Shorts-If They’re Not Asking, And You’re Not Telling, Somebody’s Assuming

I was recently teaching a continuing education class on energy code, the class was attended by about 100 general contractors.  We covered a lot of information about energy and building science, one of the topics I discussed, and was hoping every contractor there would remember, was the topic; who is responsible?

Who is responsible for sealing this hole?  I asked that question during the training.  One person yelled out “the person that drilled it!”  That might be a correct answer, but the person that made the hole might assume the siding contractor will seal it.  The point of the discussion was to have that conversation.  Whether you are the general contractor, production manager foreman, or even the homeowner, there needs to be communication between the trades.  As long as it’s sealed correctly, it doesn’t really matter who does it, just that it gets done.

This leads to another thought, who is asking and who is telling during the design phase?  A very important detail in the design of a home is making sure everyone involved understands the metrics of the build.  Here’s an example: a home is designed with an attic insulation value of R-60, walls, R-40, windows are an equivalent of R-6 and an air tightness level of 1 ACH50.  If these metrics aren’t communicated to the heating contractor, what will he assume?  Code minimum!  R-49 in the attic, R-21 walls, R-3.33 windows and an air infiltration level of 3 ACH50.  This will result in a grossly oversized heating and cooling system which may affect, comfort, durability and cost of operation.  This is just one example of what might be assumed.

The point of all this is we can no longer assume or use a rule of thumb.  Unfortunately, I don’t think we communicate with everyone involved on a project well enough, I know I figure the person I’m talking to understands what I’m saying, sometimes this isn’t the case.  When that happens, we usually assume, and assumption can be the mother of all F-up’s.  (I was told that a long time ago.)  If you’re not telling, and they’re not asking, then somebody’s assuming, and we end up with something like the photo in the post.

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