Below are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about East Branch Homes and helpful glossary of terms used in our industry.

Why isn't pricing shown on the website?

Due to the pandemic, the cost of materials has gone up considerably, with some shipping delays. It has not been possible to keep up with the pricing changes on the website, as they have been changing weekly and daily in some cases. We remain committed to making East Branch Homes as affordable and well made as possible. We will create a very detailed, accurate budget with you that will reflect current prices.

Where can I build an East Branch Home?

We are currently building homes in Western Massachusetts – Franklin, Hampshire and mid to southern Berkshires counties.

What standard options are included in my home?

  • Net zero ready
  • Triple glazed uPVC windows
  • Porches are only included in the Craftsman 1 and 2 models, all others are additional
  • Mini split heating and cooling system
  • High performance ventilation system with fresh air supplied to each bedroom
  • Hybrid hot water heater
  • Insulated concrete slab
  • First floor will be burnished and sealed concrete
  • Any homes with two levels will have finished oak flooring on the second floor
  • Stairs will have oak treads and handrail
  • Mid level, quality finishes throughout the home
  • Two (in total)  neutral, low VOC paint colors
  • Kitchen sink and faucet
  • Bath sink, vanity (where applicable), faucets, toilets, bath and shower controls, tub or shower/tub combination or shower (where applicable)
  • All ceiling heights are 8’2″
  • Lever door pulls
  • Overhead, closet, and vanity lighting

What's not included in the price?

Once a pre-construction contract is signed, billing will be at published hourly rates for customisaton and all work that goes into making your house work on your lot. This can include design changes, estimating upgrades and changes, site layout, connecting to utilities, permitting, zoning research, meeting with the Conservation Commission, all communication and meetings with you, as well as other work specific to your project.

The cost of construction v. the cost of the project

The cost of construction is the square foot cost for the construction of the house itself. We will know the cost of construction once any/all design changes are finalized and a detailed budget is created for these changes.

The cost of the project includes the cost of construction plus all work done in the preconstruction phase (see What’s not included in the price above for details).

What is the process to get a home built?

  • Sign the contract for the preconstruction scope of work to secure your place on the schedule
  • Finalize any design changes (hourly fees apply)
  • Finalize the budget for changes and upgrades (hourly fees apply)
  • Sign the contract for construction
  • Site preparation (may include tree clearing, well, septic, grading). This can happen in tandem with any design and budget work.
  • Off site building
  • On site building
  • Completion
  • Enjoy!

What are the most important benefits of these homes?

  • Low embodied carbon in all phases of material extraction, manufacturing, transportation and construction
  • Quiet – additional insulation and triple pane windows keep noise out
  • Zero energy costs using solar, a clean energy source
  • Higher resale value
  • Healthy indoor air quality – filtered fresh air, healthy materials, low/zero VOC’s, low carbon dioxide, low particulate matter
  • Less maintenance
  • Flexible design
  • Durability- homes built to last hundreds of years
  • Resiliency – the capacity to recover from or adjust easily to adversity or change

What options and upgrades can I add?

East Branch Homes and their finishes can be customized with additional costs (hourly design, budget, and management fees). Typical upgrades include changes in fixtures and finishes, having a standing seam roof instead of architectural asphalt shingles, adding a garage, porch, finished basement or vaulted ceilings.

Can I supply my own plans?

East Branch Homes are pre-designed for affordability. We are happy to build a custom home for you through our parent company, East Branch Studio (formerly Kent Hicks Construction Co.)

When will I know the final price of my home?

The final contract price will be determined after all finish products are selected and any design changes are made. Changes made after this point become change orders and add to the overall cost of the project and often incur delays.

How long will it take to build my home?

Your home will take approximately 7 months to build after the construction contract is signed, weather permitting. The pandemic has created delays and shortages that are out of our control and may impact the schedule. We will keep you apprised of any changes in the schedule.

Net zero

This refers to a building that produces as much or more energy than it needs to operate.

High performance

A high performance building optimizes and integrates the interaction of all systems in a building (energy efficiency, durability, life-cycle performance) and how occupants interact with those systems. It is similar to the term “green” building, but more precise, focusing on energy efficiency in a holistic way. High performance building includes different levels of efficiency – passivhaus, net zero energy buildings, living buildings, and LEED certified buildings

Passivhaus

A passivhaus, or passive house, is a standard of construction that has quantifiable energy efficiency. It describes a very comfortable home that includes huge energy savings and greatly reduces greenhouse gas emissions. These homes keep moisture, sound, and temperature fluctuations outside by using specific building techniques that optimize naturally occurring sunlight, fresh, filtered air, healthy materials, and specific construction strategies.

Typical Building Envelope Details

Footings and Walls R-10

  • 8” thick concrete foundation wall with steel reinforcement bearing on 10” deep concrete footings 
    • Foundation wall interior insulated with reclaimed rigid foam board, minimum R-10 

Slab R-25

  • 4” concrete slab
    • Vapor/Air barrier, minimum 15 mil poly below concrete
    • Reclaimed rigid foam board below vapor barrier, minimum R-25, minimum density 25psi
    • 10 inches of ¾” compacted stone below foam
      • Radon mitigation piping laid in stone 
    • Slab thermally broken from foundation walls with reclaimed rigid foam

Exterior Walls R-44

  • 12“ Double stud wall framed 19.2” on center, R-44 dense packed cellulose. Assembly as listed below, from exterior to interior
    • Exterior siding
    • Exterior rainscreen; minimum ¾” airspace
    • Mento 3000 continuous air and water barrier, Vapor permeable (38 US perms)
    • ½” CDX plywood sheathing
    • Exterior 2×6 wall @ 19.2” o.c.
    • 12” Dense packed cellulose, R-44
    • Interior 2×4 wall @ 19.2” o.c.
    • Intello Plus continuous air barrier membrane, Humidity Variable Vapor Permeance (<.13 to 13 US perms)
    • Gypsum wall board, taped 3-coats 

Roof/Attic/ Ceiling R-80 

  • Raised heel roof trusses 
    • Baffled eaves, vented ridge and soffits
    • 22” Open Blow Cellulose, R-80
  • Intello Plus continuous air barrier membrane, Humidity Variable Vapor Permeance (<.13 to 13 US perms)
  • Framed opening for insulated attic hatch
  • 1×3 strapping
  • Gypsum wall board, taped 3-coats

Air Tightness

  • 0.3 to 0.6 ACH50
  • (2) blower door tests

Circular Design

Circular design refers to design that is intended to be used beyond its original form – what is designed is recycled and reused in a continuous closed loop, instead of disposed of. Our flexible wall systems are a great example of this.

Indoor air quality

This is a measure of pollutants in the air inside a building. Common contributors to poor air quality include particulate matter from cooking, a fireplace or pellet stove, dirty filters, ductwork, and/or central air equipment, mold, lack of air circulation/fresh air, off gassing from building materials, furniture, and carpets, air fresheners and deodorizers (Febreeze, etc.) and scented products, tobacco smoke.

All the homes we build have high performance ventilation systems that supply continuously filtered fresh air to all rooms.

Building science

Building science uses engineering, architecture, chemistry, physics and the life sciences to inform the design of high performance buildings. These sources of knowledge inform the understanding of how a building works at peak performance as a healthy, efficient and durable system. Building science focuses on heat, air, and moisture transfer to prevent common problems, but includes comfort, and indoor air quality.

Blower Door Test

This tests how air tight your home is. It is important that as little air as possible leaks. This keeps out moisture and makes heating and cooling much more efficient. It also allows fresh air to be filtered before it enters the house.

The blower door test measures the air tightness of a building by determining the number of air changes per hour at 50 pascals of pressure (ACH50). The standard air tightness for passive house is 0.6 ACH50. East Branch Homes are 0.3 – 0.6 ACH50.

Insulation

Cellulose, which is a high R-Value and low embodied carbon material, is used throughout.

Heating and cooling

Mitsubishi mini splits heat and cool your home.

Operational carbon

Operational carbon is the carbon emitted while the building is in use. This includes energy used for heating, cooling, lighting, plug loads and appliances.

Embodied carbon

Embodied carbon is the measurement of how much greenhouse gas (GHG) is released in the process of extracting, transporting, and manufacturing materials, as well as transporting raw materials to building site, building, the operational life of the final product, and the end of the product’s life.

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