How to easily spot low quality custom homes??

…Just look at the exterior envelope when the masonry is being installed!!!

Everyday, as I drive around the city and while I review my Instagram feed to see what trades are doing, I see masonry contractors installing masonry (brick, natural stone, etc.) AND applying a WRB as they work their way up (and without the proper fasteners).

This is the 1st sign that it could be low quality construction just by driving by or looking at a picture without seeing the structure and details up close.

For the most part, whenever you see a masonry contractor applying the WRB… RUN from that Builder!

Just because someone CAN do it, doesn’t mean they SHOULD do it.

The WRB should be left to an expert who does this all day, everyday. They understand building science and the products that they use best. Let the Mason lay masonry as they’re trained to do.

(There are masons that are qualified to do it, but for the most part, they’re not)

What’s a WRB?

A weather resistant barrier. Its code. You need this. In simple terms, it stops bulk water from touching our wood structure. Not all WRB’s are made equal. That’s a topic for discussion another day.

And when all joints are taped (per manufacturer’s instructions) it can be used as an air barrier. It’s your first opportunity to stop air from entering your building envelope.

A very bad installation of the WRB is when its run vertically and the joints are not taped. At least run it horizontally and have a shingling effect so water can’t get behind it. And use the required cap staples or cap nails not a hammer stapler puncturing the barrier with no protection.

By the way – many production houses are built better than “custom” homes!

Here are a few pictures of what you don’t want…

not high performance homes

What do we do differently when building high performance homes?

First off, on a custom home, a dedicated contractor/expert is used to install the WRB. Besides, the projects are large enough to get in multiple trades instead of getting a one-stop-shop trade to do it all.


Secondly, all joints get taped. We use the WRB as the air barrier as well (usually IsoClad or a vapour permeable peel and stick membrane).

Not letting any air into the structure. Lower quality construction will rely on the interior 6 mil polyethylene sheet as the vapour and air barrier. Without air testing, you’ll never know if you’ve actually taped or sealed all the joints.

energy star

We test our houses so we can prove how tight it really is!

It doesn’t matter the product, you can be assured that we follow the manufacturer’s instructions in how the installation must happen.
Besides that’s the builder’s job and we do it well!

We never let Masons install our WRB.

Pictures of our houses we build:

High Performance homes High Performance homes

High Performance homes High Performance homes

High Performance homes  High Performance homes

…and from an insulation perspective, no exterior insulation is another way to see that the builder or homeowner chose to build as inexpensive as possible. There’s only (1) Ontario Building Code SB-12 compliance package that allows for no exterior insulation. And most people choose this because it’s less expensive (upfront but not in the long run!) and its simpler for the builder to build. More on this in future blogs.

net zero home

The cheaper builder is always cutting corners.

We build finely crafted custom homes with exceptional energy performance & the ultimate in comfort, health and technology.


Learn More about High Performance Homes and by Downloading our Free Guide where you’ll learn how to get a PROVEN, high-performance home that is comfortable year-round, healthy and energy efficient

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Sustainable home construction

Paul Gambino

Paul’s Business, Financial, and System skills ensure every aspect of your home’s construction runs smoothly and safely with no surprises, and finishes on time and on budget.

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