Matt RisingerMatt Risinger, Austin, TX, US
I'm a gear nerd. I like things that work well, I like owning the best. I think many Builders, DIY's, and Dads think similarly. I buy things that will work well, and last. This is my third year...
The Texas Sun is blazing where I build in Austin Texas. Let me give you four tips for building an efficient home that will stay cool even during the hottest summer.
To get the perfectly flat, smooth drywall finish that is so important to the finish of our homes, we use Laminated Strand Lumber (LSL) Studs. Read on for my top 4 reasons to use LSL Studs and tips for installation.
These are the Construction Site Rules we post on all our job sites; we also have all our sub-contractors sign a copy of these rules as part of their agreement.
Choosing the correct weather resistant barrier (or house wrap) it's important to take into account the amount of exposure your walls are getting. Houses with more exposure will require a more robust waterproofing strategy. Read on for more information and my tips for choosing the right house wrap for your project.
Working in Texas for over 10 years, I've learned how important it is to select materials that work well with the climate. In this video, I review the benefits of using a metal roof when you're working with in the hot and humid southern states of the US.
In this video we identify what it means to build a Net Zero house, and some of the best practices for building Net Zero houses, using one of our own projects as an example. The house we review will generate enough electricity with its Solar Array to have a Zero sum electric bill for the course of the entire year. (Some months the bill will be negative, some months they will have to pay, but overall if you sum the 12 months of the year it will be $0.) Learn more by watching the video below!
Gas has been the traditional king of hot water in the US. With the advent of the Heat Pump water heater I think that tide will change. Here's how I'm solving the capacity issue...
I found a product that's specifically designed for fixing cosmetic cracks in concrete and I thought it worked fantastically well!
What do you want for the Holiday's this year? He's a list of my top gift ideas for Builders.
Stucco is one of the dominate materials used in the South & SouthWest, and I see a lot of installs that look like future issues waiting to happen. Here's a video on a Best Practice method that will give your Stucco facade a fighting chance at draining & drying without getting your building wet.
Architects love board formed concrete, but it's a tricky process and requires a careful craftsman to ensure it looks good. See this video and pictures of a house I'm building where we used Board Formed Concrete for foundation and house walls extensively.
Everyone loves wood interior walls! In this video I'll show you three tips to ensuring your wood walls look great after installation. The wood in this video is reclaimed from the 30's house we were remodeling and was used originally as a wallpaper backer.
Have you ever heard the embarrassing sound of a toilet fish in the middle of a dinner party? Here's the way to eliminate that!
Has a noisy AC Compressor outside a bedroom window ever bothered you? Mitsubishi claims to make the quietest AC Compressor on the market. Let's test and see if their claim is true!
Have you ever walked by a china cabinet and the contents rattled? Or does your house have an annoying squeak in the floor as you walk down the hallway to your baby's bedroom? In this video I’ll give you three tips for framing a sub-floor that’s beefy and squeak-free!
PL400 has been the gold standard in SubFloor glue for years, but is it the best choice for Advantech Decking? Watch me put these two glues to the test.
I'm a huge fan of Building Science teacher Joe Lstiburek and I'm finally building my first house with his "Perfect Wall" concept. Join me as I explain this theory for extreme durability and efficiency (and show off a house I'm building in Austin).
We've all been in this situation... two identical looking products on the shelf, but different prices. Which should I choose? Well, when it comes to housewraps not all are alike, nor will they perform the same. Have a look at this test that will give you an idea how these two white rolls will perform on YOUR house.
This simple medicine cabinet is recessed flush into the wall. Simple, yes but it takes a Craftsmen to pull off crisp details. Watch this video for some tips for your bathroom remodel project.
The 4 major window frame materials are Vinyl, Fiberglass/Composite, Aluminum, & Wood. In this video we will discuss the pros/cons of each type along with my recommendations for the Hot/Humid Southern US.
I'd venture to guess that most houses in the Southern US aren't very comfortable. They are either too cold or too hot! The missing component in HVAC is Dehumidification. Ultra-Aire has a new Dehum that I think is a game changer.
Have you ever been frustrated by a lack of power available at your job sites? Look no further than this custom designed Temp Power Box to handle all your needs. Including a parts list to build your own!
Learn to decipher the codes on the window labels, and know what stats to look for in a good window (and what meets current building codes). In this video I'll explain in plain english what U-Factor means (and how to relate it to R-value), as well as the meaning to SHGC.
Sticky House Wrap? Yes, that makes perfect sense. I just completed my first job with Delta Vent SA a house wrap from German company Cosella-Dorken. Here's my impressions.
Classic argument among Custom Builders: Oil or Latex for Millwork. I've been an Oil fan for years but I'm finally coming around to Latex and I think I've found the right paint for the "Crisp" paint job that I demand in my houses.
This Mesquite Hardwood floor is stunning and this video will show you the start-to-finish process. I've included some tips from a geeky Custom Builder that you won't find anywhere else.
I'm a hardware geek, and I think hardware can make or break a house. Here's what I think about Accurate's full mortise pocket door hardware.
There are 4 things every house must control (in order of importance). 1. Water 2. Air 3. Vapor 4. Thermal Codes have only started to address air control and I think many builders in the US are behind in this area.
If you've ever installed a clothes dryer you know the vent at the back is in danger of being choked & pinched the moment you push the unit into place. This little $30 part is worth it's weight in gold!
I think this new CREE fixture might finally signal the end of the T-5 Fluorescent Fixtures.
Here's a few gifts for the Builder on your list. $10-$$$$. All approved and used by Matt Risinger.
As a builder in the hot and humid South, I regularly use spray foam in my houses. Spray foam makes it much easier to encapsulate my attic (where most HVAC systems in Texas live) so that my ducts are inside the thermal envelope.
Hidden Doors are super cool, but it takes some slick hardware and a skilled carpenter to pull one off successfully. See how my crew used Soss Hinges for this concealed door to a master bathroom toilet.
I love hidden doors and this house has 4 really cool ones. This is a 1930's whole house remodel my company did with Austin Architect Hugh Jefferson Randolph.
Your fancy Tankless Water Heater needs maintenance, and if you neglect this annual flush you may be destained for trouble. See this 5 minute video on how to do a vinegar flush to remove calcium deposits from your tankless unit's boiler.
OSB vs Plywood Sheathing is a question that comes up often in my Custom Builders Group. In this video I'll explain why I use both, and share some secret methods to building a house that will last for generations.
Have you ever wondered why Slab Foundations aren't insulated? Two reasons, your house needs to be pretty efficient first before it's necessary, then it's darn hard to accomplish without making an easy path for termites. In this video I'll show you how we used Borated Treated Perimeter foam to insulate a Texas Slab on Grade Foundation.
Who wouldn't love their garage to be Air Conditioned? In this video I'll show you two methods to accomplish that cool garage.
Everyone loves a medicine cabinet, and this is the biggest one I've ever seen. Scott Ginder the Architect on this remodel designed this med cab with all the features; Tons of glass shelves, LED lights, and an electrical outlet for my clients toothbrush.
Here are my three top tips to double the lifespan of your new deck! Hint: They all deal with water and rot issues. -Matt Risinger
We installed a house full of these CREE CR6 LED bulbs 2 years ago and I had a chance to interview the Architect/Client about his experience.
I like Heat Pump Water Heaters, they heat water and they throw off cool & dehumidified air! Seems like the perfect product to have inside our Hot Texas homes. See my full review of the AirGenerate ATI 66 gallon HPWH.
Most large custom homes that I've seen are relatively in-efficient in their hot water strategy. Many homes above 5000sf have 2+ 75 gal tank water heaters with a circulation pump. I thought this 7000sf home I'm about to break ground on would be a good case study on what some more efficient water heaters might cost over a 10 year period. This is some geeky stuffy...Enjoy! -Matt Risinger
Air Conditioners are sized for the Hottest day of the year. This results in rather uncomfortable AC about 70% of the time, as well as electric bills that are needlessly high. Enter Variable Refrigerant Flow Technology. This allows your AC to run at any capacity from 15% up to 100%. Join me for a system overview
This is my collection of my 9 best HVAC related videos. Most will be relevant no matter your climate but many speak specifically to best practice for the Southern US.
Build tight, ventilate right. I learned that from building science guru Mark LaLiberte. But what is the right way to ventilate a house in Texas (or anywhere in the hot/humid South)? I'll give you my recommendations for three strategies.
The weather in the Southern United States poses a unique challenge to the issues of ventilation and indoor-air quality. Here are my opinions and suggestions on how to address these issues if you are building or remodeling in the South.
The Nest thermostat has a ton of buzz, but is it worth the price? In this review you'll hear my perspective as a builder.
Brick is a wonderful building veneer and is the original "Rain Screen" method of separating your cladding from your building with an air gap. Rock on the other hand is often devoid of that air gap here in the South and can lead to building failures. In this post I'll show you a Best Practice Rock veneer approach with a vented air gap.
Mark LaLiberte is an amazing building-science teacher. Read my blogging notes from his seminar titled "Building High-Performance Homes Dos & Don'ts," which I attended in Austin, Texas. Remember that this is focused on Texas construction, but there is plenty to learn here for anyone in the U.S.
I attended a builder luncheon the other day and was blown away by this cool new shower head called the Kohler Moxie. It has a magnetic bluetooth speaker that magnet holds into a standard shower head. The sound was fantastic and I love the idea.
In this video I'll show you some modern hardie siding details we used to overcome the issues encountered with exterior rigid foam installation.
It's not unusual for a house to get wet during construction before it's "dried in". In this post I'll share some techniques I've used to dry my houses prior to sheetrock. This is a follow up to my last post about using a Moisture Meter.
Rain during framing is hard to avoid, so how do you know the house is dry enough to move ahead with construction? We've all experienced "settlement" cracks in new houses. While cracks and gaps may not be completely avoidable, checking your framing with a moisture meter will te you if the house is "dry" and ready for insulation and drywall.
Everyone loves a house with hidden door or secret rooms, but these are tricky details to pull off successfully. Here are a few of my recent projects with hidden doors and my favorite hardware to accomplish these works of craftsmanship.
Insulation advertisements would lead you to believe there products are perfect for every situation. In fact a hybrid approach is more likely to yield the high performance home I'm after. See this video to see how I used three types of insulation on this new Advanced Framed House I'm building in Austin Texas. -Matt Risinger
In our Hot Humid Texas climate an ERV does a great job of bringing in Fresh Air but rejecting the humidity (Energy) that typically comes with that air. Panasonic's bargain priced ERV is a great choice for fresh air in our climate.
Advanced Framing isn't all that difficult and the benefits can be tremendous. In this video I'll show you a traditionally framed house and compare that to an Advanced Framed house.
Remodeling presents special challenges for the insulation choices. In this 1 minute video I'll show you the three reason's I almost always choose spray foam insulation for my remodel projects.
When you hear about a deep energy retrofit project most people think of the snowy North Eastern US. I can tell you that the strategy for a Northern remodel with energy efficiency in mind is very different that our strategy for Hot/Humid Texas. In this video I'll show you 6 things we are doing to making a dramatic difference in this 1950's slab on grade house's energy bills.
Flashing a recessed window is tricky, this new product from DuPont Tyvek called Fluid Applied (Liquid Tyvek!) makes the process much simpler. In this jobsite video we will take you through the steps to form a water tight, air tight, and vapor permeable window install.
How long does it take for your faucet to get hot water? As you wait for that hot water a typical faucet might dump 1-2 gallons of water down the drain. The solution for this problem is a smart circulation pump. Metlund makes a great system to deliver how water to your faucets without waste.
Window & door headers are typically a large source of thermal bridging. In this video I'll show you how to frame with TimberStrand engineered headers and easily achieve a well-insulated & very strong header.
Stainless Steel, what builder doesn't love using SS? Check out this video on how to use SS Termite Barriers for a lifetime of protection for Slab Foundations.
How do you prevent job site mistakes? The Japanese Management Technique of Poka-Yoke of course! See how I use this principle on my jobs to ensure we don't cover up a mistake that could cause problems years down the line. -Matt Risinger
Building an exposed stringer staircase with reclaimed Long Leaf Pine is the job for a Master Carpenter. See my carpenter Darryl build this modern detailed staircase in a 1920's house my company remodeled.
I was back to do a one year service call on this guest house my company built a year ago, and I was struck by the beauty of the Doug Fir Siding. It looked as good as the day we installed it. In this video I'll tell you the How To tips to ensure your wood stained siding has beauty that endures.
Soundproofing can be a very expensive addition to the price of construction, but there are some cheap tricks that will make a huge difference for not much cost. In this video I'll review 5/8" vs 1/2" drywall, the use of QuietPutty pads over outlets, double sheetrock, and Cast Iron drain pipes. These solutions can be much less expensive than using soundproofing drywall everywhere, but still make a tremendous difference towards achieving a quiet/peaceful house. -Matt Risinger
You don't see much real wood siding on houses anymore, but wood can be a durable (and beautiful) option if we take the care to install it correctly. In this video I'll show you the tricks to a wood siding installation that will set you up for decades of beauty for your home.
Architect Peter Pfeiffer talks about how to utilize smart design for a house in a hot climate zone. His green building advice is practical and following his advice will result in a house that's well designed for the rigors of a hot climate. If you want a comfortable, efficient, durable house and you live in the South then this video will give you tons to think about.
In our Texas climate a well installed HVAC system is a must for a new home. I'm surprised by how few builders are using Rigid Metal ducting anymore. Come see how my crew uses both Rigid Metal & Flex for great air distribution in the homes I build.
Nothing says Fine Craftsmanship like a site built wood window. In this video see how my carpentry crew build 5 large windows from Oak, African Mahogany, & Poplar.
I love the look of Modern Architecture, but these modern details involving no overhangs & commercial windows require a lot of fore thought on the part of the builder. In this video I'll show you the Best Practice Install for Commercial Windows in Residential Construction.
In the South there are two main foundation types. Concrete Piers with Wooden beams that elevate the house above the ground, and concrete slab foundations that sit on the ground. In this video I'm discussion the merits of these two options with Building Science expert Mark LaLiberte.
Pivot hinges make a bold statement in these floor to ceiling veneered closet doors, see how we used them in the Master Bedroom of a 60's remodeled house.
Tankless water heaters need an annual service to get the maximum life out of your unit. This is a simple process of de-scaling using vinegar and cleaning your in-line filter. This video will show you how to do it.
Most houses in Hot/Humid climates don't have basements so that means that most ductwork in Southern house runs through super hot attic spaces. In this video I'll show you a rather civilized attic space that really makes for a comfortable & efficient house!
The old school way to prevent termites from eating your house was to dump noxious chemicals on the ground around your house. The green way to do it is to use a borate treatment on your framing lumber. In this video I'll show you the right way to prevent infestations.
In this video you'll see my carpenters setting an Andersen 100 series window utilizing DuPont Tyvek products. I consider this the best practice method for setting a window in new construction.
Almost every project I build has some sound proofing needed. Media Rooms, Master Bedrooms, Meditation Rooms, Home offices... these can all benefit from some careful planning & sound abatement techniques. In this video I'll show you how we used Green Glue between two layers of 5/8" drywall to provide soundproofing between a Master Bedroom and an adjacent kids bedroom.
I'm a huge believer in Spray Foam for air sealing, but foam will only air seal the cavity that it's sprayed into. Here's where Owens Corning's new Energy Complete has a leg up on Foam. In this video you'll see how their system does an excellent job of air sealing so that their total-fill fiberglass system doesn't have any air flow issues to deal with. -Matt Risinger
In this video you'll learn some easy techniques for Soundproofing a bedroom from a noisy Family Room next door. We're using Quietrock which is a specialized drywall made for reducing noise transmission along with Hilti Putty Pads for air sealing outlets and Acoustical Sealant. These simple techniques make for a very quiet bedroom.
Have you ever picked up a piece of nice hardware and smiled? If so, then you're an official hardware geek like me! Check out this amazing Hidden Hinge from Sugatsune we used in a door install we like to call our "James Bond" door. -Matt Risinger
We as builders are so diligent about using flashing boots on our roofs but when it comes to wall penetrations we're so lax about holes! In this video we'll show you how we use QuickFlash boots to correctly seal the water out of our walls. -Matt Risinger
You always hear about radiant barriers for roofs but why not treat your walls the same way? In this video you'll see how we're using a foil facing on our South & West facing unshaded masonry walls.
No one will notice if you frame your houses with straight walls, but your clients will definitely notice if they are wavy. This LSL stud makes a super straight wall for your kitchens, baths, and tall walls. They are more expensive than pine or fir studs but there is no cull and you will eliminate surprises.
This 10 year old house didn't have a radiant barrier on the roof and replacing the plywood wasn't an option. We sprayed on Sherwin William E Barrier paint for an easy retrofit that should easily pay for itself with lower attic temperatures. Simple, affordable, easy. Pretty nice.
Over the last year I've really been working on how to get my houses to the next level of greater energy efficiency and this video will show you my latest secret. We're laying down a thick layer of rigid ISO foam boards on top of the roof.
Blower Door testing is a way to measure how "tightly" your house was built. You're heard me preach about Build Tight, Ventilate Right. Well, this is the way we ensure that we've Built Tight. This essential test is required if we have any hope to tighten the building envelope while remodeling. In this video you'll see how it's performed and what can be learned. -Matt Risinger
My clients specified a huge gas commercial range with a high CFM exhaust fan. I was worried that this fan wouldn't exhaust properly with a fully spray foamed tight shell. In this video I'll show you how we provided make-up air so that the exhaust fan would have enough air coming in to exhaust.
In this video my finish carpenter uses a table saw and router table to mill some reclaimed pine boards into hardwood flooring.