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Articles About Building High Performance Custom Homes

ProHOME is Part of a High-Performance Development

By Tim Biebel / July 7, 2017

The 2017 ProHOME is a part of an eight-house development of affordable, net-zero homes. In 2015, we set out to build the first ever net-zero community of homes in Vermont that could be priced as close to the surrounding existing market as possible. A local site contractor owned a 2.5…

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Foundation Insulation Strategy

By Tim Biebel / June 27, 2017

Like my head of hair, our foundations designs have changed over time. What once was full and blonde is now looking thinner with a few random grays, and what once was known as a standard foundation is quickly becoming obsolete. While the various past designs we have used are energy…

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Bringing Back Balloon-Framed Walls

By Tim Biebel / June 25, 2017

This framing method helps create a more energy-efficient thermal envelope and air barrier. On many of our homes, we balloon frame the exterior walls. This way, the studs carry past the floor system, instead of the more traditional method that has the floor system sitting on top of the wall.…

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A few hundred dollars of prevention can save future headaches.

By Tim Biebel / June 25, 2017

Radon is a no stranger to this area of the country. Not all homes have a radon problem but it’s impossible to know if a new home will have a problem until it’s complete. Trying to remediate the problem after a home is finishes is cumbersome and ugly. It’s better…

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Down the Up Staircase – How an Eyesore Became a Centerpiece

By Prudent / June 16, 2017

When Tom and Sarah purchased an 1870 farm house and barn in West Windsor, Vermont, in 2003, their farm was already famous. For example, they were told by several locals that “Good Morning, America” had once used the barn as a backdrop for one of their programs. And a 500-piece…

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What Is The Value of a Human Life?

By Prudent / June 9, 2017

Reflections on Forty Years of Building Codes by Paul Biebel, Founder and President, Prudent Living, Inc. Forty-three years ago, when I was just starting to learn different facets of the building trade, I worked as an unofficial apprentice to a licensed electrician in his eighties who had been around since…

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How Does a Grid-Tied Solar Photovoltaic System Work In Your High Performance Home?

By Prudent / May 29, 2017

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems provide clean electricity that has many benefits. Renewable energy is better for the environment, better for your bottom line, and is long lasting. So while it is easy to understand the benefits of clean energy, it is not alwayseasy to understand how it is produced. Certain components required by code have been left out…

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The 3 Latest Technologies You Need to Build a Net Zero Home in Vermont

By Prudent / May 25, 2017

  Are you thinking about building a net zero home in Vermont but find the technical terms confusing? Many of the terms used to describe net zero can be confusing only because they are new terms. A net zero home in Vermont or New Hampshire—regions known for temperature extremes—needs to…

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The Construction of a High-Performance Home: Week 12

By Prudent / April 28, 2017

An air tight barrier in a high performance home is critical to making the home perform at a high level of energy efficiency. To ensure that we are meeting our own expectations for air tightness, I perform a blower door test on the house at least once during construction to identify…

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The Construction of a High-Performance Home: Week 11

By Prudent / April 24, 2017

I have this dream that I will one day live in a high-performance home. It’s hard not to want to when you are involved with building them each day. Super tight construction, high levels of insulation, largely maintenance free, and inexpensive to heat and cool! Who wouldn’t want that? At…

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The Construction of a High-Performance Home: Week 10

By Prudent / April 21, 2017

Week ten was one of those weeks where it would be difficult to notice how much work was accomplished on this high performance home if you hadn’t been on site all week to see firsthand. These are the times when the crew loves it when I show up and say,…

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Why Build a High-Performance Home?

By Prudent / April 14, 2017

If you’re thinking of building a high-performance home, and you want the best “bang for your bucket of bucks,” prudence suggests that you consider the advantages of going high-tech, even perhaps aiming for a net-zero home. “Net-zero” describes a home in which the renewable energy sources that are incorporated into…

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The Construction of a High-Performance Home: Week 9

By Prudent / April 6, 2017

With insulation planned for the coming week, the crew has turned their attention to preparing the air barrier on the exterior walls of this high-performance home. The air barrier, which is Intello Plus Membrane, is stapled to the studs on the exterior wall and will hold back the dense packed…

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The Construction of a High Performance Home: Week 8

By Prudent / March 28, 2017

I stopped by the high performance home site today and listened to the subcontractors in the attic above me murmuring about how it was such a pain to get anything done with the membrane already installed on the ceiling below. I chuckled. As high performance home builders, paying attention to energy…

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The Construction of a High Performance Home: Week 7

By Prudent / March 21, 2017

Hey now! Despite the blizzard of the century, perhaps even the history of the universe, great progress was made on the project last week. The windows were delivered to the site the day after the storm, before we even had a chance to dig out and were all in their…

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The Construction of a High Performance Home: Week 6

By Tim Biebel / March 20, 2017

With the roof framing completed and the waterproof membrane in place, the focus has turned to finishing the interior framing so the electricians and plumbers can move in and begin their work. Once that’s completed, the crew will move back outside and complete a few minor framing items, like the…

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Affordable Zero Energy Homes:Intersection of Exterior Wall & Rafter

By Tim Biebel / March 16, 2017

As we continue with our discussion about (affordable zero energy homes) and High Performance Construction Methods, our subject for today’s blog will focus on a very important connection point where double-stud exterior walls intersect with the roof system. Here is where a lot of energy treatments must be installed correctly. Unfortunately,…

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The Construction of a High Performance Home: Week 5

By Tim Biebel / March 6, 2017

The completion of week five leaves us with a partially finished roof system and the garage concrete not yet poured. The roof trusses, which were dropped off Monday morning, had to be set by hand (mostly) because the crane could not be on site long enough thanks to the load…

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Affordable Zero Energy Homes: A Balloon Framed Wall does it All!

By Tim Biebel / March 2, 2017

We’ve discovered that a double 2×4, balloon framed, exterior wall with dense pack insulation performs at the highest level – satisfying both demands of thermal and fire blocking performance and cost effectiveness. Not only that, the less I depend on using foam, the more relaxed my clients seem to be…

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The Construction of a High Performance Home: Week 4

By Tim Biebel / March 1, 2017

At the risk of sounding more like a blog about the weather than one about the construction of a high performance home, I will keep the weather comments brief. Here’s the skinny: the weather changed our schedule yet again! The roads, which have “never in history been posted in February,”…

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Affordable Zero Energy Homes: Is Balloon Framing making a comeback?

By Tim Biebel / February 23, 2017

I grew up in a big old house on Main Street in the historic section of Windsor, VT. It was four stories high on the backside. I’m not sure what type of architectural style to call it. Some would say that it was just a large vintage New England home…

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