Insulation: The Unsung Hero of Your Energy Efficient Home

 Insulation is arguably the most important of all components used to construct your home, but it is also the most overlooked since it is mostly hidden from view.  If your home was a football team, the insulation would be its offensive line, blocking the defense (the outside hot/cold air) from penetrating the backfield (conditioned space) and sacking the quarterback (the homeowner) and making sure you are comfortable “in the pocket”. 

When you watch a football game, you only notice the offensive line when they are not working together, the same can be said about insulation.  If your insulation is not installed correctly, your home will be considerably less comfortable than it could be.  A poorly insulated wall cavity is like an offensive lineman taking a misstep and allowing that big defensive end of cold air to burst through sacking the temperatures of your home.  It doesn’t matter how amazing that granite bar top looks if it’s too cold in your basement to have buddies over to watch the big game.  A well-insulated home will keep those outside forces at bay and allows your “skill players” (heating and air equipment, wood floors, etc.) to shine!

You may ask how could I know if my future home’s insulation will be up for the challenge?  When you build a Certified High Performance Home you can rest easier knowing that your home’s insulation was inspected by a certified Home Energy Rater and graded appropriately.  Each HERS rated home has an insulation and air sealing inspection to make sure your thermal barrier is aligned and ready to block out the elements.  If the insulation is not up to par, the HERS rater will inform the builder of where the can improve and close the gaps in the line.

Insulation is graded at three different levels, Grade I, Grade II, and Grade III.   The grade is given depending if there are noticeable gaps in the installation, it is noticeably compressed, or the cavity is not completely filled.  Gaps in the insulation allow cold air to flow around the barrier.  Compressed insulation does not allow the insulation to perform to its R-value (or resistance to air flow, the higher the R-value the longer it takes for air to flow through).  If insulation is compressed it will not operate to its full capabilities to resist outside air and will allow it to penetrate the home at a much faster rate.

Is Using an Interior Designer Right For You?

When a builder and interior designer work together from the beginning, you get a home that is worth looking at, and that is just what happened at our Lee Douglas Interior’s homes for the Inspiration Tour 2014. 

Using an interior Designer at the start of a home building process used to be considered a 
luxury, but now for our builder partners we are “part of the package”. Designers can look at the plan when it is on paper, and work with the home owner to determine how the house is going to live. They can make critical alterations before they become expensive changes. In addition, good builders build and execute and hire designers to choose the materials and permanent features with the homeowner. Wouldn’t you rather have your builder on site and managing the project vs shopping with you at a tile or window store? 

Designers can alert you to trends and the possibilities of good design, but what is good design? Good design is what works for the homeowner and every project should be different. There are so many good trends to talk about, but we’re starting out with two that we get a ton of questions about. These may seem disjointed but hang in there with me.

The kitchen is the heart of the home. Whether you want them there or not your family and friends are going to hang out while you cook and prepare. Isn’t it time we stopped the madness and made the kitchen an adequate space where you can cook and be with your friends as they sip their wine? Designing a kitchen by creating boundaries, no cross zones, and divisions that are invisible to your guests keeps everyone happy. Yes you can entertain while cooking and it can be one of the best looking rooms in the house by mixing woods, metals, lighting, ceiling treatments etc. More kitchens are also including a door to a hidden space that looks just like another cabinet. This definitely keeps them out of your business! What’s behind there is what works for you. Just think of the possibilities, a pantry, a prep kitchen, appliance storage, wine storage, a coffee bar, a desk for meal planning, let your imagination go- it’s no longer just what the plan says, it’s what you want it to be. 

Floor transitions
You know why streets have lines painted on them? Because people generally like to go by the rules, and stay within the lines. Think of that analogy when planning your flooring breaks. So many floors to fall in love with- great woods, tiles, concrete etc. but sorry folks you need to pick just a few and plan effectively. A good designer will make sure when you walk into a home, the flooring invites you, and you see beyond the entry. If you walk into a house and there is a tiny entry that is tiled with an abrupt break to carpet, people will linger in that entry as if they are jailed. Make the flooring tell the story of how the house flows-
keep lines open and visual breaks smooth and transitional. Think of it this way... Follow the yellow brick road to an amazing kitchen, you’ll thank us.

How do I purchase a lot?

We had a great question come in to us recently and we received permission to share it with you all. Matt emailed with a question:

Matt: My wife and I would like to build a new home. We've found several lots and several developments that we're interested in, but don't know how to go about buying a lot. Would I need to first find a builder that we like, then find out which lots they have available? Or would I need to buy a lot myself, then choose a builder? Any help would be appreciated. 
Do you know if there is a map of lots for sale in the Omaha area?

Build Omaha: Great question!  Each development is different. Some sell every lot to a home builder before the roads even go in. These are called builder-attached lots. Other developments have lots open for anyone to purchase, which they may advertise as having lots NOT builder-attached. The best option would be for you to choose a builder and then ask them what lots they have available in that development. If you find a lot you would really like, but it is owned by a builder other than the builder you would like to go with, then your builder can sometimes trade lots with them to still get you that lot. So, yes, find lots you prefer, but first look around for builders and see who you would like to build with and they can usually help you get a lot you are satisfied with. 

As far as a map of available lots, the closest thing to that is on our website. It does not have everything available listed, but it is the best out there. The most up to date list of lots available can sometimes be found on a developers website, if you are able to track down who developed the neighborhood. Usually it is posted on signs at the entrances to the development.

Thanks, Matt, for your question!  If YOU have questions about the building industry and new homes in Omaha, please contact us.