October 2, 2018

How many of you are like me? I'm the person who bought a house based on how it looked. I picked out the counters, the floors, the colors, etc. I looked up the insulation levels and saw R-38 and R-19 and thought I was doing great.

Frankly, I was proud of myself, until I discovered the many mistakes I made along the way. I knew nothing about home performance or building science at that point. For example, it didn't occur to me that the way the insulation was installed would be critical to how the home performed or how comfortable I would feel in it.

I love to watch HGTV and DIY and dream of all the projects I'd like to complete around my house. Frankly, I'm not that handy. The reality is that most of my DIY ideas will get done by someone else. I've learned the hard way that building science is not just for professionals. I wish I had the information in the Building Science Principles Reference Guide (BSP) long before I made what will likely be the biggest investment of my life – my home.

I could have saved myself a lot of headaches by learning some of the terminology related to a house and having the ability to speak more intelligently to contractors. I also would have saved myself some serious money if I was more knowledgeable before I bought the house. If I had made an initial investment in the BSP guide, and read it, I would have been able to see some of the things that weren't done correctly from the start. 

How can building science knowledge help homeowners?

Those of us who aren't professionals need to understand what we are getting into before buying a home or making home "improvements." Otherwise, we risk creating unsafe and unhealthy situations in our homes that could cost us down the road. Home performance addresses some of the safety and comfort issues in a home, such as why some rooms are cold while others are hot.

Some questions I wish I had known to ask:

  • We hear a lot about "tight houses" these days, but what does that mean?
  • If we start spray foaming the air leaks in our house (as recommended in TV commercials and other advertisements), how does that affect the way we get fresh air?
  • It sounds like an easy process to put spray foam into cracks, but what are the consequences?
  • What do we need to know about the build up of condensation in the parts of our walls that we can’t see?
  • What is the difference between a vaulted ceiling and a cathedral ceiling?
  • I'm considering getting solar panels for my house. What can I do to increase the efficiency of my house before getting them installed?

I didn't know the answers to any of these questions, until I read the BSP Guide.

Why I like the BSP guide

I learned so much from reading the BSP Guide. It is easy-to-read and written in a way that doesn't require me to be a home performance professional to understand. It has lots of high quality pictures that visually explain the text. It makes it easy to compare what’s in the guide to what is happening in your house.

I hope you consider reading the BSP guide before you buy a house. If you already own a house, read it before you dive into any retrofit or DIY projects. It will help you understand how multiple systems in a house should work together (heating, air-conditioning, exhaust fans, insulation, etc.), and allow you to enjoy the results of your home upgrades!

About the Building Science Principles (BSP) Reference Guide

Available in both English and Spanish, a print and digital version, the BSP teaches the fundamentals of building science, or how your house is a system of interacting parts. The guide focuses specifically on heat and insulation, air and air sealing, moisture and moisture control, as well as conservation strategies. Learning the ins and outs of how your home works as a system of these parts could help you and your family be more comfortable, safe, and healthy.

You can find more information about purchasing the BSP Guide here. Please reach out to me, Nancy Kaplan, directly at (877) 274-1274 x110 if you have any questions or need additional information.

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