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5928 N Paulina St
Chicago, IL, 60660
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773.398.5288

Quality control for home improvement and new home building, plus building forensics for solving virtually any home performance problems. Nothing can hide from advanced diagnostics in residential construction, and you should never have to guess or assume that home improvements worked- proof is possible. Ask for it.

Videos, Podcasts, & Articles

Home performance articles and stories from the field with internationally respected building forensics gurus at the Building Performance Workshop. Hear new episodes of the Building Performance Podcast, see new videos from the Home Performance YouTube channel, and learn all about how diagnostic testing (more than an 'Energy Audit') can make home improvement and new home construction a proven process!

Holes in the House: JULY 2015 Building Forensics Mastermind

Corbett Lunsford

In the past month, I've investigated and tested a lot of homes, and made a lot of home improvement recommendations in each of them- it's always hard to boil it down to 30 minutes of material, but here's this month's crazy fast crash course through a few of my favorite jobs that used scientific testing to help homeowners, architects, developers, and contractors get their homes under control!

Every month's series episode is on the First Wednesday at 1pm Central, and it's always totally free!  Sign up now and be reminded at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/3137914191179677698

Why Fall Fast Track is Unlike Any Other Training for Building Pros

Corbett Lunsford

Like anybody else in any other profession, construction pros are expected to learn new things and get better at our work. Dirty secret: some of us don't do that at all. Amazing opportunity: those of us who DO get better and better leave the others in our dust, and we get not only our own loyal clients, we get theirs too.

I love my work, and I get paid to learn every day- it's incredible that there's always more to learn, no matter how deep you dig. When I first trained to become a HERS Rater, my instructor told me on day 3: "You ask too many questions- you just need to shut up and do what I tell you for the rest of the week."

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I knew then and there that I would never be that guy. We need to ask MORE questions, not less, and we all walk around pretending we have a handle on what's going on when we usually don't have a clue! That feeling in high school- the one when you know you didn't do your homework and you're about to be found out- many of us live with that feeling every day in our work. It doesn't have to be that way.

Proof Is Possible, and performance testing is the way to get there in buildings. It's a funny thing to be where I am in the construction industry: still a relative newbie at only 7 years in, but also one of the only people with both 7 years experience AND daily performance testing experience, still. Most of my colleagues at this level have primarily taken on management work, and don't actually crawl around in homeowners' attics and crawlspaces. Many home performance experts out there do not lug blower doors around or drill test ports in ductwork- they manage employees who do, or write about it, or make policy decisions for energy efficiency programs. I still do all my own hands-on work every day, and it makes me a better building scientist and teacher.

Which brings me to the private market. My hourly fee is on par with attorneys in many places, and that's because I don't just bring brains to the table- I bring tons of scientific gear, too. Anyone with both can earn a good living in home performance contracting, but you have to get out from under the umbrella of energy rebate programs to do it.

I attended a think tank recently, all about 'how to bring home performance contracting into the mainstream private market'. On the last day, I came right out and asked how many of the 40 building science experts in the room already worked entirely in the private market; and I was the only one. It made me feel both proud and like I must be an idiot for not taking the public money. But mostly proud.

I've learned to help homeowners solve problems and get more control over their homes, and earn a good living while I'm at it. And so can you. My goal is to have at least one home performance ninja in every market in the U.S., and if it's not you, it'll be your competition. And then there's Australia, Europe, Asia, and Africa to work on. Am I tired yet? Hell no, I'm fired up about it!

All we need to do is get the client, the homeowner/homebuyer, to understand what they should expect from anyone in the construction industry, and they'll naturally seek out the masterminds. It's worked for me. It can work for you. Let's do this.

PRE-REGISTER FOR FALL FAST TRACK FOR FREE NOW!

The Blower Door Bucket

Corbett Lunsford

Sounds like a caveman tool, but it's actually the height of technology. I think this might be my favorite futuristic development of the 21st century so far. Take that, Apple!

Basically, when you're testing the air tightness of new construction multifamily buildings, you'll be moving fast and light (ideally), and getting your testing tools very, very dirty. It's a construction site. So why not rig up a toolkit that fits the purpose? Like a bucket, for example?

PODCAST #71 SPRAY FOAM FAIL

Corbett Lunsford

Corbett's Toolkit: Anemometer & Flow Hood

Corbett Lunsford

Performance testing guru Corbett Lunsford shows you how to find the grille K-factor for every supply register in the house, by using a CFM measuring device like a passive flow hood on just one. Learn to use a $500 large vane anemometer to the fullest by pairing it with a bigger, more expensive instrument selectively.
Tools shown are Testo 417 large vane anemometer and TSI residential flow hood.

Motivational Metrics: How Zonal Pressure Testing Works

Corbett Lunsford

In this home performance testing video, Corbett demonstrates advanced air leakage testing using zonal pressure diagnostics and a pressure pan. Learn how to get more out of your blower door with no extra investment in test equipment, how to interpret the data, and what to do about it during home improvement or new construction optimization. In the second video, Corbett clarifies his use of percentage-based interpretations of zonal pressure diagnostics, after several respected home performance pros had technical challenges for the method used.

More than an 'Energy Audit' for Manufactured/Mobile Homes

Corbett Lunsford

Oh Guru of Home Performance,
Would you shed some light on the intricacies of auditing manufactured homes?? I have an audit to do on a 17 year old mobile home- I will do a blower door test with infrared... other than the walkthrough assessment and evaluating the duct-work, checking the underneath for the insulation quality, and what else possibly could be tested?
Thank you! Sincerely,
Kevin J.

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Hi Kevin-
Thanks for reaching out!  If you keep your head in the 4-3-2-1 space (see below) and listen to the client’s pain (comfort/EE/air quality), then use testing to pinpoint the opportunities for improvement, it’s the same as analyzing any other type of building.  Your approach sounds solid, and I’d use any other diagnostics to solve the client’s specific pain points.  Think about what Motivational Metrics you can use to help your client take action with solutions.
Use my book Home Performance Diagnostics to help you perform any tests that seem applicable to pinpointing the cause and proving the measured home improvement.
Best of luck, and TAKE PICTURES AND DOCUMENT YOUR PROCESS SO YOU CAN WRITE A COOL ARTICLE ABOUT IT!  Have a great weekend.
Looking Forward,
Corbett

New Home Havoc: June 2015 Building Forensics Mastermind

Corbett Lunsford

In his monthly tour of a building forensics investigation of a home's performance, Corbett shows how the problems of a new home can be measured, prioritized, and improved. Measured home improvement is the name of the game, even with a 6-month old house.

PODCAST #70 PERFORMANCE EVERYWHERE: Chris Dorsi of Habitat X

Corbett Lunsford

Today Corbett talks with Chris Dorsi, founder of the Habitat X Thinktank, about the state of performance-based building in Europe and what the construction industry needs next. *Listeners get a whopping $675 discount off Habitat X registration until June 15 by using code Corbett375.

For all other episodes, or more on this one, check it out on iTunes (or wherever you get your podcasts) and at: BuildingPerformancePodcast.com

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PODCAST #69 WEB PERFORMANCE PRO: Peter Troast on What the Internet Proves

Corbett Lunsford

Today Corbett talks with Peter Troast of Energy Circle, who was just awarded the 2015 BPI Tony Woods Award at ACI National Conference. Peter runs the websites of over 300 home performance contractors, and so may have the best view of how performance-based business in the 21st century is actually working.

For more episodes, or to download this one, subscribe on iTunes or visit BuildingPerformancePodcast.com

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Coolest Infrared Video Ever Made!

Corbett Lunsford

Seriously, I challenge the world to throw down another video that uses infrared thermography that's slicker than this one!  Any guesses on how we created it?  HINT: You have to know a bit about thermal cameras to think through this technically.

Which Infrared Thermal Camera Should I Buy?

Corbett Lunsford

Hi Corbett,
Besides being fun and cool, can the Flir ONE infrared camera be helpful in assessing wall cavity insulation, attic insulation consistency or detect air leakage in a home, with or without the aid of a blower door? I'm a general contractor and I'd like to get an inexpensive IR camera- what are your thoughts on this matter?
thanks so much,
Matt

Hey there Matt-
Thanks for writing! The short answer is a big fat NO- any pocket infrared camera has very low resolution, and while they're great at demonstrating the simple fact of heat fluctuations, I wouldn’t trust it for QC and inspection of homes. The resolution on a Flir ONE is 80 x 60- that means, incredibly, there are 5,400 infrared thermometers embedded in it, but that's not enough to give you a clear, colorful picture most of the time. See here, in these three images taken of a big bunch of flowers, using the Flir ONE, a Fluke TiR110, and a Testo 885.

Flir ONE flowers: 80 x 60

Flir ONE flowers: 80 x 60

Fluke TiR110 flowers: 160 x 120

Fluke TiR110 flowers: 160 x 120

Testo 885 flowers: 320 x 240

Testo 885 flowers: 320 x 240

While the Flir ONE's 5,400 sensors (80 x 60) are assisted for clarity by combining with the visual camera's outlines, you can see that the Fluke TiR110's 19,200 sensors (160 x 120) mean four times as much resolution!  And the winner here is the Testo 885's 76,800 sensors (320 x 240), which give your eyes the clearest picture yet- that means this >$10,000 camcorder-style infrared camera has almost 15 times as many sensors as the Flir ONE. That being said, bang-for-the-buck-wise, I got my ONE for $250, 1/40th the price of the big mother.  That's a good deal.

I carry the Flir ONE in my pocket, where it stays connected to my iPhone 24/7 so I can shoot infrared photos of whatever is cool on a daily basis. The Fluke TiR110 I take on all my building forensics jobs.  And the Testo 885 I'm using to shoot a high-def video in infrared.  Each has its own special uses.

Here's another example of the resolution and 'color pop' difference when you're choosing an infrared camera: the wire shelves in my oven...

Flir ONE oven: 80 x 60

Flir ONE oven: 80 x 60

Fluke TiR110 oven: 160 x 120

Fluke TiR110 oven: 160 x 120

Testo 885 oven: 320 x 240

Testo 885 oven: 320 x 240

The wire supports are almost completely invisible in the Flir ONE's 80 x 60 resolution, even WITH the added outlines from the visual camera. You get more resolution and snap in the other two cameras, again with an obvious winner in the 320 x 240 resolution. And by the way, anytime you use the infrared camera for home performance testing, you should DEFINITELY always use a blower door to reveal the air leakage- otherwise, you're at the whim of stack effect, wind, and HVAC pressurizations.

I hope this helps with your decision- being a building performance analysis ninja means having the right equipment, and there's probably a reason why the nice tools don't get carried around with you everywhere (hint: $10,000)- that's why it's nice to have a range, if you can swing it!

To find out more about how to use infrared to understand home performance, watch this: