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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    My wife and I are having a house built for us in NJ. It looks like our initial hopes for geothermal and radiant heat are going to fall under the budget axe (plus the reluctance of the builder to get involved in those options), leaving us with natural gas forced hot air.

    We're at the contract stage and want to make sure that we at least end up with a very good forced air system and an appropriately "tight" house. What should we insist on in the contract with respect to the HVAC system and insulation to ensure good, even, not too dry and efficient heat (and a/c)?

    The builder already has promised to provide a highly efficient furnace and two zone heat (presumably upstairs and downstairs zones; it'll be a two story colonial with @3,500 sf plus a full basement). We'll put those two items in the contract, though if more detail should be added please let me know.

    What else should we write into the contract? We have a little extra money to spend for a good system since we've backed off the more expensive options (geothermal, radiant, baseboard, etc.).

    We've had a bad experience in our current home with forced hot air and want to make sure the new system is very good.

    The GC will be hiring the HVAC sub so now is the time to put our wants and needs into the main contract since we won't be dealing too much with the HVAC guy. Our builder also prefers to use batt insulation instead of blown-in so please keep that in mind.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions. The more specific the better!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    2 systems for your house, 1 for second story, 1 for first floor.

    A humidifier on both units, media filters on both units.

    2 stage for both the furnace and a/c, with VS blowers.

    Humidistats for dehumidication in summer.

    Or thermostats with cool to dehumidify.
    Contractor locator map


    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Northeastern Illinois
    New Jersey? What are your summers like? Long hot & humid or mild? Maybe skip the 2-stage a/c and put infloor in your basement floor. I agree 2 furnaces and 2 a/c units. Most certainly 2-stage heat.Variable speed funaces even better.Some people like zoned systems and they are okay if put in right. At least get the tubing in the floor of the basement even if you don't hook it up right away. It cannot be done later and you cannot heat your basement[as well] any other way.Good luck!!
    If it ain't broke don't fix it!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Waterford Michigan
    An ACCA manual J load calculation and a manual D duct design.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2002


    Is this your house or the builder's?
    Manuel J load.
    1) I agree with two zones.
    2)Humidifiers,and 5"media filter.
    3)Trane ,Amana, Rheem equipment.Variable Drive/14.0S.E.E.R.
    4)Zone returns in ever room except basement.
    5)Manuel D and ductwork sealed.
    6)Ten years parts & labor warranty
    7)Honeywell 8000 Thermostats
    'Life begins with the journey each day'

  6. #6
    boiler with 2 hydro systems serving 1st & 2nd floors
    boiler weil mclein
    hydro air air handlers FirstCO,coils
    dont know if you have gas or oil for the heating side
    remember the airhandler does both your heat & ac
    the above mentioned will be ok as far as accesories go
    many different ways to go..this way will serve you best... it gets very complicated for you the homeowner to fully compehend though...
    Run it by the A/c contractor
    N.J has alot of butcher AC contractors... GOOD LUCK

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    in a house, Appomattox, Va.
    Find an hvac contractor your friends recommend. Builders tend to go with low ballers, even custom contractors in many cases.

    Also put ductwork and equipment within the thermal envelope.
    Col 3:23

    questions asked, answers received, ignorance abated

  8. #8
    Be sure and get all equipment spelled out in any bid or proposals. make, models and warranties by either installer or mfg.

    make sure you are not comparing apples and oranges.

    do your own research on the net on equipment.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    I would really like to know how many of you in here actually do a manual d calculation on a house.......seriously... I bet you all whip out the ductulator and use .10 or .08 and call that doing a manual D.......

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    well I will be honest ... I wouldnt mind looking at a manual d to see what it has to say. Been in business for years and have never seen one. Guess thats not how I was taught but Im always willing to learn. OH its ok to call me a hack for not using a manuel D...... I personally dont go by opinions of people that I really dont know if their credentials are what they say they are or if there worth the paper there printed on. A lot of people will brag about all they do as far as everything possible to make it the best system possible at any price. I have been around long enough to know If you do it that on every job you will eventally end up broke working for someone else again or end up a Building inspector for mechanical. Some people will pay the best system, most wont and if you do everything all the time you will price yourself out of the market.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Thanks for all the replies so far - please keep them coming.

    Any suggestions on insulation methods and ensuring the right "tightness"?

    How about one of those ERVs - do we need one if the system is forced air to begin with?

    The basement will be unfinished for several years. I'm not sure I understand what "tubing" you're talking about. If I don't do something now such as tubing (?) or ducts in the basement, how would I heat the basement down the road?

    Is the basement considered within the thermal envelope? I think that's where the main equipment and ducting will be.

    And yes, New Jersey summers are very hot and humid (though sadly not very long).

  12. #12
    i can tell when someone is from the south
    in nj most bulders put the upstail system in the attic.
    the only problem with that is water freezes. so no humifider in attic areas.. also if a 90% unit is in the attic. the condsate from the vent can also freezup. i would only recmonend a 80% 2 stage unit to be used in a attic area. as far as brand just make shure you don't get a bulder modle just because its a brand name like carrier dosent mean its the best advaible. i also agree no geo systems cost so much you will never see a saveing pluse noone knows how to work on them

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    One of the best things you can do is to convince a GC to incorporate HVAC ducting into the build. HOs & GCs tend to get carried away with designs and frequent changes. This increasingly complicates a proper duct system and it can get VERY ugly for airflow and mechanical strain.

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