Contributed by Sonja Gustafson:
One of the great things about home building is the lively stream of passers-by who offer encouragement, ideas, and remarks about the project. By far the most encouraging comments from people who stop are along the lines of “we’re so glad you didn’t tear this down and build a skinny tower” or “we appreciate that you’re keeping the original style.” Thanks for that!
And when we painted the exterior of the house, this too generated a stream of comments from neighbors and visitors. The color scheme was a mix of a vibrant green with an orange/red accent. A few of us on the team were pretty enthused about the colors, but on the construction site the comments ranged from “I love it!” to “truly horrid” and even a clever “Oh, but I thought you wanted to sell the house.”
Back at the G2B Homes office, we began a vigorous discussion, which in itself generated Sam’s recent blog post about our color choice. But despite the fact that we actually liked these colors, we needed to address the obvious issue that many neighbors - people who would be living near and seeing this house every day - did not. That matters to us. We didn’t want to present a product that would distract discussion from that which we get most excited about: driving efficiency in existing buildings while ensuring quality, innovation, value and good design.
There were pros and cons to re-painting. Obviously, the pros would be that we could remove a barrier to market acceptance (“make it look better”). The cons were significant: not only was this going to cost us time and money, it also meant covering new paint. The obvious wastefulness in this was troublesome to us. We are, after all, a BuiltGreen builder, and now faced the tension between waste and an attractive, salable product.
So we decided to bring the debate back to the neighborhood. If we really needed to make a change, why not engage the very people who had a strong interest in the aesthetic of their surroundings? We printed up flyers, got up on Facebook, invited people to engage, and held a neighborhood open house to let them decide the new color! Over 40 people showed up, took a look at our swatch display, and voted. The winning color is great – we didn’t vote ourselves, but it was our favorite – and it is going to go up soon.
This entire debate – both within the team and with the local community – was so valuable and engaging that we are going to offer neighborhood input in every project. We will select a palate of options and then take it out to for a vote (before the first coat!) The result is neighbors participating in the improvement of their community. What fun!
We’ll continue to use tools to help make the process fun and efficient. If you want to follow the action, be sure to become a fan on our G2B Homes page on Facebook.