How to Build a Small Energy Efficient House

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Energy consumption, greenhouse gases and dwindling resources are growing issues around the globe. They are as important to individuals as they are to industry. Today, many people who plan to build a new house are turning away from the sprawling, inefficient floor plans of the past. Instead, they are looking for ways to build a smaller home that is more energy efficient. If you have joined the “green” movement, you can build a small, energy efficient house that benefits the environment and meets your every need.

Things You'll Need

  • Land
  • Plans
  • Building materials
  • Begin your project with thorough research. Learn all you can about building materials like straw bale construction and foam. Explore alternative energy sources, including solar power and wind turbines. Have a flexible plan before you invest big money in this project.

  • Select a building location that will work well for your project. Evaluate potential sites for orientation (how you set the house on the land to make the most of sunlight for heating and cooling). If you’re not in town, you’ll probably be on septic, so make sure your site is good for that. A lot in a platted subdivision may have a homeowners association (HOA); confirm that it’s eco-friendly–some do not allow solar collectors, wind turbines or clothes lines.

  • Decide if this will be a build-it-yourself project or if you will be working with a building professional. Straw bale construction in particular is manageable for DIY types, as long as you understand the extent of the project you’re taking on. If you do build it yourself, you may want to hire licensed, bonded contractors for plumbing and electricity.

  • Locate a “green” builder to work with. A web search using the terms “green builder” as keywords will deliver a list of resources to get you started. When you find someone you think you want to work with, explain what you want in detail and make certain the builder can deliver. Ask to see other projects.

  • Look for a floor plan that suits your style and location. Again, a web search using the terms, “floor plan, small house” will give you a start. Look at everything, bearing in mind that the image of the exterior is only an image–you can change it to suit. Work with professional floor plans to get things right.

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