The influx of popular television shows featuring “fixer-uppers” may lead a homeowner to think such an undertaking is no big deal. But as Scottsdale resident Mary Ann Simmon quickly realized, finding a contractor and managing a home renovation can be stressful. And adding a health issue or a tight budget to the equation only amplifies the aggravation.
As Simmon set out with her adult daughter, Lisa, to tackle several necessary repairs to her South Scottsdale home of more than 40 years, funds quickly dwindled. The three-generation family found themselves in a tough predicament. Certainly not a situation Simmon ever expected to find herself, her daughter and grandson to be in.
Some online research led Lisa and her mom to Chad Beougher, a housing rehabilitation specialist, and the city of Scottsdale’s Green Housing Rehabilitation Program.
While many cities offer housing rehabilitation assistance to low- and moderate-income families, Scottsdale’s program takes an environmentally-friendly twist by focusing on energy-efficient fixes. The program, launched last year, helps qualified homeowners save energy and reduce their home’s environmental impact by providing up to $65,000 in assistance toward owner-occupied housing improvements.
Green building isn’t a new idea in Scottsdale. In 1998, the city established Arizona's first Green Building Program to mitigate the negative impacts of building and development on the environment. The program applies citywide to both residential and commercial projects. Likewise, Scottsdale’s Green Housing Rehabilitation Program is the first of its kind in the state.
The idea of going green and the program’s focus on improved health were particularly appealing to homeowner Mary Ann Simmon and the program’s focus has appealed to others – seven green rehab projects have been completed since the program’s inception and 16 residents are on a waitlist. Helping people in need and working with families on-site from start to finish appeal to Beougher, who single-handedly manages the program.
Once approved, families work with Beougher to develop a personal, environmentally-friendly fix-it list to address their home’s structural concerns, remedy code violations, provide cost-effective improvements and reduce energy consumption. Simmon was approved for the program and work began on her home earlier this year.
Mary Ann Simmon's South Scottsdale home as work is underway as part of her green housing rehabilitation.
A scope of work is agreed upon, then Beougher bids projects to qualified general contractors licensed through the Arizona Registrar of Contractors. The program provides technical assistance and a deferred loan to finance the rehabilitation work. In Simmon’s instance, the rehab was completed by Amaya Construction.
“One of the nicest people to work with,” Simmon said of the three-month housing process and working with owner Angelo Amaya. “Honest, respectful and trustworthy.”
Repairs included replacing the ductwork in Simmon’s home, adding a fresh air intake and moving the gas water heater to the exterior of the home to help improve indoor air quality. In turn, Simmon said the improvements in her family’s health were noted almost instantaneously.
And as the summer arrived, the improved air intake and new ductwork not only provided the family some cool relief from the climbing temps, but also a reprieve from what were once sky-high electricity bills due to their previously outdated, inefficient system.
A demand control water pump and low-flow WaterSense plumbing fixtures were installed to reduce the family’s water use and save energy. WaterSense is a program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. WaterSense-labeled products are certified to use at least 20 percent less water, save energy and perform as well as or better than regular models.
The green streak continued with new Energy Star rated ceiling fans, exterior doors and dimmer light switches. Jump ducts were installed and attic insulation was brought up to an R-38 value. All upgrades were designed to increase the home’s energy efficiency.
A wood fence at the rear of the property was replaced with a block fence, security screen doors were installed and exterior lights at the rear doors were added for security. The work completed the rehab and remedied the home’s electrical, plumbing and structural code violations.
“It’s not only about being green – the city wants you to be safe in your home,” Simmon said. “It doesn’t just “meet code” now – it’s far beyond that.”
At the end of the project, Simmon was issued a Green Certificate of Occupancy.
And while Simmon agreed that dealing with contractors and home renovations is stressful, this time she’s literally breathing easy.
To learn more about Scottsdale’s Green Housing Rehabilitation Program and application process, visit ScottsdaleAZ.gov and search “green rehab.”