Energy Efficient Building or Remodeling

energy efficient buildingIf you are building a new home, or doing a remodel, there are things you can do to make your home more energy efficient. Here are some items to discuss with your contractor that can reduce the costs to heat and cool your home.

Insulate and Seal

Air that moves through the envelope of your home wastes a lot of energy and increases your utility bills. So the first priority is to make sure that your home is properly insulated and sealed. Add insulation to the attic area to block heat loss in the winter. Don’t worry about finding and sealing all the little holes in your attic; your biggest savings will come from plugging the large ones. The areas where leakage is likely to be greatest: where walls (inner and outer) meet the attic floor, dropped soffits (dropped-ceiling areas), and behind or under attic kneewalls. You can ask your contractor to use additional insulation in the walls. Sealing air leaks throughout the home will reduce drafts, improve comfort, improve humidity control and reduce pollen, dust and insects from entering your home. Your contractor may have special tools that can pinpoint hidden air leaks in your home, especially around windows, doors, ductwork, and switches.

Your local utility may offer rebates for a professional home energy assessment and certain air sealing and insulation projects. Be sure to contact your utility company before beginning a project to see what incentives are available in your area.

energy efficient basement remodelBasement / Crawl Space Leaks

Check your home’s foundation to see if there are any areas that need to be sealed. Your basement or crawl space may need to be insulated if you experience cold floors in the winter; hot or cold ceilings, walls, or whole rooms; or uneven temperature between rooms. Second to the attic, the basement is one of the largest opportunities to save energy in your home. Look for common locations of air leaks in basements and crawlspaces, including between rim joists and under the sill plate, around windows, electrical conduits, pipes and vents that run up through the walls and the floor. Make sure your contractor uses low VOC caulking when sealing the leaks, to minimize the effect of harmful indoor gases. Sealing the home can trap indoor air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, radon and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and create unsafe conditions. Properly addressing this may require additional ventilation fans to maintain safe air quality in your home or repairs to eliminate the sources of indoor air pollutants.

Window Replacement

If you are renovating your house, consider replacing windows with new, more energy efficient models. You can get double or tripled paned windows, argon gas-filled, and low-e coated glass. Each of these technologies may cost incrementally more at the beginning, but will save on energy costs over time. Check the “R-value” of each window type you are considering. The R-value is the measurement of thermal resistance—the higher the number, the more efficient the window. Your contractor can help you determine the cost-benefit of each window type. Replacing old aluminum window and door frames with vinyl can also reduce heat transfer. Weather stripping placed around windows and doors will also improve performance.

Sealing Ductwork

Sealing your heating and cooling system duct work can not only save up to 20% of your heating and cooling costs, it also can improve indoor air quality. Sealing duct work gaps can help reduce asthma and allergy problems aggravated by particles entering the home’s air flow system. If you’re planning to install new heating and cooling equipment, a well-designed and sealed duct system may allow you to downsize to a smaller, less costly heating and cooling system that will provide better dehumidification.

Contracting for Energy Efficiency

Hire a contractor, such as Weston Construction, that understands and incorporates some of the Energy Star techniques into your new home construction or remodeling project. In fact, improper installation of new cooling and heating systems can reduce system efficiency by up to 30 percent, as well as reduce the life of the equipment. By hiring the right contractor, you will be able to:

  • Cut back on your heating and cooling bills.
  • Improve the comfort of your home.
  • Protect the environment.


Home Renovation—the Good, the Bad and the Ugly


Common Problems In Renovating Old Homes

Renovating an old house can be rewarding, but it’s not an easy job.  The trouble with renovating old homes is that they may seem in good condition but underlying problems can develop during the remodeling or renovation process. That is why it’s a good idea to hire a professional building contractor; they are always ready to expect the unexpected. Here are some of the common problems found when renovating old homes:

Plumbing problems are a common issue with old homes because galvanized pipes either get clogged or corroded. This issue is not only limited to the pipes in the house, but extends to the sewer lines as well. Galvinized pipes were used before the 1960s and should be replaced with copper or plastic.

Old homes usually have a stale smell which is caused by mold that usually develops due to water leakage from pipes, walls or the roof. Hire professionals to tackle mold problems during construction — they can detect the source of the leakage and fix the problem.

Dry Rot
A lot of homes have the problem of dry rot which sometimes is not visible until the renovation work starts. This is because dry rot is actually a fungus that grows in wood that has been wet. The wood becomes crumbly and soft. Sometimes it appears to have white stains. Even if the original leak has been repaired, dry rot can continue to spread and damage more wood. If the wood in question is involved in structural support, this is not something you want to tackle yourself.

Foundation Problems
Old houses were constructed in a way that did not allow proper grading for water runoff, which usually leads to mold in basements. Foundation problems can be detected from cracks on the floor, in the walls, and by sticky windows and doors.

Electrical Wiring
Electrical wiring in old homes can be a problem because the system back then was not well equipped to power modern day appliances. Also, the old wiring systems were usually not grounded. You can evaluate this by examining your outlets —two pronged outlets are not grounded—three pronged outlets are usually grounded. Old, brittle and faulty wiring can cause short circuits that can turn into a house fire. Have a professional renovation company check the wiring of your house. This may be a good time to update the wiring system, with a ground fault circuit interrupter, which cuts off power as soon problems are detected, before a fire.

One of the leading problems of homes that were constructed at least 40 years ago is asbestos. It is a fire retardant product that was extensively used in earlier construction. It is found in HVAC system, flooring, insulations, duct work, and roofing. Asbestos isn’t harmful if it is in good condition. The trouble starts when it turns into powder (due to sawing, cutting, and scraping) that can be inhaled, as it causes severe lung damage. That is why it is imperative to have a professional abatement company detect and remove asbestos in your house.

Lead Paint
If the house you are renovating was built before 1978, there is a high chance that there is lead in the paint. Lead is released into the air when leaded paint is sanded or heated. The dust from chipped or peeled lead paint is very hazardous to pets and children as well as adults. Have a professional examine and test the house for lead before you start any.

These issues are just the tip of the iceberg of why it is important to hire a professional contractor, such as Weston Construction, to assist you when you planning a home renovation. If you are considering a home renovation, give us a call. We’re happy to meet with you to discuss your project.

Checklist for Hiring a Contractor

new home construction
With property prices rising, many people are opting to turn their home into the home of their dreams by renovation or remodeling. If you have decided to turn your home dream into reality, either by renovation or by building a custom house from scratch, you may want to hire a trusted home builder to do it. Building a home is a serious affair because your home is one of your most valuable assets. Therefore, it is good to hire professional builders or contractors who have experience in building custom homes. You need to do a lot of research before hiring a contractor to renovate or build your home. Choosing the right contractor is the most critical step in the process of home building or renovation. This basic checklist of questions can assist you in finding the contractor who is best suited to build your dream home.

How Many Years Have You Been In The Business? How Many Clients Have You Served?
You need to find a contractor who is experienced and has an established presence in your locality. It is best to go with people who have been in the industry for more than five years. Longevity is an indicator of work quality and happy customers.
Can You Provide Any References From Your Recent Clients?
Any honest and qualified contractor will be willing to provide you references from their previous customers. Client references are probably the best way to find out about the reliability and work quality of the contractor. You can also check the company’s website and social media pages to read reviews by their clients in order to get more information about the company.

kitchen remodeling

Can I Have A Look At Your Portfolio?
Make sure to have a look through the contractor’s portfolio of recent projects. You should look for projects that are similar to yours.

Can You Provide Me With A Timeline Of The Project?
Before you hire a contractor to renovate or build your home, ask them if they can provide you with a timeline. Ask the company if they can provide you with a start date and a completion date. The contractor should be able to provide you with a schedule of the project, so that you can see progress of work once it is initiated.

Do You Have All The Required Licenses? Are You Insured?
Make sure that you work with a licensed builder. Ask about the insurance status, and make sure that both the contractor and you are covered during the project.

How Much Will It Cost?
For some people, price might be the most important aspect of home renovation or building process. It is important to discuss the budget to save yourself from any hidden or extra costs at the end of the project.

These questions can help you choose the right contractor to build or renovate your home. Hiring the right contractor can lessen the stress, cost, and time in the process of building your dream home; and a wrong decision can turn your dream home into a living nightmare. Make sure to choose vigilantly!