Armchair Builder

Wall Assembly Calculator

Wall Assembly on New Home

One of the benefits of building a new home is that we get to create exactly what we want.  An eye catching front elevation that combines unique materials and design to make us smile when we pull into the driveway…check. An open layout that meets the family’s particular needs for socializing and entertaining…check.  An engineered design that incorporates the latest in energy efficiency and building techniques…check.  So how does a person investigate these design decisions to come up with the best option at the best price?  Here we will talk about one of the newest, free tools available to anyone building a home to quickly review material choices for building walls, ceilings and floors of a new home to maximize energy efficiency and value.  Wall assembly calculator…check.

Energy Efficiency

In order to build an energy efficient home, we need a way to measure the relative efficiency.  The most common measure for this, one that most of us have encountered before, is R-Value.  When designing a new home, it’s important to look at the makeup of the exterior walls, floors and ceilings to maximize R-value while minimizing cost.  The key here is to not only meet current building code requirements, but to exceed them without busting the budget.

Wall Assembly Calculator

Back in the old days, we built every new home’s walls with 2×4′s, drywall, plywood, and siding and filled the cavity with fiberglass insulation.  Today we know the makeup of the walls, ceilings and floors of a home has a huge impact on how energy efficient the building is and how comfortable the occupants will be during extreme temperatures.

So how can you evaluate the many different material options when it comes to these home components?  A new company named Ekotrope has free calculators that allow the user to try different combinations of materials to see how energy and cost efficient the design will be.  The user gets to pick the materials used, from siding to lumber to insulation, for walls, ceilings and floors, and then the calculator tallies the total R-value achieved with this combination.  As a builder, I used to comb through tables and charts to determine R-values for different materials.  This free program does that for you.  An even better output from this program is the estimated cost per square foot for the combination of materials you have chosen.  Nobody chooses a design without reviewing the overall costs first…and these free programs give you a rough estimate for them so you can make informed decisions for your new home.

You can check out the Ekotrope free wall calculator here.  Want to save big money on your new building project?  You may want to check out the Armchair Builder Bid Sheets that allow you to easily compare trade contractor pricing while making sure everything is included in the bids.

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