August 8, 2016
When looking through the many listings for different builders and their homes, what makes their homes different from one another? It is far more than just the architectural style and price range. As I often say, “what is behind the sheetrock is as important, if not more so, than what is in front of it.” I encourage anyone looking at a new home to walk the builder’s homes prior to the installation of sheetrock to see how they are assembled. You will see a lot of surprising things, not all good. A few things that are in built into every Marnella Home are; Advanced framing, extensive air sealing, blown-in insulation and HVAC systems that are in the conditioned space. These are just some of the features that, with all we know about building science today, it still surprises me that more builders refuse to build with these systems.
More wood is not better. However, that is the theme amongst most builders because it is how they were taught. They are just following the lessons of their Grandfather, Dad or the mentor that got them started. In the new way of building, less wood is better. The Advanced Framing technique, utilizes less wood which means room for more insulation, which means a more comfortable and efficient home. This style of framing really stands out from conventional framing.
Extensive air sealing isn’t just filling over-cut openings in the exterior shell of a home. It is the air sealing of every seam and joint in the exterior shell of a home. The benefit of this is not simply to improve efficiency and energy loss, though important, it is also to improve the health of the indoor environment by sealing out pollutants that can be drawn into the home.
Blown-in insulation is so important to effectively insulate a home. Installing Batt styled insulation is such an inferior way of insulating, yet still most common. The insulating performance of insulation is its thickness. So, why does anyone expect that a compressed batt, forced over plumbing or wiring in a wall, is going to perform to it’s intended performance? I know, right? It can’t. That is why blown-in insulation that completely fills a wall cavity, regardless of what is in its path, will perform to it’s intended performance.
HVAC systems in the conditioned space is one of the smartest moves that we have made in our homes…ever. Not only are these systems exponentially more efficient than a standard forced air system, but they create a more comfortable home. In 2007 we moved our HVAC systems inside the home, our service calls for uneven heating/cooling and requests to have the systems balanced, stopped completely.
So, as you are looking around at new homes, remember to look at the homes in their pre-sheetrock stage. Food for thought, a home built to the building code minimum, is really a home that is barely legal. Anything less, and the building inspector would not approve it for occupancy. On average, a Marnella Home is built to 35% over the code minimum. The benefits to our homeowners include, lower maintenance, lower heating & cooling costs, greater comfort and lasting value.
May 14, 2016
Marissa Harshman, a writer for the Columbian, published a great story this week about the health, or lack there of, in homes. Most of the marketing of Green building promotes energy savings and sustainable products. However, one of the greater benefits of these building systems is the improved health of the indoor environments and it gets the least promotion. In my opinion, it should be the top benefit followed by durable sustainable products, reduced maintenance, energy costs and consumption.
Marissa writes, “A person’s health can be affected by numerous things — diet, physical activity, family history, lifestyle choices. But one factor people don’t often consider is their home.”
Green homes, use low voc (volatile organic compounds) paints and caulks to prevent harmful off gassing that traditional paints and caulks emit. People often say they like the “new” smell of a home or car. However, they are really enjoying the smell of harmful gases that are being released into the air.
“Some of the most common causes of sick homes in the Northwest are ventilation systems not working properly, water entering wall cavities and causing mold growth, and unsealed spaces allowing air from crawl spaces to enter the home.”
Our vented rain screen siding system helps prevent moisture from entering in through walls and is installed on every home we build.
All of our HVAC systems are installed within the conditioned space (inside the home and not in the garage, attic or crawlspace) to provide superior performance and efficiency.
Green homes also have very low air leakage which minimizes outdoor contaminates from making their way into the home and incorporate mechanical fresh air exchange equipment which continually exchange stale indoor air with fresh outside air.
I encourage you to read Marissa’s story and consider the benefits of Green and performance homes when looking to buy or build. Remember, what is behind the sheetrock is just as important, if not more so, than what is in front of it.
January 7, 2015
The Cowlitz plan is built for entertaining and low maintenance living. 3 well proportioned bedrooms, 2 full and 1 half bath, drop zone and double car garage. Full KitchenAid stainless steel appliance package w/gas range. 9 foot ceilings both floors with full wood wrap windows, Built-ins to either side of fireplace and laminate plank floors on main floor. Tiled floors and counters in both full baths. Owner’s suite offers large organized walk-in closet and full tiled shower. Other features are, Air Conditioning, fully landscaped and irrigated lot that backs to protected green space. There is also a full crawlspace with almost 500 sqft and 12′ ceilings offering an opportunity for storage or ?
All of the exterior maintenance on this home is taken care of by the HOA. No more window or gutter cleaning, no lawn mowing or weeding, painting or roof repair. Get rid of your lawn tools and replace with snowboards, hiking boots, fishing poles, etc.
Move in ready for only $299,950. Contact us today for a viewing @ 503-709-3900.
August 13, 2014
The Willamette provides large open spaces both inside and out. The large livable porches, both front and back, provide for year around outdoor enjoyment. This home has 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, lounging loft, bonus room, iSpace and drop zone.
This home accommodates space and comfort as well as energy performance. It is built to Earth Advantage Platinum, EPA WaterSense and indoor airPlus standards to deliver monthly energy costs of only $28! That’s gas and power!
High ceilings provide an abundance of light throughout the home to the many spaces available for family activities. All baths have tiled counters and floors with the master having a full tiled shower. Pre-wiring is in for security & sound, plus pre-plumbing is in for central vacuum. The garage is a “true” double car garage that can accommodate full size trucks and SUV’s.
If your next home requires 4 bedrooms and extra rooms for media, hobby, work or study, The Willamette can accommodate all of your needs. You can see more community details at http://www.marnellahomes.com
July 18, 2014
As the name of the community implies, this quiet and intimate neighborhood of Hiddenbrook is where freedom from yard work and maintenance is where our residents call home. Tucked out of the way, but still close enough to walk to shopping, coffee and restaurants. Our residents will enjoy the freedom to spend time hiking, biking, kayaking and all the outdoors of the Columbia River Gorge and Clark County have to offer. Instead, of spending time doing yard work and exterior maintenance.
At Hiddenbrook, everyone owns and end unit since only one acoustically engineered wall is shared. Marnella Homes is excited to offer the only two town homes that are currently move-in ready, The Yakima and Columbia. Both are 2108 square feet, 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath town homes featuring spacious open gathering room/Kitchen/dining areas, iSpace, drop zones and large double garages with extra storage. 9′ ceilings on all floors and tall windows provide light and airy interiors that will be much appreciated on our dark northwest winter days. All offer energy bill guarantees for 3 years of only $80 a month in total energy costs, gas and power, through Earth Advantage.
Of the 28 homes in this community, only 12 opportunities remain. There are two finished homes, ready to move into. So, sell the lawnmower and yard tools and enjoy the freedom that Hiddenbrook has to offer. Not to mention the comfortable, quiet and energy saving benefits that all our homes offer.
June 11, 2014
If not, it should. There are two typical siding installation processes here in the Northwest, Rainscreen and “vented” rainscreen. Rainscreen is a siding installation process which allows the water that can get behind the siding, to drain out, with the help of a “drain wrap” house wrap, at the bottom near the foundation. Which is an improvement to old methods because it isn’t a question of whether water will get behind your siding, it ‘s what is it going to do when it gets there. However, vented rainscreen is a system that allows the siding to breath by installing the siding material on top of furring strips of apx. 3/8” – 1/2” in thickness and providing venting gaps at the bottom course and at the eave.
The reality is wall systems used to breath. A lot. Older homes were not built tight so air flowed in and out which allowed them to breath. However, when your entire home breathes on it’s own, your home will be drafty and you have no control over your energy usage and indoor comfort. So, as the homes have become tighter, we have had to find ways to mitigate the tightness with the good ventilation that has an effective purpose. At Marnella Homes, every home we build has a vented rainscreen siding system. We feel this is a superior system to the drain wrap method, due to the fact that it does not rely on gravity and tiny water channels to get the moisture to eventually drain out (you hope). It allows air to circulate behind the siding to more quickly dry out any moisture that finds it way back.
It is my belief that as the siding manufactures press for this method of installation, it will be seen as the minimum standard for siding installation in the years to come. It is already a requirement on most commercial applications.
Another benefit besides the drying of moisture is that siding will retain paint and sealant longer due to the siding material being allowed to stay dry. If the siding material is continually wet it will become more difficult to adhere too. So, an added benefit to this system is reduced maintenance.
So, if your builder isn’t installing siding this way, ask him why. The reason is usually because they don’t believe in it or think it is too expensive. Do your research and you will see that having to tear off siding to repair rot is much more expensive than installing the correct way the first time.
January 5, 2014
The english translation is “Solar” however, to us it means clean affordable energy. It also could mean, “what do I do with the extra money in my pocket each month?” It could actually be quite confusing for your family. If your combined monthly gas and power bills are only about $40, what would you do with the extra money each month? Would you take your family out to dinner, treat yourself to a massage, put the money into savings or pay down your mortgage? That’s the dilemma that the homeowners of our Solare Collection at Meriwether in Oregon City have.
This collection was designed from the ground up to be highly efficient, luxurious, healthy and comfortable. This integrated performance provides low energy cost and low maintenance living. All which result in a lower cost of ownership than any other comparably sized home. New or used. Over the last 30 years, PGE has increased their power rates on an average of 6% a year. With the solar program we have through SolarCity, our homeowners have control over their power costs for the next 20 years.
Stop by Meriwether and experience the difference of a Marnella Home. You will not only see and feel the difference, but you will realize the difference year after year of comfort and energy savings that our homes deliver. In addition, why the program lasts, our homeowners will receive a $6,000 tax credit from the State of Oregon for the Solar in this collection.
August 21, 2013
I recently walked through a building of townhomes under construction and was amazed to see that the builder was actually running his subflooring under the common walls through to the connecting home without any break in the flooring. I have seen this in apartment construction, but not in condo or townhome construction in a long time. With the amount of knowledge we should all have about acoustics, I don’t see why that would be acceptable to anyone.
We have built many condos and townhomes and appreciate that sound mitigation is paramount to the indoor environments of our homeowners. Not allowing a break in the subfloor creates a conduit for sound transfer under the party or common wall. It won’t matter how well the wall is insulated sound will still transfer from home to home. The floor transfers laterally the sounds from subwoofers, kids jumping and running, etc.
This is another classic illustration of why at Marnella Homes, we encourage new home buyers to research how a builder builds their homes and visit the builder’s homes under construction. Nice fixtures, flooring and detailing could only be decorative masking for poor construction. As this market heats back up again, some builders will start to pull back on elements of their homes because it may not be necessary to include them to sell homes or the buyer may not be paying attention.
However, after a homeowner moves in, they will notice a poorly insulated and constructed townhome. Trust me, Sharknado was bad enough to watch the first time, let alone listening to it again from your neighbor’s home.
April 22, 2012
CNBC, Fox News & Chicago Tribune all had great stories recently about optimism in the Housing market. This is truly great to hear. It’s not that there hasn’t been good housing stories to report, but that several sources are reporting how things are turning around and not beating negative stories into the ground.
The Chicago Tribune story reads, “Reports from two major banks suggest housing market is on the mend.” It went on to read, “Wells Fargo issued 54% more mortgages than a year ago and took 84% more applications.” The Fox News story reads, “US home-buying season finally signaling a recovery.” and, “many people seem to have concluded that prices won’t drop much further. In some areas, prices have begun to tick up.”
Our local RMLS Market Action report shows that we are down to 5 months of inventory in the Portland Metroplex. We haven’t seen inventory this low since June of 2007! Some areas closer into the core of the city are experiencing inventories much lower.
This has been a long schlogg and it is exciting to see things turning up.
August 16, 2011
After receiving a comment, on a post I wrote about home performance from a builder, that all new homes were ENERGY STAR certified. It occurred to me that if someone in my industry didn’t understand the facts about the ENERGY STAR new home certification then I needed to clarify this further. I agree that the energy codes for new construction have been elevated significantly in recent years. However, so have the requirements for the new homes programs of ENERGY STAR, Energy Trust of Oregon, Earth Advantage and the like.
ENERGY STAR rated homes perform to a minimum of 15% up to 30% more efficient than code built homes. These are homes that have real performance and energy efficient features and practices built in. These homes are built using higher standards for the building envelope and HVAC system. These higher standards and additional measures are verified through third party inspections utilizing duct blast and blower door testing. In addition, if the builder is serious about performance, he will have had his homes rated with one of the performance measuring systems like EPS (Energy Performance Score) or HERS (Home Energy Rating System). Here in Oregon we mostly use EPS.
The actual number of new homes certified in the United States each year is less than 20%. Here in the northwest, the 2011 year to date percentage of new homes certified in Washington State is 12.7% and in Oregon it is 14.2%.
The bottom line is, don’t be fooled by “Green” marketing and assume that a new home is certified by one of the new homes programs. Ask questions, have the builder or sales broker show you their certification. The builder might have simply installed an Energy Star rated dishwasher and recycled the cardboard from the box.