If you are thinking about building a custom energy-efficient home, where do you start? Many will first go to the internet (thanks for reading my blog) to get their information. This is a great place to gather lots of opinions, but be sure you are looking at opinions based on your specific climate. Here in Virginia, we are in a mixed humid climate. Your climate impacts many decisions and solutions that are viable for the creation of a custom energy-efficient home.
Outside the building science decisions, there are other factors that will impact your success in achieving energy-efficiency in a custom home. Probably the largest is knowing what is possible / typical by builders in the area. While all builders are able to use any method of construction (sticks, concrete, SIPS…) it is not wise to have a builder learn a new system on your project. In our area, there are drastic differences in the various builders. However, some systems are not used at all here, which leads to uncertainty, more time required, and higher prices. Knowing these skills will benefit the end quality of your home, as well as the final costs.
Product availability is another major force that can impact the success of your project. Knowing and selecting what building supply companies stock vs. special order will save you money. It also gives you the opportunity to find information about the products you want to use. All building supply companies know the products they stock and can offer feedback based on past projects. This expertise will help you avoid mistakes that have been made in the past.
Building a new home is complicated. Building a custom home that is specific to your needs requires careful design and many conversations that will not be found in a magazine or by designing it yourself. Adding the goal of energy-efficiency brings a challenge that can only be achieved with the right team in place. Be sure your team understands your goals, building science, and the local level of product availability and skills available. Here are some other resources that might be useful:
- Know the difference between a custom-house and a new house
- Here are some questions to ask yourself
- Here are some basics with links to more information
- Do you need an architect or can you just find a plan online
- Pick the right builder