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13 Green Building Questions to Ask Your So Cal Contractor

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As the numerous benefits of green building and remodeling continue to grow, there is little doubt that the trend in eco-friendly home ownership is in full swing.

With the influx of green materials, building processes, and manufacturers competing to offer eco-friendly products and services to the marketplace, it can be quite the challenge to distinguish exactly what is green and what isn’t.

This is particularly true when choosing a contractor for your Southern California home.

Here are thirteen questions to keep on hand as you interview contractors for your green building (or conversion) project:

  1. What is the contractor’s understanding of green building and what makes the project green? What are the contractor’s key sources of information? 
  1. Is the contractor a recognized Energy Star contractor? If not, what green-building standard does the contractor subscribe to?
  1. Has the contractor built other green projects, and what qualified these projects as green?
  1. Does the contractor’s designers or allied architects have training in green-building practices, which can range from knowledge about house orientation and window basics to the ability to specify green products in every part of the home?
  1. Does the contractor have reliable sources for green products, such as Energy Star-qualified HVAC systems; low-VOC caulks, adhesives, and finishes; and sustainably-harvested lumber?
  1. For finished wood applications like trim or shelving, does the contractor have a plan for using composite woods, such as medium-density fiberboard (MDF), and plantation-grown green alternatives to tropical hardwoods, such as bamboo or Pau Lope, that will reduce pressure on forests?
  1. Does the contractor subscribe to any framing optimization system that can reduce job-site waste? This can simply mean that the contractor uses a software system to optimize framing so that his crew uses fewer structural wood components.
  1. Is the contractor aware of advanced insulated foundation, roof, or wall systems that can achieve high R-values, such as insulated concrete forms (ICFs) and structural insulated panels (SIPs)?
  1. Does the contractor have any knowledge of – or subcontractors who are aware of green-building techniques, such as floor finishers who use no-VAC water-borne polyurethane?
  1. What systems does the contractor have in place to check on and audit the green practices of the subcontractors who will be working on your job, such as preapproval of materials?
  1. Does the contractor have a waste and recycling plan so that building materials such as metal or useable wood are recycled rather than discarded?
  1. Does the contractor have a toxic-waste disposal plan? Ask the contractor what the plan is for old thermostats that contain mercury or light ballasts that contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). If he doesn’t have a deliberate plan for disposing of these highly toxic materials, the contractor’s credentials are suspect.
  1. Does the contractor have a plan for ensuring the indoor air quality (IAQ) of the home before and after construction, even if there is active ventilation when finishes are applied on-site? IAQ is a key component of any green remodeling job.

If you have any questions regarding how you can use green-building principles for your Southern California home remodel, contact the Custom Design & Construction team today.

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Topics: Whole House