Homes not required to be built to minimum code… It’s a downright shame!

It’s a downright shame!

By Glenn Hooper, April, 20 2015

A good friend of mine decide to just about tear his whole house down, rebuild what was there and add a second floor. So, I didn’t have any Flight-Smart (A term I coined) which means I wasn’t flown in from half way across the country to consult, so as one of his best friends, I couldn’t possibly be an expert about this subject. As such, my friend didn’t ever once include my help in his re-built dream home. We didn’t talk about cost, but I would venture to guess that he has spent over 100,000.00 on something built to less than code…

How could this travesty have happened? Unfortunately his township is among many who won’t enforce the 2010 Energy Conservation Construction Code. Additionally his contractor (Who did an AMAZING visual job) was equally unaware, or just dint care.   That said, you my dear reader, probably don’t know how the lack of consideration for the law has affected his home. I tried to minimize the pain and suffering my friend has to endure, and actually held back but the conversation went kind of like this,

Me, So how’s the house coming,

Friend, Oh my, we are so happy. Today we just about finished moving back in from the apartment we rented for the last few months….

Me, Awesome, I’m so happy for you guys, so you know me and I’m curious, who tested the home?

Friend, what do you mean?

Me, don’t you remember about a year ago I told you it was NYS minimum code to have some things tested? You did have new Ductwork installed right?

Friend, Um.. Yea, 100% new ducts, including heating and cooling….

Me, so, did anyone test the system?

Friend, No…

Me, Ok, well… (Trying to hide my outrage) Who did the heating and cooling load calculations?

Friend, um…. What do you mean?

Me, at any point did any one discuss with you your homes heating and cooling requirements and guide you as to what may be most comfortable and efficient?

Friend, Um… No… Well my contractor did tell me I have a high efficiency direct vented boiler…

Me, So buddy, one last question, because it sounds like you are very happy and I don’t want to bring you down, Can you ask your contractor one question for me, did the plumber ever check the CO level on the boiler ???

This opened up a very long dialog between my friend and I. Ultimately I had to explain the following to him;

  • He paid top price for a heating system that has not been “tuned up”
  • He could have a race car running on 3 cylinders instead of 8.
  • The CO levels could be sky high because nobody ever checked.
  • The cooling system could be greatly over sized, because there was no load calculations done and
  • His brand new system might not ever dehumidify properly.
  • In addition, the efficiency of his AC and Heating could be worse than what he had previously because no one tested the duct work for leakage.
  • He could be loosing half of his money to the attic.
  • His house has no ventilation designed.
  • He has no idea of his infiltration, and could be loosing hundreds or thousands to his attic.
  • He has no clue as to where the air he and his family use for breathing comes from during the winter or summer.
  • No one knows of how well the insulation was installed
  • He doesn’t know if the air sealing (required by code) was even performed, could be raining in his brand new walls during the summer and winter.

So, for over 100K he has a house that has been built to much less than allowed by law.

My friend, who is a very smart guy, was robbed. Robbed by two separate entities. His contractor and the town he pays dearly to every year. For those not from these parts, his home is on probably 1/8 of an acre and may be 2,000 sq. ft. I’m sure his taxes are over 10k per year.

I feel so horribly bad I wasn’t given the chance to help, it’s not my friends fault. He just didn’t know. It’s partially his contractors fault, because this guy is supposed to know how to do his job. What makes me nuts is that the Town Building Dept. knew he was doing this (He did pay for permits and town inspections) and refuses to enforce the conservation code… Come on, these are our elected officials, the people we pay to protect us from this kind of stuff!!

So, unfortunately my friends home is built significantly worse than a ton of other homes just down the road that are under the control of another Town who does enforce the code (And has been doing so well before 2010)

I promised to try and do some damage control, by performing a full rating on his home and testing / inspecting what I can to see where it stands. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, but after all of the things not done, my hopes are not high.

I was taught that everything happened for a reason. If the reason was simply for a lesson, then learn from it. I hope you learn that regardless who you hire, its always buyer beware and up to you to demand that you receive what your paying for. You dont need to be a mechanic to get your car fixed, just bring it to someone who is good. Like an auto mechanic, dentists or lawyer, a HERS Raters ability varies. You usually get what you pay for, so look into qualifications and your rater history before you decide.

As far as my friends home, I will keep you posted, so check back for updates!