Nowadays, everyone is trying to lead a more sustainable lifestyle as threats of climate change and reductions in fossil fuels gather apace. But how can this ethos translate into moving house?
This 7-step guide sets out good practice and alternative solutions you could adopt to make your house move more environmentally friendly and help you do your bit for the future of the planet.
It used to be that you would have to make an in-person appointment with your estate agent, mortgage provider and solicitor in order to sign all the reams of necessary paperwork that comes with buying and selling houses. But now, a lot of it can be done online, reducing your own carbon footprint of traveling to see the professional services, and vastly reducing the amount of actual paper that is used in the legal processes.
If you can get online to view and electronically sign documentation it will not only make the whole business greener, but it will also save a lot of time meaning the operation could see a more speedy resolution.
Several of the searches conducted by solicitors actually focus on the environment – checking the land isn’t contaminated, that there are suitable drainage facilities and other things that you might need to be made aware of including road and building schemes nearby (proposed or in process) and issues with building control.
A property survey will also highlight any concerns with the building itself and its structural deficiencies. Although a full structural survey is more expensive than a homebuyers report, it could end up saving you money in the long-run. Forewarned is forearmed. If you discover the house needs a lot of building work, you may decide to pull out of the sale, get the vendor to arrange the work to make it viable, or ask the vendor to reduce the price accordingly.
Conversely, in an investment property, the survey could find there could be elements of the building that are worth saving rather than tearing down and starting again, resulting in the possibility of reusing materials in a more sustainable manner.
An energy performance certificate is a must-have when selling a property, giving buyers information on how they can expect certain aspects to perform. With the cost of energy currently rising, the efficiency of appliances such as radiators and hot water boilers is even more of a concern and it is worth scrutinising this document to ensure you are saving as much energy as you can.
Often, vendors will include the fixtures and fittings in with the sale, ranging from carpets, curtains and light fittings to kitchen appliances. When receiving the inventory, or even at the point of negotiating the purchase, having an understanding of what is included means you are in a better position to decide what you need to buy and what you are able to reuse of what is already there.
Discussing it with the vendor in advance may also persuade them to leave items that they may have been choosing to just throw away, if it is something you would want.
The disposable society we live in could have far-reaching consequences in the future and little considerations like these can make a big difference.
When you are going through your own possessions and having a clear-out before moving into a new house, make sure you send as much as possible to be recycled or given to charity shops to be reused, rather than throwing it all in a skip to be disposed of to landfill. Most councils will collect paper, glass and plastics but it’s worth researching what other materials can be recycled and best practices for doing so before you move house.
With so much going on during a move, and the stresses it entails, it can be tempting to go for the easy option and head to the local refuse tip and throw everything away, but a small change in mindset is all it takes to operate more sustainably.
There are companies who specialise in recycling and sustainably disposing of large amounts of household materials – more than your weekly refuse disposal operatives might take away – and it is worth seeing whether this could be an option, especially if you are downsizing.
It’s time to actually pack up your belongings in readiness for the big move. Have a think about how you can make this a greener process. Are mounds of cardboard boxes the right option? They can be recycled quite easily, as long as you remember to do so, or may already come from recycled paper stock. But beware of using parcel tape that is not recyclable. Adhesive-backed paper tape can be used instead.
Alternatively, try reusable plastic containers that can be repurposed for storage when you move into your new home. What about protection for your possessions? The popular bubble wrap or packing peanuts are not made of sustainable material, but you can get biodegradable versions of both. Newspaper is ideal for wrapping items in, with blankets, sheets and towels also viable sustainable alternatives.
Unless you aren’t moving very far or have a large enough vehicle or group of family and friends to help, you will likely want to call on the services of a removal company to transport your goods and furniture. Large lorries are not known for being environmentally friendly, with excessive gas-guzzling at a premium.
But, there is the option to choose a specifically eco-conscious removal firm that relies on green fuel for its fleet of vehicles, if you wish to do so.
There are so many small changes that can be made which add up to taking on greater responsibility for your carbon footprint and allow you to become more environmentally conscious without actually affecting your lifestyle too much. Green alternatives are becoming more mainstream and will soon be the norm, as manufacturers find easier, cheaper and more sustainable ways of production. Moving house is pressure enough, without putting added strains on the world around us.