AFT Construction Podcast

Construction Instruction with Mark LaLiberte

Episode Summary

Listen in as Mark discusses why he believes builders should adopt a path of continuous improvement, waterproofing best practices, and why you shouldn’t ever need to factor in leaks when pricing your services. This episode is brought to you by Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove. Visit for more information.

Episode Notes

Mark LaLiberte is the co-founder and president of Construction Instruction. He has dedicated over 30 years to the building industry. Through his lectures, site assistance, Building Better Homes video series and his mobile App, he provides builders, architects and manufacturers with an in-depth look at the current and future state of housing. His work has earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Energy and Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA), where he developed the highly acclaimed Houses that Work lecture series. The HTW Series has been delivered for over 16 years by the Ci team in 100’s of North American cities.

He works with various manufacturers to assist in developing products and services for the next phase of efficient homes. Mark is the co-creator of the Ci App and animation studio, which developed the number one mobile App in the construction industry and builds realistic state of the art contextual animations on building science concepts and technical installation practices.

He is also President of Sales Instruction Inc., helping to bridge sales and marketing efforts to our industry. Working with leading industry suppliers and manufacturers, his sales training company creates a common language to drive sales and increase productivity for sales teams.

His passion for educating lies in knowing how vital the building industry is.  Building healthy, safe, durable and efficient homes has an effect on the buyer, the builder, the economy and the planet.

Listen in as Mark discusses why he believes builders should adopt a path of continuous improvement, waterproofing best practices, and why you shouldn’t ever need to factor in leaks when pricing your services.

Topics Discussed: 

Connect with Mark LaLiberte: 

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Resources & People Mentioned:

Key Quotes from Episode:

Episode Transcription

Brad Leavitt : [00:00:00] I am Brad Leavitt, host and founder of A Finer Touch Construction, and we're super excited to bring this amazing guest list to you of people that specialize in business, marketing, social media, entrepreneurship, and most of all, how to build a great company. AFT Construction is a local, commercial and residential general contractor located in Scottsdale, Arizona.


Brad Leavitt : [00:00:16] And we are continuously seeking ways to bring value to our industry, clients and network. You can subscribe to us on any major listening directory by searching the AFT Construction Podcast and of course, a big thanks to our sponsor, Sub-Zero group Southwest. So if you're starting a new kitchen project, the Sub-Zero Wolf and Cove Showroom is the place to start. It provides an immersive environment to help you realize the possibilities of your future kitchen, discover what it may feel like, look like, taste like all in an exploratory no pressure showroom. No matter who you are, consumer owner or member of the trade community, the showroom is ready to assist you throughout your entire project. I visit the Sub-Zero Wolf and Cove Showroom in North Scottsdale quite often. In fact, it's just around the corner from my office. So it's the perfect place to meet with my clients and the designer on the project. When we arrive, we meet with the showroom consultant whose sole focus is catering the visit to our needs. They seek to understand what products may be best suited for the client and then explain and demonstrate special features and functionality. We can browse the complete line of Sub-Zero Wolf and Cove appliances and then view them in beautifully designed vignettes helping my clients envision how their appliances might look like in their home. The best part is that the consumers can interact with the products. They can turn the knobs, open the drawers and ignite the flames, discovering the best fit for them. With the help of the showroom consultant, each visit is truly unique to the client. The relationship with the showroom does not end with the appliance selection process. Throughout the entire project


Brad Leavitt : [00:01:36] the showroom team is there to provide helpful solutions and offer advice and assistance, After appliances are installed. Owners can expect a lifetime of support and helpful resources. The Sub-Zero Wolf and Cove Showroom is the place to start experience and bring your visions to life. Schedule an appointment at your nearest showroom by visiting


Brad Leavitt : [00:01:58] I'm super excited to introduce our guests today. Mark LaLiberte, who is a partner and president of Construction Instruction. And Mark is a building science expert. He consults companies all over the country. In fact, the first time I met Mark, I was at a seminar, a CBUSA, which is a group of custom builders throughout the country. There was a conference here in Scottsdale and I attended a lecture he gave on how to properly window flash a window, how to do that detail. And he was so engaging and thoughtful and precise and communicative and just really good at delivering that information and really stuck with me because I realized that the process we were doing previously was not correct and so really learned a lot. I followed him at the builders shows listened to a lot of his speaking engagements he's done. And as I mentioned, he consults with builders and national builders all around the country and shared so much good information. In fact, I had a whole list of information that and questions I had for him. And we got to about a third of that, you know, in the hour that we allotted so big thanks to him for making time. And one of the the lasting comments he made, he said, you know, it's really important in life that we're thinking about our path of continuous improvement, whether that's us as individuals or parents or business owners or builders. You know, how are we continually bettering who we are because the building industry is really tough. And although Mark can be very tough on builders and very tough on the industry, he does it in a good way because he wants us to be better and he wants to educate us and wants to educate the public because it's a very complex system and most people don't realize the complexity of construction and how many details can be missed if we're not doing it.


Brad Leavitt : [00:03:35] And we dove into some of those components and details about energy efficiency and flashing and rain screens and so many important aspects to that, we need to be practicing as builders. And Mark LaLiberte is the co-founder and president of Construction Instruction, He has dedicated over thirty years to the building industry, through his lecture's site Assistance Building Better Homes video series and his mobile app. He provides builders, architects and manufacturers with an in-depth look at the current and future state of housing. His work has earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Energy and Environmental Building Alliance EEBA, where he developed a highly acclaimed houses that work lecture series [00:04:13] based Twister's [00:04:14] has been delivered for over 16 years by the CI Team and hundreds of North American cities. He works with various manufacturers to assist in developing products and services for the next phase of efficient homes. Mark is the co-creator of the CI App and animation studio, which developed the number one mobile app in the construction industry and builds [00:04:32] build a state [00:04:33] of the art. His passion for educating lies in knowledge. How vital the building industry is building healthy, safe, durable and efficient homes has an effect on the buyer, the builder, the economy and the planet. So thank you, Mark, and you will enjoy this conversation.


Brad Leavitt : [00:04:49] So welcome today to AFT Construction podcast, and I'm fortunate to welcome a good friend of mine and mentor, Mr. Mark LaLiberte. Welcome, Mark.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:04:57] How are you doing Brad? Nice to see you today.


Brad Leavitt : [00:04:59] Yes, so Mark and I spent a lot of time together these last, I'd say last year almost. But you know, and Mark, before we get into it, I mean, you are the partner and president of Construction Instruction, which we'll dive into which is a huge resource for us builders. And I will say that I was first fascinated with your lecture. You had spoken. I was at a CBUSA conference here in Scottsdale with builders all around the country. And you presented your discussion on flashing and zip walls and Tyvek. And I was just fascinated the way you present and conduct yourself and your knowledge in the industry. And I know you've given back to our industry so much so. Can't thank you enough for that.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:05:37] Thanks Brad that's very kind of you. Yeah, I enjoy it so very much. I think part of that is that after so long, it still feels amazing and I feel so fortunate to be part of such a great industry. So that's what I enjoy so much. I still have the same amount of passion I had thirty five years ago when I got started in this business.


Brad Leavitt : [00:05:54] Well, it's funny you say that because off camera, you know, off air, we're speaking a little bit and that we do want to be a little tough on the industry. And I know you will, because one of the things that we're all trying to do is builders are trying to get better. We're trying to build better homes, more healthy homes, more efficient homes, you know, but we're also battling the realistic of trades and labor force and budgets and clients and expectations and design and all these things that we have to deal with. And so, Mark, I mean, you've been and I think just to tee that up, you know, we want to preface that, you know, many of us builders, it's a tough industry. I don't want to say we're struggling, but there's some challenges to it, as you know, which I know you'll touch on. But it's the choices we make. And you made that comment yourself. So with all your experience, Mark, you know, you've traveled around the country, you've consulted with national builders, with local builders, custom builders. You know, what are some of the biggest mistakes were making this builders right now?


Mark LaLiberte: [00:06:46] It's a great question, Brad. And I always want to preface the idea of mistakes. I would say that I recommend a strategy called a path of continuous improvement. And I don't think we do enough of that. And oftentimes I think we get comfortable with being in the place that we're always in and saying, if I've done well so far, I must be crushing it. And I think what's important is that we realize that the path of continuous improvement, something that I've actually witnessed within your company, I've been so impressed how you don't let days and weeks go by without looking at a process or changing a deal or educating an employee. And I think that's part of the challenge Brad, because you mentioned things like we have clients and we have weather and regional issues. We have material supplies [00:07:34] that which happen in the wind industry [00:07:35] and in the last few months. And we have code changes, codes changing. If you look at the map of the US, codes are all over the place in all areas of the state of Arizona where we are has no state building code. So what that means is that each municipality kind of adopts their code so that what you build in Phoenix is different than what you have to build to in Scottsdale versus the county. And imagine that variation in a manufacturer that said every time you move to a different city, you have to build a product to a different level. So so those things I appreciate I also appreciate the fact that, you know, we ask a lot. We have maybe twenty five to 30 trades all coming together and with thousands of products.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:08:18] And your job is to orchestrate this thing in a way that sounds like a beautiful symphony, right? Sometimes sometimes it's it's not that. And I think that that's not always a fault. It's a process challenge. But how well are we setting expectations? For example, what do we tell our trades in terms of scopes of work? Just put on stucco isn't enough. It's got to be here's what I need. Here's my expectations. I need a rain screen I need a drainage plain. I need integration with the windows, all the penetration. So that's one scope of one trade. HVAC the same way, I need all the ducts installed clearly and straight. I need no crimps and bends and things that are smashed, proper details and proper testing and validation and verification. So I think that's what makes this hard, Brad, is that imagine all of those coming together. It's like building a car where somebody throws the parts of the BMW. You just spot in the driveway, the guy drives by and goes, hey, I think I could put it together. And so we're trying to create this very, very complex product that should last, what, one hundred years? Is that fair? Fifty two hundred years with a real interesting host of players. And so as much as I appreciate how complex it is, I also think it means a remarkable level of responsibility that we have to take. And that means don't let that stuff slide and hold yourself and the industry to a very high standard.


Brad Leavitt : [00:09:50] Well, I love that you said that Mark. What's interesting is I think you painted a picture for anyone listening, whether you're a builder, designer, architect, client or just customer learning more about construction. What's interesting is the analogy you gave about the parts to the BMW being dropped off in your driveway. Well, if someone how to kit and you're building your own car or here's here's the TV components, build your TV. You know, there's not a lot of there's so much complexity to it that people don't realize, you know, if you're going to cost when you're buying a TV or buying a car, what's coming off the manufacturer lot there's systems in place. You know, there's protocol, there's quality control. All these things are going through a line there. And it's being checked and checked and checked and tested before it hits the consumer in construction. That's not the case. And then it's further complicated when, as you mentioned, you have all these building codes and every city is different. And then it's even more complex because some architects and engineers get it, some don't. You may ask your architect, where's the rain screen and they may just stare at you. Right, because they're designing a pretty house, but they're not looking at the little intricate details. And then, of course, as you mentioned, I mean, just the manufacturers, right? The salesman may come out selling their brand and they may say this product's phenomenal for the market. You need to use it. But that's their biased opinion because they're selling a product when, you know, that may not be beneficial to us in our market.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:11:12] It's really well said. Very nice summary. And I think that we do actually do what I my analogy with the car is actually what we do. You know, the lumber company tips down the thing and it drives the truck off really fast. The lumber drops on the ground. So I got the lumber in the mud. I've got the trade showing up and driving up and hauling up materials. So I was on the job site yesterday, for example, and I looked at the details. They had tacked up the weather barrier, which was just a layer of black paper on some OSB that had been exposed way too long. And what I would consider to be a three quarter million dollar house. And it was blown in the wind. It was all poorly detailed. There's big gaps in it. They were sticking pieces of foam over it to put stucco on.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:11:54] And I looked at that and thought a homeowner who hired that builder said, you're a professional builder, you have a license. I'm assuming you're trained, you're experienced. You are looking at my investment, the biggest investment I make and your trades, your team and everybody involved to be extraordinarily good at taking my house as such a personal thing that it is to me and make it really well done. And I think that's an assumption that homeowners make. And sometimes we as an industry get caught up in things like first cost and the challenges with with timing and trades. And the difficulty I mean, look at the difficulty of trades at the moment, Brad. You know, if you figure you're just lucky if a warm body shows up sometimes because it really is that difficult, you've if you look at all the trades, if you ask the trades, there are there are companies, for example, in California with a thousand employees. Imagine that attrition that goes on within that company and how you bring on one guy in one week and another guy leaves. What is your training program? What is the verification for him? Yeah I used to install stucco. He goes perfect, you're hired. Does that mean it was installed correctly? And what is each company's specification for what they stand behind? If you put your name AFT in a building, that is your heritage, that's your legacy, it's your reputation. And if every trade followed things that carefully, I think we'd have a little bit more care. And I'm not saying people don't care, but I look at a lot of details where I've seen beautiful workmanship. I've been in some of your houses here your carpentering. Your finished work is just extraordinary. And I think you would say that's because of the person, not necessarily the price or anything else. They set an expectation. You pay them a fair wage, but you go.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:13:42] But I expect near perfect execution and they're like, you know what Brad, I like working for you because you care about craftsmanship. And you you you post something that I've done well and you compliment me on good work that feels good. So it can't just be about price. It's got to be craftsmanship. And workmanship comes from the heart. And what I leave as a legacy, not just hey slap it out and get it done, which unfortunately happens too often.


Brad Leavitt : [00:14:10] You know, I love that you share that Mark. And I think the biggest challenge for us as builders, I mean, this is something I deal with, you know, and as much as I communicate, a client comes in ok, Brad, you know you know, I'm thinking about hiring AFT or I'm thinking of hiring X builder, but your stucco cost is more. You know, across the board. It's more. Maybe it's sixty thousand and the competitive builders are doing it for fifty two. And what's really hard for the I would just say the client that maybe is not an expert in construction is you are Mark, where they have seen this, where they're driving by and they're seen this OSB that's been sitting out black paper and there's no rain screen, there's no, you know, waterproofing membrane. There's nothing behind it. There's no way for that water to exit as you apply the stucco. And it's really hard to convey that. And then it's even more complicated, as you mentioned. You get that now to the stucco company, California. Well I look at it here. Well, yeah, if I have a thousand employees, I'm just hoping they show up and there's a body on the job, I have commitments I'm trying to make overhead. I'm trying to meet these builders expectations and it's so complicated. And and yet, even as a builder trying to make sure that they're executing that the price is right and we can still honor the trade, the craft.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:15:17] Yeah, that's why that's why I always have to be so careful when your question was about mistakes, I it's always a hard thing because I think that I don't think anybody wakes up in the morning, goes today. I'm going to do a crappy job. I'm just not into it today and I'm going to do a poor job. I think people wake up the trades, the builders wake up and go today. I'm going to try to execute and do my job well, whatever that is. But I think that what happens is we we we set these bars that aren't as good as they should be. For example, if you look at work, I mean, how many of the builders and trades listening would say, have you ever looked at something you got? You know, it's not that great, but I got to keep going. It'll be fine. So what we do is we accept what I would say mediocracy. Right. So there's often times I said I've said many times, have you ever accepted work that you thought was inferior? And all of us would say, well, of course. And I'd say, so what drove us to do that? But if I'm a trade, I might say, well, you just said that was acceptable.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:16:16] So that will be my new standard for you. I was on a jobsite last week down in down in Chandler and there was a site inspector that was there. He was with a private company that was doing site inspections. And he said, you know, it's interesting. I was with a very big production builder there. And he said, I've seen the same trades do two levels of work. And he said because in this particular site, they don't really care that much because the job sup. doesn't hold them accountable. The other site, the job sup's. really tough, really says, hey, you know what, step it up a notch. You're going to have to tear this out. So they establish their own level of expectation based on the expectations of the the employer, which would be the builder. So I think we all need to improve what we look at and say, you know what, that could be done better. I would appreciate it if those lines were straighter. Could you could you do that, that with more care? I think the trades like doing work carefully and professionally. They just need to be appreciated for it.


Brad Leavitt : [00:17:14] I love that you said that. It's interesting because that the example you gave is where you have a big national builder and depending on the superintendent's qualification or knowledge or focus, if you will. Right. Each subdivision is going to run different. And I think there's a lot of truth to that. I've seen where, you know, just internally when I look at the past as a company, when we'd come out and we're just kind of get through the process, get the guys on site, go through the schedule, make sure they hit their dates, you know, that's one part of it. But now, if you go a step further and I you know, our crews like Adam and Andrew and some of these who you've met and Paul, when they come out, it's like, OK, here's the orientation. Here's what we expect. You see the job site, cleanliness. We expect you to clean up at the end of the day. Here's how we want this install to be. Here's the the requirement. And so you have this orientation you'll lay them out and set that precedence. You know, they they now can be successful because now they kind of understand our expectation and they can live up to it. Whereas if we're just throwing them out there and not leading the way, there's no way for them to be successful.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:18:13] No, that's very true. I can see variations just in job site cleanliness as you brought up. I've been in sites where there's nothing but pop cans and soda containers and bags of lunch just thrown, all strewn all over the place. And then I've been to another site where it's it's meticulous, as yours are. And I think that's also an expectation. Right. I don't think a trade's charging you less because he gets to throw the garbage in the site. I think that if you said, you know what, here's where we put stuff. This is what I expect the trades go. OK, you know what? AFT's really picky about their job sites. They don't want you to leave unless you pick up your things. That's what we do here. It's not like I'm going to charge Brad an extra three hundred bucks because he makes me pick it up. You're going to go. I just pick up because Paul and Adam and and, and Andrew, those guys really have an expectation and when you set that they'll do that. So I think it's again, it's ideas of clear scope's, clear details. I like mockups. I'm a big mockups fan. I've been on so many sites in different parts of the country where a builder says, what's a critical component? You'd say a window installation is central. It's got to be done right, because if a window leaks, there's all kinds of messes. So he builds a mockup on site scrap materials. It's a window from his lumber yard that's in the bone yard. And he puts in a window beautifully and he brings it to the job site, sticks it in the garage before the windows are going in and says, listen, everybody, that's what we do.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:19:36] And I don't care how many windows you've installed or what you do. My name's Brad Leavitt, and I have to hold the accountability of this company. If the window leaks, it's on me. So I want you to do it that way because I've vetted the installation and the trades come in they go All right. I will or I won't follow that. But in the end, everybody that I've seen installers go well then I'm not going to stand behind it like, well, I'll tell you what, if I ever had to go to court and I'm standing there and a liability claim and I look behind me, I don't think all the trades are standing back. They're going Brad I got your back. You know, you're you're the guy you're the builder that stands up and says, I'm the general contractor. I'm accountable to the homeowner and to this Product and its longevity. So set your standards, your process and your educational expectations and drive those to be exceptional and you'll get better performance. And I think you've done that. I've watched how you look at your scheduling strategies is is remarkable. And I think because you've committed to that style of scheduling, you have a better scheduling process. I think people show up when they said they'd come because you asked them to do that. When will you be here? Tuesday at four o'clock. Tuesday at noon. Then they show up because they told you they would. And that's asking people to measure and actually validate what they said they would do.


Brad Leavitt : [00:20:55] Well, it's interesting. And I'll say, you know, that's one of the benefits of being surrounded with professionals such as yourself, Mark, that have taught me a lot over the years. And it's funny, before I started my company, actually before I worked for General, I worked through college for a subcontractor in San Diego. And it was interesting because I really saw I work for a lot of big commercial builders throughout the country there in San Diego as a sub. And I remember being we were working at the school district and, you know, when I was doing a lot of government work at the time in the school district and working on the Navy base there in Coronado in Point Loma. And it was interesting because there's this one general contractor that we showed up and he did that. He had an orientation with us as the the labor force out there. He set the expectation of what he wanted us to do. And he said, look, at this time we didn't have cameras on the phone, but he had this digital camera and he said, I'm going to take pictures of everywhere you're working because we're on the school and we were working at night. And he said, you can't leave any debris, any electrical, any fiber optics, anything you know you need to pick up. And otherwise, I'm going to find you and your company and it's for us. We're just like, OK, that's the expectation. We're going to live up to that. We did it and we complied. He wasn't rude about it. He just set that expectation. And and then it allowed us to perform. You know, the site was clean. It allowed us to be efficient. And I just remember the impact that had on me how you said if you give people an opportunity to be successful, they will be. But you have to as you mentioned earlier in this conversation, you have to give them the path of continual improvement. Yeah.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:22:25] And explain to him why it matters, because you said, listen, my clients have an expectation of me still I have to transfer that expectation to you. And when they get done, the person they're paying is Brad Leavitt, and you're paying the trades to execute on their expectation. So and we know that expectations are challenging. Right. We have to have an architect that does a really pretty picture and you've got to figure out every every way to make it happen. And the client has an expectation because they don't really realize how complicated it is to do this. This is, I don't think, any homeowner and I think many times you build homes they like. I had no idea it was this difficult. I didn't know it would take a year to build the house. How is that possible? They do it on TV in two episodes. OK, so I think that it's what's really hard is for people to say, well, how come nobody's out here today? And you're like, well, we're scheduling and we're looking at this detail. So building houses is probably one of the most complex businesses there is. And I think it's also one of the most difficult. And I think the expectations that everyone has around us means that we as an industry have to hold ourselves to a very high standard because we think of it. How many people really get involved at any level of manufacturing, whether it's cars or anything else where a product is supposed to last fifty to one hundred years? You know, I think that's a high expectation. But if you think about it, how many times have you ever done a remodeling project and you pulled some details apart and you're like, oh, my God, the sheathing is rotted, the baseplate is rotted, the deck boards pulled off mean like what would it have taken for someone to do just a step up a little bit better job so that when I pulled that apart, I was able to continually proceed.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:24:09] Otherwise I got to go back to the client, said, you know what, the room joist is rotted. We're going to have to jack up the floor, put in a new room joist, sister on some new floor joists to bring this back up. It's going to cost an extra ten thousand because someone didn't spend an extra four hundred dollars and use the right fastener and the right adhesive in the right sealant. So I think that's the other part of this, is that we sometimes walk away and don't realize this house is exposed to remarkable levels of weather and lifestyle. So we have to really appreciate all of that. That's why, again, I have such appreciation for this industry. But I also believe that we have an expectation and a responsibility to really do a great job. And I continually see builders improving. I think you've noticed on Instagram a really substantial improvement in builders say, look what I did. This is amazing. What do you think? Sends a note back and goes you dummy that's not a good idea. I think it's a great forum because there's really no other place to do that. If you build houses in northern Minnesota, how many other builders do you interface with before Instagram or before social media? That said, you know, that's really not a good idea. And he's like, I've been doing it for years. I didn't know. So this is a great forum what you're doing today as a way to share knowledge and experience in a much broader sense. And so I commend you for taking that effort because it does matter Brad.


Brad Leavitt : [00:25:33] I love that. The check and balance of social media has been important, and I'd love to dive into that here a little bit later. But it's interesting because what you said, Mark, you know, you talked about the complexity and difficulty. And I think I think the hardest thing to convey, just as a builder, you know, when I have customers come in with potential clients, you know, and and and I've worked with clients, too, in the past, that they think it's a matter of you get these bids, you sign the contract and they just go kind of do their work and they don't realize how these pieces go together. Right. And the complexity of the hillside build and the waterproofing and the staging and the phasing and everything that goes into this build. And then, as you mentioned, just to get their flashing details right. So if someone's remodeling this home in 20 years that they're not going to find all these issues right. To the bones of the house. And that's the hardest thing I have is, you know, customers are so worried about budget. And trust me, I'm very active on social media. So I love the pretty kitchen. I love that beautiful cabinetry and the pretty range, you know, and I want my clients to have budget dollars allocated for that so I can show that off for. But the reality is there has to be money in the bones of the structure. And that is where a lot of builders are cutting corners. And so I want to dive into a few of these Mark because this is where you really are an expert and you train companies all around the country. And this is something I know you're doing later this week and this is  something you're doing daily. So I guess the first one, you know what we're thinking about, you know, the water proofing weatherproofing of a home, it's going to depend by area. As you mentioned, northern Minnesota, the Phoenix were totally different climate zones. What are some tried and true methods that you've seen builders doing that will help the performance of of the waterproofing aspect?


Mark LaLiberte: [00:27:15] It's a great question and it's really interesting how we've made the assumption that if you live in Philadelphia, that gets 60 inches of rain a year, in Seattle at forty nine and Arizona at six, that we have different strategies. But but I'll take issue with that, as you know it, all so well, when a monsoon comes, you'd think you were in a Houston hurricane. And so what we do is really appreciate the fact that weather changes continuously. And whether you're in northern Minnesota or you're in Arizona, you have to do a phenomenal job of installing windows. You have to do a great job of installing air barriers. You have to do a phenomenal job of installing things like HVAC and the ducting and making sure it's sealed properly, waterproofing foundations, installing capillary breaks.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:28:03] Those are essential for buildings. I don't care where it's located. So if somebody said, do I need to flash windows in Phoenix, it's like I was saying, the windows the site I was at yesterday, some of the sloppiest window installs I've ever seen. Now I've seen some pretty sloppy window installers, but everyone goes don't worry about it. You're in Phoenix. Who cares? Well, I'll tell you what. If you go into some older houses and see window leaks and water leaks and musty smell and Arizona houses, it's because of that that lack of attitude or that that lack of concern for saying, you know, when it rains, it's enough and it comes in a voracious way. So we do have a higher drying cycle, no doubt about it. We do have a bit of more forgiving climate, no doubt about that. But aside from that, I would say you properly pan flash windows because all windows will leak in there in their span and window manufacturers always get mad at me when I say that, I'm not always saying that the window itself will leak, though it can. We know that we have welded corners and complex pieces, but the installation often leaks and that's because water gets by everything. So it gets by the cladding, it can get by the weather management layers it gets within the building assembly. So if we said, all right, fair enough. Ninety eight percent of all the rain is going to fall off my cladding on the outside done.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:29:20] What about the one or two percent of water that gets by? And someone might go, it sounds insignificant, but it isn't. And what happens? Get back behind the cladding. It can fail the paint film everybody's watched paint them blow off the cladding. They've watched water that gets into a wall cavity. You've opened up a remodel project and see mold on the wall cavities. Houston, in the after the hurricanes, they pulled off the inside gypsum and watched the sheathing is completely rotted behind the brick. So we have to care about all aspects of building integrity. So why are you adding insulation in Phoenix? And you're like for four years, people are still building with two by four walls here. And I think that what's interesting here is that it's we have people at five hundred six hundred dollars a month, electric bills in Minnesota. You would have two by six wall with insulation on the outside and you would have a two hundred dollar electric bill and energy bill. And I think we get complacent that colder I mean, than warm climates don't need as much attention and they really do. They should be airtight, thermally insulated, well installed glass properly flashed and properly drained. So if you did that across all climate zones, then the minutia of which weather protection layer should I use here then can come into into play.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:30:37] But I think you brought up a really good point. I talk about this thing about first cost being way too large of a driver. And I think what happens is you're like, who cares about the weather layer? The stucco guy goes, I'll put in your stucco. You should say this is the weather protection layer we expect and the way it's to be installed. Yeah, I don't do that. I just I don't like to be really good at it. And that's the way it comes. Like, well then I can't have you do my work. And so we all have to hold those layers because here's the catch. Once you put stucco on, it's done, you don't go back and lift it up and improve the layer. It's a one time shot. And like you said about the interior, you can get a new counter, you can get a new cabinet, but you're not putting on a new layer of sheathing. So take a look at the products that are moisture sensitive, OSB and so on, and then protect them, manage the bottom of wall details. All of that do that extremely well. And I think you'd be you wouldn't be surprised, you know, this, but the cost to do it well are in the hundreds and maybe low thousands, not tens of thousands. And so whenever I look at the details, I'm like, so spend an extra thousand dollars on taking your time to manage that well.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:31:51] And in the end, it'll benefit on a whole bunch of levels. You'll have zero to to very few callbacks. And the trades will appreciate the fact that that matters because a callback for stucco or callback for a leaky window. What do you do? You go, I got to cut off the stucco. I got to somehow get the window out of the opening. I need a case of caulk and caulk every opening I can find and that's because someone didn't take the time initially, if you ever had a house, I know you probably never have ever had a house with with a water leak and and they're they're really difficult. I pull out all the trades. I get window guys and stucco guys, and they're all looking at stuff and spraying hoses. We like, stop, do it right the first time and it won't happen. And it is that clear. I've worked with stucco contractors Brad that have said I just factor into my price, that I'm going to have leaks. I said, well, then design not so that you don't have that. And the difference between a five hundred dollar upgrade to improve the sealant and the weather protection will be offset by you don't have to send an employee out to fix a leak. And that seems like an even trade.


Brad Leavitt : [00:32:55] Now, that's interesting. So I guess, have you dealt with a lot of, you know, as your consultant, you know, a stucco company, for example? Because I would say and I'm going to just talk about our market because our market really struggles with water proof barriers. I mean, it just is that I've seen it way too often, even as I drive around the neighborhood, you know.


Brad Leavitt : [00:33:15] But I guess my question is, do you have contractors you work with that will tell the builder, I don't care what's on the specification, I don't care what you've done in the past. I don't care what the architect says, this is my minimum. I'm going to require X, Y and Z to do the job because my name's on it.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:33:29] Yeah, I do. I would say even here in Arizona, there's a couple of contractors and some window companies that'll say we'll either do it this way or I'm not going to do it because it's the only way I feel I can stand behind it. So I like my window product and my window installation method is something that I've tested. If I was a window guy and I'm installing windows, I would install a bunch of different techniques, have it water and pressure tested and say, wow, I had no idea that the two techniques I've been using leaked when I did a water test, but I did this other method and it never leaked. So I'm going to use that one. Imagine if a stucco company or window installer came to you or any builder and listening and said, you know, I have a I have a set of standards that I really think are important and critical. And they matter a lot to me. And I want to let you know that I expect the cladding to go on, not leak, water drain effectively and to last a very long time. This is my standard. And I think if you heard somebody say that you'd go like you know, as long as it meets my expectations, I'd like to do that. And again, it's not tens of thousands. It might be in the upper hundreds or even maybe a couple of thousand dollars more on a big, big house. But usually it's it's hundreds, not tens of thousands.


Brad Leavitt : [00:34:45] Well, it's interesting, Mark, because you talk about water tests, and I know that's something you do, you know you know, with all these different tests to do Construction Instruction, which I want to dive into here shortly


Brad Leavitt : [00:34:54] But going back to the windows, it's fascinating because when you coming out of college, you know, I didn't really recall learning a lot about the window flashing and and being exposed in Arizona or especially early in my career. I'd remodel some homes in Chandler. And this was 20 years ago. I mean, this is late. Nineteen ninety nine, ninety eight that these homes were built early 2000s and the framers would frame the house, set the windows, no flashing. And so we're remodeling this house and there's no window flashing. Nothing twenty years ago. I mean it's unbelievable. And and one of the challenges we deal with, especially in Phoenix and I know Matt's talked about this a lot, Risinger in Austin, is that our HOA's dictate that the windows are set back, that they're recessed and we deal with that a lot. You know, they have to be, you know, six inches or eight inches depth, you know, sometimes four inches. It really depends on where they face the street. And that's dictated, by the HOA, which now complicates things for us, because this is the areas where water can be stuck and and come into the home. So, you know, what are some ways to kind of work around that, you know, as far as understanding the importance of the waterproofing of the window flashing.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:36:02] Yeah, that's a really good that's a really good question Brad because, you know, I see the same thing happen where if you didn't have to push the window inside the house, imagine the additional framing you'd have to do, right? Yeah, they have extra framing in a lot of it. I mean, it's it's a bunch of framing. But if you looked at the details, I'd say make sure that there's enough space where the window goes into, that the fin can actually be properly water managed. And I like fluid liquid flashes. You know, I think liquid flashings around recessed windows and openings are essential because you've got to get all the framing, connections and joints. It's really hard to do a lot of the complex framing with tapes. If you do use tapes, you always want to use a butyl tape if you can. There are acrylic tapes as well, but never use rubberized asphalt tapes. They don't stay ahered and they don't work. So it's a critical difference that you use butyl or high quality acrylic tapes or fluid flashing materials and those are liquid flashings have become such a wonderful addition to our industry in the last five to eight years that it now allows you to kind of I like using this word but you kind of muck up the opening with this liquid flashing.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:37:15] You then install the window so that, of course, it's never sealed at the bottom and that allows the window opening to drain back to the outside. We also have to slope that that recessed opening. And I've been to projects in Texas where the bottom of the underneath the window, the recessed is flat. Well, after the lumber shrinks and falls back, it'll be tilted back towards the house, which means when the stucco cracks at that set, it'll leak back into the wall cavity. So we need a decent slope to it. And I don't mean just a subtle eighth of an inch for foot. It's going to have a nice pitch to it. If you look at windows in Europe, if you go to European buildings and look at all the old old buildings, you'll see masonry sills that are pitched at a six degrees slope. And, you know, it's really nicely done. And they'll make sure that the water intentionally falls off. As long as you keep liquid water away and you're just having to deal with the water vapor, it's a lot easier to dry, but it's liquid water. Drip, drip, drip into an opening is a problem. So I'd say pan flashing openings to make sure they drain to the outside back caulking all windows on the inside to make sure that whatever water does get to the sill under the window.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:38:29] Completely drains back to the outside, give the water a path, make sure that you're going to say, I know that it's going to get into the opening, the wind's going to blow, there's going to be a leak somewhere. I want all the water to leave. I'll use another something analogous to it's kind of funny analogous to this. How many times do you like installing roof windows? And everybody says, oh, I hate it. I hate it. Well, think about a skylight. When you buy the skylight, you also buy very complex splashing kit and you put the roof window in and you flash it and you flash it some more and you add some more flashing to it. And I always ask builders so what happens. They go, they leak. OK, so if a window on the roof leaks, try to visualize every time you install the window that you're installing this window in a vertical roof plain so pretend that that window is really on a vertical roof because that's really what that is. That window is being exposed to whether the water is following following gravity, draining back down and entering the assembly.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:39:30] So always kick the water back out. The thing about a roof window is that you see the leak. Right I got a stain on the ceiling and you're like, oh, there it is. When the window in the vertical wall leaks, you don't know until either a stain, a smell or something's failed. So that's why we have to do that much better. So treat your wall windows, I should say, as you would treat any window in a roof assembly, because it is that critical that they're properly drained, properly installed and flashed. And again, back caulking on the inside is critical, so never caulk a bottom fin. So the window water can get out, drain the assembly back caulk on the inside as an air seal as well as a water seal, and you'll have a beautiful install. So if the windows should leak at year one year five, year 15, it doesn't matter because windows will leak. And when they do, you just want it to run to the outside and then you're nothing. But you're good. But if the window leaks and you haven't prepared for it, then you've got a problem.


Brad Leavitt : [00:40:30] Now, I love that Mark. And that that's so important. I mean, liquid flashing is something that we want to be using more. You know, the slope window pitch is something that makes a lot of sense, especially you. That's why you see these old buildings in Europe perform, right? They understood this and the butyl tape, you know, so let me you know, and I love the analogy of a roof window, which we all hate skylights because it's just it's so hard as a builder, right. To execute that detail without them leaking. And so apply that same methodology to the exterior. Now with thinking of the exterior walls, whether you're using like a zip wall or a Tyvek, you know, is there a product you recommend? Because one of the tough parts, as you mentioned earlier in the conversation, the bottom plate, the top plate right the top of the wall, bottom of the wall, especially where you had that soffit come in and tie in to the wall where even if it's at a negative pitch, I mean, water can still maybe travel down.


Brad Leavitt : [00:41:17] I mean, do you recommend taping or using some kind of butyl tape or something at the top or bottom of the of the walls themselves?


Mark LaLiberte: [00:41:25] Yeah, it's a great question. And I think it's an area that we've missed way too often at the bottom of walls, a very vulnerable place, because the open edge of the OSB is usually exposed quite close to grade. And as you know, there's a lot of people that say Brad can my stone on the outside go all the way into the dirt. Yeah. I don't want any of my friends to know that I had to install the foundation. Yeah. So what we do, we have to protect that bottom layer so where the slab or the the wall comes up to the house grade and then where the plate sits there and the OSB comes down, that should be properly flashed. And I mean liquid flash would be really nice or a butyl tape. Clean up the assembly and tape that on a lot of builders go yeah the concrete's dirty, well then wipe it off because you have one chance to do this right. We have one chance at the bottom of wall. So get a wire brush and scrape that, put down a primer if necessary to repair that and get a good high quality tape.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:42:23] Not something that you bought like duct tape. This is something that's going to stand the test of time. So flash the whole base of wall between the OSB and whatever your your your component is, whether it's a slab or stem wall or crawlspace or a basement, finish that detail beautifully at top of the wall. If you're using a sheet of membrane like a Tyvek type product, you then should put a layer of sealant that you would embed the weather barrier into the sealant, or you would then use a butyl tape or acrylic tape and tape that very effectively from the weather barrier protection layer to top of the wall. If you're using a sheathing based product that is an integrated weather protection layer that still requires careful attention, you have to do a phenomenal job of every seam and rolling the joints and do all those things carefully. And in all cases, I believe a rain screen is necessary. And I think that people are learning about this new term rain screen, though it's been around for a very long time.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:43:24] You'll see it on buildings. Old timers, for example, used to install cedar siding on the first. Because they knew that the cedar siding needed to have a little bit of breathing on the back side of it, which improve the longevity of the cladding. So I believe that all cladding's except for vinyl, steel and aluminum, need a draining space, probably a three eighths of an inch or 10 millimeters behind the cladding system. Stucco and wood cladding and cement claddings all need an air space that allow the rain to drain by, but also allow air to accelerate the rate of drying when it's passed. And I would say the brick, for example, has always had an air space. Right. So I often ask contractors, do you think brick leaks? And of course it does. Exactly. It does. So it leaks at the mortar. Water gets behind it. We've created an air space of between three quarters of an inch and an inch and a quarter minimum space at the bottoms. We've always created a weep hole. So we agreed that the claddings leak, we've created an air space for them to drain out. We've had an opening at the top of the brick wall and the weeps at the bottom allow ventilation. So if we treated all of our cladding systems the way we've treated brick historically, we'd allow ventilated claddings to have an amazing impact on buildings. So I personally believe all claddings in all climates Brad even in Arizona. And you'll notice on the house that we'll build, we'll have a rain screen behind all the stucco and using an integrated product like [00:44:49] Dawkins' [00:44:50] got a product called Stucco Stone and Lath, and it's a drainage mat with the lath integrated right into the rain screen. So it's got drainage lath all [00:45:00] impregnated [00:45:00] in the product and Tyvek's got a draining [00:45:03] Weatherby. [00:45:03] So I think we've got to look at those types of products always.


Brad Leavitt : [00:45:07] Well I love that you share that and what's funny, Mark, just to be transparent. So, you know, when I attended your demonstration demonstration talking about the rain screens and, you know, when you're putting in stucco and that needs to drain properly and you need to have, you know, either [00:45:22] Rip Matthew tieback [00:45:23] or whatever it may be to create this channel. We came back after that meeting and immediately made that a standard at our company. And that was only a few years ago. I mean, this is how these things are transpiring and we're being educated. So kudos to you for teaching us. And that's helped us internally. And one thing I know you've corrected me, which I do appreciate, because sometimes I'll post them on social media and you're like, hey, Brad, check for this, look for this. And one thing you've told me and say, hey, Brad, check out, make sure you're paying attention to the capillary break. Right. So explain what that is for anyone. Listen to Capillary Break and why that's so important.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:45:57] Yeah, I think we've we've forgotten how to I'll use as a reference back to Europe. I've been in Europe where I've seen all kinds of stucco and the cladding are always held up off of the next layer of material. And I would say that on footings, for example, of a very strong proponent of putting a capillary break on top of a footing on a monolithic pour that's very difficult. But on a stem wall so a footing, stem wall and slab or footing stem wall basement crawl space. The footings should have a capillary break. And that can be a product like a, Delta's got a product called footing barrier can be a mastic that's applied to the footing tops. But in isolating that capillary break, which is the connection between the footing and the vertical stem wall, we can wick water and concrete well in excess of a thousand feet against gravity. So many times you see things like a concrete density improved when you exceed maybe five thousand psi of concrete, the density of concrete that substantially reduces the capillary draw on on concrete. So you could either capillary break the fitting top to vertical stem wall you could increase the density of that product. But there's ways of addressing that. And what that results in is as the water comes up through the footing, if you waterproofed one side, the only direction moisture go is back to the interior. If you've got let's say you've got a lot of retaining walls, how many times if you looked here in Arizona, I see retaining walls that have been up for two years, they look like they've been up there for twenty years. And all the moisture coming up from the soils crawling up, the assault push off and failed and stucco.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:47:31] If you drive anywhere in Phoenix, look at all the the barrier walls and they all look like the stuccos blown off. So interrupting capillary wicking will help reduce that moisture draw. That has to find a way out. It's going to come up naturally. The footings are in wet soil. It's got to dry away. So capillary break concrete footings, capillary break cladding. And those materials, like the old days, we would take siding and we even do it here in Arizona with stucco. I watch the stucco get finished and the stuccos finished right to the roof. It should be separated off the roof. Enough space. When I look at things like Hardy, for example, recommends a large gap between the finished roof and where the hardy plank finishes. We, we agree, as an industry that wood absorbs water, concrete absorbs water. So isolate those materials that are water absorbed from a place where they can dry and drain effectively and don't set them in the dirt. Don't hide them. And make everything so tight, you know, a lot of times Carpenters' want things super tight, really clean, but we know that's where you look at a piece of fascia where the fascia comes together at the butt joint. That's oftentimes where you'll see the paint fail. And it's because the water came in at butt joint and blew the paint film off. So if you would just put paint on each one of the cuts and then apply them back together, you'd see it wouldn't support capillary draw of the wood. So capillary breaks can provide a very nice improvement in longevity.


Brad Leavitt : [00:48:58] I love that you share that because you know where you've educated myself. And I think for those listening, what you're explaining is so, you know, using a retaining wall example, we all know that it wicks, right? Concrete wicks just like drywall, paper, you know, toilet paper or a paper towel. If you set on water, it's going to start soaking vertically, right, all the way up. So what ends up happening is when you put in the footings of the sidewall, if you put in this capillary break or you you know, you put this coating on the top of the footing, that will prevent as you now start to go vertical from the footing that water from wicking vertically up, which will now, you know, bring up the calcium deposits. That's why you have the white that's why you have stucco that will start to crack and fail and chip off. And so essentially what you're saying is by waterproofing the top of the footing that will prevent that capillary breaking water from looking north upward.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:49:46] Yes, substantially reduces it, and we want to do that in all places you want what I know you waterproofed your you're retaining walls and I watched you do that. And I'd always recommend that you would also waterproof the top of the twitting as well, because, you know, we try to. We were missing that. Yeah, you are. But it's OK. And I think that the idea was that what we want to do is try to isolate those materials from the products that really the environment that causes them difficulty. And Wood's amazing concrete's amazing. We have these incredible resources that are available to us to build houses out of we just have to take a look at where are there weaknesses and how do I isolate those weaknesses from them being exposed to a place that's going to cause premature failure. And that's really what we're trying to do, is build long term, healthy, durable buildings with great craftsmanship, great attention to detail so that the trades show this level of craftsmanship which allows buildings to succeed. Homeowners that do remodeling just do the remodeling and not go back and repair all the poor work that was maybe done. Those things really matter in the long in the long term, and I think it's critical to do it right. The first time is the best term I can use to step back and go, you know what? I got one chance to do this well, and I'm going to do it right this time and make sure that every time you set that standard for yourself, suddenly it becomes a habit.


Brad Leavitt : [00:51:10] I love that Mark, and what's interesting, I mean, you've I mean, you've been so instrumental in developing, you know, so much knowledge to the industry and helping builders such as myself. And I know one thing. You did what you introduced me to EEBA. Right. So Energy Efficiency Builders Alliance and you developed a series for them, you know, called Houses that Work. So what does that mean? I guess we've we've touched on some of this, but in theory, what is the purpose of houses that work now?


Mark LaLiberte: [00:51:37] I helped originated back in the 90s and then with the assistance from other other great folks, Justin Wilson, Gord Cooke, Peter Yost have all helped to kind of continually fine tune what you would consider to be houses that work as a strategy of a one day workshop that EEBA Energy Environmental Building Alliance, its is their website, and they're a nonprofit organization that's been. I went to my first EEBA conference in nineteen eighty four, probably before you were born. Just kidding buddy.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:52:13] But if you look at that strategy, I look at it and say the organization has been trying to to to promote that. They just finished with their conference. And I know that you were a keynote speaker at that conference Brad you did a beautiful job. And I would say that of the work was a full day workshop on everything you need to learn and the fundamentals. And it would take, you know, how many people get to learn their entire craft in one day. But in one day you get an overwhelming experience. You came to CI Live and it's a two day class and people would leave the two day class and go, I felt like I was drinking through a fire hose. And we really realized that a craft as complex as housing should have continuous training all the time. Trade your trades, train your trades, train your interior people go up to job sites, train all the time and continually do that. If you look at the best athletes in the world, all have coaches that continually train that once Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson and Phil Mickelson, because once all those golfers, whoever they might be, have continuous coaches, they have a swing coach, a putting coach, a chipping coach, and you hit a thousand balls a day. Now, how do you not know how to do that? But you're perfecting your skill. A football athlete, a professional quarterback, has a weight coach, a throwing coach and a strategic coach. So we have to make sure that we have something as complex as this industry. We always are teaching. We're always training, being mentors. That's our job is to do that with everyone, share your knowledge and never quit, right?


Brad Leavitt : [00:53:49] Yeah, and I love that you share that Mark, because, I mean, the analogy to sports, which, you know, I can relate to is, is this true? I mean, in that industry, I mean, they are obsessed. You know, it's every day that they're perfecting their craft. And the problem is, as you mentioned, if we're not doing that in construction or design or architecture, the problem is we start to either forget these important aspects of the building process or we tend to kind of I don't want to say laziness, but we fall back in our comfort zones. Right. And we start going with the flow and we forget to really start focusing on these little details. And and you mentioned CI Live, which is one thing I really want to touch on, because for anyone listening, this is a huge resource. You know, my team attended Mark's Construction Instruction in Denver, and I think I remember them coming away. And they're like, Brad, this is like mind blowing, we learned so much. And I'm like, Yeah, I told you that. I mean, there's so much to this. And Mark does such a good job instructing. But, you know, talk to us about, I guess, how you the purpose of starting Construction Instruction, CI Live you know how our listeners can find more about it, how they can attend. I know with covid it's a little tricky right now. So talk to us about that.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:54:55] Yeah. Thank you. I would say that in all the years I've been traveling in most years, I was traveling between one hundred and one fifty thousand air miles a year and all kinds of different sites and working with builders and manufacturers. And what we did is people would say, you do a two hour workshop or a four our workshop or a one day workshop and then you'd leave. And I'd always feel bad that there's so much information in one day they'd walk away and go. Now, what am I supposed to do? How am I going to teach my teams? How do I convey that information? So what we did is we created a program called CI and Construction Instruction was originally an app. It's now 12 years old and it's the most utilized app in the industry. It's a free app you can get from the Apple store or the Google store. It's it's got over ten thousand assets in that app. And there's webinars, there are animated graphics, there are articles on PDF, all kinds of details to learn. You could spend months and months just reading through those and realizing that as a free resource, it's phenomenal. And then what we did about four years ago is we decided to do a physical training center here in Denver and we built about 11000 square foot building. We have six thousand square feet of classroom that can house up to 50 people.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:56:06] We have seven thousand square feet of. Full, full blown laboratories and a lab has got water testing and and we've got probably right now 20 mock ups that are all on wheels and you can roll them around and do details and trades come in and builders come in and we have them install a window and we pressure test things and water test stuff. And it's a really fun experience. We have probably seven different courses from advanced HVAC to just understanding how a building gets put together. And so once the covid situation changes and we get a little bit better, I'm imagining Spring we'll be doing live training. But in the meantime, as I'm going there this week, we're doing we're filming all of these segments and putting them up on the air. And so they're one hour webinars on advanced building enclosures and they're again free for the download to watch. So they go to anybody goes to the app, you can look for the workshops and they're in there and they're phenomenal. We do it. We do it in broadcast quality. We have multiple cameras, advanced lighting, great microphones to really do an extremely high level of education so that everybody gets we've got all of us are going to raise our game and do an extraordinary job of continually building better.


Brad Leavitt : [00:57:17] I love that you say that because one of the things you touched on earlier in the conversation when were talking about windows, you said, OK, well, if you're installing windows and you may have this tried and true method, have you really water tested it? Right. Have you really gone through that process? And and so having these different installation processes now, you can test these in a controlled facility where you can see if they're really going to perform. And by doing that, that's going to educate us because now we're seeing it first hand. We're installing it so we can see if it's working and then that'll allow us to go home and train our window installers. Right. So that hands on that makes a big difference.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:57:49] And then build that mockup. There's a builder. I'll give you an example. Live in Portland, Oregon. In Seattle, [00:57:53] Jim Walsh [00:57:54] and Walsh builds high end, high production commercial buildings and they water test every single install. So after they get a design from an architect, they build the mockup and they water test it. And when they prove that it works, then they'll install that detail. Because he said they're an amazing company, said, listen, I'm the guy responsible. If I've got a four, 10, 12 story building and I've got a water leak, it's systemic. And it means I've got problems everywhere and it's going to be millions to fix when I water test my detail, whether it's a cladding attachment or a difficult window install and I know it and I can verify it's been tested properly. I have an incredible level of comfort knowing that if I implement that strategy, the odds of failure go down radically. And I think that's what we all need to do, is say you're like, for example, you're building great big houses, you like. The cladding is a combination of this and that stone and stucco and maybe some of the cladding materials. I want to make sure this assembly works. And who do I go to? Who do I talk to about the best approach to make sure it holds up extraordinarily well? Someone building a million dollar, a ten million dollar house or a two hundred and fifty thousand dollar house deserves a comfortable, healthy, safe and durable building regardless of price point.


Mark LaLiberte: [00:59:11] And I think that's really the last comment that I would I would share today, is that if you look at what covid is at least done for everybody is to raise the awareness about the importance of the indoor environment. And every building and every house built today should have continuous mechanical ventilation. It should have a really well designed HVAC system, which I find are still to this day are very poorly designed and installed and a remarkable level of improved filtration so that houses should be our safe haven. You've got six kids you care greatly Brad about where they are in their rooms and how they sleep. And you care about the water. They drink. You're buying organic food, but the air is so critical we breathe about 9000 liters of air a day. We want to make sure that we're breathing healthy air. And as we make our buildings tighter for all the right reasons, energy and all the right stuff, make sure that every house gets a continuous supply of fresh air. And some people think it's counterproductive, like why would I build a tight house and then provide ventilation? And it's called control. And you want to control water leaks and you want to control air air infiltration in the building, but you want to control it through a confined system. I'm going to bring it in, filter it and distribute it to the bedrooms, pull stale air out of the generation points like kitchens and bathrooms and so on, and then pull the energy out of those areas. Those are called energy recovery ventilators. And I'd say that I looked at the first energy recovery ventilator in nineteen eighty four in Minnesota and we were bringing those in out of Canada. And so I'd say that right now they are standard in many, many markets that you install continuous mechanical ventilation for the health of the occupants. And I imagine Brad if you sat down with when your clients and said to your clients today, do you care about the indoor air quality? Does the air indoor environment matter to you and your family and your children?


Mark LaLiberte: [01:00:59] How many of them would say, nah, I'm good. My house, it doesn't make that sense. What they're seeing is that in twenty twenty they assume and there's that great dangerous word. Right, that because I gave you five million dollars or five hundred thousand dollars that you took care of that part because that's what you do. They assume that's done. And if you said to them, by the way, code doesn't require me to put in a continuous mechanical ventilation. So did you want it to go now? If code says no, no big deal, you actually I think you need it. So I just think those are really fundamentals that we have to continually address.


Brad Leavitt : [01:01:33] Well I love that you close with that Mark, because being sensitive to time,


Brad Leavitt : [01:01:36] The funny thing is I think we got through about a third of the questions I wanted to ask you, because there's so much information and we may have to bring you on another time, even though you're busy.


Brad Leavitt : [01:01:44] But, you know, just in closing, you know, it's important because I look at when you talked about this builder doing that testing. That's something I never thought about. That really intrigues me because, yeah, at the end of the day, we're responsible. You know, I know a builder who's had mud come through his basement walls and the clients, like, freaking out. I mean, that should never happen. Right. And, you know, for me, where I'm building in, most of these HOA's required that I have three different forms of cladding on the exterior for the aesthetic visual. Well, are they going to perform? I have to do that testing and understand, because at the end of the day, I'm responsible and we only briefly touched on the mechanical design and the energy efficiency in the healthy parts of the home, we're going to have to table that for another another time. So I guess, Mark, you know, in closing, you know, where can our listeners find you. How can they find more about the CI Live App? We're going to put that in our show notes, you know, and again, when can we find out? Once after covid we can now attend in person.


Mark LaLiberte: [01:02:39] Yeah is our website, it's our my email, of course, is It's a place where people can go and find resources and information. We're improving our new website that we actually hope to have available early December. So I would really hope people do that and continually learn and invest in your marketplace and invest in learning train people listen, learn, watch and question and hold people accountable for good workmanship. And if we do that, we're going to have this amazing industry deliver phenomenal product that will last for generations and be healthy and safe. And I think that's a fair expectation.


Mark LaLiberte: [01:03:19] So thank you so much also for both the opportunity to work with you, as well as having today as a venue to just talk about doing a better job. And I think everybody does well. I don't ever want anybody to think they do a bad job. It's just we can always do better. So as we started the podcast today, it was the path of continuous improvement and set that up as your your mantra. Make sure that you're always improving everything you do, whether being a better dad, a better husband or a better home builder always work to improve.


Mark LaLiberte: [01:03:51] Mark, I mean, that's such wise wisdom. Thank you so much for sharing that in closing and for making time for us today.


Mark LaLiberte: [01:03:57] Great pleasure. Brad, take care of yourself. We'll talk soon.


Brad Leavitt : [01:03:59] So big thanks to Mark for making time to come on the podcast today. And just to follow up such great advice about thinking about, you know, the path of continuous improvement, and especially as it comes to builders. You know, the analogy I love, as you think about the complexity of, you know, if you were to drop off a TV and some in front of someone's home, or if you were to drop off all the parts of the TV. Right. And all the components are going to that and then all the phone calls and all the coordination and making sure it's done right, you're not going to have any leaks. And what I love that he said, is that, you know, how many companies are thinking about putting out a product that's going to withstand 50, 60, 70, 100 years and perform. And that's what we have to do in the building industry. It's so important that each of us are getting that continuing education and just helping the industry by doing so. Social media has been a great advocate of this. We educate our clients I know our clients that follow us have seen our desire to build a better home. And we're not where we want to be. We're still striving to do so, but it appeals to them and people understand the value there. So big thanks to Mark. Make sure and go give him a follow. Check out what he's doing in the industry. He has so much good information. You can find out on the Web and YouTube and videos he's done over the years. So he's been a great friend and ally for us and and a great consultant. So big thanks to Mark. And again, just for all of you listening, if you could please give us a subscription and rate us and give us a five star rating and a comment that really helps for us in the analytics in the podcast. So thank you all for your support. Means a lot.