Our Newest Listing Is a Case Study on How to Achieve Net Zero Energy at Home

6187 Terry Way in Arvada’s Sunrise Ridge Subdivision – Just listed at $450,000

By JIM SMITH, Realtor

Regular readers of this column know my commitment to sustainability. Our office is Net Zero Energy, with our 20-kilowatt solar PV system providing all the energy to heat, cool and power our office plus charge our four electric cars, while also providing free charging to the public. My home is also solar powered, satisfying all our electrical needs, although we still have natural gas service.

Readers may also recall me saying that the most affordable way to invest in sustainable features is to buy a home which already has them, since the investment in sustainability pays for itself over time but rarely returns what you paid for it in the resale value of your home.

The home I just listed at 6187 Terry Way in Arvada’s Sunrise Ridge subdivision is a good example of that. The seller, like me, is fanatical about sustainability and has invested over $80,000 in solar power, insulation, daylighting, and other improvements, but the listing price of $450,000, while higher than for a comparable home with a higher monthly energy bill, recovers for the seller only a fraction of her investment.

Meanwhile, whether or not you are interested in purchasing a terrific 2-bed-room patio home, let me use it as an example of the ways you can invest in sustainable features for your own home.

I’ve written in the past about Steve Steven’s 1970s brick ranch which he took beyond Net Zero. I did a narrated video tour of it when it was on the annual tour of solar homes, and it took over 40 minutes to describe all its sustainable features!

This home, however, is a 2002 frame-built tract home that was constructed with above-average but below-optimum energy and insulation features, leaving plenty of room for improvement.  And improve it the seller did!  (You’ll understand why, knowing that she is Steve Stevens’ significant other!)

What follows is a run-down of the improvements which brought this home’s electrical bill down to the cost of its connection to Xcel Energy’s grid. In fact, the home is beyond Net Zero Energy to Net Carbon Positive, meaning that its excess electrical generation more than compensates for the natural gas being used for cooking and heating. On top of that, the seller charges her electric car in the home’s 2-car garage.

Here are the sustainability highlights:

First, of course, a 4.4-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system was installed on the roof. Having done that, the next tasks involved reducing electrical demand so that 4.4kW of solar PV would be sufficient.

Of course, all incandescent, fluorescent and CFL light bulbs were replaced with LED bulbs and fixtures. That alone reduced the electrical load substantially.

Next, five 14- and 22-inch diameter Velux sun tunnels were installed, bringing natural light into all the rooms, nearly eliminating the need for artificial lighting except at night.

Next, all the appliances, including the central A/C unit, were replaced with high efficiency Energy Star-rated models. In the case of the kitchen appliances, they are all stainless steel.

At this point, the electrical efficiency was pretty much maxed out, so attention was given to reducing the natural gas load for heating the home.

Additional cellulose insulation was blown into the attic, bringing it up to an R-100 rating — more than twice what you’ll find in the typical production home. We have a picture of this home after a snow storm, showing the snow melted off the roofs of neighboring homes but not off this home’s roof — clear evidence of good attic insulation.

The rim joist (accessible because the basement is unfinished) was insulated to R-50. This area of the house, I’ve found, is the most neglected area of any house when it comes to insulation. It’s where the joists for the main floor sit on the home’s foundation. Most home builders stuff some fiberglass insulation between the joists, but they don’t enclose that fiberglass in plastic. Cold winter air easily infiltrates through loose fiberglass insulation. It’s the plastic sheeting which stops that air.  And closed-cell foam sprayed between the joists further inhibits air infiltration.

Next, the windows and patio door were replaced with Energy Star-rated Champion products. Improving the windows further was the installation of insulating Hunter Douglas blinds.

Those are the improvements which made the home more energy efficient, bringing it past New Zero Energy. Other improvements worth noting which add value to this home are the large deck with seating on the sunny south side of the house, the beautiful oak Murphy bed with wall storage in the guest bedroom which allows the bedroom to be used as an office, and the 240-Volt wiring in the garage to provide EV charging.

Since this is a “paired home,” the  party wall already had double-wall construction with insulation which reduced the transmission of noise between the units, but my seller added a third wall which consumed 5 inches on the her side of the party wall, into which cellulose insulation was blown, creating an even better sound barrier.

I hope this article has inspired you to improve the energy efficiency of your own home, even if it hasn’t inspired you to call your agent or me at 303-525-1851 to arrange a private showing!

You can view a video tour of this  listing at http://www.ArvadaPatioHome.info narrated by me. It’s just like an actual showing!

NOTE: Showings begin on Monday, March 23rd.

Price Reduced on Fabulous 5-BR Arvada Ranch

11948 W. 66th Lane, Arvade – Now listed at $950,000

You’ll appreciate the quality features of this luxurious ranch home, from the fabulous living room with invisible surround sound speakers, to the gourmet kitchen, the elegant master suite with fireplace and sunroom, and the finished garage with epoxy floor. The location is super quiet, too, yet convenient to old town Arvada, downtown Denver and I-70 into the mountains. Call your agent or Jim Smith at 303-525-1851 for a private showing! You can also appreciate this home by visiting www.ArvadaRanch.info where you can view a video tour of the home narrated by Jim.  Our tours simulate an actual showing — much better than a slideshow of still photos with music.

What Does ‘Open and Transparent’ Look Like in Real Estate?

For some reason I’ve never understood, most listing agents believe that they should not be open and transparent with buyers’ agents regarding the disclosure of offers in hand when there’s a bidding war for their listing.

At Golden Real Estate, we believe in being open and transparent. Here’s what that looks like.

Rule number one is to always tell the truth. We never mislead a colleague about offers in hand. If we don’t have competing offers, we’ll never represent that we do. This is a matter of ethics. The Realtor Code of Ethics, to which every Realtor swears allegiance, requires no misrepresentation about anything, whether it’s how successful we are or whether we have competing offers.

Agents from other brokerages, however, typically won’t disclose the price or nature of the offers they have for their listings. At Golden Real Estate, we not only disclose the price and terms of offers received, but we will let each agent know if their offer is surpassed by a better offer. We don’t want any buyer or their agent to have the experience of being blindsided.

This is good for both buyer and seller, and buyers’ agents invariably thank me when I explain this policy. After all, how would you as a buyer like to learn later that if you had only offered $2,000 more (which you were willing to do), you would have won that bidding war?

Similarly, how would you as a seller, like to learn that you could have gotten $2,000 more for your house?

Although this process essentially operates like an auction, where everyone in the room knows what they’re bidding against and chooses on their own when to drop out of the bidding, it doesn’t mean that we let the bidding go on forever.

After the buyers have raised their bids twice, it’s time to ask for a final bid, without offering to return if it’s not the winning bid. While this is our policy, the seller, of course, is the final authority on how long to continue the back and forth. By that time, however, they tend to be quite happy with the highest bid and agree to cut it off. To do otherwise risks antagonizing the buyers and their agents.

It’s important to us as professionals that we leave each party in a bidding war happy that we were transparent enough that they felt they had a fair chance to win a coveted listing.

This approach takes more work on our part than doing what other agents typically do when multiple offer situations arise, which is to inform agents that they have multiple offers and ask buyers’ agents to submit their “highest and best.” Then the seller accepts the best offer and other buyers are upset and angry that they weren’t allowed to raise their offer.

We feel, however, that our approach is not only fairer to buyers’ agents but also produces the best price for our sellers.  We wish that other listing agents would adopt this practice.

Transparency, however, does not extend to disclosing the price at which a home is under contract prior to closing. The reason for that is that if the contract falls, we don’t want the next buyer to know what the seller was willing to accept. That’s because we have an ethical and legal obligation to work in our seller’s best interest.

The only time I would disclose the price at which one of my listings is under contract is when an appraiser needing comps calls me. If we are cleared to close — past inspection, appraisal and other contingencies — I’m willing to help that appraiser know the price so he can do his or her job in appraising a comparable listing for a different seller.

Thanks to this practice, Golden Real Estate has a better-than-average track record when it comes to closing price vs. listing price. In some cases this has resulted in our sellers netting their full listing price even after subtracting commissions and the other costs of selling.

Call me or one of our broker associates at 303-302-3636 if you like how we operate and would like a no-obligation market analysis of your home.

3-BR Ranch Home Backs to South Table Mountain

Just Listed by Jim Smith for $580,000. Showings begin Saturday, March 14th

Classic brick ranches in Golden proper which back to open space are not often for sale, so this one will sell quickly. The address is 301 Lookout View Drive. It has a fully finished basement, freshly refinished hardwood floors and an updated kitchen with granite countertops and newer stainless steel appliances. The bathrooms have also been updated and, like the kitchen, have ceramic tile floors. Outside, it has a new roof, gutters and French drain to the street. There is mature landscaping front and back, with a 4-zone sprinkler system. The large private patio in the backyard has open space views and is part covered and part pergola. Take a narrated video tour at www.SouthGoldenHome.com, then come to an open house on Saturday, March 14, 11am – 2pm.  Or call Jim Smith at 303-525-1851 for a private showing.

Build Your Dream Home on This 10-Acre Conifer Lot

Listed at $350,000 by Carrie Lovingier

Don’t miss this opportunity to build your custom home in the exclusive Rancho Mirage community. Enjoy captivating snow capped panoramic views of Rampart Range, Pikes Peak, Mt. Evans, Mt. Rosalie, & Lion’s Head from this 10.33-acre corner lot. Enjoy the sense of seclusion and privacy in this very quiet neighborhood only 3 miles from Highway 285 (no road noise). A boundary pin survey was completed in December 2018 and the building envelope is marked. This lot sits at about 8600 feet elevation with conifer, pine and aspen trees on gently sloping terrain and has an exceptional building site. Only 45 minutes to downtown Denver, 75 minutes to DIA. Highly rated Jeffco schools, shopping, and other amenities are nearby. Popular hiking, fishing, biking, horseback riding, Staunton State Park, Reynolds Open Space and more are within minutes. Easy flat and level access by privately maintained road. Gas, electric, and internet are available. You can view a narrated video tour, including drone footage, at www.ConiferLand.info, then call listing agent   Carrie Lovingier at 303-907-1278 for a private showing!

No More Politics Here….

Readers know that I often have something to say about politics and especially the 2020 election, but I have promised our broker associates (and Rita) that I won’t use this space again for that purpose. Instead, I’ve purchased the bottom half of page two in YourHub twice a month, starting this week, for that purpose and will post those columns at www.JimSmithBlog.com instead of on this blog.

Sound advice from a virologist about the Coronavirus

This was sent to me by a school classmate. I Googled this doctor’s name and he speaks with authority. I haven’t seen this information or advice in the media!

Notes on Coronavirus for guidance:  Good luck to all of us! James Robb, MD FCAP   

1. If you have a runny nose and sputum, you have a common cold
2. Coronavirus pneumonia is a dry cough with no runny nose.
3. This new virus is not heat-resistant and will be killed by a temperature of just 26/27 degrees. It hates the Sun.
4. If someone sneezes with it, it takes about 10 feet before it drops to the ground and is no longer airborne.
5. If it drops on a metal surface it will live for at least 12 hours – so if you come into contact with any metal surface – wash your hands as soon as you can with a bacterial soap.
6. On fabric it can survive for 6-12 hours. normal laundry detergent will kill it.
7. Drinking warm water is effective for all viruses. Try not to drink liquids with ice.
8. Wash your hands frequently as the virus can only live on your hands for 5-10 minutes, but – a lot can happen during that time – you can rub your eyes, pick your nose unwittingly and so on.
9. You should also gargle as a prevention. A simple solution of salt in warm water will suffice.
10. Can’t emphasize enough – drink plenty of water!


THE SYMPTOMS
1. It will first infect the throat, so you’ll have a sore throat lasting 3/4 days
2. The virus then blends into a nasal fluid that enters the trachea and then the lungs, causing pneumonia. This takes about 5/6 days further.
3. With the pneumonia comes high fever and difficulty in breathing.
4. The nasal congestion is not like the normal kind. You feel like you’re drowning. It’s imperative you then seek immediate attention.

BIO:  As some of you may recall, when I was a professor of pathology at the University of California San Diego, I was one of the first molecular virologists in the world to work on coronaviruses (the 1970s). I was the first to demonstrate the number of genes the virus contained. Since then, I have kept up with the coronavirus field and its multiple clinical transfers into the human population (e.g., SARS, MERS), from different animal sources
The current projections for its expansion in the US are only probable, due to continued insufficient worldwide data, but it is most likely to be widespread in the US by mid to late March and April.


Here is what I have done and the precautions that I take and will take. 

These are the same precautions I currently use during our influenza seasons, except for the mask and gloves.


1) NO HANDSHAKING! Use a fist bump, slight bow, elbow bump, etc.
2) Use ONLY your knuckle to touch light switches. elevator buttons, etc.. Lift the gasoline dispenser with a paper towel or use a disposable glove.
3) Open doors with your closed fist or hip – do not grasp the handle with your hand, unless there is no other way to open the door. Especially important on bathroom and post office/commercial doors.
4) Use disinfectant wipes at the stores when they are available, including wiping the handle and child seat in grocery carts.
5) Wash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever you return home from ANY activity that involves locations where other people have been.
6) Keep a bottle of sanitizer available at each of your home’s entrances. AND in your car for use after getting gas or touching other contaminated objects when you can’t immediately wash your hands.
7) If possible, cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard. Use your elbow only if you have to. The clothing on your elbow will contain infectious virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more!

What I have stocked in preparation for the pandemic spread to the US:

1) Latex or nitrile latex disposable gloves for use when going shopping, using the gasoline pump, and all other outside activity when you come in contact with contaminated areas.
Note: This virus is spread in large droplets by coughing and sneezing. This means that the air will not infect you! BUT all the surfaces where these droplets land are infectious for about a week on average – everything that is associated with infected people will be contaminated and potentially infectious. The virus is on surfaces and you will not be infected unless your unprotected face is directly coughed or sneezed upon.
This virus only has cell receptors for lung cells (it only infects your lungs) The only way for the virus to infect you is through your nose or mouth via your hands or an infected cough or sneeze onto or into your nose or mouth.
2) Stock up now with disposable surgical masks and use them to prevent you from touching your nose and/or mouth (We touch our nose/mouth 90X/day without knowing it!). This is the only way this virus can infect you – it is lung-specific. The mask will not prevent the virus in a direct sneeze from getting into your nose or mouth – it is only to keep you from touching your nose or mouth.
3) Stock up now with hand sanitizers and latex/nitrile gloves (get the appropriate sizes for your family). The hand sanitizers must be alcohol-based and greater than 60% alcohol to be effective.
4) Stock up now with zinc lozenges. These lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus (and most other viruses) from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. Use as directed several times each day when you begin to feel ANY “cold-like” symptoms beginning. It is best to lie down and let the lozenge dissolve in the back of your throat and nasopharynx. Cold-Eeze lozenges is one brand available, but there are other brands available.

I, as many others do, hope that this pandemic will be reasonably contained, BUT I personally do not think it will be. Humans have never seen this snake-associated virus before and have no internal defense against it.


Tremendous worldwide efforts are being made to understand the molecular and clinical virology of this virus. Unbelievable molecular knowledge about the genomics, structure, and virulence of this virus has already been achieved. BUT, there will be NO drugs or vaccines available this year to protect us or limit the infection within us. Only symptomatic support is available.

I hope these personal thoughts will be helpful during this potentially catastrophic pandemic. You are welcome to share.

Good luck to all of us! James Robb, MD FCAP