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IGBC’s recommended 10 Questions to ask about your new home

IGBC’s recommended 10 Questions to ask about your new home

The Irish Green Building Council have put together a list of questions to ask when looking for a new home;

1. Is it an nZEB Home? The nearly Zero Energy Building (nZEB) standard comes into force in Ireland in 2019 for any homes granted planning permission after 1st April 2019, however the better home builders will be ahead of the curve may already be meeting the standard. nZEB homes should be cheaper to run and more comfortable.

What should I ask my home builder?
Does the house meet the new nZEB standard? Or, is it just sticking to the old-fashioned building regulations?

2. Can I walk or cycle to shops, school or work? One of the largest costs of living is car ownership. Needing  a car or even two just to do basic things is like having another mortgage. Living in a walkable area makes it easier to integrate exercise into your day.  Why waste time and money on gym membership, when a well-located home can allow you to integrate exercise into your lifestyle? That’s good for you, the planet and your wallet.

What can I do? Find out how walkable the area is simply by inputting your address into Walkscore.

3. Will I be a sponge? There was a hose pipe ban in Dublin over the summer and long dry spells are likely to increase over the coming years due to climate change. It also takes lots of energy to heat water so the more hot water used, the higher your bill. But, installing water efficient taps and showers is easy and reduces your bills and saves water.

What should I ask my home builder?
Did they install European Water label A rated water efficient taps and showers?

4. Can I breathe? We spend 92% of our time indoors. Of all pollution, household air has the most significant impact to our health.  Slots in the window and holes in the wall with hit and miss grills are still permitted under Irish building regulations to meet basic ventilation requirements. However, they don’t guarantee good air quality especially if you close them to stop draughts in winter. It’s the 21st century, you deserve better! All new homes should have a properly designed and tested ventilation system.

What should I ask my home builder?  
Is there a properly designed and tested ventilation system installed?

5. Did you build it right? The air infiltration test is one of the best indicators of build quality of your home. Whilst building regulations allow up to 7, a good quality home should be under 3*.

What should I ask my home builder?
Can I see the air infiltration test results? Remember, good practice is under 3. Best practice is under 1. Also remember if it is under 3 for an nZEB home it must have a ventilation system.

*The full term is 3m³/hr/m²@50Pa and is measured on completion by pressurizing the home with a special fan and measuring the level of air infiltration.

6. What’s the Daylight factor? It’s not just Dermot Bannon who should be obsessed with daylight. High levels of natural daylight make us feel better, improve our sleep patterns and make us more alert and productive. So, go on!… frighten the daylights out of your home builder.

What should I ask my home builder?
Did you do a daylight calculation to make sure all the rooms have adequate light?

7. Where’s the timber from? Illegally sourced timber is a leading cause of deforestation. It leads to destruction of habitats and endanger species around the world. Local European timbers are usually fine. But where is that exotic looking hardwood floor from? Don’t steal the Orangutan’s home to build yours.

What should I ask my home builder?
Is the timber FSC or PEFC certified? Can you show it comes from a sustainable source?

8. Don’t sprawl! They need space too. Global wildlife populations have plunged over the last decades. In Ireland, the loss of green fields has resulted in a loss of habitat for many species, threatening bees and endangered species such as the corncrake.  Living space is good for us. But, we need to use land responsibly, by better design of our homes and communities. Compact walkable neighborhoods are not only good for wildlife, they are also better for our health.

What should I ask my home builder?
What’s the density of homes per hectare? Below 35… not so good! Above 50… Much better!

And remember, higher density does not mean high rise or poor quality of life. The number for Stoneybatter, Dublin’s hippest 2-storey neighborhood is closer to 100.

9. What’s the footprint? Checking the BER is great, but that’s just half the story! For homes the carbon emissions from manufacturing the materials, transporting material and building can be as much as the emissions from the heating and electricity to run the home for 25 years or more. Many manufacturers now provide the carbon footprint of their products through Environmental Product Declarations allowing builders to measure and reduce the carbon footprint of homes they build.

What should I ask my home builder?
Did they measure and reduce the carbon footprint of building the homes and only use products that declare their footprint?

10. Will it flood? Great it’s not in a flood risk zone! But, can my home cause flooding to my neighbors? Large areas of impermeable surfaces such as paving and roofs plus poorly designed drainage systems can lead to flooding nearby. Materials that allow infiltration of water into the soil and good drainage systems prevent this happening.


For more in formation go to the IGBC website;

You can also read more on their twitter account;