Going Beyond Code With TJ Sayles

TJ Sayles is the owner and primary craftsman of Boise-based Two Plank Construction. He is an entrepreneur, business owner, family man, green building professional, and sustainability advocate.

TJ has been building and remodeling homes, commercial spaces, and restaurants for nearly 20 years getting his start working on new homes and remodels in Lake Takoe, California. He’s been working here in Boise since 2014.

Talking with TJ it doesn’t take long to understand his passion, experience, and expertise in green building and sustainable design and construction. “I’m trying to live my values every day. As a parent and doing what I do it makes me see things differently,” TJ said. “Living and building sustainably is incredibly important to me. I’m not perfect, nothing and nobody is perfect. But it’s important to try.”

Living and building sustainably is incredibly important to me. I’m not perfect, nothing and nobody is perfect. But it’s important to try.”

TJ doesn’t just talk the sustainability talk, we walks the walk and has the credentials, education, and experience to back it up. As of the publish date of this, he is the only Earth Advantage Certified builder in the state of Idaho. Earth Advantage’s mission is to “Accelerate the Adoption of Sustainable Homes Across the Northwest.”

After six months of classes and study TJ earned the builder’s “Earth Advantage Certification” in 2017. The Earth Advantage system focuses on providing a recognized and accepted green building standard for single and multifamily homes. The standards are rigorous and work in conjunction with other recognized national standards like Passive House and LEED for Homes. Additionally, Earth Advantage works with states, cities, and organizations across the country to advance residential building sustainability.

In addition to the Earth Advantage certification, TJ attends numerous conferences, educational seminars, and classes every year. “Advanced building techniques require advanced tradespeople. Certifications and education are important to professionals like me,” TJ said.

Advanced building techniques require advanced tradespeople. Certifications and education are important to professionals like me.

As we chatted the topic of conversation shifted to building codes. “There is a misconception that building or remodeling a house beyond the building code is exponentially more expensive. It’s better, but that doesn’t always mean its more expensive,” TJ said.

According to the FEMA website “Building codes are sets of regulations governing the design, construction, alteration, and maintenance of structures. They specify the minimum requirements to adequately safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of building occupants.”

“Most houses are simply built to code the way its always been done. Going beyond code, building a house that is sustainable using natural, safe, non-toxic materials is maybe, maybe more expensive.”

To TJ, Earth Advantage, and other like-minded organizations and people, going beyond the minimum acceptable building code and building better is crucial. Building to and certifying a house according to the Earth Advantage certifications means the house is verifiably energy-efficient, sustainable, and well-built. These homes are certified to use less energy, be better for the environment, be healthier, and more comfortable than a standard code-built home.

“In Boise, there are so many options, programs, materials, and techniques that nobody knows about. From Energy Efficient Mortgages, natural non-toxic materials to energy modeling there are so many opportunities for education,” TJ said.

At the end of the day I want to help educate people on the products and techniques that are avaialbe. There is a lot of misinformation and lack of information out there.

TJ’s primary motivation isn’t to build or remodel the biggest, most high-profile houses. “Building and remodeling this way is and should be accessible to everyone. I just want to help educate people and help make the people of Boise understand that sustainability is available and accessible for everyone.”

The best way to build or remodel a sustainable home is to work with someone you like and trust to build something you can afford.

TJ is a member of the Timber Framers Guild and was a 2019 City of Boise Livability Ambassador.


If you’re interested in learning more about green building, sustainability, remodeling, or the Earth Advantage Certification, TJ can be reached through his website twoplankboise.com or at (208) 996-3921.


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