How-To Healthy Homes
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Trans 1) Sick Home Syndrome Trans
2) Construction Techniques
3) Finishing Materials
4) Household Hazards

Construction Techniques

When you're building a new house, that's the best time to educate yourself on healthy home issues and make sure your builder incorporates as many of the new techniques as possible.

It could add up to $5,000 in extra costs, but for anyone susceptible to Sick House symptoms, it's usually worth it.

More builders are becoming aware of such techniques, and some of the leading companies are making "heathier building" a central part of their sales efforts.

The Health House® Movement

A lot of the credit for educating both the public and the home building community has to go to the American Lung Association, which has been active in promoting the Health House® movement the last few years.

Since 1993, it's sponsored the building of five new homes and one remodeling job. All included a variety of healthy home construction techniques. The Minneapolis affiliate alone has been involved with 3 of these projects.

They've established a comprehensive set of criteria and suggestions for healthier home construction, and here are some of the main points:

  • Use a foundation waterproofing system, sealed ductwork
  • Install a continuous vapor barrier
  • Install an energy recovery ventilator to provide fresh air supply
  • Use flooring other than carpet (wood, vinyl, tile) to avoid dust build up, cleans easier
  • Use solid materials for countertops and cabinets that don't emit toxins.
  • Use paint with low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC's)
  • Use wood I-joists instead of solid wood joists to save a tree
  • Install Metal roofing for low maintenance and longevity
  • Clean up construction area often to prevent dust build up, buried wood scraps attract termites
  • Use low-flow plumbing fixtures
  • Maximize insulation R-values
  • Incorporate radon control

For More Information

We'll talk more about insulation, vapor barriers, ventilation and finishing materials in the next few pages but you can also get also get more information about indoor air quality from the Health House program of American Lung Association and the EPA.

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