About twenty years ago, I moved into my first home, which sits on a beautiful lot where the cattle used to graze. When you think about it, all homes sit where wildlife used to frolic, but I digress. The point is, a first-time homeowner, especially one with a substantial lot and a long driveway, is in for a few surprises. I remember saying $10,000 checks were flying left and right, and that’s not even for the mortgage payments. Driveway: $5,000. Lawn seeding: $2,000. Mowing tractor and snow removal equipment: $7,500. There were at least twice that many nickels and dimes. I don’t remember them all, but you get the picture.
Fortunately, these were one time investments that served us well. What about energy costs? For the home, it wasn’t bad because, of course, efficiency was built into everything. However, for commercial real estate, it is a serious issue. And unlike the nickels and dimes above, waste is waste for which tenants and property owners get zilch – no asset, no added value, no added comfort, and in some cases, discomfort.
Myopically Awful Ideas
I’m more sensitive to wasting energy and money than the average bear, but consider some of the lamebrain decisions property developers make. My first rented space here in La Crosse was affectionately called the icebox. Concrete. Cold. It had a propane-fired furnace, and the floors consisted of precast, hollow-core slabs as shown below.
Certainly, there are ways to use this construction and not waste hordes of energy, but the dummkopfs who designed the icebox had a great idea – they avoided paying for ductwork and used the cores of the concrete panels for air delivery. The concrete had a voracious appetite for heat, and much of it was conducted to the outdoors before it ever made it to the room.
The second place I rented was quite modern at the time, built in the mid-1990s. Everything about the place was good, except they made the incredible, short-sighted decision to install electric baseboard heating.