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What are some documents that are used to make sure the architects and construction company are doing what they’re suppose to do?

GBA Editor | Posted in Green Building Techniques on

Wanting to build a green home, and I want to know more about construction.

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  1. user-757117 | | #1

    I also want to build a green home and am not a builder. Probably the best way to learn more about construction and green building is to take your time and simply start reading. May I suggest the "Green Basics" section of this website?

  2. Riversong | | #2

    Depending on where you are (I keep asking the web mavens to add a "location" field), you might consider attending a class or two at Yestermorrow Design/Build School here in VT, or another similar training facility. Yestermorrow has been teaching design/build for 30 years and is committed to being the leading training center in the US in sustainable design/build approaches.

    As far as documents, they're called contracts.

  3. Derek_Vander_Hoop | | #3

    Joe, you first have to define what is being built. Most home plans are woefully inadequate. They give you exterior elevations, floor plans, one or two sections, and a few cabinet elevations ….if you’re lucky. And sometimes, for simple projects with good builders, that is all that is necessary. But a good set of plans, with a complete set of specifications and schedules, are critical to defining who does what, with what materials, room by room. Specifications can be very vague, or very, very specific. Your contract with your builder should reference the dated blueprints, specifications and schedules, and both you and your builder should each have a set of the blueprints, specifications and schedules signed by both you and the builder at the contract signing.

    Depending on where you live, some building inspection departments are incredibly thorough and will review the blueprints and any engineering reports before the permit is issued, and then determine during inspections if the building code and engineering is being followed. Some examples of engineering would be the truss drawings or soil reports.

    If you had concerns about whether the architect did what he was supposed to do, you could have an independent engineer review the plans. This is not usually necessary on a simple home design. My experience has been that good architects do include engineering review as part of the process on a complex home.

    In my mind, the most important thing is to hire a great general contractor or carpenter/builder who knows what they are doing. The best set of construction documents (i.e. plans, specifications and schedules) won’t ensure a great home if bozos are building it. The best builders maintain an ongoing dialogue with the architect, when necessary, and catch and resolve problems ahead of time. They know “what they are supposed to do.”

    If you want to know more about construction, I'd suggest this site and also the Building Science Website:

    and the Building America website at:

  4. Riversong | | #4


    I'll go further than your statement "The best builders maintain an ongoing dialogue with the architect."

    The best builders are also the designers of the home. Then there is no issue of communication breakdown between designer and builder and no question about whether the builder understands the plans and specifications.

    Sometimes "two heads are better than one", but more often than not those two heads (or rather egos) butt against each other and almost always result in communication failures.

  5. Armando Cobo | | #5

    As an NAHB GB Instructor I can tell you that the NAHB offer a good entry level of Green Building education through your local Home Builder Assoc., also your local USGBC chapter should provide same. There are numerous sites with good info as well. Having said that, I've been doing Green Building for over 20 years and I'm still learning... a good place to learn is here at the GBA, however, you get so much info and, more often than not, there are "heated discussions" with valid opposite points of view that can give big you a big headache.

    Best of all is jump in and you'll learn doing it. Find what's your Climate Zone (CZ) and look for information and details within your CZ. Also, learn to "separate the fly sh*t and the pepper"... there ia a lot of good and bad info there.

    To add to some good sites go to,,
    Good luck!!!

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