In January, 2019, I started work as a lead carpenter at HVP Corp. The crew all seemed top-notch, but I was a little concerned about the other lead carpenter, Ian Schwandt. Not that there were any red flags, but I was being hired in at the same level as him and I hoped he wouldn’t feel I was stepping on his toes.
It turned out that I needn’t have worried. Ian welcomed me and spent a fair amount of time showing me the company’s internal procedures. We quickly came to like and respect each other, and the times we got to swing hammers together were second only to the times we bellied up to the bar together. We’ve both moved on though, me to my current partnership and Ian returning to Wisconsin where he and his wife plan to build a high-performance home on a corner of his family’s farm.
In addition to being an utterly pragmatic carpenter with a background in commercial construction, Ian is an analytical thinker with a head for numbers. He’s enough better at that than I am for my partner and I to have hired him to help out with estimating. So when Ian told me that while planning his own house he had developed a spread sheet that compared not only the material costs and R-values of several high-performance wall assemblies, but which also took a stab at quantifying their buildability for the purpose of estimating labor costs, I took notice. There’s value here not just for Ian’s home, but for anyone who builds.
In an email exchange, Ian wrote to me:
One of the themes that I have noticed in watching all of the high performance building quarantine media specials is (most of the time) that…