Where’s the Proof? Get the Guarantee that your Home is BUILT TO SAVE™
It is human nature to make assumptions that are often based on our knowledge, perceptions, and past experiences. When it comes to building or buying a new home, for example, most of us assume that there are many people, from manufacturers, to suppliers, to building professionals, to government officials, who will ensure that we are buying a quality, energy efficient home that is guaranteed to last a long time. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. The reality is that as consumers, we should not take anyone’s word that what we are buying is what it is represented to be—especially if it’s a new home. Ask for proof.
IF CARS WERE BUILT LIKE HOUSES
As we have all heard before, buying a new home is surely the single, largest purchase we will make in our lifetime. Yet, the current building and buying process for a new home can seem ridiculous when, for example, one compares it to building or buying a new car. Check out this short video, “If Cars Were Built Like Houses*,” on YouTube, which illustrates the point beautifully. You may laugh out loud when you see this video because it is funny—but it’s no joke. The bad news is that the video depicts what, unfortunately, is reality for many who are building or buying a house today. The good news is that by the time you finish this article, you will have all you need to know in order to change that reality for you.
If you saw the video referenced above, you know that the only way to make sure you are getting a quality built and energy efficient home is to ask for proof. Look for homes that have been performance tested, inspected, and have been verified by third-party inspectors who guarantee that the home complies with the required quality-controlled checklists of a high-performance home certification.
BUILT TO SAVE™ PROGRAM CERTIFICATION
The BUILT TO SAVE™ program is one of several high-performance home programs available to builders that provides homebuyers the proof they need to know that their home was quality-built and is guaranteed to be more energy efficient than a similar home built only to current national code. The attractiveness of the BUILT TO SAVE™ program is that unlike other programs, it doesn’t require the builder to jump through hoops to meet extensive construction requirements or focus on non-energy saving items that would be more appropriate for building “green.” The program also provides generous incentives from Magic Valley Electric Coop (MVEC) to the builders for homes in MVEC territory that can be used to offset the cost of inspections. The BUILT TO SAVE™ program is really designed to compete with homes built only to code—the bare minimum standards in quality and efficiency that a home must legally meet. The program fills the gap between the more comprehensive ENERGY STAR® certification, which is more expensive and difficult to obtain, and building homes to minimum code. BUILT TO SAVE™ offers homebuyers (and builders) a more accessible method to obtain “proof” that the home has been built “above code” and certified as a high-performance home.
A home that has earned the BUILT TO SAVE™ certification means the home has met construction requirements designed to save homeowners money on utilities with tighter construction and better efficiency than a home built to simply comply with minimum building codes. Every contractor will say that they build an energy efficient home. Not one of them will say otherwise. And you the homebuyer won’t really know just how energy efficient the home is until you move in and get your first electric bill.
With a BUILT TO SAVE™ certified home, it’s not the builder but rather an independent third-party home energy rater who gives you a guarantee that the home is more energy efficient than a similar home built to code. The home energy rater also performs inspections before the walls are put in and uses specialized equipment and software to test the leakiness of the home’s envelope (roof, walls, windows, doors) and ductwork after the home is completed. These final tests predict the home’s energy consumption and ensure that its uility bills will be less than a similar home built only to code–saving homeowners money on utilities every month for the life of the home.
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE MONEY SAVED
While saving money is great, the other more important benefits of a BUILT TO SAVE™ certified home have a more appreciated impact on daily life. Because a BUILT TO SAVE™ home is built to meet higher standards, the homes will provide tighter construction, air tight and efficiently-designed ductwork, with a heating, ventilation, and cooling system (HVAC) that is sized right to the living areas and needs of the home. What this means is that homeowners will enjoy even temperatures across every room in the home, better indoor air quality, protection from pests, less maintenance, and less air infiltration. In short, homebuyers of BUILT TO SAVE™ homes will save money and enjoy more comfort in their homes!
WHY AREN’T ALL HOMES BUILT TO SAVE™?
You would think that all builders would have their houses certified by the BUILT TO SAVE™ program for the benefit and peace of mind of the consumer, yet they don’t all do. And the reason they don’t may surprise you, but it makes a lot of sense—to them and their business model anyway. The most common reason we hear builders say they don’t certify their homes as a BUILT TO SAVE™ home is, “Homebuyers don’t ask for them, so I’m not going spend more on something no one is asking for.”
Sadly, they are correct. The only people that can change the attitude of these builders and others who say, “I’m already building a quality and energy efficient home; I don’t need a piece of paper telling me what I already know,” are you, the homebuyers. What these builders fail to see is that the piece of paper or “proof” represents a) the confidence they have in their work to agree to a third party professional inspecting the home for quality assurance; and b) a commitment to improve their product, even if it means spending more time and money, to give their homebuyer a better, more energy efficient home.
Remember: ask for proof, and not just a certificate of occupancy that the home passed the city’s code inspection to comply with minimum code laws. Ask to see a high-performance certificate issued by the BUILT TO SAVE™ program.
Visit the BUILT TO SAVE™ website to learn more about the benefits of the program and to find a builder who is building BUILT TO SAVE™ certified homes. You can also check out the Coastal Bend New Homes Guide to see a list of builders who have certified homes in the BUILT TO SAVE™ program or are in the process of building one.
*Video produced by Illinois Association of Energy Raters and home performance professionals and adapted from the book “Measured Home Performance” by Rick Chitwood and Lew Harriman.
BUILT TO SAVE™ HOMES
Meet the select group of BUILT TO SAVE™ builders leading the new home industry in the construction of high-performance homes in the Coastal Bend. These builders are investing more, not just the minimum, on a home to make it more energy efficient, more comfortable, more durable, and more valuable at resale.
• • •
Live Oak Construction
• • •
• • •
• • •