A Home Builders Common Sense Approach to Green Building

Green building is an idea of building homes smarter, there are several different steps in defining “green.” Starting with practicing “green” carpentry, this simply means looking for ways to construct houses in a way that will save on lumber without compromising the structure or longevity of the home. An example of which is using a double 2×10 header (common practice) on a non load bearing wall… Doing so wastes not only lumber and money, but robs the insulation value of the space above the window. This is just one example of “green” carpentry.

Another issue is wasted materials on the job site. If you own and contract your work out, see to it that your crews utilize the “ends of the board” or “cut-off” pieces; also using scrap lumber and sheeting as corner backers and bracing. Another way to practice “green” is the construction waste: Separating the construction waste by demolition materials, recyclables, and actual garbage. The proverbial “job site dumpster” will not be found on a true green builders job site. It is amazing how much cardboard comes off a job site!

Practicing “green” excavating and landscaping: The goal is simply to upset as little soil as possible while utilizing the resources on site. It’s always nice when there isn’t a need to haul soils in or out of the property. With creative excavating you can often can make simple but effective water run-off situations while eliminating the need for retaining walls. When possible the top soil is scraped and cleaned before it is pushed in a pile. That dirt can then be re-used once the site is ready for top soil. Trees and other landscape materials are also preserved and utilized.

Another common “green” practice is the use of renewable building materials. When it is prudent and sensible choose a product that comes from a renewable source, over a product that does not. As a green builder, you will be put into situations where you must make those decisions where renewable materials may be overpriced; or may use more fossil fuels in production and shipping than it’s worth.

Sometimes “green” is defined by using non toxic materials. Paint, treated lumber, insulation are just some examples of materials that have been known to have toxic properties in them. Pay attention to this issue and avoid any known products and materials that can be dangerous in a home.

Other times, “green” is referring to carbon emissions or the carbon footprint. I have done years of research finding ways to make homes more energy efficient. If you want to build a beautiful sustainable home look into building a single level home, using radiant heat as the heating source. You will have very little emissions due to the fact that this type of home utilizes an electric boiler with thermal storage, with the benefit of off-peak pricing. Electricity is an excellent, clean and affordable energy source. “Green” most definitely has a place when it comes to energy efficiency. Choosing “energy star” rated products and materials are also very important when going “green.” Insulation, windows, light fixtures, appliances, heating & cooling systems, sun exposure all come into play.

Renewable energy sources are yet another example of “green.” Building your home with a thermal storage system that provides affordable heat & cool storage. Ground source heat pumps, wind power and solar power are all excellent renewable energy sources. Currently the issue with them is the front end cost. Hopefully as time goes on the initial costs will come down and they will be a more viable option for the mainstream market.

Another example of “green” is building with materials and products that will stand the test of time. Building materials, fixtures and appliances that are more durable and longer lasting, save on the environment as well as your pocketbook. Steel roofs are just one example. The challenge here however is the front end costs. Another issue is the fast changing demands of the industry. I can still recall the $800 microwave that now sells for under $50.00. Point being your expensive latest and greatest could quickly become a dinosaur.

The size, footprint and design of a home can be “green” as well. It is seemingly coming to a realization that the big “McMansions” are a thing of the past. A modest, conservative floor plan that uses all of the homes square footage is becoming more and more of a focus in the new home market.

Finally, “green” can be about saving money. That’s right! Going “green” can save you some green! The concept is simple, choosing the right materials, appliances and making smart decisions are all about “green!” Making smart choices will stretch your dollar as well as save on our planet.

Whether we like it or not, “green” is here to stay. Before building your next home be sure to plan with “green” in mind. Be a creative home builder, constantly researching the latest and most innovative ways to build homes. By following these guidelines, you can rest assured that your home will be built in alignment with the “green” movement.

Remodeling or Building a House – Top 3 Reasons Couples Fight During Their Construction Project

The top two problems most couples argue about are money and sex. Money, not sex is the “hot” topic of discussion when building or remodeling a home. It takes money to start a project and is the cause of many fights in a relationship. The following are 3 reasons money triggers conflict in home building or remodeling.

1. Couples don’t know what their needs and values are. Some people don’t know what drives them or motivates them to build or remodel their home.

For example, Samantha wanted to update the main bathroom in their house. She was excited for a fresh, new look as it had been 10 years since she had done any decorating. Her husband Tim liked the bathroom the way it was and didn’t want to spend the money to fix it up. In fact, he didn’t like change very much and really didn’t want to spend money on “those kinds of things”.

Samantha and Tim would end up in arguments about the bathroom repeatedly when Samantha would bring up the subject. They both started resenting each other because they couldn’t come to an agreement.

Tim recognized that he didn’t want to keep arguing about the bathroom so he asked Samantha why it was so important to update the bathroom. After much discussion, Samantha acknowledged that since their last child went off to college, she was ready to make some changes to the house. The update was a way to honor their accomplishments as parents and symbolized a new chapter in their marriage. Samantha shared her hopes and excitement regarding the new phase in their relationship She got clear on her values and what is important to her.

Once Tim and Samantha talked this through they were on board with the project because the “why” behind the project was motivating for both of them. Instead of fighting about money, they were able to connect their spending for the bathroom update to the new chapter in their relationship.

2. Couples don’t have a financial plan for their project. This is the biggest problem for couples when they build or remodel. Actually, not having a sound financial plan in all areas of a coupleship will cause strife in a relationship. In a construction project, this issue just gets brought to the forefront rather quickly.

Before they knew it, John and Kelly had run out of money. They blamed each other for spending too much and had to stop building the cabin they had been dreaming about for years. This was very disappointing for them to say the least.

After seeking financial advice from their banker and counseling from their therapist they realized that not having a realistic financial plan or budget for the cabin was the demise of their dream. This topic was a much bigger issue for John and Kelly than just the cabin; their finances had always been a challenge in their relationship.

Once they started working on their harmful and unproductive money beliefs regarding a “budget” they were able to develop a financial plan to achieve their dream of building a cabin. The financial plan was a tool to help achieve their goals, not hinder it like they once believed.

3. Couples get overwhelmed. Building or remodeling a home is exciting and can be very overwhelming. For most people, they work their jobs, take care of their families and other obligations in addition to the construction project. This can be a recipe for disaster.

Mike and Neda were building their home on their own. Mike had just retired from the military and had a job where he could work from home. They had 2 school aged children and Neda homeschooled them. They had more flexibility than most people but soon the building project consumed their life. Every waking moment was filled with thinking, planning or building the house. Inevitably, this led to unproductive decisions that cost them more money in the long run.

Their family began to experience the consequences of being obsessed with the venture. Mike and Neda were physically exhausted, the kids felt neglected and their whole life revolved around building the house. Soon Mike and Neda felt crushed with the weight of responsibility with their new home. They had hit a wall!

They took some time off, regrouped and identified what was important and priority in their life. Family time and being healthy were their top priorities. To deal with being exhausted, they decided to set construction goals that allowed them to take time for family and rest their bodies. They backed off on how fast they wanted to complete their home. They took Sunday’s off so they could go to church as a family and spend the rest of the day with one another. They did not do anything construction or house related on Sunday’s.

Home construction can generate a sense of urgency with decisions to be made, deadlines to keep and other life responsibilities. In summary, avoid unnecessary conflict around money by doing the following three things before you start your project.

  1. Talk about why your project is important to you and how it connects with your values. Let your values drive your construction goals.
  2. Develop a realistic financial plan based on your values for your project. Follow the plan!
  3. Keep life in perspective. Go slow, be proactive and take breaks when needed.

A First-Time Homeowner’s Guide to Building a Duplex Home

A duplex home is a beautiful asset. Many people dream of having a duplex home but only a lucky few get the chance to actually have it. Those who are looking to build a home for the first time can consider a duplex house. But since they are new in home builder hunting, they have a high chance of coming across professionals who are not really scrupulous. Such professionals look for the opportunity to work with a first-time homeowner because first-time homeowners usually don’t have clear ideas about what it really takes to build a good duplex house.

If you are planning to own such a house, do not plan big at the beginning. Keep in mind that there will be problems in the masonry, plumbing or wiring. No matter how well-built the house is, there will be these problems. So, aim for a small duplex property.

However, if you compare the pros and cons of a duplex house, the pros will outweigh the cons. The good things about duplex houses are more in number than the bad things about them. But you need the right builders to reap the benefit of all the good things. Many reputable builders are there who specialize in duplex buildings. They usually erect duplex buildings in upscale areas of the town. You can hire them to build your duplex home, regardless of the place. If you can build a rapport with the builders, you can avail their services at reduced rates.

Before hiring the builder, you should do some research on their earlier works. Check their credentials and licenses. Make sure that they are who they say are. Bear in mind that efficient and reliable duplex house builders are not really easy to find.

Good planning is very important for a good duplex home. The architect has to chalk out a thorough plan that would suit your interest as well as get all the necessary permits from your local councils. Australia is a place where people are always on the lookout for a good duplex house. You need to find an efficient planner who can draw a fine floor plan for you. A skilled architect can maximize space in your home’s floor plan. They can make best use of the land and even leave room for landscaping, gardening or a patio.

As you may know, several structural limits are there that you have to abide by. For instance, you have to build your home in such a way that makes good use of space and does not encroach on your neighbors’ properties. The planning should not have any negative impact on the environment. Therefore, it is just as important to find an experienced architect as it is to find a reputable duplex home builder. Many people are building duplex homes today to enjoy two different homes on one block of land. The biggest benefit of this is that you can sell one of the homes and live in the other. That’s a remarkable monetary benefit. Not only does it cover your construction costs and brings in more money than what you had invested, it also lets you live on the land that you own. But to impress today’s home buyers, you need more than just quality home joinery services.

Model Building a House – A Challenging Hobby

Design and build a structure which represents the home you were born in, or a home located in your favorite city, town, country setting, or a beach cottage. Or build a fantasy, futuristic, or your dream house. I challenge you to be a model builder as a new hobby or professional challenge.

This type of model building is known as architectural model building.

The value of model making a structure is to present a visual and tactile scenario of a structure. Architects build models of structures to help clients see the final product before real construction begins.

Yes, there are computer programs which help to visualize the house, but it is different when you build a physical model originating from knowledge, creativity, imagination, knowledge and skilled hands.

Model Building Materials and Tools

The least expensive method is to use poster board and craft paper. Poster board is flexible, but as it is pieced together with paste or glue the structure will strengthen. Craft paper with designs of shingles, brick, stone, wood strips, and other textures is a short cut to add realistic texture in, on, and around the structure.

A pair of scissors, craft knife or scalpel, a metal ruler, paste or glue, cutting mat, and pencil and paint will be the minimum tools required. If you wish, you may want to invest in an architectural scale to help calculate model scale and dimensions should you decide to habitually construct models.

Building Steps

  1. House plan
  2. Floor
  3. Walls
  4. Roof
  5. Finishing touches

House Floor Plan

Make a copy of the actual house floor plans. Decide on the scale. For example, one inch may represent one foot. The scale has much to do with the size of the finished product and display area.

After the scale has been determined, draw or trace the plans, label, and then section cut. Accurately cut one measured piece at a time and place into position directly on the floor plan to avoid errors and to guarantee that the building will stand true and strong. The floor plan will produce the house as the end product or place the floor plan on a platform which will allow for landscaping display.

Interior and Exterior Decor

Using the floor plan and a picture or a photo of the finished house will assist you in choosing printed designs of wood, tile, or carpet to place on the floor as you move from room to room.

The walls which have windows may be represented with cellophane paper, a window pattern, curtains, or a window sill with flowers. Craft paper with brick, stone, wood, or siding for the exterior walls can be adhered with paste to the poster board cutouts as you assemble the pieces. Most supplies can be found at an arts and crafts store or a hobbyist model shop.

Flooring and Roof

Additional flooring will be needed if the house is a two-story building. The house may or may not have a basement or an attic. This is the importance of having a house plan.

The roof is the crowning glory. Craft paper may be used to represent shingles or other choices of roofing finishes.

Building a Custom Home This Year? Make Sure Things Go Smoothly!

While it certainly is exciting to build a custom home, it is also overwhelming. Since there are a variety of custom home builders and they may or may not have guides to help one through the process, it pays to get organized before the initial meeting. With all the decisions to make it’s a great way to make it all less stressful. A key step is to get it all out of one’s head and organize all the pertinent information via an easy to use method.

Changes to Existing Residence

When considering the home or residence currently being lived in, what are the favorite aspects? Is the back deck phenomenal? What about all the natural light. Any elements that one would like to incorporate in the new build they should list out.

Now, make a list of the things that aren’t working well. Anything that needs to be improved goes in this list, along with possible solutions. It helps to walk through the current residence and make notes in each room.

List the Most Important to Least

Elements that are most important should be listed or charted so they can be implemented in the new house. The more specific the description the better for the custom home builders to understand. One could even have the builder walk through and see these elements. Anything that’d be difficult to live without should be included. This list will likely change a bit throughout the process but it’s a great start.

For all the information about to be built and collected, a binder with tabs or another type of notebook, even digital is great. Include the names of custom home builders, architects, designers, and contractors in the binder for easy access. Also, include pictures of rooms that are attractive and have decorative elements. Finally, a copy of the budget should be included so everything is within negotiating distance at any given moment. Keeping everything centralized will soothe the stress level.

Prepare the Current Home for Sale or Departure

The sooner one gets their current home ready to vacate the better. Take the time given by the chosen custom home builders and divvy it up as to what things will be completed where living now. Decluttering, yard sales, improvements and listing with a real estate agent are all vital steps to preparing to move out and on!

The best part of getting all this done now is that when it comes time to move it will be much easier. There are plenty of moving checklists online that can be printed out for convenience.

Hope for the Best – Plan for the Worst

It’s scary to read, yes, however it’s better to be mentally prepared. No matter how long a custom home builder says it’ll take to complete something, plan on it taking about 20% longer at least. There are always things to do even if the timing stays on schedule. Plan days so that when something unexpected arises there will be plenty of time on the schedule to tackle it.

Also, when it comes to budget take off about 20% of the total and plan for it. This will be for any unforeseen circumstances. Even with the most careful planning, something is bound to come up that could be an extra expense. On the flip side, something may be less expensive and money is saved.

Working with custom home builders can be stressful, but that stress can be managed. Get a strong plan in place and get to know the process so that there will be mostly success and fun.