National Green Building Code

When it comes to building projects, this one's a monster.  The construction zone is essentially the entire country. The builders are a variety of specialists, including architects, plumbers, masons, and lighting, heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning experts.  Since July, they have been meeting in cities - they were in Philadelphia last month - to construct not with bricks and steel beams, but with words.  The goal: a code to guide all development of green commercial buildings in the United States. The International Green Building Code would, as its name implies, also be available to other countries. But drafting it has been the work of U.S. construction professionals who share a desire for the built environment to incorporate more green features. Pennsylvania is one of only two states with a government representative on the 28-member drafting body. The other is California, the only state to have a green building code. The Sustainable Building Technology Committee is an arm of the Inter ... Read the rest of entry »

Is the McMansion Dead?

"In lieu of a 7,000-square-foot palace that antes up to the neighbors, they're planning a house less than half that size with energy-efficient features, panelized construction to reduce waste, and a variety of flexible, multipurpose spaces. One of its four bedrooms will double as a guest room..."

It's the scapegoat of the housing bust, and that's not all. From accusations of ostentatious overconsumption to environmental indifference, the McMansion has taken some brutal hits in the recession economy. Are those blows lethal enough to send starter castles to their grave? Or will they live to see another boom?

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Who are the next wave of home buyers?

Over the last several years, I have taken every opportunity to attend classes from Charles Shinn when I hear he will be in Northwest lecturing.  When Charles talks - people listen.  Take a moment to read a recently published article on the next wave of buyers. Every time we have had a housing cycle, the industry has had to change. I have always said, the buyer coming out of a downturn is different from the buyer going in, and this is definitely the case this time. The housing product that was in demand prior to the collapse of the market is not what the new customer wants during the recovery. The longer and deeper the housing cycle is, the greater the change in customer preferences. For the last 40 years, we have been following the baby boomers through their life cycle changes with our housing products. Coming out of this cycle, the baby boomers are moving into the downsizing stage of their lives. However, they will not return to the market in any significant number until the housing prices at lea ... Read the rest of entry »

10 Ways to increase the value of your home

In a dour housing market, wouldn't it be nice to know that your remodeling project would pay off when you went to sell the property? Remodeling Magazine evaluated the top remodeling projects, how the cost-to-value has changed since the housing market implosion, and which projects are still worth the investment. Using the magazine's "Cost Vs. Value Report for 2008-2009," let's look at some of the best projects you can undertake and recoup the majority of your cost. Siding Replacement With the economic slump, home buyers aren't being dazzled by bells and whistles as much as they are improvements that will ensure lower repair and utility bills. Although replacing current siding with fiber-cement has lost value from 2007, it still nets an astonishing 87% ROI. If you prefer a foam-backed vinyl product replacement instead, you can still look to recoup 80% of your cost.  Got wood?  Dont forget about wood siding and trim applications for the high end applications. Window Replacement (vinyl or wood) Wind ... Read the rest of entry »

Wikipedia - Solar Water Heating

I am not really one to quote from a Tertiary source, but in this case Wikipedia has a great section on Solar Water Heating systems.  I have found the posted info to be quite thorough and accurate.  Read the full article and post your thoughts in the blog. Solar water heating or solar hot water is water heated by the use of solar energy. Solar heating systems are generally composed of solar thermal collectors, a fluid system to move the heat from the collector to its point of usage. The system may use electricity for pumping the fluid, and have a reservoir or tank for heat storage and subsequent use. The systems may be used to heat water for a wide variety of uses, including home, business and industrial uses. Heating swimming pools, underfloor heating or energy input for space heating or cooling are more specific examples. In many climates, a solar hot water system can provide up to 85% of domestic hot water energy.[1] This can include domestic non-electric concentrating solar thermal systems ... Read the rest of entry »

Solar Hot Water Basics

For my fellow construction geeks who have already read this article in  "Home Power Magazine" this may be old news to you... but for those who haven't, this is a great summary on a few different types of Solar Heating Systems. While most people are captivated by the high-tech nature of solar-electric (photovoltaic; PV) systems, in most cases, a solar hot water system will harvest more energy at a substantially lower cost. In fact, compared to PVs, solar hot water (SHW) collectors are more than three times as efficient at producing energy from the sun. Investing in an SHW system is a smart solar solution for most homeowners. This proven and reliable technology offers long-term performance with low maintenance. And with federal, state, and utility incentives available, these systems offer a quick payback-in some cases, only four to eight years. A thoughtfully designed SHW system could provide all, or at least a significant amount, of your household hot water needs for some portion of the year. The ... Read the rest of entry »