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Lessons Learned » Our Sustainable Home
(edit) Lessons Learned
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This page contains some of the valuable lessons learned on our build.

  1. You’re going over budget. Plan for it. 25% over is not a ridiculous amount to be ready for. 10% is reasonably safe.
  2. Everything takes longer than you think. Always find out how long someone will take to do something and then follow up immediately after that. Don’t let up on one task you’re waiting on just because you’re waiting on something else that’s also holding things up.
  3. Your choice of materials and design will likely change right through construction as new opportunities arise or unexpected realities block your previous choices.
  4. Bad people are everywhere. If someone is not planning on taking advantage of you, then they won’t mind putting things clearly in writing and sticking to their agreements.
  5. Great people are everywhere, too. (And in much greater quantity.)
  6. If there is an ounce of prevention to be taken, take it. I failed to go and get tarps because I seemed to be the only one who thought they’d protect against erosion with the rains coming. $1X,000 in damages later, $100 in tarps seems like a bargain.
  7. Tell everyone who will listen what you’re doing. Someone out there will have an experience or knowledge to share with you that can help you build a better house. And on the flip side: someone out there will be starting a similar project and need a crucial bit of information you have.
  8. Plan to spend the last two weeks of construction on site cleaning, doing small repairs, installing shelves, etc.
  9. You can’t pay people to care about your project. If someone expresses a negative attitude towards doing a particular job, don’t ask them to do it (unless you’re able and prepared to redo the work later).
  10. Lie to your builder about your planned move-in date. I know, I know. This is totally against my own principles of always shooting straight with folks, but as I type this we’re 3 days away from moving into our unfinished house and no one came to work today. (We were initially supposed to have a six-week window after construction.) If it helps: your builder probably wants you to lie (mine told me so).

This list will grow as new lessons appear.

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