Response to Allison Allison, no we do not install thermo-hygrometers in our homes. Our homes average 8,000 sq ft, typically have 4-5 zones. We do service the equipment and systems for our clients as part of our warranty and offer extended service they pay for, so this give our HVAC contractor a chance check operation and to some extent performance. Our primary "monitoring" is an informal discussion with them regarding comfort level and utility costs, and 100% of our spray foam clients' utility costs are lower than non-spray foam houses by 40%-50% (or more).
Posted: 06:34 pm on April 30th 2014
Dr Joe's Thoughts The last time Joe Lstiburek was in Houston discussing some building science topics at our local HBA, particular to our climate, I attended and took some notes. Regarding climate change he said: "No question climate is changing. Could be bad but maybe not. Looks like we did it but not completely sure. We can fix it, but is it worth it? Questions Are: when, how bad, did we do it, can we do anything about it." I pretty much agree with him.
Posted: 09:10 pm on May 1st 2014
Exxon Agrees with Energy Efficiency Exxon agrees that the greatest source of energy in the future is our ability to use it more efficiently. "Energy efficiency technology will save 500 quadrillion British thermal units over the next 30 years, said Ted Pirog, an energy analyst with Exxon Mobil Corp." http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2014/04/24/biggest-energy-source-for-the-future-isnt-oil-and.html
Posted: 07:24 am on May 12th 2014
Design change I actually had a 1st yesterday regarding the change in climate or more specifically local weather. I have a new home client I am working with who wants the engineer of record to design their home to withstand higher wind loads than currently required (110 mph) . They want to design to withstand 140 mph winds because of their expectations of wild changes in weather events in coming years. Also, funny thing I saw on Twitter: THE FIVE STAGES OF GLOBAL WARMING 1. Denial 2. Guilt 3. Depression 4. Acceptance 5. Drowning
Posted: 06:28 am on May 14th 2014
Cost of Solar I have been paying attention to the cost of solar for a long time and now and for the past few years it has made real economic sense to consider solar. I had a custom client who wanted solar, the cost for a 10KW system, installed and after tax credit, added $105 to their mortgage payment. The $105 added payment was mostly deductible interest, so their after tax cost was about $85/month. The projected savings in monthly electric was $140, and of course that cost will increase 3%-4% a year while the cost of solar panels is fixed. Also, as an incentive, we offer to install solar panels on our new custom homes at our cost, we do not add out 16%-18% markup. Solar is going to increase exponentially in years to come, in my opinion. I'm not sure costs can go down at the rate they have, but I believe panels will continue to become more efficient.
Posted: 07:21 am on October 24th 2014
Cost of Solar I had a job quoted with Kyocera panels that nets out costing $2.30 per watt, installed by contractor. This is company I am using: http://www.texassolaroutfitters.com/
Posted: 07:38 am on October 24th 2014
Large Homes One could certainly make a case that mega-sized homes are not Green. However, these homes are going to be built whether or not they are deemed Green or have the various certifications. Let me repeat: they are going to be built because there are plenty of people who have the $ to build them and for whatever reasons they want a very large home. We routinely build homes this size or larger, in fact we currently have a 22,000 sq ft home under construction. I think it is better that these homes be built to high standards espoused on this site and others, and if by doing so they are able to receive certifications and labels, so much the better. I do try very hard to apply good building techniques as advocated here on all my homes, no matter the size. I think it is detrimental when those in the building science community criticize architects, builders, and yes homeowners when they try to follow good building techniques and they just happen to be building large homes.
Posted: 07:22 am on December 10th 2014
GBA This is a great site, I need to spend more time here, so much to learn. Funny story, there is a very popular financial forum that I read every few days, there are something like 1200 new posts daily. They allow consumer type posts as well as financial. Someone started a thread about building a new house and mentioned BSC and GBA and said "Green Building Advisor is OK but there are some real hacks over there. Much more professional and useful advice is available from Building Science". Of course I went to bat for GBA and mentioned that "there are a lot of very knowledgeable people at GBA and that a lot of the BSC people participate at GBA," GBA is actually mentioned on the site quite often.
Posted: 06:55 am on January 4th 2015
Re: GBA 2.0Bargain This is the best or certainly one of the best building science sites, $100 is a bargain. Martin, I follow you on Twitter, that is how I keep up with GBA blogs.
Posted: 12:47 pm on February 1st 2015
I do a lot of cost plus new home construction, in fact I have 7 houses currently we are building that are all cost plus. My fees range from 15%-25%, depending on the size of the project. Larger houses ($2,000,000 +) we charge 15%-17% plus 2% for General Conditions. Deals $1,500,000 and under we charge 17%-25%, although 1 million$ is the smallest we do. We are competitive with other local high quality, well established builders, so I know our fees are in line with other builders. We are not taking on any new homes until 2016. I've seen builders charge less, client usually gets an inferior product and poorly managed process. We spend several months planning and consulting with owners, then 14-18 months (or longer) of actual construction, then the warranty period. I think a 15%+ fee is a fair deal.
Posted: 02:01 pm on May 23rd 2015