Russell and Susan Kadota started the process earlier this year to convert their 2,200-square-foot home into the greenest property possible.
When the construction crews finish, the house will boast recycled tiles, countertops and siding, low-flow plumbing, energy-efficient appliances, tight insulation and spots on the roof for solar panels.
For the moment, though, the property on Elizabeth Lane looks like a remnant of the past. The structure consists of little more than the original wood framing built circa 1966, when Russell Kadota's father bought the residence.
Susan Kadota, who lives with her husband, two children and father-in-law in a Costa Mesa apartment during the construction, said she realized how inefficient the old house was when crews began to demolish it.
"As we found out when we worked to deconstruct it, you'd take parts of it away and there was no insulation on the sides of the house," she said. "There's not much green. It's a 44-year-old house."
When the Kadotas move back in — November or December is the goal — their house may be the most eco-friendly on the block.
It may not be an aberration for very long, according to Bill Grove, inspection manager for the city's Planning and Building Department.
The state recently approved the 2010 California Green Building Standards Code, a series of guidelines for eco-friendly construction set to take effect Jan. 1.
In the meantime, Grove said, his office had gotten used to eco-friendly development requests, even if other applicants haven't taken it as far as the Kadotas.
"There's been some green elements," Grove said. "People have been getting permits for solar-paneling systems, things like that. There really haven't been many who have done it on a building-wide basis, though."
Although Russell Kadota grew up in the house on Elizabeth Lane, he and his wife began the renovation process three years ago when they were living in Baltimore. The Kadotas and their children planned to move back and renovate the home. An exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., inspired them to seek eco-friendly builders.
Financial issues delayed the project for three years, but last summer, the Kadotas moved back to Orange County and launched the project in earnest. They had already hired the Venice-based architect Tierra Sol y Mar while in Baltimore, and earlier this year, they enlisted Euro Cal Construction in Fountain Valley to commence work on the site.
Stuart Timms, owner of Euro Cal, said his company always aims to do environmentally friendly construction, even separating the trash on a building site into different piles so it can be recycled.
"Pretty much every job we do, even if it's a small addition to an existing home, we try to be as green as possible," Timms said.
The house's new incarnation may not resemble its old self very much, but Susan Kadota said one green element from the old property will remain: her father-in-law's vegetable garden, which he uses to grow produce for the kitchen.
Ultimately, she said, she and her family hope to take part in home tours and inspire other residents.
"It's challenging," she said. "When you start realizing how much energy you're using, you think, 'How much can I cut back?'"