Green Home Building Predictions for 2011

Tiger Woods will win in 2011! I love New Year’s lists… what happened and what will. I’m betting the Golf Magazine’s forecast will come true – what about Green Home Building?Eight Green Predictions1. Green Green Green
You’ll continue to hear less – Green – Green – Green. People will become more “Green” with less of the Flash and Bling. Green will become the Norm! Coloring a cleaning liquid green won’t fool us anymore – we know more about what’s good for us. What happened to all the Hollywood Stars who were “Green” a couple of years ago? I’m glad it’s not so fashionable but hope it doesn’t stop being COOL.2. Lawyers Guns and Money
The Real Estate Crash cut off one arm of the Green Warrior – “It’s only a flesh wound!!” Spending money on building and remodeling virtually disappeared over the last year. If not the bottom – we are at 90% of the price reductions on real estate prices. The massive backlog of homes will continue to be absorbed. Banks – or others – will start lending more money…. and the real estate market will slowly start to turn around! And… Green practices will be a big part of the turnaround.3. Cal Green – Green Building Codes
Coming soon in your area!!! Green Building Codes – Check out the all New CLICK HERE California Green Building Code. Watch for your State to start implementing “Green” Building Codes. This will have an interesting effect on all of the 100’s of “Green” programs out there. No longer will Green be a badge of “The Greeniest” but a requirement for all construction.4. Water Water Where?
Who owns the water systems in your City? Some say water is the next oil!!! We’ve only just begun to hear about water issues and you’ll hear a lot more in 2011: clean water to drink – cost of water at your tap – broken down infrastructure – drought – storm water issues. The long fore granted water at the tap will mean more to all of us each time we turn the valve.5. Solar Electricity
You’ll see more and more solar photovoltaic panels. Prices continue to drop. They are simple to install and require almost no maintenance. Americans love “plug and play.” The increase in solar systems will also be pushed as Cities and States continue to come up with inventive ways to provide incentives for solar. You can already do a zero down leaseback on a solar system. Also new efficient electric products will work with solar systems – check out magnetic induction cook tops – two new all electric cars the Nissan Leaf and the GM Volt.6. Net Zero The New Green
The new trend in Green Building is Net Zero. Buildings will create more power than they use – maybe even enough to power your car too! Look for cutting edge designs to dominate the public interest -see The??? House Challenge. Driven by rising costs of fuel and in-dependency from the “Grid,” Net Zero Homes will be the new badge of the best!7. Gas $4 Bucks a Gallon
You heard it here first – without any scientific proof! – I predict gas will be over $4 a gallon by the end of the year! Not only will gas go up but so will all sources of energy. I base this not on some economic theory but on the huge world wide demand of the massive industrial growth in Asia.8. Storms
More weird weather coming! What’s up with the weather – New York City boiled last summer. Hopefully you weren’t on a plane ride through Kennedy this Christmas! The blizzard closed the city! Australia is experiencing 100 year floods. Look for strange and abnormally powerful weather systems to continue to be the norm.Happy New Year and Keep Building Green!

Hiring the “Right” Builder for Your New Home Building Project

Hiring a BuilderBefore we delve into the topic of choosing a builder – let’s examine for a moment what a builder is and what a builder does. A builder is someone you hire to build your house, correct? Well, yes and no. It has been said that when you hire a builder you are really hiring four people: the builder, the builder’s crews, the builder’s subcontractors, and the builder’s suppliers. What this means is that most builders do not build houses by themselves, but hire outside subcontractors to do part of the work–plumbers and electricians are good examples.Except for a few very large builders who have the requisite staff and tradesmen on their payroll to build a house from start to finish, most builders are not only builders, but also general contractors, or GC’s as they are known in the trade. That is, they hire and schedule other specialized subcontractors to work for them in the building of your house.There is nothing wrong with this practice, we are simply calling it to your attention so you have a clear understanding of it. With a firm grasp of this trade practice, let’s move on to considerations for choosing a builder.The difference between a well built house and a poorly built house is not necessarily the materials being used, though these are important, or the tradesmen working on the house. It is mainly the person in charge of making it all happen – the builder! The builder’s job is to schedule the tradesmen and materials, while keeping a close eye on the subcontractors, and keeping everyone on time. No, it certainly is not rocket science; but, it does require experience and expertise in the building process to do it well.The builder you hire to build your house is the expert – you are not! You can and should learn as much as you can about the process of building a house but, ultimately, the builder you hire is YOUR expert on the subject, so you should hire someone with whom you are comfortable, someone whom you can trust and someone with experience.If you do a good job of hiring a builder, things should go reasonably smoothly. If you don’t, then you are going to put yourself in the unenviable position of supervising your builder. And, if you haven’t been through the building process before, there won’t be enough hours in the day for you to learn all you need to know to have a chance of doing this well.One of several steps in the process is to interview the builder. Here is a partial list of questions that should be asked. A more complete Builder’s Questionnaire and Interview Guide can be found on the House N Home Building website:1. How long have you been in business?2. Have you or your partners built houses under any other names?3. How many homes do you build per year?4. How many homes do you build concurrently?5. How much time do you spend supervising the building process?6. Do you do the supervising yourself or do you have a foreman or site supervisor?7. What work will you do with your own crews – what work is subbed?8. Do you have contracts with your subcontractors? Can I see a copy?9. Can you provide us with a list of all of your subcontractors, including name, address and phone number?10. How long has each sub worked for you?11. Can you provide us with a bank reference?12. Can you provide us with a copy of your insurance certificate?13. Have you had any suits brought against you by any homeowners for whom you built?14. If yes, why, and what was the outcome of the suit?15. How many change orders would you consider “average” in the process of building a home?16. Are there charges or fees for initiating change orders (other than the obvious costs for the change – some builders charge a flat fee of say $50, plus the construction charges)?17. Can change orders be initiated by the builder?18. If a mistake is made during the building process, who pays to fix the mistake?19. What kind of warranty do you provide? (some States may mandate warranties)20. Do you do the warranty work on your houses or is it some third party?I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this choice and getting it right. It very well could be the difference between a pleasant dream and a bad nightmare. So, take the time and do it right.

Bamboo – A Greener Home Building Material

When I was a young boy I knew of only one use for bamboo-to make great cane poles for fishing. Bamboo has the wonderful property of being flexible yet strong. The cane pole would bend when a fish was on the line, providing resistance as I was trying to bring in a keeper without having the line break. And the pole would never break. I have some great memories of the many bluegill and crappie I caught while fishing with my father and grandfather as a kid, and of the fantastic fish dinners we enjoyed together as a family afterward.Today, bamboo still makes a great fishing pole, as many kids can attest. But another surprisingly useful application has emerged that is environmentally-friendly and contributes to a greener lifestyle.Bamboo has recently received a lot of attention as a green building material, particularly for flooring, and here is why.Bamboo grows very quickly, making it a rapidly renewable material. Compared to trees, which can take 50 to 100 years to grow to sufficient size, bamboo can be harvested every five or six years. There are 10 to 20 cycles of bamboo harvests in the time it takes for a hardwood tree to mature, which means bamboo provides more building material in the same period of time. And the fast growth means a more rapid uptake of carbon dioxide and release of oxygen, with benefits to the environment.Another amazing green advantage of bamboo is that it does not need to be replanted, like a hardwood tree. After being cut, bamboo will re-grow, on its own, in the same place. Being a self-regenerating plant is a major benefit.Although bamboo is classified as a grass rather than a wood, it surprisingly strong and durable, and it wears very well as a flooring material. When used to produce flooring, bamboo is stacked in layers and glued together to produce sections like any other floor tile or board. Thus, it can be used in construction like other engineered woods, and it can be stained or finished like any other wood, producing a beautiful appearance as well.Consider using bamboo as a floor covering material the next time you are remodeling your home (or building new). The cost is similar to that for other wood flooring, and you will have the knowledge that your beautiful new flooring came at a lower environmental cost.