This post was written in 2012 as I saw an opportunity to build differently.
My career started in the 70’s as a house painter. A painter touches the surfaces of each project three times: Prep. Prime. Paint. Over dozens of projects I saw and touched every finished part of a house, inside and out. As a result I got to know the parts and how they’re assembled pretty well. And as I worked I witnessed how they fail and how they last.
As I moved on to remodeling I got to take apart and reassemble all the pieces that don’t get painted. Over many years I’ve come to know every piece of a house pretty intimately: how they’re assembled and again, how they last and fail.
I’ve worked on every era of New England home, from neo-colonial to actual colonial, Victorian to ranch, homes built in the last few decades and the last few centuries, including a few we’ve designed and built ourselves. Remarkably, give or take their formal arrangement and the changing fashions of surface decoration, they’re all constructed in the same basic way. And despite some improvements in insulation and efficiency in equipment, they all leak air and energy (and yes, some more than others) in the same basic ways. And in that regard, as they have lasted, they are failing us.
That changes now. How our homes perform suddenly matters much more. Performance is an exciting new dimension to how we think about, build, and remodel those homes. As much as I love them, the same basic way all those homes were built is obsolete. It’s time to build different. It’s time to build better.
No more leaks as the source and mechanism of ventilation. No more big equipment to make up for lost heat. No more thin walls (yes, a 2×6 is a thin wall). No more ducts in the attic. And no more being a bit uncomfortable to save on fuel.
When we have the chance, we’ll work to overcome the liabilities of all those homes built in the same basic way. And everything new that we build will perform in a whole new way. Better thermal comfort. Better health. Better durability. Better stability for a decidedly uncertain future.
Newly aware, we know to stop building in the same basic way. Homes that fit are homes that work.
Built Different. Built Better.