Insight Homes Disrupts the Marketplace

Delaware homebuilder Insight Homes is honored as Builder of the Year for honing their homebuilding craft by pushing the green boundaries with homes that just make more sense

By CARINA CALHOUN

Proving that sustainable homebuilding is not simply a fad to save the environment, Insight Homes was sparked by the curiosity of Founder/Owner Rob Lisle while having his own home built. Originally named 36 Builders, the company started out as an experiment to build a technology-driven, cost-effective, energy-efficient home, and has grown to become one of Delaware’s most innovative homebuilders. With a goal to build homes that are structurally superior, exceed national standards for energy efficiency, and integrate better indoor air quality, the homes are backed by science without sacrificing style. Insight Homes has been named Green Home Builder’s 2017 Builder of the Year.

Building homes that are healthier is part of Insight Homes’ culture where building that way is not difficult, it is a constant mindset in how they build things.
Rob Elliott, President of Insight Homes says, “The founder of our company started it as an experiment. He really believed that once he disrupted the marketplace, that other builders would be forced to make adjustments.”

According to Elliott, Insight Homes is based on two founding principles. One is ensuring the customer understands the advantages of a better designed and better built home. Through online educational videos, marketing collateral, partnerships with manufacturers, awards and more, the customer is constantly being given pathways to develop a deep understanding of what it means to live in a home by Insight. Additionally, the homebuilder incorporates a Science Center—where, as Elliott notes, “every other homebuilder has a sales center, we have a science center.” The Science Center reveals a hands-on approach with every part of the efficient building elements on display and explains how each play a part in the overall home performance and comfort level.

Insight takes into account lighting, water, air quality, insulation, windows, site conditions, local climate, space heating and cooling, and more.
Elliott says when someone comes into a community and asks, ‘Can you tell me about that community?,’ we say “‘Sure, but you have to understand the house’ and once they understand the house they go ‘Wow, I didn’t know any of this was capable or possible.’” From there, it’s a matter of finding the customer a community that fits their needs. It flip-flops how people buy homes—at least how Insight customers buy homes. “It’s a longer road, but we also know there are enough customers that once they hear the story and understand it, they want it. And we have proven that over and over. Our houses are very addicting when you know the whole story behind them.”

As one of the only known builders with a building scientist on staff, according to Elliott, the various products and building techniques are constantly being measured to provide the most comfortable, healthy environment with the best return on investment for the homeowner.

The interior of homes are comfortable with healthier indoor air quality and modulating HVAC systems keeping the temperature the same throughout the entire home.

Insight takes into account lighting, water, air quality, insulation, windows, site conditions, local climate, space heating and cooling and more.

For instance, most homebuyers don’t know that indoor air quality is two to five times worse than outdoor air quality, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Every Insight home includes a central vacuum system that exhausts outdoors. A MERV-13 filter with a surface area 20 times of a standard filter, takes 97 percent of dust and allergens out of the air with an access panel in the interior of the wall.

The second principle comes from the company itself. Building homes that are healthier is part of Insight Homes’ culture. Elliott says, “[Once] the customer understands the advantages, as a company, you can create a culture where building that way is not that difficult it just becomes a constant mindset in how you build things. Every part of our fiber and every part of our people, it’s just how we think.”

After previously being part of communities with other builders or within communities that have already been developed, Insight has recently started developing their own communities—with two 300-lot projects expected to open next year. “We are now taking control of developing our own communities and we can now spread the green throughout the community itself,” says Elliott. “Meaning we’re in 100 percent control, so small things like LED streetlights we can implement.”

“We are definitely a green homebuilder, but we are not green solely for the fact it helps the environment— yes, we love that—but it’s more about the return on investment with everything we do,” explains Elliott. “If it costs more for a customer to own or use, then we’re not accomplishing our goals.”

With a homebuilding process using guidelines of the Department of Energy, multiple building science companies and the American Lung Association, Insight Homes plans to continue to provide the most efficient and healthy homes in the Mid-Atlantic in hopes to disrupt the status quo of the larger production builders in the nation. Elliott says, “We will continue to apply pressure in the area through our sales to disrupt the area in terms of making other builders have to up their game.”
With a building scientist on staff, various products and building techniques are constantly being measured to provide the most comfortable, healthy environments with the best return on investment for the homeowner.

Carina Calhoun is the Editor-at-Large for Green Home Builder magazine. She may be reached at ccarina@penpubinc.com.