Once you’re interested, the first step to building your green home is preparing your lot for construction. While many people leave this step up to the contractor, it’s worth it to spend some extra time thinking about how you plan to excavate your lot. The ways in which you prepare your lot can affect how sustainable your home ends up being.
If you plan to get your home certified (net-zero, LEED, and passive home certifications are popular), it’s especially important to prepare for green building before you even break ground. There are some approvals you’ll need for your home’s site and design.
4 Pre-Construction Tips for Successful Green Home Building
So, what should you consider? Here are four things to think about before you start building your green home:
1. Pay Attention to Your Lot Placement
In order to get the most out of your green home, you should choose a location that suits your lifestyle needs and your sustainability goals. The climate, topography, and soil composition of the land are all things that could influence which types of sustainability practices you’ll be able to execute.
Other things to consider in terms of lot placement include:
- Avoid building in delicate ecosystems – Delicate ecosystems, such as wetlands, can be easily offset by new builds. Know the landscape of where you build, and what it could potentially disrupt. It’s also worth knowing that most states protect many of these ecosystems — wetlands in particular — so be sure to have an expert survey your lot before you build.
- Build on a pre-used site – If a site has already been used, there isn’t a need to clear more land for your home, which helps minimize your home’s impact on the surrounding environment.
- Understand the sun’s impact – How the sun hits your home can play an important role in heating your home and reducing your energy use. Try to ensure sunlight gets to the family living spaces that have large windows (e.g. kitchen, living room).
- Limit vehicular transportation – If the location of your home is pedestrian friendly or near public transportation, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint. That way, you’ll be building more than an eco home — you’ll be building an eco lifestyle.
2. Level Your Home Site Properly
Leveling, also known as grading, is when a flat base is made for your home’s foundation to rest on. It helps develop a strong foundation that is resistant to cracking and sinking, and is able to last a long time.
Usually, a contracted professional visits the site to assess how level the ground currently is, how much leveling is needed, and what barriers might be in the way of getting there. The amount of leveling needed primarily depends on landscape, soil composition, and moisture levels.
Sustainably thinking, a big purpose of proper leveling is to control water runoff near your home. All water that falls within 10 feet of your house should be redirected in order to prevent flooding. This water can either be redirected away from your home, or it can be redirected into water storage containers like rain barrels where it is easily reused. Either way, leveling to control water runoff is an important consideration for green home building.
3. Thoroughly Design Your Home Beforehand
You should have a complete design of your home before you start building, and it should include any sustainable practices and features you wish to incorporate. That way, you can plan the space, budget, and layout for them more efficiently.
A few things to consider throughout the design process include:
- Materials – Anything recyclable, refurbishable, or renewable is your friend. Find sustainable materials for all construction components, including roofing, building, cabinets, counters, insulation, and flooring.
- Size – The size of your home impacts how much energy it takes to heat or cool it. Therefore, smaller is usually better. Don’t sacrifice space that is needed, but also don’t waste energy and resources for space that isn’t.
- Technologies – From solar panels to Energy Star appliances, make sure your design plan includes any sustainable technologies you’d like to use. Some of these technologies can be bigger projects, so accounting for them in the timeline and budget beforehand is helpful.
4. Consult with Green Building Professionals
You may know a lot about green building, or you may know very little. Either way, it’s best to consult with green building professionals before starting a new construction. From green architects to contractors to designers, these experts can help you balance your budget, timeline, design, and sustainability goals. They’re aware of the latest technologies and can give you recommendations for items and practices you may have never heard of or considered.
When you buy property at Couch Mountain, you get beautiful, build-ready land in a sustainably-focused community. All of our homesites are tucked in the hills near the green city of Asheville, NC. Take a tour of the property, explore miles of maintained trails and open space, and learn more about life on Couch Mountain by reaching out to our team today.
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