Monthly Archives: December 2012

Shared Values

As we work to publish our last blog post for the year 2012, we’re compelled to not only look forward but to look back.
We believe that it’s important to look back and acknowledge those organizations that have helped to enrich and enlighten us, by providing forward thinking, continuing education opportunities and by putting forth what we consider to be, shared values.

We’ve given honorable mention and talked about the National Green Building Standard, Focus on Energy and Building Science Corporation in previous blog posts, but we don’t want to let this year pass without giving a shout-out to Energy and Environmental Building Alliance, or as some refer, EEBA.

Back in December of 2009, we traveled  from our home in Northern Wisconsin, to the Chicago area, in order to attend what we considered to be a cutting edge training session, conducted by EEBA.
The course title; “Houses That Work”.
This training session was invaluable, as it helped to strengthen our understanding of building science and how to implement these disciplines and best practices into our high-performance home building operations.
This training session is still being offered in regions throughout the U.S. and a “Houses That Work” DVD is available as well.

I urge you visit the EEBA site, if you plan to build a new home or remodel an existing home, as you’ll find the wealth of knowledge available there to be invaluable.
Follow this link to the “About” page on their site.
Their commitment to continuing education and a philosophy of responsible building practices are values that we hold dear, while we share in their vision of a world where everyone can live in a healthy, safe, durable, energy-efficient home.

If you share in our values and are interested in building or remodeling to a higher energy design standard, contact us today.
We’re Great Lakes Carpentry and we’re Building Today for a Greener Tomorrow!

Energy Efficient Mortagages

All of us at Great Lakes Carpentry are excited and encouraged to see that high performance homes are starting to get the recognition they deserve, from a growing number of lenders.

Have you heard the term “Energy Efficient Mortgage“? (EEM)

The Department of Housing and Urban Development now offers an Energy Efficient Mortgage for qualified home buyers.
HUD realizes that the money saved on each month’s utility bill can be put toward affording a more comfortable, energy-efficient home.

Last year, as a member of the Focus on Energy New Homes Program, we received a press release, regarding an Unprecedented New Home Financing Model;
North Shore Bank of Wisconsin will now offer home mortgage loans at low rates for Wisconsin residents who build a new home that is enrolled in the Focus on Energy New Homes Program.
“North Shore Bank recognizes the financial savings that energy efficiency brings,” said Rovinski. “That’s why we created a special package to allow higher debt to income ratios for those who have Focus on Energy certified homes. We want this program to succeed and for our customers to love their new efficient homes.”
North Shore Bank is demonstrating its leadership on this important front by accepting low down payment options and not selling the loans. In addition, it also has over 45 office locations throughout Wisconsin, helping increase exposure to the Focus on Energy New Homes Program. North Shore Bank’s value-added services offer the convenience and motivation for home-buyers to build a Focus on Energy New Home.

Focus on Energy New Homes Program Advantages;
Focus on Energy New Homes are at least 10 percent more energy-efficient than homes built to Wisconsin’s Uniform Dwelling Code. Moreover, buyers of a Focus on Energy New Home can expect the following: Peace of mind—At every stage, Focus on Energy works with builders to help new homes meet the highest standards for energy efficiency. Lower energy bills—Home-buyers receive a homeowners manual to help them maximize the energy-efficient features of a Focus on Energy New Home. Proof positive—A third-party energy consultant certifies all Focus on Energy New Homes to verify they meet strict standards for energy efficiency, air tightness, insulation, ventilation, and safety. Resale differentiator—Focus on Energy New Home owners who sold their homes reported that energy efficiency was a differentiator for their prospective buyers.
“If you’re in the market to build a new home, an energy-efficient home is a smart investment. You’ll save money, enjoy better air quality, and have a more durable home,” said Carter Dedolph, Focus on Energy Senior Programs Manager. “And, now Focus on Energy New Homes are even more appealing because of loan rates that are less than the national average.”

As more people demand that their new homes and remodel projects be built to higher energy efficiency design standards, more and more lenders will realize that they will need to offer this type of home loan, in order to be competitive.

Those of us at Great Lakes Carpentry firmly believe that the demand for high-performance new homes and remodeling projects, along with financial products that take energy efficiency into account, will grow to the point that both will be looked upon as the “New Normal” for the home building and lending industries.

To learn more about building a high-performance home or remodeling project, contact Great Lakes Carpentry.

Building Science

During the late 1990’s, Great Lakes Carpentry was a “me too” home building and remodeling contractor.
We focused on building beautiful new homes and remodeling projects, just like the vast majority of the other builders in our area.
We competed on price and were most concerned with the fit and finish of our projects, as we looked past more important details, such as air-tightness, energy efficiency and indoor-air quality.

During the course of the year 2002 we had an epiphany.
We began to hear about mold becoming a huge issue in the home building industry and about structural damages, health risks and huge settlements being awarded plaintiffs.
Our insurance carrier informed us that no longer would we be insured against claims for damages caused by mold.
We knew that something had gone wrong with the way the industry was approaching the home building process, but we weren’t exactly sure about what it was.

Our quest for better understanding led us to our discovery of  Building Science and of Mr. Joseph Lstiburek, P. Eng., from Building Science Corporation.
Many high performance home builders consider Joe Lstiburek to be the godfather of Building Science.
The definition of building science is as follows:
The collection of scientific knowledge that focuses on the analysis and control of the physical phenomena affecting buildings.

Our first purchase from the Building Science Corporation’s book store was, “Builder’s Guide to Cold Climates, Details for Design and Construction“, authored by Joseph Lstiburek.
We immediately realized the advantages of implementing the details called-out in this publication and have made them part of our standard operational procedures, for each project that we take on.
We came to understand the importance of taking a holistic approach to the design & build phases of construction and how critical it is to make air-sealing, proper ventilation and  higher thermal values a priority.

The discovery of building science has made a huge impact on how we build and how we approach the design and execution of the design intent.
We now know that we need to “Seal it Tight and Ventilate Right”.
Air-leakage, moisture vapor transport and poor ventilation are at the root cause of many building failures, causing moisture damage that can lead to mold growth and rot of structural framing members and sheathing.
I advise our prospective clients that, “Anyone can nail two pieces of wood together”.
“I recommend that you consider choosing a builder who understands and implements Building Science principles and disciplines, or you run the risk of having serious efficiency, structural and health defects built-in to your dwelling.”
Joseph Lstiburek  has  authored,  “Builder’s Guide’s”,  for all U.S. climates zones and has also authored, “Builder’s Guide to Structural Insulated Panels (SIP‘s)” for all climates. We use this publication as our bible, for construction of all of our SIP homes and remodel projects.

The housing industry owes a great deal of thanks to Joe Lstiburek of Building Science Corporation, for his vision, his eagerness to share his knowledge and for helping to shape the home building industry of the future.
If you’d like to tap into this huge knowledge base, visit the Building Science Corporation website at:

Great Lakes Carpentry is a true believer and practitioner of Building Science principles and disciplines.
We’re Building Better through Building Science.Contact us to learn how we can put Building Science to work for you.