GO WEST DEVELOPMENT APPLIES BUILDING SCIENCE PRACTICES
Homes should be built to last. At least that is Preston Campbell’s philosophy and it’s a big reason why he started Go West Development, a custom home construction company, that applies building science practices, that far exceed standard building codes.
“My grandad and uncle were builders and I worked summers with them starting in 5th grade. Th e same homes that they built then, now 50 years later, are still standing in perfect condition,” said Campbell. “Homes today aren’t built to that quality; most require a great deal of energy to operate, and many will break down sooner, or even worse, cause occupant health problems.”
Building science is a field of knowledge that applies physics and other sciences to building construction with a high focus on moisture and temperature control. Campbell was drawn to this practice early in his career after reading about it in Fine Home Building—the Bible for high-end home construction. He dedicated himself to learning everything he could about moisture management and the importance of providing fresh air for occupants.
Twenty years later, that interest has yet to quell. Preston has built dozens of homes with Go West Development applying these principles from the architecture draft to the final construction. Because of the laborious nature of these custom builds, they select a few custom home contracts a year.
“There are so many layers to building a home and so much of the technical aspect of the house gets covered within days of being installed. We only have one chance to get it right before it disappears for the life of the house, which is why we are testing and inspecting every element of the home to ensure it is done properly.”
The three biggest principles of building science that Campbell and his team focus on in every build, are moisture management, ventilation and temperature control.
“Water is the enemy. Every method we use is to stop water from entering the home,” explains Campbell. Wood can last forever if you keep it dry, but if you don’t, it will rot quickly. A staple of the Go West Development method is the use of a Rainscreen, a system of materials that is placed between the siding and the house that provides a protective layer where water can drain, and air can fl ow properly to keep moisture out of the house. “When you are building in a place like Park City, where the snow accumulates the way it does, it is absolutely essential to eliminate the accumulation of moisture and the Rainscreen helps us to do just that.”
Hand in hand with moisture management is the importance of proper ventilation inside the home. “In the ‘70s and ‘80s they started to tighten up walls to keep water out, but they didn’t consider all the moisture that humans make indoors.” That’s when Campbell says the enemy stopped being just the water outside the home, but also the water build-up inside which caused occupants to have “sick house syndrome.” Go West uses a Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRV) to provide balanced ventilation throughout the home. This fresh air system preserves indoor warmth or cool air and provides a 24/7 supply of fresh, filtered air.
One of the biggest line items on any custom-built home is the windows. Not only do they provide those picture-perfect viewpoints clients crave, but they are essential in efficiently controlling temperature. Before construction, Campbell works with the architect to make sure the location of the sun’s positioning through the seasons is considered. When you average as many sunny days as Park City, proper window placement will bring in enough natural light to maintain the right solar heat gain coefficient. Essentially, it’s using the sun’s natural energy to warm up your house in the winter and diverting some of that energy in the warmer months to help keep it cool.
In learning about this incredible practice, I asked Campbell why he feels so dedicated to this field of knowledge. Why does he keep going above and beyond every building requirement?
His entrepreneurial spirit and humble demeanor go for the easy answer: “Very few builders in Utah are doing it to the degree we are.” It’s true he has found a niche that offers a product his customers love, and his team can feel proud of.
The more we talked, the clearer it became that Campbell believes this niche shouldn’t even exist. He believes all structures should be built based on building science methodologies that guarantee longevity and occupant health. If that were the standard it would allow these materials to be produced at a lower cost, making them accessible for all.
“In my mind the family that lives in the $300,000 house has the same right to the fresh air as the people living in the $10 million dollar house.”