Building to code is a waste of money, GUARANTEED


Building to code is a waste of money, GUARANTEED

February 8, 2017 | by Steve Romme, Partner, eFree Advisors, LLC

house and money

Building energy efficient new homes is a growing trend. However, building perfectly optimized homes has always been the holy grail for builders and homeowners. The difference you ask? A perfectly optimized home includes energy efficiency and build cost efficiency. The final product is a build cost optimized home that guarantees the builder is providing the homeowner with the highest value home, not simply the most energy efficient.

Builders have been hearing that they should be building better, more efficient homes for a long time. Yet homeowners have budgets and would rather spend it on cabinets, countertops and flooring instead of insulation and air sealing. Uniform Dwelling Code has minimum energy efficiency requirements, so those are relied on as the baseline, with maybe a few upgrades thrown in here or there so that a home is “better” than code.

With the emergence of new build-cost optimization software, builders no longer need to guess at which type of furnace, wall structure, windows or attic insulation will provide their customers with the maximum value. Optimization experts can now model any home from the blueprints and find the perfect mix of building options that provide their customer with the maximum savings from the first day and ensure they are getting the most for their money.

After years of optimizing homes in Wisconsin and tracking actual energy bills of many new homes; we have proven that building to prescriptive code, or even guessing at which upgrades to include will result in higher costs for the homeowners. That’s right, building to UDC minimums, or guessing at upgrades is a waste of money and will inevitably cost the homeowners more than if the home were optimized. An optimized home is efficient. Not just energy efficient, but cost efficient.

So why aren’t more homes optimized?

Optimizing a new home from drawings is complex and takes a high degree of expertise and experience. It involves not just estimating the energy consumption of the home and its components, but also understanding different construction methods, mechanical systems, component costs and energy costs. Energy modeling a home has been possible for many years. Crossing this with financial analysis gives us the answers to build cost optimization. To optimize a new home, thousands of combinations need to be considered, which seems impossibly complex and expensive. So instead of attempting to optimize, most builders fall back to UDC, or even worse they do what their subcontractors suggest makes the most sense.

Optimization is here and it works!

At eFree Advisors, we use our experience and a computer program called SmartSpend™ to compare the most important options and recommend the best combination that optimizes build cost; which means the lowest cost of homeownership as defined by the mortgage payment plus energy bill. Even with the focus on maximizing build value, we still see an energy bill reduction around 40% versus a code-built home. Better yet, the energy savings add up quickly over the years with increasing energy costs. Considering the effect of 5% energy inflation, many homeowners will SAVE OVER $40,000 BY NOT BUILDING TO CODE! If energy inflation is higher than 5% per year, their savings get even better. As an interesting side note, we also provide better indoor air quality and comfort when optimizing a home.

Where do you start?

So optimizing a new home is worth it, but where do you start? Start by asking yourself if you are willing to change. If you’re a builder, are you willing to change the way you build and buy different equipment if it results in a better, more efficient new home? If you’re a homeowner, are you willing to shift money to reduce your final cost of ownership? These seem like simple questions, but in our experience, most builders will continue to build like they have always built and most new home buyers will buy what they like and figure out how to pay for it later. If you are ready to build better, more cost effective new homes, the market is clearly waiting.

Builders that we have worked with over the past few years have differentiated themselves in their markets by offering the great craftsmanship they have become known for over the years, with a new found technologically-driven optimization process that enhances home ownership and guarantees they’re competitively priced. New home buyers can now get it all; a new home that is beautiful, more comfortable, more energy efficient and more affordable through the use of optimization. Don’t believe it? Well, what if I said we now guarantee it?

Put your money where your mouth is

That’s right, after a couple of years of development and optimization of over 60 new homes, eFree Advisors is now GUARANTEEING TO LOWER THE COST OF OWNERSHIP BY NOT BUILDING TO CODE and GUARANTEEING the ACTUAL HEATING AND COOLING BILLS for FIVE YEARS!

We believe strongly that every new home can be built better and for less by optimizing build cost. And we may be the first ever to put our money where our mouth is by guaranteeing to show every builder and every new homeowner that it can be done on their project.