A Tip for New Home Buyers – Consider What is Behind the Walls

Hybrid insulation installDuring the 2013 International Builders’ Show I had the chance to speak with a regional manager for a national builder about the challenge of helping consumers understand the features, benefits and return on investment (ROI) on the hidden features in a home. 

When a potential homeowners speaks to a builder they are usually more focused on considering upgrades that are visible to the eye than considering what’s underneath the walls of the home. What they don’t consider is how upgrading the R-value in their walls will save them money on heating and cooling over the life of the home or if they plan on selling the home in the future, how this improved performance may help them compete against homes that will be built between now and then.

The challenge that is faced by a builder as well as a solution provider is to create ways to have that very conversation with the consumer in a clear and relatively quick manner. The reality is that a builder only has so much time with a prospective buyer of a new construction and they do have a great deal of ground to cover.  It is usually easier to focus on what is visible than what is not.

During our chat, we discussed creating scenarios of building a house three different ways to maximize the efficiency of the home and how to show that to a prospective buyer.  You could have partially finished walls in the garage of a model home which show building and insulating a wall to code vs. improved materials and techniques.  You could then show various types of wallboard – yes there are varieties of wallboard that address noise reduction, mold and moisture control and volatile organic compound removal.  This could be a chance for people to actually see and understand what is usually hidden behind the finishes they have been focused on.

Truth is, potential homeowners seem more interested in talking about the aesthetics of countertop materials than increasing the efficiency of their wall systems. Why are we so comfortable being ignorant about one the most important investments of our life? I would bet that more people have researched the features and benefits of their next car in terms of gas mileage, horsepower, etc.  than researching the type of insulation and wallboard to use in their home for optimum comfort and health.

Does anybody have any ideas of how we can engage homeowners in the conversation about the energy efficiency options in homes that will lower their operating costs over the life of a home? If you are a realtor, what do you do?

“Overheard” at the International Builders’ Show

Throughout the first day of the International Builders’ Show, there have been dozens of conversations that shed light on new and emerging trends in the building industry. From the vantage point of the CertainTeed exhibit as well as a quick visit to BuilderLIVE, there was a healthy amount of idea sharing and discussion. The dialogue on Twitter — especially via the #OverheadAtIBS hashtag — offered additional insight into activity at the show. Here are a few interesting tidbits that caught my attention.

The demand for contemporary interior design, which calls for clean, simple lines, is on the rise. Outstanding craftsmanship is a must to achieve this aesthetic. For example, interior trim and moulding, which are less prevalent in contemporary design, typically camouflages imperfections in interior finishes.

Energy efficiency remains a top priority. There are new building codes to tackle and it’s just plain common sense. Fortunately, there are an increasing number of products and solutions — such as hybrid insulation — to optimize the energy efficiency of a home.

Building science is a great way to sell a house. Having this foundational knowledge not only strengthens a builder’s competitive edge, it means healthy, comfortable homes and satisfied customers.

New technology continues to intrigue us. Home lighting and automation systems are evolving to new levels of sophistication. New garage concepts, such as power lifts that stack multiple vehicles in a single space, are slowly emerging in the custom home market.

So, what’s captured your attention thus far?

NAHB International Builders’ Show – Where New Products and Learning Collide

CertainTeed booth at IBS 2013

CertainTeed booth at IBS 2013

I am in Las Vegas for the National Association of Home Builders International Builders’ Show 2013.  I truly enjoy this show because it is a great opportunity to ‘kick the tires’ on products and learn about best practices taking places in the build community. 

With the new 2012 Building Codes that are starting to be adopted by states, it is critical that build professionals know the changes to the code requirements where they are building. It is also important to hear about best practices for achieving airtight assemblies and the best solutions for achieving maximum energy efficiency in the building envelope.

For IBS 2013, CertainTeed is focused on building knowledge. To assist with this, CertainTeed is incorporating in its booth (C2126) a Builder Resource Center making available building science and technical experts to share best practices but also to answer questions from show participants. If you come to our Resource Center you will be eligible to win a full day consultation by a building scientist on your construction site. 

At the booth, we will also have technical experts hosting “Ask the Expert” interactive sessions centered on building science, roofing, insulation, siding, gypsum and foundations. With the extension of the Energy Tax Credit as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations, contractors and developers who construct or renovate “dwelling units” (apartments, condos or single-family homes) that meet certain energy efficiency standards have access to a tax credit of up to $2000.

If you are attending IBS, make sure to stop by booth C2126 and pick our brains. I guarantee you will have a great learning experience as well as a fun time.

The NAHB International Builders’ Show (IBS) 2012 Reflects the State of the Building Industry

Lucas Hamilton

Lucas Hamilton is Manager, Building Science Applications for CertainTeed Corporation

IBS 2012 is history!  Like all trade shows each attendee comes away with their own interpretation of how it was based on their reason for being there.  From the manufacturer perspective it was clear that attendees who came to our booth were looking for specific products or information.  They were not just window shopping. 

Anyone coming to a show like this in this economic climate was not just there killing time and spending money – they were engaged! And the folks I spoke to had very specific questions and were very interested in learning all that they could while there.

One interesting thing that I saw in the Show Village was –what I would call – an urban infill home.  It was a modular home that was narrow and would fit into a narrow lot.  This was a unique style for a modular treatment.  One of the interesting features in the design was a screened-in porch/deck that included screen under the decking to keep mosquitoes out.  Great idea especially in warm, moist climates!

There were many celebrities there such as Mike Holmes, Bob Vila, Vanilla Ice and Bronson Pinchot promoting their DIY Network shows. Radio talk shows taping for their audiences back home were out in force.

I had a chance to catch up with my friends from This Old House – Norm Abrams and Tommy Silva.  I just have to say that Norm knows more about wood than anyone I have ever met.  We had a great conversation about the difference between western red cedar and eastern white cedar and how you want to use them.  Great stuff!

We also talked about the lack of paints with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) especially in colors.  It led to an interesting discussion about our VOC scavenging gypsum product.

There seemed to be a large number of Brazilians and South Americans at the show this year.  It is not surprising since the economy in Brazil is very strong and building seems to be on the rise.  It has clearly become an international show.

Clearly we have seen changes at IBS but we remain hopeful for a return to the glory days!

The NAHB International Builders’ Show – A Constant in a Changing Landscape

Mike Loughery

Mike Loughery is Director, Corporate Marketing Communications for CertainTeed Corporation

Here we are once again, heading to the International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Florida.  In the days of the housing boom, you could get a feel for the attendance and enthusiasm by how packed the plane was and the fact that it was filled with builders and contractors.

The past few years have been tough though.  Attendance, which once peaked in the low one-hundred thousands, was a mere shadow of itself a year ago with about 47,000 walking through the turnstiles. 

What will this year hold?  Well, I’m sitting on the plane.  It’s packed and a good number of the folks seem to be in the building trades (albeit for the few families headed you know where!).  Enthusiasm?  Well, not sure yet on that one.  But I know that tomorrow I will enter the hall, see all the displays, and hear the buzz of business taking place.  There is nothing as gratifying as spending four days talking with the trades about the latest products and innovations in the marketplace. 

The temptation for some might be to shrink away and not exhibit.  However, we all have businesses to run and CertainTeed representatives find talking to an engaged audience, whether it’s 50,000 or 100,000 an excellent opportunity to showcase some of the industry’s most innovative new products.  Products that improve indoor environmental quality, energy efficiency, comfort and aesthetics will be showcased as well as our team of building scientists will be available at booth W4051 to answer your most challenging questions.

Feel like swinging a hammer or learning from our experts?  We have product installation demos going on outside in P3, showcasing blowing and spray foam insulation, decking, siding and solar roofing

Can’t make it to the show this year?  Well, you can still be part of the action through a special webpage dedicated to the IBS show which will have a live Twitter feed that you can follow.  You may want to bookmark www.certainteed.com/ibs  so you can refer to it over the next few days.

If you’re in Orlando this week, stop by and say hi.  Let us know how things are going for you in your market.

No Gambling In Las Vegas with Solar Roofing

Energen Display at International Builders' Show

Energen Display at International Builders' Show

Heading out to Las Vegas recently  for the International Builders’  Show (IBS), I was struck by a sense of excitement in the air.  Nothing scientific, nothing concrete, I could just feel the mood of the travelers was a bit lighter, the airport was a bit more crowded and the hotel was definitely busier than this time last year.
Thankfully, the dreary weather we experienced during our week there was not indicative of the mood of the builders who attended. 

 

When you look at the numbers, you wouldn’t necessarily think things were looking up.  Attendance was down from last year, from 60,000 a year ago to 55,000.  The number of exhibitors was down about 30 percent also.  However, our leads were up 30 percent over last year and were just shy of the number we hit in 2007. 

I have a couple of theories about why.  The NAHB made an excellent decision to shut down one of the exhibit halls and condensing the 1,100 exhibitors into two halls.  This made the traffic much denser.  However, while density gives you volume through the aisles, it doesn’t necessarily translate into leads. 

So what was it?  Solar.  It may have been raining and cold outside, but the interest and “energy” around solar and photovoltaics was definitely there.  Now, the fact that we introduced our new Energen Photovoltaic Roofing product (available this spring) at the show may have helped substantially in our lead count, however, you could see immense interest in this area.  We weren’t the only ones talking about it, but it was obvious that the crowds were drawn to what is becoming more and more of a hot-button topic in the green/sustainable movement.

It’s nice to see that manufacturers (ourselves included) aren’t shrinking and running for cover during the downturn.  When sales are down, innovate and ready yourself for the upturn; that seems to be what some in the industry are doing! 

Energy efficiency is the name of the game these days.  Look at our friends at Hearthstone Homes in Omaha, Nebraska who are focused on energy efficient home construction .  They’re doing innovative work like using 2 x 6 framing and guaranteeing energy bills to their buyers…or they pay the difference!  Builders like Hearthstone are getting serious about not only building quality, but adding real, tangible value to the homes.  We’re excited to be entering the solar frontier and proud to partner with folks like Hearthstone.

The industry’s heating up and in the end, the homeowner wins.

Mike Loughery by-lineMike Loughery is Director, Corporate Marketing Communications at CertainTeed Corporation.