Articles About Building High Performance Custom Homes

ProHOME is Part of a High-Performance Development

By Tim Biebel / July 7, 2017
ProHOME is Part of a High-Performance Development 1

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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Bringing Back Balloon-Framed Walls

By Tim Biebel / June 25, 2017
Bringing Back Balloon-Framed Walls 3

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
A few hundred dollars of prevention can save future headaches. 6

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 Paul Biebel / June 16, 2017
Down the Up Staircase - How an Eyesore Became a Centerpiece 8

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 Paul Biebel / June 9, 2017
What Is The Value of a Human Life? 10

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 Paul Biebel / May 29, 2017
How Does a Grid-Tied Solar Photovoltaic System Work In Your High Performance Home? 12

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 Paul Biebel / May 25, 2017
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  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 Paul Biebel / April 28, 2017
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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 Paul Biebel / April 24, 2017
The Construction of a High-Performance Home: Week 11 18

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 Paul Biebel / April 21, 2017
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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 Paul Biebel / April 14, 2017
Why Build a High-Performance Home? 22

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 Paul Biebel / April 6, 2017
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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 Paul Biebel / March 28, 2017
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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 Paul Biebel / 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
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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
Affordable Zero Energy Homes:Intersection of Exterior Wall & Rafter 31

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 Construction of a High Performance Home: Week 5 33

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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The Construction of a High Performance Home: Week 4

By Tim Biebel / March 1, 2017
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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
Affordable Zero Energy Homes: Is Balloon Framing making a comeback? 37

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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The Construction of a High Performance Home: Week 3

By Tim Biebel / February 21, 2017
The Construction of a High Performance Home: Week 3 39

Weather is a fickle thing. One minute it’s snowing, and the next minute it’s snowing again. Then, just like that, it starts snowing again. This week, we received over eighteen inches of snow, which buried our hopes and production expectations for the week. Nevertheless, when I left the site Friday…

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The Construction of a High Performance Home: Week 2

By Tim Biebel / February 13, 2017
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Winter has returned with a vengeance, which only adds to my already growing disdain for it. February is the worst. Next month, March will be the worst. Construction during the winter can be like running an uphill marathon. Twice. Everything takes longer than it should, and the coffee gets cold…

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