I’ve found over my 30 or so years of homebuilding that finishing a home usually takes more thought and preparation than you think. It’s easy to get excited during the final stages and want to powerhouse through it, but I am taking special care to not rush through important details and make sure each step is done the right way, so that I don’t have to go back and do it again.
Putting a good finish on the interior walls of a home is more than just slapping paint on a wall and calling it a day. Generally when it comes to working out the details of an interior paint job, I like to consult with someone who is knowledgeable about interior paint and make sure that I am doing it the right way. Every home is different, and so is every paint job.
When it came time to start thinking about my paint job for this project, I began by asking myself some simple questions: do I want bright colors, or something a bit more conservative? Do I want the rooms to be contrasty or flat? Shiny or opaque? In other words, how do I want the rooms in my new home to appear once everything is painted and decorated?Read more
Unforeseen items can come up during the course of any homebuilding project. Any number of plot twists can come up during the course of construction - from weather-related to logistics to unexpected costs. Some are relatively minor, and others can significantly affect your project timeline.
As my home nears completion, I find myself thinking back to some of the times during my project when I had to make adjustments to my plan or find a different way to do things. During the framing stage of my project, I discovered that I couldn't determine the elevation needed to complete framing between the main part of the house and the garage. Luckily, I was able to find a workaround relatively quickly thanks to my friends over at Point One Architects - having a network of experts to fall back on is a crucial piece to the puzzle and can help you make the best of a situation.
If you are dealing with an unexpected roadblock in your project or a cost that you didn't anticipate, my advice is to remain calm and take some time to assess the situation. Homebuilding is a system, and so is problem-solving. Being able to think on your feet is important, but being methodical about your plan and the associated problem solving that's sometimes needed can turn a good project into a great one.
What are some unexpected items that have come up for you during your project? Join the conversation and let us know!
Now is a critical time for the HVAC-R industry as education about energy usage and efficiency spreads and the U.S. government moves to regulate commercial and residential pumps.
This became especially apparent to me at this year’s AHR Expo, where I noticed that many companies had products on display that had a new addition to them - an efficiency label produced by the Hydraulic Institute.
The Institute’s new labels are sort of like the efficiency labels that you sometimes see on consumer products, except they’re for commercial products that aren’t sold in stores. This is a big deal for the industry, because the new efficiency labels offer an apples-to-apples comparison of different pumps and enable the downstream partners of pump manufacturers to identify energy efficient pumps and make the choice that’s right for their system.Read more
There’s always a trade-off to doing drywall during the wintertime. I want to be able to finish off the taping process quickly, but it needs to be warm enough inside my house for the installation to go smoothly.
As part of my commitment to keeping this project eco-friendly, I’m trying not to use kerosene or fossil-fuel powered heaters inside while we tape. While my multi-zone primary heating system is under construction, I’ve devised a stop-gap solution to keep the temperatures inside my new home reasonable.
Behind my garage, I’ve installed a SANDEN CO2 heat pump water heater. I’m a big fan of these units because instead of using regular hydrocarbons or refrigerants, it uses CO2 as a refrigerant, which is much better for the environment. The unit is highly efficient, with a COP of 4.5 - phenomenal for an air to water heat pump device. This unit will silently purr away and keep us from freezing as we cement the drywall into place. I plan to keep the SANDEN unit as a backup for my domestic hot water, just in case.
My primary heating system is about 50 percent complete, but once it’s done it’s going to be fantastic. For the primary system, I’’m incorporating Taco’s VR1816 00e® Series for air handler and underfloor heating functions. The 00e® is the right choice for this project, since I want to be able to dial in the exact flow that I need.Read more
What a whirlwind these past few weeks have been. For us, preparing for the AHR show is a lot of hard work for everyone involved. The weeks leading up to the show always go by so fast, then before you know it you're there on the show floor, trading stories with other folks from all around the world. If you work in the HVAC-R industry, then you know that AHR is a great place to catch up with old friends and business associates. That's how you know our industry is doing well - this year's AHR in Chicago was packed full of exhibits and people eager to see the very latest and learn from each other about industry developments.
That's the other thing I like the most about AHR, is that it provides a snapshot in time of what HVAC-R companies, big and small, are working on and what technologies are coming to the forefront. At the Taco booth this year, connectivity was the dominant theme for this year's show. Most of us are constantly connected to the internet through our mobile devices, and more people want to cash in on the benefits that their device has to offer. So, Taco has developed new products that make life easier and interact more seamlessly with smartphones, tablets and computers.Read more
I can't believe it's that time of year again. In just a couple of days, I'll be flying out to Chicago for the HVACR industry's biggest show of the year, the AHR Expo. This three-day event enables industry professionals to view more than 2,000 exhibitors and link up with tens of thousands of professionals, and it's one of my favorite places to visit during the course of a busy year.
I won't just be visiting for kicks though - I'll be on booth duty for Taco Comfort Solutions, helping folks get connected with the right solutions for their applications. Connectivity is the theme at our booth this year, and Taco is leading the way in pioneering new ways to make our signature products even easier to use and create new ones that enhance indoor comfort and bring peace of mind to building occupants.
If you're at the show, make sure to stop by and say hi! If you won't be at AHR, we will have some new interviews for you in the weeks to come, along with a Taco booth walkthrough so you can see the latest and greatest. Stay tuned!
There's no better way for me to kick off this new year than with a home that's getting to be almost ready to move into. We've finished installing the interior insulation, and now we've moved into installing the drywall system. It's a lot of trowel swinging, but it's a step towards making the interior as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside.
One cool thing about this episode is that you have a chance to see what different drywall configurations can end up looking like - for example, it might be hard to imagine what the drywall for a cathedral ceiling might look like. I've incorporated several features like that into my new home, so I hope that you take a look and that the new views are of some benefit to you.Read more
As we wind down the calendar year, I just wanted to thank you all for following me through this project so far. Over the course of my home building project, I've met a lot of quality people who helped the project along. I am especially thankful to our subscribers - your contributions are part of what make this blog a unique, fun place to visit and learn from. I enjoy reading and replying to your comments and learn something new each time.
We have some quality material coming up over the next few months. Our next episode is a departure from the previous episodes in the sense that my new home is going to look a bit different than you remember it. Over these upcoming episodes, you'll really get to see the whole project take shape.
One thing to look forward to for January is that we'll be attending AHR 2017 in Chicago, where we'll meet with cutting-edge professionals and industry vanguards to have some lively conversation about what's new in the HVAC industry.
I think it's a fitting way to start off the new year - I can't wait to show you where the project takes us and what the finished product looks like. If you haven't already, sign up for the biweekly eBlast by registering on the page.
I wish you all a happy holiday. We will see you in January!
As far as winters go, we’ve been pretty lucky over these past several years with fewer snowstorms and milder temperatures overall. But it looks like this winter could be a colder one, and I need to get the insulation on my new home buttoned up before the snow arrives.
Luckily I’m working on the last piece of my insulation system, which would be the interior insulation. As you know, I’ve been using advanced wall construction techniques in the design of my new home. When the system is complete, I’ll have an envelope that allows for near-complete control of the indoor temperature, which means my wife and I will have a better seat at the table when it comes to facilitating indoor comfort.
For the interior insulation, I’m using a product called Roxul ComfortBatt. It’s a mineral wool product - that is, an inert material made from ground up stone. Roxul is a great product - it doesn’t absorb moisture or support combustion, and mold and mildew don’t grow on it. In addition, it’s also great for colder climates. I want moisture to be able to work its way out of my home, and Roxul will facilitate that. It’s also not itchy like fiberglass insulation.
Once the interior insulation is complete, all of the space inside of my new home, from the basement to the roof rafters, will be conditioned space. My mechanical systems and ductwork will be in conditioned space too, which will put less of a strain on the systems and allow me to optimize my indoor comfort.
I think we’ll definitely manage to beat the cold. What do you think about my insulation system? Join the conversation and let us know!
Trade shows and conventions are a great place to meet people and network with folks who appreciate the same things that I do. As an eco-friendly homeowner/builder, anyone who builds a product that reduces carbon footprint and improve people's lives is someone I'm interested in striking up a conversation with.
I went to the BuildingEnergy Boston 2017 show for two main reasons. The first reason is because I like to learn from as many people as I can at the show and bring new knowledge back to my job site. The second reason is because I'm always on the hunt for products that intrigue me. While I don't sell products, I specialize in the design of electronic control systems. So, I know a thing or two about the general design process. That means that I have a deeper appreciation for when I meet someone selling a truly interesting product.
One company that I came across that fascinated me is called Beachstone Sustainable Products. This company manages to combine resourcefulness, available materials, and proprietary knowledge to create a product that looks nice and benefits the environment by removing glass from the waste stream. Beachstone takes seashells and post-consumer glass containers and combines them to create an eco-friendly countertop surface. I got to check out a few samples, and I'm definitely thinking about using Beachstone for my project.
The man behind Beachstone, Aron Buterbaugh, started the company because he wanted to make a difference for the environment and saw a market for these types of counter tops. It's rare to find a company that covers so many angles, but the surfaces that Beachstone makes are beautiful. I highly recommend visiting their website and taking a look through their pictures!