The House was Smokin'

[photopress:issaquah_highlands.jpg,thumb,alignright]Randy (husband) and I are buying a new home in Issaquah Highlands, a neighborhood I really love. Won’t we be neighbors, Robbie?  Reminds me of Queen Anne with the local community feel.  It was supposed to be the new home for Microsoft, but the company decided to stay in Redmond although Issaquah Highlands is home to many Microsofties. It didn’t seem to matter that Microsoft didn’t take up residence there as it is booming anyway.  I’m looking forward to seeing it continue developing.  I understand the shopping district will be like the U Village and that they’re just waiting for an anchor grocery store before they begin building the village. In ground internet and intranet, acres of playgrounds, in community grade school, wine restaurant, everything you need in a community.[photopress:smoking_house.JPG,thumb,alignleft]

The Highlands has several green builders and we’re buying from one of them, Specialized Homes who specializes in the Healthy Habitat approach to building. It’s educational to understand the purpose behind the eco friendly materials and systems he’s using. One of the really interesting things I’ve learned watching the home get built is the heating system.  Most heating systems lose up to 50% of the heat in leaky ducts making the 92% efficient furnaces hardly worth the extra money when the system is really only 46% efficient.  

One day, my duct work was all gunked up with a gray substance which I’d never seen before. It was applied to about 90% of the ductwork in the entire house. Bob, the builder, told us that he had conducted a ‘smoke test’ by running smoke thru the ductwork to look for leaks. The gray gunk was applied anywhere and everywhere there was smoke coming thru. They applied it until it was totally sealed and no more smoke! It improves comfort, lowers heating bills and improves air quality.  There’s also better windows, totally sealed doors, better insulation. it all adds up, but the smoke test I thought was cool and it makes sense now to spend the extra cost of the 92% efficient furnace.

These are great websites to learn about this if you’re so interested. Not only am I happy to know that the house will be healthier to live in, but I predicting a heating bill 1/2 of what I am now paying which I’ll need with the higher payments! Check out those web sites to learn more ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home.


South Lake Sammamish celebrates annexation by City of Issaquah

The South Lake Sammamish Association (SLSA) has worked tirelessly to make this happen. As a part of unicorporated King County, they were frustrated with inadequate police patrols, road maintenance and similar public services. Last fall the Greenwoord Point-South Cove Annexation area voted to join the City of Issaquah and now it’s time to celebrate.

On March 1st, 6:30-9PM, the city will host an open house at Pickering Barn (just east of Costco) to welcome everyone. Issaquah’s mayor and other city officials will be there to celebrate and answer questions about city services.

In addition, SLSA will be hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony and parade on March 4th from 10AM to Noon. There will be refreshments and activities for the kids including tours of a fire truck and police car. See their website for details.

It’s great to see community involvement pay off for residenets on Lake Sammamish.

Housing assistance for the middle class on the eastside

I have a client who has been searching for a condominium for 6-months. Typical problem — what he likes, he can’t afford — what he can afford, he doesn’t like. We even looked down at Othello Station and thought we might find something there. They had several units set aside for low income families to purchase. Here the problem was he made too much to qualify for the set-aside units but not enough to buy the market rate units. What’s a person to do?

Well, we found the answer. Last week we had offer and acceptance on a really nice 2 bedroom / 2 bath unit at Frazer Court in Redmond. How did he do it? There is a great program setup between King County and several eastside cities to preserve and increase the supply of housing for low and moderate income households in East King County.

This program is called ARCH (A Regional Coalition for Housing) and has several below market rate duplexes, condominiums and town homes located in various developments in East King County. During the initial marketing period, maximum income levels are established for buyers. Typically, each development will establish a maximum income for buyers somewhere between 80% and 100% of median income. In addition, maximum income guidelines are often adjusted for both household and unit size.

Finally – a program that helps out the buyer caught in the middle income bracket. Check it out at

Quicker than a Ray Of Light

I’ve had the opportunity to live in Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, Carnation & Issaquah since I first left my alma matter back in the days of when Mosaic ruled the web. However, of all those places, I’ve loved my current home the most.

What do I love about my current home in the Issaquah Highlands, you ask? To quote a cell phone company’s ad “It’s the network”.

fiberWe’re talking about the only housing development in the Pacific Northwest that I’m aware of that has fiber optic network connectivity in to the home. The community’s network is run by the Highlands Fiber Network (although ISOMedia is my ISP and Ecuity provides my VOIP service).

One of the nice things about a community owned network, is that the operators of the network are more focused on customer service than profitability. We probably have the best performing residential network in the county. Are you ready for HDTV over IP? I didn’t think so. If that wasn’t cool enough, our network traffic goes straight to the Westin building in downtown Seattle, so it’s very reliable (I’d say it’s very close to ‘five nines’ level of uptime). BTW, if your ISP is Qwest, Comcast or Verizon, your internet traffic usually goes to San Jose first, before it comes back to Seattle (which leaves you vulnerable to backhoe denial of service attacks).

Nearly every room has a phone jack, cable/satellite TV jack, and an ethernet jack. All of the cables get routed into a wiring closet in my master bedroom. So equipment upgrades are pretty painless. Even cooler, some outlets have 2 TV jacks, so if you have a dual tuner TIVO, you can record 2 TV shows at once, or watch live TV while recording a show on another channel at the same time.

Perhaps, best of all my network speeds are FAST. My download speeds currently approach 10 Mb/sec (typical DSL speeds are about 768 Kb/sec). My ISP says I could go even faster if I was willing to pay for it (contrary to popular belief network bandwidth isn’t free).

Yeah, the eco-friendly building materials, the gas stove w/ stainless steel appliances, the clawfoot tub, the easy access to I-90, the nearby parks, the new elementary school and kid friendly neighborhood were all things that my wife & I both love about the house & the neighborhood. But you can get all that stuff in many neighborhoods.

So, if you’re tech savvy person with a family, and want a nice place to live, look no further than here. Builders (& their real estate agents) are standing by.