I’m not normally a grumpy architect, but when I am it is usually because of something on this list.
1. If your house is adequately insulated there should be little temperature differential between the ceiling and the floor.
2. “Adequately” differs from code. Remember, a house built to code is the worst house you can legally build.
3. If you choose not to build an Energy-Star-certified home, please give your poor starving architect the $2,000 (the value of the Energy Star incentive) that you obviously have to spare.
4. Does anybody with any real knowledge of building use fiberglass batts anymore? (Probably not anyone who reads this.)
5. Air sealing, folks! Do it correctly! Not by installing a 6-mil poly vapor barrier. That was the 1990s. We are so over that. There are some great products available (check out 475) and lots of great information is available here on GBA.
6. Why do people want to build a superinsulated house and then put in a full-on radiant floor heating system in? (See #3 above, about where to send all that extra money.)
7. Why do people want to build a new house that looks old? I think it’s just a phase this country is in. I see signs that the retro-anachronistic architecture phase is fading.
8. But I do it anyway: gotta feed the family, and I enjoy it. Quite a lot sometimes.
9. Bright side: the science of how to build correctly is settling out in favor of simplicity. That is what draws me to the Passive House approach.
10. On a very bright side, I live and work in southeastern Vermont, home of the Sustainable Energy Outreach Network. SEON sponsors a monthly meeting (often moderated by Peter Yost) of builders who enjoy building science discussions on an impressively high level. So I’m the lucky architect who gets to work with these builders.
11. Why do people have so much stuff?
Robert Swinburne is a part-time architect and full-time homemaker living on 49 acres with his wife and two young children in Halifax, Vermont. He was a carpenter for several years after architecture school and is now a licensed architect and passive house designer with over 100 completed projects in the Northeast. Bob maintains a blog (primarily for therapeutic reasons) under the moniker “Vermont Architect.”