Archive for September, 2009
One can’t have a green home without actual greenery, can one? Open spaces, gardens and green areas are quite important in a house, not just for aesthetic appeal, but also because they help largely in maintaining fresh air indoors and keeping a steady temperature. If you’re few of the lucky homeowners whose homes have backyards then there’s nothing like it. We strongly suggest that you make use of the backyard to have your own compost pit or recycling plant. This is not difficult or messy. You’ll get helpful tips on how easily you can make compost at http://www.helpfulgardener.com/.
If you don’t have the advantage of a backyard, you can still do a lot. For starters, depending on the kind of walls you have, you could speak to your contractor about having a controlled ivy growing on the outside wall – but do this with a professional gardener’s advice only. If you have a terrace you could go about converting it into a terrace garden. It’s not too technical and it can keep your roof quite cool during summers.
Indoor plants are an excellent idea. A better idea is to create space outside windows by installing racks for keeping potted plants – They’re an excellent way of providing privacy. Many homeowners will also create indoor gardens – complete with waterfalls. Although these are expensive, you could speak to your contractor about the possibilities.
Remodeling – The Home Plan
Truth be told, when homeowners start off with remodeling their home; they have no idea as to what they actually want the home to look like, unless they know something about construction and architecture. Normally, they will wait till the contractor draws up certain plans, and then will generally approve or disapprove with little conviction in either case. So, when your contractor approaches you with the plans, this is what you should be noticing, and asking:
1. First and most important identify how family members use the rooms. The space requirement and positioning of rooms should be made accordingly in the plans. For example, does your wife take the kids’ lessons while cooking? If so, then the kitchen must be large enough to accommodate the wife’s requirements and sit the kids comfortably while they study. Similarly, if you work from home in the study, then you need to have the bathrooms close by. Or if you like entertaining guests every weekend, the living room needs to be large enough.
2. Keeping the family’s requirements in mind, is the house plan as eco-friendly as it could be? Ask your contractor to explain how much energy the new house will save as compared to the old house and if changes in the plan could make it better or worse. Don’t worry; contractors are more than happy answering questions.
3. How easy will it be to maintain the house, keeping in mind the time you have, and the environmental conditions?
When you approach an eco-friendly contractor to build you an eco-friendly home one of the things he Is going to suggest (and carry out too) is the switch to solar electricity. Depending on your requirement, resources and the location, there are quite a few options you have when it comes to using solar electricity: You could install solar panels to generate total or partial capacity or you could buy it directly from your provider.
Your contractor will suggest that installing solar panels will be the most effective way to turn your home green. A better contractor, however, will suggest ways to make the best of the ambient sunlight you have for lighting purposes, so that you’re now powering other electrical appliances with solar electricity, and not so much the lights. This can be done by the Passivhaus standard which will entail constructing the home in such a manner that most of your rooms are lit up with natural sunlight, while ensuring that it doesn’t heat up the house unnecessarily.
The other things you want to discuss are appliances that save electricity: EPA certified one, CFLs, and the latest – LED lamps. Also, it is very important to ensure that you and the contractor carry out an energy audit of your existing house first in order to compare the savings your new house will generate.
Remodeling – Demolition
An eco-friendly home first begins by taking it all apart – the demolition we mean. Ideally, environment friendly construction should begin here. Here are things you can do to ensure that you have a green demolition too:
1. Start by reviewing all the times in your house, to see what can be recycled. Recycling is one of the simplest ways by which you can minimize waste, minimize cost and maximum your home’s green quotient. Start with the furniture – can you use the wood to create other things? Can you donate it? Can u refurbish it to reuse it? When you think of bringing in the new, think of what you’re going to do with the old.
2. Ensure you have a demolition crew that doesn’t tear the place down. Many items that are quite salvageable get damaged in the process of demolition. For example, you could use the bricks for the walls to pave your garden or backyard or for some other construction in the house, provided the crew knows how to bring them out intact.
3. When you finally do end up with things that you cannot put to any use, before discarding them, look for people who can put them to good use. For example, you might not know what to do with all your old plumbing pipes, or there may be items that get damaged and thus are not of any use – like glass or tiles. Contact companies that manufacture recycled construction material. They will be more than happy to get their hands on raw material or at least refer you to someone who would be.
Many times we come across home owners who plan the remodeling extensively and are very scrupulous about what changes they want and what kind of a contractor they’re looking for. However, the important part that most overlook is the actual ‘remodeling’ process. Remodeling can become quite inconvenient, because you’re still living in the house, while it is being torn down and built up simultaneously. A lot of families, especially the large ones, feel like they’ve been hit by a hurricane and eventually get very tired and irritated with the entire process. Here’s what you can do to make things easier:
1. With your contractor, chalk out areas of the house that the family can use and ones that will be worked on, phase by phase. Explain these areas to the family.
2. Keep essential items that your family will need in these areas, and move all other items, including furniture out – in your basement or garage.
3. A few days, or weeks before the remodeling begins, ask friends and relatives if you could use their basement or garage to store all the furniture that you will need to move out. Arrange for packers and movers or some neighborhood help.
4. Make sure the contractor explains to his workers which areas are off limits. Also make sure that the workers know if you want them not to smoke, drink, blare music or swear when they’re working in your house.
5. Try and get someone to watch toddlers full-time, if you cannot. If you have a dog, leash train them, so that they won’t disturb the workers and harm themselves.