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3799 Main St. #87024
Atlanta, GA 30337
USA

773.398.5288

Advanced residential construction and home improvement consulting and owner's advocacy in Atlanta, using the latest building performance diagnostic and modeling techniques and tools. Airtightness, insulation, HVAC, ventilation, moisture, and air quality and EMF consulting for homeowners and building professionals alike.

Videos/Podcasts/Articles

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!

Filtering by Tag: advice

Dear Corbett: Why Don't Homeowners Want It Done Right?

Corbett Lunsford

Dear Homeowners: please read and absorb what the quality contractors come up against with typical clients. This is part of why high quality construction and home improvements are hard to come by...

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Hi Corbett,
Hate to bother you, but you said if I had aquestion to get in touch with you. Sometimes I feel like just throwing my hands up in the air and giving up; why did I read that article about making the heating system airtightback in 1992 when I started my HVAC business? And why six years ago did I bother learning about the whole house approach? There are times I wish I wasn’t disciplined and motivated to do things right.

If a customer just wants a new energy efficient furnace or A/C and is not concerned with all the other issues with the house, should I just give them what they're asking for and take their money? Knowing how easy it would be to do that, I just can’t lower my standards. Even companies that are doing 'whole home performance' now, I’m following behind them fixing some of their mistakes already.

I get people telling me about the problems they are having inside the house. The question I’m always asking the homeowner is, If I see some safety concerns or other issues would you like me to tell you? On a service call, the first thing I have to get right is the problem with the equipment, than I can let them know what I see with the whole house and heating/cooling system generally.

I’m always getting pushback on this: "my heating system is just 7 years old, everything's fine." And here I am, telling them it was not installed correctly, and that we have to start all over again.  Always running into oversized furnaces and air conditioners with undersized ductwork.

Not sure if I’m explaining things correctly to the homeowner as to what I’m trying to accomplish inside the house for them. It always seems to come down to the price. Maybe I have to do a better job in showing value to the customer?

Right now, looking at one job, the call was for high end air purifying filters. The homeowner told me the house is 4000 sq ft but might include the garage and it’s 8 years old. Their 5 year old son has allergy problems, $650.00 utility bill a month, a lot dust in the house. They have 181,000 Btu output for heating and 10 tons of cooling! Told the homeowner the first thing we should do is test the house and HVAC systems first before installing the filters. It apparently costs "too much" to fix the problems. Help?
Thanks,
Sal C.


Hey Sal-
Great question, and I feel your pain!  Sometimes it can seem like our clients actually prefer to hire mediocre contractors to do cheap home improvements that make things steadily worse in the house.  I promise you, though, that it's not true. Yes, I believe it's 100% about education and showing the value, and judiciously using the powerful marketing tools Fear and Sex Appeal to do so.

Keep at it. I'll keep an eye out for your success stories to come. 

Looking Forward, 

Corbett

How to Renovate a Home in Dallas- the RIGHT Way

Corbett Lunsford

Dear Corbett-
I am not a contractor, but a residential homeowner that has become increasingly interested in owning (and taking a part in creating) a high performance building. After going through several series of podcasts, I ran across yours, and immediately loved it because you went into greater detail about the things that I want to learn about; so I want to thank you for the podcast.
Onto my situation.... I am looking to buy an older (1940's) home that has no hvac, next to no insulation, and needs a good deal of work; but I believe it has the best potential for making a high performance home.... a blank canvas.
What I am having trouble with is finding the local rock stars that can really help me make my house as efficient and comfortable as possible with my given budget. Do you know of any really good people in the Dallas area that could get me on the right track? Thanks again for putting out all the info!
~Derek R.


Thanks for reaching out, Derek! I'm always happy to help, and I think the home you're considering is a GREAT OPPORTUNITY. A blank canvas is much easier to paint on, and when a house is fully 'finished' and has been renovated, it just means you'll have to dig harder and deeper to find and fix the issues that are lurking under the surface.
I'll hook you up privately with a few of my own black belts who are part of Fall Fast Track, but I also want you to know that when we take this show on the road next year for the Proof Is Possible Tour, we'll be creating a directory of pros who pledge to deliver guaranteed results across the U.S.!  Stay tuned here for further developments on that front, and keep in touch about your high performance home renovation!
Looking Forward,
Corbett

How Should a Homeowner Shop for a High Performance Home?!?

Corbett Lunsford

Hello Corbett,
I have been listening to your podcast and heard your request for ideas. You often mention the challenges in educating consumers, and I think my questions might be interesting to the non-professionals in your audience.
I just moved to Denver, Colorado and am considering purchasing a home for the first time. As a potential first-time homebuyer interested in air quality, moisture management, energy efficiency, and building durability, I expect that it is unlikely that I will be able to find a high-performing home at an entry-level price. With the expectation that I may need to invest in some retrofitting, I have a couple of general building performance questions:

Ascertaining current performance

Assuming that a first-time buyer probably will not have access to the sophisticated diagnostics described on your podcast during their search, what are some key things to look for that would indicate a high or low performance?
Utility bills can shed some light on energy efficiency, but how can someone gauge issues like air quality or moisture control?

Performance improvement opportunities

What factors influence a residential building’s suitability for a high-performance retrofit?
Are there factors that would influence the ROI of a retrofit for a modest home? And how could a homebuyer identify those?

Assembling a team

Do you have suggestions about how to assemble your team (realtors, inspectors, and appraisers) to help identify an entry-level home based on current or future potential?
What skills or expertise would you consider important?
Your podcasts have covered issues about financing for retrofits – so there may be nothing new to address here.
 
Basically, it would be great to be able to use a home performance lens during a home search to identify a property in which it is not too difficult or expensive to improve from decent to good performance.
As a potential consumer, I have enjoyed and learned a lot from your podcast. Thank you for thoughts.

Best,
B