How our Homes are Built

Deerman_Residence_17A Sunlight Homes build can only begin following the purchase of your land. This process can take days, weeks, even years to complete, but this time is invaluable to our design process, as it allows us to get to know each other and your wants and needs. If you are still in the land buying process, we are more than happy to provide guidance on which parcel of land may be more conducive to our design methods.

Once you have closed on your new piece of land, the next step is a firsthand visit by us to your property. This, combined with our Pre-Design and Values Worksheets and visit, allows us to craft a design that truly matches your vision. You can learn more about our design process here.

When your home is build, it is made with energy efficiency in mind. This is first achieved by ensuring that your home is built to be passive solar in its layout and design. Simply put, this guarantees that your home gets the maximum amount of light in the cold winter months, while keeping light out during the heat of the summer. By accounting for the site orientation, floor plan layout, window placement and overhang, we achieve a higher energy-efficiency, all without the need for moving parts or added systems.

The second area which ensure your home’s energy efficiency is through its insulation. Without proper insulation techniques, your home will lose heat from any discrepancies in the installation. By using construction materials that are specifically designed for their insulating properties, we minimize the energy loss from gaps and holes that can be created through standard build methods.

By combining our passive solar designs with energy efficient materials, we create a home that is super insulated and energy efficient in every aspect of its creation.

Building Science

Odds are that if you have been looking into building a custom, green home that you have come across a concept known as “Building Science.” Building science is a concept which refers to the collection of scientific knowledge and experience concerning building design and detailing in response to naturally occurring physical phenomenon such as the weather, the characteristics of materials, human physiology and energy consumption. This concept has an overarching goal of bettering our understanding of how our current build climate functions on a holistic level and how evidence-based research can improve this understanding. There now exist professional publications which use the latest build science available to provide information and recommendations on the best home building practices. By utilizing these practices, you ensure that your home is durable, cost effective, energy efficient and comfortable. At Sunlight Homes, we stay up to date on all the latest advancements in building science to conform to the very latest and best practices available today.

Building Science Elements We Utilize:

There are currently many different framing techniques and designs that conform to the Building Science standard if detailed and build correctly. Advanced framing refers to when as little wood as possible is used to support the building. This allows for more space for insulation, which leads to less thermal bridging. Over the course of our many builds, we have found that the two most popular super insulated advanced framed wall techniques are a double stud wall and a framed wall with exterior ridged insulation.

Insulated Concrete Forms is a product that utilizes sheets of EPS foam which is then filled with concrete to form a wall structure. By utilizing varying thicknesses of foam and concrete, builders can create walls of differing insulating and structural capacities. From a building science standpoint, ICFs are simply great. If they have enough thickness, they can have excellent seals and insulating ability. Furthermore, as the foam skins form a water resistant barrier, moisture issues are only a minor concern. Some ICF manufacturers have made claims that the thermal mass of the concrete core provides insulating benefits. In our experience, however, we have found these claims to be bogus. To provide these insulating properties, the thermal mass would have to be exposed to the interior, which is not the case with these, as the mass is insulated by the foam.

Structural Insulated Panels are one of the most highly regarded building materials in the world of building science and can accomplish everything needed of the shell of a home. On the whole, they are strong, highly insulating, durable and create a very airtight shell that is free from issues caused by air and moisture migration. Although there is a learning curve to building with SIPs, any competent framer should be able to quickly pick up the technique. As SIPs use the same basic tool set and similar framing methods as stud framing, traditional framer skills translate well.

Cost + Fixed Fee

The cost-plus-a-fixed-fee method of payment is by far our favorite here at Sunlight Homes. This process works by having the homeowner and the builder agree to a fixed fee which the builder will be paid for acting as the General Contractor on the project. There are several factors which are included in this process, including the estimated cost of building the home, the size and complexity of the project, the weather, the driving time to the project site, the proximity to building materials and the local building climate, to name a few. It is also not uncommon for the builder to set their fee as a percentage of the construction costs. Overall, this method creates the least amount of conflict of interest between the buyer and the builder and helps ensure honesty and fair treatment for all parties involved.