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pressure treated wood

posted by: sharpstick on 12.06.2013 at 07:40 am in Porches & Decks Forum

I'm replacing old deck planks. The old ones are at least twelve years old and are now dry rotting. They were not 5/4 decking, just 1 x 6 planks. I don't know if they were PT or not. I'm testing them for arsenic. If that is the case, they go to the landfill. If they are newer non arsenic, I'm not sure if they are burnable or not, nor do I know how to test for that. Is there a test for that?
If they are not PT, they will be bonfire fodder.


clipped on: 04.30.2014 at 09:28 am    last updated on: 04.30.2014 at 09:28 am

heating / cooling basement

posted by: andrelaplume2 on 06.03.2008 at 04:08 pm in Basements Forum

We currently have an unfinished basement, maybe 1000 sq feet. Soon the heat pump annd ac will be upgraded. I thought of having vents added in the basement but was told it would not really raise the temp much doing that alone. The propper thing would be to add a zone and duct work rather than relying on punching a few vents into existing duct work...which might even rob the rest of the house of heat/air. It got pretty expensive to 'do the right thing' though. To be honest, summers are not trouble as it really does ot get above 65 degrees down there and 65 alway feels good in the summer. Winters probably average 62 but in extreme cold might go to 55 degrees. We need something to take the edge off. I figure if I finsh off maybe 750 sq feet into 2 'rooms' and insulate, I'd likly pick up a few degrees in the winter. Still we would need something to take the chill off. That leaves punching in a few ducts and keeping our fingers crossed (minimal expense) or or perhaps having a few baseboards wired in. The baseboards are inexpensive themselves but I am concerned with what they cost to run. They would only be used when the kids go down there and it would only have to raise the temp at worst from 55 to 68 and most times from 60 to 68...once insulated, maybe less. Whta do you think?


clipped on: 01.18.2014 at 12:24 pm    last updated on: 01.18.2014 at 12:24 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.


punch checklist
clipped on: 08.21.2011 at 05:26 pm    last updated on: 08.21.2011 at 05:27 pm

RE: Completed Remodel - Pictures (Follow-Up #26)

posted by: anonymouscuban on 09.20.2010 at 08:39 pm in Bathrooms Forum

@peteinsonj -

Colors in the Master Bedroom:

- The ceiling is Valspar "Au Lait Ole" in flat
- The bed wall is Valspar Venitian plaster "Cioccolate"
- The other walls are Valspar Venitian plaster "Pelle"

In the bathroom is Valspar "Lyndhurst Stone" in Satin. We may end up doing the Venitian plaster in the bathroom as well, once I get the motivation to do it.

@pharaoh -

The vanities are made by Today's Bath and the model is Concord. We actually got them from Costco Online but apparently, they don't carry them anymore, at least not on the web site. I first saw them on a couple other online sites selling for about $1400 each and then I stumbled upon them at Costco. Could you believe I paid $579 each including shipping? Really good buy.


paint colors
clipped on: 08.14.2011 at 07:45 pm    last updated on: 08.14.2011 at 07:46 pm

RE: Builder seeks extra $$ for material included in contract (Follow-Up #22)

posted by: bevangel on 03.17.2010 at 01:38 pm in Building a Home Forum

While I agree with much that other posters have already written, I would also point out that this request for more money for your door COULD be your builder's first foray to find out just how easy a "push-over" you are. In other words, if you agree to pay extra for the door, he may very well start hitting you up for such "extras" on a regular basis...especially if he low-balled your bid with the idea that he would make up the difference by nickleing and diming you throughout the build.

While this may not be the hill you want to die on, you also don't want to allow it to be the first step down an increasingly slippery slope where you build winds up costing you thousands and thousands more than the bid you accepted.

Even if you agree to split the additional cost of the door with your builder, IF he is sleazy, the next time around he'll just boost up the amount of additional cost he claims to be suffering so as to get you to pay however much more he want you to pay.

Every item that will go in your home where you would be allowed (or you would EXPECT to be allowed) to make any kind of choice whatsoever is subject to becoming another dispute of this sort! If a particular item comes in different colors, styles, or finishes; is available from different manufacturers; is available at different QUALITY levels; or can be installed in more than one way (like tile being laid on the diagonal instead of straight) - and you care about ANY of those things, you could wind up in another disagreement that could wind up costing you additional money.

Your builder could tell you that white electrical outlets cost more than ivory ones and that he only budgeted for the ivory (or vice-versa if you happen to like ivory); that antique brass door hinges cost more than the steel ones he budgeted for; that laying 18" tiles cost more than laying 12" tiles or that putting in a subway tile backsplash costs more than installing a 16" tile backsplash - or that he didn't budget for a backsplash at all; that he didn't budget for your sinks to be undermount sinks; that he only budgeted $10/sq ft for granite countertops; that he only budgeted for builder's grade light fixtures; that anything beyond a single pole in your closets is an upgrade; etc., etc., etc.

And unfortunately the whole system seems to be almost deliberately set up to allow sleazy builders to get away with this kind of thing because it is nearly impossible for you to find out what the builder has to pay for anything and equally impossible for a novice to specify every last detail before you begin building.
I would suggest that the first thing you need to do is go back over your contract with a fine-toothed comb looking for every place where potential selections are not specified to the nth degree. If you have an architect, get him/her to help you. Specifying details is part of what the architect should have done in the first place. Highlight a copy of your contract showing everything that needs further clarification.

Then tell your Builder that you MAY be willing to come up with the additional money THIS TIME but that before you agree to do so, you have to make certain that this will never happen again because you have a very limited budget and selected him in part because his bid was within your budget. The two of you need to sit down and clarify your agreement so that you can be certain the the house can/will be finished within your budget.

Make it clear that you are not seeking to renegotiate the contract - the fixed price is the fixed price - but that you need to reach clarity on exactly what is and is not included and what selections you can and cannot have for that fixed price so that you can avoid future disputes.

(If the two of you are not able to agree on what the contract means, then it will be clear that the two of you never had a meeting of the minds in the first place and therefore never really had a valid contract. If it comes to that point then I'm afraid you are going to need a lawyer - but you might as well find that out now.)

Bottom line is, you need to find out exactly what your builder plans/intends to provide to you for the fixed price that he bid. Then you need to decide if you what he intended to provide is close enough to what you thought you were purchasing to continue doing business with him. But DON'T say that to your builder.

Tell your builder merely that, in the interest of having a pleasant and satisfying build, you want to iron out all such potential issues before they can become disputes. Tell him that you have looked over the contract and have noted a number of instances where there might be similar disagreements in the future. Tell him that because he is a professional with much more experience than you, you would like him to go over the contract before you meet and highlight anything that, in his professional experience, he thinks could POSSIBLY wind up resulting in him having to come to you asking for more money because you wound up choosing something more expensive than he had budgeted for.

Be respectful and present this as seeking to AVOID any other disputes. After all, there is a good chance that he is a great builder who simply made an error on the door and really wants and believes he can build you the house you desire for the amount he bid.

Recognize now that your builder probably will not bother going thru the contract to find potential issues. There are two possible reasons for this. One, he is a good honest builder who thinks there should be no other issues with the contract plus he is too busy to go over it. OR two, he is a sleaze and every place where the contract is unclear provides him with another opportunity to wrangle additional monies out of you so he doesn't want you to get clarity.

But give your builder the benefit of the doubt and a reasonable length of time to look over the contract again anyway. If he actually comes to you with many of the same items marked that you have highlighted, rejoice! The door issue probably really was just a misunderstanding and he really does want to work with you without nickleing and diming you the whole build. Or, at the very least he has decided to go ahead and lay his cards on the table now.

Sit down and go over each and every item that either of you has identified as insufficiently specified. Come to an agreement with him as to how each item will be handled AND PUT YOUR AGREEMENT IN WRITING AS AN ADDENDUM TO THE ORIGINAL CONTRACT. For each such item, you will want to either:

1) specify EXACTLY what will be selected (manufacturer, item number, color, etc) and exactly how it will be installed (eg., hardwood to be nailed down or glued down, to be laid on the diagonal or square or in a designated pattern, width of grout lines, number of coats of paint and whether spray-on is okay or you want it brushed and backrolled, etc.)

2) specify exactly which manufacturer(s) and/or catalog(s) you may select from and specify that that so long as you select from the specified manufacturer(s) or catalog(s), there will be no additional charges or rebates to you REGARDLESS of actual price of the item, OR

3) agree to an allowance amount for the particular item (or class of items) but first make sure you'll be able to find SOMETHING you can live with that is within that allowance amount. The internet is a great resource for determining what is available at a particular price. Note that your contract should specify that allowences are for materials that you get to choose. Allowances should not have to stretch to cover installation costs or any installation materials that would be the same regardless of which specific item you chose. Thus, a lighting fixture allowance should only cover the cost of the fixtures and light bulbs themselves, not the wiring or electrical boxes or installation. (BTW, find out if you are expected to purchase can lights out of your lighting fixture allowance and make sure you contract says yay or nay on that.) A plumbing fixture allowance should be specified to only cover the cost of the fixtures and the valves that traditionally are boxed with such fixutures... not the water lines or drainage pipes. A tile allowance should only be to purchase the tile and maybe the grout. It should NOT have to stretch to cover mastic or floor leveling materials or hardiboard backer. These installation materials would be the same and cost the same amount regardless of tile you choose so you should not have to purchase them under you "allowance" amount.

Where you have allowances, you agreement should specify that if you go over the allowed amount you will pay the extra but that if you spend less than the allowance amount, builder will either rebate the extra amount to you or allow you to apply the unused allowance amount to some other allowance item.

Note also that for allowance items, the contract should allow you to go to ANY supplier you want so long as you have the item on site when it is needed - and make sure the builder is required to give you sufficient notice of when an item will be needed that you will have time to find it, order it, and have it delivered. You should not be restricted to using the builder's suppliers who may have a kick-back agreement with him. Why should you pay $69.95 to get a particular pendant light from your builder's supplier if you can purchase the exact same pendant light from the exact same manufacturer from for $18.95 with free shipping? Also, if you pay for an allowance item out of your pocket and supply it to Builder, Builder should pay you the allowance amount exactly as if he were paying the supplier.

Also you will want the contract to require that for allowance items, if you go to a supplier recommended by builder with builder paying the supplier, the supplier MUST provide you with a true and correct copy of the invoice so that you know exactly how much of your allowance amount you spent. You should NOT have to make your selections blindly - not knowing how much you have spent of your allowance amount. Builders can and do "mark up" the cost of allowance items purchased from suppliers with whom they have a relationship and such kickbacks ought to be illegal but in many jurisdictions they don't seem to be.

While specifying manufacturer and exact item number (per #1 above) is probably the best way to go, doing so can be extremely time consuming plus you can still run into difficulties if a specified item is no longer available by the time your builder is ready to get it. So, even for such precisely specified items, there needs to be a clause stipulating that if a specified model is no longer available, owner will be allowed to select a substitution of like kind, style, and quality so long as the price for the substitution is not more than the price of the original selection as of the date the addendum is signed as shown by a published price sheet from the builder's supplier.

Chances are you will find that at least some of the selections available under your builder's original bid price aren't really quite what you had in mind. But, at least you will be able to make decisions about what you can live with and what you will want to "upgrade" and can begin budgeting for upgrades. And your builder will get a clear (but hopefully respectful) message that you are not a pushover who can be nickled and dimed to death.

Good luck.


contract stuff
clipped on: 07.21.2011 at 09:31 pm    last updated on: 07.21.2011 at 09:32 pm

Finished Kitchen! Creamy French Classic

posted by: adh673 on 05.14.2011 at 02:35 pm in Kitchens Forum

I finally uploaded some pictures, they were taken on different days, some raining and shadowy but it's raining again today so these will do for now!

First of all, thank you SOO much to everyone on this site who was a huge help, inspiration and motivation. I very much appreciate the many thoughtful, creative people who gave me advice along the way.

I am sure I will forget some details so feel free to ask questions. We did an entire first floor remodel (mostly cosmetic) so there was a lot going on.

Cabinets- Shiloh, inset beaded soft white with slate highlighting and brushing. Tons of details on these, everything is upgraded and pull out or soft glide, etc. They were our biggest expense.

Kitchen Table- Antique tables made daily. Chairs painted and distressed from my old set

New Windows (expanded in kitchen, replaced in entire house)- OKNA. And very glad I went with casement in kitchen in the end as I wasn't going to originally.

Pendants- Mercury glass, shades of light

Range- GE Monogram 36 inch dual fuel with grill (love it)

Sink- Shaw 3018 (love it), also got the stainless grid, love it too.

Prep Sink- Rohl Round 18 inch with Tapmaster (tapmaster nice but not end of world if not)

Faucets- same for both sinks, Delta Leland single hole

Air switches- from home depot (very frustrating. Don�t place these near a faucet handle!)

Floors- Character walnut random width, distressed edges,

Waterlox finish, Blackford and Sons. LOVE!

Vent- GE, free with range 1200 CFMs, loud but works and free is free

Undercabinet lights- seagull ambiance lighting on dimmer, great lights

Disposals- Evolution and Evolution compact, no trouble

Dishwasher- Meihl, some trouble here. Had a flood already! Due to filling the soap dispenser up with soap, apparently a BIG no-no.

Backsplash- subway, Emser cape code in artisan cream crackle ordered from Studio Tile in Fl for around 14/ft, Above range, not sure, some small mosaic from a local store.

Hardware- cabinets, hafele antique black, doors ordered online , Emtek black ordered from simpsons hardware

Paint- Ben Moore (have to look up colors, forget)

Warming drawer- Kitchenaid (used every day!)

Microwave- Sharp MW Drawer (fine)

Fridge- Samsung with convertible fridge drawer (can be used for wine, kids snacks, deli meats,etc) (like it)

Wine Fridge- Uline Captain (some trouble here, two repair visits)

Railings- Iron panels and railing elements ordered from

Kings Architectural Metals and welded locally (love the result)

General Contractor- Tom Christie, Quality Craft Carpentry in Northern Virginia. An absolute doll and has an amazing team. We cannot recommend him and his work highly enough and thankful to our friends who referred him!

We also replaced all our dishes, silverware, glassware, baking and cookware- love all the new stuff!

I think that's it! It took about 4 months of real work for the renovation then some minor details dragged on for a long time.

Overall we LOVE the new kitchen and the new house overall. It's amazingly functional and comfortable and we are really happy with it. Thanks again to everyone for their great advice and support!

From Kitchen Remodel

Let me know if these links dont work, I moved to Picasa and never tried to post from it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Creamy French Classic


kitchen hw floors
clipped on: 05.23.2011 at 06:15 pm    last updated on: 05.23.2011 at 06:15 pm

RE: Front porch column ideas? (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: fish7577 on 03.09.2010 at 10:29 pm in Building a Home Forum

We used structural fiberglass columns from Turncraft (DuraGlass Poly-Classic square) for our porch. They look great, but I'm not sure what you're looking for. Reasonable price (about $170) for an 8" square column that supports up to 5,000 pounds. They have other styles. Comparing it to a wood post wrapped with trim coil, it was a minimal charge for the improved look. Ours were just supporting the porch roof, so I guess you'll need to know your load requirements.


clipped on: 05.09.2011 at 01:27 pm    last updated on: 05.09.2011 at 01:27 pm

RE: Spray Foam - Worth it? (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: davidro1 on 04.16.2011 at 10:45 am in Building a Home Forum

Improv241, sealing the house is one more subject.

you mentioned "regular fiberglass rolled insulation."

someone responded by mentioning that the pink panther keeping company with the pink product seems to have made people go for it as the unconscious choice.

there are two big subjects here.

One is technical: sealing the house = airtight = less heat loss, because less outdoor air seeps in.

The other big subject is how it came to be that the average bear began to think of "pink" as the Go -To product. It is a lousy product in many installations. It doesn't stop air from moving through it (even with a backing). Air moves every day as barometric pressure changes, and as normal activities inside the house produce humidity and warmth.


clipped on: 05.09.2011 at 11:34 am    last updated on: 05.09.2011 at 11:35 am

RE: Trane XL15i vs American Standard Heritage 16 (Follow-Up #43)

posted by: tmgeorgo on 12.18.2010 at 05:26 pm in Heating & Air Conditioning Forum

Yup, do it. You're getting close to the end of 2010, get it installed and enjoy it.

I found this neat spreadsheet last night that lets you calculate and compare the costs of different types of fuel for heating:

Plug in your electric rate, therm costs, HSPF of the heat pump and AFUE of the furnace. For me, the costs of using the 8.5 HSPF heat pump is $11.18, the 92% furnace is $10.86. So this year, hybrid heat is about the same cost for gas or electric, as long as I let my furnace do the work for anything colder than 40F.



clipped on: 05.07.2011 at 11:50 am    last updated on: 05.07.2011 at 11:50 am

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.


tile cost
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RE: What's your rough cost per square foot estimate? (Follow-Up #19)

posted by: david_cary on 05.23.2010 at 06:44 am in Building a Home Forum

All this $ talk really should include location and some details about construction. I spent $60k on permitting, landscaping, grading and clearing - 10% of budget - but another lot might not need any of that or maybe just $5k on landscaping. Another $60k went to deck, screened porch and appliances - again $5k could have done it (with no change to square footage). Brick + basement was about $60k (incremental cost over siding and crawlspace). So take away the builder's fee and those listed items, and almost 50% of my cost is gone and my sq foot charge is about $75 versus the $150 it really was.

Wow - $75 is pretty cheap and for that - hardwoods nearly everywhere (wide, walnut), great cabs, granite everywhere, ceilings from 9-11 ft, grohe plumbing fixtures, recirc hot water, heavy trim - 3 piece crown, 10 inch baseboards, 2 trays with crown, 48 inch wainscotting dining room, and coffered ceiling in office (with crown), 8 ft doors downstairs.

Either way my point is that I went from $75 to $150 with a few changes - keeping the square footage the same. Now mind you, $20 of that was the builder's fee which is a little unfair. I'm sure there were additional savings but I just came up with the obvious ones. My builder's later told me that you could have saved $10k on the framing but that it was such an important thing, he pays for one of the most expensive guys.


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RE: doing whole house audio (Follow-Up #23)

posted by: bdpeck-charlotte on 04.01.2010 at 07:47 am in Building a Home Forum

I've got two of my zones with two pair (4 total) speakers with no problem. Some systems have a problem with that, but mine doesn't and yours doesn't sound like it does either.

Not that you asked, but our pre-wire was $75 per Cable and $75 per Cat5 (phone or speaker) and $125 for speaker wire back to central.

We let them do the Coax and Cat5 for cable and phone, but did our own for the audio. Spent about $500 on wires.


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RE: Builders original price cost worksheet vs current (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: robin0919 on 11.30.2009 at 10:07 pm in Building a Home Forum

ditto on the brick....that is waaaayyy too high! In this area it runs around $6.50-7.50sf, materials and labor. Also, it seems very high for the dormers. Framers don't charge extra for those unless it is verrrrry fancy. The wood to build wouldn't be over a few hundred for each. Window cost?....$500/ea? A few hundred more for shingles,ea.


brick cost
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RE: Care 2 Share? How Much Did your Home cost to Build? (Follow-Up #24)

posted by: robin0919 on 11.11.2010 at 07:02 pm in Building a Home Forum

They charge by the hour??? Around here(I thought everywhere) the framers charge by the s/f of the house. Plumbers charge per hook up. Elec charge by the s/f. Example(in this area) Framers charge on avg $4.25/sf, Elec charge on avg $2.15/sf. Plumbers charge per hook up on avg. of $350,ex in baths you would normally have a shower, 2 sinks, toilet and tub. Five hook ups. $1750 total That includes installing and hooking everything up.


pricing in charlotte area
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RE: Lighting for house (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: sidney4 on 10.21.2010 at 01:52 pm in Building a Home Forum

I had a similar feeling when I was given the long list of lights needed for our new home. I created a spreadsheet listing each room and the lights required for each. Over the next several months I started trolling the many websites on line for light fixtures. Because I had several months to make my decisions I was able to buy from whichever site had the best deals at the time. I got some unbelievable deals and I rarely if ever paid shipping. Whenever something caught my eye on site I just pasted the name of the product into Google and I was able to see who offered the best deal on that particular light at the time.

Because I had so many orders from so many different sites, I always made sure that I added the order date ,price and a link to a picture of the light from the web site to my spreadsheet. Whenever a light was delivered I checked to make sure it was not broken and marked it on my spreadsheet. I was always careful to make sure the lights were reputable brands and only ordered from sites that were given high marks online. My favorites were Lamps Plus, Overstock, Bellacor and CSN Lighting.

I did have one time when I tripped up during the process. I forgot to record my lamp post light purchase and ended up ordering it twice from two different sites. Because it was an end of season clearance I couldn't return it. Even so, I was still able to buy both for less than what it is being offered for right now online. You may see mine on eBay if I ever get around to it.

One more electrician groaned when I told him I was ordering online. He wanted me to use a local supplier. Afterward he admitted that I had done pretty well with my choices.


favorites were Lamps Plus, Overstock, Bellacor and CSN Lighting.
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RE: Ballpark cost to build in coastal NC (not OBX) (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: david_cary on 03.01.2010 at 12:28 pm in Building a Home Forum

Executive cabinets out of SC. It may have been a bit more with the wood hood and butler's pantry but I was quite happy. We just kept adding things and I was concerned the total was going to get out of hand. We have 8 deep drawers. All our 36 in bases, we split the upper drawers into 2. 42 in high uppers. Moderate crown and light rail. Frameless too.

We saved on doing the more recessed door panel - I am blanking on the name - as opposed to when the center of the panel comes out to flush with the sides..... The doors were otherwise intricate (not the cheapest style at all) and maple. Islands are stained but perimeter is painted ($).

I have meant to get on the kitchen forum and rave about these cabs for the price. We were looking at Kitchencraft and we saved over $10k - I say over because we came in at $10k less after we loaded up on the options. We had Kitchencraft in our last house and these are in every way better. The best is that KC's uppers are a little shallow and we had to put our big plates just right with the glass door to be able to close it. KC was cheaper to customize (like $75 a pop) but in the end, we got things to fit in stock sizes.


executive cabinets of sc
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RE: It's September- How is your build progressing? (Follow-Up #45)

posted by: ramor on 09.05.2010 at 03:11 pm in Building a Home Forum

Thanks for the comments.
crescent50, We do have similar cabinets(Savannah maple greystone on perimeter and Savannah cherry cocoa on island). Look up Jeffry Alexander collection online for the pulls. We used the Cordova in the kitchen, Cosica in our master bath, Tuscany in our den and study. You need to see samples on any of your knobs because some of the pictures are deceptive.

Our builder picked a lot of our light fixtures and we aren't happy with all of them. My wife wasn't happy with the one over the breakfast area. She is very good with colors and decorating and she painted it with a faux finish and it looks much better. She also faux finished our two half bath walls and the ceiling(20 ft) in the enty.


cabinets wellford
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RE: It's September- How is your build progressing? (Follow-Up #39)

posted by: ramor on 09.04.2010 at 04:49 pm in Building a Home Forum

I'm glad to see everyone is progressing well. Our build is a little over a year old now. Next week we should get the electrical and final inspection and CO.

I have mixed feelsing about moving. We've been in our current home since 1986 and we raised a family for the most part here. We really have a lot of stuff to move and its not going to be easy.

We haven't done any landscaping yet and there are several small things that need to be done. No shower doors yet, still some missing appliance panels(Wellborn error), floors still get another coat of sealant. Some of the low voltage stuff is still not finished and my theater room won't be finished for a while.

I don't want to monopolize this thread with too many pics(big house) so I'm just posting a few of the kitchen. I may post some more later when everything is cleaned up better.


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RE: Relative cabinetry prices: brand vs. brand (Follow-Up #24)

posted by: goldee on 03.31.2008 at 08:01 am in Kitchens Forum

I just got Cherry cabinets from and they are wonderful. They carry a few good brands one being Thomasville at a different name. I was quoted 12000.00 at Home Depot and I got them at for almost 3000.00 off that price! Jason helped me with everything and is so nice. If you ask for Jason and mention LMSB you get another hundred dollars off. I looked everywhere for cabinets, all the home store, local cabinet shops and the internet. This was the best deal and for the best cabinets. I researched for over a month before making this decision. Good luck, I will post pictures when they are installed. Now I just have to pick out the perfect granite!

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RE: Foaming roof rafters or higher SEER A/C (Follow-Up #19)

posted by: david_cary on 08.17.2010 at 11:44 am in Building a Home Forum

Athens - I forgot you were 2x6 walls. I've extrapolated some numbers and I think you will save $10 a year going from r-19 to R-21 walls. Shocking? Well in your climate, you have little difference in temp between inside and out for most of the year. Summertime highs - the difference is only 20 degrees. Having R-21 with a 20 degree differential is the definition of overkill. Now in the winter, the differential is higher but only at night.

I think we share the same R-19 over basement and R-30 over garage.

Anyway - I'm all for doing some overkill and doing things with long paybacks. But R-21 is probably a 50+ year payback. If you are doing that - then you certainly should do Solar hot water (7-10 years), solar panels (varies but 30 years is a good number), Geothermal is all over the ballpark but usually less than 20 years and could be as short as 5. At $8k - I do think foaming the rafters could be a >50yr payback. If you don't foam the rafters, a radiant barrier is probably a 5 year payback (really cheap to add). is a good forum is you are interested in killing yourself on the research. A little more environmentally focused than dollars and cents. I personally think you have to chase dollars because I have an economics backgroung. Spending $10k for something that saves $100 a year and reduces energy use is laudable but giving that money to a charity that helps insulate lower income homes that really need it is far more helpful...

Too many decisions with lots of salesmen involved....


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RE: Foaming roof rafters or higher SEER A/C (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: david_cary on 08.16.2010 at 02:56 pm in Building a Home Forum

manhattan42 does seem to have a mistaken idea about SEER - which has nothing to do with size. Seasonal efficiency rating or something to that effect.

Thomas - "50 degrees warmer for a typical unvented attic". I don't know who has put an uninsulated unvented attic in the south. That has not been done in the last decade (if at all). 20 degrees is an average differential for a typical vented attic on a hot summer day vs ambient. If the comparison is conditioned than I guess it depends how hot but 50 is still too much unless you are conditioning to 70 on a 100 degree day - which would take a really oversized system.

Athens - it certainly isn't too late - I thought maybe you were further along. 8.5 tons is likely too much. I have 7 for 5200 sq ft which includes walkout basement - and this is a tad oversized because Infinity systems are whole ton only. I really should have 6 tons total but we erred on the higher size because of liking our bedroom really cold at night and because they totally overestimate what a basement requires.

If you foam the rafters, that should allow an even smaller upstairs unit.

Your Seer upcharges are still too much even with it being seer 16 and 3 units. Not nearly as bad though. I think I paid $1000 for dual fuel on downstairs system only.

If your third unit is for a walkout basement - consider upgrading to Infinity and zoning the basement. Basements require next to nothing in the winter which drives sizing.

My baseline was Seer 13 for about $13k. Final was $20k for Infinity seer 15, dual fuel main floor and other options listed above (all Infinity standards).


Infinity hvac system
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RE: Faucets online vs plumbing showroom (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: suero on 08.06.2010 at 10:16 pm in Bathrooms Forum

I bought plumbing fixtures from Faucet Direct. Nothing was missing. Everything came on time. The equipment performance is warrantied by the manufacturer. Faucet Direct is responsible for sending all the parts you order. The plumber or contractor is only responsible for the installation. I did have a problem with the first plumber installing valves upside down. The contractor was responsible for correcting that.

Bottom line: save your money and order from Faucet Direct, unless your contract (not your contractor) requires that you purchase from that showroom.


plumbing fixtures
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RE: Are all toilets created equally? In need of a new one... (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: thull on 08.10.2010 at 01:52 pm in Plumbing Forum

trinitybay- kind of a thread hijack there, but I'll go ahead and answer. One is to read the links above. The CUWCC report is my go-to for performance results- it's been updated continuously since 2003.

As for convincing your "unconvincible" DH, well there are some people like that. They're generally missing out on what's out there by not having an open mind. Often it costs them lots of $$ (thinking about a co-worker who just replaced HVAC but wouldn't consider a dual fuel system to save operating costs).

As for the Totos, between my parents and I, we have 4 now. They range in age from about 8 years (Ultimate) to #4 that went in last weekend (Drake II). We have never had a mechanical problem with any of them, little plastic piece or not. They generally work well, with the one-piece ones (Ultimate and Ultramax) being slightly more picky about how you flush a "big job." The Drake and new Drake II (1.28gpf) two-piecers seem to flush better, I presume b/c they're taller (more water height before flush).

On the need for pressure assist- I'm assuming your DH said this because he thinks 1.6 gpf toilets don't work over the "better" toilets from before low flow was required. Hooey. If he thinks no one out there has managed to improve how toilets work and use less water in the past ~17 years, he needs to crawl back under his rock.

FYI, my Dad took some convincing to get the Drake II over another one-piece. He got that notion b/c my grandmother, who in her later years couldn't see and broke all kinds of stuff, kept managing to make the tank-bowl connection leak on her toilets (along with breaking the mechanisms).

There are definitely still poor-performing ones out there, but there are lots of resources (see links above) to figure out which to avoid.


Totos toilet
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RE: New build--heating and A/C question (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: david_cary on 02.02.2010 at 05:47 am in Heating & Air Conditioning Forum

Tracey - some points of reference for out local climate/economy

Nobody uses anything but flex duct at R8(code in attic and used elsewhere for simplicity). Our original HVAC budget was $13 and we spent $20. One contractor was $30 for metal ducts. Original was Seer 13 with no frills. We got Seer 15/16 Heat pump with gas backup down/electric up. Variable speed. 2 stage. Zoning. Total of 7 tons - 4 down, 3 up

Your specs are typical in that they are not very informative. They don't give size - usually what they'll do is say that they can maintain 20 degrees cooler than outside and ?? degrees warmer.

If you have the $$, seer 15 is generally worth it. I think dual fuel (ie gas and HP) is worth it. Variable speed and 2 stage are more comfort items - worth it if they are worth it to you (the other 2 are worth it in $$ saved).

If you have the land and the $$, geothermal is worth considering. To throws numbers around, I suspect we would have spent $40 for geo - down to $27 after tax credit. If you have land, the geo should be less - perhaps down to $20 after tax credit. You can then not have gas, longer life of Pumps, quieter operation, no external pieces and of course energy savings. Geothermal is the one of the few options for tax credits on new construction. In my situation, the money saved was not worth it in just $$$.

Lastly - there are a few items for our climate worth mentioning (forgive me if I have done this before). R-40 in the attic cost me $200 and reportedly saves $50 a year (code is r-30). Radiant barrier in the attic gave similar numbers. Energy star certification cost me $850 (or so) but saves me 5% on gas and electricity for life (Progress Energy and PSNC) - payback about 8 years. The extra insulating they do with energy star (cost hard to figure) all makes a ton of sense - mostly using foam around windows and doors - which I think cost $200. They also install backing behind tubs/soffits/on attic walls - that is hard to figure cost of since it went to the framers


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RE: Energy cost - heat pump vs. natural gas (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: david_cary on 06.14.2010 at 02:32 pm in Heating & Air Conditioning Forum

I have a hybrid system in Wake cty, NC. I have gas cooking, fireplaces and heat. The $120 year fee is about 30% of my total so not insignificant. My summer bills are $11 - $10 for monthly, $1 gas usage. Winter gets up to $50. I had a $200 annual gas usage, $120 connection for a total of $320. Just to give you an idea - 4000 sq ft, new construction.

The cheapest thing would be straight heat pumps but we had to have gas cooking so hybrid makes the most sense.


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RE: basement + 2 stories, new build--how many 'zones'? (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: andy_bell on 03.11.2010 at 02:42 pm in Heating & Air Conditioning Forum

I am not exactly sure what you are being charged for the ENERGY STAR verification, but 10-25 cents a SF would be about average. Other programs like LEED are much more. So for the average 1500 sf home this should be $750 or less. How many people will put up the extra $$ for cosmetic upgrades and ignore upgrades to the basic 'skeleton.'

Just as an FYI - (we both have heat pumps) a friend's January electric bill was over $400 and mine was $185. Then add to that - my home is 1/3 larger, they just had their first baby, we have an attached apartment with my parents living there (so 2 full kitchens, washing machines,etc) and I have 5 kids - so 9 people live here and occupied 24hrs a day. In fact my utility bills are the same as they were in the 1400 SF 1968 vintage tract home (with newer HVAC) when I just had 3 kids and no parental suite....

Sound decisions at construction pay off year after year..... for most homeowners ENERGY STAR is a good foundation. Nationwide more than 20% of homes built in 2008 were ENERGY STAR in Alabama fewer than 3%.

So yes, there is an up front cost, but it is far less than the monthly cost of typical code based houses.


energy star
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RE: basement + 2 stories, new build--how many 'zones'? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: tigerdunes on 03.04.2010 at 11:29 am in Heating & Air Conditioning Forum


two systems would be more than adequate.

you could put zoning controls for the main floor and basement system-I would recommend that. Keep in mind that basements that are partially or fully below grade have small heating and cooling loads.

you definitely want good insulation and adequate ductwork design for the bonus room. FROGs known as finished rooms over garage are notorious for cooling and heating.

Nat gas is available? If so, I would install dual fuel system for downstairs system and a high eff HP system with air handler and backup electric heat for upstairs system. NC has a relatively mild winter climate but summers can be a beast. you do want to take advantage of NC's reasonable electric rates. That's why I recommend the use of heat pumps.

I can make a couple of suggestions if you like.

Of course conventional HVAC for new construction do not qualify for the Fed Govt tax credit. Geothermal does qualify for 30% of cost with no maximum. Something to consider if you can fit it in your budget and have available land for the lines.

Here is a website on state rebates that might be of interest. I can not vouch for its accuracy.

Good Luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to State Rebates for HVAC


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RE: basement + 2 stories, new build--how many 'zones'? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: david_cary on 03.06.2010 at 07:08 am in Heating & Air Conditioning Forum

Here I am in NC sitting in a 2 st house with daylight basement. Exactly what tigerdunes says - dual fuel on 1st floor, just hp on second. Basement isn't finished but will do zoned system off the 1st floor unit.

My only complaint at this point is not putting a humidifier on the 2nd floor. It is not the usual thing to do for my builder (but then again neither is anything else I did). It just seems a bit dry on a really cold night in the upstairs bedrooms.

At current NG rates, I don't think you save a ton of money doing it this way. But I expect that will change but you never know. Electricity might go up more than expected - but that is the good thing about dual fuel - you pick.

I am suprised tigerdunes didn't mention it - although I am sure his fingers get tired. Do variable speed - it is quite nice. I really love my 2 stage compressor also. It so hard not to oversize especially if you build a tight house and oversizing without 2 stages will make for a humid house.

I say it is hard not to oversize because you get paranoid about having a hot house in the summer and there is such a culture of oversizing. Manual J is great but I looked over mine recently and it had us with a "leaky crawlspace" - we have a basement and there is nothing leaky about it. I actually had them change out a unit after we moved in because someone made a mistake and put in a 4 ton unit instead of a 3 ton. The HVAC company head engineer recommended that I keep it (I didn't pay for it) because it would keep the backup strips from ever coming on in the winter. Well - I've never seen them come on anyway and it was cold this year. We rarely go to second stage on the HP anyway.

Assuming you have the control - do a radiant barrier and r-40 in the attic (although I recently heard that code went to r-38 from r-30). Foam all the windows and doors ($200 for my slightly bigger house). Do energy star certification if you get utility discounts for it (we do).


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RE: Height of Joist between 1st floor ceiling and the 2nd floor? (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: bevangel on 01.29.2010 at 01:12 pm in Building a Home Forum

Yes, do get a structural engineer involved. Also be sure and specify that you want the plans to clearly specify "open web" trusses between the floors so that HVAC ductwork can be kept within the "heated and cooled envelope" of the house. Then, DO NOT allow your builder to substitute i-beam joists as you CANNOT cut holes thru the i-beams large enough to accomodate ductwork. Don't ask me how I know this. :-(

The open web joists will be engineered and built off site and they will cost you more than i-beams. But, you will save money in the long run. Installation of HVAC and plumbing will be much easier (and therefore should be cheaper), you'll need less HVAC ductwork, smaller HVAC units, and your HVAC bills will be a whole lot less for the entire life of your home.

In answer to your original question, my two story house was designed to allow HVAC to be run between the floors. The space between the floor is 18 inches.


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RE: HVAC estimate (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: david_cary on 02.09.2010 at 12:07 pm in Building a Home Forum

Best to post on HVAC forum.

The thing to always ask is this unit(s) oversized? It would be wise to go above code on insulation etc and then downsize your units. What I am amazed is that code has not caught up with just reasonable standards. I would think the code writers could do the math for reasonable payoff things to do and make them code. Say anything with a less than 10 year payoff....

Obviously low-e windows, up the attic insulation to r-40, foam all windows and doors, radiant barrier the attic, do your best to get ducts within conditioned space (although this can get expensive).

Go the HVAC forums and read up on the standard practice of oversizing units and why it is a bad idea (not just for $$$ sakes). The downside of learning is that you will want units with more features. Variable speed is really really nice. 2 stage is also really nice. It goes on from there...


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RE: For brutuses ~ Kitchen and family room photos (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: newhomebuilder on 05.27.2008 at 06:40 pm in Home Decorating Forum

Thank you for the compliments everyone! :)

tinker_2006 - ceiling height is just 9'. We limited the height of ceilings in this house (with the exception of some deep trays) because of the cost of heating the higher ceilings. I am trying to talk DH into having the family room/kitchen ceiling painted a half shade lighter than the BM Decatur Buff walls. Because the ceiling space is so long, they look lower than they actually are and I think the darker color would visually raise the ceiling height.
I wanted to paint them a light blue, but he quickly vetoed that suggestion. LOL

The fireplace mantle is 58.5 " high. We lowered the height from the 61" in the other house, where the ceilings were high. I like a high mantle, because I am tall. I also think that the height of the mantle in our current home makes the ceilings look low, but oh well!

Here is a photo of the fireplace in my other house.

marthaelena - I am not sure where you mean, but in the last two photos, that is the outside you see. To the left of the breakfast room is a large screened porch and a patio off to the front of it.

No, I am not a builder, but wanted to be an architect, so I have semi designed my last few houses. I usually find a photo of a home that I like, and then modify it and completely redo the configuration (floor plan) inside the home.

lyban - The ivy (it's actually Phylodendron) is in a pot underneath those rope balls that I should probably get rid of. LOL

customdecorator - The rug is from a line called The legend Collection ~ A Wilton Rug by Sabry Rug and Textiles. I love the rug too, and have one in the floor of my kitchen and a small rug in my formal half bath. All three use to be in my former family room/kitchen/bath.



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RE: Do you know what % of draws were taken and when? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: zone_8grandma on 05.24.2007 at 03:41 pm in Building a Home Forum

This is what our draws looked like:
Draw 1 - 3% Permits, plans, Excavation
Draw 2 - 7% Foundation
Draw 3 - 5% Subfloor, 7% Rough framing, 6% Plumbing rough-in, 3% Basement & Garage floor
Draw 4 - 4% Windows set,3% Roof sheathing, 4% Wall sheating, 3% Trusses, 3% Roof sheathing, 4% Roofing
Draw 5 - 3% Mechanical heating, 2% Electrical rough-in, 3% Fireplace/woodstove
Draw 6 - 5% Siding, 1% Gutters, 2% Insulation, 2% Exterior doors & garage, 1% Exterior painting
Draw 7 - 4% Cabinets, 4% Interior trim, 1% Decks, porches
Draw 8 - 2% Vinyl, tile, 2% Hardwood, 1% Interior paint, 2% Plumbing fixtures, 1% Electrical fixtures
Draw 9 - 2% Applicances, 2% Hardware, rail, mirrors, 4% Carpet, 1% Exterior concrete


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RE: Do you know what % of draws were taken and when? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: amyks on 05.24.2007 at 02:34 pm in Building a Home Forum

Hi Kelly. I hope this is what you are looking for:

Deposit 10%

Draw 1 10% : When lot is cleared and rough graded, footings and foundation walls complete, bldg permit rec'd and survey complete.

Draw 2 20%: When outside and inside walls are in place, sheething complete and roofing set.

Draw 3 15%: When plumbing, heating and wiring are roughed in, windows, doors set, roof complete.

Draw 4 15%: When basement slab is poured, outside house material in place, walls insulated, sheetrock complete.

Draw 5 20%: When interior/exterior trim complete, bath floor and wall tile in place,kitchen cabs, plumbing fixtures, sewer and water done, hvac units set.

Draw 6 10 %: When electric complete, floor finishes, and Use and Occupancy permit received.

Hope this helps. Before each draw they have the bank inspector come out to make sure the work required is done (not to be confused with an inspector that makes sure the work is done correctly!). They then send me a draw request and I approve it and they wire the money.

Good luck!



clipped on: 08.18.2007 at 09:56 am    last updated on: 08.18.2007 at 09:56 am

RE: Advice needed, preparing to solicit bids (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: dabunch on 03.31.2007 at 04:34 pm in Building a Home Forum

I had 5 homes (not all were custom) built & the first word of advice: It's a business transaction. Don't let emotion get in the way & DO NOT trust builders. They are VERY amiable BEFORE they start & usually nice people, EXCEPT when it gets down to the money while building. Then they turn into Mizers, squeezing Lincoln until he screams.
Be saavy & get a couple of quotes with everything. specified.

Where do you live? The cost of construction varies regionally.

Check prices of things ahead of time. Know that a kitchen allowance of 15k is not enough. Go to a couple of kitchen places with a rough drawing & have them throw you a price.
Specify the brand name, size, color or anything that pertains to that item.
Kitchen appliances. What is their allowance? Know that 5k will buy you a stove, only-lol
Start with the exterior & work your way into the interior.

Example : My builder was giving me an allowance of $700 for the entry door. My door cost 2k. If you don't specify, they will give you the cheapest thing that they can find & if you want something nicer, YOU will have to pay the difference with their mark-up. My builder's mark up was 30%!!!
Specify: The roof shingles, type & year warranty,
The siding, type, make & color
The entry door, make, type, allowance
2x6 or 2x4 construction.
One entry into the basement or two.
Garage doors- windows, no windows, insulated, wood or other material.
Windows-Sizes, brand name, U value, R-value. Shutters or other...
Insulation R-38, r-19 value or what?
Garage, insulated, finished or what?
Deck/Patio/Walkways-what should those be made of, how wide, what shape...
The number of exterior faucets, electrical outlets.
Exterior landscaping- what kind of plants you want, grass, sod...Give dimensions of how far they need to clear, rake, sod. Don't assume that they will remove necessary trees or debris or seed it to the property line!

The more specific, the better & he won't get you for extras. Don't assume just because your friends got something form their builder, yours will honor your VERBAL request & that he'll give it to you at no charge!

Be very careful with the allowances they give you. That's why you need to know prices ahead of time or you will go over your budget.
INTERIOR- Aside from the CODE eletrical that they give you, YOU must know the allownce you need for extra lighting outlets, fixtures etc. Mine ran me 10k over!...and I was conservative.
Plumbing- specify types, brands of faucets sinks whirplools, showers. You need to do a lot of research & specify what you want.
FLOORING-tile/hardwood/carpet Get a good allownce for tile, hardwood & carpet. You can choose the tile later, but know that $5 sqft for tile is not great. Hardwood- the least expensive, I think is Oak. If you want soemthing else, put it in your contract-type, color brand...
Bathroom vanities-with kitchen allowance? Those are not cheap. Granite, corian what?
Doors- wood, cardboard, what?
Stairs- ALL (red, white)Oak, mixed wood, what? Specify Balusters, risers rails made of what?
Accessories- do they install give you allowance Or do you do it yourself?
PAINT-one color or mutli colors?
TRIM/Crown molding where & how thick, wide. Painted or stained.
ALL these things are important & need to be spelled out....or you'll get stuck with a budget bust bigtime if it's not in your contract.

I probably missed something...good luck.


clipped on: 08.17.2007 at 12:59 pm    last updated on: 08.17.2007 at 12:59 pm

RE: Help with Mortgage/Construction Loan/One Time Closed (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: erosenst on 02.06.2007 at 10:39 am in Building a Home Forum

It is very confusing, and you've gotten some good advice above. I'm in the banking industry (although not mortgages specifically) and I had trouble comparing our offers - although the most difficult for me was getting the banks to specify all of the fees that would be entailed in the process. It helped a little when I said "Please list ANY fee I have to pay at ANY time during the process." Many banks are somewhat reluctant to do this, although they're required by law to give you an estimate.

As the PP's said, each bank handles it differently - you need to find the one that best meets your needs.

I'm going to start at the beginning, as I think you may be getting confused from the start. I hope I don't offend you by being very basic in some cases.

What you're looking at is generically known as either a "one-step" or "construction to permanent" loan. Make sure that this is what the banks you are talking to are offering, as not all banks are willing to do this for a variety of reasons you don't care about. The problem, however, is that if you're talking to someone junior at a bank that doesn't offer this, they may be trying to offer a completely different product that doesn't work for you.

Once you confirm that you are, in fact, talking about a one-step, there are some big picture things you need to clarify. Among other things, you need to clearly lay out how you want the financing to work. Many lenders will not finance raw land; if they do, it will not be at 100%. So be very specific with the lenders if you only plan to put cash in at the end - you'll save yourself some time by not comparing rates, etc for lenders who won't do what you want from the beginning. (One thing you may need/want to do is take out a home equity loan on your existing home to purchase the land for your new home.)

I'll use Chazas' list from above in an attempt not to confuse you by using different terms; however, there are some add'l things I've added:

1. Construction rate - how interest are they charging during construction? Is the rate fixed or floating?
2. Construction period - how long do you have to complete construction? What happens if you (inevitably) exceed this period? Is there a specific fee you must pay? Might the rate go up? If so, how much?

3. Closing fees - What will they charge you both at the initial closing, and when you complete your house and convert to a permanent mortgage? Things that will likely be included are title search fees, recording fees, lender fees, etc. Ask for a "good faith estimate" - there's a form they can use to provide that. It will vary by state - but in ours, somewhere between $4,000 - $6,000, and usually right around $5,000, is very common, just to give you an idea.

4. Type of permanent loan - Is it fixed or floating? For how many years?.

5. Method for pricing permanent loan. Similar to above - does the rate float? If so, how often is it reset?

6.Interest rate cap for permanent loan. If it floats, what's the most they can increase it each reset period? And what's the highest it can be during the life of the loan?

7.Extension periods and fees for interest rate cap. How much will they charge to keep the interest rate at the rate you negotiate at the beginning? For example, ours was $750 after six months, and then another $750 each 3 months after that.

8.Escrow waiver for permanent loan. Find out if they plan to escrow insurance and taxes. If you have "excellent" credit, neither should be escrowed.

9. Construction draw mechanics. How many draws are allowed? Is there a cost per draw? How much? How long between request and payment? Do they do an inspection at every draw?

10. Flexibility in size of approved loan (i.e., greater than signed construction contracts, to deal with inevitable increased construction costs). Find out what they need to process increases. Some/most are fine with change orders, but confirm that your GC will give you change orders. (They should anyway.)

11. Will they sell your permanent loan or retain it? Many mortgage companies sell their loans. I personally don't care, but many people intentionally do their mortgage with xxx bank, and then are dismayed when it's later sold to a larger bank.

HTH - let me know if you have questions -



clipped on: 08.17.2007 at 11:59 am    last updated on: 08.17.2007 at 12:00 pm

RE: Estimating costs ahead of time (Follow-Up #43)

posted by: angela12345 on 04.10.2007 at 01:17 pm in Building a Home Forum

I haven't read all of the posts, but this should help give you a "ballpark" of costs. Costs can vary GREATLY, but at least this will set you on the path. I'm interested to hear from the people who have already finished their build like home_nw and bhdawahare if they would fill out the estimator and see how close it came to actual costs for them.

Here is a link that might be useful:


clipped on: 08.15.2007 at 07:33 pm    last updated on: 08.15.2007 at 07:33 pm

RE: Estimating costs ahead of time (Follow-Up #41)

posted by: home_nw on 02.23.2007 at 04:02 am in Building a Home Forum

Sure, I'm happy to share our 47 categories! I've listed them in order of the percent they represent of our final estimated cost and showed the percentage (the first number on each line). Since it's so easy to sort my Excel spreadsheet, just for grins I re-sorted it in the order the builder estimated costs too (the second number on each line). Perhaps this is more typical? Here goes:

Cost Elements - % of Final Cost - % of Builder's Est
Framing - 0.160 - 0.173
Siding/Ext trim - 0.069 - 0.062
Flooring & Tile - 0.065 - 0.043
Foundation/Slabs/Plinths - 0.060 - 0.041
Interior Trim,Stairs,Doors - 0.059 - 0.064
Cabinets - 0.053 - 0.041
Int/Ext Masonry,hearths,porches - 0.046 - 0.049
Sheetrock - 0.036 - 0.034
Counters - 0.030 - 0.013
HVAC - 0.029 - 0.022
Windows - 0.027 - 0.032
Roofing/Gutters - 0.026 - 0.033
Elevator - 0.022 - 0.025
Interior Paint - 0.019 - 0.016
Electrical - 0.018 - 0.013
Kitchen Appliances - 0.017 - 0.010
Plans - 0.017 - 0.005
Power/Water Hook-ups - 0.016 - 0.005
Exterior Paint - 0.015 - 0.016
Finish Plumbing - 0.015 - 0.006
Mantels & Niches - 0.013 - 0.003
ExtTrims,Shutters,Etc - 0.010 - 0.007
Insulation - 0.010 - 0.014
Fireplaces - 0.009 - 0.009
Septic - 0.009 - 0.010
Doors - Ext. - 0.009 - 0.004
Excavation&Backfill - 0.007 - 0.008
Well - 0.007 - 0.000
Drainage - 0.007 - 0.008
Lighting Fixtures - 0.007 - 0.003
Roads - 0.006 - 0.000
Plumbing - Rough - 0.006 - 0.013
Landscaping - 0.006 - 0.000
Finish Electric - 0.006 - 0.006
Garage Doors/Motors - 0.006 - 0.006
Land Prep - 0.005 - 0.008
Permits - 0.005 - 0.004
Shower Doors - 0.003 - 0.002
Mirrors/Shower Accessories - 0.003 - 0.003
Rentals & Boom Truck - 0.003 - 0.003
Electric Service - 0.002 - 0.002
Clean-up - 0.002 - 0.002
Solatubes - 0.002 - 0.001
Sanikan Rental - 0.001 - 0.001
Driveways & Walks - 0.000 - 0.016
Patio - 0.000 - 0.000
Window coverings - 0.000 - 0.005

I should mention that we gave a $0.00 to the last three items listed above because we decided to put them in the "do it later" category. The builder estimated $0.00 for some things he didn't expect to be involved in or which we'd already done.

Again, let me stress how variable these costs will be from person to person. All my numbers are good for is "historical" information on our own experience, and possibly the roughest of yardsticks for someone else. (I.e., it's likely that most folks will spend more on framing than on shower doors.)

If this helps anyone, I'm glad. :-) I know I've certainly benefitted from information shared by others on this list!


Good- put in my own spreadsheet!
clipped on: 08.15.2007 at 07:30 pm    last updated on: 08.15.2007 at 07:31 pm