There has never been a better time to go green with your home than today. Growing awareness of environmental challenges is driving more people to choose green options in their homes. And with greater demand for eco-friendly housing, the costs of green buildings have fallen, and more builders are offering this solution. Constructing an eco-friendly house is a lot more possible than it used to be.
Also, green buildings now come with a lot more options. Homeowners can go all out by building a certified “Green Home” or include green building elements in their existing homes. Whichever path they choose, they will enjoy substantial savings in their energy bill and increase their home’s value, says T-Square Real Estate. Even though building green still costs more than constructing a traditional home, an energy-efficient house is far cheaper to operate.
This article highlights five of the top green home building ideas to consider for your home.
1. Begin with building design
Constructing a green building begins with the home’s design. As a rule, smaller rooms are more energy-efficient than expansive spaces. This doesn’t mean cramped rooms, but it does mean more creative designs that make better use of space, utilizes more of the outdoors, and get more out of existing rooms. Brilliant ideas for designing smaller homes include using window seats to improve functionality and clerestories to introduce more light. Modular building techniques also improve energy efficiency while reducing costs.
Design principles for an eco-friendly home should also consider the land’s characteristics, the building’s orientation, and landscaping. This might mean using shady landscaping and avoiding a westward orientation to reduce sun exposure. Other options include planting trees on the southern and western sides of the home to block direct sunlight from reaching the house.
2. Go Solar
Solar remains the ultimate source for generating clean energy. But going solar is not as simple as installing solar panels on a building’s roof. Other things go into determining the efficiency of solar panels, such as geography and building orientation. Buildings with south-facing roofs sloping at 15-40 degrees perform best. Roof size and shape also matter.
But to get the most from solar installations, it should be part of the building design from the beginning. And in place of solar panels, it is possible to use solar shingles, an emerging option. They offer the same durability as regular shingles, provide better aesthetics than solar panels, and eliminate the need for two separate investments in shingles and solar panels.
3. Take advantage of geothermal energy
Geothermal heating and cooling work by moving heat instead of creating it. The HVAC system that most homes use functions by generating heat through combustion. But geothermal-based HVAC systems use heat that already exists inside the earth’s surface. This is possible because the earth is significantly warmer beneath its surface than it is on the surface. Below the surface, the earth maintains a constant temperature of 50°F – 60°F.
Geothermal energy is the name for the heat that comes from within the sub-surface of the earth. And this energy can be harnessed via a geothermal heat pump and used to warm or cool the house. Geothermal heat pumps transfer heat into homes by pumping water or a refrigerant into the earth’s sub-surface. The heated water or refrigerant then warms the home. Reversing this process in summer cools the house.
4. Install a cool roof or living roof
Roofing materials significantly affect the home’s energy efficiency through the way they reflect, trap, or release heat. Cool roofs are better at reflecting the sun’s energy. They cool faster at night and do not retain heat as long as standard roofs. Common materials used in the construction of cools roofs include; white tiles, terracotta, slate, special membranes, and metals. The energy efficiency of each material varies, as well as their cost and durability.
Another roofing option for improved energy efficiency is the living roof. A living roof uses plants in place of shingles on the building’s roof. Plants growing on the roof of a regular house means trouble, but a living roof uses plants to insulate and cool the home. They also serve as a rainwater filtration system.
5. Improved water management
The average home uses a lot of water, much of which goes to waste. Water capturing and conservation systems help to solve this problem. Low-flow faucet aerators reduce the flow of water without affecting water pressure. Tankless water heaters heat water as it passes through the electric coil. They dispense of the need to wait for the water to get heated, which often results in heating gallons of water without using it. Energy star-rated washing machines use 33% less water and 25% less energy than regular washing machines.Rainwater capturing devices also collect rainwater from roofs and store it in cisterns or rain barrels for water features, sprinklers, toilets, and garden irrigation. Rain gardens offer an effective way to get the most out of rainwater runoff. They collect runoff from roofs, lawns, patios, and driveways; and allow 30% more water penetration into the soil
When you start thinking of getting your own home, there are usually two options open to you. You can buy a preexisting home, or you can build a completely new home.
Most people choose to buy a home that is already built because it is less stressful and saves time, explains Windermere Management in Spokane. But for others, building a custom home is the preferred option. If you are reading this, it is possible that you fall into the group of people who would rather build their own homes.
Given that there so many homes out there looking for buyers, why would anyone want to build a custom home? There are good reasons for wanting to build your own home, such as:
Customization: You have the freedom to decide every single detail of the home. You are not boxed into what a previous owner decided.
Functionality: Because it is designed with your specific needs in mind, a custom home is more functional.
Quality: You can never tell the quality of materials and workmanship that went into an existing building. But with a custom home, you control all the factors.
Money: Buying an already built home locks you into what is available in the market, price wise. But when you build a custom home, you construct it within the limits of your budget.
There is a lot to be said for building a custom home. But there is also a lot that can go wrong in the building process. Unless you do your homework thoroughly, your attempt to build your own home could end in a huge disaster.
What are the important things you should know before undertaking to build a custom home?
1. Location before everything
For most people building a custom home, location is not the first consideration. But the land where you plan to build your home determines much of what you can or cannot do with the house. There will be questions about zoning issues, soil quality, the incline of the land, availability of utilities, and specific building codes and regulations for the area.
If you go ahead to design the home without taking into account all possible limitations imposed by the land, you may waste money. Ideally, you should not purchase a piece of land unless you are sure you can build the home you want on it.
2. Think about your home design
This is can be the most problematic part of the building process, but also the most fun. If you do not know exactly what you want in your home, you will end up making too many changes during construction.
This will affect the cost and schedule of the whole project. To create a design that is pleasing and functional, ask these questions:
What is your daily routine and where do you love spending the most time?
What is your lifestyle? Do you host parties or have hobbies?
How much storage do you need?
Where do you see yourself in five years? Married or living with teenage children or dealing with an empty nest?
Look over your answers and separate the needs from the wants. Consider things like ventilation and air quality; energy efficiency and lower utility bills, as well as the future resale value of the home. And make sure you hire a professional to design the home.
3. Expect to spend a bit of your own money
The financing process for building your own home is different from the financing process when buying. Usually, to finance a custom home, you will need a construction-to-permanent loan. And these are structured very differently from the traditional mortgage.
Moreover, many banks prefer not to issue these types of loans. Additionally, there are parts of the pre-construction phase that you must pay for out of pocket before you can even start to think of financing. This means you must have a substantial part of your own money set aside for the project.
4. Your builder is your partner, so choose wisely
A builder is the person who translates your design into a structure. Communication between you, the designer and the builder is critical. The builder is also responsible for obtaining permits and submitting documents to the local authorities.
The wrong builder can delay or even derail your project. Before you hire a builder, do your due diligence, talk to many companies, evaluate how promptly, and clearly they communicate with you, visit their current projects, talk to past clients, look at their history, and find out if they have handled a similar project recently.
5. Have a contingency fund and expect the unexpected
Your schedule is a guideline at best, events will happen that will throw your timing off. Some of them will be beyond your control, like bad weather. Others will be the result of human errors. But a good builder will help you navigate all of them.
Additionally, the builder should know what supplies and contractors are needed for every phase of the project and they usually do. But sometimes unexpected situations will occur or there will be an oversight. Those are the times when the contingency fund will come in handy.
Our first Model home is complete and headed to the Fall Festival of Homes show. We will be judged to see how we measure up against other Modern Farmhouse designs. If you happen to be in the Spokane area head up to Deer Park and check us out.
Well the Copper River Homes 2019 Fall Festival of Homes entry home won best kitchen and best master suite. There are so many great builders who entered homes in the competition so this is a great honor.