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Intro to building scienceArticle originally published at: Pine Path Funding

 

It’s so darn complicated to build a house today. We all just want a place to live that is comfortable, healthy, and durable. But something has become really hard about this.

In our view, it’s all about expectations.

Behind the simple words, “comfortable”, “healthy”, and “durable” can be very high homeowner expectations and meeting these expectations usually means integrating the cutting edge science, design, products, and materials. The best homebuilders don’t just pound nails anymore, they have become students of Building Science.

Think about shelter, the basic need a home meets. People have needed shelter forever. Literally since cavemen moved out of caves we humans have needed to control our indoor environment to protect us from ‘the outside’. Why is there still so much discussion over how to build a comfortable, durable home? Why is there so much discussion and debate around building science and revisiting best building practices? The answer is: because of homeowner expectations.

Homeowner expectations have evolved tremendously over time and these increased expectations drive the necessity for better building science and better building practices. Consider this, settler’s cabins worked just fine for families in their days. Expectations were pretty low. The homeowners were happy if the cabin kept out wild animals, provided basic warmth with a wood stove in the winter, shade from the sun in the summer and protection from the occasional storms. If you got cold it was acceptable to bundle up in sweaters and hats, if you got hot it was acceptable to open all the windows and doors and when it got dark it was acceptable to light the oil burning lamps. Indoor air quality from the fireplace and oil lamp smoke wasn’t an issue because the cabin was so drafty it aired right out. Similarly, mold and mildew in the walls wasn’t an issue because of the draftiness of the homes. Expectations were low because the homeowner was comparing it to the next best option – maybe a tent or temporary shelter. The systems were simple, and not everyone was aware of the cutting edge technology being used in a big city back east, people were thankful for the shelter they had. People just did what worked and that’s how it went – for a long time.

But slowly over time homeowner expectations increased. Jump to today’s homeowners. People expect total control of our indoor environment. People expect their homes to seamlessly maintain 72 degrees year around, provide fresh, healthy air to breath that’s not too dry, too humid and doesn’t expose them to pollutants, allergens or forest fire smoke. And while delivering these high levels of expectations, they don’t want the cost of the home or the cost of operating it to break the bank or wreck the environment by wasting resources or producing a huge carbon footprint.

Turns out, this is a big ask and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution. It requires on-going building science research and application of better building practices. Meeting these high expectations also involves the education and commitment of the entire real estate industry from builders and homeowners to realtors and financial institutions. Those committed to meeting today’s homeowners’ expectations, the designers, architects, builders and suppliers driven by building science and best practices, have a solid understanding of the physics at work in today’s advanced homes and the principles required to effectively create comfortable, healthy, durable and efficient homes.

The real-world details required to implement the principles and the application of those details are still evolving, however, we do know that we need to start by controlling the indoor environment the very best we can.  This is achieved with durable, insulated, air sealed walls that effectively manage moisture relative to the local climate. Then it’s critical to right-sizing efficient heating, cooling and ventilation systems. By applying these principles, today’s homeowners can realistically shelter in a comfortable, healthy, long-lasting home that is affordable to purchase and affordable to operate. It will also use resources wisely and minimize their environmental impact now and for generations to come.

To be competitive in construction and homebuilding in today’s hyper-competitive environment where customer expectations are extremely high and customer tastes are well educated (be it through Pinterest, instagram, or Chip and Johanna Gaines) builders need to stay up to speed on the cutting edge of building science. There’s no silver bullet, but for me it is a mindset of staying inquisitive, idealistic, and pragmatic. Staying inquisitive means reading articles, watching webinars, reading lots of articles, listening to lots of podcasts, and attending conferences with industry experts and thought leaders – essentially doing things not every homebuilder does. Being idealistic and being pragmatic are sometimes on opposite sides of the spectrum, for me I try to think idealistically and refuse to settle for ‘the way it is’ while at the end of the day acting pragmatically on what makes sense given the resources, technology, and budget available.

As a general contractor, our company works hard to bridge the gap between today’s homeowner’s expectations, the best building theories, and the daily realities in the field. It’s not always the quickest and easiest way to build but in the long run it delivers the best product to our clients. A simple rule we follow is to always deliver work we are proud of – in the end this creates the ultimate competitive advantage.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) stands for green building leadership. LEED is transforming the way we think about how buildings and communities are designed, constructed, maintained and operated across the globe.

Dream Home Building and Design project is LEED-H certified.

Dream Home Building and Design project is LEED-H certified.

For the team here at Dream Home Building and Design attaining this gold standard in high-performance design and construction is really meaningful, representing our commitment that our homes will save money and resources and have a positive impact on the health of occupants, while promoting renewable, clean energy.

Dream Home Building and Design is thrilled to be starting another high-performance home.This custom home is being built on an infill lot in a very walkable location near downtown Bend, Oregon. Our team is honored to be collaborating with this family to make their contemporary, sustainable, family home a reality!

Site prep equipment moved into place

Site prep equipment moved into place

 

Grading begins

Grading begins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grade established

Grade established

Answer: Granny Flats, Mother-In-Law Suites and Tiny Homes are all names for small buildings growing tremendously in popularity and are perfect for adding additional room on one’s existing property, cash flow to a family budget, or higher density housing within a community.

ADU modern

In our last blog installment the team at Dream Home Building and Design shared some highlights from a great day at Value It Green put on by Earth Advantage in Portland. In this blog we wanted to focus on one of the hot topics from the session- Auxiliary Dwelling Units, or ADU’s.

We have heard a lot of great names for these types of structures; “Granny Flats”, “Garage Apartments”, “Mother-in-Law Suites”, “Tiny Homes” and from Canada “Mortgage Supports”. Basically these terms all refer to apartments smaller than the main dwelling on one lot or parcel of land. They can be used for aging relatives, rental income, home offices, additional guest suites, yoga and exercise rooms and many other creative uses.

Traditionally they were built over garages, but more and more we see them being added as free-standing structures on existing home sites. Where we live, in Bend, Oregon an ADU is limited to a maximum of just 600 square feet! Such a small footprint requires thoughtful, intentional design and efficient use of space. And in our older neighborhoods new ADUs are subject to a rather arduous and expensive Conditional Use Permit process. In cities like Portland, Oregon where they are looking to increase density and promote infill, they allow a larger size maximum of 800 square feet and zoning hurdles and development fees have been removed. Given what’s happening currently with the Urban Growth Boundary situation in Bend, we wouldn’t be surprised to see similar measures adopted here.

So if you’ve been thinking of an ADU, Granny, Mother-In-Law or Tiny Home, whether it be attached or free-standing, a cozy cottage or an urban modern design, Dream Home Building and Design is on the leading edge of this movement.

Minergie, Value it Green, Earth Advantage

Minergie, Value it Green, Earth Advantage

EPS, ADUs and the Minergie building program topped the highlights of the recent Earth Advantage educational event we attended in Portland. While there we heard several of the leading thinkers on residential high performance building and design. The “Value it Green” Tour provided both an educational and thought-provoking day for us. We received in-depth presentations from industry experts on everything from design, to building science, to market insights during visits to new construction, remodels and ADUs. The highlights which we will expand on in future blogs were:

EPS, high performance residential design, residential development, real estate market

EPS, high performance residential design, residential development, real estate market

  • We here at Dream Home are on the forefront of high performance design and building! You don’t have to live in the big city to get the best in high performance home building and design in Central Oregon.
  • The United States on the whole is way behind many areas of the world when it comes to healthier, better built, longer lasting, higher performing homes that benefit the homeowners, the local community and the planet. Germany introduced Passive House program and on the Portland trip we were introduced to the principles of an impressive Swiss program called Minergie– with all the energy credentials of Net Zero Homes plus the holistic elements of LEED-H.
  • Energy Performance Scores (EPS) for homes continue to gain market acceptance and provide a valuable tool for comparing and communicating about the performance of a home.
  • An educated real estate community is required (and still sorely lacking) to make a meaningful difference in improving the health, comfort and performance of new-home and remodeling projects. This means everyone involved from homeowners, designers and builders to brokers, lenders and appraisers.
  • If the Bend UGB process brings changes in policy to encourage in-fill density through promotion of Auxiliary Dwelling Units (ADUs), we will have a huge new market for these types of homes- and they are ripe for high performance design and building.
  • We checked out a cool new Energy Recovery Ventilator– smaller, quieter, more effective. High performance home systems are proving their value, standing the test of time and getting even better.
ADU design, energy efficient home systems, Earth Advantage, indoor air quality

ADU design, energy efficient home systems, Earth Advantage, indoor air quality

Zero Energy

Floor Plan

 

  • 1,910sf single level, 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath, open floor plan, high ceilings and lots of natural light.
  • Ample outdoor living space with a southern courtyard and northern deck.
  • High Performance design and building principles integrated from start to finish:
  • Materials and finishes selected to create a healthy indoor environment.
  • Super insulated, comprehensively air sealed and mechanically ventilated.
  • Extremely efficient, cost-effective mechanical systems.
  • Earth Advantage Net Zero Ready certified. Designed to easily and affordably add solar for Zero Energy living.
  • 2366 Drouillard Ave, Bend
  • Could this be your new home? Contact us at: (541) 788-7851  or

info@dreamhomebend.com

 


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