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3-Step Guide to Alternative Home Building

Updated on October 31, 2012

Choosing to build a green home is a big step. For most people, it requires a lot of learning. For everyone, it requires a lot of planning. It is important to recognize that the planning stages of alternative home building are at least as important, if not more so, than the building stages. The best way to save money and improve the environmental friendliness of the green home is to make your mistakes on (recycled) paper instead of on the building site itself. Researching your options for alternative home building materials and methods and working to make the best choices for your home in advance will provide you with the best green home you can build. If you follow 3 basic steps in alternative home building, you’ll be able to do the process smoothly enough to make it work.

Step One in Alternative Home Building: Researching Options

Step one is to identify the materials you may want to use in building your home. You should take the time to get a solid overview of the different options available today for building in an environmentally friendly manner. You want to explore the differences between earth-based materials, other natural materials (including appropriate green building techniques for wood and lumber), and recycled materials. You want to learn a little bit about what each material is, how it is used, and what types of geographic locations it works best in as a building material.

By the end of doing this research, you should be able to tell someone else the pros and cons of building with earth-based materials (such as adobe) in comparison with other natural materials (such as bamboo). This is when you will start to make decisions about whether you want to use a product like sod or a product like recycled beer cans to make your home. The research helps to guarantee that you make the right decision.

It is also during this stage that you should also look at the basic cost comparison between these different alternative home building materials. Compare these costs with each other as well as with standard building material costs (that aren’t green building materials). This research should give you a good understanding of what materials are available to you. It will also point you in the right direction of those alternative materials that are going to be most cost effective. This leads to the final decision about which materials to buy for the home based on the greenest, smartest choices that are also within your budget.

Step Two in Alternative Home Building: Finding Materials

Having this knowledge about the right materials to use in alternative home building for your region and budget, you will be ready to start finding those materials. Step Two of the process is all about locating the materials and resources you are going to use in the building of your home. You will still be doing more research at this time. For example, you will want to learn some basic information about what to look for in each material if you are going to be harvesting it yourself. (For example, you will learn how to look for natural water erosion to determine the efficiency of certain types of earth as a building material.) In this step, you will also want to learn about your options for ordering these materials and what the pros and cons are to ordering locally, nationally, and internationally. You’ll learn who the suppliers are and how to work with them.

Most important during Step Two is that you will want to learn how to locate the resources and services you need to get your questions about alternative home building answered as they arise. This is the most crucial part of the planning process. You will save time, money, and efficiency by working with professionals to get the designs for your home complete and accurate before you begin building. In step two is when you should look into working with a green designer and green building consultants to facilitate this second planning stage. Consider what qualities and experience to look for in hiring each of these professionals. Take your time in finding the right people. Finding the right materials and the right people will allow you to get ready to actually build your home.

Part Three of Alternative Home Building: Building

Once you have decided on the right building materials and located those alternative materials (as well as the service providers who will assist you in building your own home) you will finally be ready to build your new green home. Note that this is only one third of the process. Doing that other groundwork will make this step a lot easier. This is when you start to actually mix the adobe and turn it into bricks for building or lay out the recycled materials in the proper manner in order to construct the home. By now, the hard work is done, but of course the physical labor is just beginning. If you’ve done proper research then you will know what you’re doing when it comes to building. If you’ve hired the right green building consultants then you’ll be able to get the help that you need when questions come up about the home building process. And if you’ve got a lot of people to help you with the actual building process then this third step is going to go even more smoothly.


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  • Armchair Builder profile image

    Michael Luckado 5 years ago from Hawaii

    Great hub. Green is good and energy efficient and green is even better.

  • profile image

    Architects North Wales 6 years ago

    Excellent hub, you have laid it out it in a very clear and concise manner. The content is quality. I look forward to reading more.

  • earnestshub profile image

    earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

    Great hub. You have really pointed out the importance of planning and research. Well done.

  • devsir profile image

    devsir 7 years ago from Earth


  • Ann Nonymous profile image

    Ann Nonymous 7 years ago from Virginia

    I was totally unaware of this! Thanks so much kathryn for the info and well written hub!

  • profile image

    AARON99 7 years ago

    Wonderful hub on this topic, thanks for sharing. Enjoy.

  • BetsyIckes profile image

    BetsyIckes 7 years ago from Pennsylvania

    I've seen these houses before. They are to be better. thanks for sharing!

  • thevoice profile image

    thevoice 7 years ago from carthage ill

    keep writing thanks