More and more people are building green in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. Evidence is mounting regarding the many benefits of green design and construction. Government incentives promise to make building eco-friendly as rewarding as it has ever been.
If you’d like to join the eco-revolution in San Francisco, keep in mind that green building and remodeling is a relatively young branch of the larger contracting industry. There are special challenges to choosing the best green contractor that is right for your needs.
The green learning curve can be a steep one; it’s important to arm yourself with information that will make you a knowledgeable and confident consumer in the burgeoning green building and remodeling marketplace in and around San Francisco.
How to Select a Diamond Certified Green Contractor in San Francisco
Since green building is fairly new, green building codes are new as well. There is more wiggle room in green building than traditional construction. This means you need to go the extra mile to insure that your green contractor is experienced and knowledgeable. Below is a list of factors to consider before choosing a green contractor for building or remodel project in San Francisco.
Find a Diamond Certified Green Contractor
Be sure to find a Diamond Certified green contractor for your building or remodeling project in San Francisco. All green contractors that have earned Diamond Certified have passed a rigorous ratings process, including license verification and interviews of a random sample of actual customers. For this reason and more, you can know that you’re in good hands when you hire a Diamond Certified contractor to meet all of your green remodeling or building needs.
Purchase Green Building Software
Check out green building software. There are software programs available that will help you analyze choices from a life cycle perspective. Life cycle analysis will help you document all financial, human health, and environmental impacts throughout a products entire life cycle. This allows you to discuss with your green contractor the benefits and tradeoffs of different green strategies.
Search for Experience
Be sure that your green contractor of choice has several years’ experience with green building. Ask about his education. Does it include green design? Has she followed up with additional training? It’s important that your green contractor is licensed and bonded, but also make sure that he is a member of green design organizations. Your green contractor should follow construction practices that minimize contamination and protect indoor air quality. Make sure they have experience in the areas that are most important to you.
Speak With References
Make sure to speak with clients of your green contractor. Ask them about the quality of the work. Also, ask them to evaluate the green contractor’s process. Did he complete the construction on time and within budget? Was he willing and able to be flexible with the complexities of the building process? Check with a local consumer protection agency for any complaints.
Research Previous Work
Have you seen green houses or remodels that you like? If so, ask for the builders’ names. Or tag along on a tour so that you can find a green building home that you like. If you’re picking a builder from a list, make sure to see the green work he has done in the past. If you can’t see it in person, request a portfolio.
Educate Yourself about Green Construction
It is important to research green building before hiring a green contractor. Check out introductory books and web resources. You may even want to take a class or attend a seminar on green building. Just make sure you understand the overall concepts so that you are better prepared to find a green contractor that fits your needs.
Check Out Your Green Contractor’s Library
Request a tour of your green contractor’s library. Check for green design books, materials samples, or product information in his office. Ask if he has subscriptions to green design journals or access to online green resources.
Don’t Assume All Green Building Services Are the Same
Be sure to interview your prospective green contractor. Ask plenty of questions. While they are working on your green construction project, check in frequently. Once the walls are covered up and the paint cans stored away, it is difficult to proclaim that your design wasn’t carried out properly.
Does the Green Contractor Practice What He Professes?
Does the green contractor you've hired recycle on the jobsite and in his office? How does he operate his business? Are green design elements evident? For example, does he use environmentally responsible office supplies and materials, energy efficient fixtures, etc.? Be sure to ask what your green contractor practices in order to ensure worker health and safety on the jobsite.
Build Green Concepts Into the Contract
Specifications are a powerful tool in green building. Be sure to discuss the contract specifics with your green contractor of choice. They should state everything from the quality of materials to how the paint is applied. Request a copy of the specifications for your own records as a reference for future repairs or touch-ups.