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TLDR: Many customers and contractors focus so much on the appearance of the home, that quality, efficiency, and long-term durability are forgotten. When this is applied to a home HVAC system design, you end up with a poorly performing system that is also costly to maintain.

Disclaimer

This article does not strictly cover HVAC system design as most people are probably wanting. If you are looking for more information on HVAC system design, please see my other articles. Or, if you like, feel free to call or send me an email. With this article, I will focus on why HVAC system design is so poor in the Woodlands TX area and also general home design shortfalls that are prevalent here as well. In summary, it is a look at the systemic issues within the local Woodlands TX and surrounding areas construction culture, so to speak.

The problem

Residential home design problems in the Woodlands TX area have been haunting me for years. No matter the cost of the house, the lack of prior design and long-term quality is staggering. First off, all of the homes in The Woodlands, are built outside of city limits, so there are no permits required on the trades (electrical, plumbing, and HVAC). Unless you live in Shenandoah, Oak Ridge, or Conroe, building permits do not exist. Until the Woodlands becomes an incorporated city in the State of Texas, it will lack the authority to require and issue building permits. And, even still, the inspectors within the city limits don’t care enough to enforce anything anyways. And the issues that they do focus on are ones involving significant safety issues. Proper HVAC system design is not a concern.

At the end of the day though, this is all motivated by the consumer who only cares about looks, initial quality, square footage, and cost. This attitude rubs off on the builders, so that’s all they care about as well. This even applies to that “awesome” custom builder that you used, I guarantee it. In fact, they can also be the worst at it, by creating the illusion that they do care, while not following through in the end. They all solicit the lowest bidder, period and most of the time that consists of just general, unskilled laborers performing the majority of the work. 

For example, the duct system in your home. The reason that those two rooms are always really hot and your electric bill is $300 a month? The person that knew what to do probably wasn’t even around when the work was performed. And, if they were, they were probably sitting in their truck talking on the phone. Or, they just dropped off some supplies and left $85 a day Mark and their three buddies on site to figure it out and connect the dots.

For the most part, what they are doing is not difficult, and helpers should perform most of the work. However, they should not be handling the design portion as well, and there also needs to be a foreman on site for both quality control and attention to detail enforcement.

Other common issues that you run into would be:

  • Placing dryer vents right next to the AC units outside. Why is this a problem? Well, lint clogs up the AC coils outside. This, in turn, increases your electric bill and – ultimately – wear and tear.
  • AC units placed right outside the bedrooms so that you can always hear when they are running.
  • Improperly sized HVAC systems. Too hot. Too cold. Too much humidity. Premature wear and tear and higher electric bills.
  • Two story homes with only one AC system. This is unacceptable, and zoning systems are garbage.
  • Homes with 2000 sq. ft. and more but HVAC equipment and water heaters are still in the attic. Why couldn’t we make room for a 5×5 closet and get it out of the attic? I have been in “million dollar plus” homes with five water heaters in the attic, over a master bedroom that is 1200 sq ft. Why? To be honest? I think that it is just the way it is done around here and no one ever questions it.
  • Ductwork and copper lines improperly sized and routed. 

If you think about it, I am confident that most of you have noticed similar issues in your home.

– One room is always hot.
– The lights flicker upstairs when you turn on a vacuum.
– The water pressure in that one shower is unacceptable.
– When the sprinklers are on outside, you hear a humming noise coming from the walls.

Now, I know what you are thinking. Why is this important to me? Well, if you already own your home, it helps explain why for a lot of the little issues that you have noticed over time and how to best remedy or mitigate the problems. If you are building your next home, it tells you what to look for and where you need to lay down the line with your builder.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me – Anthony – at 33 Solutions LLC!