Tips for Making Use of Natural Lighting When Building a House

Natural light is bestowed by nature free of any charge. The more of it that enters your house, the more advantages you’ll get from it. Imagine the cost you’ll be able to save from your electricity bills. It also give a refreshing glance of your house because it imbibes positive energy. Here are some tips to let natural light help enlighten your house.

  1. Build house to where the sun is oriented. Most builders recommend to have most windows face the south direction. They will get the most sunlight than have it lost. According to experts, north light is more pleasing and free of glare.East and west-faced windows gets more sunlight but they can be difficult to manage and can trap more of the sun’s energy and give a hotter feel. If you can’t avoid having east and west-faced windows, be sure to have low E-coatings on those windows. Deciduous trees can also help give shade during the summer months, and let more sunlight enter during the winter months because they shed leaves.
  2. Have light control materials in your windows. Curtains and blinds are light control materials that will help natural light enter your house depending on the amount you want. During the first hours of the morning, it is good to get sunlight in because it gives a refreshing energy to move. As the day heightens, the curtains and blinds will help you control the amount of sunlight. They may seem low tech but they can help keep in or keep out the amount of sun’s light you just need.
  3. Have daylight harvesting system installed. This is an automated system which through the help of sensors and detectors can control the light inside your house. It combines natural light and artificial light to illuminate the parts of the house. This system detects the natural light intensity and signals the artificial light to give off the right percentage of luminescence to give an atmosphere that will be conducive for movement and productivity.

Natural light is important in a house. Aside from illumination, it gives health benefits particularly to the skin which needs the natural vitamin E that it gives. However, maintaining the amount of natural light that enters the house is still within the control of the owner. Through the tips given above, it is hoped that you somehow grasped the general idea of how to keep natural light inside your house just as you need it.

Green Home Building Trends For 2010

Although the building industry had a dark year in 2009, Green building seemed to somehow stick out and shine. According to the Multiple Listing Service date, certified sustainable green new homes actually rose the past year in the northern west coast areas like Portland and Seattle. This trend is believed to spread over the U.S. and green building is expected to grow within new home sales. Already new home sales are on a rise from a year ago with March of 2010 seeing the biggest jump in new home sales in 47 years. So what trends can we expect to see in 2010 in green new homes?

1. Energy Monitoring Home Dashboards. The increasing demand for energy efficient homes, the development of a custom web-based display panel within the home, will show real-time home energy use. This sophisticated produced can break down the real time energy use of homeowners appliances, which will help a homeowner change the way they use their electricity. For example the way an electric car miles per gallon indicator encourages the owner to adapt their driving habits, new homes that offer these Dashboards may encourage homeowners to reach lower energy use. Dashboards will also increase the probability that homeowners of green homes will reach the Energy Performance Score.

2. Energy Efficient Green Home Labeling. Like the miles per gallon label you would find when searching for a new car, energy rating systems for new homes has become popular among legislators. This energy rating system will make it easier for home buyers to see the energy efficiency of one green home compared to another. Each homes score will be available on the MLS.

3. Lenders and Green Homes Make for a Better Bottom Line. Lenders have come to the conclusion that green new homes are better for their bottom line. By seeing a trend of green home owners being more responsible and less probable to default on a loan, due to the fact that most green home owners are more accountable and likely to place higher value on home maintenance. Home owners are also less likely to default due to the decrease in energy coast within their green home. Lenders are now working to get reduced-rate loans and insurance packages for green new home owners.

4. Less Is More. Back when the housing market was booming, a larger homes lead to greater equity. However since that “bubble burst” this is no longer the case. With energy prices expected to rise over time, and the Federal Reserve likely to raise interest rates during 2010, home buyers are likely to feel more at ease with smaller new homes.

5. Water Conservation. Did you know that residential water usage accumulates for more than half of the public water supplied? The EPA decided in December 2009 to implement WaterSense. WaterSense specifies that new homes will need to reduce water use by 20 percent than conventional new home. Mandatory energy labeling in Europe already documents the water efficiency.

6. Net Zero Homes. A net zero home is a green home that generates more energy than it uses over a year. This is done by building a fairly small new home that is extremely energy efficient and uses on site renewable energy like wind, solar or geo-exchange systems.

Home Construction Loan – Why Building Your Dream Home is a Better Investment Than Buying

Picture your Dream Home. Does it have a hot tub? A screening room? A subterranean garage for your collection of vintage roadsters? Everyone knows what their dream home looks like. So why do so few people actually build it? The truth is that building the home of your dreams often costs less than buying a house on the market. All it takes is good plans, an experienced contractor, and the right financing. Today, that means a construction loan.

In the past, the federal prime rate was so high that it made construction loans very expensive. People didn’t want to pay large sums to borrow funds, so they would finance their home construction with a line of credit on an existing home or by spending their cash reserves. Problems often would occur if the funds ran out or if the project went over budget.

With lower rates now available, more and more people are turning to construction loans. Not only are they economical, they also provide built-in protection for your project to ensure it is completed on time and on budget.

Even with dropping home values, home construction nearly always costs less than purchasing a home on the market. This includes buying a lot or a “tear down” and building from the ground up, as well as adding improvements to your own home or a property purchased out of foreclosure. Borrowing money for these types of projects is better than draining your own funds because, as all good real estate investors know, using leverage increases the return on your investment and allows you to invest your money elsewhere. With a construction loan, borrowers only need to invest a minimum amount of funds into the project (generally 5-20% of total project cost) and can finance the rest. Simply put, using debt to finance the building makes your home an even greater investment.

They also offer safeguards that help keep your project on time and under budget. First, the bank issuing the loan works hard to ensure you are working with a reputable builder. Most banks require that the construction loan request include a contractor package that needs to be approved. If your builder has bad credit problems, past lawsuits or has received complaints to the licensing board, the bank will generally catch this information and reject your builder. Second, the bank issuing your loan watches the construction process from start to finish. Unlike loans that are issued as a lump sum, with a construction loan the bank requires that your approved contractor submit for draws to get reimbursed as each phase of work is completed. The bank even schedules site visits to ensure that the work is done in a satisfactory manner and on time. The bank is offering to do due diligence on your builder and project.

Upon completion of the construction phase, some loans seamlessly rolls to permanent mortgage which is why they are known as a “one time close”. What will you have achieved by building your own home? Even more than the satisfaction of living in your dream home, the result and impact on your balance sheet can be dramatic. Upon completion, you will own a home valued at the full market price of a new home for the cost of the land purchase and construction, often as much as 25-30% less than the retail market value.

Building Green – Getting Started

Building green is becoming more and more important as our resources dwindle, and we become more aware of the sensitivities to toxins that many people have. With the price of oil and natural gas rising, saving energy is a big concern. The use of green construction in home and business developments has started really taking off, and many people are interested in making their developments environmentally friendly. One survey found that at least fifty percent of all builders should be producing at least some green developments by the year 2010. However, once you’ve decided to build green, it can be difficult to know where to start. If you’re an investor or developer who’s interested in learning about the process of green building, here are a few basics to help you get going.

Currently, the building industry is centered on those practices which are least expensive, and easiest to implement. Unfortunately many of these practices aren’t all that green. From the use of adhesives and materials that can off-gas, to the creation of structures that waste heat and water, a conventional building makes a big impact on the world around us. You can make buildings greener in a number of different ways, including using natural and non-toxic materials, improving air quality, reducing waste of energy and water, employing renewable energy sources, and reusing materials whenever possible.

For those developing a property, or investing in a development, building green can be especially difficult. Individuals who are building on a small scale can more easily exercise control and find green solutions. Larger developments require advance planning, and there isn’t currently a standard process for green building. However, working with experienced professionals can help a lot. For instance, it’s often a good idea to work with an energy consultant, who can help you decide how to implement designs that will allow your buildings to conserve energy more effectively. Conservation of energy is one of the biggest concerns related to green building, since most buildings do not make efficient use of power. Correct building orientation to make use of passive solar design, efficient heating and cooling systems, and high grade insulation are just a few of the options you can put in place to make your developments more energy efficient.

You should also try to work with contractors who have prior experience with green building. This will help head off possible problems later on. A contractor who has built green structures in the past will have better familiarity with the methods and materials that are used. They’ll also be more willing to work with you, even if the process required to make the building more environmentally friendly means more work on their end.

Since building with environmentally friendly and recyclable materials can be more expensive than conventional building, developers should also make sure they do their research in advance. Look at the cost of materials available, and design your budget appropriately. Be sure to factor in the increase in sale price for green building, and the improvements in energy efficiency when you decide what materials are most cost effective. Materials that are more expensive now will bring savings down the road. Even if you’re developing the property for resale, buyers will be aware of this, and may be willing to offer a higher price.

Development often requires the removal of existing structures. Standard practice is to demolish these structures, with the rubble usually being taken to the local landfill. To make the process of getting rid of unwanted structures more environmentally friendly, focus on deconstruction rather than demolition. Deconstruction takes longer, but allows the materials to be reused or resold, and saves on tipping fees. If the structures in question are older, they may have been built from materials which are no longer available, like large dimension old-growth hardwood, which can be reused in other buildings and is superior to softwood dimensional lumber.

Another place where many modern buildings create waste is water use. Very few structures are designed to make efficient use of available water supplies. As more sources of water become polluted, and aquifiers are emptied, water conservation becomes a greater concern. Plan on using features that save water in your new development. These can include installation of ultra-low flow toilets and showers, faucet aerators and high-efficiency showerheads, efficient heating and cooling systems, and use of air-cooled equipment instead of water-cooled. In addition, it may be wise to designate a water efficiency coordinator for large projects.

The nationally accepted benchmark for green buildings is the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Standard. LEED certification provides independent, third party verification that your building project is an environmentally responsible one. Even if you do not choose to get this certification, being familiar with LEED standards can help you make the right choices when building green.

While getting started in green building can be intimidating at first, familiarity with standards and talking to experts in the field can make the process a lot easier. Energy and water conservation are two of the biggest concerns, with use of recycled or recyclable, non-toxic materials, and reduction of landfill use following. With a sound plan and the correct priorities, making your development a green one doesn’t have to be hard. Green developments are turning up everywhere, from water-saving condominiums built of recyclable materials where decaying industrial buildings used to sit, to schools and businesses designed to make the best use of energy while providing good air quality. Slowly, green building is becoming mainstream, so now’s a great time to get started.

Building Your Own Home in Shreveport Bossier City Louisiana Areas

What does it take to build your own home, to be your own contractor, to save money? In Louisiana an individual has the right to build their own home once per year. I’ve built several homes in the past, and each time was a learning experience. With this experience I have prepared for YOU a step by step guide to building a home from my point of view. This article is specifically taylored to building slab-on-grade homes in the Shreveport Bossier City area.

  1. Choose your home. Make a decision about which will be your next home. Once you decide what to build you’ll need to purchase house plans. One of my favorite places to look for house plans is W.L. Martin Home Designs. These guys have the most well constructed house plans I’ve ever seen, not to mention beautiful designs. Look above and check out the WL Martin home completed in 2005. If your framing crew ever complains about a WL Martin house plan, consider firing them for incompetency.
  2. Find some land. Now you have your house plans and you know what footprint your house will have the property. Shop around and find some land to build your new house on. Drive around, look in the newspaper, look on the internet. Find out what the restrictions are on the property. Many subdivisions have covenants (restrictions) describing what type of homes are allowed. If your house fits then great! If not, pick another house or another piece of land.

    Caution! Be on the lookout for contractors selling land requiring that you let them build the house for you. Not that there’s anything wrong with this; as a matter of fact I would require people let me build the house too. However, the focus of this article is building your OWN home.

  3. Finance the land. If you don’t have cash on hand find someone that will loan money for the land. If you are building the home immediately most mortgage companies have programs available. If it is months or years before you plan to build the home then contact David Ogletree at the Louisiana Land Bank. The Louisiana Land Bank has a program for future homesites which enables them to loan money for raw land. Their rates are competitive, and their service is fast.
  4. Get your costs together. There’s no skipping this step! Before you get a loan for building a home the bank will make you submit your cost estimate. I have provided a list for you which includes everything I bought for my last home project in 2005. I also provide you with names of people in the area who did a good job for me. Feel welcome to contact them and tell them I sent you. Please note that the purpose of this list is to provide you with a starting point and remind you of things that are often forgotten. You will need to edit this list to make it fit your requirements. These items are listed in the order I encountered them.

    • Land Cost – How much you pay for the land.
    • Land Clearing – You’ll need to hire a good dozer man to prepare your property for your home. For this task I recommend Roy McDowell from Webster Trucking. He has a laser level on his bull dozer that puts a nice grade on your site. His phone number is 318.949.4915.
    • House Plans – How much you paid for the house plans.
    • Permits – Be sure to obtain all required permits. These can be culvert permits, parish building permits, city permits, and more.
    • Builder’s Risk Insurance – Protect yourself against fires, theft, and a host of other unfortunate circumstances. Call Bobbie Smarr for Builder’s Risk Insurance at ICT Insurance Agencies 318.797.7400.
    • Portable Toilet service – When you gotta go, you gotta go. Keep your workers relieved at your job site.
    • Temporary Water Service – Contact the water service in your area and have them put a water meter in. There are several phases of construction that require water (ie. masonry).
    • House Pad – Find someone that can sell dirt and build the house pad for you. Don’t go too cheap here, or you’ll have a house sitting in a mud hole. For this task I recommend Roy McDowell from Webster Trucking. He has a laser level on his bull dozer that puts a nice grade on your site. His phone number is 318.949.4915.
    • Slab, Post Tension – Contact Drew Paschall with TBG, Inc. His phone number is 214.616.4841.
    • Driveway and sidewalks – Contact Drew Paschall with TBG, Inc. His phone number is 214.616.4841.
    • Temporary Electricity – Contact Bo Wilkinson at BW Electric at 318.949.8711. They have electric poles and will help you coordinate getting the temporary power on your job site.
    • Interim Loan interest – Be sure to remember this one. While it takes 3-12 months to build your home you’ll be paying interim loan interest on the money you have borrowed. I like to use 5% of the final borrowed amount to estimate how much interest I’ll pay over the life of the interim loan.
    • Framing & Lumber – Contact Drew Paschall with TBC, Inc. His phone number is 214.616.4841. Even if you use someone else for the construction of the slab make sure you don’t miss the pleasure of working with these people in framing your house. Their speed will save you money on your interim loan interest. They work in large crews and focus on YOU until they are finished with the job.
    • tape/float/texture/paint/stain – This process involves hanging sheetrock inside your home, preparing the sheetrock for texture, texturing the sheetrock, painting the house, and staining the cabinetry. For this task I have a strong preference for Mark Villarreal at Aim To Please. His home phone number is 318.949.8871. His cell phone number is 318.458.0079. Since this step in building a home is time consuming, Aim To Please’s painters work in large crews to complete your job in a shorter amount of time. This saves you money on interim loan interest.
    • Cabinets – Get your order in for cabinets at the same time you pour your slab. Doing it this way will prevent delays when it’s time to install them. Randy Peters and Tim Taylor build some beautiful cabinets. Contact them at 318.272.4598.
    • Cabinet knobs – Steer clear of fancy prices here. Get the cabinet knobs and stuff on Ebay! That’s what I did.
    • Countertops – Will it be formica, corian, granite, marble? Make the choice now. You need to know how much it will cost you.
    • Wood, tile, and carpet material and labor – Decide how the flooring will be laid out in your new home. For fair pricing and top notch workmanship contact BJ’s Flooring at 318.371.6823.
    • Electric/ethernet/security – Nobody does my electric work except BW Electric. Give them a call at 318.949.8711.
    • Air conditioning / Heating – Don’t cheap out here. Get a unit with a high seer rating and enjoy reduced electric bills. Look at the pictures above. The house completed in 2002 was 1,400 square feet with an average electric bill of $250/month. The house completed in 2005 is 4,000 square feet with an average electric bill of $160/month. Contacted Fertitta’s Air & Heat and let John come out and work his magic. Their phone number is 318.687.5966.
    • Masonry, labor, sand, mortar, lentils – Get with Jim Thomas at 318.377.3856 or Toby Whaley at 318.218.4803. Both of these guys have an excellent reputation in this area.
    • Plumbing, plumbing fixtures, tubs, faucets, toilets – Tommy Adkins’ phone number is 318.470.3490. He can provide you with a quote on your plumbing. I approve of their work, and I think you will too.
    • Trim Materials and Labor – This includes crown moulding, mantels, and anything else that might be fancy. Let Drew Paschall set you up. His phone number is 214.616.4841.
    • Insulation – Who else but Charles at AAA Insulators. His phone number is 318.949.3719.
    • Fireplace – Try Mike Cox at Bradley Brick. His phone number is 318.752.9933.
    • Garage doors – Whether your looking for the regular ones or the fancy insulated ones give Benny Cash a call at Overhead Door. His phone number is 318.865.7666.
    • Lighting fixtures and ceiling fans – No recommendations. Just find a place known for on-time delivery.
    • Dishwasher/stove/vent/microwave – No recommendations. Just find a place known for on-time delivery.
    • Refrigerator – No recommendations. Just find a place known for on-time delivery.
    • Exterior doors, interior doors – Contact Drew Paschall at 214.616.4841.
    • Stairway materials and labor – Contact Drew Paschall at 214.616.4841.
    • Windows – Contact Drew Paschall at 214.616.4841.
    • Roofing materials and labor – No recommendations.
    • Lawn Preparation for Grass – James San Angelo and his tractor can work wonders. Cell: 318.393.4923
      Home: 318.746.9985.
    • Grass, mulch and labor – Now is the best time to add a layer of compost to compliment your lawn installation. Eco Mulch & Sod can make all this happen for you. Their phone number is 318.865.5200.
    • Landscaping -Richard Matthews at Avant Garde-ner has a love for landscaping and it certainly shows. Let him help you design your landscape, and you’ll feel he’s as interested in your project as you are. His phone number is 318.797.7183.
    • Mirrors and shower doors – Glass Doctor can make anything your heart desires. Give them a call at 318.221.3503.
    • Gutters – Harmon & Sons installed the gutters on the house completed in 2005. No matter how much of a handyman you think you are, you’re not going to equal the quality of this work with stuff you bought from the store. Their phone number is 318.671.9668.
    • Appraisal Fee – Don’t forget the appraisal fee. Once you finish the house the bank will want an appraisal so plan on paying one more time before you move into your house.
  1. Get Approved for a Mortgage. Contact your mortgage company and get preapproved for the amount calculated in your costs in Step 4. If your credit is good enough, try adding a 10-15% contingency on top of your total value. You can have this amount for “cushion” in case you run into unforeseen circumstances. Also it might come in handy if you see something you might want to upgrade along the way. Remember though, it’s much better to complete your project under budget rather than over budget.
  2. Get an Interim Loan. Commonly referred to as a “Construction Loan”, an Interim Loan allows you to build your home and only pay interest on the money you have borrowed to date. For example, if you are approved for $100,000 to build your home on a 7% interim loan and you spend no money during the first month of construction then your loan payment would be $0 for that month. However, if you spent $20,000 during your first month of construction then you’d pay $117. To arrive at this number all you need to do is multiply $20,000 by 0.07 (your APR, or interest rate). The result should be $1,400. Then divide $1,400 by 12 (because their are 12 months in the year).
    Bring your house plans from Step 1 of this article, your costs from Step 4, and your mortgage approval from Step 5. If you have done Step 4 completely then the bank is going to be impressed and give you consideration for thinking everything through so carefully. Keep in mind that while it is your right in the state of Louisiana to build your own home once per year, it is also the bank’s right not to loan you the money because you don’t have a licensed contractor building your home. It’s their money and their rules. Many of the banks have discontinued loans to owner construction because so many have found theirselves in cost overrun. You’ll need to find a bank that will finance to owner construction. One bank that I know of that still does this is Minden Building & Loan in Minden, LA. Give Greg Lee a call at 318.377.0523.
  3. Get Your Permits. For building my last home out of the city limits I had to get a culvert permit and a parish building permit. Go to your Assessor’s office in Bossier or Caddo Parish and tell them the address of your new construction. They should be able to set you up with all the permits you need. Nothing like good ‘ol taxation from the government.
  4. Get Builder’s Risk Insurance. Call Bobbie Smarr for Builder’s Risk Insurance at ICT Insurance Agencies 318.797.7400. Protect your investment.
  5. Prepare your Land. Call Roy McDowell at 318.949.4915. You’ll need to discuss with him where your house will be located on the property and where your driveway(s) will be. Roy has an excellent knack for determining house elevations. He’ll make sure your house is high and dry. He’s knowledgeable of soil compaction properties and will use only the highest quality material. His bull dozer with the integrated laser levelling system will make sure your home is sitting on a perfect foundation.
  6. Portable Toilet. Time to get the potty for all the workers!
  7. Temporary Electricity. Call Bo Wilkinson at BW Electric and tell him it’s time to install the electric pole. 318.949.8711.
  8. Foundation Preparation. Contact Drew Paschall with TBG, Inc. His phone number is 214.616.4841. They’ll set the foundation and dig all the beams for your home.
  9. Plumbing Rough-In. Call Tommy Adkins at 318.470.3490 so they can bring the Ditch Witch out and install water and sewer lines.
  10. Order cabinets. Don’t find yourself waiting later. Get those cabinets ordered now so you’ll have them when you need them.
  11. Pour Slab & Install Post Tension. Drew Paschall comes back again to install the post tension cabling and pour the concrete for your slab. Just after the slab dries they should do a “partial pull” of the cabling. This helps prevent premature cracking of the concrete.
  12. Framing. A day or two after the concrete dries Drew’s crew is back out again to build the frame for the house. This process will take several weeks. Once they are finished your house will have tar paper on the roof, windows and doors on the exterior, and any applicable siding. You can now brag to your friends using the lingo, “my house is in the dry” or “I got my home blacked in”.
  13. Put the Roof on. Bring out the roofers and put the shingles on so the house won’t leak. Remember the cheap shingles don’t last as long as the expensive ones!
  14. More Rough-in. It’s now time to rough-in your air conditioning, electricity, insulation and plumbing. Now is your chance to make any special requests for location of sockets, installation of surround sound, or anything else your heart desires.
  15. Install the Fireplace. Now is the best time to install the fireplace an all associated duct work.
  16. Install Cabinets. The painters are going to need to stain the cabinets while they’re painting the house so get them installed just before the guys show up with their paint brushes.
  17. Paint the house. This part takes the longest and quite frankly it is the most boring in my opinion. However, rest assured that lots of work is happening. At this stage you’ll get your sheetrock hung, your walls texturized, and your whole house painted! This stage could take well over a month if not two or three months.
  18. Masonry. Brick? How about some stucco? Bring that brick man out and let him put the brick on.
  19. Trim Work. All moulding, doorways, stairs, and other fancy stuff should be installed at this point.
  20. Install Fixtures. Bring the guys back again for final trim out of air conditioning vents and controls, electrical fixtures and switches, sinks, faucets, etc.
  21. Appliances. Time for the dishwasher, stove, range vent, and microwave.
  22. Insulation trim-out. Bring on the pump truck. The insulators will come out one last time. They’ll run hoses throughout the house and up to the attic to blow a nice coat of insulation to keep your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
  23. Contact your loan officers. You’re now about 1 month away from moving into your new home. Contact your loan officers and decide upon a target move-in date for your new home. Put your interim loan officer in touch with your mortgage officer and let them coordinate how they will handle the roll-over of your interim loan into a mortgage. Now is the time to lock in your mortgage interest rate.
  24. Flooring. Just when you thought you were almost through it’s now time to install the flooring. Expect another period of slow, intensive labor. This process takes a few weeks, but the end result is fabulous! After the flooring is done it’s okay to move in your refrigerator, washing machine and dryer.
  25. Install garage doors. This process only takes about a day. If you’re getting standard doors then the delivery time is fairly rapid. If you plan to have insulated doors you should order them about one month prior to the expected installation date.
  26. Mirrors and shower doors. All mirrors and shower doors are ready for installation around this date. Just make sure this is done AFTER the electrical trim-out or you could run into problems.
  27. Driveways and sidewalks. Bring Drew out for one last time. The installation of the driveways and sidewalks will only take a couple of days.
  28. You’re not finished, but Move In! At this point you have completed your house to the point where you can order an appraisal, close on your mortgage, and move in!
  29. Install grass, landscaping, and gutters. Now that you’re all moved in you’ll be ready to just enjoy your new house. Make one final push and get your lawn, landscaping, and gutters installed.

Thank you for reading Building your own home in Shreveport Louisiana. I hope you have found this article both informative and interesting. It takes a great deal of planning and effort to build a home, but the rewards are money savings and satisfaction through piece of mind. I welcome any of your comments or suggestions.