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Big Performance Solutions in Small Homes

April 17, 2017 2 min read

Many new home owners might think high performing home designs are too expensive for my budget. Good news. It’s not so. There are many options available to home owners taking an average American home with a budget of $300,000, which is the average cost of a new home in America (taken from HomeAdvisor).

A continuing trend in today’s home market is to down size. But home owners don’t want a down sized cheaper home. They want a well designed and built efficient home.

Small Homes are not new to Americans, but building them better with the best economic costs is. The value is in the details and two critical areas to look at are:

  1. Insulation
  2. Ventilation.

The first step to create big performance solutions for your new home is to integrate a design team. Build a team prepared to design and build efficiently that will get you those better results. Everyone on the team should be involved to ensure proper design and installation. These team members can include the designer, builder, framers, insulators, drywall installers and HVAC installers. The goal, build a better box.

The most important thought to take away from this blog is…

Build tight, and ventilate right. 

Home Thermal EnvelopeIt’s important for your design team to understand the thermal envelope. The red outline shown in the building section diagram shows the conditioned or heated space of a home. That is the thermal envelope. That is the area that needs to be built tight with the proper ventilation.

As a residential building designer and member of the Rocky Mountain Plan Company, I encounter common questions regarding high performing home design. Such as, can a house be too tight? No, a house should be tight as possible.

Remember, build tight, ventilate right.

A tight house is accomplished by not having any holes in the home around the thermal envelope. Sealing and caulking are critical at plate lines, window and door openings, and sheathing joints. Once that is accomplished, the next step is providing proper ventilation using fans and HVAC equipment. 

Another common question is what other simple methods of sealing and insulation can I do to my home to make it function better? In addition to proper sealing and caulking mentioned above, insulating behind tubs and showers, sealing at all air barriers are critical areas.

Use the right kind of insulation in the right areas, like blown in insulation where a lot of electrical or mechanical conditions occur in your thermal envelope.

In summary, invest in better insulation to get better results from the performance of your home. Be sure the work is managed so it gets done right. Build tight, ventilate right. Build the better box. These are simple solutions for small homes.

You don’t have to build an expensive home to get better results from the performance of your home.

- Bernie Kern, BBKern DESIGNS