There are 5 Cs in Success

There are 5 Cs in Success

Shawna HendersonJuly 07, 2024

Energy Efficient Codes Are Not Going Away - Now's The Time To Level Up in Your Home Construction Business

As a builder, renovator or contractor, success in the home construction industry is not solely determined by the quality of your work. Managing a business is a whole job in itself! If you're on the tools, you're wearing two hats. In fact, as an entrepreneur in this industry, you're likely wearing several hats. That's the reality of small business.


It is a culmination of several factors, we like to refer to them as the 5 Cs: Code, Costs, Clients, Callbacks, and Crews. Let’s have a look at each of these Cs and how they contribute to your overall success as a builder, renovator, contractor or tradesperson.

1. Energy Performance Targets and Building Codes

The first C in success is Code.

This is the big one. You can't get away from it.

Energy efficiency and energy conservation measures have been in the National Building Code of Canada (NBC) since the 2010 edition. The BC Energy Step Code made Step 3 mandatory in May 2023. The NBC 2020 edition introduced 4 Tiers for energy performance targets. New home construction is moving towards Net Zero Energy ready.

To comply, builders must provide a better thermal envelope - reduce heat loss and heat gain - without compromising the indoor environment or causing unintended consequences like condensation in building assemblies that leads to damage. That requires some understanding of building science and how to apply it to your region.

Energy efficient construction is no longer voluntary.

Change is inevitable.

Higher performance houses built to energy targets are here to stay. New buildings that hit higher levels of energy efficiency offer significant benefits such as cost savings, improved comfort, and lower operating costs. Builders who jump on this now will be ahead of the game.

We're moving away from ‘prescriptive path’ compliance (as in ‘thou shalt’ tables and charts), and moving towards ‘performance path’ compliance. This requires energy modelling and performance testing as well as commissioning of efficient space conditioning equipment a heat pump.

Net Zero Energy Ready Is The Goal

We are headed to a Net Zero Energy or Passive House standard as a final target within the next decade. The higher the performance requirements, the more important your understanding of building science becomes, both to comply with code AND to avoid the catastrophes of unintended consequences that result from good ideas that don’t obey the laws of physics.

In addition, a renovation and retrofit code is on the horizon. In Canada, Part 10: Alterations to Existing Buildings will be added in the next iteration of the National Building Code. Energy efficiency requirements for additions and renovations changes the game.

You need to be ahead of the curve. Figure this stuff out before you have to do it.

Performance-based code compliance is here. It’s actually more cost-effective to work to energy targets than it is to work to a pre-determined list of requirements on a prescriptive path. You can move one or more steps up the performance ladder as you get comfortable.

By implementing energy efficiency, you can meet code requirements, go beyond them, and exceed client expectations.

2. Control Your Costs By Controlling Your Learning Curve

The second C in success is Costs.

Figure out how to implement a better thermal envelope package before you are forced to provide it under the next round of building code changes. If you're working under the BC Energy Step Code, you're already in the thick of it. By controlling the learning curves associated with new assemblies and techniques, you can maximize efficiency and minimize expenses.

Do you know what the 4 control layers are? If you have to increase the insulation value of a wall system do you know which insulation is best for your climate and application? Do you know how it will be impacted by an existing air barrier or vapour barrier? What's the best way to ensure you've got an assembly that can dry to the outside? How about the inboard-outboard ratio of insulation on the wall?

Don't Take Risks on High Performance

Are you sure about your answers? With performance targets, we're moving away from following the 'recipe' in the building code tables. Net Zero Energy Ready buildings require a little more knowledge than that.

It comes as no surprise that streamlining and reducing costs in your projects can significantly impact your profitability. Our motto here at Blue House Energy is: It’s not OK to waste energy. That includes yours. Avoid the energy-sucking frustration that comes with mistakes and bad sequencing of energy efficient assemblies that leads to messed up project management.

One way to reduce risk and ease learning curves is the Integrated Design Process. Whether you're running the project, leading a specialty crew, or working as subcontractor, discussion and planning are the least expensive and most effective ways of controlling both costs and learning curves.

3. Comfortable & Quiet Homes = Happy Clients

The third C in success is Clients.

Happy clients = happy business.

They are a testament to your expertise and craft.

Lower energy costs are a significant benefit of energy efficient practices. Homes that save money on energy bills play a crucial role in reducing energy use and promoting clean energy, but less energy is not what really makes your clients happy. When clients experience improved comfort and health (and reduced energy costs) in their homes, they become your biggest advocates. Your same excellent work, but underpin it with building science.

Here's an example:

The additional cost - the ‘premium’ - for adding an exterior air sealing and insulation package is typically less than 20% when bundled into a deferred maintenance packages like siding replacement. Offer an energy efficient value add: with a little number crunching, you can show how you can save them 20-30% on energy costs, which means the insulation will have paid for itself after just a few heating seasons.

Happy clients are more likely to refer your services to friends, family, and colleagues, which can lead to a steady stream of new business. Delivering on comfort and health, creating phased plans for improving their homes is how you create a repeat and referral-worthy experience for your clients.

4. Callbacks

The fourth C in success is Callbacks.

Callbacks cost you money and time.

They take your crew off projects in progress.

And now you’ve got two cranky clients: the one who’s called you back, and the one who’s waiting for your crew to continue.

Callbacks your bottom line and your reputation. Fit and finish callbacks are inevitable, but don't get blindsided by poorly installed insulation or a failed air barrier. Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of comfort issues, moisture problems and how to solve for them.

By focusing on reducing callbacks related to comfort and energy performance, you can ensure client satisfaction and save valuable time and resources.

5. Keep Your Crews and Use Less Energy

The fifth C in success is Crew.

The backbone of your business.

Did you know that our industry can have up to 70% crew turnover in a year?

That’s costly and makes it really hard to run a business, right?! Under the new NBC or the BC Energy Step Code, your team is going to need some background in the why behind energy efficiency to be able to carry out energy efficiency measures in your buildings.

A well-trained and stable crew, in conjunction with a focus on best practices for air sealing and insulation can go a long way to minimize callbacks and avoid costly mistakes.

When you are doing energy efficiency work, the folks who are doing the grubbiest jobs - air sealing and insulation - need to be your rock stars. The success of every single project that needs to meet an energy target hinges on the quality of the air sealing details and insulation placement.

You want to keep your rockstars right?

It’s far less costly to train and retain a labourer who’s adept and efficient at air sealing than it is to bark orders at a newbie who doesn’t understand why they need to do a good job (or what that good job should look like, or the consequences of a not-good job).

Providing opportunities for growth not only improves their performance but also contributes to a stable and motivated workforce. Be the rock-star boss who offers performance-based bonuses to your skilled workers or subcontractors. 

Upskilling your crew, training them in new technology, rewarding them for great work, helps you create a positive work environment while retaining talent and reducing turnover.

And anticipate the 6th C: Carbon...

The BC Energy Step Code was released in 2016. BC adopted a Zero Carbon Step Code in 2023. We’re talking low carbon builds and low carbon operation that moves away from fossil fuels.

It's coming nationally, too. We'll have your back on that one too.

For 2024, we’re staying focussed on 5: Prioritize energy efficient buildings, streamline your costs, satisfy your clients, reduce callbacks, and upskill your crew to position your business for success, long-term growth, and profitability.

Want to get ahead of the curve?

Check out

The Home Performance Accelerator

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published