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Simple House Building / January 30, 2015

Home building is notoriously stuck-in-the-mud. Throughout history, this industry has stubbornly resisted innovation and new technology. There is some logic behind this. It’s already such a high-risk business, many builders say, so why add the risk of pioneering new methods? However, it’s dangerous to think that way today. The whole world is changing. Customers in this e-commerce era are conditioned to expect rapid progress in the quality of every product. Why should a home, the largest and most expensive item they ever buy, be any different?

New materials, products and techniques are appearing today at a faster pace than ever before. And while there is risk involved in these innovations, there’s also the promise of big gains in customer satisfaction. To find the best new ideas in home building, and innovations to better manage the construction process, we sought out builders known as innovators and asked what new methods they’ve adopted that really work well. Here’s what we learned:

1. Install a Chase for Wiring Upgrades

No matter where builders fall on the technology curve, few would disagree that homeowners are demanding high-tech upgrades such as high-speed Internet connection capabilities, multiple phone lines and whole-house sound systems. But for many builders, offering a complete high-tech wiring package is simply not feasible, nor is it particularly practical.

Curt Langille, of Lanco Development, a custom building company in McHenry, Ill., has devised a simple and inexpensive solution. Unless his buyers have a very specific picture of exactly what their wiring needs are, he installs a two-inch plastic chase that runs from the basement to the attic so that wiring can be easily updated as the homeowners’ needs change.

"All you have to do, " Langille says, "is locate two walls that stack one on top of the other, preferably in a central location." Run the PVC chase through the wall from the basement to the attic during framing, leaving a few inches of the pipe exposed in both places. Wiring can be threaded through the chase from either direction for access to the home’s ceilings and floors.

2. Fresh Air at Moderate Temperatures

The green building and sustainable development movements are not new. Master Builder Edward O. Paschich, of Passage Homes in Albuquerque, N.M., has been in the business for 25 years. Most of that time he’s been testing and trying out building concepts that not only make homes environmentally friendly but also make them better. Building about 12 custom and spec houses each year, his company is proof that you don’t have to be big to be innovative.

Passage Homes, Albuquerque, N.M., buries fresh-air ducts to take advantage of moderate below-ground temperatures, naturally cooling and enhancing indoor air.

Many builders are aware of the growing issue of indoor air quality. Tightly sealed homes are more energy efficient but lack fresh air. To address this issue, Paschich has built a number of homes with ground-based air intakes. While these are distinct from geo-thermal systems with deep vertical shafts drilled beneath homes at great expense, the benefit is similar: fresh air that cools in the summer and warms in the winter.

Source: www.probuilder.com