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Building Science Basics Resource

andyfrog | Posted in General Questions on

I’m trying to find some kind of easy to digest resource for a non-technical person to understand why building science and home performance are important.

Most of the stuff out there is geared towards building industry folks it seems.

Anyone know of a good 10-15 min intro website or video?

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  1. Expert Member
    NICK KEENAN | | #1

    Building science is concerned with heat flows, air flows and moisture flows. Controlling heat flows and air flows makes your house more comfortable and cost less to heat and cool. Controlling moisture flows makes it last longer by not rotting and prevents unhealthy mold and humidity levels.

    That's the overview. The next step is to talk about specific techniques for controlling air flow, heat flow and moisture flow. It's a short journey from there to getting deep into building industry lingo.

    Dr. Joe Lstiburek is considered one of the experts in building science. There are videos on Youtube of him addressing non-construction audiences. I'd start there. Here's one:

    1. GBA Editor
      Kiley Jacques | | #11

      Bravo, DC

  2. woobagoobaa | | #2

    Second vote for Dr Joe and BSC. I first learned of BSC during a Habitat build in Westford MA. Tons of great info up on their site. I started here for my own reno ...

  3. andyfrog | | #3

    Dr. Lstiburek is certainly a great resource and I have watched his standard lecture evolve over the years. However, I was hoping to find something more along the lines of a summary video I could send to friends who were looking to buy homes, many of which who probably would not sit down and watch a whole Lstiburek lecture.

    Thinking more like "PBS" or "NPR" instead of "guest university lecture"

    1. Expert Member
      NICK KEENAN | | #4

      I guess I'm having trouble with the premise of the question. Building science isn't something you either have or don't have. It's not like you can say "I'd like a house with building science," any more than you could say "I'd like a house with architecture" or "I'd like a house with structural engineering." Although the latter may be more analogous in that, like building science, structural engineering is transparent to the occupants until you start having problems.

      But imagine someone asking, "I’m trying to find some kind of easy to digest resource for a non-technical person to understand why structural engineering is important." You'd look at failures, and fixes. That's the format of a typical Lstiburek article: he gets called out because there's a stain on the wall or energy use is unexpectedly high or some other failure, and he analyzes the situation and comes up with a fix.

    2. capecodhaus | | #7

      Its good to want to help people, however if it's not in these peoples interest to focus attention on major line items such as buying/building a house, the egg is on them when they are dissatisfied.

      It concerns me most people don't take the time to learn about things that have a major impact on their lives and finances, but ain't that America.

      I would be cautious with Youtube channels and run of-the-mill contractors advice. Many don't practice proper building techniques and assemblies, can't articulate on these topics and only promote the use of spray foams, Zip system sheathing and similar products. It seems the audience they appeal to really loves to watch foam expand and apply tapes to sheathing, that's my take on Youtube. This Old House gets a low rating in my opinion as well.

      1. andyfrog | | #10
  4. plumb_bob | | #5

    Matt Risinger has lots of good stuff on youtube, geared towards a lay-person audience.

  5. jberks | | #6


    Building science: figuring out how not to build a piece of shit house that costs more in the long run.


    1. capecodhaus | | #8

      Philanthropy: A builder who exceeds code minimum construction standards thru the use of material selection and installation procedures.

  6. tim_william | | #9

    I get what you are asking for, but I don't think there's one single source (yet).
    Perhaps a better phrase is "building performance" rather than building science.
    (disclaimer: I'm an amateur who's been reading up on this stuff for the past few years, so there are certainly experts on this site who know better.)

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