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RE: What to do up-front, and what to save for later? (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: energy_rater_la on 12.24.2012 at 08:24 pm in Building a Home Forum

crown moldings, countertops, cabinets,
sinks, toilets, faucets and lighting fixtures
come to mind about easy enough to upgrade later.

invest in above minimum code insulation package,
air sealing, duct sealing, properly sized, above
minimum efficiency hvac system.
keep in mind that in
May of 2013 gas furnaces north of mason dixon line
minimum efficiency upgrades from 80% (afue) to 90+% afue.
windows should be shopped by solar heat gain coefficient
(shgc) & ufactors. look for nfrc label on brands you
chose. both shgc & ufactors should be less than .30
if you plan on using recessed cans..
Insulation Contact Air Tight. buy by the case for a
minimal upcharge from IC lights. the ICAT cans are
air tight and stop air leakage & insulation particles
from entering the house. to retrofit one IC to ICAT
is approx the same cost as purchasing ICAT by the case.

invest in air sealing as the house is constructed.
sites like southface inst has excellent air sealing
pdf's that you can download.

remember that code is a good thing. keeps you safe.
but it is the minimum allowed by law. hvac systems,
insulation packages above code is a good investment.

plan for efficiency. cost is upfront but savings
is long term.

hire an energy rater for specific info for you
home. Resnet & BPI have trained experts to put
together an efficiency package for your home.

best of luck


clipped on: 02.05.2013 at 01:05 pm    last updated on: 02.05.2013 at 01:05 pm

RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades! (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: GreenDesigns on 01.16.2012 at 01:08 am in Building a Home Forum

Don't do the island at all. You can do a plain aftermarket worktable there instead for now and plan something really nice later. You might even find a cool antique piece to repurpose. Skip the insulated garage door, laminate upgrade and vinyl upgrade. You can insulate the garage door yourself for less than $50. DIY porcelain tile on the floors yourself after you move in. And do granite later instead of upgrading the laminate. Entry level granites are almost as cheap as an upgraded laminate.

I would not skip the fan box upgrades. That will be hard to do later and would cost a lot more. I wouldn't skip the cable either. If the blinds include measuring and installing for all of the windows, it's not a bad deal at all.

One upgrade I would absolutely insist on would be at least a 50 gallon gas water heater. 40 just isn't big enough with most people enjoying larger tubs and more shower heads. Or, do a gas tankless if you will be in the house for longer than 5 years. The cost difference during building is minimal, but the cost to upgrade later is substantial.

If this is to be a long term residence, I would also insist on 2x6 construction and an upgraded insulation package. That would be more important than any these decorative upgrades offered and would make the house more comfortable, quieter, and cheaper to own. I'd skip every other upgrade on the list but the master bathroom in order to upgrade the envelope. You only get one chance to do that right.


clipped on: 02.02.2013 at 08:12 pm    last updated on: 02.02.2013 at 08:12 pm

RE: dark trims inspiration? (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: milz50 on 11.04.2011 at 11:29 pm in Building a Home Forum

bb19...The floors are walnut with a tung oil finish

irish...the trim colors are benjamin moore colors:

ivory white (all painted trim except bed/bath & office)
frappe (bedroom and master bath)
fairview taupe (office with wainscot)


clipped on: 02.02.2013 at 04:37 pm    last updated on: 02.02.2013 at 04:37 pm

RE: Favorite feature in your closet? (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: beaglesdoitbetter on Wed, Oct 24, 12 at 11:11 in Bathrooms Forum

I love everything about my closet!

Shoe, purse and sweater storage:

Jewelry storage:

Pants racks:

And more jewelry storage:


clipped on: 01.19.2013 at 11:21 pm    last updated on: 01.19.2013 at 11:21 pm

Intelligent Design Ideas

posted by: arsenalfan on 03.13.2012 at 10:13 am in Building a Home Forum

First GW Post! We are building a new old farmhouse design, and I greatly appreciate the crowd-sourced wisdom and experience shared here.

As we finish the design phase, I want to be sure we've considered all the neat home features out there. I think about buying our last car which came with keyless entry - we thought it was unnecessary, but wife now finds it essential.

Like that (or an Apple product) I want our home to be full of "wow, someone thought about this" concepts, that are helpful. Emphasis on thoughtful, not neccesarily techy.

I've read the excellent recent discussion that had 7-8 links to "what you can't live without" and "big mistakes" and "2 yrs later - what would you do different/same", and am going more for the 1-2 things that reflect design thought and make their houses a home.

I'll go first, knock out the low-hanging fruit, and show what I'm thinking about:

1. Big Mudroom - everyone's opinion is different, but it will be off garage, have lockers, next to laundry, half bath. Yet to find a shoe storage option I like (hold 8 pairs per person, wife has boots, want them paired up and not in a basket, but also not staring at a wall of shoes.

2. Unique kitchen cabinetry: The list here could be huge and is very personal. Beyond spice racks/appliance garages/all lower cabinetry being drawers, we like: built-in towel holder to free up counter space; kitchen aid mixer stand mixer storage mechanism that brings it up (although we expect to take mixer off this, as using the mixer on high makes a vibrating racket on the mechanism); pots/pans slide-out drawers under our gas range-top (wife doesn't like hanging pots). Please share any novel kitchen storage ideas!

3. Counter-weighted pocket doors - pull right door open and left door opens the same amount as well. When we saw these in our builder's home, it was great - a not-obvious feature that, when you use it, immediately implies quality workmanship.

4. Shower ceiling light with built-in fan - looks great to hide fan entry; hopefully they work as well. And fan timer.

5. Closet door-jamb light switches. Clearly a "someone thought about this" feature. Didn't know about these until we saw them in a new home.

6. Kitchen island 5" mini-wall to hide kitchen mess. We have a 7'x13' island with farmhouse sink on one side and 6 stools on the other, and wanted to hide sink clutter. A 2-level island wasn't for us. So 6" beyond the sink we're putting up a 4" wide and 6" tall mini-wall that will run about 6 feet. Good ledge for flower vases and whatnot, can still talk to folks on stools, they have to crane to see what's in sink.

7. Master Bed Room switch to control the outdoor floods. Weird noise outside? Flip all the floods on.

8. Instant hot water. Ok, I cheated and this is techy, not so much design and more "what can't you live without." But an example of something we never thought we'd need until our current home came with it - now we love it as we're french press coffee/tea people.

9. Outdoor holiday light outlets. No more extension cords thru the garage/storm windows!

10. Outdoor grilling area gas and electric outlets - ok, I know, this is very basic and no-duh.

Cool but not for us:
1. Central vac with hide-a-hose and vacuum pans.
2. The lighting systems that have different schemes that let you light up different paths/turn everything off, etc.

Your turn, and thanks in advance!


clipped on: 08.05.2012 at 06:11 pm    last updated on: 01.11.2013 at 01:59 pm

RE: Shopping Online for supplies (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: goremr on 07.09.2012 at 02:03 pm in Building a Home Forum

I've spent over $10k through and their other online stores and have to say they have been great to work with. The customer service is top notch and the quality is awesome. I was very,very impressed.


clipped on: 09.07.2012 at 02:25 pm    last updated on: 12.09.2012 at 08:47 am

RE: Any idea how to find a light like this? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: pharaoh on 09.20.2012 at 10:58 pm in Lighting Forum

Ebay is always your friend :)

Here you go.

Here is a link that might be useful: everything on ebay


clipped on: 12.09.2012 at 07:57 am    last updated on: 12.09.2012 at 07:57 am

RE: Budgeting the Efficient Home: Where's the Best Payout? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: lzerarc on 02.25.2012 at 11:47 am in Building a Home Forum

I think your train of thought is a little backwards to be honest. Too many people fall into the geothermal trap thinking it will save them a lot of money on heating and cooling that their shell does not matter as much. To get there, you are paying big upfront to have smaller energy costs later by installing a very complex mechanical system. Advertised efficiencies are also not correct. While COP of geo can be 4-5, this does not take into account electricity used for the well pumps, drops in water temps, etc. Factor those things in, and your high upfront geo cost will be running about the same COP as a much cheaper air to air hp, especially in OH.
Your shell is the first point of payoff, always. There an area where shell improvements meets your cap however. Put your money into your shell, reduce your overall heating and cooling loads, then you can reduce the size of your equipment. Typically shell improvements is a wash when you reduce hvac requirements. Then you are left with smaller equipment, lowever loads, and a more efficient shell which will get you most likely cheaper bills compared to a "code min" home with geo. Also with a cheaper upfront cost.

Focus on the shell. For OH, I would recommend going with 2x6 walls with blown cellulose or fiberglass (not batts) and 1.5" of XPS foam on the exterior. I like to use Huber ZIP sheathing and create that as the exterior air barrier plane. The tighter you can make the home, the better. Air infiltration is your biggest heat loss, and the payoffs of air sealing will pay off instantly vs more insulation.
Caulking is your friend! This should be over your entire shell, including the ceiling plane. Air tight drywall at your ceiling will also dramatically help heat loss. blow in r49+ of cellulose/fiberglass, and that should be about right for your climate. Look for windows with a u value below .30. Most dual pane windows are starting to get below .30 now, and triple pane windows can be had for the low .20 and below. However in your climate, triple pane is most likely not a good investment.
You can tweak your exposure and glass to have a south facing solar gaining glass, which will also play into reducing the need for mechanical heating. Proper sizing of glass, overhangs, and floor area will do wonders for winter heating.
LED lighting rarely pays off for residential applications. Current CFL bulbs paired with energy star fixtures are about as efficient as LED fixtures, and at half the cost. You will see a pay off with LED compared to those in your life time.
In summary:
Shell improvements first including higher levels of insulating and great air sealing. Verify tight air sealing with a blower door test. Invest in good windows.
Shell improvements will reduce your heating and cooling requirements (you start saving $ from day 1), lowering your bills, and reducing your upfront cost of equipment.

With more shell improvements, geo rarely has a pay off.


clipped on: 11.29.2012 at 10:43 pm    last updated on: 11.29.2012 at 10:43 pm

RE: saving money building a new home (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: Xclusive on 07.18.2012 at 02:59 am in Building a Home Forum

Well being able to pre-wire is something that you would have to discuss upfront and alot of builders dont allow it. I can say that you have the most leverage before you sign the contract. Their excuse is usually they won't let you do it for insurance purposes but I think its so they can make more profit from overly inflated prices. My builder would not sign off on me wiring my house but I spoke with my GC who basically informed me of the two weekends the house would be open after plumbing and electricial inspections and he left it at that. I along with a friend was able to wire my house in the two weekends for most of what I wanted(12 zones whole house audio, 2 rooms 5.1 surround sound,orange conduit for hanging flat panels and runing wires thru walls, extra wire keypads for the alarm and front/back door cameras. There is never enough time as I wasn't able to finish wiring for automated blinds or security cameras but that will have to be done after I get in as I made sure I had attic access where I needed it. My DW won't appreciate the few holes here and there for me to complete my wiring but its so much easier to wire before the drywall goes up. Once its finished she won't even notice. :) I did pay the builder for pre-wire as the price was good and I felt not worth my time to wire for.

I went back and looked at what my builder charged for pre-wire and YES you are correct it is rather pricey. My builder prices for pre-wire for audio/video are listed below:

$340 per room for whole house (which included speakers wires to ceiling and cat5e for control)

$90 per run for speaker wires (5+1 surround sound = $540 per room)

$440 alarm pre-wire which included door contacts, siren, motion detector and two keypdads.

I was spent roughly a $1,000 in wire and materials so I was able to save alot of money running my own wire versus the approx $6,500 what the builder would have charged. As you stated earlier it all boils down to wants and needs to be honest my audio/visual request were all wants. I am lucky I was able to pre-wire but if I had not been allowed to do so I would have scaled my wants down just a bit because alot of this if not done before drywall can be even more expensive and more of a mess. If whole house audio is something you want, why not select 2 or 3 zones? This way the infrastructure is in place and you can add electronics when needed.

Now as far as taking builder choices now and upgrading later I think it again all just depends on what it is. For example in the kitchen and bathrooms since I am going to do my own floor tile, we opted for included vinyl so demo wont be a problem at all. On the other hand lets say if you were going with a cheaper tile and wanting to add a more expensive tile later, that I would pass on and just pay the premium if you really wanted because the demo in that wouldn't be worth it to me personally.

Stainless steel appliances to me is an upgrade and not necessarily a deal breaker for me. We took the included black appliances and will upgrade later as I find close-outs and discontinued models. I want mid to high end appliances which the builder charges an fortune for and I don't mind waiting for a deal.

As far as finishes are concerned I think they all are in, it just depends on what you like and will be happy with. I personally like ORB and thats the reason I went with, not because it was the "in thing" :)

Hope that helps, just my .02 cents FWIW

As far as the finishes I think they are all in, just depends on what you like.

Here is a link that might be useful: Our home sell/build blog


clipped on: 09.07.2012 at 02:32 pm    last updated on: 09.07.2012 at 02:32 pm

Are you on Pinterest?

posted by: gingerjenny on 03.14.2012 at 10:12 am in Building a Home Forum

That place is addicting. I am getting way too many cool ideas over there. I'm not sure how many of them I would do due to finances but Its full of awesome ideas!

Check some of these out

my head is spinning with great ideas!


clipped on: 09.07.2012 at 02:31 am    last updated on: 09.07.2012 at 02:31 am

Cutting Costs

posted by: ICFgreen on 06.18.2011 at 01:44 pm in Building a Home Forum

So after all the dreaming and designing, we have our floor plan mostly done. (We're still figuring out the exact kitchen layout).

As background, we are building a house with as much green and universal design as we can afford. I live with a brain injury, so cork in the kitchen and dinette are a must have for sound-proofing, as is the ICF construction. We are also building with the possibility of my mom living with us as sometime in the future (thus the universal design on the main floor). Beyond that, we learn toward modern design but aren't drawn to any particular name brand when it comes to appliances, surfaces, etc.

Our builder gave us our allowances based on what we knew we wanted at the time. For the most part, we're still in that ballpark, but we're getting a few surprises. Our general rule of thumb is that we spend the money on the things we can't change later (ICF construction, etc) and put off or downgrade the things we can add or update later.

That said, where are you making cuts or downgrades?


clipped on: 09.07.2012 at 01:39 am    last updated on: 09.07.2012 at 01:39 am

RE: Lighting Plan for Bedrooms (Follow-Up #19)

posted by: daniel0son on 01.24.2012 at 11:58 pm in Building a Home Forum

The one thing that no one has mentioned is that the best lighting is always in layers. I would never have just can lights in my bedroom. Can lights / down lights are usually used for general lighting, not task lighting. Bedside lamps or wall sconces are an additional layer that provide low levels of light for reading at night or when low level lighting is needed. The other thing to remember is most of the time when you are in your bedroom, your eyes are closed.

No one ever wants to walk into a dimly lit bedroom, think ceiling fan/ light combo with "soft white" incandescent lamps. You also don't want to be blinded either. However, dimming the amount of light is usually much easier and cheaper than trying to add additional light fixtures.

I wouldn't rule out using can lights in my bedroom, but I also wouldn't want it as my only source of light in the bedroom.

I also don't agree with Renovator8's comment about the trim size for cans. A 6" can is the most commonly sized down light. Most builders use them because they are common and therefore cheap. They can designed for most common household lamps including both PAR, R style, and "A" style lamps. "A" style lamps are the pear shaped incandescent lamps that most people refer to as bulbs or lamps for their home. An "A" lamp does a great shop of spreading light, but not at delivering it. Most of the light is usually lost within the fixture. Many builders use PAR or R style lamps because due to the way the lamps are shaped, most of the light is delivered to the work space and has a decent spread. If a lamp or bulb is seen from below the ceiling plane, then two things are going on. One - the can light is cheap and not deep enough. Or two (more likely) - someone is using a lamp that is not designed for this fixture. This can be a compact fluorescent "Par" style lamp or a larger wattage R or PAR lamp. Either way, the fixture is not being used as intended.

Most manufacturers of down lights have a wattage label inside the housing, but there should also be a sticker on the trim indicating the correct style of lamps to use. Whether or not someone pays attention to it is another matter.

I'll get off my soapbox now.

FYI - I'm a manufacturer's rep of over 100 different commercial and residential lighting lines. All I do every day is sell light fixtures and look at different lamps.


clipped on: 09.07.2012 at 12:48 am    last updated on: 09.07.2012 at 12:49 am

RE: Tubular skylights: Velux vs. Solatube vs ? (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: SunnySouth56 on 01.02.2012 at 10:42 am in Building a Home Forum

If you are going to run it from the second story roof to the first floor, you should go with a 14' tubular skylight. ODL and Solatube are the only two that I know of that have a rigid unit. I would suggest taking a look at the link provided. Good Luck, you'll love the natural light!

Here is a link that might be useful: ODL


clipped on: 09.07.2012 at 12:34 am    last updated on: 09.07.2012 at 12:34 am

RE: Finished Exterior photos? (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: nikkidan on 12.04.2011 at 09:25 pm in Building a Home Forum

Certainteed is what my builder we are going with that.


clipped on: 09.07.2012 at 12:20 am    last updated on: 09.07.2012 at 12:20 am

Where to cut the budget?

posted by: cottonpenny on 11.12.2011 at 01:34 pm in Building a Home Forum

We are working with a GC to try to decide if we want to build a house. The prelim quote just came in based on a floor plan I picked and some specifications I wrote out. It's about $33,000 over what we wanted to spend.

It's 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths. All hardwoods on lower floor ($9.00 sq/ft). Ceramic tile in mudroom and bathrooms ($9.00 sq/ft). Built-ins in family room, study, mudroom. $4000 lighting allowance. $22k for kitchen and bathroom cabinets, $9k countertop allowance for kitchen and baths. It's 3400 sq ft total.

I think I could cut the cabinets a little - the quote was for painted inset with soft close and all drawers. The other stuff I don't know how much it typically costs so I don't know if the allowances are generous or no?

Any ideas where I could make up the rest? Where did you cut the budget?


clipped on: 09.07.2012 at 12:17 am    last updated on: 09.07.2012 at 12:17 am

RE: It's October- How's Your Build Progressing? (Follow-Up #31)

posted by: Eyegirlie on 10.11.2011 at 08:26 pm in Building a Home Forum

We are supposed to be about 2 weeks from completion now! Granite was installed yesterday and faucets were being installed today! Without further ado, here are the most recent pictures...And I hope you like pictures (like I do), because I've posted a bunch!

Bathroom mirrors from Garden Ridge
More detail
Bathroom view from my husband's closet
Bathroom view from my closet
Other Full Bath
Half Bath


clipped on: 09.07.2012 at 12:06 am    last updated on: 09.07.2012 at 12:07 am

Wilmington II by Greystone in Ohio (Follow-Up #14)

posted by: kramerkel on 08.17.2011 at 03:14 pm in Building a Home Forum

Also looking at this home.


clipped on: 09.06.2012 at 11:23 pm    last updated on: 09.06.2012 at 11:23 pm

Floor plan review please - Almost finalized - Yippee!

posted by: Momto3kiddos on 03.27.2012 at 12:39 am in Building a Home Forum

Hello all! I would love your feedback on our plan. I have posted a similar plan last year and with the help of Summerfield found our vision! Thank you Summerfield. We are now working with an architect and almost have our plans finalized. Please don't pay much attention to window placement as this is my re-draw of the plans in Cheif Architect.

The total sq ft is about 5200 all on one floor. The stairs lead up to a walk-up attic. The central rooms will have 12 ft ceilings (foyer, dining, family and kitchen), remainder will be 10 ft.

We are a family of 5 (as if my screen name didn't already give that away) - kids ages 7, 5 & 2. We will be building on a family farm in central NC. We entertain family and friends regularly and aim for our house to be "the place to be" as our kids reach their teen years. My husband does lots of hunting and farming - thus the full bath in the mudroom. The laundry sink in the garage is also to wash veggies and eggs before they can dirty up the house. In the master bath - the L of the vanity will likely be a seated vanity, and the square in the corner is a walk-in shower. I detest cleaning shower doors. :)

I look forward to any feedback you may have. Thanks in advance for looking.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


clipped on: 08.06.2012 at 12:31 pm    last updated on: 08.06.2012 at 01:34 pm

Summerfield and other GW members, can you help?

posted by: bk1217 on 03.29.2012 at 03:58 pm in Building a Home Forum

Hi, this is my first time posting to the forums, but I have been reading them for quite awhile, hoping to find answers to some of my questions. My husband and I are planning to build a home in a year or two, and we're starting to think finding a plan is impossible. Where we live, there are very few architects, the closest one being 4.5 hours away, and even then he mostly does commercial building, not house plans. I've searched the millions of house plan sites online, and draw several plans on paper at home. But I just can't seem to get the rooms I want to fit in the space right. So I would really appreciate any help I can get. The plans I've seen from Summerfield are all a 100x better than anything on the web, so like I said, any help would be appreciated. Sorry in advance for how long this post is, but I wanted to give you as much detail as possible!

I know exactly what I want, but I just can't put it together. For now, it is just me(24yrs), my husband(28yrs), my son(6 months), and our small dog. But I would like to have one more child in the future. My husband's father owns a large construction company, and my husband works for him as a carpenter. So he will be building the home himself for the most part. We live in a small town(approx. 7000 ppl) in Ontario and it isn't near any large cities. We entertain family and friends every once and awhile, but the only large groups are usually at xmas.

Now for the house, here are all of the things that I desperately hope to fit into my home. Also, put a link to a plan that I somewhat like at the bottom. The issue is I don't want the kitchen behind the garage, instead I want the bedrooms there. And of course, the many other things in the list below. Thanks. Oh, and we would like the mainfloor to be 2250 heated sqft or less.
-master and 1 other bedroom behind garage area
-around 14x16 master bedroom, with large master closet (won't have any dressers in the master, so need to have drawers, hanging, and shoe rack in the closet)
-closet access through bathroom
-other bedroom 10x12 or 12x12 plus 2' deep closet

-open to dining room and great room
-close to garage
-large, open, casual dining area (around 12x16)
-would really like an island with a large double sink, dishwasher, and pull-out trash drawer in it
-36" stovetop with built-in microwave above, and separate double ovens and warming drawer
-some kind of pantry to store food
-seperate full fridge and upright freezer both in kitchen

-approx. 90' x 200'
-sloped down to a creek in the back

-walk-out basement (works best with sloped lot, plus save money on taxes where we live for basement square footage)
-so need stairs to the basement, don't really care where they go
-eventually will have 3 bedrooms, 1 large bathroom, mechanical room (for furnace, etc.), storage area, and rec room

-off of garage, close to kitchen for loading groceries
-possibly with side door giving access to outside for letting the dog out, etc.
-5' to 6' bench with shoes cubbies underneath
-small closet (at least 4' by 2' deep)
-spot to put some kind of small drop cabinet just for keys, mail, etc.
-separate laundry room with room for washer, dryer, utility sink, built in hanging rack, folding counter, and possibly tall cabinet for brooms, etc.
-want the laundry close to mudroom so that it will also be close to bedrooms, kitchen, garage, and bathrooms
-small linen closet in hall somewhere for extra sheet, towels, etc.

-Large 3-car garage
-at least 24' deep, no bigger than 28' deep
-at least 30' wide, but would prefer around 34-36' wide
-it will have one two-car door, and one one-car door

Master Bathroom:
-separate toilet room with door swinging out
-double sinks at least 6' wide (3' for each sink)
-large walk-in shower (5'x7' or 8') with shower seat
-while a tub might be nice, it isn't necessary and I don't think it would get much use
-closet accesible through the bathroom, not the bedroom

Second Bathroom:
-ONLY 2 bathrooms on the first floor and no half bathrooms (I hate cleaning bathrooms)
-average bathroom, nothing fancy, just a shower/tub enclosure, toilet, and sink
-would like bathroom to be accesible from the hall, preferably close to the mudroom/garage entry

Great room:
-not too big
-gas fireplace
-tv/media center beside fireplace (no tv above fireplace)
-maybe a sectional and a loveseat (able to seat 7-8 people)
-we watch a lot of tv, so most of our time in the great room will be spent watching tv

Front Entry:
-would like 1 or 2 bumpouts on the front of house to give it some curb appeal
-don't need a front closet, will just use a coat rack and a small bench for taking off shoes
-no grand entry, just simple (around 6' to 8' wide)
-would like an office off of or close to the entry (around 10' x 12')

Again, sorry for the super long post, and thanks so much for any feedback.

Link to the "somewhat liked" floorplan:


clipped on: 08.06.2012 at 12:23 pm    last updated on: 08.06.2012 at 01:18 pm

RE: I'm over budget 8% - Save Me! (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: live_wire_oak on 03.27.2012 at 12:05 am in Building a Home Forum

Too many jogs in the foundation and that translates into a complicated roof line. Simplify and create big squares. It will increase the square footage slightly, but it will lower the overall cost. A rule of thumb is that every extra corner costs you 5-10K extra depending on location. Inside and outside corners both count. You've got 28.

Garage/storage area--eliminate the jog and make it all one big rectangle.

Porch jog--bring the porch out to the plane of the DR.

Living room/roofed patio--make it line up with the front of the home.

Nook--just put a dining set in the keeping room.

Mudroom--bump it out to be even with the back of the garage instead of indented.

You've just eliminated 18 of 28 and not compromised the layout at all. Instead, you've gotten a bit more square footage, can keep the upstairs play space and still be under budget. This gives you a comfortable margin and also assumes that you do have the 20% contingency set aside in case you decide to do dirtwork or add that deck in now rather than later.


clipped on: 08.06.2012 at 12:18 pm    last updated on: 08.06.2012 at 12:18 pm

Please give me your thoughts on our house plans

posted by: myhappyspace on 08.02.2012 at 04:33 pm in Building a Home Forum

We are hoping to start building this fall. We are 30 and 31, and have two small girls, and are thinking of having one more kid. My husband will be taking over the family masonry business next summer, as soon as we close on the house (for loan reasons). I am a CPA and hope to one day run a small accounting business from home.

I'm torn on the placement of the french doors into the office. My first thought was having them right off of the foyer so if I had clients coming it could be directly into the office. My dad (our architect) brought up placing them where they are would lend to being able to see out the front window easier from the great room. Thoughts?


clipped on: 08.05.2012 at 06:48 pm    last updated on: 08.05.2012 at 06:48 pm

RE: Intelligent Design Ideas (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: arsenalfan on 03.13.2012 at 07:30 pm in Building a Home Forum

Thanks Everyone for their posts so far! It already has made me rethink and review some things.

RedLover: Good point on jamb lights and the door needing to be shut. Just our pantry and 2 coat closets for us - had been tempted to do WIC, but these doors may remain open. Keep your other ideas coming!

Joyce6333: Love to hide clutter. Pocket door will separate mudroom from kitchen/rest of house. Love all the assigned baskets. Big fan of hooks for hanging stuff - fighting temptation to put them everywhere. Use mixer 1-2x per month, so return might not be there on the mechanism - just thought it was neat. Dedicated game closet/drawer is neat; we are definitely going to have a heavier-duty (i.e. more cooling power) beverage center in our kitchen next to the eat-in table to minimize runs during meals (more milk please, etc).

GreenDesigns: Thanks. Noted. Don't be fooled by the thread's theme; we're not going for a house analogous to a pimped-out Geo Metro that cost $10k at the dealer + $20k in modifications! Before looking at geothermal and solar, our builder emphasized a tight build with high quality spray insulation and higher quality HVAC (heat pumps are good these days, huh?) and gas furnaces. Looking into a tankless water system. No volume ceilings for us - though I will need a ladder to change the 10' ceiling light bulbs. Appreciate dimensions notes -turns out I misspoke about island and it is 6' x 12', which I think should be ok since at most the depth will be 32-34" on one side, depending on how thick we make that obscuring wall . We're preserving the natural garden already in situ, and improving the well irrigation system. Any other advice?

Mythreesonsnc: Great idea on the switch/timer for holiday light outlets. Good to know beverage center works well for you. We are trying to figure out where to put electronics charging station/prison (i.e. no iphones/ipods upstairs after 8pm kids) - probably will be in a kitchen charging "garage" like the appliance garage. What would you conceivably need to put in that tube?

Brickeyee: Glad to know the correct term. Sounds simple - what's it cost? Guess we'll find out! Only on the pocket doors into the study.

Alexhouse: No Darwin pro/con discussion here - though perhaps Marvin or Jeld Wen may enter it sooner or later! The wood grain idea is a cool idea.


clipped on: 08.05.2012 at 06:14 pm    last updated on: 08.05.2012 at 06:14 pm

RE: Intelligent Design Ideas (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: mythreesonsnc on 03.13.2012 at 02:21 pm in Building a Home Forum

Great post!

On your holiday light outlets, I recommend putting them on a switch, or getting timers (I know you said no fancy lighting schemes -- I don't mean those high tech control systems). It is nice to be able to have no extension cords, etc, but REALLY nice if you can flip the switch and all the holiday lights are on (I have an outlet everywhere I want it for holiday, but just bought a set of timers at Lowes and they all come on when I want -- cheap and easy).

What I got lazy to do during our build was to run a tube under the driveway for future wiring of anything --- haven't missed it so far, but could come in handy I suppose.

We have beverage drawers right near our breakfast area --- works well for drinks, milk, etc. and keeps kids and guests out of the kitchen main fridge. Plus, everybody thinks they are cool!

Our mudroom has some extra outlets on shelves to use as a charging station -- handy drop zone for when you walk in the door, you drop keys, plug in phones, etc.

Put in enough hose bibs -- not much more expense, but so much easier than dragging hose around house!

I'm sure I'll think of more once I hit "post," so here goes....


clipped on: 08.05.2012 at 06:13 pm    last updated on: 08.05.2012 at 06:13 pm

Final Stretch - Review of plans request!!

posted by: aj33 on 02.15.2012 at 07:42 pm in Building a Home Forum

Hi All,

I had requested help with the plans few months ago and I got great help.
I was rather unhappy with the Architect's plans and Summerfield drew an excellent plan. We were still thinking through the layout. I have since been drawing plans and revising them numerous times using a simple software. I am posting links to

I would be grateful for any and all reviews, comments, ideas to improve my current drawings (last two links above). We like the boomrang shape better but that seems to mess up the inside. Please comment on how to make things better. I am not able to determine the square footage with this software (Envisioneer express plus). BTW, it is rather easy to use. We would like the house to be as close as possible to 2350-2400 sq ft.



PS: House is south facing
PPS: Plans are best viewed if you click on "download original" if your browser opens the plan in a browser window.

Here is a link that might be useful: All four pdf plans


clipped on: 08.05.2012 at 06:08 pm    last updated on: 08.05.2012 at 06:08 pm

RE: Floor plan feedback, Don Gardner Zimmerman and Satchwell (Follow-Up #14)

posted by: bevangel on 12.29.2011 at 02:28 pm in Building a Home Forum

LOL! I had been prepping a re-draw of the first two plans you posted using my paint program to show you how I would recommend enlarging them. But then when I refreshed your thread prior to posting my sketch, you had the EastHaven plan up and it is almost EXACTLY like my "enlarged" version!

The EastHaven looks like a pretty livable plan. The only thing still missing is mudroom space and I think you could get that by pulling the nose of the garage forward about 3.5 feet so that the stairs to the bonus room could be turned 90 degrees and run along the garage wall. Then you would have room for a mudroom and a small laundry room behind double doors opening off of the hallway.

Something like this maybe...

Granted, it would be nicer to have a full sized laundry room but, IMHO, even a tiny laundry room that is separated from your family entry is better than having to walk thru the laundry on your way in/out of the garage.


clipped on: 08.03.2012 at 11:15 am    last updated on: 08.05.2012 at 06:02 pm

RE: Floor plan feedback, Don Gardner Zimmerman and Satchwell (Follow-Up #13)

posted by: pfieff on 12.29.2011 at 12:05 pm in Building a Home Forum

We definitely started out looking just for a one story but we are curious to see what he can come up with. We know for sure that we want a first floor master. I came across on Don Gardner East Haven plan which is basically the same houses just enlarged.


clipped on: 08.03.2012 at 11:15 am    last updated on: 08.05.2012 at 06:01 pm

RE: Cutting Costs (Follow-Up #22)

posted by: joyce_6333 on 06.30.2011 at 03:44 pm in Building a Home Forum

Our house is quite modest compared to most on this forum, but here are some of the areas where we saved:

We went with custom cabinetry instead of Medallion or Showplace. I did get bids from all 3, custom was WAY less expensive and by far a better product. And the cabinetmaker had done much work for us in the past, so we knew the quality of his work. We got all our cabinet hardware at Menards. Long before we even started building, they had a huge sale, and we were able to special order everything at an incredible price.

I did not save a thing on counters, more from my ignorance than anything. I paid $100/sq ft for Blue Pearl, and $85 for Bianco Romano. That was the total price, install, edges, cutouts, etc. I did save by buying off the shelf granite vanity tops from Menards. $70each for three 48" vanities, and $199? for the 60". They are the 3cm and came with undermount sinks. Very pleased with them. Also got great prices for the vanity mirrors.

I purchased most of our lighting and plumbing from and Great to work with and were great about "price matching". I saved $100 on the garbage disposal alone. A few items I got at

Areas where we didn't skrimp...not necessarily over the top, but we got what we wanted.

hot water heater
waterproofing (not by choice, but by necessity)
whole house sound system/home theater


clipped on: 08.03.2012 at 02:24 pm    last updated on: 08.03.2012 at 02:24 pm

RE: Cutting Costs (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: beaglesdoitbetter on 06.18.2011 at 10:11 pm in Building a Home Forum

ICFgreen there were a few:

- Bellacor
- CSN Lighting
- Homeclick
- Lighting Universe
- 1 Stop Lighting
- Shades of Light (this store has some really unique pieces that were very different from things I saw elsewhere)
- Lighting By Gregory
- I got a 1930's art deco fixture on ebay (there's a bunch, probably not really going to fit in too well with your modern aesthetic, but if you haunt the ones that aren't buy-it-nows, you can get a great deal)

My strategy was to find a fixture on clearance on one site, and then do a search for the product name until I found it the cheapest since if it was on clearance on one, it was usually on clearance everywhere. It was time consuming b/c you can't just count on the Google product compare since sometimes there will be a coupon or something that lets you get it cheaper from a site that actually has a higher price. I also used Fatwallet Cash Back and a few other cash back sites, and googled for "coupon code" for any site I was going to buy from.

My 3 best deals, and again these are probably not quite your style but it might be useful for someone else):
- Progress Crawford Outdoor Lanterns These are regularly $186 or more and I got them for $62.00 each w/ coupon found by googling

- Sea Gull Highlands Large 15 light for great room (we needed a 4+ footer and everything else was very expensive, I got this for $1200 on a memorial day sale from this website.

- Progress Versailles This was a discontinued fixture and it is beautiful in person.

I am getting my custom cabinets from Dutch Wood Kitchens in Myerstown PA and I cannot possibly say enough good things or recommend them highly enough. They are mennonite (which is sort of like Amish) so no website, but here's a brochure. The quality of their workmanship is wonderful (dovetail construction, beautiful finishes, 3/4 plywood, etc). They are doing some extremely unique and difficult things for us (17 ft. high triangle bookcase going up to a vaulted ceiling, w/ library ladder), they are responsive and communicative, do beautiful CAD drawings, do what they promise when they say they will, get back to you quickly with quotes and drawings, are extremely nice (the person I am working w/ did like 40 drawings for one book shelf in my house to make sure I was completely happy w/ it because I couldn't find a design I wanted), have never ever said no to any idea I've had no matter how crazy and are very budget friendly. I've recommended them to at least 2 people on the kitchen forum who are using them and one persons kitchen is finished already and I gather turned out very well. My cabinets aren't installed yet but I've gone to visit them in the shop and they are coming along absolutely beautiful. If you are anywhere near PA, I highly, highly recommend them (they are going to Brooklyn for one of the people who found them off of here, so I don't know how far you are?). They also use domestic plywood w/ no formaldahyde (spelling?) and could probably use whatever other materials you want in order to be green, I don't know much about green design but they are very open and responsive to any ideas I have.


clipped on: 08.03.2012 at 02:07 pm    last updated on: 08.03.2012 at 02:20 pm

RE: Floor plan feedback, Don Gardner Zimmerman and Satchwell (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: gobruno on 12.21.2011 at 05:15 pm in Building a Home Forum

Are you planning on staying in this house forever? If you are, there are several things that I would take into consideration for when you have kids. First, the utility area--I would not want my washer/dryer in the pathway from my garage. We had this set up once, and it drove us nuts. You don't really have anywhere to keep your overflow laundry, and we were constantly tripping over piles of clothes getting in and out of our house. Also, if you are in a cold weather climate, you are going to want some landing area for coats/jackets/boots. One thing we have learned is that kids generate "stuff." So you need room for jackets/toys/strollers/misc. Along those lines, I would make your garage deeper and wider. As it is, you are going to have to park your car up against the wall and not have much clearance in front and on the sides. In one of our garages, we had bikes along one wall, garbage/recycling along another and other stuff, and I had to crawl through the passenger side to get into my car. Some other things I'd also consider is having a linen closet between the 2 bedrooms to store your extra towels, toilet paper, blankets, etc., and a walk-in-pantry. If you plan on any large family gatherings, I'd make your dining room bigger to accommodate a dining table that seats more than 6. Also, although your Great Room seems like it's a good size, because it has doors/openings/walkways on 3 sides, it shrinks the space where you can actually float furniture bc you need to leave a pathway all around the perimeter. Anyway, those are my 2 cents. Having kids really changes the way one lives, and in general it had us craving more space. Good luck.


clipped on: 08.03.2012 at 11:11 am    last updated on: 08.03.2012 at 11:12 am

RE: Anyone With Stained Concrete Floors? (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: mrs_egg on 05.17.2011 at 10:38 pm in Building a Home Forum

We are finally all moved and settled in and I just happened to see this post. Here are some pictures of our stained concrete floors. Our stain guy came when the house was dried in. He acid washed it, then stained it with Butterfield "Cordovan Leather". He let it dry for a couple of days, then covered all the floors with Tyvek house wrap. This prevented tears, spills, and rips and kept the dirt and drywall dust from scratching the floors. When we were completely done with the house, he came in, ripped all the Tyvek up, and mopped with plain water. He had a big floor buffer and buffed with what looked like and smelled like turtle wax. I was worried about it being too slippery, but it wasn't at all. We wanted a more matte finish instead of a glossy, polished finish, so all he had to do was buff with wax. He recommended getting it re-buffed yearly. We are loving the floors! They are very low maintenance and hide dirt very well. All I have to do is Swiffer every few days (we have two small children and a shedding dog) and then mop as needed. It took a good month for my legs and feet to get used to it, though--very achy and sore! We moved in the latter part of March when the weather was still a little cool, and the floors were icy cold first thing in the mornings. However, now that's it's getting warmer outside, the coolness of the floors is heavenly at the end of the day when my feet are hot and tired. The only down side is the excessive noise. We stained all the floors except the bedrooms and our floor plan is open, so when we have people over, it gets really loud and echo-y. I have an area rug and smaller accent rugs, but it's still loud.




clipped on: 08.03.2012 at 10:37 am    last updated on: 08.03.2012 at 10:37 am

RE: Cased Passageways (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: nini804 on 02.15.2012 at 05:38 pm in Building a Home Forum

I don't know the dimensions of my cased openings...but I had the family room openings that separate it from the foyer and kitchen trimmed out...I also trimmed out the opening between the dining room and foyer. The rest of my cased openings are nice and wide, but no extra trim. Ok, I just measured and the width is like 9.5". Here are some pics....not sure if this is what you are talking about or not.
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

You can just see a tiny bit of the dining room casing in this one...
It shows on the very right of the pic...
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos


clipped on: 08.03.2012 at 10:18 am    last updated on: 08.03.2012 at 10:21 am

RE: Dream Thread! (What do you wish you had now?) (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: beaglesdoitbetter on 04.13.2011 at 03:09 pm in Building a Home Forum

Things I'm most happy I included in the under-construction house:
- Walk-in pantry w/ 2 doors- one right by garage and one in kitchen
- Whole house audio & lights on dimmers (everything controlled by iPads in permanent docks on walls)
- "Door jamb" activated lights in all closets and in pantry so they go on and off when doors open
- Ambiance lights (those in cabinets & built-ins) on timers so they'll come on and off automatically
- In cabinet plugs for appliances/charging station so no cords/clutter
- Mud room w/ built-in grooming tub for dogs and cubbies for people
- Deck off of master bedroom
- Ample closet space for guest closets, all bedroom closets & master closets
- Built-ins everywhere (inc. Conservatory w/ floor to ceiling book cases)
- Tons and tons of windows
- Instant hot water
- First floor master bedroom
- Heated floors
- High ceilings w/ skylights whenever possible
- Geothermal heating/cooling
- Washing machine/dryer in master bedroom & second full laundry room upstairs
- Multiple fireplaces (4 and wish we'd done more!)
- Cable hookup for waterproof outside television
- LCD TV mirror in master bathroom (such a cool feature!)
- Digital shower and tub systems
-Crown molding, tray ceilings, coffered ceilings, etc.
- Keyless entry (code-pad) activated back garage door

Things I wish we'd done:
- Steam shower (couldn't b/c of high sloped ceiling in master)
- Even bigger laundry room
- Guest and regular powder room on first floor
- Dedicated home library


clipped on: 08.03.2012 at 08:32 am    last updated on: 08.03.2012 at 08:33 am

RE: It's January 2012 - How's Your Build Progressing? (Follow-Up #40)

posted by: Pcandlyte on 01.23.2012 at 05:50 pm in Building a Home Forum

Montel, Mel, AthensMom, Eyegirl, BDIB- lovely homes! Congrats to Eyegirl and Montel on completion and moving in.
Everyone else, the progress looks great!

I said earlier that I would be back to post pics, and I have just found the time to do that! I still have a ton to do, but I am working on it very slowly, but surely. We are still waiting to purchase new furniture because we want to take our time and find pieces that we absolutely love this time. Landscaping to be completed in April.

Home began late August 2010 and we closed on Dec 8, 2010.
Modified Cassidy plan from
Total Sq ft= 2944 on 3.72 acres in a small subdivision.
4 bedrooms
3.5 baths
Bonus Room
Formal Dining
2 Fireplaces

Main paint: Bamboo Shoot SW 7733
Dining Room:Tigereye SW6363
Master Bed Walls:Chamois SW6131
Master Bed ceiling:Tigereye SW6362
Master Bath walls:Tigereye SW6362
Master Bath ceiling Chamois SW6131
Hall Bath & Up Bath walls Downing Sand SW2822
Boy's room: SW 0055 Light French Gray
Girl's room: SW SW6302 Innocence
Powder Room: 0055 SW Light French Gray


Stamped and sealed walkway and porch:


Foyer with dining room on left and study on right:

Foyer to dining

dining to foyer



Family room


Master bed and bath

Rope lighting

Daughter's room:

Son's Room:

Other baths:

Play rooms:


Screened Porch:

All of this is our backyard, up to the street, so no new construction will ever be behind us.


clipped on: 08.02.2012 at 10:42 pm    last updated on: 08.02.2012 at 10:44 pm

RE: It's January 2012 - How's Your Build Progressing? (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: Eyegirlie on 01.03.2012 at 07:47 pm in Building a Home Forum

Congrats, everyone, on the progress and congrats, grace, on the baby!

I'm wayyyyyyyyyyyy behind on this post since we technically moved in the last weekend of October, but I was waiting of a few last things to get finished, and then the holiday's hit!
This is hubby's and my first house/home and we just got married this summer (June 18th) and then officially broke ground July 8th. We really jumped into this thing without doing near the research some of you do and if I had read this website before, I might have actually had second thoughts! But, I was college roommates with our builder's wife (so I've known them a little while and know they're good people) and my in laws have built 4 homes doing most of it themselves, so we were in good hands and somehow it all came together! There are lots of things I look at now in the house and think "glad that worked out or matched...because I didn't give it much or any thought..." That especially goes for the tile on our fireplace in the living room - I never thought about how it would go with the wall paint since it is right next to it (and we used a different paint in the bathrooms) but it matches perfectly!! we go!!

Paint Colors (all sherwin williams)
Living room and Kitchen - Bittersweet Stem
Dining, half bath, laundry - Rain
Bathrooms - Creme
Granite: Giallo Napole
Faucets: Delta

Kitchen from living room
Breakfast Area
Half Bath
2nd Full Bath
Master Bath


clipped on: 08.02.2012 at 10:39 pm    last updated on: 08.02.2012 at 10:39 pm

RE: Stamped Colored Asphalt (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: DrivewaysDr on 01.27.2012 at 04:33 pm in Building a Home Forum

Stamped asphalt is a great option for driveways. As for cost it is usually around half the cost of real brick pavers, and a third less than stamped concrete. This of course depending on your specific driveway project. So it is the least expensive decorative option in terms of cost.

As for maintenance you do not need to reseal it like you do with your stamped concrete. You stamp and coat it once and that's it. No resealing or recoating every couple of years. That is unless you want to. And stamped asphalt doesn't have that shiny finish you don't like. But make sure you get stamped asphalt with quality and the right coatings, and not just some "paint". The proper stamped asphalt coatings add to the less maintenance you were talking about. Best of luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Driveway Impressions specializes in stamped asphalt


clipped on: 08.02.2012 at 10:22 pm    last updated on: 08.02.2012 at 10:22 pm

RE: Best way to protect yourself from contractor fraud/misuse of (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: bevangel on 03.10.2011 at 02:41 pm in Building a Home Forum

If your builder is dishonest enough, it is nearly impossible to prevent him from not paying subs/suppliers. Requiring lien releases won't work if your builder is dishonest enough b/c he can make such documents out himself and sign them... and also inflate the amounts on invoices so that you pay him more than he contracted with the subs for. All of the above is fraudulent - but getting a DA to bring charges can be nearly impossible. I know. I've been there. It is also nearly impossible to KNOW everyone who is working on your property so you can get hit with a lien from someone you never even knew was ever on your property.

The way it is SUPPOSED to work is this: For ease of numbers, let's assume house will cost $160,000 to build and that builder's profit will be $40,000.

Builder has money of his own sufficient to fund a certain portion of the cost of the build. (say 20% or $32K). Subs/suppliers do work and provide materials for the first $32K of build. Builder pays subs/suppliers for work using his own money. Subs/suppliers provide builder with signed notarized lien releases. Builder takes lien releases to homeowner/banker and requests a draw. One-fifth of work is completed so builder asks for 1/5th of contract price or $40K. Builder reimburses himself $8K and uses the rest of the draw to pay the next set of subs/suppliers to do the next 20% of the work. Cycle repeats until home is completed. After four draws, builder has reimbursed himself the amount he originally invested. The 4th draw also provides the necessary funding to complete the build so that everybody is paid BEFORE builder requests the 5th and final draw. The final draw, released only when homeowner takes possession, is builder's profit.

Unfortunately, many builders don't have the money to fund any portion of the build. They are behind the 8-ball and borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. They can't get lein releases from subs/suppliers in advance of draws b/c they don't have the money to pay the subs/suppliers until they get the draw for the completed work. In fact, you're lucky if they are only using your draws to pay for work that was just done on your house rather than using your money to pay off subs/suppliers that build the LAST house and hoping against hope that some other sucker will come along before they have to pay off the subs/suppliers who are building YOUR house.

Here is the best you can do.

1) Insist on a list UPFRONT of all suppliers and subs that builder plans to use - along with their phone numbers and other contact information - and insist that any deviation from the approved list be pre-approved by you ahead of time.

2) Put in your contact that if any sub/supplier not on the pre-approved list or approved in writing by you files a lien against your home claiming to have done work via a subcontract with builder, builder will fully indemnify you against the lien.

3) Contact each and every listed sub/suppliers before you sign your contract with builder to make sure builder does not already owe them any money.

4) Let Builder AND all subs/suppliers know that you will NOT release any funds to builder without signed NOTARIZED lien releases - so if subs expect to be paid on a timely basis and builder expects to be reimbursed the money he has invested, they must be prompt in getting those lien releases turned in.

5) Make certain that before you release any funds, you have signed, notarized lien releases for the work completed in hand.

5) Find out how long subs/suppliers have to file lien notices in your jurisdiction and put it in your contract that, upon closing, 10% of the build price (taken from the final draw) will be put into escrow to be released to builder upon the expiration of the lien filing deadline but that, if liens are filed in the interim, homeowner may use the funds as necessary to pay off the liens. Some states have a "statutory hold-back" amount and, if you hold back that amount until the lien period has passed, you cannot be held responsible for paying any liens in excess of that amount. I suggested 10% b/c that is my state's statutory hold-back amount.

6) Make certain that builder files an "all bills paid affidavit" in your county land records before you close with him and that he releases any residual liens that he may have against your property if your bank does not fully fund your build.

This is all stuff I wish I had known before we started building. Good luck.


clipped on: 08.02.2012 at 10:18 pm    last updated on: 08.02.2012 at 10:18 pm

RE: It's December - How's Your Build Progressing (Follow-Up #18)

posted by: beb0622 on 12.11.2011 at 12:10 pm in Building a Home Forum

We have had a lot of progress this month, and should be finished in about 7-10 days. They are putting in our hardwoods now, and still waiting on kitchen backsplash, hardware, carpet, and some lighting. Here are our latest pics:




Master shower:

Family room:

Dining room:


clipped on: 08.02.2012 at 09:31 pm    last updated on: 08.02.2012 at 09:32 pm

RE: It's December - How's Your Build Progressing (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: Pcandlyte on 12.01.2011 at 01:59 pm in Building a Home Forum

We close next week!Carpets in bedrooms on tomorrow, cleaning Sunday, sod on Monday, with lots left to do. There are about 50 people onsite right now.

My pics are really rough because I forgot to bring my camera with me 4 months ago when this process began, so it is in storage with the rest of our belongings. I am so ready to move out of this apartment! LOL!

Stamped walkway.

Stamped Front Porch

Front of house as of this morning.

Stone fireplace in family room
stone fireplace in family room

View from family room, dining room is SW Tigereye (orangish) on left. Foyer is SW Bamboo Shoot straight ahead
dining room on the left and foyer straight ahead.

Views of family room and study from dining room


The kitchen is coming together.

Master Bedroom with slate surround fireplace. The mantle should be in today.

Master Bath


clipped on: 08.02.2012 at 09:29 pm    last updated on: 08.02.2012 at 09:29 pm

RE: Contactors and options (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: live_wire_oak on 11.29.2011 at 11:17 am in Building a Home Forum

You'd be better off researching energy efficient ways to construct your home over the decorative frills that fill your home. Intelligent building practices will continue to pay for themselves over the life of the home, well beyond that free shipping payback period. Insulation, metal roofing, LED fixtures, central siting of the water heater, induction cooking and a host of other features can save you thousands over your tenure in that house. You'll be "upgrading" that already dated incandescent Oil Rubbed Bronze fixture you found for super cheap a lot sooner than you will your home's roof or basic structure.


clipped on: 08.02.2012 at 04:17 pm    last updated on: 08.02.2012 at 04:17 pm

RE: Outdoor storage building (shed) advice or experiences (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: dunwiddie on 03.07.2006 at 12:02 pm in Garages/Workshops Forum

If you're up to it, check out the Family Handyman magazine. It's published by readers digest, and can be found online at It's a monthly magazine that (once in awhile) has an article and plans on how to build a shed. I'm sure that you can search online for the plans. They have different variations of it ... from a school-house looking one, to a outdoor cabin. You can probably use the plans as a base and customize it to look like your house.


clipped on: 08.02.2012 at 01:29 pm    last updated on: 08.02.2012 at 01:30 pm

Low Maintenance home ideas/building ideas?

posted by: oceandweller on 09.21.2011 at 02:24 pm in Building a Home Forum

Well we have 3 children and while I am not lazy both of us work and we have 1 1/2 acres. I do landscaping so I have that covered, going with shrubs, small trees that require min maintenance, and in ground water coverage via fed well.

I have done some construction and have seen some great ideas on here. Particularly low maintenance, are there any ideas you would add if you were building?

So far, sockets on back of home both sides for power
3 exterior faucets, one on the back of lot near well
Sockets on front under overhang for christmas lights
Bathroom wall panels, possibly granite or some other material
Stained concrete through out the entire house "in Texas hence well get a benefit from cooling" and will use rugs in high traffic areas
I can really score on the AC and Hot water heater as I am friends with a dealer
I personally want 3/4 ply here 20$ a sheet in bulk to take up the entire attic and stairs from the garage to go up into one attic that way it would be extra entire house storage.
My wife was thinking of a pulley/cleat system on a 4x8 ply, that would be cool for seasonal decorating I suppose or for older couples if reselling instead of constantly dragging out Christmas stuff.
4 car garage with shop in 2 parts for winter woodworking when lanscapings slow.

I just wonder if anybody else has any good ideas before we start.

I am all about low maintenance and energy efficeny if the cost is right. Thanks in advance-

btw I have been buying specials on plants from local nurseries in the off season. This summer I picked 19 2 year old Bloodgood JM and nursed them back to health for 1$.

I see people all the time try to throw an entire landscape up at once and spend 15-20k when you could spend 2...


clipped on: 07.27.2012 at 09:19 pm    last updated on: 07.27.2012 at 09:19 pm

RE: Help with Drywall Texture! (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: GreenDesigns on 09.16.2011 at 04:02 pm in Building a Home Forum

Most builders here do textured because it's easier to do a sloppy drywall job and get away with it. It is MUCH more difficult to patch a textured wall and have it not shout PATCH than it is to do the same with a smooth wall. Textured also hold on to dust and dirt far worse than a smooth wall and is more difficult to scrub and have it look clean. It also takes more paint to cover. All in all, a smooth ceiling and wall is easier to maintain long term than is textured. It's a more classic look, while the varying styles of textures go in and out of fashion. And, it just looks BETTER, IMHO.


clipped on: 07.27.2012 at 09:13 pm    last updated on: 07.27.2012 at 09:13 pm

RE: Help with Drywall Texture! (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: Eyegirlie on 09.15.2011 at 08:47 pm in Building a Home Forum

We just went through this the other week. The sheetrock guy recommended orange peel but our builder suggested a medium to heavy knockdown pattern. Our sheetrock guy actually blew a few different patterns on the wall in the garage for me to look at and choose between. You may want to see if that's an option so you can see it in person before they texture your whole house.. We went with the medium and it's lovely!


clipped on: 07.27.2012 at 09:12 pm    last updated on: 07.27.2012 at 09:12 pm

RE: Found a floor plan I like but needs some tweaking! (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: tikilyn on 07.18.2011 at 12:41 pm in Building a Home Forum

I fill very thankful for every ones help and guidance! I show the husband the latest plans last night and we both went back and forth over the powder room and in the end he wins! LOL

He works rotating shifts and there will be periods of time where he'll be sleeping during the day while everyone is at home. The master has to be completely secluded from everyone except me (ie the laundry room). He just doesn't want anyone on that side of the house while he is trying to sleep. So I had to move the powder room. Our powder room right now is off to the living room and it doesn't bother me one bit. I did turn the old powder room into a linen closet.

I also changed up his work closet so he can enter through the bathroom.

Should there be a window in the laundry room? I keep going back and forth on this. Hubby says don't put on in but then I think natural light.

I've added the room sizes to the plan. And also marked the kitchen appliances.

Again thanks so much for all the help. If theres anything else please let me know!



clipped on: 07.27.2012 at 08:51 pm    last updated on: 07.27.2012 at 08:52 pm

RE: best insulation 'bang for the buck'? (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: lzerarc on 07.22.2011 at 09:35 am in Building a Home Forum

it actually appears you have a pretty decent handle on your needs for your climate zone. Most cases people post here "doing 2x6 frame walls with fiberglass for high energy efficiency". That is highly laughable.

The best "bang for buck" insulation is cellulose, by far. Not only is it much greener, but its more dense (sound deadening, helps to reduce more thermal transfer vs fiberglass, borate treated, and more fire resistant). Do not focus on r alone. Blown blanket will have a slightly higher r (typically around 4.1) vs dense packs or wet spray cellulose (around 3.9ish). However due to the density of cellulose, it will out perform blown blanket any day of the week in the other areas. fiberglass also reduces r when temps drop. Cellulose is also typically slightly cheaper then blown fiberglass. I would have them look into wet spraying or dense packing cellulose in your wall instead of blown blanket. Also definitely get a price to blow cellulose into the ceiling instead of fiberglass. You should not only reduce price slightly, but also have a better performing product.

Also notes, if you can put a 1" layer of XPS on the exterior of your house, that will greatly increase your thermal performance of your walls. example: using a r-4 roughly, you are sitting at r-22 center of cavity. Reduce that by a framing factor of 20% as well as *some* infiltration, you are closer to an r-14 range. Adding the XPS has you sitting at an r-27, with infiltration even more reduced, and your framing factor is reduced to closer to 8-10%, giving you closer to a CLEAR WALL of around r-20-23. Around here XPS goes for about $.78/sqft plus install, so just under a buck a square foot.

Air sealing however if your #1 priority. This makes a huge difference. It sounds like you are ahead of the game there though. Caulk anything and everything. Sills, headers, sheathing to face of studs, etc. Caulk is the cheapest way to make the most difference on your new build. If you really want to take it to the next level, after your shell is up, windows in and attic sealed (BEFORE insulation), have someone come do a blower door test. This will help find leaks and other areas you can easily fill prior to insulating.
Also consider air tight drywalling and a secondary air infiltration barrier.

So off of that rant, back to your ceilings. What exactly is "flat part of the ceiling?"

I would NOT recommend CCf in your roof. I always recommend or spec open cell. R is not quite as high, but the perms are much lower then CCf. This, IMO, is important especially for roofs. If your roof develops a leak, how will you know? Close cell will allow the water to sit there on the foam, pooled on the underside of your sheathing rotting it out from the bottom up. What is worse it can start eating away at your joists as well. Open will also be about 1/3 of the price of closed. So I would fill your garage ceiling completely with open cell, and then if funds allow, fill your bonus room with open cell as well. Worse case use open cell to create your 1" air seal, then do wet spray cellulose from there. However keep in mind with expanding foams...the first inch is the most expensive. The next few inches cost pennys compared to that first inch.
However DO have them fill your rim joist area completely with open cell. This should only cost around 500, but will be worth it. this is one of the most leaky areas of the house that gets the most neglected.

Finally, I disagree with the recommendation to skip the batts in the garage. However I will recommend r-19 instead of r-21. Again, do not always focus on r values. those are derived from steady state numbers, but real world performance tests shows they perform nearly identical. R21 has a large increase in cost vs r19.
I think it should stay because, even though the garage is not directly heated (I assume)you will still have heat transfer, loss, and generation within the garage. With a heated space above and to the side of the garage, insulated walls will help buffer your heat losses in the conditioned spaces. The cost for r-19 batts in probably all of a few hundred bucks depending on the size of your garage.


clipped on: 07.27.2012 at 08:49 pm    last updated on: 07.27.2012 at 08:49 pm

RE: Subs.....pulling my hair out (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: bevangel on 07.14.2011 at 03:45 pm in Building a Home Forum

My experience GCing our build after I had to fire our builder is that subs who have some money in pocket tend to disappear. Those who have to finish the job to get paid, show up.

I was constantly waiting on subs who would start a job, work a day or two, then disappear - sometimes for weeks. The guy who was supposed to do the sheetrock in my house literally took 5 and 1/2 MONTHS to finally finish the sheetrocking job. It should have taken him 2 weeks max! And, he only finally showed up to finish the job when I discovered that he was on probation for a felony and I tracked down his probation officer and complained to him. The probation officer was very understanding (I think he was in the midst of building a house too, LOL!) Probation Officer told my sheetrocker, you got two choices, get that lady's house sheetrocked and sheetrocked properly within one week or plan on going back to jail!

After that, I did a bit of thinking and came up with a procedure that, for me at least, stopped that kind of malfeasance in its tracks. I'll outline it for you below. Once I started letting every potential sub know that if they were gonna work for me, this was the way it was gonna be and don't even bother bidding if you don't like the terms, I had no more problems. Some people decided not to bid at all (their choice) but the ones I hired showed up and FINISHED the jobs they were hired to do. No more waiting all day on subs who never showed up. No more fights. On a couple of occasions, I got last-minute phone calls from subs who had an emergency but I always told them not to worry about it, so long as they showed up the next day, it would not be a problem. And, except for one guy, everyone of them actually showed up the next day and then stayed on the job and finished. The one guy gave me excuses twice. When he called with the 3rd excuse, I told him, I'm not accepting your excuse. You have two hours to get here or I'm calling in a replacement. He showed up in 45 minutes... a bit sullen perhaps, but he finished the job and got paid. Once I instituted my procedures, things moved along like clockwork. We finished our house from rough sheetrock stage to move-in level in about 10 weeks. Not bad for a GC who was figuring things out as she went.

Anyway, here is the procedure I decided to follow:

1) Potential subcontractors provide bids that separate out the materials costs from the labor costs.

2) Once I accept a bid, subcontractor lets me know where he wants to get supplies/materials.

3) I meet subcontractor at material suppliers location.

4) Sub orders all needed supplies.

5) I verify that supplies/materials are set to be delivered to my worksite then I pay for supplies with MY credit card. Subcontractor also signs materials list indicating that he approved purchase of materials/supplies per the accepted bid. (I don't actually care if amount is slightly more or less than bid showed for materials but I keep a copy of materials order form.) Subcontractor get NO money in his pocket. No more, "I need half down b/c I have to buy supplies." No more weeks of waiting after paying half down while subcontractor gives the excuse, "I've ordered the supplies but X is on backorder and, until it arrives, I can't get started, I'll call you when it comes in."

6) When supplies/materials are delivered to my site, I check things off on the invoice. I know when everything has arrived. Or, if something gets backordered, I know and have the option of looking elsewhere for the item. And, the supplies BELONG to me, not to subcontractor. I paid for them, not him. Once job is finished, any leftover supplies belong to Sub who finished the job - if he wants them.

7) Agreement with sub includes a clause setting forth the pre-agreed upon amount of time (after materials are delivered to the site) that subcontractor has to get started on the labor portion of the job.

8) Agreement also sets forth the amount of time after starting labor that subcontractor has to FINISH the job completely.
9) VERY IMPORTANT, Agreement includes clause that Subcontractor agrees that, once labor portion of job has begun, subcontractor will continue to be on jobsite each and every business day (Monday thru Friday excluding major holidays) for a minimum of 8 hours between the hours of 7AM and 6PM until job is fully completed - including any punchlist items. Sub and his crew must work diligently at all times while on the worksite to complete the job in a timely fashion. (An exception can be made for inclement weather if the job requires outdoor work. If you're feeling generous, you can also build in a one-time, ONE day automatic excused absense and/or a clause allowing subcontractor to to follow a procedure satisfactory to you for asking to be excused for an absence on a given day in the event of an illness or family emergency. Note that you may need to set a limit to how many of these excuses you will accept.)

10) Payment is due for labor only after job is complete. While bid sets out materials and labor amounts separately, these numbers are guidelines only. If sub completes job according to the agreement, amount actually due for labor is calculated by "Total bid price minus amount spent for materials" - and any leftover materials belong to subcontractor if he wants them. This relieves subcontractor of worry about getting exact costs of materials prior to bidding. It also incentivises subs not to waste materials. While materials belong to me until contract is complete, the cost of wasted materials comes out of sub's pocket.

11) VERY IMPORTANT- in the event that Sub does not complete the job per the agreement, the Agreement contains a clause setting forth a formula by which the value of sub's partially finished work will be calculated. Basically: If subcontractor fails to appear for work on the day that labor is slated to begin, subcontractor is in material breach of the agreement. Owner may, at his discretion, immediately hire a replacement to do the labor and no payment for labor will be due to subcontractor. If subcontractor begins labor under this agreement but fails to timely complete or fails to stay on the job as required by the agreement, Subcontractor is in material breach. Owner may, at his discretion and without further notice to Subcontractor, hire replacement to comlete job. The value of all labor provided by subcontractor prior to breach will be calculated by: Total Accepted Bid Amount minus Amount spent on materials minus Amount paid to replacement to complete job minus Amount paid for any additonal materials needed by replacement to complete job. Further, in the event of breach by subcontractor and homeowner's decision to hire a replacement, no money is due to subcontractor until replacement completes the job and has been paid. In the event of breach, Owner is under no obligation to seek multiple bids before hiring a replacment and Owner may accept any bid for replacement to complete the job that is no more than twice the amount agreed for the entire job under this agreement.

13) Thus, if sub breaches by failing to show up to start the job when planned, I am free to IMMEDIATELY (like the same day!) hire someone else to do the job and original subcontractor gets paid nothing for his labor b/c he hasn't done any labor.

14) If sub breaches by failing to timely finish the job, I have the option of telling him at the end of his last scheduled day "don't bother come back, I am going to get someone else to finish." Likewise, if sub fails to STAY on the job and working everyday, I am free to call someone else in immediately to finish the job.

15) If I have to hire a replacement, I owe original sub NOTHING for his labor until the replacement has completed the job and been paid. At that point, the amount owed and payable to the original sub for the work he put into the job is calculated by: Original Sub's total bid amount MINUS Amount actually spent on materials for sub #1 MINUS Amount paid to Sub#2 to finish the job. (Agreement with Sub#2 is set up exactly like agreement with sub#1.)

To illustrate:

Assume the bid I originally accepted from SUB #1 TOTALED $5000 ($3000 for labor and $2000 for materials). Sub #1 and I go to the store and purchase $1500 worth of materials. Sub #1 finishes the job. He gets paid $3500 and gets to take home any leftover supplies if he wants them. Both sides happy.

But, if Sub #1 gets half-way into the job and then disappears. I call in Sub #2 who had originally given me a bid of $5500 ($3500 for labor and $2000 for supplies). I tell sub #2 that the job is partway completed and that I already have some of the supplies needed on hand. I ask sub#2, to look over what has been done and the supplies on hand and give me a labor and materials bid to finish the job.

After looking at the work already done, Sub#2 says, "well, the job is about half done but I'm gonna have to pull some of this out and redo it b/c it isn't up to my standards so I'm gonna have to charge you $2800 in labor to finish the job. And, because I'm gonna have to pull some of the already used materials out and replace them, I'm gonna need maybe another $500 worth of supplies. So, total bid $3300.

Since this is less than twice the amount of the original total bid, I am free to accept it if I want to. The fact that it is more than the original sub's bid to do all the labor - and the work is already half complete - doesn't matter. The fact that the job is already half done yet sub#2 is asking for more than half of the amount HE originally bid to do the full job also doesn't matter. Since I still have $3500 in my pocket from the $5000 I orginally planed to spend on the project, I can accept this bid to get the job finished and not wind up paying more than I originally expected to pay. [I'm convinced subs get away with pulling the disappearing is act is, once they have some of your money in their pocket, they know that it will cost you extra to get someone else to take over and finish their partially done work.]

Once I accept his bid, Sub#2 and I go to the suppliers and he picks out $400 worth of additional supplies. Again, I purchase the supplies and they belong to me.

Sub #2 finishes job.

I pay Sub#2 $2900 for finishing the job. (Total of what he bid minus the $400 I spent on extra supplies for him). Sub #2 also gets to keep any leftover supplies because, unlike sub#1, HE finished the job.

At this point, I have paid out a total of $4800 for a job that was originally supposed to cost me $5000. ($1500 for supplies requested by sub#1, $400 for supplies requested by sub#2, $2900 for labor for sub #2.

I call sub#1 and tell him he can come pick up his check for $200 for the work he completed. I give that to him along with a copy of the invoices for additional materials purchased and a copy of the check paid to sub#2 as proof of what was spent to finish the job.

Sub#1 is gonna scream bloody murder that he did at least half the job and should get paid half of what he bid. Too bad. Because he walked off the job, I had to hire someone more expensive to finish the work. His original agreement sets out the terms for how the value of an unfinished job would be calculated and I'm following that agreement. If sub#1 files a lien or tries to sue, he WILL NOT win.

Maybe once the building industry really picks back up again, subs won't be willing to accept jobs with conditions like mine. For now tho, many of them are scrambling for work and it isn't like my conditions are unreasonable. The sub doesn't have to spend any money out of his pocket to buy supplies for my job. I don't have to trust him with "half down" and pray and hope he doesn't just fly the coop with my money. I paid my subs soon as they finished the job - no 30 or 60 day waiting period - but I didn't pay a penny for labor before the labor was done. This is the way the rest of the world works and, IMHO, it is past time that subcontractors started being halfway responsible too.


clipped on: 07.27.2012 at 08:29 pm    last updated on: 07.27.2012 at 08:29 pm

RE: Master Closet Pics and Ideas Please (Follow-Up #18)

posted by: pps7 on 12.21.2010 at 08:42 pm in Building a Home Forum

We don't have out washer/dryer in our closet but we have a pass through and it's one of the best things we did- I love it! I'm hopefully getting a bench for the master closet in the next week and am very much looking forward to it. Will post pics once it's here.

Master closet side:


Goes through to laundry room:


Laundry room:



clipped on: 07.27.2012 at 07:21 pm    last updated on: 07.27.2012 at 07:21 pm

Pls Help Me Decide- Final Window & Front Door Decision Due In AM!

posted by: mydreamhome on 06.07.2011 at 12:01 am in Building a Home Forum

Just a few final decisions we're on the fence about. Please weigh in with your opinion & help me decide.

First, the front door...

Front Elevation:

Door Finalists (Installed doors on top row, same doors with no frame of reference on bottom row):
Moving on to the Kitchen...

Kitchen Window Options (Interior View):

Rear Elevations with Different Kitchen Window Options:


clipped on: 07.27.2012 at 07:12 pm    last updated on: 07.27.2012 at 07:13 pm

Mother of all Savings

posted by: MunzerHaque on 05.09.2011 at 03:41 am in Building a Home Forum

I think, there are some builders and Architect in this forum tries to prop up their fee. I have noticed in this forum some people are suggesting $2.00 to $5.0 per sq. ft. for Architectural drawing. For builders' fee: 15% to 20%.

I think those number are too high. I am in Dallas, Texas.
I am a consumer and in the process of building of my dream home.
This is the process I am following and saving a lot of money.
I bought AutoCAD 2010 Architect, student edition for $175 and a $50 book training manual for it. I spent 3 months learning AutoCAD on my own. Student edition is not water down version, it is the same full version sold to professionals. The only difference is it print "Student Version" on the edges of the print out.

Then I spend 6 months, part time drawing my home. Then I took it to designer to review, partial redraw, fixes, and ensure all standards and building codes. This designer with 20+ years of experience is charging me $0.70 to do so.
In the state of Texas Architect is not required.

I have 2 acre lot. Plan has 6,000 sq. ft. of A/C finished space, and additional 3500 sq. ft. of covered space that includes, 5-car garage, unfinished room above the garage, balcony, sun room, patio etc., This plan also has large negative edge swimming pool with a lap lane.

Normally, via standard process of contacting, builder quoted for $1.4 million to build this house and 15% is their fee. This doesn't include swimming pool, landscape or land cost.

But then, I went to local HBA (Home Builder Association) web site. Down loaded all 383 custom builders contact info. I prepared two pages of builder selection criteria and a form for builder credentialing information. I faxed my documents along with pdf file of my plan to 10 builders at a time. I systematically started to contact all builders and kept a log in excel sheet. I told them I have the 383 builders list and will contact few at a time until i find a builder who will build my home for a fix fee of $80K for his fee regardless of the cost of my house. I explained, that it is not fair to pay extra to a builder just because I pick more expensive items (upgrades)
I think, only extra work on your part should be compensated extra. Picking cheaper or more expensive marble, appliances, kitchen top, light fixtures should increase your fee. Cost plus or fix price is not fair.

I did not have to contact more than 50 builders to find a reputable builder with past experience and reference check who has agreed to work for me for $80K. I have pointed out the extra incentive for him that he will then have access to our subdivision to get more business.

I am paying him $80K in 10 installments over 9 months. I also insisted that I will not go by any contract that is written by one party. In the contract I have put in a clause that I reserve the right to select my supplier and/or subs if I find builder's supplier or subs are more expensive or of lower quality.

Now the builder is going through my HOA credentialing process. I think I will save $100K to $120K in builder fee alone.

I plan to do the mass mailing for bids and quotes for all major works, like foundation, framing, roofing, electrical etc.

Most Architect and builders do not like people like me. I am a consumer advocate.

What do you think about the process I am using?

I want to post pdf files of my house plan. How do you post pdf files here? Just drag and drop or copy and paste did here did not work.


clipped on: 07.27.2012 at 07:10 pm    last updated on: 07.27.2012 at 07:10 pm

saving money building a new home

posted by: heartspeace on 07.15.2012 at 11:23 am in Building a Home Forum

I wanted to ask you how and with what you can save money if you're building a new home. For me there are obvious things, don't get a six car garage etc. I'm not in that market anyway I'm in more nice townhouse market w/ a two car garage, 2900 sqft.

I wanted to ask with upgrades what will be the best things to not have upgraded in the design center, or structurally, and have it done afterwards?

For eg I like the cabinets within the design center but they're expensive. The gas fireplace is also expensive but something I feel must be done during the build.

However the hardwood flooring on the first level seems extraordinarily expensive, for me this seems like one good place to save money, what do you think? priced it out afterwords it seems like a good deal to do later, if I get Brazilian wood somewhere else and have it installed but what are the catches?

Carpeting also seems like just get what you can get at the lowest cost with good padding to let it wear out until you replace it.

Lighting also seems like another good area to just do afterwords except for all the junction boxes and fan box pre installation.

The Internet, cable and the audio in the electrical seems like they have to go in now unless you want a lot of drywall cut later.

The appliances they have I would want better but I can live with these from now. I do not like that the charging $2000 to upgrade to stainless steel but they got me over a barrel.

The bathroom is one area where I am happy and sad and getting what I want paneless cost for it I don't know whether that's cheaper or having it redone after.

of course was doing anything after you don't get it financed whereas if you get it done by the builder it's at a very low low rate.



clipped on: 07.17.2012 at 06:52 pm    last updated on: 07.17.2012 at 06:52 pm

Small things that get forgotten

posted by: Laura12 on 04.11.2012 at 06:01 pm in Building a Home Forum

I keep hearing that most people find that there are small things that they didn�t think about until after they finished construction that they wish they would have added into their build, and I was curious if all of you would like to help me to compile a list for all of us to consider during planning!

So far I have
- Plugs in kitchen pantry for charging, or for items that may end up living there
- Full size broom cupboard in pantry or laundry room to hide all the cleaning items away from sight.
- Solar tubes in areas that don�t get natural sunlight
- Prewire security system
- Run wire and prepare roof for future solar
- Central Vac with vac pans

Any others to add?


clipped on: 07.17.2012 at 06:49 pm    last updated on: 07.17.2012 at 06:50 pm

RE: Carpenter insists secret bookcase door needs floor rollerball (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: ohlaches on 05.03.2012 at 01:07 pm in Building a Home Forum

Threeapples...this is our local secret doorway guy. He's been making these forever. Eventually we plan to have them in our basement (when we get around to finishing it!). It looks like you can buy just his hardware package, so I thought it might be helpful for you. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Secret Doorways website


clipped on: 07.17.2012 at 06:32 pm    last updated on: 07.17.2012 at 06:32 pm

RE: construction loan or not (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: athensmomof3 on 08.17.2011 at 06:28 pm in Building a Home Forum

I have more confidence in the stock market than you David and the ability to minimize tax consequences ;), although I do have the same concerns about the mortgage interest deduction . . I think though that is off the table until the housing industry recovers which may well be 5 years or more.

Another thing I would caution you to do is to compare interest rates on your HELOC and the construction loan. We have an existing HELOC and the interest rate on that was a quarter of a point lower than the rate on our construction loan. Unfortunately we needed to use both as our HELOC did not come close to covering our build costs but we put in all our cash first, then used the HELOC with the lower interest rate (interest only option), and will have to tap our construction loan at the end of the month for the next draw. When we sell our house, the HELOC will be paid off and we will have borrowed less than we would have otherwise (we are trying to avoid an enormous mortgage payment). We also have the benefit of borrowing a good bit of money at well under 4 percent.


clipped on: 07.16.2012 at 08:09 pm    last updated on: 07.16.2012 at 08:09 pm

RE: construction loan or not (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: JMphoto on 08.17.2011 at 09:33 am in Building a Home Forum

We did a construction loan on ours and we are almost finished. Some things I learned. 1) Don't forget that MOST construction loans have a deadline date and penalties for going over that date. Ours went over, as do most and now we got a 2 point penalty and hoping the builder is going to pay the penalty like he claims.
2) There usually is an additional inspection fee which YOU will have to pay for any inspections beyond what is contracted. We got hit with one. The builder called for the 4th draw and the bank came out to inspect. The builder had most of the 4th draw items finished, but not all, although he had items done from the 5th draw which he thought would balance out. The bank was unhappy about that and required an additional inspection that I must pay for and hope the builder will compensate me for it.
3) Yes, as noted above, the banks inspections are worthless. I happened to be at the home one day talking with the builder when the bank inspector came. It was siding and insulation. There was no siding on the front of the house since it gets stone and stucco, but the back and sides had siding. The inspector never looked at the sides and back and said "I am assuming there is siding on the back and the front gets stone" the builder replied "yup"
The inspector then stuck his head in the door, not his feet, just his head, saw there was insulation and said, "I am assuming there is insulation upstairs too" builder says "Yup" and the inspector says "OK...gotta run" and drove off. Less than 30 seconds on the property.
We know our builder, but I don't know if I could even trust him if I were not close by to watch over them. One good thing the bank will do for us at conversion time is if all contracted items are not finished, but CO is acquired, they will withhold an amount which will certainly encourage the builder to come back quicker and finish.


clipped on: 07.16.2012 at 07:53 pm    last updated on: 07.16.2012 at 07:53 pm

RE: Brick mailbox (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: JMphoto on 08.11.2011 at 02:26 pm in Building a Home Forum

Here is our stone mailbox the builder just finished. Just thought it may give you a visual. Number plaques on both sides, I just removed the numbers in photoshop.



clipped on: 07.16.2012 at 07:47 pm    last updated on: 07.16.2012 at 07:47 pm

RE: Mortgage loan (Follow-Up #16)

posted by: MarcusFlorence on 06.16.2011 at 07:31 am in Building a Home Forum

You'll still want to put in the 15%. The bank will look at what the land is worth (if you were to default on the loan) but will most likely still require 10-20% down. You may also want to check with the contractor as some bigger home builders have their own financing options.


clipped on: 07.16.2012 at 07:46 pm    last updated on: 07.16.2012 at 07:46 pm

RE: Mortgage loan (Follow-Up #14)

posted by: angela12345 on 03.10.2011 at 12:10 am in Building a Home Forum

Owning the land does help. However, another thing that goes into it is how long you have owned the land. Depending on how long you have owned it will determine whether you can use cost of the land or appraised value. The appraised value will determine how much you will have to put down.

For example, if you just bought the land, the house as built appraises for 350k, and the actual cost to build is 250k, then you have 71% loan to value. However, because you have not owned the land long, they will go with the lower of purchase price or appraised value, so 250k + 37k = 287k which is 13% LTV and you would need to put ~21k more in to get to 80% LTV. BUT, if you have owned the land for a while, the house as built appraises for 315k, and the actual cost to build is 250k, then you have 80% loan to value and you would not need to put in anything more to get to 80% LTV. Finally, if it appraises for less - for example, it only appraises for 260k and costs 250k to build, then you are at 96% LTV and would need to put 42k more in to get to 80%. In this case it would not matter how much you paid for the land or how long you have owned it.

I agree with calling around to a lot of different banks. US Bank might have a good loan program, however for our scenario, it was not the best deal out there. Some of the ones I found to be competitive included RBC Centura, Suntrust, BB&T, Wells Fargo, Fifth Third Bank, and some other banks that are very local to our area only.

Janilyn, the builders that we interviewed were all able to bid based on plans we drew ourselves in 3D Home Architect / Chief Architect. None of them required any money upfront to bid on the job. Only after we narrowed down the field and then chose a builder did we have the final plans drawn by an architect. If you are choosing a builder model and making minor changes to it, I do not see why he would require money upfront. The appraiser may not necessarily need the final plans either. They can likely appraise with the builder model plans with your changes written in on them. Only once you go under contract with the builder, they often require a downpayment upfront. I would have the appraisal done first before handing over 6k nonrefundable.


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RE: Mortgage loan (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: Janilyn on 03.08.2011 at 10:32 pm in Building a Home Forum

Woohoo! Today we are approved for financing for end loan pending appraisal. Over the last six months we've picked a builder model and made some changes on paper and got the fixed price we want. Builder wants $6,000 non-refundable deposit to get contracts written and actual full plans drawn. The whole thing may fall apart once appraisal is done but obviously we can't get appraisal without full set of plans. Is this typically the way things are done?


clipped on: 07.16.2012 at 07:42 pm    last updated on: 07.16.2012 at 07:42 pm

RE: Mortgage loan (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: kbabe9 on 03.07.2011 at 08:20 pm in Building a Home Forum

Most banks require 20% down payment. Major banks allow you to use the land value (if owned free and clear) + any improvements you can document (well, power, etc.) for the down payment. Talk with US Bank. They have the best program right now for construction loans.


clipped on: 07.16.2012 at 07:39 pm    last updated on: 07.16.2012 at 07:39 pm

RE: Anyone want to recommend a book? (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: lzerarc on 07.20.2011 at 12:42 pm in Building a Home Forum

looking at your plan, I think someone with space planning skills should be consulted with. Maybe its not an issue to you, but you have a very high amount of wasted hall and aux. spaces. I personally do not like paying for hall space in a house. Also the kitchen layout is not efficient at all. I am not sure what climate you are in, but around here we do not put plumbing in exterior walls. It appears 80% of your plumbing is that way. Also mechanical rooms/general storage? Looks like there might be a basement? If so, space for stairs does not work.
Its definitely a start though. Look into some design books while you are at it if you do not want to deal with a design professional. It might help you out in better space planning and arrangements thus reducing your overall sqftage...which not only affects upfront construction costs, but operating costs for years to come.
Also its not too early to start thinking about your construction type, especially your exterior walls. Think about efficiency and how much you want to spend on utilities. Spending a little more upfront on your wall, roof and foundation type with pay off its self over and over again for years to come. Hint...typical 2x6 studs with fiberglass batts is NOT that efficient at all.


clipped on: 07.16.2012 at 07:32 pm    last updated on: 07.16.2012 at 07:32 pm

RE: Anyone want to recommend a book? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: tikilyn on 07.19.2011 at 10:04 am in Building a Home Forum

The plan is to hire a GC to buid the shell (foundation, framing, roof, windows and doors). Then my husband and I will take over do some work ourselves and sub out the tough stuff!


clipped on: 07.16.2012 at 07:28 pm    last updated on: 07.16.2012 at 07:28 pm

RE: Subcontracting a home (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: bevangel on 09.08.2011 at 11:39 am in Building a Home Forum

Depends a lot on where you're building. In some places you might be able to qualify for a loan by working through one of the "construction consulting" companies like OwnerBuilder Network or UBuildIt or Build4Yourself or by hiring someone with a license to be your on-site supervisor. In other areas, there are banks that specialize in making owner-builder loans. In others (like mine) becoming a registered "builder" is as easy filing a little paperwork with the state and paying a registration fee - then, once you're a registered builder getting a construction loan becomes a whole LOT easier and banks don't seem to care if you're building your own "forever home" or a spec home you plan to sell.

You might also try talking with a local "mortgage professional" since they may already know which banks are likely to approve an owner-builder construction loan.

And, depending on where you live here are some websites that might be helpful:


clipped on: 07.16.2012 at 04:58 pm    last updated on: 07.16.2012 at 04:59 pm

RE: Dining Room location (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: joyce_6333 on 09.29.2011 at 11:29 am in Building a Home Forum

Sadie, I'm going to leave the discussion of the dining room to others. We did not opt for an open floor plan, and wanted the kitchen and eating areas to be separate from the family room. I do like your kitchen layout, and that nice big pantry.

You have a nice mudroom entrance and laundry area. However, I think Lavendar-Lass has a good idea about the location of the powder room. When we designed our home, we wanted the powder room easily accessible from all areas, but a bit private, too. We didn't want the family room to be the main traffic pattern, and I didn't want traffic from the garage to go through kitchen, dining, and family rooms. This is not our final plan, we did make a few minor changes, but this layout is working very well for us (empty nesters).



clipped on: 07.16.2012 at 04:46 pm    last updated on: 07.16.2012 at 04:46 pm

RE: Anyone built this home by Garrell Assoc, 'Lansdowne Place?' (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: red_lover on 09.30.2011 at 03:26 pm in Building a Home Forum

My next door neighbors built this home. I would not be comfortable posting a pic of their home, but have to say that it is drop dead gorgeous. They built it using large bricks. It is one of my favorite houses. We are in Illinois.


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RE: Your Budget (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: Andi_K on 10.25.2011 at 01:49 pm in Building a Home Forum

I went through the real estate market a bit to see what comps were going for. And, then knowing that info, plus knowing I wanted specific things (ex. geothermal) that the homes around me didn't have, I thought $X was a "fair price". Then, we talked to builders, specified what we wanted and we were in the ballpark. We also specified A LOT in the contract and then made sure where there were allowances, that we did research before signing to make sure they would get us what we wanted, etc.

We are just starting the build, but I've already done tons of selections. I have an "overage" cushion that I planned for in case there was just something I fell in love with, and an "unexpected" budget for things that are unknown until things start moving (ex - we expect to hit rock for excavation, never know how deep you need to go for a well, etc).

For each allowance group I had, I just decided from the beginning which space would take the hit. For example - cabinetry....I decided the kitchen was going to be whatever I wanted, so if I hit my allowance, then the laundry room cabs/counter/tile $ would be on the chopping block if needed. Do I really need granite counters to fold laundry? Probably! So, when I decided to go with soapstone in the kitchen, I just thought I'll find a granite remnant if I need to for laundry or do a laminate (gasp!) if I have to :) But, my laundry room and a few other spaces are the last room I'm making selections on so I can make sure I have the important spaces how I want them.I'll know where my "overage" and "unexpected" are and can decide if I want to select granite from the stone yard, or just go with whatever for folding clothest!


clipped on: 07.16.2012 at 04:06 pm    last updated on: 07.16.2012 at 04:07 pm

RE: vinyl siding vs fiber cement (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: joyce_6333 on 06.19.2011 at 08:56 pm in Building a Home Forum

Alto, well done! Great trim work on the exterior.

We had many discussions with our builder on which siding we should use. Hardie was our first choice, but our builder has had alot of trouble with it, and issues with warranty claims. He suggested SmartSide. At the time, I really didn't like their color choices. I did alot of shopping around before we decided on Certainteed Impressions polymer shakes, and felt it appropriate for our modest home. We really like it. The guys who installed it said it went up easy, and they felt it was a great product. All the subs loved it, and we've received so many comments on it. Sorry I don't have a great picture. Now that we've moved in, I really have to get some better pictures.


clipped on: 07.15.2012 at 11:51 pm    last updated on: 07.15.2012 at 11:51 pm

Basic Steps to Building

posted by: auggie1020 on 06.09.2011 at 03:36 pm in Building a Home Forum

Hi all:

I am wondering if anyone cares to comment on our thinking. We sold our house moved into a temp apartment and are now looking for a lot/teardown to build on in a neighborhood that we like. Our plan is to buy the lot (we are not using an agent, as we know all the lots/teardown opporutnities in the neigborhood and can save 3%). Once we find the lot, we will select a plan that we like and that fits the lot. Then, we will meet with an architect and revise the plan and get very detailed. Then, we plan to select 3 or 4 builders who we know regualarly build in the neighborhood and whose work we like and ask them to bid on building the house. We are open to hearing from you guys as to whether this plan makes sense to you or how we might improve upon it, etc.



clipped on: 07.15.2012 at 11:49 pm    last updated on: 07.15.2012 at 11:49 pm

RE: Inherited or gifted land and financing (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: mydreamhome on 06.12.2011 at 09:52 pm in Building a Home Forum

From what I have learned between my husband being gifted a house & land and the financing of our own build on our acreage there are actually quite a few things to consider:

1) If the property is gifted, a gift tax will likely need to be paid. If & when you ever decide to sell any piece of gifted property, you will owe capital gains taxes on the difference between the value when gifted and the amount you sold it for less any cost of improvements.

2) Inheritance taxes may be owed (depends on the value of the estate at the time of your father in law's death). I believe the government is looking at increasing the percentage of inheritance taxes owed and lowering the thresholds. Again, depending on the value, you may be able to avoid it if pulling some aceage off now as a gift would reduce the value below at least the current inheritance tax threshold value.

3) How do you plan to finance the new home build? If you're going the route of a traditional bank, they typically don't like the house to be on more than 5 acres. If you go with a lender that specializes in larger tracts of land/home loans you can typically have as many acres as you like connected with the construction/home loan. Farm Credit has locations all over the nation that specialize in these types of loans. With the housing market crisis, alot of the total loan amount & value thresholds have changed, though so you'll want to check with your local branch. Typically they will set a 'value of the house' to 'value of the land' ratio that has to be met. (In our area I believe the value of the house had to be at least 35% of the total value of the house & land values together.)

4) Evaluate your risk. If you roll the house & land all together in 1 loan and default, the bank takes it all. If you finance only a part of the land & the house together and default the bank only gets that samller piece of land & the house sitting on it while you retain the remainder of the land.

5) Depending on the value of the house & land and the amount of money you have available for a downpayment, you may have to increase the amount of land you put with the house to either qualify for the loan or to avoid PMI.

Just some things to think about and investigate. I would definitely call the tax department, your CPA, your attorney, your preferred bank and/or Farm Credit (or other agricultural lender) and ask for their advice given your particular circumstances.

Here is a link that might be useful: Farm Credit Website


clipped on: 07.15.2012 at 11:42 pm    last updated on: 07.15.2012 at 11:43 pm

RE: Checklist when reviewing floorplan (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: musings on 06.05.2011 at 12:37 pm in Building a Home Forum

I review plans with clients by helping them imagine walking through each space the way they will use it. Step by step, starting with the front door. (Also, consider furniture placement for each area.)

Example: Is the entry mainly for you to enter or for visitors? When you open the door, are the light switches convenient to the side where the door opens? Do you have space/wall space for seating or furniture to place things on (packages, mail, keys, etc.). Are electrical outlets where you might have lamps? Are the lamps switched by the front door or will you manually turn them on/off? Do you have wall space (w/o switches, alarm boxes, etc.) where you will hang a mirror or artwork? Is there a nearby place to put guests coats/purses when you entertain? When you leave the entry, are there more switches you can turn everything on/off from?

We do this for each space. It helps you realize what's missing/wrong. Many times we find there are not enough or well placed electrical outlets; switches are located in places we might want to hang something or inconvenient to the entry/exit of a room; doors that open into small bathrooms making it quite a task to open/close the door from the inside; not enough hose bibs in convenient locations outside; not enough wall space for furniture placement/hanging items; inadequate lighting. Another consideration is door size.

Also, if you are considering accessibility or aging-in-place, you might want to ensure doors/openings are 3' wide and hallways/walkways width of at least 48".

I also agree with the post regarding showing your plan to others for another perspective check.


clipped on: 07.15.2012 at 11:36 pm    last updated on: 07.15.2012 at 11:36 pm

RE: It's May- How is your build progressing? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: billybaroo on 05.01.2011 at 09:31 pm in Building a Home Forum

It's been a while since I updated. The inside is done with the exception of the painters coming back to do some exterior paint and interior touchup. The other trades are done on the inside. Just waiting on the exterior flatwork and landscaping since the rains we've had pushed everything off by two weeks.

We close on the sale of our current house on the 9th and move in on the 10th. Should be an interesting move seeing as how we'll not be able to drive on the fresh driveway. But we're done. Most fun I'll never want to have again.

Here's a couple of pics of the more interesting parts of the (almost) finish. Some of the pics are from a while back, though. I've been lurking around on here for well over a year during the entire process.

Front of the house (final grade in progress when this was taken, we have finished pillars on the front porch now):
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Sort of the side of the house:
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Fireplace the day the floors started going in:
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Great room floor going in before they covered it with paper and cardboard:
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Master bedroom:
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Master bath (mostly done - one more cabinet with a countertop garage for all of my wife's hair tools still to be installed):
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Master bath counter:
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Dining/great room (the tub went into the master bath):
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Kitchen (white subway tile backsplash has since been installed along with a small pendant above the sink):
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Sink, faucet, countertop:
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Kitchen/dining island almost done:
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Don't have any pics of the other half of the house. Darn it.

Challenges: our flooring and cabinetry allowances were ridiculously inadequate especially considering our deciding to go with geothermal HVAC; a massive seam of blue clay about 4-6 feet below grade that caused significant drainage issues; having my wife traveling for work about a third of the time leaving me with a full-time law practice, a 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 year old to wrangle, running herd on this house and selling my present house all at the same time.

All told, I'm just so glad to be done with this. I will never, ever, build a house again. Thanks for looking.


clipped on: 07.15.2012 at 11:31 pm    last updated on: 07.15.2012 at 11:31 pm

Downsy, picture of my Nichiha siding for you

posted by: juniork on 05.09.2011 at 08:07 pm in Building a Home Forum

I think you'd asked about it in another thread. Ours isnt done yet, and not stained yet, but here's how it looks from the back/side of the house. It looks like shingles, but comes in planks that are relatively easy to install. The trim is also Nichiha, and our GC commented about how it needs to be twice as thick as the siding, to stand out, but since it isn't, he had to fur it out and add wood behind it, to get it to 'stick out'.

siding back porch


clipped on: 07.15.2012 at 10:50 pm    last updated on: 07.15.2012 at 10:50 pm

RE: Got plans - quotes from builders or mortgage co. now (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: spf5209 on 04.19.2011 at 08:57 pm in Building a Home Forum

I agree, very odd. How did you get a construction loan w/o a builder or a cost to build? If you are this early without much knowledge about the process, you should check out the construction-to-perm threads. The appraisal issue is a big item not to overlook.


clipped on: 07.15.2012 at 04:38 pm    last updated on: 07.15.2012 at 10:33 pm

RE: Got plans - quotes from builders or mortgage co. now (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: beaglesdoitbetter on 04.17.2011 at 11:52 pm in Building a Home Forum

I don't think you're going to get a loan unless you have a builder and a blue book- unless your loan works very differently than ours. The bank(s) we went to looked at the whole contract and builder's specs and also checked out the builder as well. Maybe it is different in other areas though...


clipped on: 07.15.2012 at 04:38 pm    last updated on: 07.15.2012 at 04:38 pm

Who has built their own home?

posted by: momo7 on 04.19.2011 at 03:51 pm in Building a Home Forum

I have an idea in my head and I can't get rid of it. I (well, along with my husband) want to build our own home. I mean like with a hammer and wood. It seems kind of crazy and I keep expecting to come to my senses but I think it is what I really, really want to do. I've already convinced him to take 4 months off work to build it (which isn't as impressive as it sounds, I could talk him into anything ; )
Has anybody done this and how was it? How long did it take? If it matters, we are in Ontario, Canada. We have some land that we want to build on. We have a house and some money that we could access but we would have to sell our house to finish and find alternative living arrangements (a tent?). Anyways, if you have done it, I would love to hear from you.


clipped on: 07.15.2012 at 04:32 pm    last updated on: 07.15.2012 at 04:32 pm

What are you doing (or did you do) for HVAC in your build?

posted by: chris11895 on 04.13.2011 at 10:25 pm in Building a Home Forum

I posted a message about radiant heat throughout the house in the HVAC forum and got some very very useful advice. My dilemma in planning has been that I want radiant throughout the house but I have heard that is extremely expensive especially since we also need AC. We're in Mass so we have very cold, dry winters and dry skin/eczema is an issue in our family. In the homes/apartments I lived in which used forced hot air I *hated* it. I remember feeling like I was going to crawl out of my skin. I recently mentioned "forced hot air" at a gathering and everyone said "don't do it". But still, I don't want to make a hasty decision based on my time in various 1990s HVAC systems. It sounds like if forced hot air is designed properly and installed properly, add in some other caveats (heatpump, insulation, modulating furnace) you can end up with a very comfortable home. Thus being said, I really want to hear from everyone else out there who is building and see what you are going to do. SO, what did you do, or are you planning to do in your build? And I'd really love to hear from anyone who is finished building and is in love or has regrets. So have it - what is your input and what lead you to go that way? Are you happy? :-) Thanks in advance!


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RE: Advice on building first house (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: lzerarc on 01.11.2011 at 10:15 pm in Building a Home Forum

there are many ways to build the shell tight and be super efficient. What part of the country are you located in?
Keep in mind, you get it fairly efficient will not really cost much more. A lot of the things you can do yourself, such as caulking joints between studs and sheathing. The key to a tight house is in the details. Your builder (or you if DIY) need to do the tiny extra steps that make all the difference. Set your sill plates for your exterior walls in a couple beads of caulk for example. glue or caulk each stud before sheathing is nailed to them. Efficiency is achieved by several ways: r value, air infiltrations, and thermal breaks. achieve all, and you will have a very cheap out to live in. Here are a few shell options of various price levels:

the simplest way to add slightly more r value and reduce infiltration is to use "advanced framing" and exterior XPS sheathing. Basically use 2x6 stud construction spaced 24" oc, sheathed with 1" min XPS sheathing. Your corners and other shear required locations you will use typical 1/2" osb sheathing, then cover that with 1/2" XPS foam. caulk the foam to the studs, and at all base and top plates. THis will give you a great thermal break, a wall r value of around 25, and reduce infiltration.
Obviously by adding another inch of exterior XPS increases your thermal resistances, reduces infiltration, and adds another r-5 giving you around an r-30.
THis is a very cost effective construction technique, and will not add much to your budget.

THe next step up would be to use a double stud construction. THis is my preferred method, and what my house is. THis gives you basically a 100% thermally broken shell, and what is also called a "super insulated" house. Construct 2- 2x4 walls spaced apart. THe farther you space them, the more r your wall will be. You use alot more 2x4s, but remember, 2x4s are cheaper then 2x6. You would price only increases by a few hundred dollars on a typical 1600-2000 sqft house. Most have gaps around 1-3". fill the void with cellulose insulation. THis gives you an r of around 38-40. I also opt to use Hubber ZIP exterior sheathing instead of typical osb and tyvek. it reduces infiltration and creates a water proof exterior. it costs about the same as tyvek plus osb for materials, but could save in labor as tyvek is no longer needed to be installed. THis method will give you a very high r, extremely low infiltration, and completely thermally broken. if going for a super insulated structure, this is by far the best r for your dollar. For my 1600 sqft house design, it was cheaper then 2x6 framing and 2" XPS for materials. However the big disadvantage to this is your walls are 10-12" thick. Depending on your floor plan, this can reduce your rooms by 6-8" inside, unless you expand the footprint of your house (equals small added costs in foundation and roofing)

THe next step up is taking advanced framing to the next level. Instead batts or cellulose, use spray urethane between studs. this seals it up a great deal, and gives you around an r-7 per inch. however it is costly. a lot of people do "flash and batt", spray just 1" to seal it all up then fill the rest with fiberglass or cellulose.

Finally, if you are after the ultimate in efficient construction, check out other construction methods using SIPs panels or ICF construction. There are advantages to each, but both give you h r, basically eliminates infiltration completely as well as thermal bridging. But they come with a price tag. SIPs would cost you around 3-5% more, and ICF can be anywhere from 3-as high as 8% more. I was going to use SIPs, but it was not nearly as cost effective to achieve a super insulated wall of r-40 compared to double stud walls. I am going with Hobbs vertical ICF for the basement walls however.
hopefully this helped give you an idea of whats out there. do tons of research, the info is at your finger tips.

Whatever you decide, its great you are spending the money on the shell now, and changing out cosmetics later. I always tell clients to spend as much as you can on the shell, as it will always pay you back. Your granite counters wont ;)


clipped on: 07.15.2012 at 04:10 pm    last updated on: 07.15.2012 at 04:10 pm

Help with Cost Estimator

posted by: DCRanger on 04.10.2011 at 11:54 am in Building a Home Forum

Has anyone tried this free cost estimator ? It gave me a scary reality check but I can't believe the numbers are correct. We're in the stage of trying to determine roughly what it might cost to build. I already own the land, but I still need to account for a well, septic, driveway, landscaping, not to mention construction for our dream home. I plugged in the numbers for our favorite Don Gardner home using the magazine square footage and estimating SF for the porches, a medium-high grade build on the exterior, unfinished basement, unfinished bonus room, unfinished garage, and higher grade build on flooring, kitchens, bathrooms. What this estimator kicked out was extremely high ... $650K for a 2934 SF house, and again that doesn't factor in the other things I mentioned.

Can anyone do me a favor and please enter your building plans into this cost estimator and see if it's close to your actual costs? If it's a valid estimator, I need to find a new plan and start from scratch and that's OK. Better to find out now than after we start building.

Thank you!


clipped on: 07.15.2012 at 03:47 pm    last updated on: 07.15.2012 at 03:47 pm