The 8 Rules of Building Performance

"Understanding the basics of building performance is key to designing homes that are built to last—and there's no better person to walk us through the rules of the road than Mark LaLiberte."

Jim Coshow


When building a home, durability is more important than either cost or aesthetics: How will the structure stand up to external forces and the elements? This question is important no matter what climate you're in, but especially in a damp climate like the Pacific Northwest. Contractors and homeowners alike value durability. Today, with help from our friends at Construction Instruction, we're diving into the basics of building performance and how to think about a home's durability.

When building a home, so many decisions around materials can be made based on price and aesthetics—but to build a durable home, the quality of the materials matters just as much, if not more. Durable homes perform better in the elements and keep the people inside safer by managing moisture—keeping mold at bay, retaining structural integrity longer, and facilitating good airflow that keeps unhealthy air from getting trapped inside.

The first step in building a durable home is understanding the basics of building performance. As our friend Mark LaLiberte says, building performance boils down to a handful of basic principles of physics. Mark is a veteran in the construction industry and an expert in building performance and energy efficiency. He breaks down building performance into eight digestible principles:

  1. Heat flows from warm to cold.
  2. Moisture moves from warm to cold.
  3. Moisture moves from more to less.
  4. Air out equals air in.
  5. Air behaves like a fluid.
  6. Rain follows gravity.
  7. Everything gets wet—let it dry.
  8. All of this happens at surfaces and connections.

In today's featured video from Construction Instruction, Mark walks us through these eight concepts and translates them into building terms that will help you understand how air and moisture flow through a home—and how to manage their effects by choosing the right materials. Through his explanation, you’ll gain a greater understanding of how building materials directly affect the performance and durability of our homes and how to avoid the unhealthy side effects of poor building performance. Without further ado, let's jump into Mark's Eight Rules of Building Performance.

Our homes keep us healthy and safe, and at Dunn, we work hard to provide you with the information you need to have systems that both function and improve a home. For more information on building performance and durability, be sure to check out how climate affects energy efficiency, practical tips to improve a home’s energy efficiency, and how to optimize insulation in your home.