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RE: Question on heating: propane vs. electric (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: jfelen on 10.07.2010 at 10:08 am in Building a Home Forum

In our area, Maryland, The energy star program is about insulating the home, Good windows and doors. There is a summer rate and a winter rate.
We installed a Trane system that is an electric heat pump that provides heat however when the temp. get down to 39 degrees, it switches over to the propane furance. It is all one neat little unit and it is 15 seer. We put in a 500 gallon propane tank and buy in the summer. It is almost half the price as it is in the winter. Propane is warm and being from New England, you'll get a warmer heat with propane when the temp drops! Our house is almost 3600 sq feet and a full tank lasts from October to April and we have our hot water, stove/oven, grill and heat all on one tank. Good luck with your choice!


clipped on: 12.16.2013 at 05:08 pm    last updated on: 12.16.2013 at 05:08 pm

RE: Wet room anyone? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: mongoct on 09.25.2013 at 07:20 pm in Bathrooms Forum

I've done a few over the years, they've been done with Schuter's materials (Kerdi and Ditra).

If I was to do another, it'd be with Hydroban and the Laticrete drain.

Floors are pitched with mud and Laticrete flanged drain is set. Everything then gets hit with a couple of coats of Hydroban. Then tile over the HB.

If you wanted it to be a steam room, then you'd have to go back to Kerdi and Ditra.

But for a waterproofed wet room, HB would be my choice.

As far as layout, think about wall hung fixtures; sink and toilet. That'll keep your floor space clear and cleaner.

Have a long handheld hose for spraying down the space as needed.


clipped on: 09.26.2013 at 11:44 am    last updated on: 09.26.2013 at 11:44 am

RE: Opinions of Rogue Valley Doors (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: Spottythecat on 09.18.2013 at 04:12 pm in Building a Home Forum

Hi...we were torn between Rogue Valley and Glasscraft. Rogue Valley wasn't able to give us the EXACT door style we wanted so we went to Glasscraft. I really wanted Rogue Valley to work out because it was a better price point than Glasscraft. Our builder's supply company highly recommended both Rogue Valley and Glasscraft. If I recall, he stated that one was shipped from CA and we are in FL and that was most of the price difference....He also mentioned that both companies are quite large and pretty much corner the market when it comes to decorative front doors.

I attached a photo of our doors - they were delivered and hung and then removed for safe keeping. I was able to touch and feel them....I really love my doors!

I also think Glasscraft had a larger line of glass styles compared to Rogue Valley.

I think you will be happy...



clipped on: 09.19.2013 at 09:18 am    last updated on: 09.19.2013 at 09:18 am

RE: Front entry door Solid wood (mahagony) or Fiberglass (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: Chibimimi on 08.18.2013 at 07:16 pm in Building a Home Forum

For solid wood, we have a Rogue Valley mahogany door. It is lovely and well-built.


clipped on: 08.18.2013 at 10:40 pm    last updated on: 08.18.2013 at 10:40 pm

RE: Front entry door Solid wood (mahagony) or Fiberglass (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: millworkman on 08.18.2013 at 08:19 pm in Building a Home Forum

Decent door, I would look at the Simpson first. In fiberglass if not Povia pr HMI the lowest I would go is ThermaTru but from a real lumberyard/building supply not Lowes any other box store for doors or really millwork but that is just my opinion.


clipped on: 08.18.2013 at 10:38 pm    last updated on: 08.18.2013 at 10:39 pm

RE: Need roof color for modern white farmhouse now! (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: bdslack on 07.28.2013 at 03:04 pm in Building a Home Forum

Hi, We are building a VERY similar home here in Indiana. Our exterior was based on the link below and the interior was based on a modern Swedish farm home interior - similar to This Old House's Cambridge 2012 House. We went CRAZY trying to pick a roof and was quoted everything from a 9K shingle to an 85K industrial metal roof. The final choice was a 32K CMG Metals galvanized roof. It was paired with 5" metal round farmhouse galvanized gutters (pricy at 12K). Let me know if you would like any more info. I would be happy to share plans etc.

Here is a link that might be useful: Photos


clipped on: 07.28.2013 at 08:31 pm    last updated on: 07.28.2013 at 08:31 pm

RE: Gravel Driveways (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: LawPaw on 07.25.2013 at 11:57 pm in Building a Home Forum

A good gravel drive should be built up from grade a bit with subsoil (sand and clay, not black loam). There are a variety of soils good for this purpose.

How you rock is important.

It is best to start with larger "washed" or clean road stone. The amount depends on how much clay or loam is in your soil. 3" - 6" inches. This is the expensive stone.

This rock needs to be worked down into the road until it disappears into the road (best done by heavy vehicles). You can also drive over it repeatedly after a rain to work in the tire tracks and try to level it off with a box scraper every so often to level off the rock over the tire marks so more stone work in where you drive.

Once all that stone is worked in, put on the road stone with the fines. This will create the surface of the road, but the stone under it is absolutely necessary if you don't want to fight ruts constantly.

It doesn't look like you'll be able to see either of those build sites from the road.

You'll like a straight driveway more and more as you drive down it.

I'm just finishing up a 3000' grave driveway.


clipped on: 07.26.2013 at 08:46 am    last updated on: 07.26.2013 at 08:46 am

anyone seen or used this product?

posted by: energy_rater_la on 06.24.2013 at 08:56 am in Building a Home Forum

looks like, if properly applied, a good way
to air seal in new construction.
I'd put it in some different places that they do...
but still much faster & even application than
expansion & contraction unlike foams..
I'd like to give it a try!

next week I'll take my first shot at using
spray foam rig. been dying to try
have a job where foam co will be onsite,
so I'll spray gable end walls in the attic
with open cell. I'm looking forward to it!


clipped on: 06.24.2013 at 12:09 pm    last updated on: 06.24.2013 at 12:11 pm

RE: Everything I Wanted to Know About Drawers... (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: angela12345 on 02.02.2013 at 02:03 pm in Kitchens Forum

I have posted this other places before, but I am going to try to consolidate it *all* in one place.

My kitchen cabinets from UltraCraft are semi-custom. LOVE them. They are Frameless cabinets that allow size modifications in 1/16" increments to height, width, and depth (or all 3) at no additional cost. So, go ahead and make your uppers 13" or 14" deep for those extra large mixing/salad bowls and charger plates, and maximize your storage space for example storing glasses 4 deep instead of 3 deep. Have deeper base cabinets. Make your toekick slightly shorter so you have an extra inch or two for more drawers height. Cut down on the fillers you need by making your cabinets the exact width you need them, instead of being forced to choose from 3" increments. I like that all my uppers are flat across the bottom (no frame/dividers between cabinets), so I could install one long plugmold and one long under cabinet light, then hide it all with lightrail at the front. Also, standard is Blum full extension soft close drawer glides, soft close doors, no charge for finished sides (like end of cabinet run), all dovetail drawers with fully captured bottoms, and bunches of other stuff is standard. 100 year warranty. Yep, I LOVE them !!!

Cabinet Decisions - I emailed this part to a friend recently, so am copying here ...
1. One of the first things to decide is what cabinet door overlay you want. Inset doors or overlay doors ? Inset doors sit inside of the cabinet box frame rather than attached to the front of the cabinet box. Overlay is further broken down into traditional overlay, partial / modified overlay, and full overlay and determines how much of the cabinet box/frame behind the door you want to show. The hinges can be exposed or concealed for all overlay styles except full overlay which only allows for concealed hinges. The overlay you choose will automatically knock out some cabinet options and cabinet mfgs who may not make that type of cabinet. (My cabinets are full overlay)
See ...
And ...

2. Then you want to decide on the cabinet boxes ... framed or frameless ? Some mfgs only make one or the other, but not both, so this will knock out other mfgs. Framed cabinets have a frame on the face of the cabinet box that the doors attach to and allows for inset doors as well as all 3 overlay styles (traditional, partial, and full overlay). On frameless, the doors attach directly to the cabinet box sides instead of a face frame. Frameless are typically full overlay, but inset is also possible. I think a small partial overlay is possible on frameless if you are using semi-custom or custom cabinets - you would order slightly smaller doors so a little of the cabinet box would show. Traditional overlay is not possible on frameless because the cabinet box sides are not wide enough to show the traditional 1"-2" of the face frame. (My cabinets are frameless)
See ... BOX - construction.asp

The disadvantage of framed is you give up useable space in drawers/pullouts and ease of access on cabinets with doors. This is because the drawer or pullout has to clear the face frame that goes around the opening, so they are narrower from side to side and also shallower from top to bottom. In a small kitchen, the extra useable space from frameless could make a big difference. Estimates say frameless gives 10-15% more space, so 100 inches of framed would be 110 inches in frameless. To me, an extra 10 inches of drawer space is huge, especially when you don't have much to begin with !! Frameless cabinets with doors also offer easier access - there is no face frame creating a 1-2" obstruction on the left, right, and top inside the cabinet doors, also there is typically no center stile between double doors in frameless.

For full overlay doors, there is very little difference in the looks of framed vs frameless. From an exterior appearance standpoint, these cabinets will basically look alike. Because the doors are full overlay, you don't see much or any of the frame and would have to open the door or drawer to see if the cabinet was framed or frameless. For inset doors, the framed cabinets would have a wider frame around the door than the frameless cabinet would.

In the below two pics, the cabinet on the left is framed, and the one on the right is frameless. Looking only at the size of the opening, see how the drawer for frameless is wider from left to right and also has more open space from top to bottom. The useable drawer space is a couple inches more in each direction in the frameless. If they both had the same size full overlay exterior drawer face on them, they would look alike from the exterior. You would not be able to see the useable interior space until you opened the drawer. If they both had inset doors, the framed cabinets would have a much wider "frame" around the door and drawer.

3. The third thing to consider is the cosmetics ... the door style you like, the drawer style (slab/flat/plain drawer front or drawer front that matches your door style), as well as wood species (cherry, oak, maple, etc), and stain or paint colors, glazing, distressing, finish/sheen, etc. (My cabinets are slab drawer, raised panel door, cherry with a chestnut stain, no additional finishes or glazes)
This website shows just a few of the different door styles available ... DOOR - style.asp

4. The fourth thing to consider is stock cabinets vs semi-custom vs custom cabinet mfgs. Stock cabinets are available in 3" width increments (cabinets have to be width of 12", 15", 18", etc), filler strips fill in gaps between cabinets and wall or appliances, you have to choose from the heights and depths they offer, and there are very few options available, which can be pretty pricey to add on. Semi-custom cabinets vary by manufacturer in what customizations and options they offer, but they offer many more options than stock and allow sizing modifications. With custom cabinets, there should be no limitations including drawings for non-standard items, custom molding profiles, door styles, alternate wood species, custom stains & finishes, construction, accessories and options. (My cabinets are semi-custom)

5. Finally, you want to consider the cabinet construction. Not that this is the least important ! It is one of the most important things. Pretty much all the other stuff is just the "pretty" stuff, LOL. This has to do with how well the cabinets are made - are the drawers stapled, dowelled, glued, dovetail ? What materials are the cabinets made of ? etc, etc.

Drawer depths
My bases are 24" deep bases and are all 20" useable interior from front to back. I'm pretty sure I could have (and definitely should have!) requested the drawers be an extra 1-2 inches deep to fill up the inside of the cabinet. I *think* the full extension glides would not have pulled out that extra inch or so, but I could have lived with that !! I could have fit my 8qt stock pots 2 deep front to back in the drawer instead of having to offset them slightly in the drawer if I had even an extra 1/2".

Some people choose to have their base cabinets deeper from front to back for a number of different reasons, for example to make the front of the cabinet even with the front of the refrigerator so the standard fridge looks like a built in/counter depth. Or they may want a larger countertop work surface. This can be accomplished by using deeper base cabinets or by using standard 24" deep bases and installing them a couple inches out from the wall then covering the full space with the countertop material. If you want to do this and order deeper bases, be sure to specify the drawers are deeper from front to back as well ! Some mfgs will still only install the standard depth drawer even though the cabinet box is larger.
(in pics below, my two standard $500 ea fridges look counter depth by recessing the wall behind the fridges only)

Drawer Heights
You can get a number of different drawer combinations ... for example two drawer could be 6-24 or 15-15, three drawer could be 6-12-12 or 6-9-15, four drawer could be 6-6-6-12 or 6-6-9-9, five drawer could be 6-6-6-6-6. These are just examples of size combinations ! I have even seen linens in 8 shallow pullouts behind doors in one base cabinet.

The height of my drawer fronts do not line up all the way around the 4 sides of my kitchen, but do line up when you are looking at any one section at a time. I have 2 stacks together that are 6-12-12 separated by a stove. On the opposite corner of the kitchen are 2 stacks that are 6-6-9-9. What helps is that my stacks are caddy-cornered across the kitchen with appliances and base cabinets with doors separating them ... it would be very hard to look in any direction where you could see the "mis-matches" at one time. Some people have drawer stacks right next to each other where the drawer heights do not 'line up' and others have all the drawer bases in their entire kitchen with the exact same horizontal lines all the way around.

My one advice ... find out the interior useable height of your drawers ahead of time. My Ultracraft cabinets are frameless so have more than framed would. They have undermount glides. On the 6-12-12 stacks, the useable interior drawer height is 4, 10.5, 9.5 (top to bottom on stack). Where this becomes an issue ... I wanted to store all of my pans, pots, etc vertical on their edges in the drawers so they wouldn't have to be stacked. The middle 10.5" drawers are tall enough for all of the casserole/baking dishes and pie tins, the roasting pan, and almost all of the pans, pots, and lids to stand on edge (the 9.5" drawers are not tall enough for a couple of those items to stand on edge). Both height drawers are definitely tall enough for all of the big pots (even the 8qt stockpot) that I own, except for the huge "canning" pot which is on the top shelf of one of my 15" deep uppers.

Obviously, neither drawer is tall enough for my 12" pans/skillets to stand on edge (arrggh!). I have really been struggling with how to store these. Right now I have them flat in the bottom of the 9.5" height bottom drawer. Big waste of real estate !! I wish I had a shallower drawer I could put the big skillets in, like 6-6-6-12 so the frying pans were flat in drawers 2 & 3 and the pots were in the bottom drawer. Or even better(?!) if I had made my drawer heights 6-9-15 that would have given me 4, 7.5, 12.5 useable. My tallest 8qt pots are 7" tall, so all of them could have gone in the middle drawer and everything on edge could have gone in the bottom drawer (including the 12" skillets!). Google for images of drawers with pans on edge.

On the other side of the kitchen with the 6-6-9-9 stacks, the useable interior drawer height is 4, 4.75, 6.75, 7 (top to bottom). I use the top 6" drawers all around the kitchen for silverware, spatulas and all the other kitchen gadgets, in-drawer knife block, foil wax paper cling wrap and plastic baggies, potholders, dish towels, etc. All of those things fit with no problem in these drawers including the ladle and the box grater. The 3rd drawer holds all of the tupperware and is the perfect height for this - 6 would have been too shallow and 12 would have been too deep. The bottom drawer is where we currently keep the paper and plastic grocery bags until we carry them for recycling.

(note: the interior drawer heights listed above vary slightly for the bottom two 12" drawers, the top two 6" drawers, and for the bottom two 9" drawers because of an interior cross support and space to clear the granite without scraping at the top)

ALSO: the drawer face to interior useable space ratio will be DIFFERENT depending on if your drawer face is inset, partial overlay, or full overlay, and depending on if you have undermount glides or sidemount glides as catbuilder says above. For example on my 6-6-9-9 four drawer stack ... 1.5" counter + 6 + 6 + 9 + 9 + 4.5" toekick = 36" finished height. My useable heights are 4, 4.75, 6.75, 7 = 22.5" total useable height. I lose 1.25-2.25" useable height for each drawer.
Compare to quiltgirl above inset drawers ... 1.5" counter + 5.5 + 5.5 + 6.25 + 6.25 + 4.5 toekick (assumed) = 29.5". Are her cabinets shorter than mine ? No ! Add in between each of her drawers approx 1.25" face frame. She has undermount glides as well so her useable heights are 4, 4, 4.75, 4.75 = 17.5" total useable height. She only loses 1.5" useable height for each drawer face showing so it sounds like she is losing less, but she is also losing useable height in the face frame between each drawer which is why her total useable space is less.
This is FINE !! Nothing at all against her cabinets. They will be beautiful. And she knew she was going to lose space with the inset when she chose them, but chose to do it because inset is the look she loves.

Drawer widths
The maximum cabinet width my manufacturer will do for drawer bases is 36" wide. I have 4 drawer bases at 21", 32", 17", and 36" wide. The interior useable width of these drawer bases are 18, 29, 14, 33 wide, so 3" less than the exterior width in each.

Going around my kitchen ... first I have a 6" wide pullout broom closet. Next are two 30" wide fridge/top freezers. There are full depth cabinets above the fridges with an adjustable shelf. Then a 24" full height cabinet with pantry space at the top, MW, a single oven, and 6" high drawer under oven (4.5" useable height).

The 21" 3 drawer 6-12-12 is to the left of my stove. Top drawer holds knife block, sharpener, scissors, trivets, potholders. 2nd drawer holds baking dishes on their edge. Bottom drawer is basically empty - it has one 8qt stockpot. If my drawer heights had been 6-9-15 instead (did I say grrrr?), I would have used the middle drawer as a bread drawer and stored the bakeware on edge in the bottom drawer.

Next is the stove (Whirlpool GGE388LXS Electric Range w/Dbl ovens).

The 32" 3 drawer 6-12-12 is to the right of the stove. Top drawer holds spatulas, spoons, ladles, wood spoons, basting brushes, meat thermometer, etc - things that are used at the stove. 2nd drawer holds frying pans, the smaller pots (1qt 2qt 3qt), and lids all on their edges. Bottom drawer holds 8qt pots. Also, the 12" skillets with lids, splatter screens, and griddle are all stacked in one stack flat in bottom of drawer, Grrrrrrr. If they were in the drawer with the other frying pans instead of taking up real estate here, that lone 8qt pot in my other cabinet would have been here with the other pots.

Turn the corner and next is the first dishwasher and then a 36" sink base with Ticor S405D sink (70/30 double bowl). LOVE !!! <3
Turn the corner and next is a 36" wide all door base cabinet (no upper drawer) with full depth adjustable shelves. I use this base cabinet for all my small appliances - blender, beaters, toaster, George Foreman, elec can opener, etc. Next to this base cabinet is the second dishwasher, followed by an 18" prep sink base with a Ticor S815 14x15x8 sink, and an empty space for an ice maker which is where the trash can currently resides.

The 17" 4 drawer stack 6-6-9-9 sits between the trash area/future ice maker and the peninsula and is on the opposite corner of the kitchen from the other drawer bases. The top drawer holds foil, wax paper, cling wrap, plastic baggies, chip clips, and restaurant menus. The 2nd drawer is our "junk" drawer and has some of everything including screwdrivers, clothespins, matches, flashlights, sewing kit, lint brush, etc. The 3rd drawer holds medicine, bandaids, alcohol, peroxide, as well as dish towels and plastic utensils from takeout restaurants in a tub. The bottom drawer is for "tupperware without partners" - bowls and lids with no matches (haha!).

The 36" 4 drawer stack 6-6-9-9 forms the peninsula. The top drawer holds all eating utensils (silverware and kid utensils), serving utensils, chopsticks, handheld can opener, wine opener in a strategically easy-to-access location : ), etc. The 2nd drawer holds all the other kitchen gadgets that aren't to the left and right of the stove like shrimp deveiners, graters, whisks, rolling pin, pizza rolling cutter-thingy, mashers, salad tongs, etc, etc. The 3rd drawer holds tupperware with their matching lids. The bottom drawer holds paper and plastic grocery bags until we carry them for recycling.

I don't like lazy susans or corner cabinets, so in the blind corner is a 26" all door base cabinet that opens out the backside to where the barstools sit.

We went with the same size handle for all of our drawers and also only one handle in the center for all of the drawers, no matter what the width of the drawer. They are 4" wide. We maybe would have used different widths, but the ones we liked in the finish we wanted did not come in a bunch of widths. The cabinet guy said they would look fine and they do. We have slab drawer fronts and the pulls are centered top to bottom and side to side on each drawer. We used round knobs on all doors.

Drawer Organizers
We ordered the drawer divider channels from Lee Valley so we could completely customize the interior of our drawers. They often have free shipping on orders over $40.
Google for images - lots of gardenweb members have used these. tbm=isch
Take inventory of the things you will be storing in the drawers & doors. Measure it all and plan ahead where things will go. From the FAQs that Buehl put together ...

These are not my cabinets ... examples of pans stored vertically ...

This is my kitchen ...
 photo 4-5-11-kitchen.jpg
A note on our kitchen ... this home is a vacation rental oceanfront beach house with 8 bedrooms, 6 baths, that sleeps 26. Hence the 2 fridges, 3 ovens, 2 dishwashers. We had a large portion of our family here at Thanksgiving (32 people) and had like 7 or 8 women working to prepare the feast all at one time. Thank you Gardenweb for helping design a kitchen that WORKS !!!

This post was edited by angela12345 on Sun, Feb 3, 13 at 14:36


clipped on: 06.12.2013 at 07:21 am    last updated on: 06.12.2013 at 07:22 am

RE: Best Practices (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: millworkman on 05.30.2013 at 11:19 am in Building a Home Forum

Agree completely with Reno, the only thing I will add is I believe Douglas Fir is superior for framing material and at the very least try for Kiln Dried Doug Fir studs. In no way would I allow them to use OSB for my roof sheathing (plywood only), maybe sidewall and even then I am not 100% sold. And I prefer Hot Dipped Galvanized Framing nails if hand nailed and Electrogalvanized if they use a gun. Make certain as Reno states that any like metals are separated and stainless fasteners fro the decking are a few things that come to my mind at the moment.


clipped on: 05.30.2013 at 12:03 pm    last updated on: 05.30.2013 at 12:03 pm

RE: Best Practices (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: Renovator8 on 05.30.2013 at 11:09 am in Building a Home Forum

I don't know what kind of lumber is common in your area but Kiln-Dried No. 2 Spruce-Pine-Fir or Hem-fir is usually specified here.

I would use 5/8" roof sheathing for better nail withdrawal, 7/16" wall sheathing and Advantech floor sheathing. Huber has some interesting alternative roof and wall sheathings with special coatings.

Common nails for wall sheathing, ring shank for roof and floor, no staples. Are there special wind or earthquake considerations?

It might be easier to get his spec and review it.


clipped on: 05.30.2013 at 12:02 pm    last updated on: 05.30.2013 at 12:02 pm

RE: Smooth walls (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: Renovator8 on 05.27.2013 at 08:06 am in Building a Home Forum

If you are in a major metropolitan area, get a list of drywall contractors and keep calling until someone says they install blue board systems (one-coat USG Diamond veneer plaster finish system). This system can provide a flawless rock hard smooth finish or a plaster texture.

Blueboard/veneer plaster is standard in many markets. If you didn't specify what you wanted in the Boston area, that is what you would get. In the Boston market taped drywall is usually done by DIY'ers and small renovation contractors and if they are skilled the wall looks fine. The primary disadvantage is that the wall must be repainted much sooner and surface damage occurs more easily and is more difficult to repair.

A skim coat of drywall compound is never used in the Boston area because it would take longer and cost more and not be as serviceable.

GC's like blueboard/veneer plaster because it take less time and creatures little dust. Drywall contractors like it because speed means more profit. It is important to note that these contractors are primarily drywall contractors rather than plasterers although they might do both.

Don't give up without giving it a try; it's worth the effort.

Here is a link that might be useful: Diamond Veneer Plaster Systems -- One Coat Veneer Application


clipped on: 05.27.2013 at 01:06 pm    last updated on: 05.27.2013 at 01:06 pm

RE: Matte Floors and Honed Marble Counter tops (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: firsthouse_mp on 05.17.2013 at 02:23 am in Kitchens Forum

In this picture you might be able to see the White Princess. (Google White Princess and you can find many threads about the quartzite material). I had 6 slabs that were used for the kitchen and the bathrooms.

They were honed and essentially bulletproof--never had any problems with them. I went looking for similar slabs and the quarry is now pulling out slabs that are substantially gray rather than white.

Love the floors--they are DuChateau pre-engineered.

To see more photos, search for my finished kitchen thread "rancher" and my user name.


clipped on: 05.18.2013 at 06:47 am    last updated on: 05.18.2013 at 06:47 am

RE: kitchen vent make-up air advice needed please (cross post) (Follow-Up #59)

posted by: Renovator8 on 04.01.2013 at 09:27 am in Building a Home Forum

ellessebee, you seem to be lumping together vents, exhausts, fresh air ventilation and make-up air. The need for these systems must first be identified separately and then modified to work together and the responsibility for that work is often shared and therefore overlooked.

The building code for single-family houses requires mechanical ventilation (fresh air) only if each habitable room does not have operable windows with a minimum clear opening of 4% of the room floor area. If you want mechanical fresh air ventilation you need to tell the designer.

When your husband asked for fresh air to be mechanically introduced into the house it was necessary for an equal amount of air to be removed and that was done with an independent stand alone energy recovery unit that did not affect the interior house air pressure.

An oil or gas fired furnace or boiler and a gas fireplace vent does not remove much air from a house but negative pressure can prevent combustion gasses from rising by gravity up the vent but that can be avoided by supplying outside air to the equipment.

Make-up air would be required only if you have unusually large mechanical exhaust fans in the bathrooms and kitchen. The bathroom fans can have a built-in energy recovery feature that balances the exhaust air with incoming tempered fresh air.

Unfortunately, that can't be done with a range hood exhaust which is why this thread is about that subject. A range exhaust is required by code to have an automatically operating make-up air intake if it is over 400 CFM. Whether that is needed and how energy can be conserved is an issue no one has fully solved. The responsibility for the design of this equipment is often not clear between the trades and therefore the architect or GC must make that decision and make sure it gets done.


clipped on: 04.01.2013 at 12:04 pm    last updated on: 04.01.2013 at 12:04 pm

RE: Solicit bid from builder...and then long? (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: bevangel on 02.11.2013 at 05:41 pm in Building a Home Forum

Frankly, Warmboard has not been doing you any favors if they're telling your potential builders that "everybody and his brother has contacted us about that house. By doing so, they're signaling to the builders that you send the project out for bid to a HUGH number of contractors which means their chances of winning the job are pretty low from the get go. In that case, why should they bother spending all the time/energy necessary to put together a bid.

I think you need to start over and contact the builders you think you might actually be interested in working with and set up a preliminary meeting with each one. The point of the preliminary meetings is get to know them and decide whether or not you think you canwork with them. There will probably be one or two that, by the time you've talked to them for half an hour you'll KNOW that you don't ever want to be in the same room with them again! Something about them will make your skin crawl or you'll get a sense that they're just not honest or something.

Also at the preliminary meeting, let each one know that you will be asking for formal bids from THREE (or at most, FOUR) builders. This lets them know that, if you ask them for a formal bid, they have a reasonable chance of winning the job. Ask each one to take a quick look at your plans and specs (right there in the meeting) and let you know if anything jumps out at them that would be problematic or that they feel they would need more information about in order to give you a solid bid. Also ask each one how long it would take them to prepare their bid IF you should ask them to bid.

Do not give your plans to the builders at this initial meeting. If you give your plans to the builder right at the meeting, he's going to assume you're doing the same thing with every builder you talk to...which means you weren't serious about only getting bids from your top 3 to 5 candidates.

Once you've narrowed the field down, send (or take) a copy of your plans and specs to each builder and request a formal bid... and also set a time limit for getting the bids in to you based on the longest time frame given to you at your initial meeting. Let them know that if the bid is not received by the deadline, they are out of the running. (If a builder can't get his bid in on time, he won't do anything else on time either!) And, let them know your timeline for making a decision once all the bids are in.

If the builders say they need three weeks to submit the bids, I'd give myself twice that long after receiving the bids to make a decision. That way if someone flakes out and doesn't submit a bid, you still have time to seek additional bids from alternate candidates so that you're not stuck without alternatives.


clipped on: 02.11.2013 at 06:59 pm    last updated on: 02.11.2013 at 06:59 pm

RE: project price be negotiated or bid competitively? (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: Renovator8 on 02.06.2013 at 06:34 am in Building a Home Forum

A negotiated contract should be used when the Owner wishes to shorten the overall project Time or there are too many things that cannot be determined before the start of construction or if the Owner wants the builder to design major parts of the house or the Owner wants the builder to be involved in the design process or the contract compensation will be based on the Cost of the Work Plus a Fee (where the only thing negotiated is the Fee) or there is only one contractor available or one contractor knows he is going to get the job regardless of other bids.

Competitive Bidding should be used for all other projects.


clipped on: 02.06.2013 at 11:40 am    last updated on: 02.06.2013 at 11:40 am

RE: Energy efficiency upgrades � what is worth it? (Follow-Up #28)

posted by: energy_rater_la on 02.02.2013 at 12:36 pm in Building a Home Forum

ERLA - I don't think you can compare LA code with Title 24 - they are probably as different as the tax structure between LA and CA. Going above Title 24 is pretty darn good - to the point of diminishing returns. While title 24 is strict, it isn't entirely rational either....

I agree. no comparism between La. code and Ca., wish
we would require folks to a higher standard!
but I did think that blower door & duct testing were
code in Ca.

"The feedback regarding not doing is coming from the person who is doing the calculations of how energy efficient our home is, and she recommended a tester for the ducts and other items that are required."
so who is his person? energy rater..or auditor?
what background does she have to make the recommendations?

you asked about costs..prices vary as we are all independent.
for new homes I charge $550 for a average sized house
2500 sq ft with one hvac system. the larger the house with multiple hvac systems..prices increase.

this price includes an energy rating from plans..reports
one the explains amount of time for upgrades to pay for themselves, and another that shows what % of savings
for each upgrade. hvac sizing reports & various other
reports can be included.
also included is one intermediate inspection,and
final testing & verification. all paperwork is handled
by the rater.

once house is blacked in, thermal bypass inspection is
manditory. this is a walk thru inspection when insulation
is in walls..prior to sheetrock. without a visual inspection
the insulation grade is fail.
this timely inspection gives the rater a chance to verify
lots of things, how windows are flashed, how they are
sealed from inside, heating system is usually in place as
are ducts, so mastic seal of duct & heating model & serial
numbers are taken. window efficiency, insulation in walls etc. a blower door test can be done around
this time.that the trades people are still on site at this
time makes a world of difference. to try to get them
back once project is a pita.

I usually test when house is complete.
I can identify problem areas on intermediate inspection
so that these issues are addressed.(years of doing this)
final inspection is when house is complete.
condensing unit is in place and attic is insulated.
then the blower door & duct test is done.
sometimes if attic insulation is on the attic floor,
I'll test prior to insulation install. then come
back to verify R-values when insulation is installed.

to do additional blower door testing..I charge $100.
the builder is usually responsible as it is his lack
of doing what he was hired to do that is the reason
for additional testing. if it is an insulation
or hvac issue, these companies may assume the charge.

when called into just do a blower door & duct test
I charge more. in addition to the testing I give the
homeowner a written report of all leakage sites
& how to seal them, plus any issues that testing
showed. for this diagnostic on an average sized
house, I charge $250.
when I leave, the homeowner knows everything that
is done wrong & how to rectify the errors.

with testing ducts, the work is in the prep.
taping off all supplies & enough of the return
to set up duct blaster. I like to use the fan
to not only measure leakage amount, but then to
pressurize the duct sytem so that marking the
areas that leak in the attic (most of our ducts
and equipment are in the attic..worst place to put them)
that leak. I feel that knowing how much leakage
there is doesn't help unless you know where it
leaks. and then of course how to seal the leaks.

I usually work for the homeowner, not the builder.
in working for the builder, I find that it causes
conflict for me, as I am geared towards the homeowner's
needs. but that is a personal agenda. by working
for the homeowner I can be sure they get what they
pay for. as they are the ones who will live there,
and the builder will move on to the next project.

best of luck with your project.


clipped on: 02.02.2013 at 09:46 pm    last updated on: 02.02.2013 at 09:46 pm

Meeting Builder What about out requirements?

posted by: worthy on 01.27.2013 at 03:10 pm in Building a Home Forum

A GWeb member e mailed this and said it was OK to post it here for general comments.

We are setting things up to meet with a builder and I wanted to ask your opinion on what I have compiled so far. I don't want to overwhelm them but I also know what I want as I have been looking at things for about 10 years and know how my family operates and what will work best--I just want to present it to them clearly. Will you give me your opinion? Any advice would be appreciated...this home would be in South Dakota as far as climate. Thanks in advance for any insight you are willing to offer.


Covered Porch:
Vault made out of tongue and groove cedar--stained and sealed
Timbers made of douglas fir--stained and sealed
Double doors for Front doors 8' tall 36" wide open to a 6' span (only hardware on one door)no windows, one peephole, no sidelights, 1 window above the door

i. Deadbolt should be a grade 1 or 2, solid metal with no exposed screws on the exterior, throw bolt at least 1" long--medeco brand

ii. Also want an exit only deadbolt on front door

iii. Heavy-duty metal security strike plate secured by 4" screw that screws into stud not the door frame

iv. No hinges exposed

Entrance of home to pillar, 7'
Width from pillar to pillar 8'
Roof span 10' across with a 10/12 pitch
Colored Stamped cement for flooring
No stairs to get into house
Outlets on each side of doors
Entryway: 8' x 12' long
Coat closet with double doors and hanging bar with a shelf above the bar
Tile floor
Light fixture
Outlet on one side for entryway table
Master bedroom:17' wide, 19' long
Would like media cabinet built around fireplace (direct vent but vent out through the attic)
Ceiling fan with 100w bulbs
4 outlets on each side of bed (king sized bed) plus outlets around room
Hook-ups for tv/video
Built-in bookshelves with adjustable shelves, bottom shelves cabinet doors
Smoke and carbon monoxide detector--hard wired
Master bathroom: 8' wide x 20' long
Shower: 6 or 10" ceiling mount showerhead, slide bar, hand shower, body spray and body jets--shower bench at least 18" deep
36" tall vanities
Rectified porcelain tile with 1/16 grout lines for bottom of shower, 1/8 grout line porcelain tiles on shower walls with sanded grout
Heated floors on a timer
Caulk instead of grout in corners of bathroom and along edges of room instead of grout (especially b/w tub and tile)
Jacuzzi tub/air tub with glass enclosure--ozone system and in-line heater

i. Floor joists to accommodate, hot water heater to be able to handle

Toilet room with panasonic whisper quiet fan
3 Windows at very top of the room for privacy
Vanity with 2 sinks built into countertop (all 1 piece)
Linen closet with adjustable shelving
Solar tube or skylight
ADA toto toilet
Tile floor
Insulation added around tub
Hook-up for a tv that you can see in tub
Master Closet: 10 x 8 or 14 x 20
Island in middle with drawers, 112" long x 48" wide
Tie storage
All shoes will be in mudroom
Hanging bars are my main concern--have walls reinforced to handle load of bars
Solar tubes or skylight
Laundry: 15 x 14
Must be located with bedrooms
Island needs to have room for 6 laundry baskets and a flat work surface

i. 4' x 6'--2 banks of cabinets butted up against each other at 24" depth each

Built in cabinetry around perimeter

i. Storage for sewing machine, extra toilet paper, extra paper towels, gift wrap, light bulbs, batteries, tools, etc--adjustable shelves with cabinet fronts

Washer--built in above it for pull out drying rack
Dryer--built in above it for pull out drying rack
Sink (undermount)
Bar above sink to hang things
Exhaust fan-- panasonic whisper quiet fan
Solar tubes/skylight
If at all possible it would be nice to have the dryer against an outside wall so it is an easy vent to keep clean
Would like a drain in the floor leading to plumbing in case of a leak
Tile floor
Bedroom 1, 2, 3
Under the windows built in full extension drawers and on each side of the windows bookcases that go to the ceiling--adjustable shelves, 2 cabinet doors on the bottom of each unit
Walk-in closets for each bedroom (approximately 10x10) with drawers in the middle of the room in an island, hanging bars, all shoes in mudroom
Ceiling fans in each room that take regular 100w bulbs
Smoke/carbon monoxide detectors--hard wired
One jack and jill bath
Toto ADA toilets
Linen closet with adjustable shelves
Bath/shower combo with glass door
Tile floor
Tile from bath/shower combo to ceiling and at least one full tile on both sides of the shower/tub to the ceiling (so splashes don't get on wall)
panasonic whisper quiet fan
Caulk instead of grout in corners of bathroom and along edges of room instead of grout (especially b/w tub and tile)
one separate bath
Toto ADA toilet
linen closet with adjustable shelves
bath/shower combo with glass door
tile floor
Tile from bath/shower combo to ceiling and at least one full tile on both sides of the shower/tub to the ceiling (so splashes don't get on wall)
Panasonic whisper quiet fan
Caulk instead of grout in corners of bathroom and along edges of room instead of grout (especially b/w tub and tile)
Powder Room
vanity with sink, ADA toto toilet, light
tile floor
panasonic whisper quiet fan
Formal Dining: 15 x 15
Has to fit a 8' 1 3/4" x 4' wide table, 6 chairs but can seat up to 12--want 2 light fixtures spaced out above the table
Built in china cabinets on either side of entry door, cabinet doors on the bottom open shelving on the top with glass doors
Living Room: 20' wide x 28' long, 14' ceiling with 10/12 pitch
Manufactured stone fireplace over a direct vent unit, hearth is 18" AFF mantel 60" AFF, mantel to run entire length of the fireplace

i. Herringbone pattern in the brick in the firebox

9 stationary windows on the wall facing the yard
Vault with 3" alder boards, stained with fruitwood,-- half bronze walnut seal the stain with a clear coat. Sikens or Marine Spar finish
Media unit built around the fireplace
Electrical outlets in floor to be where end tables will be with lamps
ICAT lights
Extra support in walls for curtain to hang over the bottom 6 windows on the "window wall"
Dura supreme cabinets rustic cherry in heavy patina A finish
Backsplash tile 1" x 6" Rustin Brown Mosaic Slate--Chinese Multi Color, GM.SL.MUL.0106 by Kate-Lo Tile and Stone
Countertops Zodiac Smokey topaz with 1/8" round over edge preface by Dupont Corian
Double wall ovens-pull out drawer for baking sheets next to oven
Cabinet for mixer with a pull up shelf in it
Pull out for 2 trash cans--plywood bottom on bottom and up sides so easy to get in and out--would like these close to garage
Sub-zero 36" side by side fridge/freezer--I want these to not stick out, be on the same length as countertops, ice maker and water built-in (copper plumbing)
Pull out for pots/pans next to the cooktop
Dishwasher to the right of the double sink

i. Bosch brand

Cooktop in the island
Cooking Utensil drawer next to cooktop
Full extension drawers/dovetailed
Outlets along work portion of island
Island: 4' wide, 12' long in a rectangle shape

i. 18" overhang for knee room

ii. 24" work section (smooth top cooktop)

iii. 26" wide upper section

iv. Pendant lighting above--either 3 or 5

v. Black finish

vi. Have 12" bank of shelves on the side of the island for seating with adjustable shelving

Appliance shelves with doors that recess in for the following:

i. Microwave

ii. Toaster

iii. Blender

iv. Waffle iron

v. Iced tea maker

vi. Food processor

vii. Coffee maker

viii. Crock pot

Wood floors
Walk-in Pantry: 10' deep x 6' wide or 9 x 9
Shelving units in white laminate to ceiling and 16" deep, adjustable shelving
Upper shelves 12" deep
Lower shelves 24" deep with glide out shelf so you can put baking dishes on them and not stack
Room for a stand-up freezer/electrical hook-up
Tile floors
Office Nook off of kitchen: 9' long x 9' high x 22" deep
Adjustable shelves in cabinetry
Work surface same as countertops in kitchen
Bank of outlets under desk area--at least 4 (printer, computer, etc.)
Wood floor same as kitchen
Pull out drawer for shredder with a plug in at the back of pull-out
Informal Dining/Sunroom:
15 x 15
Windows on each side
Sliding doors to covered deck--laminated glass doors (tempered glass)

i. Keyed lock at top and bottom/pin locks

ii. Exit only deadbolt installed

iii. Heavy-duty metal security strike plate secured by 4" screw that screws into stud not the door frame

Wood floors same as kitchen
Built-ins along the "desk" wall from the kitchen
Office: 15 x 15
Built-in shelving with adjustable shelves
Outlet in middle of floor for desk in middle of room
Mudroom: directly off of garage door, 12 x 12
Shoe storage--shelves 40" wide, 9" apart (inside room)
Cubbies--each cubby is 21" center to center and 15" deep, seat is 15" off the floor and 48" b/w the seat and the first shelf, 12" between shelves, seat is 26" deep

i. Outlet in the back of each cubby

ii. Would like these accessible from the hallway but have recessed doors so can be shut/closed

Coat closet--bar with shelf above (inside room)
Shelving to accommodate bins of mittens, hats, etc
Tile floor
A "drop area" right inside the back door that has a place for my purse, phone, keys, bags, etc.

i. counter 2' deep, 3' wide, and 3' tall with storage below

Garage: 4 car, 2 double garage doors (insulated)--no windows
60" wide x 34" deep
Coating on floor
Garage door to have deadbolt and exit-only deadbolt

i. Heavy-duty metal security strike plate secured by 4" screw that screws into stud not the door frame

ii. medeco brand

Covered deck:
20' wide x 24' long, 14' ceiling, 10/12 vault (basically extension of living area)
ICAT lights
Pre-stress garage under main floor garage--garage door with no windows
Garage door opener
butler's pantry 5.5" wide, 6.4" long
lower cabinets 36" high, 18" space and then upper cabinets
on the opposite side of the cabinetry have a broom closet

i. room for vacuum, broom, dust buster (plug in needed), adjustable shelves at the top

wood floor same as kitchen
Basement--in floor heat in main living area on a timer

i. Double doors with deadbolt, Heavy-duty metal security strike plate secured by 4" screw that screws into stud not the door frame

ii. medeco brand

iii. exit only deadbolt

iv. tile around entry and with tile so bathroom can be reached while walking on the tile

a bedroom

i. carpet

ii. closet with double hang bars and a shelf at the top door entry

iii. ceiling fan with 100w bulbs

iv. smoke/carbon monoxide detector hard wired

a bathroom--preferably close to the door so you can walk in and not walk on carpet to get to it

i. tile floor

ii. bath/shower combo-glass enclosure

iii. vanity with built in sink

iv. linen closet with adjustable shelves--would like this closet to be large�perhaps a walk-in to accommodate towels for lake and if budget allows have a stackable washer/dryer in it--again dryer linked directly outside--room for ear plugs, goggles, etc--so some adjustable shelving

v. Caulk instead of grout in corners of bathroom and along edges of room instead of grout (especially b/w tub and tile)

vi. ADA toto toilet

vii. Tile from bath/shower combo to ceiling and at least one full tile on both sides of the shower/tub to the ceiling (so splashes don't get on wall)

viii. Panasonic whisper quiet fan

furnace room

i. all audio equipment and video equipment

ii. furnace--don't want the drain hose on the floor can it be put in the floor drain?

iii. hot water heater

iv. air purifier

v. water purifier

vi. electrical panel

vii. large area for storage

play area with built in adjustable shelving

i. carpet

lounge area with fireplace and built-in media cabinets

i. carpet

work-out room (empty bedroom)

i. still want closet in it so can count as bedroom

ii. fire and carbon monoxide detector (hard wired)

iii. tv plug-in

iv. fan with 100w lights

v. carpet

Underneath the covered deck on the lower level we would like an electrical hook-up for a hot tub in the future

i. Electrical Requirements: 240 volt (U.S./Canada)

ii. Electrical Req. amp/breaker: 50 amp (another one requires 60) GFCI (U.S./Canada)

iii. Does concrete need to be thicker in that area to support weight?

1. 76" x 84" x 35", 3,500 lbs.

2. 91" x 91" x 40", 4,000 lbs.


all solid wood doors�3 paneled, matching hardware throughout house
all ICAT can lights with boxes built around them with spray foam over the boxes
hardwire for security and surround sound--cat6 and RG6 wires from wall outlets to central wiring panels with no splices, splitters or daisy chaining
Mohawk smart strand stain resistant carpet throughout house--same color
please mark electric outlets in all rooms on plans
all light switches in similar locations, none behind doors
maze brand galvanized nails
all exterior bolts/fasteners from timberlok
drywall screws from grabber
all other screws mcfeelys
finishing supplies from klingspor
flashing fortifibers moistop or tyveks flexwrap
astm rated building paper (asphalt impregnated felt) used for drainage plane on exterior walls
therma-stor ultra aire whole house ventilating dehumidifier
1" foam over external sheathing
icynene insulation
each light fixture have a dimmer--lutron switches, rocker style for entire house
whole house generator--Honda
whole house water filtration with a carbon filter
ERV or HRV to supply fresh air
in-floor radiant heat in basement main living area
mastic seal only no duct or foil tape to seal everything-- hardcast brand #1402
R values of 10-20-40-60
R10 below slab

i. 4" of XPS formular 250 foam under slab�taped and sealed, joists foamed/caulked

ii. 4-6" of clean compacted rock under slab

R20 basement walls
R40 main and upper walls
R60 roof
2 x 6 framed walls, 24" oc with rubber gasketing to the subflooring
air tight drywall for interior�installed with caulk or gaskets at heads and sill plates
no vapor barrier, plastic sheet or house wrap used
blown/dense packed fiberglass or cellulose insulation
air sealing/caulking
huber zip sheathing caulked to top and bottom plates
2" of XPS exterior foam (2 layers of 1" with the seams offset and overlapping)
�" vertical strapping drainage plane
certainteed form-a-drain for footer forms�vents radon
no flexible duct work anywhere�all solid materials taped with hardcast brand #1402 tape
tape over all ductwork connecting to floor/drywall, hardcast mastic tape from sheetrock into lip of supply box, pressed tightly to seal�reinforced at corners
sump pump with battery back-up
casement windows no double hung�I would like to price the blinds incased
triple pane windows
high SHGC glass on the south side of house
36" wide doors
shower/tub surround built with "mud" concrete applied to a wire frame instead of hardi-backer or cement board
tornado shelter built under front entry--no windows all cement
on all stone --dry stack no mortar
all drawers full extension, dovetailed
10' ceilings on main floor
9' ceilings on basement
8' ceilings in closet
all closets have lights on outside of door--price door jamb lighting
all outside doors to have screws at least 4" long into stude wall
hose bib on each side of the house and on the covered upper deck and the patio below
insulate all plumbing pipes
ceilings, closets and garages painted matte white
4 outlets on back covered deck, 2 on each side
outlet on each side of the house
outlets in the garage on each wall
overhead lights in the garage
outlets in the laundry room
ICAT lights lighting up the soffits on the house in front and on covered front porch and covered deck
no 90 or 180 turns in venting
would prefer vents not under windows/bed/furniture--can we mark them on the plans?
light boxes and vents in the ceiling foamed on the backside
doors and windows sealed with non-expanding foam
24" deep engineered floor trusses to hide all mechanical and plumbing, no bulkheads in basement
corbond insulation everywhere including DWV pipes
radon mitigation system
window hardware to match the reset of the hardware in the house and fold to be out of way of blinds
spray foam around fresh air intakes, exhausts, smoke detectors, light fixtures, exterior electrical, plumbing/hose bibs
seal cuts around bath fans and stove vent with mastic tape, use mastic to attach back draft damper to housing of bath fans and to attach the vent to the damper
walls prayed with primer then extra coats brushed on
under mount all sinks
garage entry key codes on outside
garage door opener for each door
no garage entry door


clipped on: 01.27.2013 at 08:37 pm    last updated on: 01.27.2013 at 08:38 pm

RE: Metal pipe vs Plastic (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: lazypup on 09.29.2007 at 02:50 am in Plumbing Forum

The "Supply Pipe" is the direct burial pipe from the municipal water main or well to the structure. While copper certainly is well suited for this application copper has three drawbacks.
2. Hard drawn copper pipe is in 20ft lengths and annealed copper pipe is made in 60' rolls which means we would normally have to make one or more joints underground.
3 Under some adverse soil conditions copper pipe will corrode from the acids or alkali in the soil.

For these reasons I prefer to use continuous roll Polyethylene pipe which is commonly available in rolls up to 250' long, and in some instances 500' by special order. In this manner we can install a joint free pipe that has a proven track record of providing 50+ years of service.

"DISTRIBUTION PIPING" is the pipes within the structure that distribute the water from the house main to the point of demand. The alternatives here are Galvanized Iron pipe, Copper pipe, PEX tubing, CPVC Pipe(difficult to find and almost never used), CPVC-CTS tubing, and if your under the IRC you may use Polybutylene although with the number of failures and class action lawsuits against PB I don't understand why anyone would consider it. I have heard all the arguments in favor of PEX but in my region copper has shown to have a proven reliability of 75+ years (and most of that old copper is thinwall type M with lead solder joints.) It hard to beat a success.

"DWV" piping is the Drain, Waste and Vent (Sanitary Waste) pipes in your house. While they do make DWV grade copper pipe most homeowners would find it labor intensive and cost prohibitive for residential construction. The alternative here would be No-Hub cast iron pipe, PVC or ABS. Here again, most homeowners find No-hub cast iron to be cost prohibitive. The choice between PVC or ABS is generally a matter of choice or local code requirements but in the end, both have proven to be an economical and extremely reliable type of pipe for this application.


clipped on: 01.26.2013 at 02:45 pm    last updated on: 01.26.2013 at 02:45 pm

RE: Architect/Engineering costs of new home.. (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: SweetFish on 01.26.2013 at 01:47 pm in Building a Home Forum

I paid $2800 for my architect to make minor changes to a plan he already had. The break down was $850 for the base plan then $85 an hour for the changes and review.

$2900 seems about right for the engineering work. I was in that ballpark.
Heres the breakdown:
$1200 for the land survey
$150 for the setback measurements of adjacent houses (required by town)
$700 for a site plan
$400 to stake the ground for digging

Depending on the town's requirements you may need a grading plan, soils erosion testing, utility adds up quick.

Overall I'm in for close to $15,000 and we haven't lifted a shovel yet.


clipped on: 01.26.2013 at 02:22 pm    last updated on: 01.26.2013 at 02:22 pm

energy efficiency specs

posted by: energy_rater_la on 01.23.2013 at 03:07 pm in Building a Home Forum

this is a short version of the spec sheet I give my
clients for building an energy efficient home.

lots of posts about lots of things here, but
over and over I read about things that could
easily have been dealt with in planning & early
construction phases of the build.
hopefully, this will help to bring some of these
to light now in the decision making phase of
your build.

things that don't 'show' are important choices.
efficiency costs are always upfront & savings long term.

Summary of Energy Efficiency Specifications

Air Infiltration Goal is .25 Natural Air Changes per Hour�heating. Gaskets such as Owens-Corning FoamSeal R or Dow Sill Seal between sole plate and slab is recommended. For 2nd story or bonus rooms, insulate and seal openings between floor joists, under walls with foam board sheathing material. Seal all windows and doors jambs with minimal or non expanding foam.

Seal all wire penetrations especially those through top plate.
Incorporate Airtight Drywall Approach throughout home. Run sheetrock all the way to bottom plate behind showers and tubs, seal plumbing penetrations under tubs especially on upper floors.

Minimize use of recessed lights or install Insulation Contact Air Tight (ICAT) lights. Existing recessed lights that are not air tight can be retrofitted with air tight trim kits. Get name brand and model numbers of lights to order trim kits.

Windows Double-glazed with Low-E glass and non-heat-conducting frames are recommended. Look for U-values and SHGC (solar heat gain coefficient) of less than .3 for best performance in this area. Go to to learn more about window types and labels on windows.

DOORS Steel, polyurethane foam core (R 2.5 to 5.0) with high quality weather-strip. Solid wood door with double-glazing allowed for front door. Exterior-type foam-core doors with good air seals on doors to all attic spaces and knee-walls.

Walls 2x4 walls R-15 un-faced insulation with double sided 1" foil sheathing boards. 2x6 walls R-19 also with double sided foil sheathing boards.

Face unprinted side to exterior. Sheathing must cover top plate to sole plate. Seal all seams with foil tape. Use �" foil sheathing in between 2X headers instead of plywood. Insulate behind tub and shower units before installing units.

Ceilings R-30 minimum with a Radiant Barriers are recommended for this climate. Visit Florida Solar Energy Center�s web site for more information on radiant barriers

Seal and insulate attic accesses when in the conditioned areas. If attic staircase s in conditioned area, seal with attic tent or build a box with 2x12 with �" plywood for top, insulate and weather-strip to seal well.

Unvented attics Open cell foam. foam must meet R-value
code requirements. No quanitive values accepted.
foam must fill rafter bays and faces of rafters.
Foam must seal from roof to attic floor to create true
unvented attic. Full inches to be installed, not
'average' fill. No areas with 1/2" of foam to 9" of
foam to be averaged for overall R-value. Unvented
attic with foam is a semi conditioned attic.

Use only closed cell foam in floors for homes
on piers. install minimum of 3"

Use Energy efficient (O.V.E.) framing at corners and partition walls, See LaDNR Builder�s Guide To Energy Efficient Homes in Louisiana or Doug Rye video.

Continuous ridge vents ( with wind baffles) and continuous soffits vents. One square foot of net free area for every 150-sq.ft. of attic floor space, divided equally between ridge and soffits vents.


Duct Leakage and Insulation Duct loss must be no more than 5%. Before insulating hard pipe seal all joints & seams. Use Mastic or an approved UL-181 rated mastic tape, such as Hardcast #1402 mastic tape.

Have HVAC contractor size A/C system using Manual J. Design duct layout using Manual D.
Upgrade insulation values from a standard R-4.2 to R-6 or R-8 is recommended.

Water Heaters Compare Energy Factors (E.F.) Gas E.F. of .65 on a standard tank and E.F. of .95 on an electric standard tank.

Adding an insulating blanket can also increase the efficiency of water heaters.

Instant, tankless gas water heaters have higher E.F. of .85.
Electric tankless water heaters are not efficient.
instead look at standard hign EF electric tanks
The most efficient for electric Heat Pump water heaters (also called heat recovery or desuperheaters) provide 90% to 100% free hot water in summer months.

Cooling 14 SEER, 0.75or less Sensible heat fraction (SHF) mandatory minimum requirement. 15 to 17SEER is recommended.
Heat pump if all electric.

Two speed or variable speed system if over-sizing of tonnage.
Consider Zoned system versus multiple units.
700 sq. ft. per ton as opposed to old
rule-of-thumb of 400 to 500 sq. ft. per ton.

Bigger is not better!

Heating Gas furnace AFUE 80% minimum.
Efficiency on these units up to 94% (condensing unit with PVC flue).
For Heat Pumps specify a minimum of HSPF of 8.0. Variable speed heat pumps will have up to 9.0 HSPF.
(May change to higher AFUE with IRC code changes)

Lighting Use fluorescent lighting whenever possible. Compact Fluorescent in all fixtures like recessed lights.

IC Air Tight recessed lights are mandatory requirements. Existing recessed lights can be retrofitted with air tight trim kits available at lighting stores and box outlets.

Appliances Purchase Energy Star Appliances for high efficiency, especially refrigerators, freezers and water heaters which run 24/7.
Look for Energy Guide labels in the lower range for more efficiency.

Additional Links:
La. Energy & Environmental Resource Building Science Corporation
LSU Ag Center Hot Humid Climates Builder�s Guide
Energy Star Program


clipped on: 01.23.2013 at 08:52 pm    last updated on: 01.23.2013 at 08:52 pm

RE: Lighting budget for your build? (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: mtnrdredux on 01.22.2013 at 03:03 pm in Building a Home Forum

Our GC specifically excluded lighting fixtures,and I can see why. The only way to get a handle on the right allowance is to go room by room and pick something out. Many of our light fixtures were vintage/salvage and they were not wildly expensive. We also bought several from a french firm and most were under $200. Then we bought very nice lanterns for the entry hall, a custom metal drum over a chandelier, and an old Amsterdam street lamp ... each of those several thousand a piece.

In short, in could almost be like having a budget for the furnishings. You could find a lot of Ikea you like, but then if you fall in love with a Hastens mattress, there goes the budget. And lighting is important -- akin to jewelery for a room aesthetically, and a make or break element functionally.

I would go through your electrical plan and try to pick things to get the best idea. You will probably splurge in your entry and DR.

PS Try Shades of Light, Pottery Barn, Circa Lighting, Restoration HW, Rejuvenation, etc to get ideas of prices.


clipped on: 01.22.2013 at 06:45 pm    last updated on: 01.22.2013 at 06:45 pm

RE: builder is advising against foam board insulation (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: worthy on 01.09.2013 at 11:08 am in Building a Home Forum

To figure the payback period for the increased insulation, you can use the US Department of Energy's ZIP CODE calculator or the more complex Home Energy Saver calculator.

The key point often missed when it comes to exterior sheathing is that it raises the whole wall R value by a much greater percentage than the R3.5-R5 value of the insulation. See the Oak Ridge Laboratory's Whole Wall R Value calculator.


clipped on: 01.09.2013 at 09:29 pm    last updated on: 01.09.2013 at 09:29 pm

RE: Basement waterproofing (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: Renovator8 on 11.15.2011 at 12:57 pm in Building a Home Forum

TUFF-N-DRI (H8, XTS, or AF) is a Tremco 40 mil thick modified bitumen (rubberized asphalt) waterproofing membrane that is cold spray applied to the exterior of poured-in-place concrete basement walls. In my area it has been the most cost effective method since the early 80's.

A porous board is usually placed over the membrane to allow water to drain to the footing drain system, to protect the membrane from damage from backfill and to provide thermal insulation. That material can be anything from rigid fiberglass (Warm-N-Dri from Owens Corning or Barrier Board by Tremco) to rigid plastic foam with grooves to plastic waffle sheets or a combination of materials.

Tremco makes a drainage board (Drain Star Z-Drain) that solves the problem of drainage over the edge of the footing. They also make a perimeter drain system (DrainStar Stripdrain) that eliminates the need for gravel and filter fabric.

Don't confuse "waterproofing" systems with "dampproofing" systems. Damproofing will do little or nothing to keep a basement dry.

Be very careful about using imitation products. The TUFF-N-DRI Basement Waterproofing System is installed only by contractors trained by Tremco.

Tremco acquired the TUFF-N-DRI system when it bought Koch Waterproofing Solutions in 2003.

Here is a link that might be useful: TUFF-N-DRI


clipped on: 06.23.2012 at 06:40 am    last updated on: 01.07.2013 at 01:10 pm

RE: Anyone regret getting stainless steel sink? (Follow-Up #37)

posted by: Lorenza5064 on 12.30.2012 at 09:00 pm in Kitchens Forum

I am taking delivery of a SS sink tomorrow. I have always had one and am fond of the durability and how a ss sink takes the abuse of cast iron pots that might be dropped. I do not align with the opinions of those stated re water spots, noise levels, or scratches. I researched many many sinks and posted inquiries on the GW. I currently have an Elkay double sink with drainboard, top mounted. I am replacing with a double sink with drainboard, under mounted. Sinks with drainboards are common in Europe, but uncommon in the US. My exhaustive search led me to a small independent company, Seamless Sinks. I worked directly with the inventor/owner of the company. I will not bore you with the details, but if interested I will reply directly to you. My sink has a 10" depth with a dropped partition. "Seamless" means there is no rim for the drain. The bottom of the sink has no seams, just a drain opening that is integral to the sink. Hard to describe, but very sleek and clean. Ciao ciao


clipped on: 01.02.2013 at 10:13 pm    last updated on: 01.02.2013 at 10:13 pm

RE: Solicit bid from builder...and then long? (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: rwiegand on 01.02.2013 at 01:23 pm in Building a Home Forum

If they didn't get back to you by your response deadline that's a pretty strong statement of non-interest. Unless you just mailed out plans and hoped for a response.

We used a process where we first got recommendations and then met with builders to assess overall fit and interest, then sent a bid package that included final drawings, *detailed* specifications (down to part numbers for every faucet and switch plate, what kind of fasteners to use, etc), a draft contract, a bid sheet that broke the project down into about 40 specific line items for bid, and a letter outlining the bidding process that included a due date about 5 weeks out. After 10-14 days we scheduled a walk-through and Q&A session with each builder. We summarized all the questions and answers from each builder and sent them back to all the builders to keep everything apples-to-apples. This worked pretty well, not perfectly. We ended up with three good bids and two drop outs.

In retrospect, it's impossible to put too much time and detail into the specifications, that has been the go-to document in virtually every discussion we've had subsequently.


clipped on: 01.02.2013 at 03:02 pm    last updated on: 01.02.2013 at 03:02 pm

RE: Buy land first or wait and do at same time as build? (Follow-Up #21)

posted by: 8mpg on 01.01.2013 at 02:09 am in Building a Home Forum

Well, I bought first and was hoping to build in just over a year. We are 6 months into paying on the land and I dont regret it one bit. We got a steal on the land (foreclosed). While we are paying interest, also note you are paying towards something that should count as some equity towards building the house.

We are hoping to have the remaining $40k paid off this year (happy new years) and have a 30% equity with the land. This will go a long ways to avoid stuff like PMI later on. So in reality, if interest may offset PMI later, it may be close to a wash. We financed out land through the Veterans Land Bureau which had a mediocre rate (7.25%) but local banks wanted closer to 9% if they were even willing to lend on raw land (in a development)


clipped on: 01.01.2013 at 07:56 am    last updated on: 01.01.2013 at 07:56 am

RE: Concrete Foundation Wall Concerns (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: Renovator8 on 12.22.2012 at 10:25 am in Building a Home Forum

Make sure it is "waterproofing" instead of "dampproofing" and protect it with something before backfilling. Any asphalt product should be "modified" or "rubberized" (like Grace Bituthene) so it will bridge cracks. It helps to use Grace's Water Based Primer on concrete for their self-adhering membranes. I prefer cold spray-on modified asphalt but if the area is small, 2 or 3 coats of a brush on material should work.


clipped on: 12.22.2012 at 12:35 pm    last updated on: 12.22.2012 at 12:36 pm

RE: Choosing a Builder (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: mtnrdredux on 12.04.2012 at 09:40 pm in Building a Home Forum

Who has more jobs they are juggling, versus who has time for you?

Who do you think is solvent?

What do subs say about them?


clipped on: 12.05.2012 at 11:14 am    last updated on: 12.05.2012 at 11:15 am

House Build Cost

posted by: Shoe_Here on 11.29.2012 at 03:50 pm in Building a Home Forum

Hey everyone. The wife and I are in the midst of getting quotes and are kind of stuck as far as budget. Currently the house is a 2800 sq ft Ranch. Full basement. We are in Wisconsin. We are a little over what we want to spend. My brother in law is a contractor and GCing the whole job for almost nothing. He is doing some of the construction himself and charging us for those services but no fee for the GCing. Below is our current quote break out.

Electrical = 11,000
Flooring = 10,000
Plumbing = 11,000
HVAC = 11,000
Conrete and Foundation = 45,000
Kitchen Cabinets and Granite = 13,000
Drywall = 15,000
Insulation = 6,000
Windows = 16,000
Rough Lumber, Siding, Roof Materials = 50,000
Framing, Siding, Roofing Labor = 21,000
Stone Veneer in Front = 8,000
Garage Doors = 3,000
Fireplace = 2,000
Millwork = 2,400
Finish Carp Labor = 3,000
Doors = 10,000
Vanity's = 2,900
Gutters = 1,500

Total is 241,900

Question is, will taking out like 600-800 sq feet shrink the price much? There would be a front foyer room that would for sure be out which has 3 windows. The other space will come out from making the overall space smaller. The basement price is really what spiked on us and that, I would think, would shrink with smaller sq footage. Thoughts?



clipped on: 11.29.2012 at 09:53 pm    last updated on: 11.29.2012 at 09:53 pm

RE: Exorcising old demons - how to control costs (Follow-Up #20)

posted by: Renovator8 on 11.26.2012 at 08:48 am in Building a Home Forum

I am reading some puzzling comments about markups. For a fixed Price contract the original markup quoted by the GC is included in the contract price so it is no longer relevant. It should only reappear when there is a Change Order. Most Change Orders are due to unforeseen issues (often caused by incomplete drawings, lack of designer experience or unknown subsurface conditions), work intentionally not specified in the drawings and listed as an Allowance, or a change of mind by the Owner. There's not much that can be done about subsurface conditions or changes of mind except to budget a contingency amount for them, but it is possible to greatly reduce the risk of cost overruns from Allowances.

Allowances should be avoided whenever possible but when you must use one it is essential that the scope and nature of the work be defined in the drawings (e.g., number, location and types of lighting fixtures, etc.) even if the designer has to guess. This puts the installation cost in the Fixed Price. It also allows the GC to include his material/fixture markup in the Fixed Price (when a Fixed Price is determined by negotiation instead of competitive bidding) and the resulting absence of markups for Allowances makes the homeowner much happier (as evidenced by earlier comments) at virtually no cost to the GC. Also, I believe the markup for Change Orders should include the GC's Profit but not Overhead which should be covered by the Fixed Price assuming the Allowances are a small part of the project cost.

But without complete drawings an Allowance becomes a small Cost of the Work contract within a Fixed Price contract and is often under-budgeted and over-marked up which is painful for the homeowner. It's just one of the ways a builder moves a project forward since the alternative is to ask the Owner for more complete drawings or to provide them themselves neither of which is good business for the builder. In other words, if you find yourself walking trough the house with the electrician pointing to where you want outlets, fixtures and devices, you can enjoy the money saved by not having a lighting drawing until you get the cost proposal for fixtures and installation with the GC's markup.

Unfortunately, in order to lower the cost of Allowances the Owner needs to make sure the written contract and the drawings are properly prepared and that is virtually impossible if the contract is in the form of a proposal from the builder that includes specifications in outline form and the drawings are prepared buy a designer/draftsman who has no other project responsibilities and will not provide any construction phase services. A lawyer can make sure the contract offers you legal protections but will usually have little idea of how an Allowance section should be written (a subject for a later discussion).

A construction contract should provide controls and protections for both parties but because the more experienced party is usually the GC, if the Owner has no professional representation he/she must rely entirely on the GC to protect both of their interests. That is a clear conflict of interest but surprisingly it often works out but sometimes it doesn't. It's really a gamble. Some Owners are comfortable gambling and others prefer to pay for some form of insurance.


clipped on: 11.27.2012 at 12:41 pm    last updated on: 11.27.2012 at 12:41 pm

RE: porch flooring (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: Andi_K on 11.15.2012 at 07:20 am in Building a Home Forum

We have stone/hardi, so no brick...but instead of ipe, we used cumaru. It's very similar, but not as red as ipe...more of a brown tone. So, depending on the color of brick, it could be an option. For the ceiling we did pine T&G natural finish.


clipped on: 11.15.2012 at 11:59 am    last updated on: 11.15.2012 at 11:59 am

RE: Field of Dreams farmhouse (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: Renovator8 on 07.18.2011 at 02:59 pm in Building a Home Forum

Here is the work of a firm in Maine that seems to appreciate the Greek Revival style so often used in the past for farmhouses in New England and other parts of the country. Keep clicking the arrow to see all of their work.

Here is a link that might be useful: a farmhouse design


clipped on: 11.11.2012 at 10:13 pm    last updated on: 11.11.2012 at 10:13 pm

RE: Spray foam plus fiberglass batts? (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: lzerarc on 10.24.2012 at 09:41 pm in Building a Home Forum

DV and others are exactly correct. Add the 2" (r10 XPS) to the exterior. Save money and skip the spray foam except at the floor joist. Go with open cell here, about 6-7", and save some money. Cont. your XPS over your joist band and down to your foundation to give yourself a continuous thermal break. (better yet, continue the 2" all the way down to the footer)
ALso recommend skipping the batt all together and selecting a blown fiberglass or cellulose product.

If going 2", you will need to strap it for attachment of siding materials. Whatever you do, do not let your contractor convince you the proposed flat and batt is better. it is not. my go to air tight framing system is 2x6 walls with air tight gyp, blown fiberglass or cellulose walls (not batts), huber ZIP sheathing, exterior foam (2"+), strapping and siding.


clipped on: 10.24.2012 at 10:28 pm    last updated on: 10.24.2012 at 10:28 pm

RE: List your inexpensive ways to add that custom touch. (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: brianstreehouse on 10.13.2012 at 08:53 am in Building a Home Forum

We purchased several items at an archectural salvage. Our mantel and columns into the dining room are oak (I stripped and refinished them) but have old house charm.


clipped on: 10.14.2012 at 08:30 pm    last updated on: 10.14.2012 at 08:30 pm

RE: what are good room sizes? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: zone4newby on 10.12.2012 at 08:15 pm in Building a Home Forum

I think it's really personal. Something you could do to get a better feel for what the sizes mean is to play around with furniture placement and see if you're happy with how things fit. If you use Autodesk Homestyler (it's free web-based software) you can upload the floorplan as a background, and they have an easy tool to get it scaled correctly and a huge library of furniture.

FWIW, the master bedroom on that plan is too big for me.

Here is a link that might be useful: Autodesk Homestyler


clipped on: 10.14.2012 at 08:17 pm    last updated on: 10.14.2012 at 08:18 pm

RE: crosspost:-Going with the 1.5 story - Thoughts on this plan? (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: kelhuck on 09.27.2012 at 10:00 am in Building a Home Forum

Hi Autumn! I think it's a pretty solid plan.

My main thoughts are:

-Not a fan of the garage sticking out the front of the house, especially when someone is blessed with acreage. I just think it's awkward visually, and for your guests who pull up in the drive and then have to walk around the appendage (if the doors open to the left of the house) or with cars parked right in front of the porch (if the doors open on the side with the front door). Furthermore, some day your children will (probably) have cars of their own- where will they be parked? In front of the house?

- Definitely add windows in the kitchen.

- Do be sure to play around with furniture placement in the living room and breakfast areas to make sure there won't be any awkward places where you have to squeeze past furniture.

Would you be able to move the garage to the side of the house, recessed a little? Perhaps connected with a covered "breezeway"? If so, you could add in a few sq ft where the garage was and rework that area to give you the pocket office and broom closet you desire and add a doggy feeding/bathing/storage area or something.

Pass thru from closet to laundry is a great idea and could look something like this:


clipped on: 10.02.2012 at 06:12 pm    last updated on: 10.02.2012 at 06:12 pm

RE: Laundry Room Next to Master Closet? (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: Autumn.4 on 10.01.2012 at 12:26 pm in Building a Home Forum

Hi Parkview-

Here are a couple of pics that I love for organization and using vertical space. I know I found some on here also but can't get to my clippings right now (only have a sec on my lunch break). I think it would be harder to achieve with a combined mudroom/laundry although my space will not be this large either but I hope to incorporate some of the ideas:


It's from this blog iheartorganizing:

Here is a link that might be useful: Organization Blog


clipped on: 10.02.2012 at 06:11 pm    last updated on: 10.02.2012 at 06:11 pm

RE: Can you afford it? How to know before you commit! (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: hollysprings on 09.28.2012 at 11:19 am in Building a Home Forum

For a semi custom type spec house, add 10-20% to the price that almost new homes are selling for in your area. For a true custom house with midrange choices, add 20-40% to the cost of what homes are selling for in your area. For a high end custom, start at 40, and as you well know, the sky's the limit on that one.

Plans that a builder has built before and is familiar with and only allows you certain choices will be the least expensive type of build. Even so, it's still more money than buying something that already exist. It's like buying a year old car vs. a brand new model. "Mill" plans tha have been built by others in other locations and that come mostly pre engineered and only need lightly tweaking for your needs and location would be the next in line when it comes to cost to build. If these plans include lots of unique features and shapes, then they too can be as expensive as a true custom home. Unique one off plans are usually the expensive to design, engineer, and build. You pay a premium for that "new car smell". So, if you are going that route, you need to be prepared to pay for it. The only exception to that is if you are building a giant custom rectangle with budget accouterments. And even that will be more expensive than buying existing.


clipped on: 09.28.2012 at 12:32 pm    last updated on: 09.28.2012 at 12:34 pm

RE: Interior window & door casing? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: whallyden on 09.19.2012 at 09:57 am in Building a Home Forum

Maple, painted white.

Window casing:

Window Casing

Door Casing:

Door Casing

Here is a link that might be useful: Build Blog


clipped on: 09.19.2012 at 12:46 pm    last updated on: 09.19.2012 at 12:46 pm

RE: Which other building forums do you all use? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: worthy on 08.29.2012 at 03:47 pm in Building a Home Forum


Journal of Light Construction

Green Building Advisor

A speciality forum whose name is forbidden in these hallowed halls as spam.

There is only one non-participatory site that you need read for information on building science.

Building Science Corp.


clipped on: 08.30.2012 at 12:40 pm    last updated on: 08.30.2012 at 12:40 pm

RE: Window trim debate (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: Renovator8 on 08.25.2012 at 12:40 pm in Building a Home Forum

What you will see is a small lip where the cap flashing hangs over the front edge of the head trim. The upper leg of this flashing should be sealed to the sheathing with self-adhering flexible flashing, then the house wrap goes over that.

The ends are where most leaks occur.

Here is a link that might be useful: historic trim


clipped on: 08.25.2012 at 05:15 pm    last updated on: 08.25.2012 at 05:15 pm

RE: Window trim debate (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: Renovator8 on 08.24.2012 at 04:05 pm in Building a Home Forum

It would help to know something about the windows.

The easiest and most durable way to trim a window is to use a cellular PVC kit from Advanced TrimWright.

Most modern nail fin windows need a sub-sill to allow the jamb trim a place to stop and that is included in the kit.

Here is a link that might be useful: ATW


clipped on: 08.25.2012 at 05:14 pm    last updated on: 08.25.2012 at 05:14 pm

RE: Cabinets installed before site finished hardwood floors - opi (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: hollysprings on 08.19.2012 at 10:37 am in Building a Home Forum

No, it's not "the norm". It's the hard labor way--but the cheaper material way--of doing it. You have to cut plywood to fit under the cabinet footprint to avoid issues with appliance heights. You have to cut flooring to fit around the cabinet footprint. You have to be very very careful when finishing not to ding the cabinets with the sander or slop stain on them.

It's what happens when you have cheap labor. And the only cheap labor on a construction site is usually non documented persons. A master cabinet maker would never consent to doing this, nor would a quality flooring finisher.

The proper sequence to do site finished is the install of the flooring, the sanding, staining, and 2 coats of finish. Then the floor is protected and the rest of the finish carpentry done, including the cabinets. WHen all of that work is complete, the floor protection comes off and the final finish coat goes on.


clipped on: 08.20.2012 at 03:47 pm    last updated on: 08.20.2012 at 03:47 pm

RE: Staking Out and Excavation - Problems? (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: hollysprings on 08.19.2012 at 12:06 pm in Building a Home Forum

You had a survey of the lot done with the permanent markers located and then it was staked when you purchased it, correct? And any easements and setbacks are also plainly indicated on that survey? Not the seller, or the builder. YOU. You did this, right?

If you didn't have a survey done, STOP everything until that happens. Lot lines are not where some real estate agents or builders think they are, as too many sad sagas have made plain over the years. You do NOT want to build your house 2' into an easement, or (even worse) 2' onto the neighbor's lot and only find out about it after everything is done when the neighbor's can hold you hostage over the situation.


clipped on: 08.20.2012 at 03:44 pm    last updated on: 08.20.2012 at 03:44 pm

Island Granite in--White Quartz pics!

posted by: firsthouse_mp on 03.20.2010 at 01:50 am in Kitchens Forum

They delivered and installed my White Princess Quartz counter for my island today. It was so exciting and I just love it. Now I know how you people with "granite love" feel. They are perfect! I had them honed and the finish makes the mica in the quartz shimmer....with the right angle, the white parts look sparkly gorgeous--like PEARLS! The second picture almost shows the shimmer and pearly quality on top of the drawers.

My fabricator was super worried about these slabs because he said they are so fragile to cut. He said it was like cutting sugar--had to cut them very slowwwwlllllly. But, now that they are cut and installed with reinforced plywood and rods, they are as strong as any other granite. LOVE them. My cabs look very yellow in these pics but they are actually fairly white (painted BM Simply White). The counters have a grayish/whitish cast to them, and I was worried about them being too "busy" since I am a marble lover. But I think they turned out just right. As mentioned, I especially love the pearlescent look and wish I could capture that in pics!

The perimeters and backsplashes will be next to fabricate!

From Menlo Farmhouse

From Menlo Farmhouse

From Menlo Farmhouse

From Menlo Farmhouse


clipped on: 08.08.2012 at 04:04 pm    last updated on: 08.08.2012 at 04:04 pm

RE: What molding to put on ceiling when you tile to ceiling? (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: mongoct on 05.02.2012 at 11:59 am in Bathrooms Forum

Two main reasons for basic movement at that joint are:

1) new construction settling and shrinkage. That usually occurs after the first year, and it's usually a "get it out of my system" thing. It happens once, then it's usually done.

2) I was going to ask if your house is built with trusses and if there was an attic above this bathroom. As your builder already explained to you, there's a phenomenon called "truss lift" where seasonally, the lower chord of the truss moves (flexes upwards and downwards) due to movement of the other parts of the truss. Usually, movement is highest at the mid-span of the truss chord.

Truss lift will usually repeat itself seasonally. It is usually accommodated for in just the manner your contractor specified, a "slip joint" with crown molding. The crown is secured to the ceiling only, so when the ceiling moves, the crown "slides" against the wall.

I've seen instances of 3/4" gaps between the partition wall drywall and the ceiling drywall during the lifting. I recall one case where the builder went and and tried to stop the truss lift by going in the attic and securing the truss chords to the partitions walls with Simpson clips. The next season, the truss lift was so strong it actually pulled one entire partition wall off the floor!

The proper way is to allow for the movement. There are truss clips that connect the truss chord to the partition walls while still allowing vertical movement of the bottom chord of the truss.

Also, when the ceiling is drywalled, the ceiling drywall is not screwed to the truss chords near the perimeter walls of the room. The drywall floats. Clips are then used to connect the edges of the ceiling's drywall to top edge of the wall's drywall. Then you mud and tape the corners.

With that detail, when your truss lifts, the edges of the ceiling drywall don't move upwards with the truss. The edges stay connected to the wall drywall. As the chord lifts, the ceiling panels flex just a tad, and you get no cracking in the corners.

Your movement is not significant. But that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt to look up and see the cracks and gaps.

Truss lift is a hit or miss thing. Sometimes it happens throughout the house, sometimes it shows itself in one room more than another. In a subdivision, one house may have it another may not.

Your contractor's "repair" is technically correct. But the "trim" he used may aesthetically be inadequate. Without other photos I have no idea how that added "trim" melds with the detailing in the remainder of your house, but that's your call. To my eye, the "trim" that was added is inadequate and undersized.

Anyone (contractor or builder) building with trusses should be aware of the possibility of truss lift. The only way I know to minimize or eliminate it is to insulate the roof plane of the house instead of insulating the attic floor. That minimizes some of the seasonal environmental swings that the trusses are exposed to.

Hope this info helps!

Best, Mongo


clipped on: 08.03.2012 at 08:47 pm    last updated on: 08.03.2012 at 08:47 pm

RE: Drill through tile or grout? (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: pricklypearcactus on 05.25.2012 at 10:19 am in Bathrooms Forum

I should also say I have had minimal success using the arrowhead shaped bits. I have had great success with diamond tile core bits. And as others mentioned, you do want to keep the bit wet. I should mention that the tile I have used has all been floor tile. The slate/quartzite floor tile where I installed the pedestal sink was a lot easier than drilling holes in porcelain floor tile. I haven't ever used a hammer drill (great tip, thanks Bill!) since I accidentally burned mine out mixing thinset. Oops.

You mentioned your pedestal sink. Perhaps you already know this, but just in case, don't forget to install a horizontal brace between the studs (2x4 or 2x6 or something) to carry the load of the sink. The pedestal itself does not carry as much weight as the bolts into the wall.


clipped on: 08.02.2012 at 08:00 pm    last updated on: 08.02.2012 at 08:00 pm

RE: door-free shower; what kind of bathroom walls? (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: mongoct on 06.18.2012 at 12:19 am in Bathrooms Forum

"One question--I've Redgard isn't ok. But, maybe it is. If we go the RedGard route, are you saying you would use that with a kerdi or laticrete drain, then? (I know nothing about drains. Sort of assumed the plumber did that)."

RedGard is a fine topical membrane. RedGard is sold through Home Depot, so there is a chance that any naysayers out there might be using the product without reading the directions. Just sayin'...

Now that being said...personally, I prefer Hydroban, but that's me.

If you use RedGard on a shower floor, use a 2-part clamping drain and the "Divot Method".

If you use Hydroban, then you can use Laticrete's HydroBan flanged Drain, or Schluter's flanged Kerdi Drain.

I think the flanged drain method with Hydroban is superior to the Divot Method with the clamping drain and RedGard.

"And, then, regarding the use of spectralock to "ensure" waterproofing... I'm paranoid about mildew/mold and rotting out the boards (mostly the great big beam that has replaced our former exterior wall with this addition and over which our shower would span). Any suggestions on how to optimally protect that beam? "

A properly applied topical membrane gives the best protection from leaks.

The topical membrane with the flanged drain will give you the best installation in terms of minimizing moisture penetration below the tile. With minimal wetting below the tile, there is less chance for mildew.

Ventilation within the shower is paramount. Not just the fan, but the ducting needs to be properly set and sized. But that's another story for another day.

So if mildew is a concern, then I highly recommend a topical membrane, the flanged drain with HydroBan approach, which is what we've been discussing, or a Kerdi drain with Kerdi membrane. Your shower is not a steam shower, so the Hydroban will be sufficient and probably less expensive.

"(and the tile--will I need something like that orange decoupler stuff on the floor to prevent cracks from any movement?)"

"Orange decoupler stuff", I'm going to assume that is a reference to Ditra? If you need that, yes, it goes on the bathroom floor outside the shower area. Whether you need it or not can depend on your floor structure and what type of tile (porcelain or natural stone for example) you are using.

" Linear drain at the shower threshold..."

Some locales do not permit a trench drain at the shower entry threshold due to flow-over issues. Sudsing from soap or shampoo can cause water to sheet right over the drain and puddle in the non-membraned/protected areas of the bathroom floor.

If the entire room is made into a wetroom, not all portions of the room need to be sloped. And even if the floor area around the toilet is sloped, the toilet should still be set level. Another option would be to use a wall-mounted toilet.


clipped on: 08.02.2012 at 01:13 pm    last updated on: 08.02.2012 at 01:14 pm

RE: Basic Curbless shower - linear drain - what it looks like? (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: mongoct on 07.06.2012 at 12:01 pm in Bathrooms Forum

"So there has to be space for a "pool" somewhere around the drain whether you use a center regular drain or a linear drain."

Yes. No matter what your design, or what type of drain you install, there are pretty much two basic requirements:

1) the shower floor area needs to be sloped towards the drain at a min pitch of 1/4" per foot and a max of 1/2" per foot.
2) With the drain plugged and with a 2" standing depth of water over the drain, waterproofing needs to contain the pooled water from intruding in to the non-waterproofed areas of the house.

"In the diagram I included above, if the linear drain were recessed to meet the 1/4 inch per foot of run, then it would be okay but that gets us back to seeing that a linear drain requires being recessed just like a regular drain. "

Correct. For your depiction above with no changes to the drain elevation, let's say you install the drain "as is". The floor to the right of the drain that is in the shower would need to pitch to the drain at 1/4" per foot, so the floor tile at the right wall would be elevated 1-1/8" (4.5' times 1/4" per foot) above the drain.

If the bathroom floor to the left of the drain was flat (as it is in the drawing), you'd have to install a 2" vertical curb at the bathroom doorway. Your wall-mounted toilet and vanity protect those items. You'd then have to waterproof the entire floor and run the waterproofing detail up the walls several inches.

Let's say you want to keep your bathroom floor flat with no curb at the bathroom/bedroom door threshold. Here are a couple of examples of how you could account for the required 2" vertical. In new construction they are easy to accomplish, in remodeling maybe not so easy:

1) drop the floor in the shower 2" below the bathroom floor by shaving down or dropping the floor joists. Then reverse the direction of the floor slope in your shower so it slopes down from left-to-right. Your trench drain will now be at the right wall. With your bathroom floor "flat", you'll have a curbless entry at the bathroom/shower floor transition. The shower floor will slope down to the drain at a little under 1/2" per foot of slope, about 7/16th" per foot to achieve the 2" drop over the 4-1/2' or run.

2) Keep the drain where it is in the drawing and the slope as depicted, from right-to-left. Add a 2" curb at the shower entry. Not curbless, but a 2" curb.

3) A hybrid of the two previous examples. Add a 2" step up at the shower door entry, then have the floor slope away from the shower entry towards the right wall, with the trench drain on the right wall. You'll have a 2" step up but then the floor will slope down within the shower.

One note: Even if you did a true curbless like in example #1, I extend waterproofing out of the shower and on to the bathroom floor for several feet. You need to account for not just the physical size of the potential pool of water, but also the wicking and capillary action that will pull water away from the pool.


clipped on: 08.01.2012 at 09:19 pm    last updated on: 08.01.2012 at 09:19 pm

RE: Here Comes the Inspector....Make Up Air.... (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: cottonpenny on 06.13.2012 at 07:24 pm in Appliances Forum

Bee - oh no, how awful! I feel pretty lucky my builder was on top of things...we talked about MUA as far back as the closing on the lot. We are in the same state as you but diff area. Our builder has built many $1-2 million homes and said he has not had to install a MUA system yet (ours is not even close to that $ range), but the codes have gotten a lot stricter. FWIW, ours is about $700 for a damper system connected to our furnace cold air exchange, but the damper is opened automatically when the hood turns on. Apparently, it is also an issue with some hoods having the correct electrical wiring to be able to open the damper automatically. He was worried the variable control on the Modernaire hood I wanted wouldn't work for that purpose, but I guess he and the electrician were able to get it figured out.

Trevor - what type of system did you install?


clipped on: 07.31.2012 at 03:37 pm    last updated on: 07.31.2012 at 03:37 pm

RE: River White or White Galaxy? (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: sochi on 03.13.2010 at 10:15 am in Kitchens Forum

discoganya - not sure if you've looked at Luce di Luna quartzite (quartzite bianca), or if you like the linear movement or not, but some slabs are whiter than others, some greyer. It might be worth a look. The slab we have used, pictured below, is whiter towards the top and has some brown in it, it matches well with our walnut cabs.

The kitchen isn't finished yet unfortunately, so I don't yet have a good shot showing the cabs and the countertop, may have more this weekend.





clipped on: 07.30.2012 at 09:58 pm    last updated on: 07.30.2012 at 09:59 pm

RE: Dark Stain on new unfinished White Oak (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: tectonicfloors on 12.07.2011 at 07:43 am in Flooring Forum

Minwax is mostly a pigment stain. Try some aniline die stains, or the mentioned iron reaction.


clipped on: 07.28.2012 at 02:09 pm    last updated on: 07.28.2012 at 02:09 pm

Peacock Pavers? They look great - are they?

posted by: organic_jmac on 04.18.2010 at 03:21 pm in Flooring Forum

Has anyone had any direct or indirect experience with Peacock Pavers?

Several years ago, I saved an spread from Traditional Home of a house that used beautiful concrete pavers. I emailed the design company (Bobby McAlpin's) and asked for info about those floors but they never replied. I kept my eye out for some time for something similar, and was THRILLED, this last year, to find ads for the very same flooring. I've ordered samples and am really leaning towards their use in our upcoming (finally!) construction - but I do have some reservations because I have not actually seen these pavers in a home. I'd love to hear from anyone who has used them or seen them....I don't mind being a guinea pig, but I don't want to be the blind-uniformed one:)


clipped on: 07.28.2012 at 06:47 am    last updated on: 07.28.2012 at 06:48 am

RE: Must you test moisture of hard wood before installing if... (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: floorguy on 02.13.2012 at 07:02 pm in Flooring Forum

Tramex wood moisture meters, are the brand all others try to measure up to.

Tramex Digital PRO.


clipped on: 07.28.2012 at 06:43 am    last updated on: 07.28.2012 at 06:43 am

RE: Need help deciding on hardwood flooring (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: MichelleDT on 04.16.2012 at 11:51 pm in Flooring Forum

Just got a quote on plain sawn white oak (grade 1, TG), site finished with three coats of gray stain and water sealer = $11/sq. ft. Quarter sawn which was preferred (same grade of white oak) with same site finish = $12.90 sq. ft. We could reduce cost by down grading the wood quality, reducing the number of coats of stain but not below $10 sq. ft. The dealer did tell us that he could get close to $10 sq. ft if we wanted pre-finished. We don't. YMMV.


clipped on: 07.27.2012 at 01:49 pm    last updated on: 07.27.2012 at 01:49 pm

RE: Low-e vs solar gain vs window treatments (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: calbay03 on 08.30.2007 at 03:00 pm in Windows Forum

Mac Software for computing energy efficiency:

Some are free, some are not. Enjoy! :-) If you look to the left of the web page after it loads, there is also a link to "Internet" based software under the section titled, "Tools by Platform". I don't remember having any of these 4 years ago when we did our research.

Another correction to my previous post. Our windows (Marvn Ultimate) have visual transmission of 0.48, roughly 48% visible light. Our French doors have 0.40, about 40% transmission. These numbers came right off the window and door stickers we saved. These units face south, southwest and west and all are in banks and we are at a lower latitude, that may be why we get a lot of natural light into the house all year even at only 40%-48% transmission. The "72%" was taken from my notes refering to none low-E windows, sorry for the mix-up.

Hope those software choices have something you can use.

Oberon - thanks for the kind words and thanks for sharing all the insider technical knowledge, wish I had read your stuff 4 years ago.


clipped on: 07.19.2012 at 10:15 pm    last updated on: 07.19.2012 at 10:16 pm

RE: Low-e vs solar gain vs window treatments (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: oberon on 08.30.2007 at 07:38 am in Windows Forum

good morning,

I am curious that your architect said to get insulating glass without LowE coating because of solar gain considerations. Either the architect is being a bit lazy or else he/she is not well versed on window performance.

If he/she wants to maximize solar gain then you want a LowE coating that maximizes solar gain as well as keeps heat inside your home. You do not want clear glass under any circumstances because the losses (as you noted) exceed the gains when the sun isn't shining on the windows.

A high solar gain LowE coating will balance out the losses and gains to a much greater degree than will clear glass. I know of very few solar gain experts who would dispute that idea, so again I would suggest that your architect may need to do a little reading about passive solar energy performance.

To follow up what Guy mentioned in his post, LowE coatings are designed to block infrared energy. The high solar gain coatings block what is called "far infrared" or "long wave" infrared. Far infrared is what you are getting from your heat source in your home - be it radiant, forced air, whatever. Even when you have solar gain thru your windows that warms the walls and furniture and floors, the heat that you feel radiating from those surfaces is far infrared.

Direct solar gain is "near infrared" or "short wave" infrared. This is the heat that you feel when standing in a sunbeam. This is very nice heat that always feels good - on cold winter days - less good on hot sunny summer days!

When considering passive solar thru windows, you want to allow the near infrared energy thru the glass but you want tyo block the return of the far infrared to the outdoors - again back thru the glass. This is what a high solar heat gain LowE coating does - it allows direct sun heat to pass but then keeps the warm inside air inside.

A low solar heat gain coating, on the other hand, is designed to block both near and far infrared energy. It is designed to keep "all heat" from passing thru the window. If you are not concerned about passive solar gain for whatever reason - for example you live in south Florida or west Texas where solar gain into your home may not be considered a necessarily good thing - then this sort of coating is what you want.

Even in the north country this coating will often (but not always) be more cost effective than a high gain product depending on factors such as actual amount of sunlight available, home orientation, number and size of windows, etc. Again, this is an area where the architect can make a huge difference by desiging a home that will take advantage of direct solar gain in winter and that will effectively block direct solar gain in summer. If you have a home that is designed to those specifications, then a high gain coating may be the best choice.

But, if you have a home that is not designed to make best use of those factors then it may be better to go with a low gain coating instead.

In all circumstances having a LowE coating is better than having clear glass.

Do LowE coatings block visible light? Yes, somewhat. But very few people really notice the difference when the entire home has coated glass. A caveat that not all coatings are created equal and that some manufactuers are much better than others at manufacturing "neutral color" coatings that can be far less noticeable. Often, even experts can't tell if a home has LowE coatings just by looking at the windows.

Calbay is an excellent source of first hand homeowner information. He did his homework before buying and he does a great job of passing what he has learned about his windows.

And off subject...

Guy, now that it has quit raining for a few days, we are going to try to get those windows installed later this week...hoping the eather holds until we get them in! Thanks for the advice and I will likely be bugging you a few more times my friend!!!


clipped on: 07.19.2012 at 10:13 pm    last updated on: 07.19.2012 at 10:13 pm

RE: Mix and Match Marvin Ultimates with Integrity? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: macv on 09.16.2010 at 10:26 pm in Windows Forum

Wood-Ultrex or all-Ultrex?

Both the Integrity DH and the Ultimate DH windows need a projecting sub-sill added to avoid water intrusion problems since neither has a proper drip at the nose of the sill. That is more expensive but it allows the sub-sill to extend to the sides below the bottom of the jamb trim so it looks like a traditional DH window instead of a developer short cut.

The interior jambs will look different and that will be more noticeable than the exterior.


clipped on: 07.18.2012 at 07:04 pm    last updated on: 07.18.2012 at 07:04 pm

RE: measuring for shutters (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: olychick on 11.05.2010 at 12:15 pm in Windows Forum

I just posted this website in another post about shutters. One man's opinions...but it's pretty thorough.

Here is a link that might be useful: Correct shutter placement


clipped on: 07.18.2012 at 12:59 pm    last updated on: 07.18.2012 at 12:59 pm

RE: Best Window Caulk (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: skydawggy on 12.28.2010 at 06:43 pm in Windows Forum

The only exterior caulk we use is OSI Quad. Silicone is OK to use on the inside. If your installer has never heard of OSI Quad, you have made a serious mistake in selecting him.


clipped on: 07.18.2012 at 12:08 pm    last updated on: 07.18.2012 at 12:09 pm

RE: Tile cost (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: mydreamhome on 03.29.2011 at 12:29 am in Building a Home Forum

Just had mine quoted: Labor & Setting Materials (mortar, grout, backerboard, shower waterproofing stuff, etc) = $6 sqft for floors, $6.50 sqft walls. Upcharges = setting the tiles diagonally $0.50 sq ft, setting accent tiles $10 ea, can't recall the cost of the niches right off. With a tile budget for the tile itself of $5.50 sqft, my total estimate is in the neighborhood of $5,000 for tiling 3 bath floors, 1 laundry floor, 2 tub surrounds, 4x5 master shower (includes tiling shower floor)& 1' high tilework around master tub. I'm in central NC.


clipped on: 07.01.2012 at 12:34 pm    last updated on: 07.01.2012 at 12:34 pm

RE: New construction well/water question (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: bus_driver on 04.13.2011 at 06:09 pm in Building a Home Forum

Some in my area build and then drill the well. I do not think that is good procedure. For required separation of well, septic, boundaries and house on my site plan, the area for the well was within an area 20 x 60. After having the soil approved for the septic, the well was next. Without those, the build would be useless. Now tests of the water are mandated, but treatment is not.


clipped on: 07.01.2012 at 11:49 am    last updated on: 07.01.2012 at 11:50 am

RE: New Owner Builder - Maybe (Follow-Up #26)

posted by: lzerarc on 03.14.2011 at 10:43 pm in Building a Home Forum

as worthy states, a single system can not be credited for the overall impact. R-40 walls are great until you have 20' of north facing glass. All the sudden your clear average is r-10. High r walls are just the small part of it. Sealing should be number one, followed by the details and construction methods fit for your climate. High r windows have some of the worse pay off in terms of dollars spent vs energy dollars saved. From my research and real world experiences, if you are after HIGH R assemblies, then double walls are your cheapest option with the easiest details to hit r-40 pretty quick. 2x6 framing with exterior insulation and spray foams ca get you there, however details become quite the issue because the exterior foam thickness has to be so thick. However XPS and urethane foams are very expensive. A well built, caulked and sealed double stud 2x4 wall with cellulose IS the cheapest way to hit a thermally broken high r assembly. However as I stated, it all needs to balance out. If you have $5k more to spend on your shell, and sealing has already been taken care of, then you have to compare wall insulation vs window insulation. However below slab as well as attics need to be addressed. Your house has 6 sides, not 4 as many people seem to focus on. All parts need to be addressed equally so one area doesn't reduce the affects of the other.
From my findings, it seems in COLD climates, after you hit mid to high r30s in walls and r50s in the attic, you hit the diminishing return of r values in walls. At that point, focus your leftover funds (ya right, that never happens!) on the windows. However design windows to enhance your house performance. Throw out E-star rated windows. Focus on placement, high SHGC on the south and low u values, possibly triple pane on the north and west. Better yet, reduce north glass. Focus the design on over hangs on the south, focus on color choices and materials selections to reflect or reduce heat gains, list goes on and on. Basically what I am saying in a very long and drawn out way is, similar to Worthy, one needs to focus on the whole to decide what is the best use of your funds. Sealing should be done regardless of your climate or r value.

Alphonse- when I say double stud, I mean 2 independent 2x4 walls, 16" oc with space in between them. Staggered refers to 2x4 on 24" oc centers (placing a structural stud at every 12") on 2x6, 8, or 10 plates. Since they are rigid connected at the top, bottom, and openings, they also have rigid exterior sheathing as well as interior sheathing of gyp all on the same frame. Double studs have sheathing on a single face, and are not connected at the sills.


clipped on: 07.01.2012 at 10:05 am    last updated on: 07.01.2012 at 10:05 am

RE: What are you doing (or did you do) for HVAC in your build? (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: Renovator8 on 04.18.2011 at 09:25 am in Building a Home Forum

The use of characterizations like forced "hot" air and "scorched" air suggests the use of direct fired furnaces favored by developers and contractors in the last century.

The most effective system I have seen used in MA is a "hydro-air" system which uses an exterior comp/cond unit and an interior high-efficiency boiler to serve an air-handler or two (usually in the basement and attic) with a variable speed fan, sophisticated computer controls, and an exterior temperature sensor that allows the lowest air temperature and air speed for the best comfort level. The use of a humidifier and outside air ventilation with a heat exchanger makes the system hard to beat.

However, this system is not the cheapest or easiest to install so it is not usually the first system recommended by a contractor.


clipped on: 07.01.2012 at 09:21 am    last updated on: 07.01.2012 at 09:21 am

RE: What are you doing (or did you do) for HVAC in your build? (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: crdnh on 04.15.2011 at 07:47 am in Building a Home Forum

We're in the quote stage for a small new home in NH. We went with a hybrid air sourced heat-pump/propane setup.

Ran into the same disdain for "scorched air" heat, but if you want AC it's really the way to go and what everyone remembers really doesn't take into consideration modulated gas furnaces and variable speed fans used today. Geothermal is great, but way expensive. In fact, in MA/NH everything is expensive compared to what I read on this forum.

The hybrid system uses a heatpump for AC and limited heating, say down to an outside temperature of 30F or so. At that temperature, operating the heat pump is less expensive than propane (we don't have NG available). Upgrading to a heat pump is only about $500-$1,000 more than an AC unit.

Below 30F, the system is programmed to switch to a conventional high efficiency gas furnace, since the heating capacity of heat pumps is limited especially for the smaller units you'd find in a well insulated house. We're using a Honeywell IAQ thermostat (with outdoor temp and humidity sensors) to control all this plus a Ventmar HRV ventilation system for under $20K installed in new construction.


clipped on: 07.01.2012 at 09:18 am    last updated on: 07.01.2012 at 09:18 am

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: 07.01.2012 at 09:03 am    last updated on: 07.01.2012 at 09:03 am

RE: Advice on building first house (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: lzerarc on 01.12.2011 at 01:50 pm in Building a Home Forum

ZIP sheating runs (in our area, check with your local supply company that sells Hubber products) around here about $13/4x8 sheet. Compared to cheap OSB sheathing, that costs about $7. With ZIP you also need the tape, which is around $30 per 100' roll, so add several rolls to that price. However with OSB, you also need to add in a building wrap such as Tyvek, which costs 150-300 per roll, dependings on what size you need and how much. ZIP plus the tape will cost slightly more (on my house with about 2200sqft of wall surface it adds about $500 total, WELL worth it). The advantage however is it saves the step up putting up tyvek (i hate it!) but also seals your house much better then tyvek and typical sheathing. it also creates a natural water resistant drainage plane and reduces air infiltration much better.
Also look into Advantec subflooring, also made by Hubber. THE subfloor to use, IMO. I have not found it to cost any more then a high quality subfloor product.

ZIP should not replace XPS or any other form of "outsulation". It is just a weather coated osb sheathing product, with no insulative values. The XPS creates a thermal break between the outside and your studs. While thermal breaks are not as important in your area as cold climates, they also add another layer of air blockage and help to keep your conditions space in, and humidity out during the summer. If it were me, I would progably install either 1/2" or 1" of XPS OVER the ZIP sheathing. Tape the zip, tape the XPS, and you will have a nice tight structure.
If you want to skip the outsulation step, you can shoot 1" of urethane between the studs on the interior. This will actually seal your house better most likely, but will come at a high price tag. In your area, you are not going for a super high R like in mine, rather as tight as possible and enough R to keep your conditioned space efficient.
XPS is r-5 per inch. spray closed cell urethane is around r6.5-7 per inch. spray in cellulose is around 3.7-4 per inch.
Assuming you used zip, no exterior xps, and cellulose fill, you will be around an r 20 for a 2x6 wall. Your affective r after thermal bridge would be more around r-16 range. Add the XPS, and you are at r-25, and your affective r is still around r-21-23 due to your minimal reduction of no thermal bridging. Spray in closed cell foam does not eliminate the bridging, however it does seal very very well.


clipped on: 07.01.2012 at 09:02 am    last updated on: 07.01.2012 at 09:02 am

RE: one key for all locks? (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: musings on 04.10.2011 at 10:03 am in Building a Home Forum

We have all keyed the same EXCEPT for one (the side door). Only my husband and I have the main key. The exception is the only key that we give out as necessary -- to our kids, the housekeeper, neighbors (in case someone is locked out or we ask a favor of them that requires access, etc.), etc. We can deadbolt the exception from the inside as well, so we can control when that door can be used. This also reduces the chances of us having too many main keys out there, lost, etc.


clipped on: 07.01.2012 at 08:24 am    last updated on: 07.01.2012 at 08:24 am

RE: Which Door Hardware: Baldwin or Emtek (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: worthy on 04.28.2011 at 08:10 pm in Building a Home Forum

On higher-end homes I use only Emtek, Baldwin and Gainsborough.

I used to fit all the interior doors with Gainsborough porcelain knobs and 24K gold-plated rosettes. Whenever I'd mention the plating to prospects, they were invariably surprised. I notice now the rosettes come only "gold coloured". So they're economizing even at a maximum plating thickness of 18 microns (18/1000 of an inch).


clipped on: 07.01.2012 at 08:08 am    last updated on: 07.01.2012 at 08:09 am

RE: Pretty entry OR mudroom? Can they be combined? (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: lazygardens on 05.01.2011 at 09:47 am in Building a Home Forum

Keeping the mud out is a multi-step process. I assume you are wearing the classic all-rubber cow barn boots or gardener's wellies.

1 - A rinse station next to the porch where you can hose off the mud. Keep the mud off the porch and much of the problem goes away. Build the rinse station as a slatted wood platform and draw the water away by drains into flower beds.

2 - A boot bench on the covered porch where you change from slip-on house shoes to boots and back. Build in a boot drying rack

3 - Coat cubbie outside for dripping-wet oilskins

4 - Coat cubbies inside for jackets, mittens and scarves. The classic ski solution for wet mittens and gloves is a 6" peg to slide them over so they get air on all sides.


clipped on: 06.30.2012 at 02:52 pm    last updated on: 06.30.2012 at 02:53 pm

RE: Foundation Pouring (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: sierraeast on 04.27.2011 at 11:09 am in Building a Home Forum

It's typically a good idea to have bracing against the basement walls on the inside and the floor framing done before backfilling. The pour itself should sit for a week or so before floor framing/bracing dependent on your area. If it's still wet and cold in your location, a longer period of time should be allowed before proceding. Make sure you have a bulletproof waterproofing system/ drainage plane planned for the exterior basement walls before backfill.


clipped on: 06.30.2012 at 02:49 pm    last updated on: 06.30.2012 at 02:49 pm

RE: Insulation question for david_cary (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: lzerarc on 04.27.2011 at 09:14 am in Building a Home Forum

about your osb and caulking question, yes, that is exactly what I mean. Some builders like to go one step further and use liquid nail too. This enhances the connection and rigid frame of the walls. However even I think it is pushing the line of overkill.
ZIP is a great product. Prices around here have been about just under 2x the price of osb per sheet, plus tape. However with that price you can also eliminate the air infiltration barrier (tyvek) and the labor involved with the osb. After those discounts, it prices pretty close. Your builder can also qualify for discounts on first time users as well. It installs just like osb, and they simple tape the seams with a roller Hubber provides that works great. It is a waterproof and air proof system. Tyvek is never installed correctly (with staples) and has thousands of tiny holes in it because of that. Hubber sheathing gets your house air and water tight as soon as its installed and taped. I do not know your house size, however in the whole scheme of things, it should work out to be a small add, but well worth it IMO. You can also use it for the roof as well and eliminate roofing felts.


clipped on: 06.30.2012 at 02:38 pm    last updated on: 06.30.2012 at 02:38 pm

RE: Insulation question for david_cary (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: lzerarc on 04.25.2011 at 01:49 pm in Building a Home Forum

talk to your builder about caulking sill plates to the floor sheathing. Sheathing to the face of studs. Every connection between 2 hard elements such as wood to wood, wood to concrete, etc should ideally have some sort of flexible sealant applied between them. THe house settles, expands, contracts...gaps and joints open up over time. Doing the simple fast task of caulking between items at this stage just keeps it tighter and sealed longer then surface caulking (for example caulking a crack of 2 objects instead of a bead between the objects which is best since you are not started).
good luck on your build, and nice to hear you are really putting this to thought. just realize, EVERY builder I have ever talked to for my projects always objects to details and specs because they do not understand, see the point, or do not share the same values for efficiency. I am not sayings yours will, but just be prepared for them to attempt to talk you out of it. If not, then IMO you have yourself a good contractor!


clipped on: 06.30.2012 at 02:32 pm    last updated on: 06.30.2012 at 02:32 pm

RE: Hot Water in Kitchen (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: chisue on 05.15.2011 at 05:53 pm in Building a Home Forum

We have a circulator pump on our hot water line. I get hot water within two seconds at every tap in the house. If you want *boiling* hot water you need the dispenser luann_in_pa is talking about.


clipped on: 06.30.2012 at 02:28 pm    last updated on: 06.30.2012 at 02:28 pm

RE: plumbing question (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: brickeyee on 05.25.2011 at 09:47 am in Building a Home Forum

"brickeyee, do you prefer copper?"

Depends on the local water.

On a well PEX is far more likely to last.

On municipal water it depends on the water authority knowing how to cope with the new EPA rules.

It would have been nice if the EPA had asked their 'in house' corrosion experts BEFORE making the rules.

They have forced the TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) so low the water now attacks copper (the most common supply material in use).

Now we need to add orthophophates BACK into the water after we 'cleaned' it more than needed for health and safety.


clipped on: 06.30.2012 at 02:16 pm    last updated on: 06.30.2012 at 02:16 pm

RE: Advice, please, on finish for hardwood floor (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: gregmills on 06.27.2012 at 06:23 pm in Flooring Forum

Bona Traffic in my opinion is a good product if you plan on having 50 people over on a nightly basis. If not. Its not worth the extra money. Glista makes a water base called Infinity 2. Its great. I use it on every floor i do. Its cheaper than traffic and is plenty durable. Full cure time 14 days. Low VOC. its everything your looking for.


clipped on: 06.30.2012 at 01:53 pm    last updated on: 06.30.2012 at 01:54 pm

RE: Advantech subfloor (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: drdugit on 10.08.2010 at 07:30 pm in Building a Home Forum

Wow, where are the builders/designers you're talking to, manhattan? I'm a builder from South Central PA, and its all but standard here, used on everything from base level 800sf rentals to $2mm plus homes. I've actually never built a house with anything but advantech. After seeing how wall sheathing swells if one leaves it out without being tarped, I can't imagine the amount of planing that would be necessary with OSB before installing flooring. I've also seen a fair share of plywood delaminate from getting wet just once.

I guess if you're building in a very dry climate it may not be necessary. We have a moderately wet climate, and I've never been able to get a house dryed in without at least one soaking rain. Well worth the price for insurance IMO.


clipped on: 06.29.2012 at 02:07 pm    last updated on: 06.29.2012 at 02:07 pm

RE: What size propane tank? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: sniffdog on 06.06.2011 at 04:30 pm in Building a Home Forum

The info you provided isn't enough to size the propane tank. You also need to consider the scenario and what applainces will be running at the same time and for how long.

The big drivers will be the heating system, freplace, generator and hot water. Find out the gallons per hour ratings for each of these and multiply by the number of days you need. Keep in mind that the propane tank is only filled to 80% of maximum capacity to allow for expansion, so a 500 gallong tank will only have 400 maximum gallons; 1000 gallon tank has 800 gallons. Also- you need to figure that when an outage occurs you probably won't have a full tank.

I looked at the Kohler 15kW specs and it is rated for about 1.5 gallons per hour of propane usage at a 50% load (idle speed). A 2 week outage would use over 500 gallons assuming you ran the generator continuosly for that entire time. So that alone would put you in the 1000 gallon tank class.

But I would really think hard about this 2 week requirement. If that is what you really want - then you probably would need a generator that is liquid cooled and not air cooled (air cooled are cheaper). The liquid cooled gensets may consume more fuel - check the specs. 2 weeks of continuous operation is a long time on a genset.

I worked out the tank capacity with the propane service provider. They not only sized the tank, but they also provided a special valve to ensure that the pressure was regulated when the genset is running. The tank size won't change the gas pressure coming into the house since it the regulator keeps the right pressure.

I would also look at the genset size. Since your hvac is gas, you don't need a lot of power to keep the house comfortable and rive all of you appliances and well pump. A smaller generator will use less fuel and will be cheaper to install. I have a 12kW Kohler unit and it is more than enough to run the house during an outage. We live in VA and have had some long outages - over 24 hours with no power with near zero degree temps is a long outage. The 12kW works like a champ.

Also - make sure you get BOTH the carburetor AND batttery warmer heater accessories for your genset. These are a must in cold weather and will make sure the unit starts in very cold weather.


clipped on: 06.29.2012 at 01:59 pm    last updated on: 06.29.2012 at 02:00 pm

RE: Some of the best advice from the braintrust on this forum (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: buehl on 02.05.2011 at 03:13 pm in Kitchens Forum

I don't know if you've read the "Read Me" thread, but the "Best Advice" and other, similar, threads are linked in it. They're located in the "Miscellaneous Information"-->"Helpful Threads" topic.

Here's your list, reformatted for ease of reading (see "Curious about text in messages (adding bold, italics, etc.)", also in the "Miscellaneous Information"-->"Helpful Threads" topic.)


  • lay the kitchen out on the ground outside with all the measurements and walk around it to see if it felt right. I took my measurements and scraps of wood and laid them out in the various plans I had come up with.
  • check out the sound of the fan in the new ovens. I would have been pretty steamed to spend a bunch on a new range and have that sound come blaring out each time I used the oven.
  • putting Blumotion on the cabinet doors. This is my favorite feature in our kitchen and the cost was cheap to add these on after the cab install.
  • "zones" on this forum, and designed my kitchen around them, with a tremendous amount of help from my forum friends. In my old kitchen, the dishwasher opened across from the island (right into the backs of my legs). Now, the cleanup zone is on the peninsula, the prep area is between the fridge and sink, etc. It's really wonderful.
  • No air gap -- most modern dishwashers don't need them, so you don't have to have that extra unattractive "thing" on your countertop. Easy way around that if you need to pass code inspection is to drill the hole for air gap... pop it on for inspection and when they've gone take off the air gap and pop on your soap dispenser. Then put the loop in the hose at the back of your dishwasher...
  • Advantium
  • Miele dishwasher
  • Test tube rack for spice storage
  • Lay it out with tape to double check
  • advice for setting up a temp kitchen
  • Measure from 3 points wall to wall. Had I known this when we remodeled the entire house in 1990, I would now have the room to put in a pro-style range. As it is, I am exactly....1/4" short. Talk about frustrating! Our cabs are in great shape and I love them, but I'm stuck with the 29-7/8" width on the range.
  • I really like this that I stole from Dmlove--- I love not having all those cords on my desk/countertop! So best advice from this forum... details make the difference! for now my phone sits over the hole
  • pull down (rather than pull out or side spray) faucet
  • Bluestar, after asking about the best 30 inch slide-in range
  • batch-feed garbage disposals
  • adding outlets
  • Galaxy Tool Supply for our sink
  • Never MT
  • Plugmold
  • Wide/shallow cabinet for William Sonoma ultra-thin step stool.
  • Airswitch on disposal. Never minded the wall switch, but now that I have a nice backsplash and an island
  • Floodstop on icemaker and washing machine.
  • I put power into the back of 4 drawers, so each family member has a place to charge the cell phone (or camcorder or whatever) out of sight.
  • I also have a false panel behind a niche so that the power / wallwarts / phone wire / wireless access point is hidden. Only the phone sits out exposed. Similar to the idea above, but using depth.
  • Don't pack your booze prior to remodeling (this is VERY important! VERY IMPORTANT!)
  • Lacanche
  • caulk on change of planes verses grout...look at the underside of your cabinets
  • Plugmold for under the ends of my island so I didn't have to cut outlets into my beautiful cabinets
  • integrated drainboard cut into the countertop
  • raising the countertop for my wall oven - which gave me a bonus "standing desk" for my laptop
  • never thought I could get talked out of gas. So, that is the best advice so far
  • I'm a single sink convert, based solely upon the reviews on this website.
  • DH and I made a "never mt" out of tubing bought for $0.46 at Lowes. It's really not very exciting, though. It's clear tubing (like the kind you see on aquariums) attached to the bottom of the soap dispenser thing, and then extends down through the lid and into the bottom of the bottle of soap. (We just drilled a hole in the top of the bottle and shoved the tubing down.) So low tech! The tubing is something like $.23/ foot and we bought 2 feet. Super easy.
  • Landing space between appliances
  • Aisle clearances
  • Wait until its right - the right plan, the right time, the right appliances.
  • instant hot water heater
  • Getting a 36" range
  • baking center
  • online resources for sinks and faucets
  • the importance of putting functionality first in all design decisions
  • how to test granite for durability
  • remote blower for hood fan
  • single deep fireclay sink
  • lots of great online resources for sinks, faucets, etc
  • Never NEVER NEVER!!!! Leave your construction site to go on vacation ::scary music:: I MEAN NEVERRRRR!!!!!
  • the best (and most costly) is don't settle. You have to live with this kitchen for quite some time. Don't settle! (Even if that means you scrapped the cabinets today, called of the GC for 8 weeks while you order new ones, and you can't live in your home so you have to find somewhere else to live for three months). And maybe Santa won't know where you live!!!
  • Pegasus under-cabinet lighting here. Slim, good-looking, very energy-efficient, and reasonably priced.
  • I was convinced of the superiority of the Miele cutlery rack
  • do not rush..get a good plan in place. Pick what you love ..NOT what the designer loves
  • Brizo Floriano/pulldowns in general
  • xenon lighting
  • Venting
  • Tapmaster
  • take pictures of everything while your walls are open. It is very helpful to have that photographic record of where electric, pipes, studs etc. actually are. Also, plan for where you want to install pot/wall racks, shelf brackets, etc.--and add extra framing in the walls before they get closed up.
  • Get your floor plan right!
  • The Franke Orca sink ... to die for.
  • Inexpensive but quality Ticor sinks for laundry and prep.
  • Plugmold giving me a crisp, clean and outlet-free backsplash.
  • The personal, real life stories shared here gave me the confidence to push back at the stoneyard and insist on marble for my island. It pairs beautifully with the soapstone perimeter.
  • Bertazzoni range
  • White America Quartzite to go with SS
  • LED undercabinet lights
  • internet and eBay vendor recommendations
  • Hancock & Moore leather furniture (from GW furniture forum)
  • Microfiber cloths for cleaning SS and granite.
  • we had scaled drawings, pictures, and sketches taped to walls and cabinets all over the kitchen. A sketch of the island layout, a drawing with dimensions for light fixtures and switches, a sketch showing the spacing of shelves, a picture of how we wanted plugmold installed - you name it, we had it on a piece of paper and taped on a wall. When we would discuss anything with the electrician, plumber, etc., usually we would show them a drawing or sketch so they would know exactly what we were looking for. Then we would post it on the wall in the kitchen. It may have been slightly annoying to those working there, but it was amazing how much it helped. A number of times after someone screwed something up I would just point to a drawing and they would immediately have to take the blame and offer to fix it. There was never any chance to claim that we never told them or that we had said something else. It was right there on the wall the whole time.
  • undercounter light switch for undercounter lights
  • tilt-out shoe storage cabinet
  • Get hardwoods instead of laminate. Once I investigated I couldn't believe at how little difference in cost between the two (good decent laminate vs. hardwood)
  • This is AWESOME! I now have a list of things I had never even heard of to check on...and I thought I was on top of things!
  • posters here are willing to share their good and bad experiences so that newbies like me can have a smoother reno.
  • Something that I'm slowly realizing as I continue to read the posts here is that, despite the best of planning, something (or things) likely will not go as planned.
  • Buy appliances available locally (so service is available), from retailers who will actually stand behind the sale instead of shifting all blame and responsibility to the manufacturer - even when they shipped a defective product. Just finished reading a long thread about someone that bought from an internet retailer, and it was shocking to see the attitude of the retailer. Forget the pre sale promises and assurances from some of these disreputable internet companies who won't be there if you have a problem and just get them locally. No small percentage of savings is worth it if you end up with a defective product shipped and the retailer says it isn't his problem. If you must buy via internet, make sure you get in writing that the product will be shipped defect-free and if there's anything wrong with the unit at all - IMMEDIATELY contest the charge with your credit card company. Don't rely on promises that a minor (or major) problem will be promptly repaired by a service company.
  • learning all the lingo was great. When the contractor asked if I wanted plugmold I didn't go "huh?" I think by being knowledgeable before talking to the contractor it helps a lot.
  • Knobs vs. Pulls. There have been several discussions of knobs vs. pulls. Some comments:
  • Knobs on base cabinets can catch on clothing (and rip sometimes).
  • Cabinets/drawers w/pulls can usually be opened w/one finger...even the pinky finger.
  • Susan Jablon glass tile. Everyone who comes in my house walks up to my backsplash and has to touch it. I had just about given up the idea of a glass tile backsplash before finding out about her site on this forum. The price of her tile, even with shipping, was about half of what I could have bought it for locally and it is gorgeous!
  • No sockets/switches in backsplash (under cabinet plug strip)
  • Toe kick on trash pop out BUT... ADD a second spring to add power to the pop (thank you for whoever mentioned this ingenious bit of info)
  • Double layered cutlery drawer (secret drawer within a drawer)
  • What to look for when choosing undercabinet lighting eg... reflection, spread of light, color of light, heat...
  • Benefits of a large farmhouse sink
  • Miele dishwasher
  • superb
  • Thermador cooktop and all the controversy about the popup draft and how I could get away with not having one. THANK YOU!
  • Miele warming drawer FANTASTIC and thank you for making me realize that it doesn't have to be on the floor under the oven!!!
  • PLAN YOUR STORAGE SPACE. measure boxes, measure food processor, mixer, stack of plates etc. etc. then make a note of contents in the drawers or cupboards on your plans or diagrams or in your notes.
  • Plug strip under center island.
  • YOU ARE NOT ALONE- PEOPLE WHO CARE ABOUT YOUR CD FRIDGE ARE HERE TO HELP YOU and it's OK to really take your time with your decisions
  • Orca single sink
  • Pot rack in upper cabinet (I think this idea was from loves2cookfor6??)
  • Electrical outlet inside a drawer for a charging station
  • filling in the gap between the fridge and the cupboard above it with some leftover filler and a piano hinge. Cambro...where did you see this idea? Just yesterday we discovered that we might have a significant gap b/w the top of the refrigerator & the bottom of the cabinet above. Our contractor is just going to use filler to hide the gap, but if we put it on hinges it would actually become usable space!
  • knife drawer (I hated that block)
  • gel stain
  • Getting rid of my ugly phone jack and getting a phone that doesn't need one!
  • How to get rid of the drip inside my oven door - with a hanger and a sock going up through the holes at the bottom of the door. Worked like a charm!
  • Get a spine when talking to GC about his version vs. my version of cleaning up the jobsite each day (aka our home).
  • Use masking tape and a measuring tape and make a mock up of where your new cabinets will go. This is a biggie!
  • Dimmer switches! I put them on ALL of the new lighting, including the patio lights adjacent, and have not regretted it once.
  • how great Silgranit sinks are to live with. Never even heard of one before GW.
  • Buying Sources
    • Ticor sinks: Ticor Sinks at Galaxy Tool Supply:
    • Tapmaster:
    • Never-MT: Never-MT:
    • Pop up Outlets: Popup Mocketts:
    • Plugmold Power Strips:
    • Angle Powerstrip:

  • Our Vac Pan. Ours is hooked up to a wet/dry vac in the basement because we do not have central vac. The idea came from this forum and our electrician and contractor figured out how to make it happen.
  • DIY on gel stain. Thanks Celticmoon and Projectsneverend.
  • Soapstone, getting it, finding the right fabricator right here, and caring for it
  • where to find a deal on saddle stools
  • Kohler Vinnata
  • Not to put my cooktop on my island.
  • best advice I got was around my budget and how to make the hard decisions on what should stay in and what should go (that was from Buehl).
  • What is not that important to me and doesn't add functionality? [Candidate for elimination altogether]
  • What can I do at a later date? [Candidate for deferring until a later date]
  • What can't be done at a later date and I can't live without? [Candidate for keeping and doing now]
  • This forum helped me see which terms are worth using, and which can be saved for later. This forum helped me get clearer communication going. Resistance could be expressed when I raised ideas; it all helped to refine the concept.
  • This forum helped me justify personal innovations. This forum confirmed ideas.
  • Tweaking and innovating. I tweaked everything in my kitchen along the way.
  • I don't know if I would have a remodeled kitchen if it weren't for this forum. I would have still been looking at the dreadful old one wishing it was nice and not knowing how to get it nice. Even the ideas & photos of things I didn't want for me helped to define what I did want.
  • I have to give credit to my carpenter, too. There was a time when his eyes rolled when I said, "but the people on the kitchen forum say......." But I had photos and conversations printed off to show him what I meant.
  • Lisalists organized drawers where the dividers go from front to back or side to side so you don't have to nest objects-and you can fit so much stuff in. Easy, easy access. No nesting. Yay
  • Layout, efficiency. This has to be the most important thing I've been learning here. What tasks do you perform, what zones will you organize them in, what items do you need close at hand in each zone, how does traffic between and through zones flow. etc.
  • Styles, materials, looks. People here have great ''eyes'' for style and looks. My eyes have been opened to these looks, and I've learned the vocabulary to describe them.
  • Specific ideas/features I learned about here that seem like they'll be useful: prep sinks, base cabinet drawers, counter top materials other than granite, true convection ovens, unfitted kitchens, under-counter refrigeration.
  • Many things, one of which is using a 13-15" depth cabinet for inset cabinets, as 12 is not sufficient.
  • Carefully placing all the appliances and storage thinking about what you use with what. For example, I moved the microwave to be next to the refrigerator because we use it mostly for reheating leftovers. I have fridge, prep sink, prep area, range, more prep area on one side and on the other I have prep area/ landing zone (across from fridge), main sink, prep area / dishwasher (across from range, but offset so both people can work) in the island.

Here is a link that might be useful: Read Me If You're New To GW Kitchens!


clipped on: 06.29.2012 at 12:34 pm    last updated on: 06.29.2012 at 12:47 pm

RE: Architect hiring question (Follow-Up #16)

posted by: Renovator8 on 07.07.2011 at 03:35 pm in Building a Home Forum

If the architect works for the same fee per hour as the original one mentioned he/she would be spending about 75 hours on the project. Assuming there will be no construction phase services provided or zoning analysis or structural design the contract documents would probably use up about 48 hours. If the drawing set consists of plans, elevations, schedules, details, lighting, smoke detectors, HVAC and specifications on the drawings, the fee would allow about 3 hours for each drawing sheet.

That tells me he/she is probably either very fast, works for less than the other architect per hour, is not providing a full set drawings, or is not actually registered. On the other hand, the design might not be very complex or difficult to draw. Who can say? Without knowing anything about the project the amount of the fee doesn't tell us much if anything.


clipped on: 06.28.2012 at 03:57 pm    last updated on: 06.28.2012 at 03:57 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: 06.28.2012 at 02:16 pm    last updated on: 06.28.2012 at 02:17 pm

RE: General Build Questions? (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: Renovator8 on 07.22.2011 at 09:48 am in Building a Home Forum

An allowance clause is the most difficult clause in a contract. If not carefully written it gives the GC the right to bill you whatever his favorite sub charges him because that is his "cost". Be sure that you are allowed to request an alternate sub or a material supplier if their prices are too high.

When I write a contract I write the allowance section for the owner describing in general the materials (no labor) setting the quantity, and setting the budget $ amounts. Allowing the contractor to do that is letting the fox into the hen house. He would have the opportunity to be vague or unrealistic about the materials and quantities, include labor, and low ball the $ amount forcing you to pay a markup on the inevitable "upgrades". At least try to get the GC to agree to not charge a markup on allowances overruns. A change in scope would, of course, warrant a markup.


clipped on: 06.28.2012 at 01:35 pm    last updated on: 06.28.2012 at 01:35 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: 06.28.2012 at 01:30 pm    last updated on: 06.28.2012 at 01:30 pm

RE: General Build Questions? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: bevangel on 07.20.2011 at 10:22 am in Building a Home Forum

If you are building under a cost-plus contract, then absolutely, you should receive original invoices directly from sub-contractors. They can send copies to both you and your builder. I know a couple whose cost-plus builder actually doctored the invoices he got from subs before passing them on to the homeowners. He would scan them into his computer and use photoshop to change various numbers to result in a higher value before reprinting the doctored invoice and giving the doctored copy to the homeowners. Of course the GC was pocketing the added amounts AND pocketing an additional 15% profit margin on the added amounts as well. The couple only found out about the fraud by mere chance when, near the end of their build they lost one of the invoices builder had sent them and asked him for a new copy. He screwed up and sent them the true original - and then they found their lost copy. Comparing the two showed the fraud! Same invoice number, same date, same exact products, different charges! After a 2 year court battle, the couple won a huge award against the builder for fraud but now, 2.5 years later, they are STILL trying to collect the first dime from him. Insist that the subcontractors send YOU a copy of the invoice directly. Yes, some of them might conspire with your builder but you'll have some protection.

If your contract is a fixed-price contract, then you don't get to see invoices under normal circumstances. BUT, you should have language in your contract that clarifies how much you owe GC in the event that he starts your house but never substantially completes it. This can happen if he just walks off the job, or declares bankruptcy, or you wind up having to fire him due to various breaches. The law usually says that even if he is the one who breached the contract, you still owe him for the value of the work he has completed and that includes a reasonable profit. But, without invoices, you have no way of calculating the value of the work completed and your GC will claim that he finished 85% of the job while you're looking at it and figuring he actually finished maybe 45%. If your contract requires him to turn over all invoices to prove the amount he has spent on labor and materials up to that point and then his profit is calculated as a percentage of that, you'll have one less thing to fight over. I'd suggest a formula like:

(Total invoices) + (X% of total invoices for builder's profit) - (amounts already remitted to GC) - (damages due to builder's breach) = (amount due and payable to GC)

And, if the above formula results in a negative number, then GC owes you a refund of that amount.

A fixed price builder may tell you he doesn't want to agree to do this because he doesn't like to keep that kind of detailed records. But, if your builder is honest, he knows he has to keep detailed records because gross income minus expenses are the only way he can possibly know what his profits are. And he has to know his profits in order to properly pay his taxes. If your builder doesn't keep records, then he is highly likely to be cheating the IRS and, if so, he'll probably cheat you to.

And, BTW, if you wind up going down this road, be sure to check a substantial number of the invoices he gives you with the subcontractors to make sure you didn't get doctored invoices. A call to a supplier that you're just double-checking the amount owed to builder on invoice #XXXXX will usually get you confirmation that the amount on your copy matches the original invoice.


clipped on: 06.28.2012 at 01:25 pm    last updated on: 06.28.2012 at 01:26 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.


clipped on: 06.27.2012 at 12:43 pm    last updated on: 06.27.2012 at 12:43 pm

RE: Taking possession a week from Fri...any advice? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: bevangel on 08.16.2011 at 12:33 pm in Building a Home Forum

It is probably late for this advice but you need to spend at least a full day at your house looking for punch list issues and making a written list BEFORE you meet with your builder for your "pre-through." And you need to be able to do this while there are no workmen there so they are not making noise or getting in your way. There are just too many things to look for to try to do the checking WHILE walking thru the house with your builder. Even if your builder gives you a full three or four hours for the walk-through, that is simply not enough time...especially if builder is taking time to write notes about the things you mention. And it is possible your builder will attempt to rush you because the fewer things you mention, the less work he has to do. Better to go with a list in hand (with a copy for builder) so that your walk-thru with builder is just a chance for you to show him what each note on the list refers to.

On your list, for each issue indicate EXACTLY where the problem is located.... What room, what wall, Where on the wall, what the problem is, and what needs to be done. Eg., 1) Living room; on north wall, 4 ft from east wall & 18 inches above the floor; there are gaps in sheetrock around electrical outlet; need to patch gaps, smooth patch (or texture to match wall texture) and prime and painted to match wall. 2) 1st floor powderroom, floor 20 inches from west wall & 2 ft from south wall; cracked tile; remove and replace with good tile, regrout - make certain replacement tile is set level with surrounding tiles and that grout matches surrounding grout. The more detailed you are, the more likely the fixes are going to be done satisfactorily. So, a laptop with an excel program can be helpful for making your lists because you can copy and paste the correction instructions everytime you find yet another electrical outlet with gaps around it.

So, if it were me, I would ask to postpone the walk-thru with builder until after this weekend - even if that meant postponing my move in date by a week or so. Then I would take a couple of very persnickity (sp??) friends with me to the house over the weekend and spend several hours going over each room and making lists of punch list items. People seeing the place with fresh eyes will see problems that you noticed months ago, that your builder promised to fix, but then somehow never got around to doing. Keep a copy of your list and then check issues off as they are corrected. Otherwise, chances are, half the stuff you point out will never get corrected. Don't rely on your builder putting sticky notes on walls. Sticky notes have a way of disappearing without the work ever getting done!

Some things you need to check:

Whole House
_ Turn every light switch on and off.
_ If you have ceiling fans with multiple speeds, check that they work on every speed.
_ Test every electrical outlet (both top and bottom as we've actually found that on a number of outlets in our current house - which was purchased from a previous owner - only one half of the outlet has power and the other half is dead!)
_ Check that both heating and air conditioning work, and that you have an adequate flow of air from every register. This will require turning the AC down so that the house gets extra cold and then, after checking AC, turning the heat on to make sure that works. While it'll be a bit of a waste of energy, you don't want to find out that the heater isn't working the first night that temps suddenly dip below freezing.
_ Open and close every window. Make sure they open easily and close and seal completely. Look for any light entering around the edges of window (between the sash and the jambs.) If light can enter, so can water! If your windows tilt out to clean, check that function on every window as well.
_ Open and close every door, interior and exterior.
_ Check that all doors are plumb and square. The crack around an door should be even on all sides when the door is closed and you should not be able to see light coming from the other side except at the bottoms of interior doors.
_ Check that exterior doors close and seal completely. You should not be able to see any light coming in between the door and jamb or the door and the sill AT ALL.
_ Lock and unlock every lock
_ Check that walls are plumb and flat, that there are no nail pops and that the texturing and paint is even. BTW - nail pops are where the nails holding sheetrock to the studs back up slightly. You see them as little round bumps in the paint. You should not be able to tell where the edges of sheetrock panels are. Nor should you be able to notice any dips or high places in the walls where they taped and floated the sheetrock.
_ Check walls carefully around all outlet plates to make certain there are no gaps where the cuts in the sheetrock were made too large and then never fixed.
_ Check every piece of molding looking for cracks or gaps where two pieces of molding meet. Check the paint or stain on molding - particularly cut ends.
_ Check floors. Tiles should have even and straight grout lines; hardwoods should not have gaps between boards; seams on vinyl flooring should not be noticable; carpet should be tight and should not show seams; etc.
_While the house is quiet (late night is best), walk up and down the steps and across all portions of any hardwood floors. There should be no creaks or squeeks.
_ Check ceilings. You should not be able to tell where the edges of the sheetrock panels are.
_ Check stair spindles, balusters, and handrails to make sure they are solidly installed. No shakiness.
- Take a sprinkler with you and set it so that water falls down against your windows (simulating rain) and check for leaks on the inside. You should not see ANY water on the inside. (Caution - don't spray water UPWARD against your windows as you may drive water through the drainholes, set the spinkler so that water falls downward against the windows.)
_ If you get lucky and it happens to be raining while you are there, go into the attic and look for leaks.
_ Check that smoke detectors are working.
_ Turn everything in the house off and unplug the refrigerator, then check the electric meter. It should no longer be running. (Be sure to plug appliances back in afterwards!)
_ Make sure all water spigots are turned off and that your water heaters are full, then check your water meter. It should NOT be moving. If it is, you may have a leak somewhere in your plumbing system...possibly even under your slab.
_ If you have a real wood fireplace, build a very small but smoky fire (damp wood and newspapers) and make sure the chimney draws properly.
_ If you have a gas fireplace, light it and make sure all the vents work properly and that the flame heights are as you would expect them to be.
_ If you have natural gas or propane, find the inside gas cut-off valves. (NOTE that these should not be hidden behind an appliance - you need to be able to get to them easily in case of a fire!) Make sure the gast cut off valves turn easily. Light the appliance then turn the gas off at the cut off valve. The flame should go completely out. If it doesn't, the cut off valve is working properly.

Kitchen/Laundry Room/Pantry
_ Check that every appliance is working properly
* Refrigerator
* Freezer
* Dishwasher (run thru a cycle to ensure no leaks and that it actually cleans dishes. We bought a house once where the dishwasher seemed to work when we tested it but when we actually tried to wash dishes, they never got clean. It turned out that the water had never been attached and the little bit of moisture we were seeing was just moisture from the air!)
* stove top - check every burner
* vent hood - make sure it is actually hooked up and venting to the outside.
* oven
* microwave
* garbage disposal - put some garbage in it and make sure it chops it up.
* washer (again, run a cycle to make sure its not leaking and that it doesn't dance around)
* dryer (run a cycle with some clothes to make sure it doesn't dance. Also, make sure the dry vent is hooked up!)
_ Open and close every cabinet and every drawer to make sure they function properly.
_ Look inside each cabinet and drawer to make sure it is finished properly, that there are no missing shelves, etc. Also, look for scratches, nicks, and stains. Once you move in, you builder will assume that you made any mars on your cabinetry.
_ Turn both hot and cold water on at the sink. Fill the sink with water and then, after a while, check under the sink for evidence of leaking. Check around the sink to make sure that it is properly sealed to your countertop.
_ Check the countertop for flaws. Check the edges of countertops especially carefully as these can easily get chipped or scratched (depending on the type surface) during the building process.
_If you have a granite countertop, inspect it carefully. Run your hands over every inch feeling for any rough spots. Also, get down on your hands and knees and look across the granite from a height just an inch or two above the surface - places that are not properly polished will be more visible.
_ Inspect every light fixture installed by builder to make certain it was not scratched, dented, or marred in the process of being installed.

_ Actually step into shower stalls and bathtubs to make sure they feel solid underfoot. Acrylic tubs and shower bases that "give" underfoot will crack over time.
_ Run water in every sink and bathtub and make sure they hold water without leaking. (Look under the sinks for leaks).
_ Run the showers.
_ Make sure you get hot water when you turn on a hot water spigot. Try it at every sink, tub, shower, and in your washing machine.
_ Run water at several locations at the same time to make sure you have adequate water pressure.
_ Test that bathroom fans work.
_ Flush all toilets several times to make sure they STOP running when the tanks refill. (Having a bunch of friends out for several hours also means your toilets may actually get "field tested" to make sure they really flush adequately... which not something you are likely to test while doing a walk thru with your builder!)
_ Make sure toilets sit solidly and evenly on the floor and are properly bolted down. There should not be any "rocking" motion when you sit down.
_ Have someone flush a toilet times while you run hot water in the shower and feel it. Flushing the toilet SHOULD NOT cause the shower water to suddenly get noticeable hotter.
_Make sure shower faucets are grouted properly so that water does not get into the wall behind them.
_ Check the cabinetry the same as you did for the kitchen.
_ Make certain that mirrors installed by the builder don't have flaws in the silvering.
_ Test that toilet paper holders and towel bars are firmly affixed to walls.

_ If your builder installed blinds or operable shutters (inside or out) make sure they work properly.
_ Check that you OUTDOOR water spigots work.
_ Check all outdoor electrical outlets as well. These often get over-looked.
_ Check your garage door openers. Also make sure that, if something is in the way of the door as it comes down, that the door stops and goes back up.
_ If you have an attic access ladder, pull it down and make sure it works smoothly.
_ Climb into the attic and make sure you have the amount of insulation you are supposed to have.
- If you're really lucky and it rains while you are checking out your house this weekend, go up into the attic with a flashlight and look for roof leaks.
_ Make sure gutters are fully attached to walls and designed to drain water away from your house. Pull downward gently on the downspouts and make sure that there is no movement where they connect to the gutters. If downspouts have not been properly connected to gutters, they can fall out.
_ Check that ground around the house has been graded so that it slopes away from the house.
_ Get as high above the ground as you can safely manage and look to see if your roofing shingles appear to be flat and tight against the roof.
_ Check all exterior concrete for cracks.
_ Check the siding on the house to make sure everything that was supposed to be painted has been painted.
_ Check that exterior sprinkler systems work and that landscaping plants are alive and appear healthy.

This is all just "off the top of my head." I'm sure if you think about it you can add dozens of other things to check for. And, no doubt other posters will chime in with other things to add to your check list.
Ultimately, you don't have to insist that the builder fix every little tiny thing. If something won't bother you - or if you can fix it easily yourself and don't mind doing so, point it out to your builder anyway and, once you've gone over everything you can cross those items off your list as a way to show you're being reasonable but that the rest of the list IS important to you.


clipped on: 06.24.2012 at 10:03 pm    last updated on: 06.24.2012 at 10:03 pm

RE: Dilemma with Architect (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: thingsthatinspire on 03.27.2011 at 06:37 am in Building a Home Forum

Very interesting thread. When we were looking for a lot, we already had am architect and landscape architect on board, but also had a builder that we were considering, but had not yet hired (we paid him a fee - he didn't ask for it - but we wanted to compensate him for his time). Mainly, because our area has such tricky topography (creeks, lots of hills and valleys), we wanted to know what hidden costs were involved in the lots we were evaluating - mainly extra grading costs, issues with set backs, etc. It was very helpful to have the builder's perspective, which was far more accurate in assessing additional grading costs.

When we started the project, we hired a builder (the same one who helped us find the lot, although we considered 2 others too) very early on. He attended all of our early design meetings, and from the beginning would give us a perspective on cost. He would not make judgments or comments on the design, but would tell us when we could make simple modifications to the design and achieve a more cost effective result (like, making the stairs straight lined instead of curved; making the garage straight instead of lots of corners). He also gave us a heads up at the beginning of the project that the type of house we were putting on paper was not the most efficient way to design a house (it is L shaped, not a rectangular box).

Even so, when we got the budget so we could do our construction loan, it was 20% over what we wanted to spend. So, we worked with our builder and architect to tweak things to get the budget down. We had a huge saving by moving the house forward, and making the basement a well instead of walk out - all my builder's idea.

I have heard about 2 situations recently where the client was clear about their budget, but the house ended up being twice the budget when bid out. In this case, the architects ended up redesigning the houses (under pressure from the client) with no charge, to make it fit more within the budget. I can see both sides of this situation. On the one hand, the architect should keep the budget in mind when designing a house. On the other hand, there is a natural tendency for both clients and architects to capture 'the dream', the wish list. Also, architects have general ideas of how much things cost, but not the detailed awareness and knowledge that a builder might have. On my project, it is the builder who is doing all of the negotiations, managing the subs, managing the budget - not the architect. The architect probably has a high level awareness of what we are spending, but we really don't go to him with numbers unless we are over budget on something and trying to manage that situation.

Now that we are 9 months into the process, things have gone pretty smoothly (with one major supplier issue that delayed the project, but is now resolved), I think because we did so much design work early on, aggressively managed our budget the entire way (both in setting it, and during the house build), made our decisions early on, have not changed much during the process. We are under budget too!


clipped on: 06.24.2012 at 01:51 pm    last updated on: 06.24.2012 at 01:51 pm

RE: Dilemma with Architect (Follow-Up #30)

posted by: Renovator8 on 04.07.2011 at 12:18 pm in Building a Home Forum

Mike, if you like the design, you should definitely try to get as much as possible from the architect before terminating the contract.

You didn't mention the specific terms of your contract but an AIA contract would require an architect to give you a preliminary construction cost estimate at the end of the schematic design phase, at the end of the design development phase, and again at the end of the construction documents phase taking into account changes in the design and market conditions. Obviously, it would have been the second estimate that would have alerted you to a problem in time to resolve it.

Making the architect liable for bids that exceed an initial budget or a preliminary estimate isn't in any standard contract form I have seen but an owner can certainly propose that such a requirement be added to the "other conditions" section. Some states add clauses like this one: "In the event the Architect's final project cost estimate exceeds the stated cost limitation, the Owner may require the Architect, at no additional cost to the Owner, to consult with the Owner and to revise the design so as to obtain a final project cost at or below the stated cost limitation." Notice that even this kind of requirement doesn't mention the actual bid amounts.

If the architect gave you estimates that were not timely or were grossly inaccurate it would be reasonable to ask him to redesign the project at no additional cost to you, perhaps in collaboration with a contractor. It would be more effective if the two of them worked together instead of you being the go-between.

You should consider that 2 bids out of 5 requested may not be representative of the local market. It would be helpful to know why the other three did not bid. You should avoid involving a lawyer until you can demonstrate conclusively that it is not possible to build the house within 15% of the most recent budget/estimate and that the architect has refused your request to modify the design for free (or perhaps at his true cost).

Another issue you should consider is that super-insulated, passive-solar house designs often have deeper wall cavities, more insulation, larger glass areas, taller spaces, larger structural spans, and thicker concrete/masonry walls than conventional designs so they can be considerably more expensive and not all contractors have enough experience to bid them properly.

Before you terminate your contract you should get the architect's written permission to not only use the drawings for your project but to modify them, perhaps even getting full ownership of them and a set in editable format with his name removed. Consider offering him the choice of giving up ownership of the drawings or redesigning for free.


clipped on: 06.24.2012 at 01:46 pm    last updated on: 06.24.2012 at 01:46 pm

RE: Roof Question (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: Renovator8 on 09.26.2011 at 07:43 pm in Building a Home Forum

The best system is structural panel sheathing, Grace Ice & Water Shield and metal roofing. I don't know what purpose the addition of strapping over the structural sheathing would serve. Roof venting would only be necessary in an insulated cavity below the roof sheathing.


clipped on: 06.24.2012 at 01:04 pm    last updated on: 06.24.2012 at 01:04 pm

RE: Tired of Ripoffs! (Follow-Up #13)

posted by: kcmo_ken on 10.12.2011 at 11:44 am in Building a Home Forum

Brickeye, on residential build projects I have never seen an electrical subcontractor go to that level of detail. On residential builds I see, they generally a flat rate based on square footage and level of expectation that we discuss, and then upcharges for any additions or changes.

Plumbers tend to bid based on number of fixtures; they count toilets, sinks, bath, shower, bath/shower combinations, whirlpool tubs, and basically prepare a bid on this. Do they count linear feet of copper, DWV, PEX, number of fittings - no. HVAC tends to bid based on size of the unit installed. Shteetrockers bid based on square footage. My custom cabinetmaker bids based in linear inches of cabinets.

I realize that none of these trades are going to comb over every detail to get their material takeoffs to the last inch, nor do I expect them to (commercial work is definitely different than residential market). Treat a residential project like a commercial project and you aren't likely to get any subcontractor bids whatsoever.

However I also recognize that on some plans, bidding this way leads to pretty substantial profit margin for them. And yet on other plans, bidding this way could lead to loss for them, and I think it is likely these plans where they seek to use change orders to actually turn a loss job into a profitable one. I have seen more than my share of plans that the architect/designer failed to consider any of the trades in actual construction and space they need for utility chases, plumbing chases, etc. and these projects definitely can lead to loss for them bidding using fast techniques.

I wonder which style of plan tubeman has here? Easy to build and profitable for trades, or difficult to build and labor intensive and potential slim profit margin for trades. I would certainly make it up on change orders too.

At the same time, I also know tract builders that all of the profit is in the upgrades, and you could purchase a basic tract house and install your own upgrades for cheaper than the cost of the upgrade to start with. As an example, one of the local tract builders includes standard refrigerator in the kitchen. Upgrade that thing to stainless steel and the upgrade charge is $3K. Fact is it is still standard size; the homeowner could purchase the house without the upgrade, move in, call big orange, slowes, or any retailer of their choice, order refrigerator, have it delivered, and move the spare to the basement to serve as the beer refrigerator, all for cheaper than just the upgrade cost (and they have two refrigerators instead of one). I am surprised by how many stainless steel refrigerators this builder includes in new houses (me, I just can't lower myself to that level). If this is what tubeman is complaining about, I agree it gives the entire trade a bad name.


clipped on: 06.24.2012 at 12:46 pm    last updated on: 06.24.2012 at 12:46 pm

RE: Acrylic or Cast Iron Freestanding Tub? (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: archson on 10.31.2011 at 10:44 am in Building a Home Forum

Have you looked at the free standing tubs from Victoria + Albert?

We went with the Ios... they are made from a combination of Volcanic lime stone and Resin and hold heat very well.


clipped on: 06.23.2012 at 07:16 am    last updated on: 06.23.2012 at 07:16 am

RE: What's the Hourly Rate for a property survey cost? (Follow-Up #13)

posted by: Renovator8 on 11.05.2011 at 12:38 pm in Building a Home Forum

Certified Plot Plan
Prior to the issuance of a building permit many communities require that a Certified Plot Plan be prepared and endorsed by a Professional Land Surveyor. Preparation of the plan requires the Surveyor to establish the property boundaries and locate the structures on the property. Generally, the plan is prepared to show the approving authority that the structure will meet the setbacks required by the community’s zoning regulations.

Property Line Staking
Often property owners have only a general idea of where their property begins and ends. A property line staking involves setting survey monuments at lot corners and additional markers at set intervals along the property lines. Upon completion it is possible to stand on the lot and visibly see the exact location of property lines.

Construction Layout and Verification
As a project progresses from plans to construction it is often advisable or required to have the exact location and elevation of a structure staked on the lot. This prevents costly errors and helps ensure the structure is placed as required by the permit. In some communities clients are required to have the Surveyor certify the location of the completed structure prior to the project being considered complete.


clipped on: 06.23.2012 at 07:04 am    last updated on: 06.23.2012 at 07:04 am

RE: shopping for door hardware (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: thrilledtobuild on 11.13.2011 at 11:04 pm in Building a Home Forum

We had a fabulous experience purchasing Emtek interior and exterior door hardware from Simpson's Hardware online. The customer service was outstanding. A quick phone call for a totally unrelated question led to my discovery that I was about to order the wrong exterior hardware. The gentleman on the phone knew to ask the right questions. The price was great and the shipping very fast. I wouldn't hesitate to order from them again.


clipped on: 06.23.2012 at 06:33 am    last updated on: 06.23.2012 at 06:33 am

RE: Newbie question on allowances in a fixed price contract build (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: Renovator8 on 11.21.2011 at 09:02 am in Building a Home Forum

An allowance is a small Cost-of-the-Work contract inside a Fixed Price contract. Of course, that loses the benefit of a fixed price so you should only use an allowance when you have no other choice. Selecting materials and their installation methods and including them in the Fixed Price contract can save you money.

An exception would be kitchen appliances that are normally supplied by the owner and installed by the contractor. Removable equipment should not be in the allowances.

An allowance should not limit you to a particular sub-contractor or supplier unless you agree in advance. You should have the right to reject a sub's proposal or ask that others be considered.

Try to structure the allowances so they are for materials only and installation is in the base contract price. That means you must determine the quantity of the allowance items in the contract even if it is arbitrary. If the quantity can't be determined try to put an installation unit price in the contract.

An allowance clause should state that the final resolution of an allowance is by a Change Order signed by the owner. It should say The Change Order can be 1) an increase in the contract amount equal to the difference between the Allowance amount and the actual final cost, 2) a decrease in the contract amount equal to the difference between the Allowance amount and the actual final cost, or 3) a decrease in the contract amount equal to the entire allowance amount (material supplied by the owner).

Ask the GC to put his OH&P for allowances in the base contract price so that increases and decreases in the allowance amounts will not be increased or decreased by mark-ups.

Warranties vary with the products. Usually there is a warranty from the manufacturer and if you supply the material the warranty will be from the manufacturer to you so keep the paperwork. The installation would be warrantied by the GC often for only a year (check your contract and the laws of your state). A problem arises when a material fails and you have to pay for the removal and reinstallation. However, that will be the case after the GC warranty ends so you are only increasing your risk for that period of time. Unfortunately, really bad products often fail in the first year. So, find out how long that period is and avoid supplying the materials that are unusually expensive to remove and reinstall (like whirlpool tubs, etc.).


clipped on: 06.22.2012 at 02:03 pm    last updated on: 06.23.2012 at 06:19 am

RE: Where to install smoke detectors/carbon monoxide detectors? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: Renovator8 on 11.11.2011 at 02:44 pm in Building a Home Forum

It depends on what code is in effect in your area but if there is no code I recommend using the most common one which is the International Residential Code.

Permanently wired and interconnected smoke detectors required by the 2009 IRC must be located as follows:
1. In each sleeping room.
2. Outside each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms.
3. On each additional story of the dwelling, including basements and habitable attics but not including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics.

In dwellings or dwelling units with split levels and without an intervening door between the adjacent levels, a smoke alarm installed on the upper level shall suffice for the adjacent lower level provided that the lower level is less than one full story below the upper level.

When more than one smoke alarm is required to be installed within an individual dwelling unit the alarm devices shall be interconnected in such a manner that the actuation of one alarm will activate all of the alarms in the individual unit.

You would not need smoke detectors in the living room or the kitchen. The code is primarily concerned with fires that start when homeowners are asleep.

Some jurisdictions require detectors at the top and bottom of stairs on all levels.

Carbon monoxide alarms
For new construction, an approved carbon monoxide alarm shall be installed outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms in dwelling units within which fuel-fired appliances are installed and in dwelling units that have attached garages.


clipped on: 06.22.2012 at 08:14 pm    last updated on: 06.22.2012 at 08:14 pm

RE: Trim...MDF or Painted Maple? (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: Renovator8 on 11.08.2011 at 07:36 pm in Building a Home Forum

Poplar will take paint better than MDF and maple and will also resist dents and chipping better and it is easier to sand. It usually has a pale yellow coloring similar to birch and pine but it can also range from pale green to pale purple.

It is highly unlikely the wood that caused you trouble before was poplar. If it was brown it was probably sweet gum and the original finish should not have been paint.

Because of it's superior quality I have specified poplar trim for dormitories at Princeton and Carnegie-Mellon Universities. I can't imagine a better paint grade trim at any price.


clipped on: 06.22.2012 at 01:52 pm    last updated on: 06.22.2012 at 01:52 pm

RE: Does being my own general make sense? (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: bevangel on 06.21.2012 at 08:04 pm in Building a Home Forum

With respect to background, it sounds to me as if you're about as prepared to be your own GC as anyone. I know there are folks on this forum who will insist that you should "let the professionals do it" but...

As far as I know, there are no colleges or trade schools that teach how to be a general contractor. Nor do I know of any formal apprenticeship programs anywhere although there may be a few somewhere. Many states don't require that GCs even be licensed. Some require a license but getting one is a matter of sending in a form with your name and address, a signed avowal that you don't have any felony convictions, and a small licensing fee.

That means pretty much every "professional GC" out there learned on the job. Many of them started out as laborers in a particular branch of construction, decided they could run a business in that branch for themselves so started up their own painting/framing/roofing/foundation/whathaveyou business, and from there branched out to general contracting.

Basically the GC's job is to keep the work flowing along, he pull permits, secures insurance, schedules inspections, hire subcontractors (and, IMHO, SHOULD make sure the subs work is done correctly), order materials and make sure they're on site when needed, handles the cash flow, and keeps records.

If you need financing for your build however, you will need to find out if your bank will work with an owner-builder. Many won't. A few will. If your bank won't work with an owner-builder, find out what you must do, if anything, to get licensed as a builder in your state. Then set up a "building company" and contract with your own building company to do your build.

As for whether it is a good idea to be your own GC... ARE YOU AN ORGANIZED PERSON? Can you keep up with names, addresses, sales slips, bids, contracts, warrantys, timelines, material's lists, etc. Do you know how to make and use spreadsheets? Are you willing to spend time learning everything you can about housebuilding? Are you willing to spend time checking references of potential subs? Are you willing to spend time everyday at your site checking the work of subcontractors and keeping up with use of materials so stuff doesn't "walk off" - at least without you knowing it? Will your real job suffer from neglect while you build? Can you be tough when necessary without getting emotional? Can you deal with people who lie to your face without losing your cool? Have you ever fired anyone? Have you ever run a complex project of any sort? Have you ever supervised a dozen people all at once?

If you can answer yes to the above questions, I'd say go for it. It sounds as if you have a support system in place (parents) who can help guide you thru the order in which things need to be done and figuring that out is one of the more intellectually difficult parts of being a GC.

Having worked in many phases of construction yourself, you probably know enough to at least be able to tell when most jobs have been done correctly but you might look into hiring a GOOD third party inspector with experience inspecting new builds at various phases.

Getting subs is NOT that difficult and my experience when I took over GC-ing my own house after firing my sorry-a55 builder was that subs/suppliers were as willing to give me builder discounts as they had been to give them to my builder. After all, unlike my builder, my credit scores are good and I was willing to actually PAY for materials when they were delivered and pay the subs as soon as the job was completed. And the money I saved stayed in my pocket instead of going into my builder's.

I found that the most difficult aspect of getting subs was getting them to actually show up when they said they would. When you're a homeowner building a single house, subs will often put off finishing your job in order to go start a job with someone else. Basically, they want to "lock in" all the work they can and they figure that once they've started your job and have some of your money in their pocket, you have no option but to wait for them to finish the job.

The way to handle that is to make sure they never ever have any of your money in their pocket and that your agreement with them gives you the right to rescind the contract without notice to them and hire a replacement if they fail to show up. Email me and I'll send you a list of the terms that I started insisting be into every Sub's contract when I got fed up with being the "lowest priority job."


clipped on: 06.22.2012 at 11:37 am    last updated on: 06.22.2012 at 11:37 am

RE: Blower Door Test (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: energy_rater_la on 06.20.2012 at 09:34 pm in Building a Home Forum

as an energy star partner I always did an
intermediate inspection before drywall was up.
inspect insulation, mastic seal of ductwork
flashing of windows etc.
trades on the job to seal any items needed.
prior to build starting was meeting about
sealing sole plates.

then when drywall is up testing of house.

second blower door was necessary for final
rating. done when house is complete
prior to move in.

I don't do a lot of new construction these days.

but we had to meet with builders & tradespeople
and educate them as to what was required.

you can check for energy star requirements.

if your completed home falls below .30 air changes
per hour ashrae 62.2 ventilation is required.

you should be talking to them now about fresh air

I hope those supply boxes will be insulated...
don't know what they hoped to accomplish by
using mastic on the inside of the box. it is the
cut in the sheetrock to the box that should be sealed.

best of luck


clipped on: 06.21.2012 at 03:11 pm    last updated on: 06.21.2012 at 03:11 pm

RE: Blower Door Test (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: lzerarc on 06.20.2012 at 06:51 pm in Building a Home Forum

I specify 2 blower door tests on my projects. One at open framing and rough in, and one after the drywall is up and taped. Then again, I typically spec ADA, which that pic clearly is not (assuming they are exterior wall locations in the picture).
ES requires a certain infiltration rating. It does not mean all of those areas need caulked. However they certainly help. ES infiltration rating is by no means a hard rating to hit. Energy suppliers around here offer incentives based on BEATING ES by 3% and 5%, with ES 3.0 being the base requirement. Caulking around the boxes at this point will help some, but if the drywall is not installed with caulk or gaskets at your heads and sill plates, air will still get in. Also you will get air in from the back through the box where the wires enter.
Very very few drywallers know about it, and even fewer do it. 4 of the 5 drywallers I contacted in my area didnt know what I was talking about when I suggested air tight drywall, one even told me it didnt exist and I did not know what I was talking about. I was never asking them what it was, rather if they have done it. If not, I would show them. The lone 5th "recalled hearing about it, but have never done it and was interested in learning".
Drywalling does tighten the shell up some, even with gaps as in your picture. This is why many builders and ES builders test after the gyp is up. It will give them the tightest possible rating they can get. I like to test at the rough in with the walls open, get a good rating at 1.5 ach@50pac or below, knowing it will most likely be below 1 ach after the gyp is up.

As mentioned, if your contractor had it in the original bid or contract, they need to do it.


clipped on: 06.21.2012 at 03:11 pm    last updated on: 06.21.2012 at 03:11 pm

RE: Time to choose windows (Follow-Up #20)

posted by: Renovator8 on 01.07.2012 at 02:16 pm in Building a Home Forum

I have gotten the hardware replaced on 20+ year old Marvin windows so someone is pulling your leg.

Why do you think a wood window clad with a synthetic (more likely wood + PVC) material would require less maintenance than one with an extruded aluminum cladding?

I can't even get a section detail of the A series from Andersen and they are not yet available in some parts of the US. I'll wait until they are fully committed to this new design before specifying it.

There are no standard window sizes. Some are sized from the sash opening (Andersen), some from former standard glass sizes (Marvin and many others) and some by even inch increments for the frame size (modern all-PVC, fiberglass and composite windows). What you see on the architect's drawing are "approximate" sizes that would need to be revised for some window choices but not for others which is why the window location are dimensioned to their center lines on the plans.


clipped on: 06.21.2012 at 06:45 am    last updated on: 06.21.2012 at 06:45 am

RE: Time to choose windows (Follow-Up #18)

posted by: Renovator8 on 01.05.2012 at 08:56 am in Building a Home Forum

Marvin Integrity makes two windows: Wood-Ultrex and All-Ultrex. They also make an "Impact" model for high wind areas.

The Wood-Ultrex double-hung now offers a spacer bar between the simulated divided lite mullions (SDLS) and a full range of window sizes including Cottage Style (upper sash shorter than lower sash). Unfortunately, the sill nosing does not provide a proper drip or a siding groove that would prevent water from running back into the siding joint. (bottom of sill is dead level) I have seen failed caulking at this joint require expensive repairs. Andersen windows had this problem for decades but finally solved it with the 400 series. Marvin solved it long ago but forgot how to do it with the Ultimate series. Adding a cellular PVC sub-sill fixes the problem and creates a more handsome window but it adds to the cost.

Keeping water out of the house should be your first goal when choosing a window so the first thing to look at is the section through the sill, then look at how the installation fins are sealed to the frame and how the fins are sealed at the upper corners where they overlap (the second most common leak location).

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


clipped on: 06.21.2012 at 06:42 am    last updated on: 06.21.2012 at 06:42 am

RE: Time to choose windows (Follow-Up #16)

posted by: Renovator8 on 01.04.2012 at 05:04 pm in Building a Home Forum

I prefer the Marvin Ultimate DH but I always put a cellular PVC sub-sill under it to thicken the too-thin aluminum sill nosing and also to help keep water from running back under the sill into the wall siding (caulking never works for long at that joint). Also, extending the sub-sill under the vertical jamb trim on each side of the window gives the window a traditional double-hung appearance.

Here is a link that might be useful: cellular PVC trim


clipped on: 06.21.2012 at 06:39 am    last updated on: 06.21.2012 at 06:39 am

RE: icf, sip, geothermal, overwhelmed!!!! help! (Follow-Up #16)

posted by: lzerarc on 08.31.2011 at 01:11 pm in Building a Home Forum

Any kind of blown insulation will work well, whether fiberglass or cellulose. Fiberglass tends to naturally not settle as much. Cellulose is a much greener product and with denser, which will aid in thermal performance at lower temps as well as sound deadening. Cellulose is also typically a little cheaper as well. However it must be installed ether dense packed to the proper density or wet sprayed. Both need to be done be a good installer that has blown THICK walls before. The install is extremely important so it does not sag over time leaving gaps in your wall.


clipped on: 06.20.2012 at 02:14 pm    last updated on: 06.20.2012 at 02:14 pm

RE: icf, sip, geothermal, overwhelmed!!!! help! (Follow-Up #24)

posted by: kcmo_ken on 01.05.2012 at 08:49 am in Building a Home Forum

SerenityLand, I would not worry about whether you can find trades familiar with ICF as the solutions are pretty easy. I would know the solutions, and find trades that are open to learning.

For example, my Sparky had never worked ICF and was skeptical. I told him to tell me where he wanted wiring in the ICF walls, where he wanted boxes in the ICF walls, etc. I then pulled out my handy router, set my depth gauge, and cut the foam where Sparky said he needed wiring and boxes. I also used some electrical boxes with "ears" that I had picked up from the local big box. And to secure wires in the foam, enter spray foam. Sparky was amazed at the ease of doing this, decided to buy his own router, and has done several ICF houses since.

Other trades you will want to talk to are anyone having penetrations in the walls (put some PVC pipe in there they want penetrations, before the walls are poured). This might include Sparky (service, AC location, external fixtures, phone service, cable service), HVAC (intake and vent for furnace, ERV/HRV, lineset), Plumber (supply line, DWV line, intake and vent for HWH). If you miss a penetration or two, it isn't that big of a deal. However you don't want to pay to core too many holes in your nicely cast concrete walls either, it gets kind of pricey.

Any then you want to know how to hang sheetrock (my sheetrockers looked dumbfouned until I showed them how to find the webs and to use #8 screws instead of #6), trim carpenters (not much to nail trim into ICF, but easy solution is to screw plywood base or at crown molding level that is smaller than the trim and then let the sheetrockers finish flush to the plywood), cabinet hangers, carpenters (how do you secure wood stud walls to ICF, what about floors and/or roofs, get out the Simpson or USP catalog, and don't be afraid to use connectors for hurricane areas as FedEx delivers overnight), etc.

Basically you don't need trades that have direct experience with ICF. You do however need a trade that is open to new experience and new technique, but you need to provide them the solutions (ICF isn't new technique, solutions exist, research them and don't expect your trades to do this for you).

Good luck.


clipped on: 06.20.2012 at 12:22 pm    last updated on: 06.20.2012 at 12:22 pm

RE: Fixed Price Builders (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: Renovator8 on 01.05.2012 at 08:06 am in Building a Home Forum

Allowances are actually "Cost of the Work Plus a Fee" contracts within a "Fixed Price" contract so the more of them you have, the closer you are to a Cost Plus contract.

To take full advantage of a competitively bid Fixed Price contract approach there should be no Allowances and unit prices provided where quantities might change.


clipped on: 06.20.2012 at 12:15 pm    last updated on: 06.20.2012 at 12:15 pm

RE: icf, sip, geothermal, overwhelmed!!!! help! (Follow-Up #14)

posted by: lzerarc on 08.30.2011 at 09:45 am in Building a Home Forum

being a 'hardcore green designer', I am very familiar with all of these systems, but more importantly, how they perform in certain climate regions. This is the most important part of choosing your efficient shell...something that works in the south will not work in the north. (obviously)

To focus on the types at hand:
ICF is a great product, but you have to use it to its benefits for your area. Being in the midwest (I am from Iowa, zone 6) and Indiana is zone 4 or 5, depending if you are more northern or southern. The first thing you need to figure out is what are the most important factors to you. If you want sound and high STC rating, strength and storm resistance (note- resistance, not proof. I have designed several FEMA 361 rated saferooms, and trust me, typical ICF construction will no where near meet these requirements!),
and air tightness, then ICF is for you. If you are after energy savings, for zone 5, you are going to gain about 5% tops over standard good wood frame, code min. construction.
This number is based on true real world case studies of ICF structures built around the US by ORNL as well as Building Science. A 5% energy savings will result in an extremely long payback. ICF walls, in a heating dominated area, perform marginally above the r value of their eps foam. Most are around an r-24. That is basically what you will get out of your wall. You have an expensive, yet high strength r-24 wall. This is just r-3 above code. Higher r stick framed walls (r-30 plus) can be had at a lower cost, and will save you more on energy consumption. However regardless if you use it from footing to roof, I think ICF can not be beat for basements. Superior wall is also a good option too. Either will perform better then a typical 8" poured foundation even with a typical 2x4 batt interior frame wall (netting around an r-11 vs r-23-30), not to mention to very high potential to mold growth.

SIPs are also a very good, strong product. However their install is extremely critical. Forgetting to caulk 1 single joint, or a joint that is not very tight can throw off the infiltration ratings for the entire shell, throwing your added costs out the window. Another criticism for SIPs are the potential for rotting exterior osb and how you fix that since it is part of the structural skin. rotting osb on a frame wall, you simply cut it out and replace it. You can not do that with a SIPs panel. However know I am not suggesting it will rot, it is just a possible downside that many are leery of. SIPs should price out slightly lower then ICF, but it also depends on your thickness. Standard 4" panels are below code min, and 6" panels barely get you there. If you are looking for higher r, consider 8" panels, or possibly urethane panels. A 6" urethane panel will hit around r-40s while the 6" EPS will be around r-30 for similar cost.

Geo prices, I have found, are obviously extremely regional. In my area, a 3 ton high end system can be installed for $20k, which is considered very cheap. Other areas its double. Remember, your shell is #1, hvac is second. The tighter and higher r you make your shell decreases not only your upfront hvac costs, but obviously your bills for the life of your house. With the right shell design, your 2000 sqft house should not need anything higher then a 2 ton system, max. In fact depending on your shell, you could get by with a min split system. My 3400 sqft house (under design) has estimated heat loading, in zone 6 with 7400 HDD at only 19k BTU. The house I live in right now, an older 1300 sqft (total conditioned space) required nearly 30k btu.
Estimated geo heating is about $40/month, plus some hot water generation (in summer months) via DSH.

Also realize your hvac system will need an ERV or HRV, whichever they typically recommend in your climate zone. Most in heating zones will recommend HRV, but that is not always the case. Some still prefer ERV claiming it does not transfer the outdoor humidity that the HRV does.

Along with the shell comes other items such as your roof. windows and doors, basement and slab insulated values. Design and placement of openings can also make a world of difference on the total cost of the project and energy consumption. If you have a strong southern exposure, design for TRUE passive solar designs will practically heat your house come winter during the day. A number of years ago I designed a passive solar house, and when it was 5 degrees outside on a sunny day, the furnace ran a little in the morning and typically did not kick on until around 4-5 at night. This was with correct windows and a high r/tight shell which is easily within your reach if you do not do ICF. Window selection, side, placement, overhangs, glass types are all extremely important for all elevations of your house. The sprawling wall of glass you see a lot these days is about the worst thing you can do. Every sqft foot of glass is roughly the same as 10 sqft of wall surface, heat loss-wise. North glass should be minimized to be useful. Windows 10' up on the wall are not useful. You can not see out of them, and the lighting they let in in is marginal compared to typical egress windows. Heat loss is 10x the light gain benefits.
North elevation glass should be the best you can afford, triple pane windows with low u values. u values should be below .2. Energy star .29-.3 windows are NOT that great at all. An energy star window is only an r value of around 3.3. Compare that to your wall value of 25-30...big heat loss.
However on the south side, if you want high solar gains, you will not be able to get an energy star window at all. Which is fine, since their rating system makes 0 logical sense in terms of super efficient structures. An ES rated window will not perform the best on a south elevation. Which is interesting because you would think their goal would be maximum performance?! For south windows you need to look for glass with the highest SHGC you can find, yet still maintain lowE glass. SHGC numbers around .5 is your target. However your u will be typically around .35, so not an ES window. Pella is about the only 'big guy' that makes a specific solar glazed window, however Marvin and other high end windows probably do as well, but you will pay for it. Look for LowE hardcoats for solar elevations, soft coats for north and west. I would imagine if you asked a contractor or someone at the Lowes window desk they would just stare at you.

You house also has 6 sides, all of which are important to heat loss. Your roof I would recommend r-50 cellulose min., r-60 if you are feeling frisky. The cost difference will be extremely marginal, and thicker roof insulation have very fast paybacks. Also consider r-10 rigid XPS foam below your entire basement slab.
For high r houses, I typically use the 10-30-40-60 approach...10r below slab, 30r basement, 40 r exposed walls, 60r attic. For a climate zone 5, you can bring those down slightly.
Like I said, air sealing and your shell should have the most money put into it you can. This is where your payback lies, not in your geo system. Extra air sealing and insulation pays you back...expensive granite counters do not!

I would also recommend alternative wall types besides SIPs and ICF to hit similar and higher efficiency values for lower upfront costs. As you stated, the basement can serve as your storm shelter if you consider these other routes.

One option is 2x6 advanced framing with exterior sheathing of rigid foam. True OVE framing omits the wood sheathing, but I still like to use it for added peace of mind and strength. I also like the Huber ZIP product for wall and roof sheathing, as it gives you an near instant air barrier and water tight enclosure, especially on the roof as soon as its taped off.
For your climate zone, going with exterior foams and preventing the risk of trapping moisture and mold in your wall, you need to hit roughly r-7.5 of continuous exterior insulation. this is 1.5" of XPS, the sweet spot for foam construction. Include wet blown cellulose in your wall, and you will be netting a wall performance of roughly r-25 for a much lower cost then ICF or SIPs. With seams taped on both XPS and ZIP, your infiltration will also be very low and similar to either system. Adding additional exterior foams only make your situation better, however you start to encounter additional costs and issues for the building since thicker foams complicate the detailing and cladding attachment more.

However my favorite, and most cost effective high r assembly is the double stud 2x4 wall. This is what I am using in my own house hitting around r-45 for a LOWER cost then exterior foams of around r-35-40.

Regardless of the wall type you choose, do a blower door test to check your infiltration ratings and to find and seal the leaky parts. I typically spec this to be done before the insulation goes in so they are easier to find.

Sorry for the super long post, but hopefully it sort of answers some of your questions, but I am sure will only rise many more! that is good, do your research. It blows my mind people will spend $200k++++ and take a builder's word for it without research. The more you do, the better off you will be. Good luck!


clipped on: 06.20.2012 at 12:06 pm    last updated on: 06.20.2012 at 12:06 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: 06.20.2012 at 11:48 am    last updated on: 06.20.2012 at 11:48 am