Green Building / Simpy Green Built
Tom Budzynski, founder and owner of TJB Homes, started in the building and Real Estate Industry in 1975 remodeling homes and apartment buildings. In 1978, he built his first new home in Blaine. When building the first home Tom was very concerned about Energy Efficiency and incorporated some special building techniques of the period to help reduce heating costs. Wanting to move more into new home construction, Tom looked for more advanced building designs to build homes in greater numbers that would save the owners on their heat bills.
THE CANADIAN BUILDING METHOD
Tom heard about the "Canadian Building Method" of building in cold climate housing and became very interested. He studied all the information he could get his hands on to understand how they built homes in these cold areas. At this same time, Northern States Power was building a demonstration home highlighting Cold Climate Housing. After much studying, Tom built a "SUPER INSULATED HOM". These homes were built as follows:
- The homes had double 2" x 4" walls a total of 12" thick with R42 insulation.
- The attic was R 80 with 36" of insulation.
- The homes were super tight.
- Each home had a Vanee Air Exchanger.
BUYERS WERE WOWED WITH LOW HEAT BILLS
The buyers loved the low heat bills. Many of the buyers put Wilkening Wood burning fireplaces in their home and many actually heated a whole winter season with a ½ cord of wood.
BUILDING COSTS WERE HIGHER
The negative was the higher cost of the building materials especially with the double wall construction. Tom analyzed this very carefully and discovered the thicker insulation was good but more important was the VAPOR BARRIER. By building the house super tight, we were keeping the warm air in and the cold air out.
SUPER TIGHT HOMES SINCE 1982
By building the home super tight, the concern now was for the excess moisture being put in the home. This issue was relieved by installing Vanee Air to Air heat Exchangers in the homes. Homeowners were able to control their humidity levels and maintain the integrity of their home thus eliminating MOLD, MILDEW AND ROT issues that many builders today are experiencing.
HOW DO YOU GET THE HOMES THAT TIGHT?
We use many special techniques during the framing process that help to create a tight home. The following describes our special building techniques:
- Heavy foam sill sealer
- Apply glue/caulk under plates when exterior walls are set
- Special Lesco electric boxes on exterior walls
- Tape and seal vapor barrier to all boxes
- Special 6 mill vapor barriers put behind exterior wall connections
- Special 6 mill vapor barriers put over top plates before trusses are installed
- Use of 6 mill vapor barrier throughout home
- All vapor barriers are sealed with tape or caulk at all overlaps
- All penetrations, holes and bypasses to exterior and attic are sealed with foam or caulk
- Spray foam the rim joist to create the proper perm rating and create an air tight seal
- Prior to insulating the attic, we foam every light box from the top to insure no air leaks
- All attic recess gets a 12" x 12" Styrofoam box put over them to seal air leaks
- All bath fans in the attic have a Styrofoam box put over them to seal leaks in the fan housing
A large amount of heat loss and air leakage is attributed to improperly installed wind wash. Wind wash is part of the framing process that strategically place framing member in a way to prevent the wind from blowing insulation from exterior winds. Bonus rooms and soffits are where major issues can cause havoc with the heating bill.
The Vanee Air Exchanger developed in Canada has been a feature in TJB Homes since 1982. The Vanee is a fan system that exhausts the moist interior air and brings in the dryer outside air and as they pass each other, the air coming in is actually preheated by the exhausting air.
Over the years, we discovered most people were very poor on using their bath fans. They would turn them on for only a short period of time. In tighter homes, this is not good. To solve this, TJB Homes started installing One Hour fan timers in all baths. We also did away with the 60 CFM noisy propeller AC fans that you buy for $12.99 at any hardware store and went to a 110 CFM Panasonic DC quiet fan.
AIR DUCT SEALING
It's been a code for years but very few contractors seal their heat pipes. However you don't always see it done. TJB Homes has been requiring this to be done by its supplier for years. When the furnace turns on, it actually pressurizes the home. Without sealed pipes, this puts extra heated air into spaces between floors and pushes the air through the exterior wall. If the humidity is high, this pumps unwanted moisture into the skeleton of the home and can cause a lot of damage.
WINDOW AND DOOR SEALING
For the last 15 years because homes are being built tighter, sealing of these areas has been one that has caused the most problems with mold and mildew problems. Since 1982 TJB Homes has been putting a Sprayed Foam Bead between the window/door jamb and the wall framing member. This has created a total seal so moist air cannot get to the window framing wood. We have prevented air leakage. Installing a wad of Pink Insulation is one of the biggest reasons homeowners have had rotting windows/doors in the framing around them. Pink insulation is the same thing your furnace filter is made of. It allows air to pass through and when it is moist, the moisture stays in the insulation and after a period of time it's ROT/MOLD/MILDEW time.
The lower level concrete is one of the biggest contributors to excess moisture in a home. Up to 60% of the house humidity comes through the floor. At TJB Homes we install, and have for a long time, a 6 mill Vapor Barrier under the concrete. The vapor barrier also helps reduce Radon issues if they exist.
SEALED SUMP PUMP BASKET AND RADON PIPE
Excess moisture also comes through leaky or unsealed sump baskets. We install seal on the sump pump and run a pipe to the exterior to passively exhaust any Radon gases if they exist. Open sump baskets also breathe out mold and mildew spores from under the floor and drain tile.
Poured walls have more compressive strength then block walls. The higher density reduces water problems and mold. The strength of a poured wall from lateral forces is a huge benefit. Bridges are built with poured concrete, you do not see them using blocks.
We use a heavy applied asphalt membrane to keep water from entering the basement. Many builders use a gray sprayed damp proofing that does not prevent water penetration.
Drain tile is rock that is installed over a perforated pipe on the inside of the foundation. TJB Homes goes even further and installs rock around the outside of the foundation with a tile that will take the water to the inside tile and then to the sump basket. By keeping this system sealed, it helps reduce excess moisture from the home.
Most homes today are being wrapped in a house wrap to seal out outside air. The number one wrap in the world is made by TYVEC. At TJB Homes we exclusively use Tyvec Paper. There are many imitations that do not perform the way Tyvec paper does. Tyvec is designed to repel water but allow moisture in its gaseous state to move from the inside out. It is very important that the paper is installed overlaid so the seams shed water down. Believe it or not we have seen many homes with the paper installed improperly.
WINDOW AND DOOR SEALING
Installing windows and doors has become an art. Windows and doors need to be installed with a special sealed flashing installed around the opening. TJB Homes use the Tyvec window wrap to insure against water and wind leakage.
Andersen windows have been Standard in TJB Homes since 1990. Andersen windows is also the Number One Window in the United States and is made right here in Bayport Minnesota. They are ENERGY STAR rated and are very tight and have long warranties.
The standard wall in the Twin cities is insulated with an R19 fiberglass bat. TJB uses a high density R21 bat that adds to the thermal value of the home.
Minnesota code requires a minimum of R38 for attic insulation. TJB Homes goes 31% higher to R-50 with blown fiberglass. This makes for a warmer home.
MOLD MILDEW AND ROT ON STUCCO HOMES IT DOES NOT STOP THERE
Moisture problems with stucco can happen on houses with siding, brick and stone. Because Stucco is tighter, the problems generally show up in 4-8 years. In houses with other exterior applications, such as siding, these issues can happen in 14-20 years.
The difference is that stucco does not breathe. Siding breathes more and takes longer for damage to occur.
The main problem is caused by leaks on the inside of the home that allow excess humidity to travel into the core of the walls. The moisture leaks around windows, doors, rim joists, wall connections, electric outlets, furnace ducts, fans and recess lights. This happens when the furnace turns on and energizes the home causing a small increase in pressure. This air has to go someplace and looks for leaks for it to go. Technically if a house was perfectly tight it would become like a balloon and expand.
One of the biggest areas is unsealed rim joists that only have pink insulation in them. There needs to be some kind of vapor retarder to prevent the moisture from passing through and getting stuck in the core of the home. When there is Stucco on the outside, it has no place to go and sits there and starts causing problems.
The other large issue area is the windows and doors. As explained before there is only a twisted piece of pink insulation that does not stop air flow and allows the damp inside air to collect around the framing and again start causing problems.
Most people do not control the humidity the way they should and the excess moisture getting into all of the unsealed spaces is what can cause MOLD, MILDEW AND ROT damage.
WHAT HAS TJB HOMES DONE TO AVOID THIS PROBLEM?
As you have read through the description of how TJB Homes builds its
that Tom started building in 1982 you can come to understand the Science of Building. The direction we have taken to be "SIMPLY GREEN" and build SUPER ENERGY HOMES has resulted in a building system that has proven itself over the last 28 years. If you keep a house tight and not allow air leakage into the Exterior framing of the building and properly use an air changer and bath fans, you will not have any problems to deal with.
WE WELCOME YOU TO AN ACTUAL TOUR TO SEE THESE BUILDING PRINCIPLES
We would welcome you to a tour of one of our projects to see in person the details and building principles that we have incorporated into all of our homes.
Thomas J Budzynski
TJB Homes, Inc.