Published on October 17th, 2018 | by Sponsored Content
How to Ensure Your Home Addition is Green
When it comes to increasing your home’s square footage through an addition or extension, there’s a lot to think about. If your goal is to make the addition an eco-friendly one, you have even more logistical challenges to work through.
5 Tips for a Green Addition
When you purchase an existing home, you don’t have much say over the home’s architecture, materials, or systems. You basically have to live with whatever the original builder decided to do. (And if the home was built 20, 30, or 50-plus years ago, it probably isn’t very green or efficient.)
This is why home additions and extensions are so exciting. They allow you, the homeowner, to have control over the eco-friendliness of your home without building a new structure from scratch. It’s the best of both worlds.
But a green addition will also stretch you – mentally, creatively, and financially. It’s not as easy as pointing to a picture and telling a contractor, “This is what I want.” There are hundreds of individual decisions that must be made to account for energy efficiency, costs, and limitations. If you’re unprepared, your once promising project can morph into a frustrating disaster.
If you’ve never completed a home extension project, there will be a bit of a learning curve. Having said that, the following tips should make the process more manageable.
Think Before You Build
For starters, you need to think about whether or not an addition is actually the best option. While it’s possible to build a green addition, it’s even more eco-friendly not to do an addition.
Think about your existing floor plan, the fine line between needs and wants, and any alternative options you have. Assuming that you really do need the addition, you can then proceed to make eco-friendly choices.
Carefully Select Your Team
One of the first steps is to carefully select a team of architects, builders, and contractors who have the same objectives as you. This may take some time, but be patient and do your research.
Good designers, such as Duncan Thompson Extensions, look at individual needs and wants, budget, existing conditions of the house and land, building regulations, and the overall feasibility of the project – not just their profit margin. You would be wise to use these same filters as you compare architects, builders, and other key players.
Adopt Whole Systems Thinking
Are you familiar with the concept of whole systems? It’s thinking in terms of how every small decision impacts the big picture – from the foundation to the roof and everything in between.
“That means adopting a green mindset from the get-go,” contractor Matthew J. Goering says, “one that considers everything from adopting green building practices to acquiring green building materials to analyzing every possible factor that could raise the energy efficiency of your home.”
Eliminate Unnecessary Heating and Cooling
If possible, you should aim to keep conditioned space to an absolute minimum. This is the least green aspect of a home extension, so try your best to limit your impact in this area.
“By taking advantage of the sun and creating a high-performance building envelope, it may be possible to downsize or even eliminate heating and cooling systems,” Green Building Advisor notes. “With an energy-efficient design, installing small heating and cooling equipment may be more economical than extending ducts or hot water heating lines to the new space. An experienced professional engineer or energy consultant may be needed.”
Do it Right the First Time
As your parents probably told you at one point growing up, do it right the first time. While you may be tempted to cut a few corners to speed something up or save a little money, these decisions will almost always come back to bite you in the rear. By committing to doing it well the first time, you’ll end up with a better final product.
Putting it All Together
You can’t just slap the word green at the beginning of a home addition project and make it eco-friendly. To complete an extension that’s both functional and energy efficient, you have to make smart, calculated decisions along the way. By using this guide as a starting point, you can hopefully get your project moving in a positive direction.