Though I wouldn’t trade my personal experience for any other, I will gladly attest to the flaws of my naive approach. In fact, so flawed was this way of doing things that for two decades I have centered my life around helping others find their way to their own dream green home without hitting as many of the snags and making as many mistakes as I did.
There are many times in our lives when we make rash decisions and don’t adequately prepare ourselves for a task. Most of the time, making a less-than-ideal choice isn’t that big a deal — a poor choice can get chalked up to “live and learn.” However, poor choices in home building can be extremely costly, and the results can have real and serious implications for decades to come. When your life’s savings and a vast amount of your time and effort are on the line (not to mention large quantities of the planet’s current and future resources), “oops” is not a word you want to hear! The world of homebuilding is not a place you want to wander in blind and be directed by hard knocks.
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Sadly, I have watched an awful lot of people plunge into homebuilding only to make the same, predictable, costly and demoralizing mistakes that I did. I have seen many homes built well-over budget that also underperformed — never meeting the high expectations their owners had at the outset.
As much as I’d like to be able to offer a “silver bullet solution” that would guarantee quick-and-easy results, I’m afraid there is no fast track, sure-fire method to figuring out how to build yourself the best possible home. I have spent two decades deepening my knowledge of how to make a really good building, and I still have lots to learn. It’s a vast subject, and the determining factors are many: climate and site, local regulations, available resources and skills, and, of course, budgets, which vary widely, as do individual considerations of comfort and aesthetics. There is no one “perfect” way to balance all of these factors; each project requires unique adaptations.
The uniqueness and “specificness” of homes which I believe is essential for making a house into a home — has been largely abandoned for a one-size-fits-all simplicity that suits the needs of the large-scale construction industry but has done a large disservice to humans, the built environment, and the planet. This is not to say that good homes cannot be simple, but rather that the pathways to arrive at a good home design are as varied and many as the number of people who need and want homes.