A Home for Latisha’s Family

Latisha has 4 kiddos, a job, a car and works hard at being a single mother.  She has dreamed of a home of her own for them. A place to live, making a mortgage payment instead of paying rent. The problem is the commercial lending system doesn’t have a place for her. Perhaps this or perhaps that.  It doesn’t really matter. The commercial home lenders will not extend credit to her. To hear from some business people, they will not lend to them either. That however is a rant for someone else and someplace else.  This is about Latisha’s new home.

She partnered with Wichita Habitat for Humanity. That meant she had to attend some Home Ownership Classes. She had to have a job and show ability to make her mortgage payments. She is paying rent, which makes a good start.  She had to have her income reviewed. That is only the start.

On Wednesday, the 25th of April, she received the keys to her home.   The picture essay below shows the home construction and the events of the Dedication. The pictures were taken from late February through April 25. I am privileged to have been the Energy Star Rater for this home.  The comments are therefore slightly biased toward the Energy Efficient Features of the home. If you have questions about these, comment below, or contact me.

A home starts with a foundation. In an Energy Star Home, the foundation is insulated. Latisha’s home will not be like this home. This picture was taken with snow on the ground (a pile from shoveling is the cold spot), an outside temperature in the 20’s. This is below the front door, facing east. The attached garage extends east blocking the sun, so this is not any type of solar loading.


The walls are going up!  Exciting time. Latisha was here before leaving for work.  This home is sponsored by ICM.

Items on the Energy Star Thermal Enclosure Checklist include, L: not doubling up the 2×4 for the interior wall to a stud on the exterior wall; R: No uninsulated corners.


Wood is R-1 per inch.  A 2×4 is R-3.5.  The insulation in the wall will be R-13.  Insulation is good, more insulation is better. Higher R-Value is better. This home is built with advanced framing. Instead of 16 inch centers, the studs are placed on 24 inch centers. Less waste!

Windows, properly installed, are important.  The window here has a U-Factor of 0.30 and a SHGC of 0.28. They are Energy Star qualified. The U-Factor is like the R-Value of insulation. It measures heat transfer. The Solar Heat Gain Coefficient measures the amount of sunlight driven warming for the summer.  Both of these numbers, lower is better.








Above left shows the duct work being sealed with duct mastic. The crew from Cook’s HVAC did a great job on this. Homes without sealed ducts typically have duct leakage, which heats and cools the great outdoors, of 10 – 50 cfm per 100 square feet.  This home has less than 4 cfm per 100 square feet.  On the right, the duct work is properly hung and does not have a sharp turn into the duct boot. I’ve audited homes with these air flow problems that have been built in the past few years.  Not here!  Thanks again Cook’s.

This shows a cut out for a bedroom air return. It also shows the drywall clips.  These are another important detail that allow the insulation and drywall to be correctly installed. The bedroom air return assists in comfort.  The heating system can not push air into a room without a way to push it out. About half of the complaints I deal with on cold rooms in the winter have a solution based in adding a return air vent. This duct system was designed using the Air Conditioning Contractors of America standards as published in Manual D.


The insulation inspections shows properly installed Fiberglass Batts. Thanks Northstar Comfort Systems.








These have to be inspected and rated as Grade I.  That means they cannot be compressed, side stapled, or missing around outlet boxes etc.  To be installed correctly your insulation is:

  • Like a bucket of water! If you leave a pinhole, it will leak out!
  • Like a Blanket covering a Baby, it must be smooth and level.

Since the insulation is installed correctly, you will not find the R-Value degraded due to air movement.  The Infrared Image below shows brand new insulation in the wall that was side stapled and compressed.  The temperature outside was 15 degrees when this picture was taken and the insulation is not performing because it was installed wrong.


The finished home!

Now the home is finished.  It is time to close, the mortgage to be signed, and keys given to Latisha.

Left: Greg Gann, Vice Chair of the Wichita Habitat for Humanity Board addresses those gathered at the dedication of the newest Wichita Habitat Home. Watching to his left is Latisha and her children.




Right: Denise Bullock, Wichita Habitat Director of Finance gives Latisha the coupons covering her first year mortgage payments. Watching from front center are Chris Mitchell and Jennier Blundon with ICM, Inc. This home’s sponsor!



I am proud to have been a part of this home and the decreased Electric Bills Latisha will pay.  The bills will save about 23%, at current rates, from a house built to the 2004 codes. Since Wichita (or any area in South Central KS) does not have an Energy Code, it may well save her more.

You can find out more about Energy Star New Homes at the Energy Star Website. You can read about how a Certified Energy Rater can help a homeowner build a good home with Independent Third Party Verification.

The comments and opinions implied or expressed in this post are mine. They do not reflect those of any person or organization mentioned or involved with this project.

1 thought on “A Home for Latisha’s Family

  1. Ann Fox


    The energy efficiency of our homes is a LARGE part of what will make this home affordable for Latisha and her families. So many folks don’t consider the “operating” costs of the homes they purchase. .. . . .and Energy Star certification will make Latisha’s electric bills a lot easier to handle year round. . . .well if those kids of hers remember to close the doors behind them!! I know they will. .. it is a great family. Thanks for being a part of the process and for your support of Wichita Habitat for Humanity and affordable homeownership !


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.