Ken Edelstein

Editor and publisher at RenewATL.com

Retrofitting the renovation

Carl Seville took a quick look at the floor plans I rolled out for him one afternoon last year, looked up over his glasses and fired out the kind of blunt comment (paired with textbook snicker) that is his trademark. “It’s a nice house, but I don’t know why you have that courtyard in the […]

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DIY tips: Choosing a green architect

Architectural plans, bundled, basket

Hiring the right architect for a renovation or a new house is difficult enough. Adding the qualification “green” to the mix makes the search even more complicated. The first question you need to ask yourself is whether you need an architect in the first place. Alternative approaches include hiring a design-build firm, obtaining a stock house plan […]

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DIY tips: Design-build vs. architecture

Architects and design-build contractors have heatedly debated the relative merits of two design and construction approaches for about three decades. The truth: There are arguments for either method, even after you throw in a green twist. Under design-bid-build (the “traditional” method preferred by many architects), the owner contracts with the architect. Then, after all or most […]

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DIY tips: Alternatives to architects

freegreen.com, Free Green, stock home plans

The owner who’s getting set to build a new house often assumes she or he will be working with an architect. But architects actually design only a fraction of the single-family homes built in the U.S. every year. High-end custom homes tend to be the ones designed by architects. Here are three alternatives, with links […]

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DIY tips: Green stock house plans

freegreen.com, Free Green, stock home plans

Buying a stock home plan online can be the least expensive and fastest way to obtain a design for a completely new house. Of course, there also are potential drawbacks. “The best way to get a home is to hire a full-service architect in your area who has a great reputation” and then to have […]

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Team building equals green building

When Silvia and I resumed the planning for our house after a four-year hiatus, we knew we’d need to surround ourselves with a competent team. That was partly because we’d parted ways with our architect, and knew we still needed professional help. But you could say it’s mainly because I needed professional help of a […]

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I am not a DIY idiot

An HGTV show called “Disaster DIY” showcases the bad ideas, money pits and utter failure of people who thought they were smart enough to do what contractors do professionally. I really don’t want to be on that show. In fact, I brace myself for what goes through people’s minds and, even worse, is liable to […]

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Good architects, bad fit

Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright, Wikimedia Commons

Our first decision turned out to be our first mistake. We were hunting for architects, and were wowed by a prominent husband-and-wife team. He’s a professor with an Ivy League degree. They’d just won a local contest to design an affordable green house. (Read my previous journal entry.) They took us on a tour of […]

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Our forest in the city

landscape, Green Home Chronicle

Two strains of environmental thinking could pull you in opposite directions when it comes to the preferred location for a green house. The dominant idea nowadays is built on the assumption that the really big environmental problems — climate change, land use, water quality, transportation — get worse as people spread themselves thinly. (Read my previous journal […]

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A green sense of place in North Georgia

Peachtree Creek, Hahn Woods, Emory University

I’ve been arguing with my friend Ned for years about the environment in general and climate change in particular. Nowadays, Ned’s an oilman. But we grew up together in Atlanta, and he introduced me to the cozy magnificence of North Georgia. We paddled rivers. We hiked up mountains. We crawled through cramped, dank caves together. […]

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