Andy and I are taking the plunge and building a house! Yes, after living in five places over seven years, we’re finally ditching our nomadic lifestyle. As of right now all we have to show for this commitment are some stakes in the ground and a mortgage. Over the course of the next six months though, this nebulous piece of land will grow into an actual home. We’ll be blogging its construction here (thanks for the idea Matt W!).
Our house search started roughly a year and a half ago. Andy and I set a budget and established our priorities. It became clear that we leaned greenward. This house had to be walkable to stores and restaurants. It couldn’t be too big, but needed to be flexible for our needs over the next few years (yikes- years!). We looked at a lot of homes but not one felt right. Our minds kept coming back to this empty lot not far from the center of town but the idea of building a new house, well, we kept telling ourselves something we had heard before: the greenest house is the one that is never built.
So, what happened? We never found our dream house. We read about building green. I ruminated over my secret desire to leave medicine to become an interior designer. Andy got me a subscription to Dwell magazine. And then we met with Doug, our builder. He said he could do what we wanted.
Over the next 4 months we considered every aspect of this house with respect to the environment and we learned that green building, while enjoying some time in the spotlight of late, is often about decidedly dull choices. Yes, we tried to use sustainable and even local finishes. Yes, we spent hours trying to pick out toilets with the most flushing power for the least amount of water, and low-flow showerheads that would feel more spa than monastery. We kept the square footage down and oriented the living space to the southern sun. But, who knew that, say, insulating the foundation or the location of the ductwork were so important for our energy usage?
This will not be a LEED-certified house in part because of the time and expense of going through that process. But, by learning about the house construction process literally from (below) the ground up, and by making careful choices about both its visible and hidden design, we hope to show you that building green isn’t just for modernists and hippies!