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Old 12-28-2018, 10:34 AM   #1
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Default Framer Recommendations

We're building a house on Long island and hopefully getting started early spring 2019. I am looking for some recommendations for a framer.
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Old 12-28-2018, 10:47 AM   #2
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Default Cathcart Construction

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We're building a house on Long island and hopefully getting started early spring 2019. I am looking for some recommendations for a framer.
Highly recommend Ron Cathcart of Cathcart Construction. Ron's cell is 603-387-0863.
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Old 12-28-2018, 11:01 AM   #3
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Free advice/soapboxing: make the house superinsulated (highly insulated, triple pane windows, exceedingly tight). It's your house, and you get one shot at doing it right. Find a builder who knows how to do this, not someone who builds the way they did it 30 years ago. Do your homework on how it's done; do a search on "Pretty Good House" on greenbuildingadvisor.com. Or consider a factory built or panelized superinsulated house (https://www.ecocor.us/ https://bensonwood.com/passive-house/ https://unityhomes.com/). There is a wealth of information online on building houses that are much better than "to code," are exceedingly comfortable for year-round living, and which may well be less costly, per month, for PIT & energy.
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Old 12-28-2018, 04:08 PM   #4
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Just do your research on SIP panel construction. There are pros and cons to everything. Frankly, I'd stay away from it.
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Old 12-28-2018, 04:34 PM   #5
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There are pros and cons to the super insulated house. I built one and you end up opening windows to let it air out in the winter. Cook a fish and you will smell it all winter. Just like a living animal a house has to breath. If it can't it's not healthy. I wouldn't build one like that again.

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Old 12-28-2018, 05:32 PM   #6
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There are pros and cons to the super insulated house. I built one and you end up opening windows to let it air out in the winter. Cook a fish and you will smell it all winter. Just like a living animal a house has to breath. If it can't it's not healthy. I wouldn't build one like that again....[/URL]
First, the notion that "a house has to breathe" is not right. The people inside have to breathe, while the house's shell has to avoid moisture accumulation problems. Early attempts at building a superinsulated house didn't get it quite right. The arab oil embargo of 1973, which drove up the cost of heating fuels, resulted in attempts to improve insulation and tighten up the shell, recognizing that air leakage can run up the heating bill dramatically and also make the inside cold, drafty, and exceedingly dry. Our grandfathers knew that; remember folded strips of newspaper around the edges of doors and windows?

Air leakage is driven by pressure difference, caused by wind and temperature difference. Air at zero (F) is about 15% more dense than air at 70. Thus a house leaks most when it's bitter cold and windy and practically not at all when the air is mild and windless. You can't design in any rate of leakage that is right for any set of conditions, meaning leakage as a way of providing fresh air for occupants is wrong practically all the time. Further, you can't control it. It's either too much, even in winter, making the place uncomfortable and hard to heat, or it's too little, making for a stuffy house with interior humidity too high for the health of either the house or its occupants.

As exterior air leaks into an "ordinary" house, the walls start to accumulate dust and pollen, adding to dead insects and perhaps rodent droppings. Do you really want your "fresh" air filtered through that?

The only solution that really works for house, occupants, and heating is to make the shell very, very tight and provide mechanical ventilation. In our climate, ventilation is best done with an air-to-air heat exchanger (heat recovery ventilator, or HRV). Incoming fresh air is warmed up by inside air being vented from bathrooms and kitchen (not near the range). Early attempts at superinsulated, very tight shells found out the hard way that active ventilation is needed. Gene Leger, who built the first of these in the northeast back in the late 70s described the first days living in the house as "like living in a baggie." In January he had moisture (from human occupancy) running down the windows. Realizing the mistake right away, they opened a couple of windows a bit, but ultimately cut a hole in the wall and dropped in one of the first HRVs available at the time. Problem solved. All his subsequent houses had the HRV and ductwork built in at the start.

Note that newer versions of the IRC, the code building inspectors go by, have introduced limits on leakage, as measured by blower door at a standard 50 pascal depressurization difference. In some jurisdictions, a measured leakage rate below a certain level requires mechanical ventilation.

A properly built shell, with interior 1-perm vapor retarder layer (not a sheet of polyethylene - a barrier), near zero air leakage of interior air into the shell, and no exterior very-low perm layer, will not suffer from moisture buildup.

I am speaking from experience here. My own house, built 2010-11, has a very tight, superinsulated shell, with triple-pane windows and R-20 foam insulation under the basement slab and on foundation walls. Total gross conditioned area is about 4,000 sq.ft over two levels. Heat is by ground source heat pump; it's only a two-ton unit, and it keeps the house at temp in just first stage. My best estimate of heating cost over a mid-fall to mid-spring winter is less than $600. It has no drafty spots, very uniform temperature, and does not get uncomfortably dry in winter, without humidification. Fresh air is provided by an HRV, running on a low setting 24-7. The concept works. It's a matter of building science, now well understood, but certainly not rocket science.
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Old 12-28-2018, 06:27 PM   #7
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Just like they build new office buildings with windows that don't open, no thanks! Just talk to some of the people that work in those buildings day in and day out. Everyone is sick all winter long.
I'm glad you're happy with your super insulated house but I prefer fresh NH air not recycled air.
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Old 12-28-2018, 08:46 PM   #8
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Just do your research on SIP panel construction. There are pros and cons to everything. Frankly, I'd stay away from it.


I concur. Stay away from it. Hire a good contractor, and you’ll be all set.


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Old 12-29-2018, 09:25 AM   #9
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You can achieve greater R value with a conventionally framed 2X6 exterior wall with R19 fiberglass insulation + R12 Zip system exterior wall sheathing.

Less expensive, way better technique.
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Old 12-30-2018, 04:27 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Happy Camper View Post
We're building a house on Long island and hopefully getting started early spring 2019. I am looking for some recommendations for a framer.
I would be happy to meet with you to take a look at your plans and give you a price. You may also give me a call at 235-7640 my name is Mike Thanks
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Old 12-31-2018, 03:00 PM   #11
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DickR....who did you use to install your HRV? Looking for someone with experience installing with existing construction.
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Old 12-31-2018, 04:59 PM   #12
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Default BensonWoods

I second Benson Woods for a great example of framing!
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Old 12-31-2018, 07:22 PM   #13
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DickR....who did you use to install your HRV? Looking for someone with experience installing with existing construction.
I used AMHVAC (Bob Maher) in Moultonborough for the heat pump & zoned duct work installation, plus the HRV. It was his first GSHP installation (IIRC), but this wasn't particularly hard to do. I already had sized the unit and had it delivered. The lines to/from the well were in place already from the well drilling crew's part, and the rest was just ductwork and zone setup. I had the manuals and did my own tweaking of DIP switch settings on the heat pump to ensure it ran the way I wanted it.

The HRV is a Lifebreath ECM195 (https://www.lifebreath.com/us/produc...entilator-hrv/). It has a pair of cross-flow heat exchanger cores, for high heat recovery. The HRV is in the utility space at the back half of the lower level, suspended from the ceiling joists, with clearance to walk under it. There is one insulated duct from a hood outside the house bringing fresh air to the HRV, and another for the outgoing air from the HRV to a separate hood outside the house and around the corner from where the inlet hood is located. Fresh inlet air, warmed by the outgoing air, is ducted to the heating system return duct. Thus fresh air flows through the heat pump, even when it isn't on, and out through the ductwork to all parts of the house. There is a separate set of ducts drawing from each of the bathrooms, plus one from a corner of the kitchen well removed from the range. These come together and pass through the HRV on the way to the exit hood. There are 20-minute booster timers in each of the bathrooms, which turn the HRV fan rate to high speed during and following use of showers. Otherwise the HRV is set to run at low speed 24/7 (around 65 cfm), which gives fresh air flow roughly in accordance with ASHRE 62.2 guidelines in place at the time.

The ideal way of installing an HRV is by using a dedicated system of small diameter ducts for distribution of the fresh air to the house, particularly to bedrooms. But as long as there is reasonable distribution of the incoming air, such as through existing ductwork, the system ought to work fairly well. My setup does not have dedicated distribution ducts, but the overall result is quite good, I feel. Interior air is kept down to low 30s (%RH) in winter, within range of comfort for most people, and the occasional introduction of cooking odors not handled by the range hood is flushed out reasonably fast (like overnight).

There is one thing to plan for, disposition of condensate from the HRV. In winter, the fresh air coming in is quite cold, below the dew point of the interior air. As the incoming air is warmed by the outgoing air, the latter of course is cooled considerably, producing condensate. In my installation, the condensate passes through a trap, then down through a hole bored in the basement slab. Otherwise it could flow by gravity or pump to a utility sink, if present.
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Old 01-01-2019, 04:41 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DickR View Post
I used AMHVAC (Bob Maher) in Moultonborough for the heat pump & zoned duct work installation, plus the HRV. It was his first GSHP installation (IIRC), but this wasn't particularly hard to do. I already had sized the unit and had it delivered. The lines to/from the well were in place already from the well drilling crew's part, and the rest was just ductwork and zone setup. I had the manuals and did my own tweaking of DIP switch settings on the heat pump to ensure it ran the way I wanted it.

The HRV is a Lifebreath ECM195 (https://www.lifebreath.com/us/produc...entilator-hrv/). It has a pair of cross-flow heat exchanger cores, for high heat recovery. The HRV is in the utility space at the back half of the lower level, suspended from the ceiling joists, with clearance to walk under it. There is one insulated duct from a hood outside the house bringing fresh air to the HRV, and another for the outgoing air from the HRV to a separate hood outside the house and around the corner from where the inlet hood is located. Fresh inlet air, warmed by the outgoing air, is ducted to the heating system return duct. Thus fresh air flows through the heat pump, even when it isn't on, and out through the ductwork to all parts of the house. There is a separate set of ducts drawing from each of the bathrooms, plus one from a corner of the kitchen well removed from the range. These come together and pass through the HRV on the way to the exit hood. There are 20-minute booster timers in each of the bathrooms, which turn the HRV fan rate to high speed during and following use of showers. Otherwise the HRV is set to run at low speed 24/7 (around 65 cfm), which gives fresh air flow roughly in accordance with ASHRE 62.2 guidelines in place at the time.

The ideal way of installing an HRV is by using a dedicated system of small diameter ducts for distribution of the fresh air to the house, particularly to bedrooms. But as long as there is reasonable distribution of the incoming air, such as through existing ductwork, the system ought to work fairly well. My setup does not have dedicated distribution ducts, but the overall result is quite good, I feel. Interior air is kept down to low 30s (%RH) in winter, within range of comfort for most people, and the occasional introduction of cooking odors not handled by the range hood is flushed out reasonably fast (like overnight).

There is one thing to plan for, disposition of condensate from the HRV. In winter, the fresh air coming in is quite cold, below the dew point of the interior air. As the incoming air is warmed by the outgoing air, the latter of course is cooled considerably, producing condensate.
In my installation, the condensate passes through a trap, then down through a hole bored in the basement slab. Otherwise it could flow by gravity or pump to a utility sink, if present.
In less-frozen areas of the country, condensate is routed to a barrel, where it is collected for use in gardens. (Or run from a barrel through a hose directly to needy plantings).
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Old 01-01-2019, 09:04 AM   #15
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In my installation, the condensate passes through a trap, then down through a hole bored in the basement slab.
This has me scratching my head where does it go once under the slab?
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Old 01-01-2019, 04:23 PM   #16
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This has me scratching my head where does it [condensate] go once under the slab?
There is a lot of broken rock below the slab, from blasting done during site prep. That provides a lot of space for water to disperse, and the footing drains keep it from filling. The actual amount of condensate produced is minimal and mainly just in winter, when the incoming air is cold. This choice for disposal was chosen for convenience. Condensate from the heat pump in cooling mode is handled the same way, and this flow is somewhat more, but still minimal. Disposal this way would not be chosen for an area with water table issues.
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