HERS ratings are fast becoming a norm for residential new construction. In 2008, 100,000 homes received a HERS rating. In 2016, we passed the 100,000 market in just the first half of the year. The growth in HERS ratings has in turn elevated HERS raters into an increasingly important advisory role for many builders. More than just providing a score, raters frequently influence the specification and purchase of energy-related home products, train subs on proper installation, perform QA, troubleshoot and of course provide needed building science knowledge. All this begs one question: what do builders think about this new player in the space?
Research Provides Some Answers
We wanted to get some insight into this question, so we went to the source. Over the first half of 2016 we conducted two rounds of qualitative research with residential builders, first a focus group with a set of ten diverse builders (mix of geographies, home types etc.). Next we conducted ten one-on-one interviews with a separate set of builders to further explore some key issues that arose during the focus group. Some interesting themes emerged:
- Builders want a lot from raters. The expectations ranged from having a strong building science expertise and knowledge of the latest products/techniques to more advanced areas like help marketing energy efficient homes. Builders did not explicitly acknowledge that these are very different subjects, and perhaps even different skill sets.
- Disagreement on expectations vs. value adds. We tried to understand what builders felt was a must in terms of working with a rater vs. services that are value ads. Building science knowledge was the universal need, but beyond that respondents were mixed. For example, some felt training subs on proper installation was a given, others a value add.
- Catch-22s could be a challenge. Builders would sometimes say “I want the rater to back my approach with the homebuyer” while others would say “I want the rater to share ideas, not just rubberstamp my approach”. Balancing these competing concepts could prove tricky for raters.
These are just a handful of the findings. More details on what builders expect from raters, and examples of how raters can exceed expectations, can be found in our free guide.