Friday, October 16, 2015

The Cost of Failing to Get a HERS Rater (For California Projects)

(I just received this from our California Energy Analyst)


I just wanted to share a current issue with you concerning a PMHI project.


I am trying to help an owner-builder that didn't hire a HERS Rater until the Building Department reminded him they wouldn't issue the occupancy permit without the required Installation Certificates and HERS Verification Certificates.  The problem is the project is complete and owner only had a couple of weeks to get all the forms completed or pay a $4,000 penalty.


It's going to be impossible to get the Installation Certificates and HERS Verification Certificates for Quality Installation of the Insulation at this stage of the project.   This credit requires the HERS Rater be present during the framing installation and again during installation of the insulation.  The house is completely finished and ready to occupy so there is no way to document compliance on the insulation installation.  This credit is worth 10-15% of the total energy compliance credit on most projects.  This oops could easily cost the owner thousands of dollars in additional fees, construction modifications to the completed house and weeks or months of delay to occupy the house.


The project also took credit for a high EER air conditioner, but the mechanical contractor installed a system that has not been certified by AHRI (Air Conditioning Heating & Refrigerant Institute) so it will require the mechanical contractor to order a special AHRI certificate.  Based on the equipment installed I think they will easily comply, but it just more cost and more delay.


Luckily I could shift projects today and get the owner most of the paperwork they need with the help of their HERS Rater.  With any luck the building department will not penalize the owner and require upgrades, but this could have all been avoided.


Please remind your clients to hire the HERS Rater early and keep them involved throughout construction to avoid these type of painful and expensive mistakes.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Rocky Fire or the Tale of Two Cottages

A year and a half ago I was able to assist the Zen Center being built in Lower Lake with two cottages that were being used to house the workers from Japan who are here to build the hand crafted cedar temple imported from Japan.
June 2015
Two weeks ago a wild land fire (the Rocky Fire) started at the same corner as the Zen Center.  At first the wind was favorable but then Friday night the fire morphed and 22,000 acres burned in 5 hours.  I was certain over the weekend that the half built temple and the cottage were gone as they were dead center in middle of the fire.

But then on Monday the Zen Center saw one of the news photos that showed the lumber being stored in the parking lot.
After the fire was under control, it turned out that a friend from Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue was involved with the engines there and sent some photos.
When the smoke cleared the grading contractor was able to go to the site to see how things were.
Temple with the fire behind it and to the right.
Road from the temple to the cottage.
Road past the cottage.
Caretaker's House and Office.
So obviously the firefighter who were on the lines here were amazing as you can see how close the fire was to all of these structures - within feet.  But almost 100 structures were lost and I also have to attribute the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) code also know as Chapter 7A that is being applied in many rural areas such as this helping with the saving of these structures. 
Non-combustible exterior materials, enclosed soffits, fire rated windows and doors and minimum 6 x 6 posts all contribute to making flying embers from spreading to these structures.  In many ways these codes that may seem expensive at the time of construction in the long run they may be a great savings.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Using a General Contractor, Acting as an Owner/Contractor or an Owner/Builder

Some of my clients use a General Contractor for the entire home building project.  Others act as an Owner/Contractor hiring and supervising their own sub-contractors.  And others do some or all of the work themselves. Some of the major influencing factors in making a decision on how to proceed are obviously skill and interest.  Time is another major factor especially in doing some of the work as an Owner/Builder.

Most of my clients do a combination using a contractor for the foundation, sub-floor and the assembly of the framing package. And plumbing and electrical require a special skill set that require a professional be hired for the job whether by the owner or the general contractor. And no one seems to want to tackle drywall, tape and texture.

And then many of my clients love to get involved in the finish work either using a hobby and skill that they already have - or learning new skills.

The following pictures were sent to me by a client building their retirement home and I love how involved they have gotten in truly making this their dream home. (And retirement here is a word I use lightly as I think they have been joyfully 'working' harder than ever!!)



Saturday, January 3, 2015

Customizing Your Framing Package

A common request that I get is to see a "model" home of one of our framing packages.  Our framing packages are actually the bones of the structure and how the home is finished is completely up to you, your needs, your personal style and your budget.

For many of my clients this new home is their dream home and frequently they add personal touches that make these homes unique and special.


Day 5 1/2 we got tile cut as far as we can go.  Tomorrow morning I'll cut in the circle to place the "Tree of Life" artwork that we hand carried from Jordan in 2008 as a side trip from Israel.  We're real happy how nice the colors complement each other.

Our deck tile took shape today, with the mosaic tile set and the 12" diamond pattern selected and cut to fit with symmetry.  I'll set the inner tile tomorrow, cover with tarp to wait until after the storms before I grout.  Brenda selects and arranges all of the tiles.  I cut them to fit and set them in place.  (This pattern with slate was a lot of work!)
This octagon shape, we learned on our Israel trip, was used for the first home Christian churches, please find a short description of S. Peter's mother-in-law's house that we also visited in 2006.  A fitting application of this shape for where we will enjoy most of our meals.
 We have a round glass table with lazy Susan to plop down in the middle of this room.

This is the first of what looks to be three days for the Taylor team to add stone to the house front.  Tahoe River Rock is the name of the cultured stone we selected for our house.  Individual stones are smeared with an ample heap of mortar and then it is squished onto the wall.  As Brenda realized today, "it's an art form" to apply these stones.

Each of my clients add those special touches to make a house a home.
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