Who am I and why am I here?
When it comes to Greenspiration Home – the publication and the initiative – the answer could not be clearer to me. I want to help homeowners make better decisions about their homes. I want to speak to them as a homeowner who has been there. And I want to create a resource that is rich with content from other homeowners who have also been there.
Why? Because I can and because I’ve seen the need. Boy, have I seen the need….
Building a House Is Hard
When I began planning and building my home, the Greenspiration Home, I had no idea how difficult it would be—even with an experienced builder in my corner. At the time, my goals didn’t seem so terribly lofty. I wanted an energy efficient home that utilized water-saving strategies and I wanted to use as many locally sourced materials as possible. Beyond that, like everyone else, I wanted a beautiful home that was comfortable, of suitable size and layout for my family and lifestyle, in an area that we loved.
I hail from a fairly technical side of the commercial construction arena. I’ve been writing about mechanical HVAC for (yikes) close to 20 years now, so I knew a lot about what technologies were available. I thought I was in a pretty good position to navigate the process of building a green home. But quite frankly, nothing prepared me for how disconnected and dysfunctional the residential construction industry is. And this, by the way, is not just my opinion. It is conversation that I seem to have on a daily basis with people from within the industry, including builders, contractors, and vendors. This isn’t news to anyone in the industry. But for most homeowners, it is news — news that all too often they won’t learn until they are neck deep in the biggest financial investment of their life.
Let me explain what I mean.
Here is an industry that relies on subcontractors for critical applications like electrical, plumbing and HVAC. And then there are the carpenters who have to make room for all this equipment in a floor plan that was chosen solely because it fit the needs and aesthetic desires of the family who will one day live there. And none of these folks are talking – at least not until something goes wrong and then it’s not so much talking as it is accusing. Get the picture?
Add into this mix a plethora of great new technologies (great if they are perfectly applied, that is) and an industry that hates nothing more than change, and you start to see why the odds for a satisfying outcome are not quite what you had hoped.
Why YOU (the Homeowner) Are So Important in this Process
I frequently speak to and participate in various construction related groups that are made up of contractors, architects, builders, and engineers. Depending on their profession, they frequently have their own solutions for this dilemma. If it’s an architect, they like to say, “Just hire an architect!” If it’s an engineer, they like to say, “Hire an engineer!” These aren’t bad suggestions – they really aren’t – but for the average homeowner, hiring an architect, an engineer, and a builder is simply not in the cards. And even if it was, I still question whether that would be enough to overcome the shortcomings of an industry that is as uncommunicative as residential construction.
In my mind, having been where I’ve been, seen what I’ve seen, and heard what I’ve heard, the best way to avoid the inevitable pitfalls is for the homeowner to become educated herself. Why? Because no one cares about your home as much as you. For that reason alone, no one else is more qualified than you to ride shotgun on the construction of your own home. We just want to help you do that.
So, you see, it is very clear to me who I am and what my initiatives are as I sit here each week searching for stories that effectively impart valuable lessons to homeowners. I’m not trying to teach builders how to build or contractors how to install. I, along with my guest bloggers, am simply trying to impart the value of our own collective experiences to other homeowners. We want you to ask the questions we failed to ask. We want to help you avoid the problems we’ve already had – or narrowly escaped.
It really is as simple as that.