With what we know about the future of the environment, many of us wonder what we can do to keep a future climate crisis at bay. And while the big decisions in that
respect will be made by people with much more powerful than ourselves, there is something to be said for taking the steps we can. Among these is the choice to build your own green eco-friendly home. While we wait for the bigger housing developers to catch up, there’s something special about “Doing It Yourself” too, so don’t hold back – press on and build your own home!
Find the right location
It’s often said that the three rules of home buying are “Location, Location, Location”, and the same is true of picking your place to build an eco-home. However, in this case, it’s not about being desirably located for the nearest school, or views of the mountains. An eco-home should be built somewhere that allows it to contribute to a zero-carbon economy. As an example, in the Northern Hemisphere, this ideally means a south-facing location so it can better harness the energy of the sun and be protected from the prevailing wind. Ideally, it will also be surrounded by land where you can grow fruit and veg, cutting down on those “food miles”.
Secure planning consent
Getting planning permission for a building is often difficult to even for smaller jobs, so an eco-house can present some challenges. You’ll need to be prepared to be creative in applying for consent and persistent if you are initially rejected. It will help if your local council has a Sustainability Plan – this will give you some guidance as to what they consider acceptable. Be prepared to make some modifications to your plans, if it can help the house get permission. Better to compromise on your initial vision than being told it can’t happen.
Know your materials
There are more than a few areas of the country with “Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty” and National Parks among them, where buildings can get complicated. In these areas, it’s not totally out of the question to get permission to build, but you will need to build in the local vernacular – this might throw a wrench in plans you already had, but is more sustainable and shouldn’t complicate the eventual work. It does help, though, to know what your options are as early as possible. Reclaimed materials can be particularly useful in this scenario – and what a great way to be eco-friendly.
Consult with the experts
If you’ve never built your own home before, then be prepared to speak to, and take advice from those who have. Builders who make a habit of constructing eco-homes will be able to take your initial vision and reality-check it, often improving it in the process. What’s important in this situation, is to turn your dream into a reality so let the experts guide you when it comes to the points above and anything else you might be wondering about. We need more eco-homes across the length and breadth of Britain, not fewer, so don’t be discouraged; your efforts will make a positive contribution!