I too, would like to see a cost vs. return discussion enter into the code driven debate. Being involved with DOE testing and also being present during the recent 2012 code hearings, I was amazed with the decision making process and the special interest groups that were driving the agenda. The whole "national security threat" and "zero energy home" goal by 2025 is proposterous. Targeting 450k new homes a year with difficult and expensive benchmarks, when there are roughly 130 million existing energy hogs is the bigger picture.
The 2009 code changes (15% better than 2006) just started getting enforced, but not all states have the infrastructure to manage. The northern climate zones 6 and 7 require minimum R-values for walls to be R-15 and R-19 respectively. And with minimal tradeoffs (beefing up performance one place to compensate for others elsewhere), these minimum R-values drive cost vs. return through the roof.
During these code hearings, we heard some paid proponants use "payback" assumptions in the 3-5 year range. Well, who would argue with that? Approved. But now, as the 2012 code cycle is pending and another 15% improvement is required, the "loggies" aren't the only ones fretting. Payback analysis in the 30-50 year range will cause the consumer to look elsewhere for shelter. It just doesn't make sense to drive the cost of new home construction out of reach for some, when they can buy existing instead. Had the code officials and people voting for these changes understood the cost vs. return, they wouldn't have voted approval.
The 2015 code cycle is supposed to be another 20% jump----50% better than 2006. How as an industry, or a specialty business, can one design or modify a product if the target keeps moving? How do we achieve a "zero energy home" by 2025? Was the intent of the new codes to exterminate a proven building system (solid logs) with examples still standing and being used in this country for 200+ years? How much of an energy drain is this proven solid log system when compared to a new fangled alternative?
I like the SIPS concept and have been building them for years, along with solid logs. But a foam house with slabs of wood is not a "log home". The SIPS industry has had issues and we've repaired them all---most at our expense. Vapor drive, delamination, outgassing, structural failures----can all happen (and do happen). Not by design, but through mistakes/quality control in manufacturing, construction, site location, weather, neglect and lifestyle. Only when a company has been around long enough to take care of their problems, will I endorse them.
Solid logs are just so much more forgiving, predictable, and ultimately easier to deal with when issues arise.
The intent of the new building code(s) and their enforcement will be subject for debate, regionally managed, and ultimately budget driven. Just this week, our county laid off the building inspector and the responsibility got pushed upstream.
Exterior Wood Finishes and Topcoats.
Every log and timberframe homeowner needs to know the details of the many options available. Answers to simple questions would really benefit everyone. Questions like: How long will the stain last? Is it ok to use only clear? Does the previous stain need to be removed? How will a new coat of stain effect chinking? Why is there such a huge debate over water based vs. oil based stains? Why not just buy an inexpensive product from the local "big box"?
The answers to these and many other questions would really help homeowners make educated decisions.
Thanks for the opportunity to make suggestions.