"Experience SBI" – The Remodeling Newsletter

Want to get free tips and hints for improving the appearance and livability of your home? Trying to sell a house and want to increase the value? Or are you looking for ideas on remodeling projects? You'll find all this and a lot more in Sound Builders' newsletter "Experience SBI".kk

Take a look at our current edition below, or visit our archives for previous editions. Then be sure to subscribe, using the form on the right, so you'll keep up to date in the latest in home improvement!

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Autumn is probably the most beautiful time of the year with all the leaves turning vibrant yellow, burnt orange and fiery red. It is also a time to plan for winter. Here are a few tips for winterizing your home:

-Disconnect hoses

-Inspect roofs and gutters

-Have your furnace serviced and filters changed or washed

-Change light timers

-Check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors

Remember Daylight Savings Time ends Nov 3rd, so be sure to set your clocks back an hour!

Remodeling Success 101

Q: How important is duct sealing?

A: Poorly sealed heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) ducts can be major energy losers. Unsealed ductwork that runs through an unconditioned attic can leak 500 cubic feet of air per minute—more than a ton of heating or cooling capacity. These air leaks occur at the seams where duct sections meet. A conscientious builder or remodeler will make sure that the HVAC contractor has properly sealed these seams.

Remodeling and Resiliency

The ability to weather storms is another advantage of hiring a pro with up-to-date knowledge about building science.

Modern life would be impossible without electrical power, but sometimes the power goes out. Storms are the most common reason: Atlantic hurricanes routinely leave millions without electricity, and just this past summer thunderstorms and monsoons put thousands of homes in the dark in areas that ranged from Minnesota to Phoenix. Outages even happen without bad weather, like the 2003 blackout that affected 11 million people in an area stretching from Ontario to New Jersey, thanks to a software bug.

One often overlooked benefit of a whole-house renovation is that a knowledgeable remodeler can add enough resilience to make the home comfortable during an outage. "It's called Passive Survivability," says Alex Wilson, president of the Resilient Design Institute in Brattleboro, Vt. "It's about designing and building homes that remain habitable if they lose power."

Wilson usually writes about green building, but the design and construction principles he advocates are routinely used by the best professional builders and remodelers. This is essential building science and includes making walls, roofs and ceilings more efficient with high R-value insulation, careful air sealing, and high-performance windows that offer passive solar gain. These improvements can keep a home livable without power for days. (Homeowners who want to keep the lights on during a blackout may add solar panels, a backup generator or a home battery. In fact, a battery can run a refrigerator, a furnace or heat pump, and a few basic circuits for up to 12 hours.)

You can also add resilience with the right structural and moisture details. Elements like hardware tie-downs and plywood shear panels will make roofs and walls more resistant to damage from high winds. Careful waterproofing will keep wall and roof cavities dry even in the fiercest rain, snow or ice storms. In regions subject to windborne debris—from hurricanes or tornadoes, for instance—some homeowners choose impact-resistant windows. They're pricey, but if the budget permits them, they reduce the chance of a breach that will allow wind and water into the home.

How much you can do on a remodel depends on the project scope, but it is worth considering for nearly any home. For instance, most homes will benefit from improved air-sealing in attics and basements—improvements that can be done with minimal impact on the homeowners' lives. A roofing or siding replacement offers the chance to raise R-values by adding external foam insulation. And if the home needs new windows, it makes sense to get the highest-performing models the budget permits.

One of the best things about resilient construction is that it pays off even if the home never loses power. Careful waterproofing means lower long-term maintenance bills and less chance of mold and mildew growth. Insulation and air sealing reduce monthly energy costs while creating a quieter, more comfortable living experience.

The complication is that someone with just a nodding acquaintance of building science can actually create problems. For instance, the remodeler's crew needs to understand the flashing details needed for today's windows and doors—details that can vary by manufacturer. Insulation and air sealing need to be implemented so that walls and roofs shed moisture rather than trapping it, and the techniques vary depending on the local climate.

Building science has come a long way in recent years, and you want to hire someone who has invested time and effort in keeping current. In other words, you need an educated pro.

Warm regards,

Jay DePhelps, CGR, CAPS
Sound Builders Inc.
(206) 246-7100

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– Marsha and Steve P.



Sound Builders Inc. - PO Box 568, Ravensdale, WA 98051 Phone: 206-246-7100 or 253-859-7978 Email:
Washington State contractor license number: SOUNDB*241K0
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