Effortless does not mean "don't try hard". It means work your ass off and make it look easy. Use techniques and tools to be all you can be, Masterminds.
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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Diagnostics are the heart of all home performance work- testing will set you free with proof and prediction!
Getting the job done right is a critical part of the job, but what about educating your client on what was done and why it's important? What about reminding them 2 years later? Metrics are the crux of the whole home performance movement, from pre-improvement testing through continuous monitoring.
This week to illustrate 'Rocking the Client' Corbett broadcasts right before his Earth Day celebration keynote at the U.S. EPA's Region 4 headquarters in Atlanta! Danny Orlando, longtime supporter, is now a client- but it took 5 years to get here!
Corbett knows every Mastermind needs Master Plans, but overthinking doesn't do anyone any good. Learn to recognize when you're over-planning and expecting yourself to gain too much knowledge, skill, equipment, or personnel to make Mastery practical!
Listening, smiling, and validating are all skills that any home performance professional must have in order to serve homeowners, architects, developers, and other contractors! Don't get so full of scientific diagnostic proof that you forget we all have to relate to each other in order to make any home improvements or performance-based building project work.
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."
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. Now there's FALL FAST TRACK.
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 free 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. FALL FAST TRACK happens just once a year, and is limited to 100 pros. 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.
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?
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,
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.
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.
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,
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.
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...
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:
July 12, 2013 – Chicago – Standards for the home improvement industry have been given another push up the ladder with the launch of BPIexamprep.com . The online training, from Home Performance Diagnostics author Corbett Lunsford, is designed as a supplement to BPI Training or for professionals who need to self-study due to limited time, budget, or access to training.
Homeowners and government programs alike have been demanding a growing army of BPI Certified contractors , and even building codes are now recognizing the certification for new home quality control. "BPIexamprep.com has been years in the making, and something I wish I’d had when I was getting ready to challenge these certification exams," says Lunsford. The modular, self-paced video course offers students all the information needed to put the finishing touches on preparation for any of the main five BPI Certification exams: Building Analyst, Envelope Professional, Heating Professional, A/C and Heat Pump Professional, or Multifamily Building Analyst.
While BPI Exam Prep is not meant to take the place of a week-long hands-on BPI Training, it does help students pass the exams the first time. Many people who seek BPI certification have been out of school, and out of the habit of test-taking, for years. "BPI exam sets have a standard price of $750, so it can be expensive to have to re-take these tests," laments Lunsford. "I got sick of watching other school’s students fail these exams on their first try, simply because they didn’t know what to expect. The psychology of test-taking is a huge hurdle, and this course helps students get over it."
The online course is self-paced, interactive, and includes 6 modules: 5 guidance videos from Lunsford and a 100-question practice BPI exam. After having trained hundreds of BPI Certified Professionals, and proctored hundreds of BPI exams, Lunsford and his Building Performance Workshop are standing up for students everywhere, and giving them the edge they need to ace the test.
FOR A FREE, INTERACTIVE VIDEO GUIDE TO BPI CERTIFICATIONS, OR TO GET A TOUR OF THE COURSE, VISIT: