Recognizing that energy codes varying by geographic region and municipality, it is difficult to use specific numbers when discussing the construction quality of your dream home. In an effort to assist you in ensuring your dream home is comfortable, healthy, and energy efficient we have compiled a list of general questions you should ask prospective builders before signing on the dotted line.
- What is the ACH requirement/target in our geographic region and how does your building practice achieve that target?
- ACH is air changes per hour. This represents the volume of air in a structure being exchanged X times every hour. The higher the number, the leakier the house. Air that leaks into a home uncontrolled is unhealthy and uncomfortable. Air that leaks out a home is costing you money.
- What type of air sealing do you perform on houses that you build?
- Air sealing is not the same as insulation. If the conversation immediately shifts to insulation then you should push back and ask specifically about air sealing.
- An appropriate answer would involve sealing around sill plates using sealant or a gasket, sealing between studs, sealing top plates, using foam around plumbing and electrical penetrations, etc. Any place that air can leak into or out of your home should be discussed. Window quality is an important topic. Low-quality windows typically leak more than higher-end windows.
- Have you conducted a blower door test on any home that you have built? If so, what was the outcome (usually measured in ACH/50). 3 ACH is the target for new homes in Shelby County in Memphis, TN.
- You are looking to see if your prospective builder has ever “tested” his/her builds. Blower door testing is like crash testing in the automotive industry. How do you know you are buying a “safe” car if it has never been crash tested?
This list is not meant to be exhaustive. It is meant to emphasize the importance of proper air sealing while making you think more about the building process. Your home is likely your single largest investment. Make sure you do your “home” work to prepare for the build process. If you would like to discuss air sealing in greater detail, please reach out to us.