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Articles About Building High Performance Custom Homes

Affordable Zero Energy Homes: Foundations – Part 1

By Tim Biebel / March 15, 2018
Affordable Zero Energy Homes: Foundations – Part 1 1

One of the biggest challenges that builders in the Northeast face is the high cost of construction. Part of the challenge is just finding an affordable south facing land that has a good source of water, power nearby, and friendly soils that can support a septic system and allow for…

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What’s a Smart Slab Assembly for Net Zero Construction in Vermont?

By Tim Biebel / March 8, 2018
What's a Smart Slab Assembly for Net Zero Construction in Vermont? 3

Net zero construction in Vermont requires executing high-performance building practices in every aspect of the residential project. A home built to net zero construction in Vermont assumes that the building contractor has incorporated high-performance standards within every element of construction. A high-performance home is super-insulated from the foundation to the roof, super…

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What is Net Zero Energy Construction in Vermont?

By Tim Biebel / February 23, 2018
What is Net Zero Energy Construction in Vermont? 5

With new homes technology moving so fast today, terms such as: “green energy,” “renewal resources,” “solar,” “geo-thermal,” and more, can lead to confusion. The term, “net zero” simply means that the home produces as much energy as it uses, resulting in a net end-of-year zero usage of energy and thus…

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

By Tim Biebel / February 14, 2018
Affordable Zero Energy Homes: A Balloon Framed Wall does it All! 7

We’ve discovered that a double 2×4, balloon framed, an 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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A Conventional Home vs. a Net Zero Construction in Vermont Home

By Tim Biebel / February 7, 2018
A Conventional Home vs. a Net Zero Construction in Vermont Home 10

Rising energy costs and the greater desire among many to be responsible stewards of our environment are making net-zero homes the new norm. While net zero construction in Vermont is not brand new compared with conventional construction, it is relatively new. Because if its newness, for most people, building a…

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Cost and Energy Considerations for a ProHome

By Tim Biebel / January 24, 2018
high performance home

Cost and energy efficiency considerations drove many design decisions for the ProHOME project. But the upgrades inside, like the cabinets and counters in the kitchen and the radiant heat in the bathroom, help to make the sale. Watch this video to see how these factors related to finish a beautiful…

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Your High-Performance Custom Home Won’t Make You Sick

By Tim Biebel / January 12, 2018
High-Performance Custom Home

I asked my Dad to create the blog for this week. Here’s what he had to say: The notion that a house can become sick has always interested me. I have seen five-year-old houses that were so sick that they had to be torn down. It was a very sad…

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5 Reasons Why a Heat Pump May Be Great For Your Custom Home Build

By Tim Biebel / January 5, 2018
Custom Home Build

Most people have heard of ductless cooling and heating systems today. You also might have seen a small indoor device installed high on the walls in a restaurant, office building or even in friends home. Here are five reasons you should consider installing a mini-split heat pump during your Custom…

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What’s a Smart Slab Assembly for Net Zero Construction in Vermont?

By Tim Biebel / December 22, 2017
What's a Smart Slab Assembly for Net Zero Construction in Vermont? 14

Net zero construction in Vermont requires executing high performance building practices in every aspect of the residential project. A home built to net zero construction in Vermont assumes that the building contractor has incorporated high performance standards within every element of construction. A high performance home is super-insulated from the foundation to…

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25 Questions to Ask a Zero Energy Home Builder in VT

By Tim Biebel / December 15, 2017
25 Questions to Ask a Zero Energy Home Builder in VT 16

The Context: You’ve decided that it’s time to downsize (or right size) and to do it in Vermont, so now you’re searching for a builder who specializes in high performance / zero energy home construction. You want a builder you can believe in and trust that, when it comes to…

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4 Keys to Know a Net-Zero Home in Vermont Actually Will Be Net Zero

By Tim Biebel / December 8, 2017
Net-Zero Home

One of the worst fears imaginable is that you contract for a net-zero home in Vermont or New Hampshire and get something else. Maybe you get some form of energy-saving home with solar panels, but it doesn’t achieve net zero. A net zero home, by definition, is a home whose…

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Specialized beads and tapes speed up the drywall finishing process

By Tim Biebel / November 28, 2017
Specialized beads and tapes speed up the drywall finishing process 18

The drywall phase of a project is that major point in a build when people are able to finally visualize the interior spaces of a house. As builders, it comes as second nature to us when the walls are only framed up. I am amazed at how many clients come…

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The modified Cape / Farmhouse look fits the neighborhood

By Tim Biebel / November 20, 2017
The modified Cape / Farmhouse look fits the neighborhood 23

 Cost and energy efficiency considerations drove many design decisions for the ProHOME project. But the upgrades inside, like the cabinets and counters in the kitchen and the radiant heat in the bathroom, help to make the sale. Watch this video to see how these factors related to finish a…

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ProHOME mechanicals demonstrate reasonably priced principles of efficient design.

By Tim Biebel / November 8, 2017
ProHOME mechanicals demonstrate reasonably priced principles of efficient design. 24

 The ProHOME is an all-electric and solar-ready house. Designing the mechanicals starts with the target R-values, then the design for the heating system. Minisplit heat pumps take care of heating and cooling. Because the ProHOME is airtight, it uses a ventilation system. We use a heat-pump water heater for…

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The Zehnder Ventilation System: Running The Ducting

By Tim Biebel / October 31, 2017
The Zehnder Ventilation System: Running The Ducting 25

Tight houses need air exchange. Period. Our target air exchange rate for this house is less than 1 ACH50 and with a goal like that, a clean source of fresh air will be necessary. This was our first time using the Zehnder system. We’ve relied on another heat-recovery ventilator(HRV) product in…

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Boral’s TruExterior Siding & Trim offers a sharp, clean look

By Tim Biebel / October 28, 2017
Boral's TruExterior Siding & Trim offers a sharp, clean look 28



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Minisplit System for a Happy Mother-in-Law

By Tim Biebel / October 19, 2017
Minisplit System for a Happy Mother-in-Law 29

The system is sized for temperature control in each room. The ProHOME is heated and cooled with Mitsubishi Heat Pumps. Specifically, there are two outdoor units (MXZ-3C24NAHZ2) that feed five indoor units (two on one outdoor unit and three on the other). This provides 48,000 btu’s of heating capacity, which…

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Triple-Pane Windows for Performance and Comfort

By Tim Biebel / September 28, 2017
Triple-Pane Windows for Performance and Comfort 36

Mathews Brothers windows are high-performance and locally manufactured. The windows of choice for the ProHOME are by Mathews Brothers. We like triple pane windows because they provide more R-value than a double pane, are less likely to have condensation than a double pane, and there is some added marketing value,…

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Traditional-Looking Clapboard Siding for a ProHome

By Tim Biebel / September 24, 2017
Traditional-Looking Clapboard Siding for a ProHome 45

Boral siding will stand up to the weather without moisture concerns. Boral Bevel siding looks really sharp. The lines are crisp and blind nailing makes for a clean appearance. Other than blind nailing, it is installed just like wood clapboards. Chalk lines are snapped every four inches and boards are…

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Exterior Trim Painting

By Tim Biebel / September 10, 2017
Exterior Trim Painting 52

Holding off on the roofing saves time painting. When possible, we like to spray paint the exterior trim of a house because it is a lot faster. Of course, no roofing can be in place and additional prep work such as covering the windows and doors with plastic is required,…

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Boral TruExterior Trim — A First Look

By Tim Biebel / September 7, 2017
Boral TruExterior Trim — A First Look 54

Production builders try the composite building material and conclude that it is competitive with traditional wood options. The ProHOME has been our first experience with Boral TruExterior Siding and Trim. Because I hadn’t used the product before, I called up our local supplier to hear his thoughts on it. He…

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