One of the simplest things you can do when building an energy efficient home is site it properly. I have seen estimates where simply positioning your house the best way for energy efficiency can save you as much as 30% on your energy bills. So when we purchased our property, we spent a lot of time walking around it and looking for what we thought would be the perfect spot.
Perfect to us meant a southern facing hill so we could have a walk out basement that faced south, while burying the lower level on the North side of the house to help with insulation. Once we located the perfect hill, we had to clear the general vicinity of trees. To keep our impact as small as possible, we cleared just the trees we needed to clear to fit the house in. This came back to bite us later when we started having issues with our satellite internet dish losing connection due to rapidly growing trees immediately adjacent to the house.We had purchased a Caterpillar skid steer with a forestry cutter on it which made it possible to have a one man clearing operation. The forestry cutter cut through the largest and thickest trees with ease and we were able to turn all of it into a coarse mulch which covered the ground completely and in some places was up to 3 feet thick. I remember thinking, What are we going to do with all this mulch? We’re going to have to push it off into the woods or something. As it turns out, we have a tremendous number of worms and they quickly made mincemeat of all the mulch even in the locations where it was several feet thick. Within 2 years all the mulch was gone and we have great soil today because of choosing to clear with the forestry cutter instead of pulling all the trees out and piling them up on the property.
Once the spot was cleared and ready for us to start marking the location, we hired a surveyor to come out. Magnetic north and true north are two different things and we wanted true north or as close as possible. After we had that we put stakes into the ground roughly the size of the house that we had designed and then sat down. We spent a lot of time just sitting there making sure this is where we wanted to be. You don’t build your dream house too many times so it’s best to take your time and make sure you are happy with where you are putting it from the start. Keep this in mind when you start thinking about building yours!