Steep declines in housing prices and stiffer lending requirements have slowed home sales to their lowest levels in decades. As a result, a lot of us have changed our long term plans. Rather than climb the housing ladder any further, we would rather improve our existing home -- the architectural equivalent of “love the one you’re with.”
Fernando Pages Ruiz
Homebuilder, developer and author Fernando Pagés Ruiz builds in the Midwest and Mountain States and consults internationally on how to build high-quality, affordable and energy-efficient homes. As a builder, his projects have numerous awards including the 2008 “Green Building Single Family House of the Year” and the 2007 “Workforce Housing Award” from the National Association of Home Builders. In 2006, the Department of Housing and Urban Development's PATH project chose him to build America's first PATH Concept Home, a home that is affordable to purchase and to maintain while meeting the criteria of LEED for Homes, ENERGY STAR, MASCO Environments for Living, and the NAHB's Green Building standards. A frequent contributor to Fine Homebuilding and EcoHome magazines, Pagés is also the author of two books published by the Taunton Press: Building an Affordable House: A high-value, low-cost approach to building (2005) and Affordable Remodel: How to get custom results on any budget (2007).
If Shakespeare were alive today, he may have asked the more pressing question, “To move or to improve?” Either way, the choice usually means a change for the better, so it’s more about “why to,” “when to,” and “how to" move or improve rather than “if to” do either, because, while sellers remain shell-shocked, today’s home-hunters and remodeling customers are in for a pleasantly plentiful supply: It’s a buyer’s market.
Effective air sealing comes with workmanship. No matter what brand of housewrap you choose, you will be wasting your money unless you install it carefully. Getting the installation right is not hard, but it requires a basic understanding of how housewrap works. Detailed installation instructions can be found on manufacturers’ Web sites and often at the lumberyard or home center where housewrap is purchased.
You already know the basics of sealing: you do it every time you zip up your jacket or lift your collar against the wind. Sealing a home works on the same principle, reducing air infiltration through the walls, ceilings, and floors to save energy and stay comfy. Just as you do a jacket, it’s best to button up – or seal – the shell of your home, or the “envelope,” as the exterior of your home is called in trade parlance. Older homes may have had no sealing done at all, and not all builders of new homes do a great job of sealing a house, even when sealing is required by today’s energy codes. We researched the best products and spoke to several experts to learn how to tighten the envelope of your home, save energy, and keep out the cold.