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Old 06-19-2012, 07:09 PM
 
319 posts, read 610,370 times
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Building a new home in the Austin area and wondering what you all think I should ask the builder for. I already asked for quotes for spray foam insulation and upgraded AC units. I was thinking of a tankless water heater but it seems like a tough sell for a 4ba home. Fans in most rooms. The home already comes with dual-flush toilets. What else should I be asking about?
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Old 06-19-2012, 07:34 PM
 
Location: Avery Ranch, Austin, TX
8,977 posts, read 17,555,108 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by balor123 View Post
Building a new home in the Austin area and wondering what you all think I should ask the builder for. I already asked for quotes for spray foam insulation and upgraded AC units. I was thinking of a tankless water heater but it seems like a tough sell for a 4ba home. Fans in most rooms. The home already comes with dual-flush toilets. What else should I be asking about?
If it somehow got 'thrown in' or was at a very reasonable price, I'd go for a sealed/epoxy garage floor...and extra outlets in the garage...and cabinets on one wall of the garage...and a water softener loop...and insulated garage doors...and extra insulation above the garage IF that is living space above...

You get the idea I think a lot about the garage



What plumbing fixture gruppo did you get? Fixtures can take a beating with our water. Exhaust fan in the laundry room...stronger/quieter exhaust fans in all bath rooms(one bath and one shower=a LOT of steam! ). Decent sized utility sink in laundry room.

All is dependent on the price. Many things can be replaced at a lower cost than the builder would supply initially...fans, door hardware,locksets, light fixtures, etc...BUT...do you want to do that?
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Old 06-19-2012, 08:08 PM
 
Location: central Austin
7,228 posts, read 16,105,799 times
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hopefully, most of this stuff is standard but radiant barrier, solar screens, low-E windows, duct-work that can withstand the "suck test" low VOC paint, recycle the construction debris, underground sprinklers with drip lines not sprinkler heads in all flower beds, zoysia grass.
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Old 06-19-2012, 08:33 PM
 
Location: Buda
97 posts, read 417,818 times
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Don't bother with the radiant barrier. If you get spray foam the radiant barrier will do no good. The main thing you want to worry with is the termal bridge and the envolope being real tight. So the spray faom is very good but you also have to consider the thermal bridge. One way to break it is to go with a 6" wall but don't use 2X6" for the vertical boards use 2X4's and stagger them on centers. So none of the outside boards hit the inside of the home and none of the inside boards hit the outside. Or you can just build a normal wall and get a new product Zip Board puts out. It is an osb board with a water proof outter coating and the inside is 1" Foam wrap the home in that and it will break the thermal bridge and water proof the home. Also make sure them put down a foam strip between the slab and your outside wall seam.

Your home will be very tight this way so you will need to look into getting an A/C unit that will bring in fresh air or the home will be unhealthy. You could also go with a mini split system and then get a seperate system to move air around.

I could go on forever about cost effective ways to build a good home. Here are a few things you can look into.

Passive Homes

Built Green Custom Homes - This is a company in town that has free classes about this sort of stuff you learn alot from it.

Rocky Hollow Home - This is a fairly good up to date blog about a passive home being built in Georgetown. I belive it will be the 3rd one built in Texas and the only one this far south.

If you would like you can PM me.
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Old 06-20-2012, 01:17 AM
 
Location: In a state of denial
1,289 posts, read 3,036,226 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by balor123 View Post
Building a new home in the Austin area and wondering what you all think I should ask the builder for. I already asked for quotes for spray foam insulation and upgraded AC units. I was thinking of a tankless water heater but it seems like a tough sell for a 4ba home. Fans in most rooms. The home already comes with dual-flush toilets. What else should I be asking about?
The tankless water heater is one of the most important things you could ask for. It will cut your bills by at least 1/3. Insist on that.
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Old 06-20-2012, 06:22 AM
 
Location: Buda
97 posts, read 417,818 times
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I can chime in a bit on the TWH. You said you will have a 4br home. So keep in mind you will most likely need 2 of them. I am not so sure they are all that great in the South. I would look into the heat-pump type tank water heaters. It has the added benefit of a small A/C. I would do allot of specific research on the TWH. Keep in mind this is a item that is being pushed hard by everyone. Companies, Environmentalist, and the Government. You will find a bunch of biased information on them. Make sure the testing/field studies you read have a real usage type set-up to them and that the tests were done in your climate.

I do know enough to say only consider going with a TWH if you have Natural Gas. If all you have is electric then do not go with a TWH.

If you love to read.....

http://www.map-testing.com/assets/fi...study-2010.pdf

If not into reading till your eyes pop out here is the end of the above link.....

CONCLUSIONS
Tankless water heaters can be successfully installed and operated in Northern Midwest climates. TWHs can be used in residential applications with only moderate changes in qualitative aspects of water heating performance, with some attributes rated better and some worse than for StWHs. TWHs save a considerable amount of energy over natural draft StWHs. TWHs saved an average of 37% of site energy consumed for water heating at ten sites in the Minneapolis/St Paul area, which was about 6000 kBtu per home per year. TWHs provided this energy savings with no significant change in hot water consumption. Even with these positives of tankless water heaters the low cost of natural gas and the high installed cost of TWHs limits their feasibility. Without considerable rebates the simple paybacks for these heaters were 20 to 40 years, making widespread installations seem unlikely.


We do not live in a Northwest climate. If I were building a home today in this area I would go with a tank. Or even better I would get a tank with a heat pump. It has the added benefit of removing heat from your home and acting as a mini A/C.
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Old 06-20-2012, 08:27 AM
 
Location: Central Texas
13,714 posts, read 31,180,231 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck_steak View Post
The tankless water heater is one of the most important things you could ask for. It will cut your bills by at least 1/3. Insist on that.
Not if using electricity.....
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Old 06-20-2012, 08:46 AM
 
4,710 posts, read 7,103,522 times
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Think about where you will use water and electricity on the outside of the house. Too few outside outlets and spigots can drive you crazy. I know few houses have whole house fans now days, but they are great in the spring and fall and sometimes summer and winter to pull in cool air in to the house in the morning. Then you can close the windows and not run the AC at all. If also is great if you burn something in the kitchen or for some reason have a bad smell in the house; you can exchange all of the air in the house in a minute. If you have bad allergies this may not be desirable, but generally, they can improve the inside air quality if used judiciously. (This morning, I got up and could smell last night's dinner. Since it was 79 degrees outside, the same as the temp. setting we use inside, I opened up a few windows and switched on my whole house fan and VOILA! - no more dinner smell, and a house full of fresh air. Then I turned off the fan and closed up the windows for use of the AC. Love it!)
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Old 06-20-2012, 01:53 PM
 
319 posts, read 610,370 times
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Thanks for the background on TWH. It's hard to do the calculation myself since I have little data to use but do you know if the pay-back time included projections for energy cost increases? I have a feeling it doesn't. My home will use natural gas and it actually has 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms so you're probably right that two will be needed.
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Old 06-20-2012, 01:55 PM
 
319 posts, read 610,370 times
Reputation: 130
There's been a lot of focus on energy efficiency here but little about water use. Any specific suggestions there? I saw a reference to drip irrigation but my lot is only .175 acres so I doubt irrigation is going to be worth bothering about (correct me if I'm wrong). Toilets are already dual flush. What else can I do? Anyone have experience with graywater recycling? I'm more concerned about this since I expect Texas to make little progress in identifying new water sources so the solution is going to have to come from price increases to reduce consumption.
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