Talking To Your Builder About Incorporating Solar Into Your Build

Guest Blogger – Adam Gabay – Director, AAG Constructions

When it comes to thinking about all the things that you should include in your new home or renovation, going solar should be at the top of your list. The choice to install solar panels not only improves your homes energy efficiency and reduces your carbon footprint, but it can also cut energy costs and improve your property value dramatically. If solar is a priority for you, it is important to consider how you might include a solar system from the beginning of the design phase, and not leave it to the last minute or think about it as an “add on”. Incorporating solar into your original plans can assist your builder and design team to ensure the most suitable location for your solar panels, but also ensuring that the system is installed at the most appropriate time of the build to not only save you money, but ensure that your solar system will operate efficiently.

AAG Constructions is a residential building company on Sydney’s Northern Beaches specialising in new homes, renovations and extensions; and we are all for solar. Here are some of our top tips from a builder’s perspective, on things to talk to your builder about when considering solar installation during your home renovation.

Consider Your Roof

Your builder will need to consider the materials on your roof and whether they are suitable to install solar panels on. If your current roof is suitable for solar, your builder should check that it is in good shape structurally. If your roof might need replacing in the next few years, do that first before installing new solar panels! Another consideration is what else you will need to work around on your roof: Are you adding skylights, chimneys or satellites? Is your roof flat or angled? If you have a pitched roof, talk to your design team about having any skylights or satellites on the opposite side of the roof. It is a good idea to meet with both your builder and the Solar Choice team during the design phase of your renovation or new build to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Solar Choice can provide creative solutions to some of your design requirements and can ensure that you and your builder are choosing the most efficient place for your solar system. Open communication is essential in ensuring a seamless installation of solar.

Consider Its Location

It is important to talk to your builder and the guys at Solar Choice about the different options for your solar panels; not only where they are going to benefit from the most sun, but also be hidden from view. If it looks like you are not going to be able to hide the solar panels in the way you would like, your team (builder and Solar Choice) might be able to come up with some creative solutions to building an aesthetically pleasing screen or shade sails to assist with reducing it’s visual impact on your build.

Consider Timing

Talking to your builder about installing solar panels before the works actually commence is essential; not only to be included in budget planning, but also to ensure that they are installed at the right time of the build. It is much easier to install electrical wiring in your walls before they have been gyprocked. Not only can this save time, but it can also save money. We also recommend pre-laying your solar panels on the roof (especially if your home is multi story) before your scaffolding comes down which can save you having to resurrect the scaffolding at a later date (another time and money saver). Don’t leave it to the last minute!

Think About Budget

Talking openly to your builder about your budget from the early stages will ensure that they include an accurate estimate during the quote that you receive before the works actually commence, allowing you to prioritise your spending accordingly. This can ensure that enough funds are set aside not only for the installation of solar but also any other provisions that need to be made to the structure or design of the build or renovation well ahead of time. Be cautious of the builder than tries to steer you away from solar because of its cost. It’s a good idea to ask your builder before you sign the contract if they have experience with solar and their views on the same. You want to choose a builder whose values are aligned with your own. Remember that the cheapest solution might not necessarily be the most economically sustainable in the long run.

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Jeff Sykes