Are you interested in saving environmental resources – and saving money? This section will help you learn about green, energy-efficient and sustainable construction and remodeling so you can create your own green dream home. Find out about energy-efficiency tax credits, locate a Certified Green Professional builder or remodeler in your community and more.
The 50+ niche is vitally important to help ease the transitions between life stages. Builders are redefining what it means to relocate with age by providing more lifestyle options for the growing 50+ population.Universal Design
Universal Design (UD) focuses on making a living space fully accessible to people of all different ages and abilities. This often requires small innovations in design that are increasingly inviting and stylish. Some examples are widened doorways for wheelchairs, adjusted showers and baths, raised flower beds for seated gardening, open, single-level floor plans and lowered appliances. These measures take away the stress of high-maintenance homes with steep staircases and high operating costs that many seniors live in today. With a move to a home with UD elements, you can have both updated style and feel totally comfortable in your own space.
Green Building Concern for the environment is growing among U.S. households—and so are energy costs. Because of this, many custom builders are embracing green building techniques. Features like solar panels, water-saving appliances, insulation to improve heating efficiency and the use of renewable or recycled building materials are all popular techniques to improve a home’s efficiency. Custom builders allow buyers to include a wide range of green products and give them the opportunity to weigh each cost and benefit to create a home that is stylish, comfortable, but also eco-friendly.
Specialized amenities really set custom homes apart. Today, home owners like to see features that will improve their lifestyle through health, entertainment or comfort. Yoga studios, resistance pools and fitness rooms can be added to encourage healthy living; game rooms, theaters and even a bowling alley can be added for fun; and for comfort, breezy, screened-in porches or warm hearths can make your home feel cozy and welcoming.
Custom amenities are also taking a turn to the world of tech. In world where there’s an app for everything, buyers are beginning to expect a custom home to do more and be “smart.” Nowadays you can control many features in your home using a phone, including energy usage, security systems, lighting and even the music playing in each room.
Whether it’s aging parents moving in with their adult children or young adults living back with Mom and Dad, multigenerational households have specific needs when it comes to a home.
Custom builders are seeing an increasing need to tailor homes to this lifestyle. A recent Pew Research Center study shows that 39% of adults ages 18 to 34 have had to move in with their parents. In the same year, the U.S. Census reported that 4.3 out of 76 million households were made up of at least three generations.
Multigenerational families often build homes that include the traditional “mother-in-law suite” or even feature a locked-off living space within the home. These apartment-style spaces can have their own kitchenette, full bathroom and living areas to provide a sense of privacy and independence.
As the country grows older and many baby boomers look to retirement, Universal Design (UD) features are an ever-growing priority for many custom buyers and builders. UD is used to ensure that features like wider doors, lower countertops and fewer stairs are used to create a home that everyone can enjoy comfortably. An accessible home allows owners to age in place, prolonging their ability to stay in the house independently and can also increase value by opening the market to any future buyer, despite age, stature or ability.
The Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation program teaches the technical, business management, and customer service skills essential to competing in the fastest growing segment of the residential remodeling industry: home modifications for the aging-in-place.
December 12, 2014 – The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) applauds Congress for authorizing the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard (NGBS) for all military residential construction, which represents 16 percent of the federal real estate portfolio. Passed today by the Senate, and last week by the House, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) will provide affordable choices in meeting military energy and water reduction goals.
“We commend the commitment of Congress to offer options in residential construction to maximize resources and cost effectiveness in military housing,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del. “The NGBS is a cost-effective green building rating system, and the only residential standard approved by the American National Standards Institute. Its inclusion in the NDAA reinforces the NGBS as a market leader.”
Previously, the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program was the only green rating system specifically approved for use for new military construction projects. With the passage of this bill, Congress intends to have the Department of Defense consider all facets of certification going forward, including cost, when deciding among rating systems. Project managers can select the NGBS, LEED or the Green Globes program when choosing a green certification for new residential or remodeling projects.
Good Strategic Planning is the First Step in Green Building
Getting the Details right is the Second Step
Green houses don’t just happen—they’re planned and built purposefully. It begins with knowing what you want, and then knowing how to do it. Green building requires a systems approach: making sure that all of the components and systems of a house work together to provide a quality home that is comfortable, energy efficient, and healthy.
GREEN BUILDING MYTHS -
Green building — or sustainable building — involves incorporating eco-friendly elements into the design and maintenance of a home and minimizing the impact on the environment when building houses, condos and the like. More homeowners and builders are interested in green building and want to choose energy efficient features for their homes, so it’s important to know what’s fact and what’s myth.
“Green” is just a passing fad.
From kitchen cabinets to skylights to siding, consumers are looking for eco-friendly features for their homes, often paying premium prices for the extra value. High energy costs, limited natural resources, awareness of global environmental issues, better understanding of building science and growing health concerns are all contributing to a lasting green movement. The fact is that sustainable houses last longer, have fewer problems, are cheaper to live in and keep people healthier and happier. And who doesn’t want that to last forever.
Green homes cost more than other homes.
Sustainable building often requires more expensive building materials, smarter technology and complicated systems than conventional building. But when thinking long-term, green building actually saves money because the materials won’t have to replaced as often. So while initial costs may seem like a lot, green building offers better value when you consider the life-cycle costs. For instance, upgrading to energy efficient windows might cost more up front, but the reduced load on your heating and air conditioning system will help offset that cost over time.
Green houses can be too insulated or too tight.
Some traditionalists argue that houses need to breathe, and they caution against “too much insulation” and “building too tight.” But in reality, these are the least of our concerns. Most homes have uncontrolled air movement that wastes energy and increases the risk of long-term damage to building components. This can be alleviated by identifying and sealing air leaks and adding insulation. To offset this tightness, homes need mechanical ventilation to ensure that a supply of fresh air is circulated.
You need solar panels to be truly green.
Solar panels were once the universal symbol for green building. But the reality is that sustainable building means integrating a variety of energy efficient solutions that work together — from heating systems to interior finishes. When building green, focus on the house as a whole, not just particular green features like solar panels. Everyone working on the home, from the architect to the HVAC specialist to the electrician, should be involved in the green strategy. After all, will you be getting the most out of your solar hot water collectors and photovoltaic panels if you have leaky windows and poor insulation?
Low-flow toilets don’t work well.
After the federal government limited toilets to 1.6 gallons of water per flush, early models of the low-flow toilet were a flop. Times have changed, and homeowners have more options. Today’s redesigned low-flow models work as well or better than older water-guzzling models. High-efficiency toilets use even less water than standard low-flow models, some as little as 1.1 gallons. Dual-flush toilets, which have separate flush modes for solid and liquid waste, are another water-saving option.
Radiant Barrier Sheathing helps reduce energy consumption and can save homeowners up to 17% per month on air conditioning costs. It installs like conventional roof sheathing, requiring no additional labor. In addition, use of Radiant Barrier Sheathing may allow builders to reduce the tonnage of the HVAC system. Radiant barrier is a cost-efficient product for helping meeting code requirements, and it can also help builders qualify for certification points in leading green building programs.
- It is made from wood – a renewable, natural resource.
- Our wood procurement process targets small, fast growing trees that can be replenished more quickly than older, larger trees.
- Radiant Barrier Sheathing uses certified forest management and fiber sourcing systems to help ensure that our wood comes from well-managed forests.
- The entire log is used in our manufacturing process. All wood waste is repurposed or used to help fuel our mills.
- We only use low-emitting, safe resins in the manufacture of Radiant Barrier Sheathing and do not add any urea formaldehyde.
- Radiant Barrier Sheathing is a structural product that can help reduce energy consumption.
- As a result of using Radiant Barrier Sheathing, you may be able to reduce the tonnage of your HVAC system.
- Radiant barrier is a cost-efficient product for helping meet code requirements.
- Radiant Barrier Sheathing may help builders qualify for certification points in a number of leading green building programs.
Radiant Barrier Sheathing Products And ENERGY STAR® Guidelines
The EPA is currently in the process of developing new standards for educational and promotional messaging for radiant barrier products. Until new guidelines are in place, the EPA has requested that all radiant barrier manufacturers refrain from using the ENERGY STAR®logo or graphics in their materials. Radiant Barrier Sheathing
has honored this request and removed all ENERGY STAR references from Radiant Barrier Sheathing marketing and support materials. We look forward to the arrival of the new standards and to continuing to provide energy-saving Radiant Barrier Sheathing to homebuilders.
Our roof is the first line of defence in protecting our homes from the deterioration effects of driving rains, icy snows, and UV glaring sun. Roof design is critical to the performance of the building envelope and a well designed roof needs to look pleasant, be leak free, support gutters, provide roof ventilation, and help protect our home from rain and sun. Our roof overhangs play a critical roll in helping perform these roof functions.
What is the Purpose of Roof Overhangs?
Roof overhangs provide many roles:
- Visual Appeal – Visual appeal is not part of a home inspectors primary concern in a home inspectionbut it is for our clients. Sloped roofs with overhangs are a traditional home appearance in Western culture (among others) and for good practical reasons, not just aesthetic.
- Protect The Walls From Rain – The top of the wall is the most difficult area to protect from water ingress as most exterior siding materials rely on overlapping material to protect the building and there is no overlapping material at the top of the wall. (see our article on exterior siding materials here)
- Protect The Walls from Sun – The Sun’s UV rays can do a lot of damage to the exterior of a home. Roofing material is designed to best withstand the rays of the sun and roof overhangs will act like a sun-hat for your building providing additional shade for the walls. This shade effect also helps to keep your home cooler in the summer.
- Roof Ventilation – As heat rises in homes, it can become trapped (along with damaging moisture it carries) into the attic space of the home. Attics need ventilation to release the heat and moisture and roof overhangs typically provide the lower/cooler part of the air circulation through soffit venting in the underside overhangs. Warmer air then can rise out the roof vents higher on the roof.
- Structural Integrity – Roof overhangs can provide some clues about the integrity of the roofing system. Signs of movement in the overhangs could indicate major structural issues in the home which would need further investigation.
Benefits of using PEX in plumbing include:
Flexibility. PEX has become a contender for use in residential water plumbing because of its flexibility. It can bend into a wide-radius turn if space permits, or accommodate turns by using elbow joints. In addition, it can handle short-radius turns, sometimes supported with a metal brace; in contrast, PVC, CPVC and copper all require elbow joints. A single length of PEX pipe cannot handle a sharp 90-degree turn, however, so in those situations, it is necessary to connect two PEX pipes with a 90-degree PEX elbow joint.
Direct routing of pipes. PEX can run straight from a distribution point to an outlet fixture without cutting or splicing the pipe. This reduces the need for potentially weak and costly joints and reduces the drop in pressure due to turbulence induced at transitions. Since PEX is flexible, it is often possible to install a supply line directly from the water source to an appliance using just one connection at each end.
Greater water pressure at fixtures. Since PEX pipes typically have fewer sharp turns, there is greater water pressure at the sinks and showers and toilets where it is needed.
Less materials cost. Cost of materials is approximately 25% of alternatives. One account suggested that the price of copper had quadrupled from 2002 to 2006.
Easier installation. Installing PEX is much less labor intensive than copper pipes, since there is no need to use torches to solder pipes together, or to use glue to attach pipes to fittings. One home inspector wrote that “Once you’ve worked with PEX, you’ll never go back to that other stinky glue stuff.” Builders putting in radiant heating systems found that PEX pipes “made installation easy and operation problem-free.” PEX connections can be made by pushing together two matching parts using a compression fitting, or by using an adjustable wrenchor a special crimping tool. Generally, fewer connections and fittings are needed in a PEX installation.
Reliable. It neither corrodes nor develops so-called “pinhole” leaks.
No fire risk during installation. Copper piping required soldering using torches, and there was a risk of flame and heat causing a fire; but with PEX there is virtually no danger from fire. Overall PEX piping is much safer to install; according to the U.S. National Fire Prevention Agency, torches used for soldering metallic plumbing ranked as one of the “top-ten leading causes of house fires each year.”
Acceptance by plumbers. There are routinely advertisements for plumbers specifically seeking ones with PEX experience.
Ability to merge new PEX with existing copper and PVC systems. Manufacturers make fittings allowing installers to join a copper pipe on one end with a PEX line at the other, as well as have options to reduce or expand the diameter of the pipes.
Longevity. The advantageous properties of PEX also make it a candidate for progressive replacement of metal and thermoplastic pipes, especially in long-life applications, because the expected lifetime of PEX pipes reaches 50 years. However, the longest warranty offered by any PEX producer is 25 years.
Suitable for hot and cold pipes. A convenient arrangement is to use color-coding to lessen the possibility of confusion. Typically, red PEX tubing is used for hot water while blue PEX tubing is used for cold water.
Less likely to burst from freezing. The general position is that PEX plastic materials are slower to burst than copper or PVC pipes, but that they will burst eventually since freezing causes water to expand. One account suggested that PEX water-filled pipes, frozen over time, will swell and tear; in contrast, copper pipe “rips” and PVC “shatters”. Home expert Steve Maxwell suggested in 2007 that PEX water-filled pipes could endure “five or six freeze-thaw cycles without splitting” while copper would split apart promptly on the first freeze. In new unheated seasonal homes, it is still recommended to drain pipes during an unheated cold season or take other measures to prevent pipes from bursting because of the cold. In new construction, it is recommended that all water pipes be sloped slightly to permit drainage, if necessary.
No corrosion. Copper and iron pipes can experience corrosion leaks but PEX does not have these problems.
Environmental benefits. One account suggested that PEX used in radiant heating was better for the environment than a copper choice, although it noted that the pipes were based on petroleum products.
Pipe insulation possible. Conventional foam wrap insulation materials can be added to PEX piping to keep hot water hot, and cold water cold, and prevent freezing, if necessary.