Corbett runs a full enclosure diagnostic on a one-story ranch for his family before planning and performing the improvements on vented crawlspace and attic.
Home performance articles and stories from the field with internationally respected building forensics guru Corbett Lunsford 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!
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Corbett talks through the basis of design for his family's upcoming house construction in Atlanta, GA. Subscribe to stay tuned for videos during the build! To learn more about the high performance building products being used, click below:
475 HIGH PERFORMANCE BUILDING SUPPLY
GEORGIA-PACIFIC FORCEFIELD SHEATHING
MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC COOLING & HEATING
ULTRA-AIRE VENTILATING DEHUMIDIFIERS
CHRONOMITE POINT-OF-USE WATER HEATERS
Last week I made my first site visit to the mountains of North Carolina to start performance testing the #OffGridHomestead. This is an uber-homebuild with LG Squared Architects (now also LG Cubed Builders) and Chris Laumer-Giddens has a lot to show us, even at this rough in stage, with saws running and tractors rumbling around.
Grace and Corbett built the world's highest performance tiny house on wheels in 2016. It was perfect. Then they toured it 13,000 miles across America and let 7,000 people come inside to feel, hear, and smell what perfectly tuned home performance is like.
What's the house performing like now, after all that torture? And under 2 inches of snow in Atlanta, Georgia? See for yourself in this 20-minute tour, complete with testing, demonstrations, and metrics that show Proof Is Possible, even for people who have never built a house before. The #TinyLab is still the undisputed most scientifically superior home performance demonstration in the world, and we sincerely hope others start challenging our work!
Phil Rivas of Fantech shows Corbett around the Fantech booth at the International Builders Show 2018. Demonstrations of Inline Kitchen Exhaust hood with silencer, Energy Recovery Ventilator with balancing registers, HEPA filtration, and Dryer Booster Fans. Learn more at http://Fantech.net
Welcome to the inaugural tour of the real life Building Performance Workshop on our high performance homestead in Atlanta, Georgia! From the translucent walls and roof to the airtight, insulated and dessicant dehumidified Dry Vault inside it, everything here is about making the invisible dynamics of building performance visible. Stay tuned for the blower door test, infrared thermal scan, air quality testing, and much more when the Workshop is built!
Home performance diagnostics guru Corbett Lunsford demonstrates the simple test for kitchen exhausts of all types with a smoke pen. See how downdraft exhaust fans work (or don't work) and make a more informed decision on what to do in your own kitchen!
Building performance expert Corbett Lunsford respects proof of performance, and ProClima's airsealing tape has now been proven to him. See Tescon Profil tape that was applied to the subfloor of the #TinyLab as it holds up to 5 months of pure abuse during the construction process.
Our #TinyLab is a touring tiny house on wheels, which means it takes a lot of abuse as we travel the U.S. on the Proof Is Possible Tour. We’re teaching home performance, showing people how to get diagnostic proof when doing home improvements or building/buying a home.
One of the major problems in the home market is that people just don’t know what they don’t know. They don’t know that air leakage is the biggest problem in their homes, they don’t know that they’re making carbon monoxide every time they use a gas stove, and they don’t know that the formaldehyde in plywood is slowly poisoning their families. That’s what the tour is about.
Because we built the #TinyLab very airtight, almost every visible surface in our home is made of Purebond Formaldehyde-Free Plywood. We didn’t even waste time thinking about air purifiers or other band-aids; if we don’t want toxins in the house, it’s easier if we don’t bring them inside in the first place. We decided to use the Purebond for our Shoji Door to the bathroom, too- faster than using wood framing pieces, and going with a hardware-free sliding door would mean more durability overall. Here’s how the door was built:
1. Cut two sheets of Purebond ½” pre-finished plywood to size, with an extra ½” in each direction. Clamp them face-to-face. Measure and trace the cut-outs on the unfinished top side, putting the extra ½” along just two edges (i.e., bottom and right side) so that the other two edges are your reference 'finished' edges. You'll cut the extra ½” off after the door is assembled, to ensure a flat, straight edge on every side.
2. Cut the two sheets with a jigsaw to create the spaces for the rice paper, and any vents for pressure relief between rooms.
3. Dust the sheets off and stain the interior cuts you just made to match the veneer.
4. Prep your glue table with clamps- lots of them. Cut your rice paper to fit the full span of cut-outs with 1" to spare on each side. Working fast but thoroughly, spread glue on the unfinished faces of both sheets simultaneously, and sandwich the rice paper between them.
5. Clamp the hell out of the assembled door, making sure the rice paper is taut, the cut-outs line up, and the two finished edges are even.
6. After letting the glue dry, unclamp the double-thickness door and cut the extra ½” away from the two edges, leaving all four edges perfectly even and smooth. Stain the outside edges to match the veneer.
7. Install the Shoji door in the jamb where it will slide (we used a pre-made sliding door frame, and removed the hardware and metal components for wheels) and seat it in a 1/16" waxed groove in the threshold. Attach adhesive felt strips to the pocket jamb to keep the veneer from being scratched.
8. Install the door and the jamb pieces that will lock in the top and closing side- DONE!
Infrared expert Corbett Lunsford uses the FLIR T660 infrared thermal camera to illustrate how insulation was installed in the #TinyLab for optimal control over heat bleed. For more info about where you can tour the #TinyLab on its 20-city Proof Is Possible Tour, visit:
Home performance guru Corbett Lunsford explains 475 Building Supply's Intello air barrier with vapor variable control. See how you can ensure control over drafts, condensation, and air quality problems. Feel the difference yourself on the Proof Is Possible Tour!
From the beginning, we've planned on this high performance tiny house on wheels (THOW) being airtight. That's a no-brainer, and everyone else wants airtight homes too, whether they know it yet or not. If you want to see how bright-eyed and bushy-tailed we were when we started planning the Tiny Lab, check out this webinar on the HVAC design:
After airtight construction, the next important step is always making sure the home is VENTILATED right, with fresh air in just the right amount. Too little fresh air, and you get staleness, odors, condensation, and a deep-seated disgusting feeling. Too much fresh air, and you're flushing conditioned air down the toilet. The calculation for determining how much fresh air any house needs is called ASHRAE 62.2-2013, and you can see a simplified breakdown of that here:
And finally, you need to decide How Exactly You're Going To Do This. That's always the sticking point, and designing and building this tiny house on our own has taught us that all day, every day. The devil's in the details. So began our ventilation adventure, and we immediately talked with our longtime friends at Panasonic, who recommended three pieces of equipment:
- WhisperGreen Exhaust Fan
- WhisperComfort 20/40cfm Spot ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilator)
- WhisperSupply 10/20cfm filtered supply fan
The ventilation strategy we were planning on initially was to exhaust air (20cfm minimum) from the shower (at the top right), which is only a few feet away from the kitchen (the L-shaped cabinet just below it), and supplying fresh air at the rear of the tiny house, in the underloft bedroom (at bottom).
We immediately faced a challenge with pressure equalization. Since this tiny house would be so airtight, the results of the blower door test would likely be less than 67cfm@50Pascals (2.0 ACH50). Without all the mumbo jumbo, that means that if I ran a regular exhaust fan in the bathroom or kitchen at anything close to 70cfm, I'd be sucking so hard on the house it would be as if a 20 mph wind was blowing on every single surface of the house (and that's a lot of surface- about 1000 sq. ft.)
Also, while the WhisperGreen bath exhaust fan can be 'manifolded' (which means connecting a duct system to the fan to distribute the air wherever you want it), the spot ERV cannot. A really cool MacGyver hack was recommended by Panasonic's technical team, which I think is awesome and could easily be done by anyone else per the instructions:
Although this is all very cool, it was deemed too iffy to work properly for the Tiny Lab because of all the customizations we're making with the on-wheels aspect, the tightness, the tiny size, etc.
To keep this story from being ten pages long, let me just say that we are now on our FOURTH and final ventilation plan. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Brett Singer and our favorite dehumidification guru Lew Harriman both strongly urged us to use a fully-ducted HEAT Recovery Ventilator instead of the ENERGY Recovery Ventilator (which exchanges both heat and humidity). We'll be fighting the humidity the whole way, since every shower, cup of tea, and exhale will add to the moisture in the tiny house.
Also, we all agreed it would be infinitely better to exhaust the stovetop gases directly to outdoors with an ENERGY STAR kitchen exhaust hood. We're keeping the pressure imbalances in check with a hole in the wall controlled with a mechanical damper that's activated by pressure imbalances.
Our final ventilation strategy is from our Product Partner BROAN, and we'll show you exactly how that miracle cure works when the system arrives next week! Thanks for tuning in, and for your support in these trying times. Whew.