Why do I torture myself?

March 1, 2011

I am not one who gets very excited about trade shows.  Mainly because most of the time the information the product representative is telling me I already know due to my own research.  So typically I  just walk on through and stop at the booths that have something I have not seen before or new company that I have not heard of.  However, when I leave the trade show I felt as I at least learned a couple of things and found some new and interesting products.

However year after year my wife and I torture ourselves and attend the local home and garden show.  Now if you want to experience high pressure sales and be steered into the cheapest way to do things, you must attend a home and garden show.  Now don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good home builders and remodeling contractors out there, but I seriously doubt you will find one at one of these shows.  Because the good ones out there don’t need to attend because they get work through referrals.

With the exception of a new home energy auditing company and few insulation contractors, I couldn’t even tell you the headache I had after I left.  So many of us out there are trying to do good quality work and try and reduce our footprint on this earth.  But I couldn’t believe a conversation that I had with a remodeling contractor.  I asked if they had any experience installing fiber cement siding over 2-4 inches of foam.  Now I will give you a second to think about what his response was…….  They actually remove the foam board insulation.  Can you freaking believe it?!  My wife walked away when she saw my jaw drop.  I mean seriously?  So we hopefully improved the look of the home, but we  just removed at least 20% of the wall insulation and increased the home owners utility bills.  He continued the conversation that if you install the siding over furring strips, the siding will snap.  So I politely took his business card and told my wife, this goes in the do not hire pile.

So where does it start?  Do we continue our efforts and try and educate the home owner or do we need push harder to get people in our industry on board and bring them up to date on today’s building practices?

Crawling in dark places and learning lots

November 1, 2010

So it has been a busy six weeks working with Conservation Services Group (CSG).  The first week consisted of training from the Applied Building Sciences division of Conservation Services Group.  A lot of the class room training was a BPI Building Analyst review, along with software and additional field training.  The cool thing about the field training was we actually used my house as one of the two field training homes.  So I had six energy auditors inspecting the work that I have done to my house, and I was also able to put my home into the system and see if I would qualify for some of the utility rebates for a new furnace.  Unfortunately no, but I did get a lot of compliments on the work I have performed to date, except for the fact that my home is well below the Building Air Flow standard.

The second week was a week of shadowing an auditor.  Although I had to cut it a couple of days short due to my presentation at the AIA Ohio Convention, it was a great way/best way to learn how things are and should be done.  As well as a quick lesson into the utility rebate program that CSG is running.

The third week was the first of solo audits.  Expecting new employees to take a little bit longer at first as they get use to what is expected in an audit, as well as the program, our first week consisted of one audit a day to get our time down to 4 hours to conduct the audit.  The audit includes everything in a full comprehensive BPI audit as well as a report generated at the customers house and discuss it with them.  Let me tell you that first week was a trial by fire.  All the homes I audited my first week ranged anywhere from 1,500 to 4,000 square feet and all were built anywhere between 1910 and 1960, all with older systems and little to no insulation.  Most were very complicated houses.  So let’s just say my first week of audits was taking 5-6 hours to complete.  So I was getting nervous by the end of the week knowing that the next week I would be doing two audits a day.

Thankfully by the beginning of the fourth week something just clicked.  And that is when they started to fail.  Water heaters were failing the worst case draft testing left and right.  A few were not even drafting is quite conditions.  Now with some of these larger homes that have multiple exhaust fans, it is my opinion that we are creating un-natural conditions that the home owner would never create.  However that is the BPI standard that we work by, to turn on all exhaust fans to create the greatest negative pressure in the home.

All in all it has been a very busy 6 weeks getting use to the pace and getting my body to build its endurance to keep up the pace.  But I am seeing all types, sizes and ages of homes.  So it has been a great experience so far and I look forward to continuing to work for Conservation Services Group.  I am learning a lot and seeing how many things have been built, good and bad.  So if I get the time, I have some good ideas for some future posts.  So keep me in your RSS feeds for future updates.

Site Visit – CSCC Academic Center E

November 17, 2009

After a couple of months of sitting in the office, I finally got a chance to go out to the jobsite for a project that I have been working on for the past 3 years.  Construction is scheduled to be completed by May of 2010, and we are targeting a LEED Gold certification for the project.

So here are a few photos that I thought I would share from my recent site visit.


Exterior SunshadesMain EntrySecond Floor CorridorLearning Commons

Something that I believe in

October 29, 2009

I just happen to come across this post and it just struck a cord with me.  With all my work on an affordable LEED Home and the AIA Ohio Affordable Green Home Design Competition, what this architect writes about is exactly what I believe in and want to advocate as my professional career progresses.

The Case for Affordable Housing & A National Energy Standard
They must go hand-in-hand. ( October 2009 )

Certain items are needed for all people to live a decent (modern) life: decent housing, decent (safe) food, clear (safe) water & air; fair wage/job; access to health care.  All other things are possible (for a people) from there.

Making a (high end designer) commodity of any of the aforementioned, makes those items inaccessible by lower income people and the poor, and now we see, inaccessible to even the middle class in America.

Behind affordable health care, Affordable Housing is the largest problem facing our nation.  When jobs are harder to get, it makes it that much harder to maintain one’s health, and to maintain a decent place to live.  Basic, decent housing, healthcare and  food are a human right.

Continue reading the article at ShantyWorld

Looking to drop the title "Intern"

October 23, 2009

For most of us in the architectural profession, this past year has been painful.  Many have lost their jobs, and a good amount of us have had pay cuts, which is equally stressful with the amount of strain it puts on our families.  However I have taken the attitude that even though the time is difficult, you just need to push through it.  Because even with the few jobs that are out there, the competition is fierce.  I interviewed for a new job a couple of weeks ago to try and get my salary back to normal just to be able to provide for my family better, and I was up against 15 other people.  That was just how many they interviewed, who knows how many resumes they actually received.  Because I think the latest statistic that I heard was that close to 30% of the architectural profession is without a job.

I also believe you need to prepare for the worst.  Now for a lot of us, stashing money in a savings account is not an option.  But there are other things that can be done.  My local AIA chapter (AIA Columbus) recently held a seminar for the recently unemployed on various issues to consider if you decide to work for yourself.  Believe it or not, a lot of architectural firms get their start during a recession (article).  Attend AIA meetings and other events and start networking with colleagues.  Let them know who you are and what you are up to.  Even though they may not have work to take you on at that time, keeping an open line of communication with others will put you in the loop when new jobs are available and that personal connection may help you get your foot in the door.  Because it truly is not always what you know, but who you know.

Read the rest of this entry »