You’re faced with numerous questions when you decide to buy a home: Can I afford the monthly mortgage payments? Does the house need any major repairs? And how is the local school district?
But Earth911 poses this question: How will your new home impact the planet? Before you get ready to make an offer, here are 10 questions to ask that will help you determine if your prospective home will help you lead a more sustainable lifestyle.
1. What size home do you need?
The larger the home, the greater its environmental footprint – in both its construction and ongoing maintenance.
Consider your family’s current – and future – size and think realistically about how much space you need to be comfortable. We’re not suggesting you squeeze your family of five into a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home, but ask yourself if you really need a house with extra space beyond what your family will use every day – a three-car garage or extra guest rooms.
You’ll not only be reducing your impact on the planet by passing up on the “McMansion;” smaller homes are more affordable to purchase and will require less upkeep.
In fact, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported last year that the average American home is shrinking due to the economic downturn. They found that the average size of a current single-family home is 2,400 square feet, but predict this number will drop to 2,150 square feet by 2015.
2. How energy efficient is the house?
Learning about the energy efficiency features of your prospective home will not only help you determine how much you’ll be spending – or saving – on annual utility bills, but it will also reveal what home improvement projects you’ll need to undertake after buying the home.
Ask the real estate agent what weatherization projects have been completed at the home to seal air leaks: Is there attic and wall insulation or double-paned windows? How old is the roof, and when does the manufacturer recommend replacement?
Also inquire about the home’s heating and cooling systems: furnaces, boilers, air conditioners and water heaters. When were these appliances last replaced? If new appliances were installed recently, were the most energy efficient models on the market purchased?
If the real estate agent can’t answer all your questions, a home inspection should uncover the information for you.