Three times this past week I heard someone say that Glen Rose needed affordable housing. Two Realtors and a local businessman made these comments. Why do we not have any? And what would it take to make it a reality?

First, I think we need to define what an affordable home is:

* Price ó When polled, Realtors seem to think the magic number here is not over $150,000.

* Cost to maintain and insure ó Built with sustainable, easy-to-maintain materials.

* Energy costs ó Built to have low utility bills.

* Taxes ó Best place to build because of tax rates.

Letís briefly look at each of the above items. Often when someone comes into my office or model home, the first consideration they give to making a purchase decision is price. Of course, they always feel the price quoted is too high. I hate this saying but, ďIt is what it is.Ē

Is there a magic way to make the price substantially less? Yes. Cut land costs. How do you do this? Increase density. This will better utilize infrastructure. Sewer lines, water lines, electric lines, and street costs will burden the lot price less if you do this one thing. So the more homes you build on an acre of land, the lower the price. Besides, mowing really isnít that much fun.

The quality of the construction and materials will help keep your day-to-day repair bills down. Using good roofing, siding, flooring, etc. can save you on maintenance and insurance. Materials that will hold paint for many years, which have a low scrap factor and a long warranty, that are fire and insect retardant are what you should use.

One thing we always take pride in and feel every builder should do is make the homes as energy-efficient as practical. We have developed our methods to generate a home that will pay back the cost of making the home more energy-efficient. I will give more information on this topic in a future discussion.

Finally, taxes. This is easy ó build in Somervell County. The tax rate here seems lower than in our neighboring counties.

I didnít place mortgage rates on the list to making a home affordable. Usually, we have no choice on the matter. But, with rates the lowest they have been in 60 years, now would be a good time to buy.

Please just remember that price isnít everything. Look at the total cost of home ownership. Twenty dollars more on the monthly payment to purchase an energy-efficient home might save $50 to $100 on your utility bill.

Ronnie Godfrey of Glen Rose is the owner of R. Godfrey Homes, a builder of high-performance, energy-efficient homes.