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Classic example of \"The American Way\"

Mad Dog_2
Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,702
on many of the decisions in new homes and additions. They have tremendous influence over the homeowner. I don't know if you belong Steve, but this where the PHCC of your state can have some sway. Mad Dog

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  • S Ebels
    S Ebels Member Posts: 2,322
    Classic example of \"The American Way\"

    I'm ticked off! I'm REALLY TICKED OFF!!!

    Our state, Michigan, just tried to enact an energy code for new construction that actually would have done some good. From applying the new regs to some floor plans I have, BTU/sq ft heat loss would have been less than 15 across the board. In most cases it would have hit as low as 10.


    But, from what I understand the home builders association got a sympathetic (maybe just pathetic) judge to grant an injuction against it. Stopped it from taking effect.

    Ahhh yes. The home builders association. A wonderful organization dedicated to the betterment of society and building the best possible homes for people. RIGHT!!!
    They brought up all kinds of things they thought the new code would do. Like cause tons of mold due to lack of air changes in the house. They said the new code made houses too tight. WELL DUH!!! I thought that's what it was all about! Control your indoor humidity the way it should be controlled. With a mechanical system. Their thinking is so backward it defies description.

    The whole underlying issue is that they thought it would add too much cost to a home thereby hurting their business. It's as simple as that. Reminds me of the Wal-Mart thread. A lot of the motives are the same.

    Link to the proposed and shot down standard.
  • Mark Hunt_2
    Mark Hunt_2 Member Posts: 80
    Efficiency has nothing to do with it

    "Markism" #4: Most salesman wake up every day and look at themselves in a mirror and say "You are the cheapest SOB on the face of the planet except for the customer I am about to go see."

    I understand your frustration.

    Many of us here know what is better, but we're just dumb heeter guys. "MIND YOUR PLACE!!!!!!!!!!!"

    The industry let themselves be assigned to this level. How does the industry dig itself out?

    Extra points for the correct answer!

    Mark H

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  • Mike T., Swampeast MO
    Mike T., Swampeast MO Member Posts: 6,928
    Modulating Boilers Need to be Smaller

    3,000 square feet for 45 mbh design loss?

  • don_125
    don_125 Member Posts: 1

    I know this one.We as a whole need to stop dropping our pants in order to compete.

    Builders..well they are much like wall-mart.I have yet to
    meet one that does not beatup on his subs.

    I have a friend call me up just the other day whos in the biz,telling me he's got acouple of house thru a new builder
    and the hvac guy on the job not doing so great,the work is
    less then par,yadda,yadda,yadda.

    I'm like come on dude,who side are you on the builder or the hvac contractor.Are you and him not one of the same? Two
    hvac contractor in the same ditch?

    The point I'm trying to make is until we as a industry stop
    assuming that our brother in the hvac biz is not doing what he is being paid for,or never hearing his side of the story
    as to why the builder has kick him to the curb,we as a industry will always be thought of as nothing but they're just another hvac contractor that comes a dime a dozen.

  • Ted_9
    Ted_9 Member Posts: 1,718

    I was just in another basement of a new addition and It already has mold under the subfloor. This is in MA. Does no one else notice this? The builder, the inspector?


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  • Pat K
    Pat K Member Posts: 88

    Well this just can't stand.
    I think you should just force every one to build their damn house the "right" way. It's for their own good and and it's for the um children, yeah the children.
    If they don't do what their told I say no house for you.
    Maybe even lock them up as traitors.
    Have you hugged your Boiler today?
  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,796
    The sad truth is...

    ... you can go to a place like buildingscience.com and download cut-sheets for their building america program that show how they handled the tradeoffs between structures that are well insulated and cost. Usually, the marginal cost of going very efficient was very close to zero and any payback was almost immeadiate.

    For example, what is the marginal cost of going with 6" deep exterior walls built 24" OC instead of 4" built 16" OC? Probably close to zero. Yet, the 6" wall gives you the opportunity to really load up on the dense-pack cellulose and create R20+ walls. The marginal loss of interior space is neglible, particularly if the reduced heating/cooling loads have just allowed you to downsize the ductwork by 25%. Oh, and what about the size of the heating plant, and all the other fixings... all that can be downsized also once the envelope is right.

    No, I bet the issue is far more mind-set oriented than most builders care to admit. "I've always built it this way", NIH syndrome, and "Its too expensive, my customers won't buy efficiency" are likely excuses. Truth is, you won't know what your customers want until you ask them. In the meantime, homes get built with nary a consideration for the operational costs. It's a tremendous waste of resources, considering that the difficulty of doing it right in the first place is so low.

    So, as I see it, this is a failed opportunity for everyone. The builders could have had one common standard to build to (leveling the playing field), the contractors could have had the opportunity to build energy-aware homes, the consumers could have enjoyed much lower utility bills. Oh well.
  • Mark Hunt_2
    Mark Hunt_2 Member Posts: 80
    The builder and the inspector

    are both LONG gone before the mold has a chance to grow. They'll never see it unless someone points it out.

    How many of you have ever had a builder contact you BEFORE he gives a price to a would-be client in order to have a better grasp on the mechanical systems cost?

    They don't. They carry a number that THEY believe is adequate and then try to find a contractor that will do the job for less. They tell the client that they allowed 8k for HVAC and then hire the 5k guy and pocket the change. The homeowner thinks they got 8k worth of heating and cooling. Nope!

    I am bidding a job right now where I have the builder on board. I spoke to him about using cellulose instead of fiberglass and he agreed. But now I have to fight with two other "heeter guys" that don't know squat about their trade. They are screaming to be allowed to install a cheaper system only because THEIRS IS CHEAPER! So even when I get those involved looking in the right direction, one of my "breathren" comes along wearing ignorance like a badge and drags the project back into the dark ages. UGH!!!!!

    I mentioned this before but it's worth repeating. I asked the builder of a McMansion we worked in recently what he was aiming for in the way of ACH. "ACH?? What's ACH???"
    Nice guy, but shouldn't HE know about air changes per hour?

    You can imagine the looks we get from people in new homes when we slap a blower door test on their BRAND NEW HOME and it leaks like a seive. And that "8k" HVAC system is condemned because the fan assisted funace is venting out the draft hood of the atmospheric water heater and no matter how hard we try, we can't make a 1.5 ton cooling system grow to the 2.5 it should have been.

    Nice looking windows though!

    Mark H

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  • Ken_8
    Ken_8 Member Posts: 1,640
    I would like to remind you all,

    in America, if you can afford the consequences of a house with a helluva view and a wall of the best performing glass money can buy (to enhance the view and drama of a "house with a drop dead gorgeous view"), it would still be far less efficienct than that "drop dead view galass wall" being substituted with a far more efficient 6" thick "SIPS" wall with no orittle glass therein.

    In other words, if we choose to trade off energy efficiency for luxury - and are willing to pay the friegth for that in-efficiency, who's to say it is "stupid," "inefficient" or "unacceptable"?

    Many have claimed they are aware of energy conservation and abide by its dictums, but realistically know anyone who builds a house with two occupants that is 5,000+ square feet of living space are fundamentally hypochrites from jump street!

    The hypochresy about energy savings abounds in every post I've read here in this regard. Those who would preach the gospel of energy conservation fail miserably to explain the opulence and waste of their own self-imposed waste.

    In this country, we can do what we want - if we're willing to pay the freight. Before I sold my behemoth Ford Expedition which got 16 MPG on a good day to my son, some scorned my guzzler for exactly what it was: a great way to get two grandkids and their parents and me and my wife in it, along with all our stuff, for a 6 hour ride to my place in VT. in the snow with 4-wheel "on" much of the time.

    I wonder how we would have fared with two cars, like two 30 MPG plus Nippon units with 4" of ground cleance?

    Depending on your POV, the American prediliction for comfort and safety vs. energy costs and fuel use are a choice, not a government mandate. I would suggest free socieries should continue to allow what some call "stupid moves" to be allowed, based on free decisions of the citizens at large.

    I am not willing to give up free enetrprise which allows stupid behaviour - in favor of government regulation which removes basic market dynamics to work in the manner they have served so well for over 200 years.

    Supply and demand dynamics are proven winners. Are there weaknesses in that principal, sure. But none as bad as the alternative. Emissions? That's a whole 'nother topic.

    I know they're inter-related, but have and are being addressed continously.

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  • jerry scharf_3
    jerry scharf_3 Member Posts: 419
    selling what \"moves\"


    Boy do I hear you! There are many good thoughts in this thread as to why this is.

    I have my view on why this is. It's not that salesmen are cheap as Mad Dog says, it's that they are greedy by design. To sell the most, they want the easiest thing to sell so they can make the most money. That's the game.

    The salepeople for spec homes are the real estate "agents." They want what they can sell, and they know what they can sell the easiest. They want stuff that will make emtional impacts on buyers, and so more granite sells easier and for more than better heating. They then tell the spec builders what to build, and the builders figure out how to do it for the cheapest way.

    If it's a custom, the architect or designer is the salesperson, selling the vision of the project. This is almost always beyond the budget, and thus the cycle of cutting costs in areas that are less understood...

    We all know the story, and we can agree with each other without making a difference.

    Now for the positive thought about this:

    The one ray of hope for me is the "sustainable building" effort, with LEED as a touchstone. It's not that it's a panacia, but the idea of emphasizing all the aspects of the building and the systems is critical.

    So here's my proposal:

    That we all get behind this, not out of "green is a the right thing" but because seeing a building as a single system with interrelated subsystems is the right thing. LEED forces the person to look at every choice in the house (since every choice can produce credit,) so every choice is examined. This also gives people something to "buy" even though it's invisible. It also gives us someting to talk about and point to as what we're doing and why.

    My final pitch is this: The final cost to the owner has two components: the mortgage cost and the operating cost. So reducing the operating cost $100 per month less (maybe documented by a HERS rating), then they should be able to afford $100 more per month in mortgage fee. Since for most residences, the mortgage interest is tax deductable and the operating costs aren't, the increase in affordable mortgage would go up maybe $130. So by designing the house better, they may be able to have a more valuable house and be cost neutral.

    Given that large lenders are starting to accept HERS cost savings as direct additions to the assessed value of the house, this could be a solid sell.

    What do you think?

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,723

    will never conform to any sort of standards until code requires it, FACT! Their mission is to build as cheaply as possible and sell for as much as they can. They know once they get their money the houses are someone else's problem.

    Every time new building standards are proposed, we hear builders whining and whining and whining. No doubt this is because whatever is being proposed will make them do a bit more work or spend a bit more money. This time, it looks like they spent their money to get the injunction- I don't think their lawyers were low-bidders. So much for builders doing the right thing.

    How to fight this? The only thing I can think of is some seriously negative publicity. Nasty game, but someone has to play it. There's nothing positive about builders fighting energy efficiency standards- everyone loses except builders and energy companies.

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  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    it is like so stupid....

    one side of the coin is only one side of the coin. coins have more than one side...in side outside upside and downside heads and tails and edge....only minor technicality is your coin looks better in thier hand than in yours...is the way that is looked at .so,how ta doit ? unified front has more pull than a single voice. i have this no good plan, i retake my inspecors test,then keep it current, print a column in the newspaper every so often, find someone to appoint me to the Plumbing and mechanical board of examiners,then ragg on every one about letting others do thier thinking for them and disposessing the codes for a set of standards...then fire everyone except me ,.....*~/:) sorry. i hate these twists dreamt up while we are buzy working or overnight as we sleep. well. theres my no good plan. someday maybe i can find a better plan...like maybe a tribe of certified eraser carrying plumbers....who erase all the questions off the code tests and break all the pencils in a vote of no confidence in the "system" in general.
  • John R. Hall
    John R. Hall Member Posts: 2,246
    Feel sorry for NJ plumbers

    All contractors working in New Jersey homes, i.e. plumbers and HVAC techs have to obtain a "home improvement license" if they so much as take one step over the line and perform a function they are not licensed to do, i.e. a plumber connecting the gas to a HWH. Now that is silliness to a max. The state is getting $90 for the license, which is not being cashed for several months because of backlogs and lack of staff to process, and if it ever does cash the checks will turn the whole thing into a cash cow. Can you say MOOOOO?
  • Ken_8
    Ken_8 Member Posts: 1,640
    NJ also has one of the most stupid

    licensing laws on earth.

    I can run high pressure, 4" gas pipe through the middle of a school and don't need a license. I can install a 200 HP three pass scotch marine boiler and dual fuel burner in that same school, and still don't need a license. I can then improperly install them all, blow up the building and kill all the kids inside, and STILL don't need a license.

    If however, I install a urinal in the boys room lav, I must be a licensed Master Plumber. If I install the trap on the condensate discharge pipe of a 3-ton A/C unit, I must be a licensed Master Plumber.

    When's the last time anyone got killed by an improperly installed urinal? When's the last time anyone got killed by an improperly installed condensate trap?

    After a 10 year stint as a state director for the New Jersey PHCC (which is dominated by licensed Mater Plumbers - not HVAC or guys like us, heating contractors), we tried and failed to get licensure for our group and found all the plumbers suggesting they alone should touch these items and that licensure for heating, mechanical and HVAC guys was a "threat" to their domination.

    After 10 years of meetings, discussions with legislaters and lobbying groups, we never found anyone at the state level who cared one iota about making heating, HVAC or mechanical guys pass a test and/or become licensed. I also quit the NJ-PHCC in total disgust over the failure to responsibly address this issue.

    I still shake my head in amazement.

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  • John R. Hall
    John R. Hall Member Posts: 2,246

    I sat in on the NJ-PHCC meeting with inspectors at the recent Atlantic City meeting. The contractors all showed their disgust for this new law, and others, but you wonder if that same anger is carried past the door threshold once the meeting is adjourned. One older gentleman kept asking others to unite and fight the bureaucracy. I really believe the older guys who have been around would have the cajones to do just that. I don't think the new breed of owners get it -- at least not yet.
  • Boiler Guy
    Boiler Guy Member Posts: 585
    NJ is headed in the same direction

    As the Dictatorship of Ontario. Cough up big bucks or you won't be working any where!! It's NOT about SAFETY or INTEGRITY!! It's all about CYA with green!
  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    You guys are firing on all eight To d`ay!

    Well said.
  • harvey
    harvey Member Posts: 153
    mad dod

    Is it the builders fault that the buyers want the biggest house for the least money? I think not. We need more educated consumers. That will work to help everybody.. The other problem is that few people live in their house long enough to realize any energy savings. Just my thoughts!
  • Bill Nye_2
    Bill Nye_2 Member Posts: 538

    I agree with you about the educated consumer, but I would not be so quick to defend the builders.

    we as mechanical contractors rarely ever have any input on system design. "Don't talk to the customer, it will cost me money" is the cry I hear most of the time.

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