Making mistakes in a building project can cost time and money, and leave you well short of the energy-efficient home you planned for. In Sanctuary 38 Verity Campbell asks four experienced designers about their top tips for avoiding the most common pitfalls.
In part 1 Simone Schenkel advised on how to avoid common mistakes on building sustainable homes including teamwork, cost-cutting and specialist engagement. For the 2nd part of the series, Sid Thoo from Sid Thoo Architects is going to give some professional suggestions on sustainable home designing.
Sid Thoo says it can help to choose a builder who has a portfolio of sustainable homes. “However, this is no guarantee in itself,” he cautions. “I was once involved in a project where the builder appeared to have a strong history, but it turned out it was the business partner, who had left, who actually had the experience.” And, he advises, don’t overlook the younger generation of builders who are passionate about building more sustainably, even though they may not have much experience.
Sid also suggests homeowners ask “pointy” questions of prospective architects or designers in those early meetings. Questions like: “How will you manage construction waste on site? Will you spend the time to get multiple quotes? Do you know about more sustainable options or selections?”
When putting together the design brief, Sid recommends homeowners identify priorities and must-haves, and budget accordingly. His tip is to create two lists: “One that contains things you absolutely must have in the project (that you aren’t prepared to compromise on), and a wishlist of things you would really like to have, in order of priority, but can live without.”
For the essential items, get cost estimates and prices as soon as possible and clearly identify what brand, size, model et cetera you want, to ensure these are factored into the construction cost estimates. “If any budget issues come up (and they often do), knowing that these items have been allowed for helps to ensure they don’t get left out.
“Don’t assume anything: it has to be specified/identified/noted, or it will be missed!” says Sid. Your architect or building designer will create construction specifications that list all the finishes, materials, fixtures and fittings you want to include in the build. You need to make sure these specifications are comprehensive. “There are many standard or ‘off the shelf’ specifications in use by industry, but when it comes to sustainability and water and energy efficiency inclusions, you’ll really have to write your own to make sure you get exactly what you want.”