I’m working on an article discussing the #codeminimumhouse from a year ago and it’s got me thinking about what I would suggest as upgrades that won’t break a budget for a new build. Basically a check list for building slightly above code.
1. Plan your air tightness level – I suggest 1 ACH50 or less. This could be accomplished by paying attention to the details as the home is being built or hiring a third party, such as Aerobarrier.
2. Install balanced mechanical ventilation. You’ll need it with a tight home and it will improve indoor air quality. Balanced mechanical ventilation for all new construction is required in my state of Minnesota. Oh, and maintain the system!
3. Slightly increase the U-value and performance of the windows. In my area, a lumber yard will supply you with a code minimum window unless you specify differently. Move from the code minimum of U-.30 to around a U-.25 two pane unit.
4. Install a rain screen. This can be accomplished by simply specifying a drainable water resistive barrier.
5. Have a third party conduct a heat loss calculation! They will need to know a lot of details about the home which will force better planning and you’ll get a heating/cooling system that matches the needs for the home.
None of these details will add a lot to a new build, 2-3% of the total budget is what I would estimate, but you will get a better home. Just my opinion.