Information and solutions for a safe, healthy,
comfortable, durable and energy efficient home

Remodeling

Are you considering a major remodel or improvement for your home? If so, this is the time to also address nagging problems such as high energy bills, comfort issues, health concerns, mold/moisture, etc. Opening up walls and ceilings or adding new equipment offers the best and most cost efficient opportunity to solve these problems. Don’t screw this up!

What’s the Problem?

Very few contractors are trained to connect the dots between the project you hired them for and chronic existing problems in your home. It is up to you to think beyond the need at hand – kitchen, siding, roof, furnace, etc. There are good solutions, and NOW is the time to implement them.

Solving the Problem

Some effort and oversight on your part will result in a considerably better home at the end of the remodel. Here are some typical projects along with add-on solutions for nagging problems:

  • Exterior siding: Add insulation from the outside, add house wrap to reduce air leaks, air-seal around vents, pipes, and wiring, fix window flashing, address water problems
  • Roof: Address ice dam and comfort issues by air sealing and insulating hard to reach places like vaults or top plates of exterior walls, improve attic ventilation
  • Removing plaster or sheetrock from walls: Air seal gaps or openings, add insulation, seal ductwork
  • Ceilings and Attics: Air seal vents, pipes, wiring and recessed can lights, add insulation to attics, insulate and seal duct work, add bath and kitchen fans
  • Heating equipment: invest in high efficiency equipment, seal duct work, add return ducts
  • Replace water heater:  If you have a natural draft water heater replace it with a power vented or sealed combustion water heater.  Natural draft units are inefficient and can back draft carbon monoxide and other pollutants into your updated home.  They are not installed in new homes in Minnesota, why put one in yours?
  • Project quality control: Ensure the remodeling project is not creating new air leaks, insulation gaps, problems with carbon monoxide and other pollutants, new mold/moisture issues

A good way to oversee quality control is to enlist the help of a Certified Energy Professional (energy auditor) to do a home performance assessment (energy audit) prior to remodeling. This process uncovers home performance problems and offers solutions for inclusion in the remodeling plan. The energy pro can also visit your jobsite at critical construction milestones to ensure correct installation of specific energy, water, and air quality solutions. At the end of construction, the energy pro can retest the fuel burning devices to ensure that your home is safe.

You can also consider hiring a Home Performance Contractor trained to test your home at the beginning and end of a project while performing energy related construction services in between. Some are even Certified Energy Professionals.

Next Steps

  1. Test for combustion safety – your health depends on it
  2. Read the Most Important Step
  3. Find a Certified Energy Professional
  4. Incorporate the Scope of Work recommendations into remodeling specifications
  5. Find a Home Performance Contractor
  6. Determine proper ventilation and install a system to meet the requirement
  7. Review additional resources to build your confidence:

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