Saturday, February 8, 2014

I’m rebuilding our home on the existing foundation, do you have any tips to make the home as green as possible?

Q:

I’m rebuilding our home on the existing foundation, do you have any tips to make the home as green as possible?

A:

Since you are re-building the entire structure then you have a lot of options to make your home “green”.
The term green basically means that you want your home to have as little impact on the earth as possible, this can be taken in many different ways and you can also take this to the extreme when building a home. The problem with this is that the farther you go to be “green” more it will cost you at the start. If you build it smarter and keep it realistic then building “green” shouldn’t brake the bank.

You said that you are re-building your home, the first thing you can do is try and re-use as much of the old building as possible. I’m not talking about re-using every stick of lumber in the whole house to rebuild the old one, but there are ways you can re-use parts of the house to lessen the impact and the amount of material that you have to buy new. Here are a couple things you can do with re-used materials in your new home;

Trim. Saving old trim can be a great way to save money and give your home some character. A lot of trim that you will find in older homes you can’t buy anymore, large baseboards and the species of the wood can be hard or impossible to find today. You don’t have to save enough trim to outfit the entire new home but you can save enough to finish a couple rooms in the house.

Cabinets. You can save old cabinets, paint them and install them in your basement or laundry room as storage.

Old windows can be salvaged and reused inside the home. Not used as windows to the outside but used as decorative pieces inside the home.

Interior doors. Old homes have solid hardwood interior doors, these doors will last a life time and as long as you frame the new openings to fit the old doors it will be an easy installation.

When you are building a home and wanting to make it green then you should make sure that you build your new home with foam insulation. Foam rim joists, wall cavities and any place in the roof that you think that it will be hard to insulate or difficult to ventilate. You can use sheets of polystyrene foam on the outside of the home to help eliminate the heat loss through the wall studs, using less energy is better for your heating bills and better for the environment.

The roofing of your new home is another way to make an environmentally friendly choice. Using products such as steel that have long life spans are a great way to reduce the need to ever replace it. Another way is to use alternative products for your roofing; a product like Enviroshake is a great one. Enviroshake is a roofing product that is made from recycled materials such as old tires and ethanol waste that is predominantly from corn. Staying away from products such as asphalt shingles that are predominantly made from oil and have a short lifespan that doesn’t stand up to inclement weather is a must if you are wanting to be green.

When planning the finishing’s of your new home there are smart ways to help make environmentally friendly choices. Sticking to trim that is made from softwoods means that you are using a wood that replaces itself very quickly. Popular is a fast growing tree that allows trees to be harvested and replaced in less than twenty years. Other finishing’s such as hardwood flooring made from bamboo or a certified supplier that is guaranteed to harvest the raw material in a sustainable way is another way to stay green. Hardwood flooring that is full depth allows for the product to be sanded and refinished dozens of times. A quality hardwood should easily out last you and your children if they are to live in the house after you’re gone.

When buying appliances, heating systems and lighting the ones that use the least amount of energy but still do what you need them to do is the smart choice. The less energy that they use the cheaper your bills will be and the less stress it will put on the environment.

A couple other things that you can do in your new home is to pre-wire or prep for future alternative power options. If you run conduct to the roof for solar panels or wire your panel so that there is room in the future to install a transfer switch then you will save yourself a lot of time and renovating when you have the ability to purchase them. In the future solar panels and their components will come down in price and you will want the ability to install them to either feed the electricity grid or to help you get off the grid entirely.

These are the most common environmentally friendly options or choices that you can make when constructing a new home. There are more ways to build a “green” home but the price rises and the inconvenience level also rises. Things such as only buying the material that goes in your home from the local area to reduce the transportation and fuel usage, too using only materials that come from sources that are guaranteed to be from green companies can sound wonderful but in truth can raise the cost of your home astronomically. Stick to the simple things that are easy for you to control and will allow you to build an environmentally friendly home while still enjoying the build process.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

1 comment:

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