When it comes to building, the term “affordable” is often indirectly associated with low-cost, low-income projects. Not million dollar home-type projects. What does “affordability” really mean? It can’t possibly mean the same thing for everyone. Most often though, its definition is directly associated with monetary value. But why do we restrict “affordability” to monetary value? There’s so much more.
When I consider affordability in building, there’s a deeper, transcendent meaning; one that relates to survival. The degree to which our life-building decisions affect not only ourselves, but everything around us, should be considered part of any “price” we place on development. Everything we do, every decision we make. Every choice has a global implication. There are prices we pay beyond the sales tag – the hidden costs that aren’t so hidden anymore.
If we choose to purchase the lumber for a project from a locally sourced supplier, then we eliminate the materials brought in by truck, train and tanker (even if it was sustainably harvested). Instead of choosing a tropical wood that has left a global imprint in its travels from source to use, we choose something grown in our own backyard. We know where and how it grew, how it was harvested and how it was delivered. By choosing local, we have the power to determine the impact we want to make and to what degree.
Affordability can also be measured in terms of energy, time and peace-of-mind. By building a home with the whole world in mind, we are required to consider so many affordability options. A carefully considered project addresses all issues up front, in order to have the project progress as seamless and ethically intentional as possible.
For me, the term affordability is synonymous with “common sense”, an immeasurable, renewable resource.that we all have the power to produce and promote. And we can do this, we must do this, with every single decision we make. With the stakes so high, we can’t afford not to.