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Topic: Solar

John Ford asked:

Feb 17, 2014

1.  Add insulation in walls and roof.  2.  Air seal your home. 3.  Install Low E or better dual pane doors and windows.

John Ford asked:

Feb 17, 2014
Aug 13, 2016

For both an existing and new construction home, the top three items that provide the greatest value and return on investment are as follows:

  1. Installation of LED light bulbs and fixtures in replacment of incadenscent or compact flourescent bulbs/fixtures.
  2. Sealing of exterior shell of house and all top plate penetrations in conjunction with blower door test.
  3. Properly installed insulation in walls and ceilings and upgrading R-Value above code requirements.

Additional items to consider include:

  1. Testing and sealing of hvac system duct work
  2. Upgrade hvac system condenser SEER and furnace efficiency
  3. Tankless water heater
  4. Solor photovoltaic system

John Ford asked:

Feb 17, 2014

Josh Way of Jarrett Industries PRO answered:

Aug 11, 2016

Step one, if you have siding use a insulated vinyl siding with silica gel. Replace your windows with a double or triple insulated window system. And third your doors are very important. When you do replacement anything you want the doors and windows to fit the space perfectly. We can do these things and more at Jarrett Industries.

May 18, 2016
Jul 29, 2016

The combination of answers above is pretty inclusive. The first responder's comments get you to the construction phase. I would add that recommendations from friends sometimes fall short if your project is of a different nature than theirs. Be sure your contractor has a track record in the type project you are considering.,

 Our estimates list out detail of the work scope included and an overall cost. When moving to the contract phase we submit a schedule of values that will be used for percentage complete pay apps. 

 As far as the construction process, this would be our normal progression:

protection - provision for temp lighting if needed

demolition and temp arrangements for appliance usage if needed

framing of new walls, floors or beams

rough plumbing If needed

rough electric for lights, appliances etc

hvac or venting as needed



tile prep, underlayment

tile or hardwood installation

more protection before cabinets to protect finished floors

install cabinets

install trim (base/crown etc)

measure/install countertops

install appliances

paint (sometimes this will  move ahead of countertops)


plumbing finish

electrical finish

cabinet hardware

provide & perform punch list 

remove protection

test electric, plumbing, appliance function

Note: inspections required vary by jurisdiction but for our area it will generally include foundation if an addition is involved, framing if structural changes, rough plumbing, rough electric  insulation, final plumbing, final electric, certificate of occupancy. 

Hope this helps

hire a licensed pro and avoid the pitfalls.

May 18, 2016
Jul 15, 2016

The above are two good, and siilar in approach answers, but there are two issues it seems no one includes:

1) If you house was built before 1978 it must be inspected by a certified contractor or lead paint inspector for lead paint before a remodel is started. If found the paint, or paintd material must be prperly abated. This can be a significant cost item.

2) Most remodel items like tile, cabinets, and paint are considered minor and don't require it in most jurisdictions, but electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and structural modifications require permits and inspections. A homeowner can save money by omitting them, but if you get busted, you'l pay and you may be without a kitchen for a long time.

Robert Johnson

Southern Home Improvement, LLC


May 18, 2016
May 30, 2016

Set up includeing Dust Containment field, reverse air flow and floor protection

Demo concreete work, framing, roofing

Rough electrical

Rough plumbing




Mud and tape 

Cabinets and fixtures

Tile backsplash

Finish electrical

Finish plumbing


Finishes Painting 

Final Inspection 

Clean up

Photo Pizza Party

Each phase should show labor (both in house and sub), materials broken out

Hope this helps

Philip Anderson

HDR Remodeling 

Berkeley Ca

May 18, 2016
May 19, 2016

Each contractor has own estimating. Estimatehas to contain material selections so you can compare other contractors and know that you comparing "apples to apples". (Do not expect to have their cost broken down.)

Each phase can have estimated labor time. But that something that most likely included in to the total project cost.

Phase1. Get design done and analyze your lay out and cabinet functionality.

Phase 2. Materials to be used selection.Most impact on your budget makes your selections - door style, construction, finish. Be smart and flexible on door style to get most value for your money.

Phase 3.  Ask for referrals from previous customers from your contractor. Do your homework before you open doors for strangers. 

Phase 4. Sign contract, pay "down payment". Ask for payment and material delivery schedule for your project.

         Last but not the least. Reward your hardworking subs. 


Manny Stiega

John Ford asked:

Feb 18, 2014

Robert Shaw of Solare Energy PRO answered:

Jan 20, 2015


There are options available to go solar and be completely independent of you local utility provider. However, this type of set-up (solar+storage) is much more costly than the traditional "grid-tied" system mentioned by Mr. Cook. There are significant developments in the works for the energy storage industry and speculation suggests that batteries will become more reasonably priced in the next 3-5 years or so.

Until then, many folks are opting to install a grid-tied solar panel system, which can often offset 100% of your utility bill (minus a nominal monthly interconnection fee of $5 or so). In some cases, fully offsetting your electric bill isn't possible because of shading or roof complexity. When battery storage becomes more affordable, you can add storage and truly become energy independent!

John Ford asked:

Feb 17, 2014
Aug 13, 2014

The energy efficiency of a home relies on several factors. 

The most dominant of these factors is the insulation used, both within the perimeter walls and attic.  This would include the houses ability to breath as well as maintain a good barrier.  It's not so much the amount of insulation as the type and installation methods.

Another factor that effects the energy efficiency of your home is your windows and doors.  They come in all varieties of energy ratings, and are also reliant on the installation methods used.

The third thing that I would look at is the ventilation of your attic.  If your attic has the necessary ventilation needed it can reduce energy cost as well as prolong the life of your roof system.

John Ford asked:

Feb 17, 2014
Aug 12, 2014

Great insulation plays a key factor in energy savings. There are many different options available to increase the energy efficiency of your home.  James Hardie Siding is specifically designed for the climate in which it is installed. Whether you live in a climate with freezing temperatures, snow & ice or a climate with high humidity, heat, and rain; James Hardie has a siding product built for your homes specific needs. Technology has changed tremendously over the years so homes built 15- 20 years ago may have been installed with what was considered cutting edge at the time. Window replacement and the new technology that windows have now can save a great deal of energy costs. A good product that we can recommend also would be the Mezzo Vinyl Window or Integrity by Marvin Windows. These are high performance windows that are engineered to provide outstanding energy efficiency. Major appliances such as heating and A/C units can also offer great energy savings. 

John Ford asked:

Feb 17, 2014
Jun 15, 2014

Oftentimes the attic is the place to start.  Make sure you have plenty of ventilation, both intake and exhaust.  Check the soffit cavity to make sure you it isn't clogged with insulation.  There are formulas for Square foot of attic in relation to ventilation.  If you have a vapor barrier in the ceilling a ration of 1:300 sf is ok, otherwise about 1:150 is the rule. Second, check the insulation.  All air escaping into the attic should be sealed using spray foam or other sealants. Next, depending on your geographic location, make sure you have plenty of insulation in the attic.  Finally, something as simple as installing blinds over windows can be an economical solution to saving on energy costs.  As recommended in some of the other answers, an energy audit or getting advice from any number of qualified professionals that are willing to visit your home is the best place to start.

John Ford asked:

Feb 17, 2014
Jun 3, 2014

John Ford, There are an abundance of energy efficiency upgrades you can do to your 2-story home. A question to your question - do you have a small or a larger budget? Small budget - 2 options: Attic Insulation or A Foil Energy Barrier, one example is Green Energy Barrier. Blown-In Attic Insulation is inexpensive and can help with an additional R-value of 18-60 in your attic. A Foil Energy Barrier - can be placed along the rafters or floor boards and is a foil used by NASA that greatly assists with energy efficiency. Larger budget - 3 solid options: Solar panels, Replacement Windows with Krypton gas, or Insulated Siding, an insulation with a system R-value of a 4.2 that contours to your siding panel. Best, Ken 

John Ford asked:

Feb 17, 2014
May 14, 2014
Hey John, 
Here's the top three upgrades that I would suggest for your home: 
1. Air Sealing and Insulation:  This improvement always pays off.  No matter if you're trying to keep cold air in your home during the summer or trying to keep it out during the winter, sealing small gaps in your home's shell should be always be a priority.
2. Upgrade older appliances:  A majority of our energy usage comes from the use of our appliances so if you are still working with an older model, it might be time to consider the cost benefit of upgrading to a newer, more efficient system.  Each appliance, from dishwashers to clothes dryers each have a different return on investment so be sure to do your research before upgrading.
3. Heat and Cool Efficiently:  On average, 52% of energy used in the home is used to heat and cool our homes. There are a lot of simple steps that can be done to maximize efficiency in this area.  Install and use a programmable thermostat.  Changing the temperature of your home by just 1 degree can help save 5% annually on your heating cost. Be sure that your heating and air conditioning system is being maintained and cared for.  Clean your filter regularly and schedule annual maintenance to prevent possible issues.  Lastly, seal any leaks in your duct system to avoid heating and cooling loss and to allow your system to run better.
Hope the information helps!
-Eric Consuegra, AROCON Roofing & Construction

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