Knocking on Opportunity?s Door

Years ago I thought the only people who knew about home performance were ponytailed hippie types who placed bricks in toilet tanks to conserve water, and performed cumbersome tests on homes using crude variations of what we now call a blower door.

January 04, 2013

Years ago I thought the only people who knew about home performance were ponytailed hippie types who placed bricks in toilet tanks to conserve water, and performed cumbersome tests on homes using crude variations of what we now call a blower door.

Then one day I took a call from my customer Karen. She asked me, "why do my kids seem to run around with runny noses and flu-like symptoms from the time I turn on the furnace in the fall, until I turn it off in late spring?" My response, "I have no idea." But Karen later called to report that she had the answer. A home performance contractor had tested her home, uncovering a problem with pressure and air movement that somehow involved her gas-fired water heater. I politely listened to her sketchy story of the details, put the phone down, and was immediately distracted by the river of challenges I swam in on a daily basis.

Meanwhile the ponytailed types grew up and became the pioneers of building science. I carried on as a remodeler with no concept of how the home functions as a system until years later, when I was asked to team up with a building scientist to train remodelers. I learned the principles of building science from my co-presenter, a Building Analyst certified by the Building Performance Institute (BPI). Only then did I begin to understand how the home functions as a system. My first reaction was, "how many houses did I mess up doing the commonly accepted thing?"

I had missed an opportunity because I was too mired in the minute details of everyday operations. Many of the contractors I meet on a regular basis are wrapped up in the same chains I once dragged around.

For example: A remodeler in Ocean Beach, New Jersey contracts with a BPI-certified home performance contractor to demonstrate the leaks in the shells of their historically protected sea-side cottages. Every bath or kitchen upgrade begins with a blower door test for purposes of 'limiting liability.' The contractor explains that the test is done before the job begins and will be repeated when the job is done. The owners’ reactions when they see and feel the leaks often result in a request that the contractor repair them. The outcome is an additional work order for shell sealing and insulation/duct upgrades - without a competitive bid.

In Syracuse, New York, window replacement work normally dominated by price cutters with wild promises of lower utility bills is instead captured by building scientists who can demonstrate that the windows aren't the real problem. The remediation work performed by the building scientist affords a lower price yet higher profit than the window replacement and better energy savings. Again the job is sold without competitive bids.

State-of-the-art testing combined with creative applications are the driving forces for these sales. By becoming educated, you won't miss the opportunity to use science and high-tech tools to educate the customer. Be ready when Karen calls. PR

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For more information, contact BPI at info@bpi.org or Phone: 877-274-1274: 518-899-2727

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