Choosing the Ideal Building Company

There are many sides to building residential buildings. Many constructions can be seen mushrooming in all parts of the world. However, it is important to find the best building company to make sure that they can tackle all the issues that may arise. Some of the issues that may face the companies include short cash flows, the high cost of building materials and so on. Most of the building companies that have failed are usually the smaller contractors who tried to expand very quickly.

When engaging with the residential builders, there is information, that one has to ask so as to understand whether the company is robust or not. It is important to deal with a company that has a reputation that is long and well established. There are many companies in the construction industry that fail every year due to receivership and liquidation. The most common trait of such companies is the fact that they were still in the infancy stages and were under five years in operation.

What happens if a company fails?

Sometimes a building company may fail for one reason or the other. In such a case, the subcontractors and the homeowners suffer a lot financially. This is because they are caught in the failed process. The homeowners are often protected by a guarantee that covers the deposit loss or non-completion of any project. This is what gives the homeowners a lot of confidence. It is important for the customers to be very careful and only pay the sum of money agreed and depending on the stage of the work completed.

A building company should be very conscious about its cash flows. Most of the companies that have failed before do so because of time delays or sometimes post-rebuild the kind of delays from the insurance companies. There are managers who fail to concentrate on the finances and instead keep on seeking out some new clients. Sometimes the staff may need to take time off due to illness or injury and thus drag the schedule behind. In most cases, the smaller companies are greater impacted because of the limited number of staff.

With the current economic situation, everything seems to be rising in price. There are things like scaffolding have to stay at the site longer than before to adhere to the set safety laws.

How homeowners should find the right partner

To ensure that you find the best building partner, the traditional method can be applied where you ask for recommendations regarding the best player in the market. It is important to get out and see the kinds of projects that the potential companies are working on and get a feel of the quality. You should also talk to other people who have already been through a building experience and get their opinion and recommendations.

If you find that a builder has some projects that have stalled, it is a very bad sign and should be your reason for thinking deeper about your options.

If a builder happens to mention things such as provisional costs or if they say that, the prices will be confirmed later, that is a contract to avoid at all costs.

A Few Home Inspection Plumbing Basics

When a home inspector inspects a home, plumbing is one of the critical systems he examines for his report to you. Naturally, one of the first things he will do is to check faucets and fixtures, looking for leaks. According to the American Water Works Association, almost 15 percent of all the water used in a typical household is wasted through plumbing leaks, leaky faucets and wasted water.

Finding and fixing leaks will save money on water and energy bills. Furthermore, water damage to floors and the foundation is all too common and must be dealt with to prevent further problems.

Also, though it sounds silly and unnecessary at first, your home inspector will make sure cold water comes from the right side and hot water from the left when faucets are turned on. That’s the conventional standard. You wouldn’t want anyone to be surprised by getting scalded in the shower because they thought they were turning on the cold water.

Your inspector will check the type and condition of water pipes, which are usually made of copper, brass, or galvanized steel. Copper is the most desirable material, with brass next, and galvanized steel the least desirable.

Copper is best for water distribution piping. It lasts the longest and is usually trouble free. As for brass pipes, mineral content in the water affects their durability. White mineral deposits on brass pipes means there are pinhole leaks. This shows the pipes are deteriorating and may need replaced at some point in the future.

Galvanized steel pipes corrode on the inside which constricts water flow. It’s like trying to merge three lanes of highway traffic into two or even one. When these pipes are in poor condition, using more than one water fixture at a time causes problems. For example, if someone is taking a shower, avoid flushing the toilet, using the dishwasher or the washing machine because the shower will either become very hot or cold.

When you’re purchasing a home, your inspector should tell you what material the plumbing pipes are made of and what condition they’re in. Replacing water distribution piping is quite costly, should it be necessary.

Your inspector should also let you know about the water supply pipe that brings water into the home. Again, copper is the best material because, if the pipe is made of galvanized steel, it could have the same corrosion problem noted above. If this pipe is made from lead, excessive amounts of lead may be leaching into the water, which poses a health hazard. The best solution is to replace this pipe. However, this costs thousands of dollars.

If contaminants such as lead are coming into the home’s water supply, consider adding a water filtration system where water enters the building. Also consider adding a water treatment system in the kitchen where water is used for drinking and cooking.

The water heater is another important item your inspector will check. If it’s a gas water heater, it must be installed properly and allow for good ventilation. A metal flue pipe must let toxic gases flow up and out of the home through a chimney. Improper ventilation will result in accumulation of toxic and deadly carbon monoxide. If the flue pipe slopes downward it should be repaired and replaced. Heat from the water heater’s gas combustion must rise upward, as it is meant to do.

These are just some of the plumbing issues your home inspector’s report will address. A home’s plumbing is one of the most important areas in need of attention before a home is purchased or sold. Spotting and taking care of problems now will keep many problems in the future at bay.

Building a Shed In Your Backyard Can Be Achieved With Limited Woodworking Experience

Did you know you can build a storage garage such a wooden storage shed in your backyard with little or no woodworking experience? All you need is step-by-step shed construction plans that will help in every step of the construction process. These plans should help you complete your shed construction process in a timely and cost-effective manner.

These shed plans should a number basic aspects of the construction process. These must include the following:

1. What Type of Shed Is Best Suited For My Type of Property and Needs.

The type of shed you will build often comes down to the amount of woodworking experience you have. This includes any construction experience you have building a home and other structures such as barns. You may want to considered the pent roof shed as it is the simplest of the various designs to build. The pent roof shed uses a mono roof design. This means the roof is one piece and consist of a single pitch. It is great for storage and can be easily constructed next to a building such as barn to give it added structural support.

Another shed to consider is the clerestory style shed. This shed is excellent for storage and can be used as a work place or office clerestory windows located in the roof. These windows allow the sunlight penetrate deep into the structure. However this type of shed will be more difficult to build than the pent roof shed.

2. The Foundation Needed With Regards To The Location and Topology of Your Backyard.

The type foundation will also need to be considered. Your foundation will help keep the structure stable and keep it from moving. A concrete foundation is best for this but will be more expensive to build. A skid foundation will not be as expensive to build but will give you the opportunity to move the structure if need be depending on the topology and environment you live in. This type of foundation may be the best option as your shed may need to be moved to a different location because of environment impact on your backyard..

3. The Type of Roof Your Backyard Shed Will Use

The type roof your shed will use depends on a number of factors. One of these factors will be your woodworking experience. Another will be the function of your shed. The gable roof shed, which uses a two piece roof with each side having the same slope, will be great for storage. However this type of shed will be more difficult to build than a pent roof she. The barn style shed could also be considered as the space underneath gives you even more storage space.

Whatever the type of shed you choose to build consider using proven shed construction plans. Using proven shed plans will help you save time and money.

Best Regards

How to Build a Cobblestone House

He huffed and he puffed and he blew the house down – certainly not if the house was built with cobblestones. Building cobblestone houses was a folk art that flourished in upstate New York from 1825 until the Civil War in 1860. Many of the 700+ cobblestone homes that were built survive today, a testament to their fine craftsmanship.

To build your cobblestone house you’ll need 5 main components: cobblestones, soft lime mortar, wood for windows and doors, cut stone blocks for quoins, lintels and sills, and lots of cheap labor. Lets take them one at a time – assuming the cheap labor is you, your family, friends, relatives and anyone else you can convince to do manual labor for $1.00 to $1.50 per day.

The first step is to gather the cobblestones. This may take several years. Cobblestones are small fist-sized stones deposited by the glaciers that swept from the north millennia ago. Rough-shaped ones can be gathered from the farm fields or rounded, lake-washed ones can be gathered along the shore of Lake Ontario. You’ll need over 14,000 cobblestones, so get cracking. As the manly work of stone gathering progresses, the women and children can be kept busy sorting the stones by size and color. You’ll want to use the finest, smoothest, similar-sized stones on the front of your house, and save the rougher, odd-sized ones for the back, sides and interior of the walls.

While this is progressing, you better start preparing the soft lime mortar. Don’t skimp and use Portland cement. It dries too fast and will pop the cobbles out as it dries. Soft lime mortar is made of lime, sand and water. Find limestone (calcium carbonate) or dolomite (magnesium carbonate) and break it into pieces. Burn it within heaps of logs for 2 to 3 days to create quicklime. Add water to the quicklime to create a hydrated lime sludge.

Mix in 5 to 9 bushels of sand to 1 bushel of lime sludge. Age the mortar in a ground pit covered by sand or cow manure for up to a year.

Fell a bunch of trees. They’ll need to be hand-hewn to build the doors and windows – each custom fitted to a specific opening. Also, find a quarry where you can get limestone or sandstone blocks for the corners of your building (quoins) and as structural support over the doors and windows (lintels) and under the windows (sils).

Now the fun begins. Start by laying the stones in walls 18 to 20-inches-thick. Build the wall with rubble stone, faced by cobbles. Use elongated or triangular shaped stones to tie the cobbles to the rubble wall. Use the soft lime mortar as your glue, getting fancy with straight ridges between the horizontal and vertical rows of cobbles. Build about 3 rows (or courses) per day so the mortar has time to slowly begin setting. It will take 35 years for the mortar to fully harden. Lay in the cut-stone blocks at the corners to create quoins. To finish the inside, apply horsehair plaster to the stone.

Once the walls are above reach, you’ll have to build scaffolding by burying poles in the ground 6 to 8 feet from the wall and tying cross members from the wall to the poles with hickory witches. Then lay planks on the cross members to provide a building platform. As the walls rise, you’ll have to repeatedly raise the height of the scaffolding. Attach a crane and tackles to the highest pole to winch up buckets of cobblestones and mortar.

Hand build your windows and doors to fit each opening and hand-hew trusses for your roof. Winter is a good time to do much of your carpentry work. Depending on how many workers you have and their skill level, you may finish in a year. More likely, the building process will take about 3 years.

When you’re done, you’ll have a fine home that will stand for centuries. Go see for yourself. A new guidebook called “Cobblestone Quest – Road Tours of New York’s Historic Buildings” (Footprint Press,, 1-800-431-1579) offers 17 self-guided car or bicycle tours for viewing the diversity of cobblestone buildings clustered within a 65-mile radius of Rochester, NY, and no where else in the world.

“Cobblestone Quest – Road Tours of New York’s Historic Buildings”

By Rich & Sue Freeman

17 self-guided car or bicycle tours for learning the history and observing the diversity of unique cobblestone buildings in Western New York State.

208 pages, 20 maps, 85 photos, indexed, paperback, 10 X 7 inches

Price: $19.95, ISBN# 1930480199

Footprint Press, Inc.,


Photos available – email [email protected] or call 585-421-9383.

Installing Manufactured Stone on a Home

Installing manufactured stone on the exterior of your home is the latest design rage. It can really add some major flair to an otherwise boring design. But at $18 to $20 per square foot for installation, it’s critical to get done right the first time. So what are the most important points to consider when installing manufactured stone on the exterior of a home?

Water Resistive Barrier

It’s extremely important to install a water resistive barrier between the stone and the face of the home. This barrier will keep moisture from getting into the wall cavity and destroying the structure. One of the simplest vapor barriers is a roofing felt. Typically, two layers of 15 lb. felt paper are used. Several other options are available on the building materials market so check with your architect or local building department for the best choice for your project and location.


These are installed over any openings in the wall to prevent water from getting into the wall cavity. Flashing materials should be installed over all windows and doors. The top of these flashing should terminate up under the water resistive barrier and adhere to the face of the home.

Metal Lath

If you are installing manufactured stone over a framed wall, it will be necessary to use a metal lath over top of the vapor barrier. This lath is typically stapled to the front wall of the home and is made of a corrosion resistant material. Galvanized nails or staples should be used to secure the lath to the home.

Scratch Coat

After the metal lath is installed, a scratch coat of mortar, type N or S, is installed around and over top of the lath. The purpose of this surface is to provide a solid bond between the stone and the house. The scratch coat should be installed at a thickness of about one half inch. Once the mortar thumbprint hard, the surface should be scored to provide a surface to adhere the stone to.


Prior to installing stone, the scratch coat surface and the back of each stone should be moistened. Then, each stone is buttered with one half inch of mortar. The mortar should cover the entire back side of the stone. Then each stone is pressed into place on the wall. Ideally, installation will start at the top of the wall to prevent splatter of mortar droppings on the stone below.

Manufacturer Recommendations

It’s extremely important to read and follow all stone manufacturer recommendations. Each product has specific characteristics that require certain tweaks to the installation.

Installing manufactured stone can be a great way to enhance the look of your home. And with the proper installation techniques, it will stand the test of time.