ScottGEast Waterboro, ME, US
Researchers who developed a method of sealing leaky air ducts set their sights on a whole-house treatment that should make it easier for builders to make tight houses
A class of student builders in Northern California designs and builds a house that exceeds state energy standards. With a work day only two hours long, that can take a while.
A measure to be introduced in Congress on May 8 provides financial incentives to states that adopt the latest versions of the International Residential Code
If you want to market a green house successfully, one real-estate expert suggests dropping ambiguous wording and "sell the steak, not the sizzle."
Housing starts are up sharply, but building jobs show only a modest increase. Several factors may explain the paradox.
As he makes plans for an addition to his Connecticut house, RickGreg has been told by the local building department he must install a fan in the insulated, unvented crawlspace. Does this mysterious edict make any sense?
A couple living in Atlanta want a house that's free of the chemical pollutants common in standard construction. They consider using autoclaved aerated concrete blocks for the walls, but soon find there are doubters aplenty.
A Florida attorney cites an "avalanche" of complaints from homeowners about toxic effects of spray polyurethane foam and says that complaints have been filed in federal courts in a half-dozen states. Installers as well as manufacturers are named.
Shelter is one of the most fundamental human needs, yet our approach to building is antiquated, labor intensive, and costly. A high-tech approach called Contour Crafting enlists computer-aided manufacturing and promises dramatic improvements in how we create human habitation.
NAHB welcomes the news as a sign that the recovery in the housing industry is continuing
The creator of the LEED for Homes rating system underscores its influence on building worldwide, but critics complain the system fails to measure energy consumption and is more about winning points than better performance.
A Connecticut-based group called Simply Smiles seeks donated tools and craft supplies for a summer volunteer project on a South Dakota Sioux reservation.
Designers are asked to devise a house for Habitat for Humanity that reduces carbon emissions, shines aesthetically, and doesn't cost too much
Strawmyers knows all about the misery of working in an icy cold pole barn, and with a new attached garage on the horizon he has a chance for more comfortable working conditions. The question is how much to invest in insulation, and how to heat the space
In allocating $5.4 billion in recovery funds to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy, HUD will require compliance with a green- building standard but doesn't specify which one to use
Research Center becomes Home Innovation Research Labs in move to 'enhance value' of its brand and certification mark
The Appraisal Institute develops a new "green addendum" to help appraisers calculate the value of renewable-energy and building enhancements that lower operating costs
The National Association of Home Builders says a shortage of skilled labor is slowing recovery of the housing industry
Trends survey by American Institute of Architects finds more interest in kitchens and baths, and greater attention to use of technology
A National Association of Home Builders survey dives deeply into the psyche of American homebuyers, and their preferences may surprise you.
Wonder how all that high-tech heating and ventilation equipment is really doing? InView Passive will tell you.
Amendment would restore opt-out provisions that the EPA dropped in 2010
According to an engineer's calculations, the built-up beam over pboneox1's kitchen will be strong enough to carry the intended structural loads. But there's no question it's sagging, and that has pboneox1 wondering what, if anything, he should do about it.
Light-gauge steel framing has several advantages in residential construction: it's straight, light and cost competitive with dimensional lumber. It's also an excellent heat conductor, and that has a builder wondering whether steel framing has any place in his energy-efficient home.
Combining strength and thermal efficiency in a garage slab that will carry a lot of weight
A couple building a house struggles to choose a fresh-air-circulation system that will keep their home healthful without breaking the bank
An unhappy customer pans her renovation contractor on Yelp, and the builder responds with a $750,000 defamation lawsuit. Have you been embroiled in an internet dispute?
There's no question the criticism is often undeserved, but plumbers nonetheless have a reputation for taking a recip saw to studs, joists, and rafters when they get in the way of supply and drain lines. The result, as Tackitybits has discovered, can be tough to fix.
A 74-year-old planning a new home in North Carolina ponders the relative advantages of a crawl space and a slab.
A bargain-hunting builder searches for an alternative to commercially available insulation baffles for use in a cathedral ceiling. Can he fashion something from a $30 roll of housewrap?
Once routine, polyethylene vapor barriers are out of favor in all but the coldest climates. Writing on behalf of a friend in Chicago, Ed says he gets that. But he wonders about the risks of building a house without one when no special care is taken to make the house airtight.
Potential customers seem to love them, and why not? But pros are divided, some insisting that providing estimates is part of running a business and others just as adamant that would-be customers should be charged.
A 6-year-old house on the Washington coast looked like an enviable retirement home, but a closer inspection finds wet OSB sheathing and the homeowner wonders whether the underlayment is to blame.
A homeowner planning a tight, well-insulated house is grappling with a key decision: whether to choose an air-source or ground-source heat pump for heating and cooling. What's the best call?
Erik Olofsson wants to build an energy-efficient house in the mountains of British Columbia, something with walls close to R-40. He wonders whether a double-stud wall is the most economical way to reach his goals.
New shingles are going over the old as part of a lead-abatement program, but the contractor who won the job is using techniques that make the homeowner nervous.
David Martin is thinking about a new roof, and he likes the idea of a standing-seam metal roof. The roofing is durable, recyclable and may actually cut his energy bill. Or will it?
As builders and homeowners get more energy-savvy, they often choose an exterior wall assembly that includes rigid foam insulation over the sheathing, followed by furring strips and then the siding. But is this technique appropriate for vinyl siding?
A Seattle homeowner worries that steel I-beams used to support cantilevered floors in this modernist design will wick in cold temperatures from the outside
Radiant-floor heating systems often include concrete slab floors, a combination that should produce steady temperatures without the frequent ups and downs of forced-air systems. But there's a catch: because the slab is slower to respond to changes in temperature, whether to turn down the thermostat at night becomes more than a simple question.
A homeowner in Baltimore needs to replace the built-up asphalt roof on his house, and wonders how to insulate it effectively at the same time
Fine Homebuilding goes on the road to learn the ins and outs of what it means to be a master carpenter
A builder planning a new house plans to include a rainscreen, an exterior detail that separates the sheathing from the finish cladding with furring strips. He'd like to install the furring horizontally instead of in the more typical vertical orientation. Is that a problem?
Some builders have successfully experimented with storing heat in a thick layer of sand under a slab and using the insulated thermal mass for heat. But skeptics still think the idea is mostly hot air.
Structural insulated panels do an excellent job of keeping energy losses to a minimum, but they're also susceptible to moisture damage unless detailed correctly
Even experts continue to be confused about the permissible thickness of foam insulation sprayed onto the underside of a roof deck
A homeowner looking to upgrade the insulation in his 90-year-old Cape is thinking about contracting for spray-in foam. But he's got conflicting advice from installers and wonders whether closed-cell or open-cell foam is the way to go.
Energy efficient buildings typically incorporate insulation beneath their concrete slabs, and the go-to choice is sheets of rigid foam. Are there alternatives?
A winning design for an energy-efficient house in the Deep South sparks a conversation on whether high R-values can make a house harder to cool.
John Hess is planning to build a super-insulated house in New England, and is considering a masonry heater. These high-mass heaters require a fire only once or twice a day, but would one be overkill in a super-tight, high efficiency home?
A wood stove in an old, leaky house? No problem. Air consumed by the stove could easily be replaced via the abundant air leaks that most old houses had. In airtight construction, it's a different question.
A homeowner building a house in Massachusetts asks for advice on insulating a cathedral ceiling
Uncoupling membranes used between a tile floor and a concrete slab should prevent any cracks in the concrete from affecting the tile, but will it lower the thermal mass potential of the concrete?
Planning a house for a cold climate, a builder weighs the merits of double 2x4 stud walls vs. 2x6 walls with exterior rigid foam insulation.
Historic preservation rules may prohibit the replacement of single-pane windows that contribute to energy losses. Are these edicts reasonable, or do they represent the triumph of tradition over common sense?
Adding rigid foam insulation to the outside of the building reduces thermal bridging. Choosing the right insulation for the wall cavity is another question altogether
'Massive' air leaks in a one-year-old house prompt the homeowner to schedule an energy audit, and what he finds is an apparent natural gas leak
A leaky crawl space can lower indoor air quality and make it harder to heat and cool a home. So what's the most effective way of dealing with the problem?
When the fan draws 900 cubic feet of air per minute, making provisions for makeup air becomes essential
When ducts are hard to access, can they be effectively sealed from the inside?
A layer of foam added to the outside of a structural insulated panel should reduce heat losses via thermal bridging. The question is whether the foam will increase the risk of decay in the oriented strand board skin of the panel
One of the cornerstones of green building is acting on an individual level to reduce energy consumption and conserve natural resources. But some believe it accomplishes very little in the overall scheme of things
A homeowner is moving ahead with plans for an unvented roof insulated with a combination of dense-pack cellulose and rigid foam board. Will moisture be a problem?
Storm damage can range from broken rafters to smashed windows and shredded roof shingles. Repairs don't always go as smoothly as they should, and sometimes uncover shortcuts taken in the past
Although polyethylene sheeting has fallen out of favor as a vapor retarder in most wall and ceiling assemblies, opinion is mixed on whether it can be used as an air barrier
An owner/builder, worried that required blower-door tests could cost him thousands of dollars, decides not to seek a building permit after all
A double-stud wall house with radiant-floor slab and a high performance propane hot-water heater is on the drawing boards. Care to comment?
A builder planning a high-efficiency spec house wants to insulate the foundation walls, and is considering a type of panel that incorporates an inner layer of rigid foam insulation and two outer layers of concrete. Will it work?
A Massachusetts homeowner wonders how a green design might look for someone who likes to keep the windows open and the heat turned down
In a superinsulated house, appliances generate heat that is slow to dissipate
The right features make it easier for homeowners to stay put as they age
Compact fluorescent lamps are gradually taking the place of standard incandescent bulbs, but light-emitting diodes are another, if more expensive, option.
What's the best plan: investing in high-quality windows and insulation, or a high-efficiency heating system?
Irene's damage is done, but it's never too early to start preparing for the next natural disaster
A neighbor has hired someone to clean and paint a detached garage on his property, and now paint chips presumably containing lead are everywhere
The internet is an unrivaled source of information, but the World Wide Web also can be an unrivaled source of intimidation when you're thinking of launching a web site to increase business. How to start?
Corrective action now will prevent ice dams and water intrusion when winter rolls around again
A homeowner in Atlanta has taken all of the usual precautions to keep moisture out of the basement. But he's still running a dehumidifier around the clock. Is there something else he can try?
A remodeling contractor and self-described perfectionist is bugged about defects that have appeared in a ceiling he's just installed
A builder who doesn't like the look of conventional cylindrical forms looks for way to make his own
The owner of a New Hampshire beach house may have a great view of the ocean, but there's not a shred of insulation in the roof. What now?
A couple planning to build a high-performance house have come across some plans that interest them. They turn to the Q&A forum at GreenBuildingAdvisor to ask whether anyone can make suggestions for improving the design.
The roof is on, and insulation contractors are now advising Ted Storm on how much open-cell foam to spray on the back side of the roof deck. Three contractors suggest the same thing, but is their advice on the right track?
A 50-year-old house is about to get an overhaul that will include new sheathing, siding and wall insulation, but the owner is sweating the details
An Oklahoma builder who builds relatively large, single-story homes wonders whether his best approach is to turn the attic into a conditioned space with the use of spray polyurethane insulation.
An attached garage saves money and materials during construction, but it also makes it tougher to maintain high indoor air quality. Are there solutions to the problem?
A rushed job results in piers with uneven tops, and now the builder wonders how to proceed: level the tops before setting his posts or pull out the piers and start again.
It's been more than 70 years since someone first recommended the use of a vapor barrier to reduce the risk of condensation inside wall cavities. The recommendation can still spark a debate.
High-performance windows aren't cheap, but many experts say the energy savings and increased indoor comfort justify the cost. Is this really the case?
Is there a reliable way of estimating lower energy costs, or are there too many variables?
A Pennsylvania homeowner is planning to downsize into a smaller house and looks for a prescription for energy efficiency on a small budget.
After building a new workshop, the owner belatedly realizes the 2x6 joists may not be strong enough to support the weight of hardwood lumber he wants to store overhead. Now what?
Lukas Smith is looking for the best way to build the radiant-heating system in his new home in southern Ontario. But, feedback from folks in the forums is causing him to think twice about using radiant heat at all.
A homeowner is stuck with "bags and bags" of excess foam after the walls of his house have been sprayed. Can it be broken up into smaller pieces and added to the batt insulation in his attic?
An owner-builder in western Washington State with a strict construction budget wonders how to get the energy efficiency she wants with what she has to spend.
Even in the best of times, getting new business isn't easy. When buying newspaper ads or relying on word-of-mouth referrals isn't getting it done, what are some off-beat approaches to reeling in new paying customers?
A bungalow in northern Massachusetts has been renovated twice in the last 10 years but still has a major weakness when it comes to energy efficiency: an uninsulated field stone basement and a furnace and air handler located in an unconditioned attic.
Al Cobb's goal is simple: Build better houses and help consumers make better choices. To do that more effectively, he wants to understand the root causes of heat loss a little better. Are air leaks or low insulation levels the real culprit?
Experienced builders disagree about whether there's enough information about this popular tubing's health hazards.
Breaktime contributor Starboardtacker is looking for suggestions on how to attach a deck ledger to his house. Should he use pressure-treated blocks between the ledger and the house? Skip the blocks and use a few washers? Or is there another way?
A Baltimore-area builder with 30 years of experience is discouraged with what he sees in the building industry: strict building codes but poorly trained carpenters.
Information on energy efficient homes and green design is readily available to anyone with an internet connection or library card. But wading through all of it is a massive undertaking. Is there a way of getting right to the point?
Adding a layer of rigid-foam insulation to the outside of a poured concrete foundation saves energy, but it raises a key question: What's the best way of protecting and finishing the foam that remains above grade.
Too much noise is a nagging environmental problem that can be every bit as objectionable as cold air drafts or low indoor air quality. Noise from an outdoor source--a nearby freeway or construction...
What's the best approach with a couple that's divided over the scope of the work? The wife wants the contractor to build a complete house. The husband wants only a shell he can finish himself.
A homeowner with chemical sensitivities who lives near a Superfund site seeks the most effective way of keeping potential toxins out of her basement
Staying in business means taking advantage of every opportunity to stand out in a field of competitors. Accepting credit cards is convenient for customers, but are their hidden hassles?
Leaving exterior walls intact during a kitchen remodel, a builder has a plan for boosting the insulation and getting a good air seal by applying rigid foam on the inside.
Would a house be comfortable if you just heat the bottom floor? With 6,000 heating degree days a year, Omaha, Nebraska, isn’t exactly balmy come mid-winter. If a ranch-style house has a radiant-floor heating...
A contractor has started framing canon4me's new house, and something in the basement has the homeowner scratching his head. A main carrying beam in the first floor ends at a window header, and canon4me worries the connection won't be strong enough. What to do?
Roger Lin wants a very tight house, tight enough to meet the Passive House standard of 0.6 air changes per hour under a blower-door test. Lin will be using insulated concrete forms, which combine...
A contractor with more than 30 years of experience has a problem. After helping a potential customer develop plans for an upcoming project, russellbriss was rebuffed when he politely asked for some compensation. Is this a legitimate beef or just "small potatoes?"
When a builder working under a time and materials contract makes a mistake, should he eat the loss and correct the problem for free, or charge the homeowner for his trouble?
Pizza has designed a 14-ft. by 18-ft. free-standing deck at his house 40 miles west of Philadelphia. His dilemma? He doesn't know where to get his hands on 18-ft. stock for the full-length beams so he's planning on a mid-span splice. Will it work?
There are screens out there for every budget and need.