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BS* + Beer

The BS* + Beer Show: Communicating High-Performance Details

Hear how three architects convey their plans to contractors

This episode of the BS* + Beer show features Steve Baczek, Armando Cobo, and Barry Price talking about how they communicate high-performance construction details. Steve shares his “slider” system, which he designed as a way to have illustrative conversations about drawing plans with builders and homeowners. He shows us a wall section and how it can be manipulated to represent different details, including the location of control layers. He tells us about the drawings he calls “a set of twins,” which make clear a contractor’s work scope, and explains how he manipulates and freezes layers of a drawing to isolate pertinent information.

Armando includes project goals on the first page of his plans to “put everybody on notice as to what we are doing.” He uses a list of ASHRAE fundamentals to convey information to builders and to draw his assemblies based on climate zone. “I don’t like to flood plans with details because it scares away subcontractors,” he says, noting that he does, however, lay out all necessary steps for each installation. He stresses the envelope as the most critical information to communicate, saying the HVAC system is second in order of priority.

Barry describes the way he designs “defensively” on the front-end to avoid costly fixes, and explains why he uses Vectorworks software to make 2- and 3-D renderings. Like Steve, he isolates details to make a given contractor’s responsibilities hyper clear. He talks about his “menu sheet” for four types of window installations; it includes insulation detailing and thermal implications, and is part of a detail library he shares with builders. Also, because sequencing on high-performance homes is so important, he has made “summary sheets” with color-coded control layers, transition areas, and penetration details that he shares with builders.

All three designers get at the same message: You have to create a system of your own that clearly and effectively explains all of what needs to happen when building a high-performance structure. It is key to success.

Enjoy the show!


Join us on Thursday, February 18, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. EST for a special episode with an all-star Taunton Press guest list. Mason Lord, head of the Connecticut BS* chapter, came up with the idea to celebrate Fine Homebuilding’s 40th Anniversary with a look back at the industry, the magazine, and the people who have helmed it. We envision a party-like atmosphere and a lively discussion that might go in any direction, given the number of people we hope to have onscreen. The idea is to reflect on what has changed in the residential building sector over the last four decades, and how the magazine has kept pace. Please join us—it’s going to be a blast!

Guest List

Kevin Ireton 

Mike Guertin

Andy Engel

Mason Lord

Brian Pontolilo

Justin Fink

Rob Wotzak

Patrick McCombe

Scott Gibson

Use this link to register for The BS* + Beer Show 

BS* + Beer Book Club

Because the hosts of the BS* + Beer Show all love to read, we thought we would celebrate the authors in our industry by adding a book club to the show every few months. We’ll announce the book, give you a few months to get it and read it, and conclude with a BS* + Beer Show episode where we will invite the author to join us, present, and take questions.

Essential Building Science book cover

We have selected our third book: Essential Building Science: Understanding Energy and Moisture in High Performance House Design by Jacob Deva Racusin. New Society Publishers has generously extended a 25% discount for this book and others in their Essential Building Science series (paperback or ebook). Use the discount code Essential25 now through March 31.

We hope you will pick up a copy and join the discussion on April 1, 2021.


You can contact Kiley Jacques at [email protected]. Illustration courtesy of Steve Baczek.


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