Communication, please!

The team that builds a house generally consists of three entities: Client, Architect, and Contractor. If all three are communicating well and supportive of each other the job goes incredibly smoothly. Everyone sleeps well at night; everyone feels respected; costs and timelines stay within the realm of expectations for all.

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The worst building experiences always happen due to bad communication on someone's part. Lying, misleading, not owning up to mistakes, bad mouthing others—all of these are the hallmarks of a terrible construction project. But a simple lack of communication can cause just as many problems. All of these behaviors lead to more problems down the line and more money wasted by all. Nobody wants that!

Our goal for every project is to have information openly shared, to solve problems as a team, and to get everyone working together toward the common goals of a great house and a job well done. Once you’ve had the pleasure of working this way, you want nothing more than to repeat the experience again and again. 

We love contractors who work with us to figure out the best way to build something or solve a problem. We love clients who communicate. If these things work then we LOVE our job!

Here's to excellent communication! 

 

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The Good Job Site

How a House of Good Intention Makes All the Difference
 

Building a house is dirty work, but having the right team with the right goals and attitudes can make the process a whole lot more pleasant and rewarding. I’ll use the example of our experience during the construction of a LEED certified home in Darien, CT, to give you an idea of what I mean.

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Usually I tell clients that starting a project in the winter is no big deal. As long as we can get concrete in the ground, building in the winter generally doesn't cause problems—it’s often just a matter of adjusting the schedule around any inclement weather.  But this year was a completely different story. While this house was under construction, we had 85 inches of snow, and it was absolutely freezing for the first 6 weeks of the year. When the guys could make it to the job site, they were out shoveling foundations, roofs, driveways, and lumber stacks for hours on end. We had 2 to 3 feet of snow on the ground for most of the winter. Once the weather warmed up a bit, everything turned to mud. And then it wouldn’t stop raining or sleeting or snowing and then raining again.

There's also the general sense of chaos that occurs on most big projects. On one of my visits to the job site, things seemed especially hectic. Temporary subfloor had been pulled up to install ducts. Holes were being cut in framing everywhere for plumbing and HVAC lines. It was all dark and mud and sawdust and way too many guys working and way too many holes in the floor to fall through. And of course I was wearing high heels. 

Yet every person on this site was totally cheerful, nice, fun, and happy. It was the highlight of my day to go to the site. 
 

There is just something better about building a green home. Everyone on board cares and likes what they do. We all believe in what we are doing. Everyone is sort of cut from the same cloth—the contractor, tradespeople, architects, and clients. Everyone is doing a really, really good job. This is a great job. This is the way a job should be. 

People who have horrible building experiences have no idea what it is like to build a house of good intention. This is a completely different world. This is one of the bonuses of designing green homes: whenever we go to job sites we have a great day.

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Home Design and Construction Websites

Resources for building smart, energy-efficient, healthy, comfortable, sustainable houses

Use this collection of websites to get your bearing on how great houses are designed, built, and certified for energy efficiency and sustainability. The organizations and publications listed below represent the country's top authorities on high-performance home building, and are the best resources to educate yourself on the latest quality and performance standards and cutting-edge technologies used in residential construction.

Rating Systems and Rebates

Passive House:  
Passive House is a certification system and set of design principles based on a quantifiable and rigorous level of energy efficiency. “Maximize your gains, minimize your losses” summarizes the approach. 
www.passivehouse.us

LEED for Homes:
LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. LEED provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings.
new.usgbc.org/leed

Zero Energy Project:
The Zero Energy Project is a non-profit educational organization whose goal is to help home buyers, builders, designers, and real estate professionals take meaningful steps towards radically reducing carbon emissions and energy bills by building zero net energy homes and near zero energy homes.
zeroenergyproject.org

International Living Future Institute (ILFI):
The ILFI's Living Building Challenge is a green building certification program and sustainable design framework that visualizes the ideal for the built environment.
living-future.org

National Green Building Standard (NGBS):
The NGBS was developed in a partnership with the ASHRAE, the International Code Council (ICC), and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) to provide a uniform national platform for recognizing and advancing green residential construction.
ngbs.com

The Home Energy Rating System (HERS):
The HERS Index is the nationally recognized scoring system for measuring a home’s energy performance.
www.resnet.us/energy-rating

ENERGY STAR:
ENERGY STAR is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, providing simple, credible, and unbiased information that consumers and businesses rely on to make well-informed decisions. 
www.energystar.gov

DSIRE:
DSIRE is the most comprehensive source of information on state and federal incentives and policies that support renewable energy and energy efficiency in the United States.
www.dsireusa.org


Building Science Websites

BuildingGreen.com
Since 1985, BuildingGreen has been a trusted source on healthy and sustainable design and construction strategies.
www.buildinggreen.com

GreenBuildingAdvisor.com
Green Building Advisor is dedicated to providing the most useful, accurate, and complete information about designing, building, and remodeling energy-efficient, sustainable, and healthy homes.
www.greenbuildingadvisor.com

BuildingScience.com
A free online resource owned and operated by Building Science Corporation, BuildingScience.com is full of articles, research papers, and case studies focused on the design and construction of buildings that are healthier, less energy-consuming, and more durable and economical.
buildingscience.com

EnergySmiths.com
Browse the resources and case studies pages from this consulting firm devoted to helping people create buildings and communities that connect us to the natural world, relying on sustainable systems that support both human and planetary health.
www.energysmiths.com

 

Green Product Sources

The Center for Green Building, CT
Center for Green Building's mission is to provide healthy and environmentally friendly products that are safe for you and your home.
www.centerforgreenbuilding.com

Green Demolitions
Green Demolitions is North America’s premier luxury recycler for kitchens, high-end renovation items, showroom displays, and new-in-box overstocks.
greendemolitions.com

Habitat ReStore
Habitat for Humanity ReStores are nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, appliances, home accessories, building materials and more to the public at a fraction of the retail price.
www.habitat.org/restores

475 High Performance Building Supply
475 provides essential building knowledge and components to help make more durable, resilient, ecological, and energy-efficient buildings that optimize occupant comfort and health.
foursevenfive.com

Energy Federation, Inc.
EFI offers high quality products that help people to use our planet’s limited energy and water resources wisely.
www.energyfederation.org

 

Magazines, Media, Books

 

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