Blog :: 01-2016

5 Questions on Friday with Viridian Wood

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This week we sat down with a local Portland business we admire, here's what they had to say!

Question 1: What is Viridian Wood's mission?

At Viridian, we speak for the trees. We exist to give new life to the precious woods we reclaim,  to reduce demand for new lumber, and to make our community a  better place for us being here.

Question 2: Why did you choose Portland?

This quote is on our website, but it really sums it up: "We love where we live, and we want to ensure the highest quality of life for generations. It's why we do what we do."  

Question 3: How could home owners use Viridian wood at home?

We do a lot of local floors and fireplace mantels. We also see customers putting in reclaimed wood accent walls, especially to freshen up an older home.

Question 4: What do you wish clients knew before they came to see you?

 A lot of installers think working with reclaimed wood might be more difficult. In most cases it installs exactly the same as any other flooring or paneling 

Question 5: What are you optimistic about?

We combined our office, showroom and production in St. Johns late last year.  It was a lot of work, but in 2016 we get to the good stuff! It's awesome having everyone in one place, and it's paying off with lots of new pre-finishing capabilities and very fast delivery.  We're on a creative roll right now, and we have some really exciting new tabletop and paneling products coming out in 2016.


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Five Questions on Friday - neighborhood addition

Our clients are always talking about neighborhoods; with good reason, your neighborhood affects your commute, schools districts, where you shop, get a cup of coffee, and run your dog. This week the Portland business journal came out with the hottest Portland metro areas in terms of real estate sales (read it here).  

We thought that we would switch up 5 Questions on Friday, and spend a little time talking about how we love this city,  and each of its unique neighborhoods. We spend a lot of time driving around, and meeting in coffee shops with clients around the 5 quadrants, and we see value in all of them. 

Portland is divided into North,  Northeast Southeast, Northwest and Southwest The Willamette River is the dividing line between East and West, and Burnside divides North and South. From there, the neighborhoods are broken down into smaller sections- we like this map from the City of Portland's Neighborhood Associations, below. 

Portland Neighborhood Associations



People are sometimes confused by Portland's 5th quadrant, North Portland. The Willamette River isn't a straight line, and the Northern area east of Willamette is North Portland. (This can get confusing, because some areas of North Portland, like St Johns, are still east of the river, but on a map, are further West than NW.)

There are several Portland neighborhood guides, but to really get the feel for a neighborhood, we have five tips to properly explore any neighborhood: 

  1. Go for a walk. Get out of your car, borrow a dog if you feel like you need an excuse (Brigitte at Paris Group will loan you her pup if you need a loaner), and stroll through the neighborhood.
  2.  Check out the local farmer's market and find the local coffee shop. You can find the closest one to your potential neighborhood, here. (FYI: The farmer's market's close in the winter months)
  3. Once you settle into the neighborhood coffee shop, whip out your smart phone and pull up (here) -  look up crime, permits and zoning use, school district information, historical permits, zoning information, tax information, how much the property in question last sold for.   
  4. Talk to your (soon to be) new neighbors and ask questions.  Why do they  like living there? What's their secret favorite haunt?  If you're not comfortable talking to strangers, go to the nearest community center. Portland Parks and Recreation has a list here.
  5. Keep an open mind.  Every neighborhood in Portland has pros and cons, but at Paris Group, we know that each one has a secret zest.


Five Questions on Friday with Home Gnome

This week we sat down with Nicole from Home Gnome. Here's what she had to say!

How and why did you become a home inspector?

I realized during my previous career in architecture that I really didn't enjoy sitting at a desk for most of my workdays. I needed a career that was more active while still feeding my passion for houses. A friend of mine told me that her husband was going to inspect houses on weekends with his dad for some extra money and I immediately knew that I had discovered my next career. For me, inspecting homes is the perfect combination of being physically active, meeting & interacting with new people and writing. I see each new inspection as an adventure and I look forward to finding something different in every one I do. I especially enjoy inspecting forgotten "icky" places like crawlspaces and attics- places where nobody usually ventures unless there's a huge problem. I also really enjoy building relationships with agents and clients. I love using my knowledge of building science and the history of construction & materials as well as my background with building codes and architecture to inform clients about their home and how it works.

What is the hardest thing to explain to a client?

It is sometimes difficult to describe issues I've found without scaring the client. Sometimes a client can be very sensitive and I try to adjust accordingly how I say things so that they don't panic. It's also difficult using a completely different set of vocabulary with a client who might have little or no knowledge of the terms. I also use photos to illustrate what I'm talking about because a photo is an easy way to point something out without using any unfamiliar words. It's tricky, for sure!ladder photo

What do you wish clients knew before they came to see you?

No house is perfect. Whether it's a large issue or a small issue, I always find something- even in newly constructed homes!

What do you tell clients to worry about with mold and mildew in houses?

I tell clients that the greatest enemy (next to earthquakes) in this area is moisture. Maintaining the (exterior) envelope of your home (roof, siding, windows, foundation, soil drainage away from the home) is critically important. Similarly, on the interior of a home, it is important to have functioning, exterior-routed fans in bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms that remove moist air. A day of normal family activities (such as cooking, laundry, bathing, respiration, etc.) can introduce about 17 gallons of moisture into your home's air, so it's important to remove as much of it as possible. Moisture intrusion or lack of proper ventilation can lead to mold, mildew, rot and can also attract wood destroying insects, causing damage to the home.

What would you like clients to know about radon?

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking... and smoking increases your chances greatly. It is also important to re-test for radon after you've done weatherization or any remodeling to your home as these things can modify the indoor radon concentration that you and your family breathe. Radon cannot be smelled, tasted or seen!

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5 Questions on Friday with Claire Paris

We've had a few zoning questions around the office recently, so we thought it would be fun to ask our in house expert, Claire, on how zoning impacts property. Here's what she had to say!

Question 1.         How do you find the zoning on a property?

The easiest way to find the zoning on the property is to look at the tax record. You can usually find this on

Question 2.         Is it possible to change the zoning of a property? What's the process?

It just depends! Zoning is very complicated.  Whatever your property is zoned, there are uses and exceptions that can be made.  But if you want to change your zoning drastically, it involves an arduous process of "land use review".  See the application here:  It can be costly, depending on what type of zoning review you do (upwards of $25,000).  Typically lawyers are involved with this process.

Question3.          Does zoning impact a home's value?

Yes! Zoning can impact a home's value.  The most obvious is if your house was in residential zoning (typically residential zoning in Portland starts with an "R") and was re-zoned to commercial.  This situation could severely, and negatively impact your value, because your insurance company will typically refuse to rebuild your house in commercial zoning, so you'll be unable to sell it to any buyer who needs a loan to purchase the property.

Question 4.         Can your property's zoning change without notice?

Yes! Your zoning can change.  Typically the city sends a notice to a neighborhood when they are looking to change its zoning, but it's a leaflet that many people could over look.  And once the city re-zones your property, again, it's an arduous process to have to changed.

Question 5.         Do you need a particular zoning to subdivide your property?

When I've helped people subdivide their property, it's because there is an underlying lot line.  If you look at your property in Portland maps, there would be a dotted line across your property. The zoning for residential is relatively simple, R reflects residential, and the number reflects how many square feet a lot has to have per residence.  So R5 has 5000 square feet per residence.  For example, if you had a property zoned R5, and you had a 10,0000 square foot lot, there's often an underlying lot line, making two 5000 square foot lots.  Here's a longer explanation on how to get a lot "confirmed".