The Carbon Zero Home Chicken v. Egg Conundrum

The hardest part of building a carbon zero home is getting started. The option as I see it is to pick a realtor and shop for the best lot (the chicken) v. pick the architect you want to partner with on this journey (the egg).

They say so much of an architect’s work depends on the lot you have. I say so much of the lot I choose depends on the architect’s opinion of its green potential. And there is my conundrum – chicken v. egg?

I’m going to pick the architect first.


  • He/she is coming on the journey with us from start to finish. That is great.
  • He/she will be able to help us work with a realtor to make the right decision on the right lot for our budget. The fear is we overspend on the land, which cuts our build budget too much.


  • It is putting something in concrete very early in the process. Without knowing the industry well, I fear I’ll miss out on the “dream” architect I really want to work with, because I simply do not know what I do not know.
  • Without a build site in our possession, we cannot have the architect firms create specific concepts for our house. We will look at their general portfolios to come to a partnership decision. Scary!
  • They may not take us seriously. I mean, we are a young couple (kind of, right?), with no land in hand, and an unclear timeline and budget. Do we just look like dreamers? How much time / attention are they really willing to give us at this stage in the game? Probably not too much – which means we will probably still be going somewhat blind into a relationship that has huge impacts on the project’s outcome.

Whoa. Those are some heavy cons. Maybe starting with the architect isn’t the right option. But starting with buying land feels worse. So – I think we should pick an architect. Decision made. (But it feels so uncomfortable).

Next post: Picking an architect.


Side thought: Is there such a thing as a consultant who can help me choose the best realtor and architect for an optimized green building journey? I would totally throw someone $500 – $1000 for:

  • Listening to my requirements / building desires
  • Helping me post some realistic boundaries for the project (everything is a trade-off)
  • Creating communication materials to use with future partners (architects, realtors, builders)
  • Recommending the best architects for my budget and set-up the first meetings
  • Setting up a general project plan to navigate the journey of decisions

Does this job exist? If not, maybe it should… (Filed under: ideas for more meaningful work)


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