There is no way to have a good relationship designing and building a new home without talking about money, how it’s spent, and what it buys. We call this having our eyes wide open, and it is essential that the journey to design and build a new home is guided by this awareness. Let’s list the essential elements to be valued and paid for.


Find and purchase the right piece of land

    • WHAT: Where you choose to build is a significant decision.  Community, density, distance, taxes, site features and views all matter. Where does the sun rise and set and will you be able to harvest solar energy?
    • HOW: Identify locations that meet your criteria. Get to know the market so you will recognize the right value when it comes along. Develop a good relationship with a reliable and experienced realtor. Note desirable site conditions and potential site infrastructure costs. Confirm Zoning constraints.
    • WHO: Experienced local realtor. Legal Counsel. Designer for site evaluation. Local Zoning Official.
    • COST: Cost dependent on market, location, acreage, and infrastructure

Design a net zero home that fits you and the site

    • WHAT: Produce a design for your home and site that meets your functional, aesthetic, and operational needs while harvesting energy from the sun.
    • HOW: Engage in a methodical process of architectural development integrated with a responsible budget based on buildability and experienced guidance.
    • WHO: Architect, Builder, Structural and Energy Engineers, Solar Designer, Landscape Designer (other consultants as needed). Regulatory officials.
    • COST: 8-12% of Construction Budget

Prepare the site to support the home

    • WHAT: Sitework is required for the foundation and driveway, and may be required to clear the site, work with grades, and to provide for a septic system and well.
    • HOW: Sitework requirements respond to decisions about the size, features, and location of the home, including exterior walks, walls, and patios. Septic systems and drainage are planned.
    • WHO: Architect, Builder (Site Contractor), Surveyor, Civil Engineers, Landscape Designer (other consultants as needed). Health Dept. and Regulatory officials.
    • COST: Depends on existing infrastructure and lot size. $25-100K based on scale of project.

Construct the home as designed

    • WHAT: Coordinate and manage the work and materials required to construct the home as designed
    • HOW: Contract with trade partners and vendors to provide all work and materials. Establish and manage a schedule to complete the work.
    • WHO: Builder and their Trade Partners and Vendors. Building Inspector.
    • COST: We develop a Pro Forma Worksheet to establish

Furnish the home and landscape the site

    • WHAT: Determine needs to furnish the new home and extent of landscaping the site
    • HOW: Determine inventory of existing furniture and need for new furnishings, including window treatments. Plan for site landscaping.
    • WHO: You. Interior Designer. Landscape Designer. Architect.
    • COST: Based on estimate of needs and an initial budget framework based on room areas and other features. This is part of our Feasibility & Orientation Service landscape plan.

Operate the home to provide net zero energy utility and comfort

    • WHAT: Establish estimate of annual energy required to provide utility and comfort
    • HOW: Energy modeling is done based on design and solar potential. Goal is all electric energy use provided completely by solar energy.
    • WHO: Architect, Energy Consultant, Solar Designer.
    • COST: Solar system based on energy load (avg. $20K after rebates: 6yr. Payback). Appx. 5% of construction cost for the features that lock in low a energy load. Battery storage options come at an additional cost and provide some incentives.

Manage financial, legal, and insurance responsibilities

    • WHAT: Anticipate cash flow, lending, legal and insurance costs for project
    • HOW: Evaluate personal finances, contact lawyer for property closing, insurance agent for property coverage during and after construction, and consult with qualified lender if financing is required.
    • WHO: Banker, Lender (familiar with net zero homes), Lawyer, Insurance Agent.
    • COST: Based on existing relationships and lending requirements.

Take advantage of incentives to build Net Zero Homes

    • WHAT: There are rebates and incentives for building high performance Net Zero homes
    • HOW: Through the energizeCT New Residential Construction Program your home will be eligible for between $7-10K in rebates
    • WHO: Energize CT, MaGrann Associates (third party certifier)
    • COST: Rebates thru EnergizeCT New Home Construction program covers cost of energy consultant with a net rebate of $7-10K

Our Feasibility & Orientation service is designed to provide the information you need and the guidance you are missing to move forward with your eyes wide open.

We created a one page PDF version of this guidance for handy reference.