You’re having your dream house built. You’re into the design phase, working with an architect or looking through collections of house plans. You’re doing your homework, trying to find out how to ensure you get a top quality house. And that’s when you run into all this stuff about building science, high performance homes, HVAC design, blower door testing, and the like. Now you’re hooked.
The problem you run into next is figuring out how to get that knowledge applied to your dream home. If you’re building the house yourself (as I did back in 2001), it’s on your shoulders. But most people aren’t owner-builders, instead hiring a professional home builder to bring their dreams to reality. If that’s you, keep reading. Hiring a builder is arguably your most important decision, so here are some questions you can ask prospective builders to find out how likely they are to do things the right way.
1. What is your view of airtight homes?
The builder’s answer to this question can tell you a lot. If they tell you, “A house needs to breathe,” you probably don’t need to waste any more time with them. Save your time to find a builder who appreciates the importance of an airtight building enclosure. You may not find a builder who gives you the ideal answer, but you want one who recognizes that greater airtightness is a good thing. If you can find one who’s had blower door tests even when they weren’t required, that’s a plus. And of course you want them to agree to have your house tested.
You can ask the builder about their previous airtightness test results. Here in Georgia, all new homes have to come in below 7…