Recently, in searching for projects to feature in Fine Homebuilding’s HOUSES by Design department, I came across three homes so rich in building science-related information that I decided to share some of it here. There is much more to be said about each project and the teams responsible for them, but I have boiled it all down to a few salient points that I hope will speak to GBA readers.
From barn to high-performance home
The primary goals for this project were to beef up the thermal envelope, minimize air infiltration, increase energy efficiency, and ensure longevity of the building—a tall order for an old barn-turned hunting cabin.
Given the poor condition of the rubble foundation, the design-build team discussed relocating the timber-frame structure but ultimately settled on making repairs, which included removing small trees and shrubs growing out of the stonework. Bulk water management in the basement was a major consideration, so perimeter drainage was added where feasible, and the foundation was faced with locally sourced Ashfield stone. A continuous vapor retarder was installed on the dirt floor of the basement and adjacent crawlspace; existing basement windows and doors were replaced with new units; closed-cell spray foam was applied to the rim joist and foundation walls for R-21; and rigid-foam insulation plus a floating plywood floor were installed over the basement section to create a laundry and utility area.
Air leakage was a considerable factor. The initial blower-door test result was 23ACH50. The interior walls and roof are tongue-and-groove boards, meaning air was able to move freely from inside to out. Windows and doors were old, leaky, and/or broken; and there were numerous penetrations throughout the envelope. The team removed the existing siding and roofing, and installed an Intesana smart air barrier around the entire building—taping, sealing, and…