Geothermal Just Became More Affordable

There was good news recently for those considering using geothermal units in their homes. The savings can be rather significant and Lars with Nebcon Inc. let wrote this below to help us understand why.

"For several years the City of Omaha has required geothermal drillers to use a Union Steamfitter to hook up geothermal closed loops outside and inside of the house.  Nebcon, Inc. has worked with the State of Nebraska and Mayor Stothert to end what we called a restraint of trade.  The geothermal drillers according State statute 178 are required to hook up the piping according to the states guidelines.  The City said that was not the case and we had to follow their codes causing high prices for loop fields and conflict between the State,  city and us, drillers.  It also caused builders to be reluctant to pass that cost on to the consumer thus slowing down the geothermal market.  As of January the Code in Omaha now matches the State law and builders can now quote geothermal on a regular basis without adding extra cost and/ or problems with permits and inspections."  - Lars Clang, Nebcon, Inc.

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Why Google's $3.6 Billion Acquisition of Nest is Great News for the High Performance Home Industry

The Race for affordable home automation is officially kicking into high gear. Google's acquisition of Nest is a very good sign for the high performance home industry. Why? In my opinion, the underlying math which had to have been Google's calculus for justifying a $3.2 billion dollar valuation is fundamentally the same math that drives builders to build high performance homes. Let me explain my thoughts.

None of Google’s due diligence or reasoning to make such a huge move has been disclosed publicly, but the valuation of a company like Nest is most likely calculated on some combination of current and future:
  • Product Revenue
  • Patents
  • The marriage potential with googles vault of personal data
  • A proven stellar design team (the guys that designed the iPod)
  • One-upping Apple
Without a doubt, Nest is a very well-run company that has executed a new technology product introduction almost flawlessly, truly understands product design and is great at marketing. They've recently migrated from a great thermostat to a pretty good smoke detector and I'm sure they have a very large pipeline of new products that we can only guess at for now.

But even though Nest is a product company and, in that sense, differs from those of us providing services, the fundamental driver of their future business is completely aligned with high performance homes. The math that anchors Nest's future is fundamentally the same math that drives high performance homes:
The # of new and existing homes that have energy, comfort and/or safety related problems
For Google to have paid as much as they did (the second largest acquisition price in their history) means that they see lots of problems and a huge future in devices that solve them. It's also a huge endorsement of the “Connected Home” movement, which we predicted as one of the megatrends for new construction of high performance homes in 2014.

It's very important to recognize that Nest's success, just like Apple's, is in creating demand for products none of us knew we needed. How many of you have been fretting about the problems with your current smoke alarms? Not so many, I'd guess. But along comes Nest with a cool, smart and beautiful new approach and suddenly there's a market (remember this is the same team that invented the iPod). That same dynamic is true for high performance homes.

Congrats to all the great folks at Nest.

The Step-By-Step Building Process

So you have decided on a builder for your new home, you've found the perfect lot, the papers have been signed, and you're all set to go. So now what?  Below is a general guideline of the typical flow and process of building a new home. While it won't look exactly the same for every builder, this is the general step-by-step schedule that you need to follow in order to build your home in an efficient manner. Keep in mind that all of these items will be managed by your building company, but it can be helpful to know where you are at, where you're headed, and what may be too late or very expensive to change if you decide to modify something that has already been completed.
  1. Apply for building permit
  2. Stake the house on the lot
  3. Dig the basement
  4. Form and pour the concrete basement
  5. Backfill foundation
  6. Frame the house
  7. Plumbing rough-in
  8. Pour basement and garage floors
  9. Install duct work
  10. Install electrical wiring
  11. Apply roofing and front stone
  12. City inspections
  13. Insulation in walls
  14. Drywall
  15. Interior doors and window trimmed
  16. Cabinets installed
  17. Painter finishes interior and exterior
  18. Ceramic tile and other surfaces installed
  19. Fireplace veneer applied
  20. Plumbing ,heating ,and electrical finishes are done
  21. Yard grading ,landscape ,sprinkler system, and sod installed
  22. Flooring and carpet laid
  23. Punch list (items that need to be tweaked based on the final walk-through)
  24. Cleaning
  25. Close on the home and move in!