Usually you get a contractor as a word of mouth recommendation or off of a paid list like Angie’s list (not to be confused with Craig’s list). However, [this latest version] of green homebuilding is pretty new to St Louis so you can’t just yell across to your neighbor for 5 recommendations on green builders. You actually have to go out and do some homework.
Some Criteria for Green Homebuilders (and for some homebuilders in general):
- Commitment to the dream – You need a group that’s truly vested in the vision of building green. Green can’t be one of the 5 products they peddle or the idea of the month for your builder. They need to be believers.
- We (wife and I) really feel that Sage is committed to the practice of building green. This not only runs true in the principals, but also in the employees (or so we found out upon meeting our construction manager).
- Sage’s investment in this space is also evident in their mega green showcase home in Creve Coeur. Most builders would’ve dropped in a solar panel or two, a tankless water heater and some bamboo floors and been done. Not these guys, they went all out w/ the geothermal, multi, multi zoned HVAC, ICFs, etc.
- Within this criteria, you assume that the builder has experience w/ the latest technologies, materials, applications, etc. Cause that’s also a big requirement.
- Viability – Having a dream is a beautiful thing. Executing on the dream is even better. We needed a company which was going to be around for awhile, had been successful in the business and had plans for future growth. As you can imagine, green companies are coming out of the bamboo woodwork these days, so you definitely want to know that your builder is efficient enough to make money.
- Sage has proven that they have a fiscally viable model. They have various new home projects in progress and have recently sold some of the homes and are looking for new projects. And lets not forget their commercial side.
- They’re expanding to a new and larger office space in the future and don’t seem to be looking back.
- Customer service is also assumed in viability. A custom builder can not be successful when customers have bad experiences. And if you don’t buy that rationale, then call some references, that’s what we did. And when we did, we heard first hand about the great building experience these home buyers had had with Sage.
None of this is to say that you can’t build a green home without a green homebuilder, cause you definitely can. It just takes patience, forethought and a lot of studying up (e.g. reading blogs and discussion forums) on the owners part.