Tips From PATH Increase Housing Affordability
In observation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's celebration of National Homeownership Month this June, PATH (Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology) is providing home builders and buyers with a list of products and approaches that can reduce construction and operating costs.
Included on the list are:
- Frost Protected Shallow Foundations (FPSF). Pioneered in Scandinavia and ideal for homes in northern climates with deep frost lines, FPSFs use insulation below the foundation to limit its depth, significantly reducing material and excavation costs. The foundations have enabled Bill Eich Construction, of Spirit Lake, Iowa, to save more than $4,000 on a typical slab-on-grade home versus the conventional crawlspace.
- Optimized HVAC. Heating, ventilation and conditioning units that are too large for the houses in which they are installed increase initial costs and operating costs because of their inefficient performance. By performing a Manual J and Manual D load calculation rather than relying upon an inaccurate rule of thumb, a builder can determine the proper sizing of the equipment and ductwork. The installation of ducts in conditioned space will further boost energy efficiency and performance.
- Insulation. Increasing insulation and applying a premium air sealing package will reduce energy bills and allow for even smaller HVAC equipment while still keeping the home comfortable in all seasons.
- Advanced Framing Techniques. Numerous techniques, known as optimum value engineering, can reduce the amount of lumber and labor and provide more space for insulation.
- Open Floor Plans. These designs save on framing costs by reducing the partition walls. Although open floor plans can require longer spans, they usually result in significant savings in small or narrow homes. Because of the increased light in the rooms, fewer windows and light fixtures are needed, which also cuts costs.
- Manufactured/Modular Housing. Indistinguishable from stick-built homes, manufactured and factory-built homes are about half the cost of conventional homes and are 25% more energy-efficient on average. Building a home in a controlled environment allows for better labor management, reduces waste and prevents lumber from getting wet. Moisture makes wood more susceptible to mold and degrades its quality.
- Operating Costs. Home buyers also need to consider a home’s operating costs and the durability of its equipment. Builders can choose products that will help minimize home owners’ mortgage, utility, maintenance and insurance costs.
PATH reports that as a rule of thumb, a 20% reduction in price doubles the number of prospective buyers who can afford the home.
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