Reflecting on the 2016 revised Washington State Energy Code

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As of July 1, 2016 all Washington State home builders are subject to new energy codes that have resulted in state-wide price increases. In a nutshell, builder receives credits when they use energy saving methods in the home construction process. In the past, the number of credits required for a medium dwelling unit (1501 – 5000 sf.) were 1.5 and could be met in a variety of methods. A hybrid hot water tank could get you 1.5 credits and it still can, but the state has moved the proverbial bar higher and now all builders have to get 3.5 credits for medium dwelling units. How we obtain those credits can be either good or bad for both builders and those desiring to build. How so? It’s imperative that you understand what you are building into your home and that the credits the builder is offering is economical for you, not just the builder. Adding these energy saving items is obviously good for you and the environment in the end. Will you have to purchase additional things for your home to make it comfortable? Let us explain.

Some builders are offering standard ductless units on all their homes to obtain 1.0 credit, and then obtaining the other 2.5 in a variety of means. Ductless units by-the-way were invented as demand for cheap A/C and heat were needed for older homes. It is minimally invasive because it literally is like a wall A/C unit that hung out of the window. They are in demand for retro-homes or remodels. Granted, for homes 1500 square feet and smaller, these units with one head for both heat and cooling may indeed be sufficient. We ourselves take this approach for all of our homes 1500 sf. and smaller. However, on a two story or a large rambler, if you want to get cooling and heat in all areas of the home, more heads are needed. Imagine while ordering your home from other builders and you are told that if you want sufficient cooling and heat in other areas of your 2,500 sf. home, you have to pay an additional $2-3-4k more!  Why would the builder offer the home in such a way? Because it’s their least expensive means to obtain the credits needed. This will put the client in an awkward position if you want even heating and cooling in the whole house. How so?  Because the builder will offer you an upgrade for extra heads for the ductless unit or offer the option/upgrade that True Built Home does standard-the furnace and heat pump! True Built Home has taken a completely different approach.

Ductless units have their place. However, on larger single-story homes and two-story homes, they make little sense. In this regard, True Built Home offers a high efficient electric furnace and heat pump system standard on all homes 1500 square feet and larger. This gives us 1.0 credit, just like a ductless unit, without the additional expense to the homeowner of adding more heads to sufficiently cool and heat the rest of the home. Let that sink in a bit. Because, when company personnel sit down to discuss these very things, some companies think, “how can we make more money”, while we always take the approach, “how can we add value to our homes”.

In the end, don’t be fooled by some who say that ductless are the “only” way to go. They indeed do have a purpose, but not when you have to pay more for some that could have simply been addressed the right way to begin with.

True Built Home – How we purpose to meet the new Washington Energy Codes

  1. High efficient electric furnace package along with high efficient heat pump system
  2. Low-flow Moen faucets-rated #1 JD Powers
  3. R38 under the floor
  4. LowE .28 windows
  5. Heat pump (hybrid) electric water heater

*Where natural gas can be substituted, an additional up-charge will apply for additional venting and piping.

How can True Built Home SAVE you thousands of dollars!

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I have 23,000 reason why you should build a True Built Home

When comparing home builders side by side, it can really be tough for you the buyer. Why? Because not all apples are built the same.

As an illustration, consider if you were buying a new car. Sure, it comes with wheels, engine and transmission. However, if it was say an automatic transmission instead of manual, leather seats instead of cloth, nice rims instead of hub caps, it becomes apparently clear that you are buying a nicer vehicle than the plain-jane. However, you should expect or demand that the cheaper car should also be priced cheaper right? If then you bought the cheaper car, but paid the same price as the nicer car then yahoo for the dealer, but shame on the consumer for not doing their homework.

It’s similar with our homes compared to others. For instance, I have shouted this from the roof tops, but it’s so important that I am going to stress it in another way. I am going to compare a top-selling floor plan by one of our major competitors to our top-selling home just to show you how much more money you are wasting by ordering my competitors house and THEN, explaining why we can build for less money with more quality features than builder “X”. After which if you choose to literally “throw your money away”, it’s on you.

Being discreet I will simply say one our largest competitor sells a home that is 2576 sqft, 2 car garage 2 bath in Washington for $158,900 or roughly 61.68 psf. We’ll compare that home to our best seller the Juniper Ridge which is 2527 sqft with two car garage 2.5 bath for $155,900 or 61.69 psf. nearly the same square footage price right? So you would think it should have pretty much the same features, correct? It’s important to compare apples to apples so you the consumer can have a clearer idea of what you are getting in your home or what you may want to add to get a nicer home. I am going to point out only where glaring differences exist. For starters let’s go to the foundation because, you should have noted that you already get an extra bathroom with our TBH house (about $3500);

Foundation – They have a 22’’ foundation, True Built Home (TBH) offers a 24’’ foundation. Why shorter? Obviously to save money. In addition, they do a hung joist floor where we do a rim joist floor. That essentially cost the builder more but the reason being is we need that extra space because we often run all the HVAC plenum under the house, but the real benefit is almost all clients want access to the crawl space for future use. They do not offer the electric furnace package standard, their standard heat source are wall units. So, between the two items mentioned here, you are looking at about a 10k dollar upgrade. Get out your wallet.

Next; their garage space is 22×22, where ours is 22×24 or 44 more sqft. To add 44 more sqft to their garage you’ll likely be charged 1600 dollars. Oh BTW, your TBH home will come with a freezer jack, and 2 outlets in the garage and a plug-in the ceiling because we do a garage door opener standard (we mention later in this article) – put your hands up with our competitor because they are going to charge you another $500-600 dollars for those items.

Fascia board – If you look at their product, they attach the gutters right to the truss tails. However, a True Built Home comes with fascia board. The cost to add to our competitor’s house add $700-800, and the peace of mind that the truss tails won’t rot! As you look up under the overhang of the roof, with their home you will see oriented strain board or better known as OSB. While this is a great product and we use it too on our homes, we don’t use it for the overhang of the roof. There is a debate on whether or not to allow this to be exposed to the constant weather. Builder “X” will tell you that the paint you put on it will be just fine, however, it still is unsightly and will it hold up under Washington mood swings with our rain and sun?? TBH only installs CDX plywood. It’s smooth, can be painted and durable. It looks great and last for years when used properly. If they offer it, you might pay as much as $500-600 extra dollars for this True Built Home standard feature.

Let’s move inside where the costs are really going to go up.

Carpet pad – We do an 8lb pad, they list “carpet pad” as their standard and one would only guess that it’s a 6lb because if it were 8lb, they would mention it. Upgrade cost-around $700 dollars

Our hemlock solid wood trim stained to match your cabinets is by far a step up from what our competitor offers. Their standard trim is an embossed (plastic) coated finger jointed wood trim. Obviously much less expensive and it shows but the real problem is when you damage it. You see, because it’s embossed you can repair it to make it look right again. With a true wood trim, when it gets nicked or damaged it’s an easy fix. Do you desire that TBH standard? It will cost you about $1800.

If you get rid of the cheap trim, you’ll have to upgrade their door package because they are an embossed flat photo finish door to match the plastic coated trim. When will it stop, right? Add roughly $2000 dollars because our interior doors come painted as well! We offer 5 different whites as standard. However, if you have a different color in mind, we charge a bit more outside of our standard white.

All of our cabinets come standard as a 36’’. Add $800 dollars for that change. Are you yelling for mercy yet?

Back to the garage – We include the opener. However, if you are their client you may want to open it on a rainy day, right! Add $400-550 dollars.
We use only Moen faucets throughout all of our branches-Not sure what they use, they don’t list it but if they don’t you could be looking at around $900-1100 dollars to have installed a nationally recognized and award-winning faucet. We offer both the Brantford and the Eva standard in chrome. Satin and ORB are an upgrade. Keep in mind the deep kitchen sink and we hope you’ll be pleasantly surprised by our faucet as well.

We really could mention more like HD Formica counter tops, a better selection of standard vinyl and carpet, door hardware, bathroom hardware; all of which are upgrades by others. So, if you walked into builder “X and wanted the “Standard” True Built Home, how much more would you have to spend? Sit down.
You would spend north of twenty-two thousand dollars, that’s right $22,450 dollars, and we are being conservative!

So, you should be asking yourself why and how. Why do they do that, and how can TBH offer more for less? The big secret is they are franchises. Yep, they have to pay the mother corporation for each home sold and they make the majority of their money on upgrades, and you pay out the nose to make their business model work. True Built Home is owned by only one person; not like a franchise and not like another competitor of ours which is owned by three families. When compared to them as well, you end up funding their checking and saving account, not yours.

So the question we want to ask is when a company offers a product but does not list the items that go into the home… why not? The other is, if a company does not list the price of their homes, why not? When you the buyers are kept in the dark from the start, how might you be treated during the process and at the end of the process?

Our standard home, is our competitors upgraded home.

Obviously it’s your money and you can spend it how you like, but nearly $23K is a LOT of lattes and movies. Or, as we stated at the front of this article, a car with leather seats, nice rims and an automatic transmission!

Ductless Heat & Cooling Systems

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Looking for a clean and efficient way to heat and cool your home? Ductless mini-split systems have no ducts, so they avoid the energy losses associated with the ductwork of central forced air systems. Duct losses can account for more than 30% of energy consumption for space conditioning, especially if the ducts are in an unconditioned space such as an attic. That’s why TBH offers Daikin ductless systems! Since becoming the first company in Japan to manufacture packaged air conditioning systems, in 1951, Daikin has supported comfortable indoor living based on the strengths and technologies that have led to the growth of the company to the world’s largest manufacturer of HVAC products, systems and refrigerants.

Check out this Press Release!

Daikin ductless heating and cooling systems feature streamlined, wall-mounted indoor units paired with quiet and compact outdoor units. Talk to your salesperson about getting a system for your home today!

The Beauty and the Beast of hot water tanks

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There is an ever growing trend that appears to be gaining each and every month which is the press towards more energy-efficient items in one’s home. I think every paying customer out there who gets their utility bill, every month or two for some, is ‘WOW… is there anything I can do to minimize the “bite” the government (PUD) takes from your wallet?’ There may be very little to do for folks who elect to live within a city’s limits because the city often charges a fee for trash, storm drainage, sewer, water. However, when it comes to electricity, yeah, there are things that you can do to minimize the “bite”.

With this article, you’ll be getting into some pretty hot water with us. Hot water tanks, and equally the manufactures of them, are getting to where the cost to heat cold to hot is getting more and more palatable. I lived in a South American county for three years, and basically we used what was called a Lucha. (See photo below).


Now, if you think we were a little frightened to step into a shower, stand in water with a device likely not connected to a GFI, turn the water on and get hot water out, (think of a toaster as the way it works) and enjoy the experience, then think again. These are probably the most efficient means to heat cold to hot, but if we think most North Americans will adopt this means, well, I think that would take a real effort. Instead, manufactures of hot water tanks, and or devices to accomplish the same thing, have made strides in recent years.

The newer wave tanks are called “on-demand” or instantaneous tanks, and we also have Hybrid which work like heat pumps. All promise to save on your monthly bill, but the question is: what’s the difference you pay and how long will it take to recoup the additional cost of the new generation tank. Another thing to give consideration is the ability to get parts, qualified technicians and the cost of maintenance.

Cost: The obvious theory is, you heat the water when you need it (heat pump hybrids are different in their means to save money) thus saving most families about 30% annually, or on average about $300-360 yearly. Old water tanks cost significantly less from the start; a 50 gallon can cost around $350-500, where your on-demand costs vary as to your needs.  A family of say two could use a smaller on-demand and pay around $300 for a unit where a family of 4 would obviously need more water per minute, so you’d likely have to pay around $1200-1400 for the unit.  The thing to keep in mind is capacity per minute, like the Rinnai RU98EP LPG Tankless Water Heater. True Built Home does not endorse or recommend one or another when it comes to manufactures. Each person should do their own due diligence and make a sound choice based upon you and your family’s needs. With our math in place, it would stand to reason that after say the third year of living with the new water heater, it will have paid for itself. If the unit lasts longer, which is another positive reason to choose to install them, you should start to enjoy some savings every month. You might feel good too because after all, you are not wasting either your money or resources.

Water flow: as we mentioned above, your needs as a family or individual will affect which on-demand tankless hot water unit you install.  The really terrific thing is these units will spit out hot water until the cows come home because they never run out of hot water. Whereas the older technology is, it holds 50 gallons and when it’s gone, it takes another 20-30 minutes to heat up the new water. Probably the big knock against the newer units is the water temperature tends to fluctuate between a little cold to a little hotter. However each year the manufactures are getting closer to perfecting the results, and should not in itself prevent you from considering this option as to the means to heat water for your family.

Size: The old style tanks take up way more room than the on-demand units; another plus for those who have a tight space or just want to free up more room for other things.

Last note: If you are considering an on-demand water heater, good for you, but keep a few things in mind: Think about the size you need. This is the most important thing, in my opinion, when it comes to choosing a unit. Next is to read a good amount of reviews; do your homework. Lastly, and I am only telling you what others in the industry have told me, stay away from electric on-demand units and if at all possible stay with either natural or propane units. I am told by several plumbers (in fact, they won’t install them) is that the electrical units are more temperamental, break down more frequently, and do not provide the consistency of a gas unit. Happy buying.









3 Billion plastic bottles and some really smart people

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What do you get when a company wants to make their carpet exclusively with plastic bottles? Much cleaner landfills, and oh, carpets that are the best in the world!
True Built Home and Mohawk, the award-winning flooring people, have teamed up to bring the most durable, stain and wear resistant carpets in the industry.
To learn more about EverStrand click here.
EverStrand is True Built Home’s standard line of carpets. It is a polyester carpet, or better know as PET. In fact up to 99% of all carpets in the US are synthetic in nature. If you are currently having a home built by True Built Home and have yet to order the carpet, you may want to visit with your office to see what the possibility is of having EverStrand installed instead of our previous standard carpet. Why?
EverStrand is made exclusively from 100% recycled water bottles. These bottles, before being discarded, were approved for human needs from the FDA. Low to zero VOC.
EverStrand comes with the best warranty in the carpet business. (Some highlights are below)
Lifetime stain resistance 10-year abrasive wear 10-year texture retention 10-year soil resistance 10-year manufacturing defects.

Step It Up A Notch!

For a little extra money, you can upgrade to the SmartStrand, a nylon carpet which has the ONLY built-in stain and soil protection that NEVER wears off. Other carpets lose as much as 50% of their protection after three steam cleanings. So, in about 54 months, you lose 50% of the stain protection but with SmartStrand, you still retain 100% protection! You can download their Brochure if you’d like. Need a little proof, what about Red Wine?
Flooring Protection to the Max
Finally, our laminates or engineered hardwoods from Mohawk with Armormax. What is Armormax?

Introducing the industry’s most durable coating system for hardwoods, Mohawk’s ArmorMax™ Finish Technology offers maximum protection for your floor. Combined with Scotchgard™ Advanced Repel Technology, ArmorMax serves as the ultimatebarrier against staining and abrasions that come with everyday life.

  • Tested and proven protection that is five times more resistant to wear than other similar extended wear finishes.
  • Built-in surface shield repels stains and everyday messes for long-lasting performance in your home.
  • Easy maintenance, as ArmorMax Finish eliminates the need for frequent hardwood cleaning and floors look newer for longer.
  • Backed by a 50-year finish warranty.
Basically, Mohawk took on 6 other competitors according to the principles of ASTM D 4060 They sit a sander if you will, with essentially is 320 grit sand paper and a little over a pound and half weight on it. Every time the sander makes one revolution, it is counted as such until in does it 500 times, or better know as a cycle. Mohawk products with Armormax lasted up to 3000 revolutions, or 5 times tougher than their closest competitor!
So, if you are thinking of building a home with a “cheaper kind of builder”, remember, the old saying, “the cheapest person always pays the most”. True Built Home has your back! We don’t settle for the cheapest product to put in your house. That’s what others do. We look for the best value, but more importantly, when it comes to flooring, those that will stand the test of time!
Please call or email us to discuss True Built Home’s incredible line of products, benefits, and features. You can reach us by email at  For a brief video about Mohawks products, you can click here. Or on our YouTube.
Learn all you want about carpets here.

Hybrid Hot Water Tanks-Why Wise, and How They Work

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Having hot water is essential to the modern family. Thanks to some genius in the past, we no longer have to cut word and boil it over a fire! After all, after cutting all that wood, who needs a hot bath or shower.

The old ways of heating the water in a conventional water tank, well are about to “tank” as new methods, along with cheaper methods, come along. Today you have several choices to heat your water to save money. 1. Chop wood and boil (as discussed, not the best way). 2. Electric tank with what essential is a wire coil that heats the water (what most homes have). 3. On demand (stay far away from electrical ones, gas ones are great) 4. Solar (more money, but will eventually come down in price) 5. Hybrid (the most popular choice). Today we are looking at the hybrid means.

Hybrid hot water tanks work a lot like a heat pumps that cool and heat your home in a much more efficient means than an electric furnace package and an air conditioner. The Heat Pump Water Heater is an integrated system that utilizes heat pump technology to provide a more efficient way to heat water with electricity. Similar to your home air conditioner in reverse, the Heat Pump Water Heater extracts heat from the surrounding air and transfers the heat to the water in the tank. This is a very efficient means of heating water, and yields a by-product of cooler, dehumidified air. More storage capacity allows the water heater to operate in the most efficient mode and generate greater savings compared to smaller capacity heat pump models. Greater storage capacity provides more hot showers every morning. Essential, the hybrid hot water tank can save you on average about $300 per year. With local and state rebates, you might be able to re-coop the cost of the hybrid hot water tank in about 3 years or less. The great thing is you should see immediate savings each month. In addition, the hybrid hot water tank has a monitor control area that you can adjust on a moments notice. It will have a vacation mode and by simply touching the button, wham, it converts to vacation mode.

You can check out more information here.

Combine the hybrid with a high efficacy heat pump, some heal trusses, triple pane windows, and you are on your way ever month at savings hundreds and thousands of dollars over the course of these modern products lives.

The Pros and the cons;


  • Saves money every month
  • Quick adjustment to heat settings
  • Pretty cool looking
  • Will make you feel good going green


  • The cost will take about 3 years to re-coop
  • They have to be in the garage or must be vented if installed within the home
  • Makes noise
  • Slightly bigger than a standard hot water tank


Some common questions about adding tile to a new home

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What is the cost?

Expect to pay from $13.50-$16.50 per square foot for standard tile flooring. This is labor and material included. Don’t cut corners with your installer or materials. A good installer will take pride in his work– grout lines will be straight and even, and tiles should be level. Underlayment, thin-set and grout should all be installed per the manufacturer’s specifications as well.

How do I maintain my tile and grout?

Many people ask about sealing their tiles.  If you have natural stone, the answer is a resounding YES.  If you have ceramic or porcelain tiles the answer is no, but you definitely want to seal the grout lines.  Most manufactures recommend a cleaning and sealing for grout and natural stone once every 1-2 years.  Buy a high quality sealer for less maintenance.  If you have floor tiles meeting wall tiles, this seam can tend to crack.  Use an acrylic based colored grout caulk to solve this problem.

Why is tile so cold?

Tile has a greater specific heat—meaning it takes direct heat to warm up your floor.  Tile also has thermal resistance—meaning it sucks the heat out of your feet quicker than your carpet.  This is great for the summers, but not so good in the winters.  You can solve this by wearing socks, or have a pair of slippers conveniently located near your tile floors.  Most people find that this is a small price to pay compared to the durability, beauty and value tile has to offer.

3 great reasons to install tile in your new home

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Have you been thinking about installing tile in your new home? Here are 3 reasons why you should.

Tile is durable

IMG_6205Tile doesn’t warp, bubble, or fall apart from water damage.  Ceramic and porcelain tiles are nearly impervious to water thus avoiding stains and water damage. The standard underlayment for tile floors is a cementitious product that holds up to swelling and warping as well.  This allows you to be more liberal with your soap and water when cleaning.  If breakage occurs have no fear. Since we are dealing with dimensional flooring that comes in sizes ranging from 6”- 16” it is relatively inexpensive and quick when replacing a broken tile.

Tile is beautiful

Ever get compliments on your vinyl floor?  Probably not, but you’re more than likely to have compliments on your tile.  Tile is attractive.  Just ask the millions of people who visit sites and museums around the world that house priceless works of art made with tile!  Most people consider tile to be a true material that has historically been appreciated down through the ages, and will for ages to come.

Tile adds value

Laminate and vinyl surfaces are not considered upgrades to your home, but add tile in the mix and you have now added value to your home.  This translates to more money in your pocket or equity in your home.

Spokane Home Photo Gallery

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You can view photos of our Branford Park home in our photo gallery. To see it click here

The 2068 square foot Branford Park has 3 bedrooms and 2 ½ baths including a 5-piece master bathroom and a ‘Jack and Jill’ style bath for families. In addition, it boasts a 3 car garage as a standard feature (it can be converted to 2 car if you wish) with LOTS of storage space, as well as a large covered rear porch and front entry deck, and a very open ‘social’ design. The exterior boasts of 7 gables, lots of character, and charm.