGBC.org

I have been a realtor and real estate land specialist in Los Angeles for more than 15 years creating opportunities for land-owners and Buyers brokering vacant land throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. I can be contacted at sales (at) westsideland (dot) com and information can be obtained from www.westsideland.com

Game Of Loans

‘systematic greed at the expense of financial integrity and stability’

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When the current economic crisis began in 2008, at least one hundred of the biggest Banks in the US had construction and lending departments. As the economic crisis evolved, all of these Banks shut down their vacant lot and construction lending divisions. As of today, not much has changed. With the current government rules so harsh on regular lending, coupled with fears of making bad loans, Banks have been hesitant to venture back into the game of making land loans.

If you want to buy a vacant lot and build your own home right now your timing could not be better. Although it is difficult to find vacant land and construction financing, it is not impossible. Lending rates today are as low as 3.75% for vacant lots and 3.00% for construction lending. When looking to buy land, you need to investigate the lot thoroughly prior to getting funding. The investigation must include questions such as; how much acreage is included in the lot? Are their multiple APN numbers (assessor parcel numbers) with this lot? What is the zoning of this lot? (residential zoning will be accessible, but agricultural will be difficult for lending) Does the property ‘percolate’ for septic systems or does the lot have direct access to the local sewer system? Is water provided by a local water company or will you have to drill a well? Is water available by well? Are utilities able to be hooked up, or will you have to pay the local company to bring power to the site? Is the lot burdened by easements? If so, how will those easements affect your build? What city ordinances will be applied to the lot? What are the exact boundaries of the lot?

What about the soils and topography of the site? Are you dealing with a ‘cut’ site where the lot is graded and ‘cut’ right out of the hill, or do you have ‘fill’ in which dirt is compacted to accommodate your building site. How much slope does the lot have, because more ‘slope’ will usually mean more retaining walls and or caissons. Caissons and retaining walls can be very expensive and add up to 20% to the build. Usually, this cost will not come back when an appraisal is completed, as it is regarded as a sunk cost to build a house on a hillside. All these questions, amongst others, need to be answered before moving forward with the loan and purchase of the lot.

Since the Great Recession of 2008, vacant lots have been reduced to approximately 35% to 45% of value depending where the lots are located. With loan rates and land prices so low, this is an excellent time to buy vacant land and build on it.

I have been a realtor and real estate land specialist in Los Angeles for the past 15 years creating opportunities for land-owners and Buyers brokering vacant land throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. I can be contacted at sales (at) westsideland (dot) com and information can be obtained from www.westsideland.com

Swimming Pools

‘sink or swim’

Whether purchasing an existing home, a fixer-upper or tear-down, the component that often gets most overlooked and/or understated in a general inspection is usually the existing swimming pool on the subject property.

One major issue that a buyer can encounter, is copper plumbing on these existing swimming pools. This can be observed as it exits the ground in the pool equipment room/area. Copper on house plumbing is a good thing; copper on pool plumbing is a fragile ticking time bomb. To replace it, the surrounding pool decks must be demolished, then removed for the re-plumb to take place. Copper plumbing on swimming pools was the material of choice up until the early 1970’s. After that era, builders switched to white plastic schedule 40 PVC. Swimming pool chemistry often gets out of the ideal ranges especially if maintained by a non professional or by the homeowner who has very little knowledge of knowing how to maintain a swimming pool professionally. The Ph of a swimming pool is the measurement of acid verses a base present in the water. If a swimming pool gets too acidic, it will “strip” or eat the interior wall of the copper plumbing. Copper, compared to other metals, is so soft it does not resist corrosive acid. A pool with copper plumbing that was constructed in, say 1970 or before, could have been dangerously acidic 20 times in its life or more. Pool service people often just “splash and dash” without careful testing and calculating the quantities of acid required to correct the basic nature of pool plaster. If they add too much acid, small amounts of the wall thickness of the copper pipe is removed when the acidic water is circulated. The copper can also be stripped if a pool pump was installed that is over sized and hydraulically moves too much water through these pipes. The friction created by fast moving water carved the Grand Canyon, and will certainly remove the interior walls of the copper pipes just as easily. Swimming pool contractors should make it a policy not to re-plaster a pool or pour new concrete surrounding the pool without total revision of the plumbing system. Because, if a freshly plastered pool starts to leak, then the pool owner will question the plaster’s integrity and its ability to hold the water, and the contractor will claim the copper plumbing failed, resulting in a dispute that will cost both parties unnecessary time and money. Or worse yet, the plumbing leaks two years after the contractor has gone out of business. Other areas of concern on these older swimming pools are cracks inside the plastic skimmer area. The skimmer area is under the circular deck lid on the pool deck which is a common area for leakage.

Home Warranty policies offered by Insurance Companies can give a Buyer a false sense of security, because like most Home Insurance policies, it will only cover simple fixes. Note that most Home Warranty policies exclude any below ground swimming pool repairs. A point of interest is that many insurance companies unfairly deny claims from pool owners on the basis of dirty filters, rodent chewed wires, rodent droppings, et al, which they consider “lack of maintenance” by pool owners. So, pool owners may want to “tidy up” so-to-speak and photograph for their records their pool equipment room/area before calling the pool repair person. More importantly, the best route for a Buyer interested in upgrading or keeping an existing swimming pool, is to consult with a licensed swimming pool professional before moving forward with the purchase of the property.

I have been a realtor and real estate land specialist in Los Angeles for the past 15 years creating opportunities for land-owners and Buyers brokering vacant land throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. I can be contacted at sales (at) westsideland (dot) com and information can be obtained from www.westsideland.com