How Do You Define and Guarantee Quality?

Posted by Tom White on October 24, 2016
How Do You Define and Guarantee Quality?
The Lunsford's tiny house on wheels: the TinyLab.

Proof is possible! That's the motto and mantra of Corbett and Grace Lunsford, with the Chicago-based Building Performance Workshop. They are spreading the word in their Proof Is Possible US Tour. They built a tiny house lab on wheels and are stopping at 20 major cities across the country to prove to home owners and realtors that they can expect better, healthier buildings, and that contractors can prove the quality of their workmanship.

Corbett describes the tiny house lab as This Old House meets CSI. The Tiny Lab is loaded with diagnostic tools that allow him to measure air quality and pressures. In his workshops for contractors Corbett shows how to use a variety of measurement tools, including IR cameras, blower doors, radon monitors, smoke pencils, and CO detectors.

The Home Energy team stopped by the TinyLab to visit Corbett, Grace, and their seven-month old daughter Nanette, while they were in Berkeley. On entering the 210 sq. ft. lab, the six of us (plus their two cats) did not feel crowded in the well lit and ventilated space. Despite being parked on a city street next to a school yard in full swing, the tiny house was quiet, with cool, fresh air. "This is the sound and smell of a high performance house", said Corbett, "Even though we live in what's a big closet, with a kitty litter box for two cats, a composting toilet and a baby in diapers!"

Their key to quality is controlling air movement with thorough air sealing inside and out, and properly balanced HVAC systems, including a mini-split heat pump, energy recovery ventilator, range hood and vented composting toilet. 

How do you motivate home owners to invest in quality? Corbett says one word: "fear"! Fear of wasting money and jeopardizing the health of your family, and the durability and safety of your home. 

"Don't mention energy efficiency to home owners. People don't care about the features of new windows or more insulation. They want proof that their home won't make their children sick or drain their wallet. And in a tightly air sealed house, you can't have finishes or paneling with VOCs or formaldehyde."

Check out Corbett's videos to learn more about quality metrics so that you can prove to your clients the truth about the quality of your work, and the benefits of home performance. And look for their #TinyLab in a city near you!


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