Building a new house is exciting, and even more so when it’s an environmentally friendly house. However, before you hire a contractor, make sure you understand all the important elements of building a green home.
Before You Start
Be ambitious and aim high. Nevertheless, given the obvious altruistic motivations behind going green with your build, you may need to bring a touch of realism to your grand designs. Every green build does indeed make a difference and have a positive impact on our environment, but you can’t save the planet in the build of your house.
Bringing in an experienced green contractor can help, but ultimately it is only you who are responsible for your own house. How will you create the perfect symbiosis between you, your loved ones and your space?
Do your research! The buck begins and ends with you, so make sure you understand what will make your house green. Don’t leave it to the external experts you bring in. There are four basic topics to research:
- Structure: How will your house hold itself up, and which supportive material and design would be best in terms of sustainability?
- Temperature: Temperature requlation requires the right insulation and keeping things airtight. How will your building maintain a stable indoor temperature and lessen the requirement of energy-expending air conditioners and heaters?
- Separation: What materials will you use to protect or separate your inside world from exterior elements?
- Connection: How will you ensure connection to the elements? Your house must interact with air, water, and sunlight in an environmentally responsible way.
During Your Build
Regardless of how much research you do, mistakes will always happen — even if you employ the best green architect, contractor, and project managers. You can only minimize mistakes through extreme preparation as well as flexibility. You will need to adapt to survive.
The main causes of delay to construction projects, both residential and commercial, small scale and large, are:
- Delays resulting from neutral causes. Think adverse weather, specified perils and delays in receiving permissions to proceed.
- Delays that are the client’s fault. This is where you need to be wary. Don’t introduce unnecessary variations mid-build, and ensure you provide the contractor with as much information as possible. If they hire a subcontractor, make sure they choose a reliable one. Cash flow can be an issue here, so ensure you have the bucks to provide material, supplies and payment for labor hours.
- Culpable delay. While contracts between client and contractor usually have a margin for extension, culpable delay requires them to pay liquidated and ascertained damages to you.
Now, the Aftermath
Don’t just stop with your environmentally conscious designs in building a green home. Think appliances post-build. Ever since 1992, the Energy Star initiative has saved people money and lowered greenhouse gas emissions. Choose Energy Star appliances and materials.
Also, make sure you keep a watchful eye on your property and grounds. Repair is far better than replacement, after all.
For example, if you own a large area of land or live in a rural area and have ground-mounted solar systems, you may need a utility vehicle to help you perform inspections. Naturally, you have a variety of choices, but opt for a lightweight, but rugged vehicle, which helps when maintaining a property.
Building a green home is a great way to help the environment. Just be sure you’re aware of some fundamental principles involved in the house-building game before you get started, and you’ll have a sustainable home in no time.
Megan Wild still has ten fingers and ten toes after helping her father with home repairs since childhood. She loves dogs, writing, and taking care of the earth. Check out her blog Your Wild Home.