How to Lower Your Carbon Footprint During a Home Build or Remodel

Advances in research and eco-friendly technology have created endless opportunities for sustainability. We’re offered stainless steel straws at coffee shops, encouraged to bring reusable bags to the grocery store, and allowed to sign important documents digitally rather than on paper. With countless environmentally conscious decisions available, incorporating sustainability into your home build or remodel is a foregone conclusion. The difficult part is figuring out how, exactly, to incorporate sustainability. Whether or not you’re trying to go all-out and create a Net Zero home, here are a few tips for reducing your carbon footprint both during the build and while living in the home.  


Utilize local materials.

If you can, source materials locally. This will reduce the pollution created by transporting materials from where they were produced. Plus, you’ll have a better idea of how the material was sourced and help support local businesses. This can be anything from hardwood to handmade light fixtures and hardware.  

Use recycled and/or upcycled materials.

Reclaimed wood for flooring and trim isn’t just trendy—it’s environmentally sustainable. Consider using recycled glass for countertops and other surfaces, and ask your contractor about the availability of recycled and upcycled materials. Anything you can do to reduce the demand for producing new goods will help. 

Install water-saving appliances.

Water-efficient sinks, toilets, and shower heads are both accessible and affordable. You don’t have a reason to not incorporate these into your custom home build. 

Utilize technology.

Consider installing a smart home system to connect light fixtures and appliances to your smart phone. Maybe you have a family member who doesn’t shut off the lights when they go to bed, or perhaps you consistently leave the house without powering everything down. This is a great way to ensure your home uses as little energy as possible. If you don’t like the idea of a smart home, consider motion detectors instead.  

Ask about alternative power.

Building a custom home is an excellent time to invest in alternative power sources. Talk to your contractor about the efficiency and possibility of solar panels in your area, and be sure to do your research. If done correctly, utilizing alternative energy can have massive cost incentives, which can make you custom home build more affordable in the long-term.  

Three Tips for Finding the Best Lot for New Home Builds

As I’ve established, the custom home construction process will require hundreds of decisions. However, one of the most important is one that does not require hiring a professional.

What do I think is the most important decision? Choosing and finding the best lot for your new home build. This choice will affect the type of home that can be built as well as the type of lifestyle you lead while living in the space.

If you have a specific issue–if you’re looking at a hillside lot or corner lot or drainage–you can check out this type of minutiae here. But from what I’ve gathered, there are three essential steps to finding the best lot for your construction project. If you can follow these tips, you will find yourself in a better, more prepared position for your home build.


  1. Understand the land.

Become familiar with the lots available in your target areas. Real estate agents and Multiple Listing Service websites can help you identify and narrow down a list of suitable properties, but it is essential to see what types of lots are available in the community at large. If you can, drive around and visually inspect these options. Then, pull on your hiking shoes and take a walk through the lots you’re most interested in purchasing.


  1. Narrow down your options.

Compile a list of property attributes that are most important to your construction project. Do you want a view? Do you want privacy? How much space will you need. Consideration must be given to each element that may have a direct bearing on what the property can accommodate. Quality of life and cost-related factors should also be identified and ranked. Think about area home values, property taxes, access to service providers, proximity to highways, and school systems.


  1. Perform the assessment.

Once you’ve settled on a property, have your builder or a separate professional perform a thorough site assessment prior to purchase. This will be your last opportunity to identify and consider issues which may prove to be problematic during construction. A site audit will also be helpful, and you must pay attention to anything that may add to building costs, such as tree clearing and grading.


Why You Should Consider Hiring a Residential Architect

Building a custom home is a dream come true for many of us, but the process seems weightier than simply buying a home. If your custom home construction goes wrong or doesn’t look the way you want it to, the burden falls to you.

If you want to get your custom construction just right, you should consider hiring a residential architect. These professionals have the experience and knowledge you need for a great custom building experience.


Designing a home is a lot tougher than you might imagine.

So, what do architects do? A lot, as it turns out.

They’ll design your space, but they won’t just do it to meet your aesthetic requirements. They’ll ask you about your life, how you live, and how you often use your home. In understanding the people inhabiting a space, the architect will be able to design a home that both looks great and can facilitate life inside.

If you go with a custom builder with pre-designed options, you might not be satisfied with the end product—it won’t be a home designed with you in mind. An architect can manufacture everything from the general structure to the details—as well as building codes—in order to build the home of your dreams.


The architect knows the language and the vocabulary of the homebuilder, so they’ll be able to serve as an interpreter of sorts.

Additionally, your residential architect will serve as an essential tool throughout the contracting process.

Throughout the planning and construction process, you’ll need to make hundreds of decisions. In establishing a one-on-one relationship with an architect—a person who has experienced this process before—you’ll have a voice of reason to defer to in times of tough decisions.

Finally, a custom home construction is usually a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You get one shot to build your dream home—you better do it right. An architect can point you to great builders, contractors, and designers to ensure the home looks as perfect as you’ve always imagined.


How to Choose the Right Home Builder

Custom home building comes with a lot of tough decisions. One of the most important? Choosing the right home builder. Unlike hiring, say, a residential architect, every person building a custom home must select a home builder.

There are thousands around the country who have the ability to build your dream home, but you should not limit your decision to just those who offer the bare minimum. Selecting a home builder is a very personal decision. As a result, you should speak with several builders to ensure a perfect fit.

When you sit down with them, ask the following questions.


Does the builder come with a team?

Most people don’t know what to expect from the custom home building process. If a builder comes with a team or several close contacts, you’ll immediately broaden the number of resources available during construction.


How long has the builder been working?

Home construction has changed dramatically in the past ten years—fewer people are building custom homes. If your builder has been in business for ten or more years, they’ll understand the history and trends behind custom home construction. This is evidence of a strong company with a good product.


Are there home plans I can choose from, or should I hire a residential architect?

Some builders will provide homeowners with a gallery of plans to choose from, while others require individuals to hire architects to do the designing process. If a builder offers the former, ask about flexibility and the ability to make changes to original plans.


Where is the builder allowed to build?

If you want your home to be in a certain part of town or within a certain school district, be up-front about your needs. If a builder is not able to work in a specific area, move to the next candidate.


The answers to these questions will determine which builder best fits your project. However, you should also be aware of how the person or company makes you feel.

Does it seem like they have good ideas and design creativity? Will you be comfortable contacting them most days for the next six months?

In the end, choosing a builder is about choosing a personal connection. Don’t rush this decision and carefully consider every option.


Closing and Moving In to Your New Home

The only moment truly better than finding – or building, as the case may be – your dream home is actually reaching the closing date and then moving all of your stuff into your new home, the place that you are going to set down some roots and build some memories with your loved ones and your family.

Of course, before you get an opportunity to spend even a single night in your new home there are plenty of things you’re going to want to have covered. You’re going to want to make sure that you are as prepared for the move as possible, that you have all of your ducks in a row, and that you are able to transition into your new home as effortlessly as possible. To help make your transition as easy as humanly possible, you’ll want to punch out this quick checklist so that you can really rock ‘n roll!


Make sure you have copies of all your important housing documents and that they are safe and sound.

Immediately after the actual closing itself has concluded, you’re going to want to make three copies of all of your critical housing documents. You’ll want to keep the original set in a safety deposit box at a bank you know you can trust, you’ll want to keep a set at home (ideally in your office inside of a fireproof and waterproof safe) so that you can review the information when necessary, and you want to have a third set that you can let your home insurance providers “borrow” while they review the pertinent details and set you up with your coverage.

Swapout any old locks and reset any key codes.

As a general rule, if you’re moving into a home that has already had an owner or two, you’ll want to swapout all of the old locks for brand-new ones so that you can guarantee that you don’t have to worry about a complete and total stranger effortlessly accessing your home with a set of keys when you aren’t around.

It’s a good idea to make sure that your contractor has provided you with all sets of keys that you have given when they were building or renovating your home, and even some people that have built brand-new construction choose to completely swapout the locks just to make sure that they don’t have any security issues to worry about in the future.

You’ll want to do the same thing with any digital locks and key codes that need to be taken care of, too.

Have professionals come in and clean everything before you move your stuff in.

The best time to clean your brand-new home is right before you move all of your stuff in, so it is a good idea to call in the professionals and have them clean from top to bottom so that your new home is ready to go when you have the movers come in.

This will really help you feel at home, especially once you get all of your window dressings, draperies, rugs, and other home decor items in. If you can hold off on the professional cleaners until you have the basics of your home decor set up and ready to go, all the better – as you’ll be able to move in your bigger furniture and all your “stuff” later and will be able to start off your new life in your new home on the right foot!