GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Picture icon Hamburger Icon Close Icon Sorted

Community and Q&A

I bought my first house, and everything from roof to appliances is at end-of-life

mateohao | Posted in Project Management on

Dear Community,
I bought my first house, and everything from roof to appliances is at end-of-life. Who should I consult for a green retrofit?

I managed to snag a small, compact house in the San Francisco Bay, CA, USA region, but the price I paid is that this thing is totally outdated. No insulation, no exterior sheathing (just clapboard on stud), electrical and plumbing violations up the wazoo, and the crawl space floods when it rains. Luckily the house is easy to pull apart.

I want to live here for a long time. I am eager to do a lot of hands-on stuff, but I have become overwhelmed by the information here. I need a professional to coordinate and calculate what I need.

Am I supposed to look for a contractor specializing in green retrofits, or an architect? Some kind of consultant? Who exactly does these “Energy audits”?

Much Appreciation,
-Mat

GBA Prime

Join the leading community of building science experts

Become a GBA Prime member and get instant access to the latest developments in green building, research, and reports from the field.

Replies

  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Mat,
    Q. "Am I supposed to look for a contractor specializing in green retrofits, or an architect? Some kind of consultant? Who exactly does these 'energy audits'?"

    A. In your case, you should hire an architect who has experience with high-performance homes. Look for an architect who has received Passive House training, or who has completed a zero-energy project, if you are interested in very high performance.

    Energy audits are performed by raters who have been certified by RESNET or BPI. You can visit the respective web sites to find an energy rater in your area. Here are the links:

    RESNET

    Building Performance Institute

  2. user-6184358 | | #2

    look at http://www.arkintilt.com they have had houses written up in articles in Fine Home Building

  3. onslow | | #3

    Mat, You have not indicated what exact municipality you are located in, but I suspect that most state level code compliance issues you will face present a much greater hazard to you than energy efficiency. Earthquake compliant framing leaps to my mind as one potentially expensive retrofit circumstance you could trigger by trying to update your home.

    You need advice on how to proceed with improving your home without running afoul of code updating costs. At least the unexpected ones that could crush your budget planning. If you are fortunate enough to have the financial wherewithal, you might want to consider starting fresh. I think talking to builders that have engaged in renovating existing houses for sale might provide more useful insight than an energy auditor or even an architect.

    Architects should know better what their grand visions might trigger with electrical or plumbing work, but HGTV shows seem to have far too many examples of "Oh my, the inspector just shut us down and now you have to bring "X" into compliance. It will cost $50,000." I personally would weigh the extra energy costs against the "code hazard costs" and go from there.

  4. user-6184358 | | #4

    In the Bay Area a good source for green building professionals is the California Straw Building Association. They focus on Strawbale but are well versed in conventional construction. Check out the resource page https://www.strawbuilding.org/find-a-professional There are quite a few Architects and Builders in the Bay Area on the list

  5. ROBERT OPALUCH | | #5

    Retrofitting is a lot of work and poses a lot of constraints due to the existing structure. I'd at least consider a tear down. You could build what you want new, with fewer unhappy surprises, and it may cost less, depending...

Log in or create an account to post an answer.

Community

Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |