It was on February 10, 1989, when this builder and his architect suddenly discovered that life guarantees nothing. Of course, we knew this was technically true, as most thinking people do, but we weren’t living as if we believed it. In fact, everything we were doing and how we were doing it reflected the epitome of presumptuous living, not prudent living. It’s not that we were outwardly arrogant or anything like that. We just took for granted that every investment we made would prosper and that the sun would always shine upon us and that the wind would always be at our backs. Our borrowing limits were based on rosy projections and our maxed-out credit cards and bank loans were as numerous as the pages of a book. Inwardly, we thought that even while we were sleeping, our net worth would only increase and the stock market would go nowhere but up.
When Tom and Sarah purchased an 1870 farm house and barn in West Windsor, Vermont, in 2003, their farm was already famous. For example, they were told by several locals that “Good Morning, America” had once used the barn as a backdrop for one of their programs. And a 500-piece Rose Art Encore! jigsaw puzzle depicted their farm in winter with nearly frozen brook in the foreground.
Reflections on Forty Years of Building Codes by Paul Biebel, Founder and President, Prudent Living, Inc.
As we continue with our discussion about (affordable zero energy homes) and High Performance Construction Methods, our subject for today’s blog will focus on a very important connection point where double-stud exterior walls intersect with the roof system. Here is where a lot of energy treatments must be installed correctly. Unfortunately, the temptation for many builders is to get the roof on as quickly as possible and it’s all too easy to skip right on by and then attempt to do it later. Sadly, some things just can’t be done as well later.
We’ve discovered that a double 2x4, balloon framed, exterior wall with dense pack insulation performs at the highest level - satisfying both demands of thermal and fire blocking performance and cost effectiveness. Not only that, the less I depend on using foam, the more relaxed my clients seem to be when building affordable zero energy homes.
I grew up in a big old house on Main Street in the historic section of Windsor, VT. It was four stories high on the backside. I’m not sure what type of architectural style to call it. Some would say that it was just a large vintage New England home with wrap around porches, high ceilings, and a rather huge, slate-covered, mansard roof that was punctured by dormers on three sides, making the attic a special place for this kid to play.
To keep any house affordable, efficiency during the construction process is key. A high-performance wall assembly is no exception. There are multiple ways to construct a high-performance wall, but which one makes the most sense from a cost standpoint when building an affordable zero energy home?
Just after Christmas, the cold snap arrived, just as predicted by The Old Farmer’s Almanac. At first, the man wasn’t too concerned. The oil tank was full, he had managed to split and stack quite a lot of poplar. The first night wasn’t so bad; the big thermometer on the tree outside registering just a little below zero. The wind wasn’t blowing, so it was just a little colder than an average winter night. No big deal, he thought to himself, scraping some frost from the single-pane window.
by Guest Blogger: Larry Huot
The Prudent Living Train is a Museum Work of Art with the unbelievable attention to detail in so many different interesting, historical, and educational ways. The multiple trains that operate at a press of the button for every child and every age get the action started. The engines that pull the winding trains thru countryside and cities are recognizable to those who appreciate the Glory Days of Trains and Railroads--History abounds in this all-to-scale layout. AND, if you look closely, each time children and adults of all ages discover new themes and Dinosaurs sure to amaze and educate to times gone by and insight to the future.
In 2013, Prudent Living Inc. (PLI) opened its Educational Train Display, measuring 24 feet by nearly 45 feet, at LaValleys Building Supply at Rte. 12-A, Colonial Plaza, West Lebanon, NH (open Monday through Saturday). The theme of the diorama, which took a team seven months to build, is: “How America Makes Energy and How We Use It.” The project’s goal is to connect an educational experience about the history of energy with the ageless fun of a train layout, all of it free to the public.
Prudent Living was incorporated in 2009, but it feels like it could have happened this morning. It amazes me how much we have changed and how fast it’s happened; almost as if I got into a DeLorean on my way to work this morning and punched in the year 2013. Does time really go by that fast or did I get transported into the future without knowing it? It hasn’t always seemed to go so fast. When I was in the second grade, four years seemed like an eternity. I wanted so badly to be one of the big guys that wandered the halls in Junior High. Then I blinked and I was a freshman in High School thinking the same thing all over again about those seniors with facial hair, low voices, and their own cars to drive. Suddenly, I am sixty years old and I have grandchildren to entertain with my electric trains.
At Prudent Living, Inc., we specialize in custom designed “High Performance” homes, and can build you a “Net Zero Energy” home, should you decide that is the best way to go for you and your family. Prudent Living defines a net-zero energy home as, “a home that generates as much energy as it consumes, measured on an annual basis.”
We believe that this is going to be the standard for ALL construction within the next twenty to thirty years. Since 1976, when I started Biebel Builders, Inc., we’ve kept our company on the leading edge of custom home building in our area. Since 2009, Prudent Living, Inc., has been a thought leader and implementation leader in the arena of high-performance custom homes. While our services include education and inspiration, we’re always pleased to help clients reach their goals when it comes to “net zero energy” by building their custom designed home for them.