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5 Tips for a Retirement House BUILD in the South

In this video I’m going to give you 5 Tips for building a home for clients who are nearing retirement (specifically a house in the Southern US).  I tend to find that the Baby Boomer generation hears my message about efficient, durable, low maintenance, and comfortable.  I’m pretty sure these tips will work for anyone else considering a new BUILD too!

Tip #1  Drain the Rain – Housewrap & Air Sealing

Nothing Kills a house faster than Water.  If you are building a house to last, you must pay attention to the waterproofing details.  In this BUILD we used Tyvek Commercial D housewrap along with all their flashing accessories for the window & door penetrations.  Here’s the video I shot of the Jeld-Wen window install using DuPont’s Best Practice methods.  I’ve been using Tyvek for years now and it’s my go-to standard for a house with overhangs.

DuPont Commercial D Housewrap

Windows have Flexwrap Sill Pans and Straighflash Jambs/head.  Use DuPont’s methods for setting a window and you’ll be using the best possible method to ensure a leak-free window.  Notice the Plastic cap staples hold really well.  I like the Stinger Cap stapler and Cap/Staple packs.  They work great!  

I love these Quickflash Line Set panels for my HVAC penetrations.

We also used for the first time an air sealing tape called Siga Wigluv on this house to ensure the tightest possible envelope.  More info on that install here at this video on the Siga tape install.

Siga Wigluv Tape applied to all the joints in the OSB. We also air sealed the slab to bottom plate connection with a 12″ strip of Carlisle CCW 705

We also air sealed the inside bottom 2x plate to concrete slab connection with Tremco Dymonic caulk. I buy it in bulk sausage tubes and use a commercial sealant gun to save money.

Tip #2 Advanced Framing

We used 2×6 exterior walls on 24″ centers with California Corners and insulated headers.  This makes for a very strong house, but one that utilizes the most space for insulation with the least thermal bridging.  We opted against exterior rigid foam so the Advanced Framing was vital to give the highest R-value we could get for our walls.

Advanced Framing using 2×6’s on 24″ centers. Notice the insulated headers, you’re seeing the OSB face but under that is (2) 3/4″ layers of rigid foam and a PSL beam for structure. Also see the shadow into the corner on the right where we used a 3-stud “California Corner” to get full depth insulation into the corners.

Tip #3 Insulation

The walls have 5.5″ of Open Cell foam, and the roof has 9″ of open cell foam sprayed directly under the roof deck.

Band areas are where spray foam really shines! This 20″ deep 2×4 floor truss band would be very hard to insulate properly with any other type of insulation.

Zoomed in on a California Corner as the foam was being sprayed. This is a very easy method to employ as you start to move towards advanced framing.

Those studs lining up with the floor trusses look awesome! Advanced framing definitely takes some pre-planning!

Insulated and ready for sheetrock.

Tips #4 Roof

This is a big one for the South.  When you choose a metal roof you are making a conscious choice to opt for durability over initial cost.  I LOVE metal roofs!  They are very durable and will often take a hail storm without a dent while the entire neighborhood is having their shingle roofs replaced.  I also like that you can easily opt for a solar panel install later without penetrating the roof.  They can use a C-clamp to attach the solar to the metal roof ridges without needed to screw through the roof.

Also notice that I’m bringing all the mechanicals into the conditioned space of the house.  This is huge for the South where we don’t have (or need) basements and most ducts are running through the crazy-hot attic, or through the disgusting/humid crawl space.

Open Cell spray foam applied 9″ deep at the roof allows all the ducting to run through the conditioned envelope of the house. This is HUGE for the South. Do NOT run ducts outside your insulation layer…it’s not smart.

This 24ga Standing Seam roof will last for decades!

Tip #5 Mechanicals / HVAC 

Last tip here, get a good mechanical designer to help you design your Heating & Cooling system.  So many houses in the South have their HVAC systems “designed” on the day the crew arrives to install ducts.  Take the time (and money) to do this pre-planning correctly and you’ll end up with an efficient & comfortable system that will distribute correctly, that will provide fresh and cleaned air, and will last longer than a standard unit.  In this project, I used Positive Energy to design the mechanicals along with an Energy Model and a full duct layout.  We opted for a two zone Mitsubishi system tied to one outdoor unit.  We also had a stand-alone Ultra-Aire XT 105 dehumidifier, and we brought in fresh air through a Panasonic ERV mounted in the upstairs hallway near the return vent.

Both Mitsubishi units are horizontal mounted high static pressure units. They use VRF technology at the compressor but these units inside look like a standard ducted american style hvac system. Notice my Dehumidifier is also ducted separately.

Upstairs hallway has a Mitsubishi controller for temperature, and a separate Ultra-Aire dehumidistat to control the indoor RH

There’s my nice Quickflash boot for the lineset through the stucco wall!

Here’s my 3 Ton City Multi Mitsubishi compressor tied to two indoor units. This unit is SUPER quiet and crazy efficient!

Follow these 5 tips and you’ll be well underway to a BUILD that will be efficient, comfortable, durable, and low maintenance.  Retired or not, these are some pretty good goals for a home don’t you agree?


Be sure to comment below if you think I’ve missed anything.

Best to your in your #BUILD!

-Matt Risinger

Risinger Homes in Austin, TX