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Building Science is amazing. Most people never think about building and science in the same sentence. However, the breakthroughs in materials, processes, and tools continue every day. Think about breakthroughs in automotive technology. The more fuel efficient engines, the better safety standards, and precision quality are the result of leaps forward in automotive science. The thing about cars is… they are all built indoors. The ability to implement that technology is enhanced because your new car is built indoors in a controlled, dry environment. So, what about your new home?
Residential construction hasn’t changed much since 1830 when balloon framing took a giant leap forward over timber frame construction and became the normal method used for home construction. About 1880 platform framing become the next major improvement to home construction and hasn’t changed since. Since that time, the majority of homes in the U.S. are built outdoors and onsite. This leaves them open to the suns UV rays, the rain, snow, wind, and other elements that damage materials and can create issues for the long term health of the home and the family that lives within it.
Building science has stepped in with products that help to eliminate or mitigate the inherent problems of building outdoors. However, all of these building science enhancements are only made necessary because homes are still being built outside in the elements. Here are a couple of notable items that have been introduced to address real problems because homes are being built outdoors:
Advantech™ Flooring – Advantech™ is a brand of OSB (Oriented Strand Board). OSB is a product used for subfloor that through technology improvements, has replaced plywood as the number one product that is used for the subflooring on most new homes. However, any materials that are exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays for an extended period can begin to deteriorate. Add to that the rain and snow that can lay on a new homes subfloor for days or weeks, depending on the season, and you have a recipe for rotting wood, mildew, mold, and floor squeaks. Advantech™ is born from enhancements in building science to enhance the subfloor so it can stand up to nature’s elements while the home is being constructed outdoors. However, most builders don’t use it and because of its extra cost, it increases the price of the home when it is used.
ZIPsystem® – The ZIPsystem® is a product that is used to replace OSB (or plywood) for the sheathing (covering) that goes on the sides and/or roof of a home. All homes require house wrap to be placed over the exterior sheathing by building code. The house wrap is another achievement of building science. It blocks water from coming into the home but allows moisture to wick away from the home at the same time. With ZIPSystem® you don’t need house wrap per building code. This engineered system is a composite sheathing panel that is made from engineered wood. The product has built into it a vapor permeable water resistive barrier that replaces the need for house wrap. It can save time for onsite construction. However, these enhancements come at a price and the material costs can increase the price of home built onsite that uses the ZIPSystem®.
Building Indoors using Modular Construction
With modular construction, your home is built indoors and away from the sun’s rays, the snow, and the rain. It is always summer in the factory. Today’s OSB performs great for subfloors, wall sheathing, and roof sheathing. It performs especially well with modular construction because it doesn’t get wet. It doesn’t set for days, weeks, or months exposed to the outdoors. House wrap is a very cost effective way to block out water and allow moisture and water vapor to escape the home.
Because every item is installed in controlled environment, attachments are done correctly and consistently. Window and door installations into walls are sealed properly virtually eliminating leaks which can allow water into interior walls. Condensation and water are the enemies of your new home. The precision and consistent applications of manufacturer’s installation specifications make your home less prone to the deterioration that can start even before a new home is finished when building outdoors.
Building Value into Your New Home
You have a choice. With modular construction, your home is built indoors. There is no need to incur the extra costs that good builders do to help protect your home when building outside. By using leading edge building products with indoor construction you get a level quality that just can’t be achieved when building outdoors. Don’t spend money you don’t need to spend. Get the modular advantage and get a safe, energy efficient home at a great value!
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