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Postgreen Homes Owner’s Manual – Contents Draft

by Nic Darling on May 13, 2009 · 9 comments

in Development,documentation,sales

For the past week I have been busy working on the Postgreen Homes Owner’s Manual for the 120k House. This needs to be done by the end of the month and, to be honest, it is a bigger project than I initially anticipated. Virtually every aspect of the house needs to be documented and explained. It also, in my opinion, needs to look pretty and be mildly entertaining. Perhaps this opinion is my downfall.

The owners manual, apart from being a LEED requirement, is an important part of passing our homes on to our buyers. Even without the odder features of our homes, there is plenty of information that needs to be presented with the house. Maintenance procedures, safety features, operational instructions and, to use a term I dislike, best practices should be included with the home every time it changes hands. Hopefully this manual will make it easy to do so.

The sustainable features of the home also take some extra explanation. Building a green home is, in reality, only the beginning of making that home green. A key role in the ongoing positive impact of the home falls on the shoulders of the owner. Educating the owner is almost as important as properly insulating the walls. If the person living in the house spends the summer with the windows open and the AC on high while constantly blow drying their 15 long-haired, show cats, much of the built in efficiency is lost. If they wash their walls with nail polish remover and dampen their copious throw rugs daily while the ventilation unit is set to its lowest setting, they could negatively effect the indoor air quality. The owners manual is one line of defense against these activities.

In addition, we will do a preliminary training session with our buyers and make ourselves available for questions (within reason). Hopefully, this effort will prevent the more drastically detrimental activities a homeowner might engage in. There are no guarantees, but we want the experience of living in our homes to be as positive as possible. This manual should convey much of the information that makes that possible.

So you can see what I’ve been doing, I’ve decided to share my draft table of contents for the manual. Take a look and tell me what you think. Many of the section titles might change and I am sure there are things to add, but I thought you might enjoy a look at this early stage in the process.

120k Owners Manual Contents 1

120k Owners Manual Contents 2

I apologize if these are difficult to read. If you have trouble, you can download the PDF version.

So, what am I missing? What else does this manual need? Can I get away with the casual tone? What else should we be doing to educate our buyers?

Throw your answers in the comment bin. We’ll be sure to read them.

If you enjoyed reading this post I can promise you'll love our new writing over at Postgreen Homes. Yeah, we know that's the same thing your favorite band said and their new album is nowhere near as good as their early stuff, but seriously, we are actually still getting better.

There also isn't much conversation to be had here . . . at least not with us. So come on over to the Postgreen Homes Blog and tell us what you think of our new(ish) digs and crazy ideas. We will be sure to tell you what we think of your opinion.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 lavardera May 13, 2009 at 5:32 pm

electrical? Anything about the panel, the interface with a future solar system?

2 Todd Oskin May 13, 2009 at 6:30 pm

can’t really read it…

3 Jameson Detweiler May 13, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Whatever you do, keep “The Beer Holder.”

I love it. This is an owner’s manual I’d actually read. I think that is a huge plus. People will actually read the whole thing because it isn’t boring.

4 CSM May 14, 2009 at 12:37 pm

This is really awesome! Keep the casual tone…it works. I’m not sure if it’s included but a listing & description of all the organizations, firms, people who helped build the house would be a wonderful inclusion. That way if they ever see those folks out and about they can say, “Hey-I live in that awesome house you helped build!!”

Oh, i do foresee some pie in your future…

5 Nic Darling May 14, 2009 at 5:39 pm

Todd – I added a PDF download in the post. Click on that and you should get a readable version.

Greg – There is some discussion of the electrical, but I think I will have to be clearer and more in depth, especially regarding future solar.

CSM – Partners definitely deserve a mention. Good call.

Jameson – Beer Holder isn’t going anywhere.

6 Kevin D May 15, 2009 at 3:36 am

I’m not sure how complete you need/want to be, but the first thing in all the owner’s manuals I have is a discussion of safety issues. This is the type of thing that can reduce accidents and insurance rates…

A common maintenance item I’ve run into that most people don’t do correctly is plunging the toilet.

7 Kyle May 15, 2009 at 1:23 pm

I think a casual tone is fine but it seems like every line item is meant to be read as a joke, it’s almost too casual. It feels like it’s trying to hard. I’m not sure how big the end manual would be but it seems like a lot, would it be better just to have a features page and the areas that need instructions to delve in more?

8 Todd Oskin May 18, 2009 at 9:28 pm


although, as kyle mentioned, it does feel a little try-hard because every line is a joke. i give you credit for thinking them up, but another possible downside to the overly sarcastic/casual tone is that some people might just get confused as to what the hell you are talking about, i know i did for a couple there.. had to think about them for a second… but then again on the other side… it kept me reading and thinking …

9 Pete Lauritzen June 5, 2009 at 3:06 pm


I really like the format with the iconography for the headings, I hope those are going to end up on the tabs for each section, I think that would make it easy to use. I do agree with the last couple of comments that while the casualness overall is good, I think if you kept just the main title for each section as they are (or close), and didn’t pander as much with the sub-titles it would work out best.
Incidentally I am trying to put together some information for a proposal on documentation for a LEED home. I would really appreciate it if we could have a conversation some time. I am starting from scratch here, and would appreciate any help you could offer.

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