Q: What's the paper-like wrapping I see on new homes before the exterior siding goes on?

A: Increasingly, quality-conscious builders add an extra layer of weather protection around the outside of the house called an air barrier or "housewrap." Installed as a continuous material just behind the siding, stucco, or brick finish, the barrier blocks the exchange of air through the structure to help reduce heating and cooling costs; it can also help block moisture from getting into the walls and damaging the insulation and framing.