Home Building: 4 Choices That Won’t Include You, Unless.. (Part 1)

by tracy on August 27, 2012

Although every new home construction or remodeling project is accompanied by an almost endless number of decisions, the whole point of building your own home is having the opportunity to choose what you want. Still, the selection of some all-too-common home elements is often left to chance. The information in this blog series can help you stay in the product option loop in four different areas.

  • Bath Fans: In many areas of the country, residential building code requires the installation of bath fans. However, the selection of this equipment may never be placed on your plate but instead be left to the mechanical contractor. (I have found it quite common for the builder to need to contact the mechanical contractor before he or she can tell me about the bath fans selected for the job.)

Do you want a powerful but quiet fan that is Energy Star rated, one that contains a humidistat, automatically detecting humidity and turning itself on and off? Do you prefer a fan that contains a light and/or one that includes a heating element? Do you want some or all of the bathroom fans in your home controlled by a timer?

The tighter we build our homes, the more critical it is to remove moisture to avoid accumulation. Thus, bath fans play a much more important role in modern homes that most people realize.

Get involved in the selection of your bath fans. You don’t want to be the proud owner of weak fans that sound like trains running through your house. Bath fans can be very quiet and very powerful just like they can be noisy but totally useless. We installed bath fans from the Panasonic’s Energy Star rated Whisper series (see above photo courtesy of Panasonic). Because they’re so quiet, we discovered how easy it is to mistakenly leave them on for days resulting in removal of conditioned air from our home. Placing them all on timers solved the problem.

For more information on bath fan selection and installation, see my two-part blog, Four Requirements to Ensure Your Bath Fan Sucks, (Part 1)  and (Part 2).

  • HVAC (Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning): Heating, ventilating and air conditioning details are frequently left outside the homeowner’s scope of choices. The owner knows the house will include this equipment, but that can be just about it. This is another selection that can be left up to the mechanical contractor if you don’t inquire about your options and then specify exactly what you want.

Do you want your HVAC to reflect the minimum energy efficiency rating required by code, or would you like more resourceful equipment? Do you need humidity control? Do you want fresh air brought into the system, filtered, conditioned and introduced into your home? Do members of your family suffer from allergies or asthma? Perhaps you’d like to investigate upgraded filtration options.

Because HVAC plays such an important part in the comfort of your family and the energy usage of the household, it’s definitely worth examining your options with the builder and his/her mechanical contractor.

Unless your mechanical contractor team consists of family members, I doubt you’ll want these fine folks making some of the selections for your new home. By asking about your options for HVAC equipment and bath fans, you’ll be increasing your involvement in the energy efficiency, noise level and moisture-removal capacity of your home.

For Energy Star compliant bath fans and HVAC equipment, visit the Energy Star site.

And, as always, The Difference is in the Details!

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