Custom Energy Specs, Etc.
And other information related to Construction Prints and CAD Files
Custom Energy Specs
Custom Energy Specs are a service provided along with Create-A-SunPlan, Adapt-A-SunPlan and the purchase of Construction Prints or CAD Files from Sun Plans. Sun Plans' architect reviews in detail the climate where the home is to be constructed and makes custom energy recommendations. Occasionally minor construction detail changes may be required, but they are typically ones that can be done on site by the builder.To the best of our knowledge, for pre-designed house plans, this is a custom service provided only by Sun Plans.
"I am contacting you to compliment you on the Specifications you have provided for the Natureís Corner Project currently underway here in Asheville. I review a lot of plans and specs, and I appreciate your thoroughness, which is at a level I donít see often. We are the areaís local experts in Building Performance and have provided Building Envelope services for hundreds of satisfied clients throughout the Western North Carolina region...Iíve been very impressed with your carefully detailed specs. I thought you might like to hear this from another professional in the industry." Ryan Gore, Building Performance Specialist, Home Energy Partners
As a minimum, Sun Plans recommends building to newer Energy Star standards (at least 30% better than code) and the Custom Energy Specs typically recommend these or higher insulation values. The plans are designed to earn the Energy Star label if the Energy Star guidelines are followed by an on-site Home Energy Rater that can test and verify the tightness of the home. Typically, from the Energy Star ratings seen, Sun Plans homes routinely perform at 50% below new homes standards, but actual performance is often lower and certainly can be if the home owner chooses a high level of efficiency.
More frequently, customers request that their Custom Energy Specs be created to an even high standard such as Passiv Haus standard or the 20-40-60 referenced by other energy professionals. Custom Energy Specs can address these higher standards and describe modifications that the plan would need to achieve them - if any. After the order for CAD Files or Construction Prints is placed, state your preferences or ask that several options be listed for the builder to price since they are more likely to know the costs and availability of labor and specific materials in the area where the house will be constructed.
Custom Energy Specs describe necessary modifications (if any) recommended to the plan to adapt it to a particular climate in North America. The adaptations recommended are normally of the simple "field change" nature that can be performed without detailed changes on the drawings.
After a climate analysis is performed, orientation, magnetic north, insulation values, south glass, thermal mass, and overhang lengths will be reviewed along with the construction details for the particular house by the Sun Plans architect. Both the passive solar heating and cooling elements will be considered prior to preparing the Custom Energy Specs. If there are concerns as to whether or not the plan can be "field modified" for your climate, our architect will contact you; however, this has never happened.
For the included technical support that comes with Construction Prints (one hour) and CAD Files (two hours), an email first allows for better preparation and a more thorough response. Sun Plans reserves the right to limit technical support should it become excessive or to suggest we enter into a fee-based agreement. The support is not intended to aid home owners who are attempting to build themselves, but we are happy to speak with the home owner as they clarify info for their builder, especially in relation to the energy-related features. If the builder is calling from a job site without internet access, be sure to tell us that when the call is placed so that the concerns can be addressed promptly.
Part of the five day processing time to send out an order for Construction Prints or CAD Files allows for the preparation of the Custom Energy Specs, but the drawings may also need to be updated. Since Sun Plans is not a large house plan company that sells hundreds of plans a year, it may have been a year or more since the plan was last sold. In that case, often the plans are updated through our in-house checklist to see if there is anything that needs to be changed based on general building code changes, current energy-related recommendations, or occasionally a change recommended from the original client living in the home. The customer does not pay more for this checking and possible updating, it's just what is done as part of the Sun Plan's quality control.
Structural reinforcing and connectors to assure a continuous load path of forces from roof peak down to foundation will need to be reviewed and determined by a local structural engineer in conjunction with the local building inspector based on the soil type, wind forces, snow load, and seismic activity in the area where the house will be constructed. Some engineers like to mark this right on the drawings while others create attachments to the plans. Especially in high-wind or high-seismic areas, engineers may prefer the CAD Files to make their work go quicker quick should translate to cost savings to you.
Construction Prints and CAD Files may not be exactly the same as a Review Set previously ordered, as they are periodically updated (usually if it has been more than year since the plan was last updated) based on customer feedback, general code changes, energy and green building practices as well as the Sun Plans in-house checklist.