We're building an 1800 square foot home using passive solar principles--mostly south facing windows, a Trombe wall that stores heat in the day, then radiates it at night, etc. We will have an freestanding gas fireplace in the living room for heating. In San Jose's mild climate, would lack of a heating and cooling system affect future resale value?
Zachary T. ~ San Jose, California
Zachary, unfortunately many home buyers don't know how to value alternative home designs that are energy efficient, and in some cases they devalue a property, even when the energy efficient design makes the home less expensive to operate, when compared to traditional construction and design. Of course your home doesn't sound as "alternative" as a straw bale home or an earth mound home, both of which can be extremely energy efficient, but are often difficult to resell. One of the reasons that these types of homes can be difficult to sell is that banks don't like to finance anything that is out of the ordinary, which could make it difficult for a potential buyer to get a mortgage on the house.
I certainly don't want to discourage you from building a well designed, energy efficient home just because of the potential difficulty of selling it some time down the road. After all, if home builders don't adopt these "alternative" designs then they rarely get accepted into the main stream, and as a nation we continue only to build inefficient (but recognizable) homes. For whatever reason, the construction industry is just too slow when embracing new technologies and design ideas, even when the end results are better for both the homeowner and the environment.
I think that you are wise to consider the potential resale issues of your new house. Although people often build their dream house thinking that they are never going to move, all to often the future holds changes for us all, and being able to sell your home in timely manner is a good thing. Perhaps you can mitigate any potential problems by building the house in such a way that a conventional heating and cooling system could be easily retrofitted at a later date?