Grow a Living Roof or Green Roof | Sustainable Living

grow a living roof on your homeThe thought to grow a living roof is becoming more and more common in the United States but living roofs are not a new idea.    

A living roof or green roof is one that has a layer of earth allowing vegetation, perfect for a simple lawn, flowers, trees or a vegetable garden.  

They have been an important part of architecture in European countries for more than 60 years.  Some countries have recognized their benefits to the extent of requiring that all new flat roofs grow a living roof.


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Historic Victorian Homes | Charlotte

Historic Victorian Homes in Charlotte

historic-victorian-homeThe noteworthy area of the Fourth Ward sophisticatedly blends restored 100-plus-year-old historic victorian homes with urban apartments, parks, restaurants, and businesses. Wandering through the bright, airy, narrow tree-lined streets, visitors delight in seeing the grand old picturesque historic victorian homes with charming front porches and courtyard gardens.  Go ahead and take a stroll through the beautiful Victorian neighborhood, don’t rush though, slow down take your time and enjoy.


In 1886 trolleys became a focus of public transportation in NC.  You can read about it here.  In the early months of 1887, the trolley came into use in Charlotte, bringing communities that once seemed far away, within easy reach.  The Fourth Ward became a sought after area and tended to be inhabited by business owners, clergy, and doctors.  The area represented an affluent area of Charlotte but over the years as commerce transitioned, and certainly by 1970, the area had become neglected.  It was common to see vandalized or even burned-out homes.  Thankfully, in the late 20th century the Fourth Ward saw a restoration and has now become a thriving part of Uptown Charlotte.

Today, the entire Fourth Ward is a great place to visit and an active, charming community of stunning Victorian homes, luxury condos, urban-style apartments, green spaces, and businesses.  There are plenty of cultural, religious and educational things to do, all within walking distance of the thriving  uptown business district of Charlotte.

Noteworthy Historic Victorian Homes in Charlotte’s Fourth Ward

Historic Victorian Homes

Historic Carr House

John Price Carr House, built in 1904 is a stunning Queen Anne style Victorian home and is a discussed on the Charlotte Landmark Commission’s website.

Historic Victorian Homes

The William Overcarsh House

The William Overcarsh House was the home of a local schoolteacher and minister who influenced the religious development of the Mecklenburg County. It exhibits a tower, sun burst gables, carved doorways, and etched windows. The 3,435 square feet, five-bedrooms and two-baths home is a good example of the Queen Anne style of architecture. It was last sold in 1994 for $566,500.

Historic Victorian Homes

The Berryhill House

The Berryhill House was built in 1884 by John H. Newcomb. It is one of the few remaining examples of Victorian architecture in Charlotte. The exterior trim is elaborate, as is a common Charles Eastlake feature. 

Attractions in Fourth Ward

The Fourth Ward is made up of mostly residential Victorian homes, it is an official Historic District and is the location of Old Settlers’ Cemetery as well as the three acre Fourth Ward Park. For a great overview of the neighborhood’s past, present and future, hop on a horse-drawn carriage ride with Charlotte Center City Carriage Tours.

Historic Victorian Home For Sale

Historic Victorian Home

119 N Piedmont Ave, Kings Mountain

The Rev. John D. Mauney House is a Victorian Painted Lady near Charlotte NC, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Cobblestone paths meander through ancient English Boxwoods, past pretty gardens with seating areas. A few of the amenities inside are heart-pine floors reflecting the warm glow of a pretty crystal chandeliers hanging from tall ceilings, 4 roomy bedrooms, three and 1/2 baths including a main level master bedroom with private bath, three fireplaces, large kitchen with hidden appliances, enormous game room with burnished terrazzo floor and a bar with appliances, lots of built-in shelves and cabinets with leaded or stained glass doors, a separate garage and carport. Click here for more information about this beautiful home for sale.


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Sustainable Living | Underground Homes

Underground Homes

As the cost of living increases, people are rethinking the way they live. Many people are turning to an energy efficient lifestyle. Not only is green living economically savvy but also environmentally friendly. Underground homes, also known as earth-sheltered homes are becoming a much more popular choice to those who are attracted to sustainable living. It’s truly a unique and exciting way of life!

The main component of an earth sheltered home is its infrastructure. Being built out of concrete, the home’s temperature will mimic closely to the internal temperature of the soil, the ground acts as a blanket. For example, If the soil in your area has a consistent temperature of 50 degrees you would expect your home to remain at a steady 50 degrees. Making heating the home much easier and affordable.

The benefits of owning an Earth Sheltered Home are numerous. They include: protection from temperature extremes, energy efficiency, economically feasible insurance breaks, water lines will never freeze, termite proof, and protection from nuclear fallout.

Notable Underground Homes Around the World

Picture of one of the Interesting and beautiful underground homes in the village of Holme in England

The above underground home was significant enough to be featured in Architectural Digest.  Located in the village of Holme in England, Architectural Digest referred to it as describes the significance of a home such as this here.


There are few underground homes, but this is an excellent exaple of one in Gimingham, North Norfolk, UK

The above house, known as The Sedum House, is an underground home located in Gimingham, North Norfolk, UK.  Featured on the Underground Home Directory, their description is “This home, innovative even by green roof standards, represents a great fusion between an unusual curved green roof and Geothermal design.this home “.  By the way, the Underground Home Directory is a great resource for unique homes.  Visit their site to learn all kinds of info about underground and earth-sheltered homes.

Underground homes located in Lyme, New Hampshire

The Pinnacle House

The above “Pinnacle House” is an award-winning, sustainably-designed underground home in Lyme, New Hampshire. It was featured on Wilder Utopia, where they describe earth-sheltered homes as Earth Sheltered, energy-efficient houses are bright, airy, dry and quiet.”  Visit their site to read about all kinds of unusual properties.


One of the Underground Homes For Sale

few underground homes are available, but this one near Asheville NC at 6 Stonegate Trail, Leicester, is currently for sale.

6 Stonegate Trail

Special Finds has been given the opportunity to list one of these amazing underground homes located just 20 minutes west of downtown Asheville. This specific house is built directly into a hill leaving only the front of the structure visible to the outside world. The design is extremely energy efficient thanks to the earth that is surrounding the home. Never too cold in the winter and never too hot in the summer. This home is environmentally friendly with low maintenance.  To learn more about this home click here.

Around the world, earth sheltered homes have become more and more popular with individuals wanting to live a more sustainable life as well. There tends to be little to no maintenance needed on these homes since they are often built out of concrete and protected from the elements by the earth itself.

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Tips on Selling Your Unique Mountain Properties

If you own a unique house, consider yourself lucky! You have something to advertise that other properties may not have. Use your property’s uniqueness to make it stand out from the crowd.

One of a Kind

When selling an unusual property, recognize that there is a value in having something that is one-of-a-kind. Make sure to feature all of the special characteristics in marketing the property and don’t waste time and money in trying to market to ordinary buyers who aren’t looking for something unique or unusual. I would encourage sellers to make sure their agent has a plan on how they will market to buyers who are seeking a unique property.

How Do You Price Your Home?

One of the first things sellers of unique properties want to know is: “How do I price my home?” Pricing unusual properties is not quite the same as (more…)

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How to Market a Unique Property – Interview with Brenda Thompson

Brenda Thompson owns the boutique real estate agency, Special “Finds…” in the mountains of western North Carolina. Just like the properties she sells, her agency is truly one-of-a-kind, with a specialty focus on unique properties with a lot of character. In this interview with Bill Kopatich, Brenda discusses her how to market a unique property and her unique marketing approach to selling unusual homes.

Bill: Brenda, thanks for sharing your story here today. You have created a true specialty in the real estate industry – marketing unique properties that you call Special “Finds…”. What qualifies as a Special “Find…”?

Brenda: A

Special “Find…” doesn’t have to be expensive; it just has to have its own unique character. We’ve listed everything underground homes to converted barns, even a French Chateau. (more…)

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Brenda Thompson, Asheville Realtor® Helps Buyers Find Unique Properties

2015-01-28_19-04-48Brenda Thompson, owner of the boutique real estate agency, Special “Finds…”, helps buyers from all over the globe find unique properties in the western North Carolina. Like the properties she sells, her agency is truly one-of-a-kind with a focus on unique properties with a lot of character. She has owned the agency for nineteen years and has personally always owned unique houses. Thompson is the former director of marketing for the New York Stock Exchange.

Thompson’s agency, centered in Asheville, NC, helps buyers find unique properties within two to three-hour radius of Asheville, covering the entire western North Carolina mountain area. She combined her creative and poetic voice along with her marketing background and her love for (more…)

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Presswire: Brenda Thompson Authors Chapter on Selling Mountain Properties

MartinsCreek_A05CHARLOTTE, NC – The new book, being published in early 2015 by FA Media Group, provides insights from the Charlotte area’s leading residential real estate experts, providing advice on buying, selling and owning properties in the area. Brenda Thompson, Asheville, NC Realtor and owner of Special “Finds…”, is contributing the chapter on buying and selling mountain properties. The western North Carolina mountains are about two hours from Charlotte, and are very popular for second and vacation homes for residents of the Charlotte area.

Thompson said,

“I have always lived in unique properties and I really enjoy using poetic descriptions to bring a property to life and help buyers get a sense of what it’s like to live in each of my listings. My goal in writing the chapter is to show sellers some creative ways of selling mountain properties, and to inform buyers on important considerations for purchasing a a mountain property.”


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Bark Clad Walls – Great Green Building Product!

Bark Clad Walls – Growing the Business of Bark in Asheville Area, Courtesy of Dale Neal,

Bark clad walls are a great toll in green building!

(Photo: katie Bailey, /Asheville Citizen-Times)Courtesy of Dale Neal,

Danny Heatherly knows the secrets of trees after a lifetime cutting timber in the woods.

Take the tulip poplar, one of the most common species in the Blue Ridge mountains, which makes a steady supply for furniture and plywood makers. “There are two months out of the year when you can take the clothes right off that tree,” Heatherly said. “Try to peel a poplar the rest of the year, and you get nothing. There’s not a tool you can use to separate the bark from the wood.”

The Haywood County native has found a fancy use for that bark, once thrown away as waste product or at best ground into mulch. He launched BarkClad in 1999.

Now his company employs up to 20 people in season, typically June and July, peeling, cutting and kiln-drying up to 140,000 square feet of tulip poplar bark. Sold year round, those natural shingles are dressing up exclusive homes in all 50 states, at a premium of up to $7.25 per square feet.

Heatherly is particular about buying bark from the many timbermen who pull into his mill yard in Bethel each summer. He checks to make sure all the wood coming through BarkClad carries certification from the Forest Stewardship Council. (more…)

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Building a Hemp House

Hemp building products may soon go mainstream. Here’s why your next home should be made with pot.

June 09, 2014  By: John Riha for HouseLogic Building a Hemp House

Building a Hemp House is interesting for a lot of different reasons!

No, you can’t saw off a chunk and smoke it.

But if you live in a house made with hemp building products, you may trim your utility bills, have more leisure time, and be safer and more comfortable.

Industrial hemp, the non-stoney relative of its more famous cousin, marijuana, is making its way into the building products marketplace. A recently signed federal farm bill has made hemp cultivation legal again. That means research can kick into high gear — likely leading to new hemp products for siding, roofing, drywall, and flooring. What’s So Great About Hemp? Hemp products — from insulation to particleboard — are non-toxic and resistant to mildew, pests, and fire, making them good choices for green home construction and remodeling. Plus, they don’t cast off any VOCs. Several U.S. states have homes with hemp products, but most are in Australia, Europe, and New Zealand. Why is it green?

  • It’s a fast-growing, drought-tolerant plant.
  • It doesn’t require chemical fertilizers, which also makes it cheaper to farm.
  • Its generous yields could ease pressure on dwindling forest resources.

Related: 8 Tips to Make Your Remodel Healthier and More Energy-Efficient

What Products Are Available Now Previously hemp was illegal to farm here, but legal to import from other countries. That hiked up the price of what would otherwise be a relatively inexpensive material. Those prices should come down as domestic products move into the marketplace. Currently available: Hempcrete: Generic term for a concrete-like material made from imported hemp fibers mixed with lime.

  • Can be made into walls or blocks
  • Good insulator
  • Flexes, so it might be a good material to withstand earthquakes

Cost: A 33-lb. bag is $30 and makes about 5 cubic feet of wall (about 5 sq. ft. of surface area for a 12-inch-thick hempcrete wall) with an insulating factor of R-25 — higher than a regular 3.5-inch stud wall insulated with fiberglass (R-13).

Hemp board: Generic term for material that can be used in place of plywood and particleboard for wall sheathing and green cabinet construction. Cost: 4-foot-by-8-foot sheet of half-inch-thick hemp board, $40; regular particleboard, $20 Hemp Shield: Brand name for an exterior finish for wood decks, siding, planters, fences, and play structures. In professional independent testing, Hemp Shield outperformed other well-known wood finish products. Cost: $41/gallon, which covers about 450 sq. ft.; tinted versions are $45/gallon Hemp insulation: Soft, woven material made from hemp fibers.

  • Comparable performance to fiberglass insulation, according to
  • Insulating value of R-13 (same as fiberglass)
  • Doesn’t release fibers that can get into your lungs

Cost: About $2.75/sq. ft.; fiberglass batts of comparable thickness and insulating value are only about 30 cents/sq. ft

See this great video about building a hemp house in Asheville:  Hemp House in Asheville NC


Interested in owning a green built home, or modern home?  Search our database of Modern, Green & Eclectic Houses for sale in Asheville NC area. Sorted by price & area.  Photos & Details. Updated every 15 mins! Modern, Green & Eclectic Homes

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