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Thanks for all the help and great info.

Dillon Vautrin | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

Not really a question but I just wanted to say that this website has been the greatest resource for learning to build a durable energy efficient home and also to give some tips from what I learned. Great technical articles as well as extremely informative Q&A have helped me avoid what I think were potential devastating decisions. Martin or someone else would always have the patience to answer any question I had or at least point me in a direction that I could find an answer. A hundred years from now will tell for sure if I am right or not.
I don’t know how many hours I have spent researching the best wall, roof, and basement assemblies on this site before starting the build. Last year I completed a 2100 sq.ft. home in zone 5b. Using this site I was able to take a set of regular house plans and turn them into a pretty darn good house. A local engineer made the adjustments I specified on the prints and stamped them. I was the general contractor and did many things including the exterior work and air sealing. It just made sense for me to do the air sealing since any one can do it and this way I wouldn’t be standing over anyone’s shoulders making sure it was done right and bothering them at the same time.
Of course I had a lot of contractors were wondering why not just do it the way it has been done around here for 40 years. Educating myself with this site prepared me for choosing the right contractor most of the time and not the recommended veteran fiberglass contractor that wanted to use poly on the inside of my walls even though I had 3″ of xps on my exterior walls. He told me he had done hundreds of jobs this way and that it wouldn’t be a moisture concern.
In the end I have a home with a blower door test of .23 ACH 50 (The darn microwave oven ventilation damper is not very tight. I was .15 before that and the mini-split penetrations.). I didn’t start off trying to meet any standards but a friend of mine Tom Lambert who is a HERS rater wanted to rate it. The home has a 38 HERS rating before the PV system, and by increasing the size of the PV sytem puts me below a 10 HERS rating and qualifies me for a rebate from NYS . There are a few things that I might have done different. Namely the windows I chose were out of Canada and the company does not have a local retailer. I actually drove 3.5 hours to pick these windows up myself. Since then I had one broken window from a lawn mower and one seal that has broken and is covered by warranty. Unfortunately shipping and installation is not covered by the warranty. So shipping both times was above $300 and the windows aren’t that big. So while the company I chose has better numbers for sure compared to windows sold from local distributors I will continue to pay more money to own them.
I found the small local contractors with good reputations to be really helpful. I would show them a detail from GBA that of course they hadn’t done and they would be able to make the changes from what they usually do and it would turn out great. I used one larger contractor that ended up doing the ductless mini-split and PV system. I chose them for their perfect online ratings and name recognition. This company was great at selling and poor at everything else. I actually went back and rated them poorly on the websites that they had perfect ratings on and some of my ratings disappeared weeks later. No wonder they look so great online.
Thanks again for all the help and good luck to anyone taking on the challenge of improving or building your own home.

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Thanks for reporting back. It's always fun to hear of a successful project by a GBA reader. It sounds like you ended up with a great house. Well done.

    We also appreciate hearing your "lessons learned" story about choosing a window manufacturer without a local distributor. You story is instructive. Thanks.

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