it's something of a buzz word these days. It would seem that everything we as builders use is getting more expensive due to cost or limited availability. Everything that leaves the site (fill) or arrives on site (concrete, lumber, drywall, etc.) comes by truck, and many of those things are very heavy. They use fuel, and lots of it. Those materials may have a lot of embodied energy to manufacture them, such as concrete, drywall, aluminum, windows and doors. Many are petroleum based, as are asphalt shingles, certain flooring materials and paints. Often those materials are being put into houses that are not as energy efficient as they might be. We are currently building an unsustainable type of housing that is for the most part too big, too inefficient, too poorly designed, and headed for the landfill in too short a time period. Some of the manufactured products going into these houses is junk, vinyl windows, cheap asphalt shingles (which can't stand the increased UV levels) and miles of vinyl siding that is buckling weeks after being installed.
Why not build something better the first time around? Build it smaller which is possible if properly designed. Build it better... more masonry, higher insulation levels, upgraded finishes. Then live in it longer than average and enjoy it more.
Smaller and better is less expensive to build, less expensive to tax, less expensive to heat and cool, less expensive to furnish, less expensive to decorate, less to clean. Yes, like many things in life... less is more.
Rory McDonnell is a General Contractor, Licensed Carpenter and Architectural Designer with Build, a construction firm in Stratford, Ontario, specializing in new custom homes and renovations.