Timber house frame

5 Questions to ask your home builder

Many new homeowners just don’t know where to start when it comes to talking to their home builder about sustainability. We’ve put together a quick and easy list of questions to make that conversation easier.

1. Where do you source your materials?

A great first question to ask your home builder is where they source their materials and if they consider certification of those materials in the selection process. Choosing timber certified by either the FSC or PEFC means that the material came from a sustainably managed forest that considers biodiversity, workers’ rights and the whole chain of custody for the material.

Do they prioritise low embodied energy materials like timber? Embodied energy is the total energy required to produce, transport, and assemble a building material or product throughout its lifecycle. Embodied energy includes all the energy required from raw material extraction to manufacturing, transportation, and construction.

Builders can often make use of recycled materials in many cases throughout your build as well. Be sure to ask where you can reuse and repurpose materials like timber floors.

2. What steps do you take to provide energy efficiency?

Talk to your home builder about their strategies to maximise energy efficiency in home design and construction. Ask if they use materials that are energy efficient and provide insulation for your home.

Did you know that timber has naturally insulative properties too? It can help to regulate indoor temperatures and reduce the need for heating and cooling excess. Timber also provides beneficial noise reduction and sound absorption in the home.

Stack of recyclable wood

3. What steps do you take to manage waste, and how do you prioritise recycling?

One of the best ways to be sustainable is to reduce waste in the first place. Ask your builder how they manage waste during projects and if they employ strategies to repurpose any construction waste from the building process.

You can also ask them to prioritise recycled materials for repurposing if you are doing upgrades on an already existing structure. Builders can often salvage timber components and incorporate them into new elements in the design. Salvaged timber can be cleaned, refurbished, and repurposed into new flooring, trims, or even given a new life through decorative elements in the home.

If the timber can’t be repurposed in your new home, talk to your builder about donation and reuse programs near you.

Brush staining wood

4. How do you ensure durability and longevity?

The last thing any new homeowner wants to think about is repairs. So, be sure to talk to your builder about the steps they take to provide durability and longevity in your build. Make sure you are choosing high quality materials across your project. Did you know that timber is a naturally strong material? And timber can be treated with preservatives or protective coatings to enhance its endurance and prolong the life of the product.

You can choose beautiful and durable timber windows and timber flooring that is long-lasting and requires minimal maintenance.

It doesn’t hurt to consider products with warranties or guarantees too. Many product suppliers offer protection so be sure to have that talk with your builder before you commit.

5. Do you work with any certification or standards programs?

When you are planning your new home project, talk to you builder about sustainable certification schemes. There are bodies in Australia that provide detailed guidance and regulations for builders to achieve a range of sustainability standards.

Ask the team leader if they have worked on projects that have achieved these sorts of certifications before and if they haven’t you can mention Passive House standards, Green Star Building Standards, or the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council.

Installing wood flooring

For new homeowners, there is never ending information and heaps of considerations to navigate. These five questions are a great way for you to engage in meaningful discussions with your builder and ensure sustainability is integrated into every aspect of your home-building process.


Learn more about the benefits of incorporating wood in your home design at our blog on Building a mindful home with natural materials.

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