Remodelers are becoming more aware of the importance of making their projects’ high performance through better air sealing, insulation, and HVAC systems. When making existing homes tighter, however, indoor air quality can decline if problems in a home are not correctly diagnosed and any health issues are not addressed. Understanding the way a home works, properly diagnosing problems, and identifying appropriate solutions isn’t quite rocket science, but it is building science, and it takes training and experience to get it right. Professional building science training is available from the Building Performance Institute (BPI), the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), and many state weatherization programs. The most common individual certifications are BPI Building Analyst and RESNET HERS Rater, most of whom have the training to evaluate homes and make appropriate recommendations for improvements.
Although you can hire a BPI or RESNET professional to inspect a home you are remodeling, consider bringing building science training in-house. Many home performance raters and subcontractors don’t have your depth of experience with existing buildings. When the individuals responsible for design and construction understand building science principles, they can incorporate them into a project from the very beginning and make sure they are properly implemented throughout the process.
Many of you already attend training classes and obtain industry certifications such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s Certified Remodeler or the National Association of Home Builders’ Certified Graduate Remodeler. Adding a Building Analyst or HERS Rater designation will expand your knowledge and provide you with an edge over your competition.
BPI and HERS training is neither quick nor easy. It involves four to eight full days of training, plus proctored classroom and field testing. But a remodeler who is armed with that certification and knowledge will begin to look at projects differently, remodel better, and, most likely, will end up with happier, healthier clients. He will also learn how to avoid combustion safety problems that can cause real harm to homeowners from undetected carbon monoxide and gas leaks.
If you’re thinking about it, start by hiring a building science professional to inspect a project, review your plans, and give you suggestions on how to make the home perform better. Watch what they do and review their suggestions. The experience may convince you to look into training for yourself or your staff.
Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET)