Choosing a New Home – A Permaculture Approach

If you are looking for a new home, sustainability might not be the first thing on your mind. But it can be helpful to approach the problem from a permaculture perspective. The right home can have all the ingredients you need for a more sustainable, ethical and eco-friendly way of life. But choosing the wrong home could make it a lot more difficult for you to meet your goals.

I was recently helping a client analyse a few potential sites for their new home, where they wanted to establish a small homestead – growing food and keeping chickens for eggs. They understood the importance of looking at land as well as just the home itself, but felt a little out of their depth.

Here are some tips that might help you discover whether a new property is right for you:

  • Observation is key – don’t just visit once, at one particular time of day. Try to visit at different times to get a better sense of the place. Think about how the place changes throughout each day and throughout the year.
  • We should integrate into a community. So look not just at the home itself but at the area it is in. What are the neighbours like?
  • Look at sunlight inside the home, the building’s bones and building envelope. How easy will it be to keep it a comfortable temperature throughout the year, and how energy efficient is the space?
  • Energy and Renewable resources – which are available already and where could energy generation schemes etc. be added? Can water effectively be caught, stored and managed effectively on the site?
  • Think about the garden/ land. Is there space for you to obtain a yield? Remember, the outside space need not be enormous. Some tiny spaces can be perfect for growing a surprising amount of food and providing a range of other resources. Look at sunlight, wind, water and soil, climate and terrain to consider what yields might be possible on the site.

There are, of course, plenty of practicalities to consider. Not least affordability, the size of the home (number of bedrooms), and patterns of movement, and routes that will take you from the home to places you need to go.

Naturally, choosing a new home also often comes down to personal preferences. But taking a permaculture approach can help you find a home best suited to living a sustainable lifestyle and achieving your sustainability goals.

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