Just how costly is a green, customized home?

You can find plenty of opinions about the long-term costliness of the typical suburban McMansion (waste of resources, dependence on automobiles, etc.) but I’ve often wondered whether the alternatives, a smaller customized home or a greener home, are really cheaper. And if American home buyers seem pretty motivated about cost, how would this affect whether these would purchase these alternatives? Here is an anecdote about building a green, customized home that suggests they can be costly:

As readers of Green House know, we started our journey to a right-sized, energy-efficient home in Falls Church, VA., nearly three years ago after selling a McMansion a few miles away. We never expected it would take so long or cost so much…

We’re acclimating. A modern home in a traditional neighborhood brings lots of stares, especially when you haven’t had a chance to order shades for the 16-foot wide, 10-foot tall sliding glass doors to your living room. Cars slow down as they go by, and walkers sometimes wave. We wave back, even if we have no idea who they are…

We’re preparing paperwork to have the house certified by the U.S. Green Building Council and the National Association of Home Builders. We’re shooting for the top rating, but having gone through the exhausting process of building a custom home, we’re all too aware of Murphy’s Law.

I wish the story was more clear about the cost of the building the home plus the utilities. Just because the home is smaller and more energy-efficient does not necessarily mean that it will be cheaper up-front. Is this like purchasing a hybrid car where you have to operate the car for a certain number of years before you realize the gas savings because of the premium for the car?

It looks like a nice house from the pictures posted with the story. But why exactly did they design a “modern home in a traditional neighborhood”? What happened to trying to fit into an existing architectural milieu?

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