If you have amassed the funds to pay for that home extension you’ve long been dreaming of, it can be a thrilling time as you embark on the process of upgrading your abode. However, if you’ve decided to make your extension as eco-friendly as possible at the same time, there are some key considerations for you to take into account before you go ahead.
Admittedly, constructing a ‘green’ extension can throw up some challenges, particularly if your existing property wasn’t built in a sustainable fashion. However, where there’s a will, there’s a way! With some careful research and planning, and the right people on board to help, there’s no reason why you can’t create the perfect eco-friendly add-on to your home.
Consider The Impact On Your Surroundings
The very first step to take before committing to an extension is to make sure that it won’t cause any irreparable damage to the piece of land where construction is slated to take place. For instance, if there is a sizeable tree – or even a clump of trees – occupying that particular spot, then you will need to take them into consideration and invest in a tree survey. Tree surveys are conducted by experienced arboriculturists who work for specialist ecological consultancies such as Arbtech. These surveys are designed to amass vital information about the trees in question, such as their species, age, life expectancy, and current state of health.
As you probably already know, trees are vital environmental assets, as they provide oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, while simultaneously providing shelter and food sources for local wildlife. The tree survey you arrange will assign categories to the trees on your property, to determine whether or not they can be removed and if they pose any health and safety hazards. If the plot of land earmarked for your extension contains category A trees, then you may have to rethink things and come up with a new design.
Choose Sustainable Materials
One of the most obvious methods you should employ to make your home extension as ‘green’ as possible is to build it using only – or, at least, mostly – sustainable materials. This may seem like a tall order, but the truth is that there are many environmentally friendly building materials you can choose from that are easily obtainable in the UK. These range from recycled wood and plastic to precast concrete, cross-laminated timber, natural stone, aluminium, straw bales, and even wool.
Each material comes with its own unique pros and cons. As such, it’s a good idea to carry out plenty of research and consult with your architect as to which materials would be most suitable for your extension. You also need to make sure that any sustainable materials you choose will fit within your allotted budget for the construction work.
Use Environmentally Friendly Energy Sources
As well as ensuring that your property’s new addition is responsibly constructed out of eco-friendly materials, you should also place a firm focus on choosing renewable energy sources. Not only will you be doing the planet a huge favour, but you will also find that your bank balance will benefit as a result, even if some of these energy sources may require a substantial initial investment.
Ground source heat pumps or underfloor heating are highly effective options for keeping your extension warm during the chilly winter months. Both of these forms of heating do require plenty of funds in order to purchase them and have them installed, but they will save you money in the long run while providing highly efficient heating.
Another option is to install a wood-burning stove in your extension, to help you stay warm and cosy whenever you are using it. Wood-burning stoves can help you save a significant amount of money, in comparison to an electric fire, and they are also aesthetically pleasing.
Invest In The Right Insulation
Insulation is key if you want to have an energy-efficient home extension, and ward off those dreaded household problems such as rising damp and black mould. Wall and roof insulation should certainly be used, and you can also opt to insulate the flooring of your extension for maximum heat retention.
The great news is that you can find plenty of environmentally friendly insulation materials to pad out your new extension and reduce heat loss as much as possible. Among them, you will find natural insulators such as sheep’s wool, which has a number of benefits, including breathability, high absorbency, and even the ability to neutralise indoor air pollutants. Alternatively, you can opt for recycled insulators, such as wood fibre, hemp, cotton, and straw bales.
As with sustainable building materials, there are pros and cons to each of these forms of insulation, so plenty of homework is required before you settle on the right insulation for your extension.
Make The Most Of The Natural Light
When you’re designing your extension with your architect, it’s a good idea to incorporate design features that will allow you to take advantage of the sunlight your new addition will receive. Skylights and roof lanterns will let in a glorious abundance of natural light that will also help to make the extension warmer during autumn and winter.
You can also have solar panels erected on the roof, to generate electricity for the extension. This will not only lower your bills but could even bring you some extra cash if you sell the excess back to the grid.
Purchase Eco-Friendly Paints
Last but not least, once your stunning new eco-friendly extension has been completed and it’s time to decorate, make sure you only use paints that will not be harmful to the environment – or your own well-being. This means purchasing paints that don’t contain any VOCs (otherwise known as volatile organic compounds). These paints will cause minimal air pollution and should also be free of other harmful chemicals, including carcinogens, which could affect your family’s health.
Constructing your dream home extension and making it as eco-friendly as possible may seem daunting at times. However, the benefits – both to your bank balance and the environment – will be worth the effort and investment in the end, and you can enjoy your extra space with a clear conscience, knowing you’ve done all you can to benefit the planet.
Disclosure: This is a featured post.