Clippings by meldy_nva
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RE: exterior sheathing (Follow-Up #3)
Check comments on past thread.
I'm inclined to DOW SIS or XPS backed by OSB on my next personal home. ZIP is not available in my area.
Interestingly, I am seeing in-fill custom builders here and there eschewing housewrap altogether and just using felt under brick. In a Fine Homes article in 2006, Paul Fisette, director of building materials and wood technology at the University of Massachusetts, says he would build his own home that way.
As a small builder, I find carpenters (who apply the housewrap) have only a vague idea about proper application. And no matter what you tell them, you go off-site and they put it on like they've done in their last project--slap dash in bits and pieces and left flapping in the wind.
Unless housewrap is a requirement of the architect/designer, I'll never use it again, except where it is Code required.
<none>clipped on: 03.20.2009 at 02:51 pm last updated on: 03.20.2009 at 02:51 pm
RE: No house wrap? HELP (Follow-Up #6)
Good grief. I try to stay away from this forum so I can close those chapters of my life but it keeps drawing me back from time to time. I lived a homebuilding nightmare, lawsuits, mold, rot, etc. that consumed my life for years.
Tell your builder to pull the windows and do the job right. A bunch of half baked solutions is not going to lead to a well built house. It rains in Ohio. You NEED a well done drainage plane - housewrap (or #30 felt) integrated with flashing at ALL exterior penetrations (windows, doors, hose bibs, electrical outlets, light fixtures, dryer vents, etc.)
Here is some information to get you started:
Fine Homebuilding - Rain Screen Wall Article - http://www.taunton.com/finehomebuilding/how-to/articles/siding-with-rain-screen-walls.aspx?ac=ts&ra=fp
ASTM Standard for Door, Window and Skylight installation - http://www.astm.org/Standards/E2112.htm
Grace website (flashing manufacturer with good information) - http://www.graceathome.com/
Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings (what happens to innocent home buyers when builders don't know how to build a house) - http://www.hadd.com/
Read all of this stuff and decide for yourself if you want your builder to just slap up the siding without housewrap (and without flashing I assume).
I knew this economy would hurt builders but I was hopeful that only the good would survive. Seems the sleaziest are finding a way to thrive too.
Here is a link to one of the best resources out there (thank you SO much Rollie).
Here is a link that might be useful: Rollie's website about Delores' House
<none>clipped on: 02.12.2009 at 12:21 pm last updated on: 02.12.2009 at 12:21 pm
RE: Thermal Bridging (Follow-Up #2)
the thermal bridging will be reduced if you use a 1" closed cell foam board to the exterior.
a lot of homes exterior walls are solid sheeted plywood corners with 1/2" closed cell foam board and the rest of the wall is 1" foam board.
You can use a foil faced sheathing board and install furring strips for the hardi.The foil will reflect heat out
of walls since you will have an air space created by the furring strips.
if all seams are taped with the proper tape, windows and doors are properly flashed, and all penetrations are sealed
plywood solid sheeting placed on interior of wall will give you the same strenght as exterior sheathing to the
make sure that you are getting the full 5.5 of foam insulation in the walls. They should overfill the wall cavities and shave it back.
where in south La are you building?
<none>clipped on: 01.23.2009 at 12:36 pm last updated on: 01.23.2009 at 12:36 pm
RE: Wheathershield or Andersen? (Follow-Up #2)
Assuming you are talking about double-hungs and the tilt-wash instead of the narrowline Andersen 200, neither of these windows is a true vinyl clad wood window.
The Andersen has a vinyl clad plywood frame with a wood sash painted with a tough polyurethane paint. The Weather Shield ProShield is a vinyl window with some interior wood trim. The appearance of both is poor especially the smaller upper glass size in the ProShield model and the glass stop in the Andersen. I don't believe either one offers an applied muntin/grille or a sill that can be waterproofed without adding a subsill (not that there are many clad window that do).
I would be looking at all-wood windows or the Andersen fibrex or the Marvin fiberglass windows instead of these developer/builder grade hybrids.
<none>clipped on: 12.01.2008 at 02:44 pm last updated on: 12.01.2008 at 02:45 pm
RE: help understanding windows - what's the best? (Follow-Up #5)
You may want to look at thermally-broken aluminum windows. These are mostly on the scale of light to regular commercial grades and (unfortunately) their pricing reflects that. They have a gasket between the interior and exterior portions of the frames to insulate the two halves from heat-transfer. Other advantages are zero-maintenance and fire-resistance. We used Fleetwood, but you may wish to do some research and see what is available in your area.
Here is a link that might be useful: Fleetwood Windows
<none>clipped on: 11.26.2008 at 07:37 am last updated on: 11.26.2008 at 07:39 am
RE: Liquid vs Sheet Applied Vapor Permeable Air Barrier Membrane (Follow-Up #1)
These are the ones I am familiar with:
1. Perm-A-Barrier VP Â® Air/Vapor Barrier fluid applied synthetic latex rubber membrane as manufactured by Grace Construction Products.
2. Air Bloc 31 as manufactured by Henry Company Inc., Cold Stream Road, Kimberton, PA 19442.
3. Sto Guard Assembly: manufactured by Sto Corp., Camp Creek Pkwy, Atlanta, GA 30331
4. PROSOCO R-GUARD Assembly: provided by PROSOCO, Inc., 3741 Greenway Circle, Lawrence, Kansas 66046.
I have used the WR Grace product on CMU back up in a brick cavity wall for a college dormitory but I like the STO system for residential construction because it can be applied by anyone with a roller.These products will someday be the only weather/air barriers used in houses when the manufacturers finally decide to actively market them for that use.
Sorry, I don't have any cost data at the moment.
<none>clipped on: 11.10.2008 at 01:23 pm last updated on: 11.10.2008 at 01:23 pm
RE: Mechanical Rooms, Anyone? (Follow-Up #1)
Wait long enough and you may be required to install a sprinkler system (thanks to latest IRC code -- see link in thread started by carova_2008 on Sun, Oct 12, 08 at 13:39).
I used 5/8"-X sheetrock and a mix of 3/4" plywood (not OSB) and unistrut for mounting my radiant heating control board and pipe supports on the walls. Unistrut is usually seen only in commercial construction but is just as useful for residential projects. Running the sheetrock vertically improves fire performance by putting seams along studs (I learned of this after I installed my sheetrock horiz). Finally, use rockwool insulation in the ceiling and wall cavities. I have been involved with fire-rated assemblies in commercial construction and this is the simplest way to go.
Unfortunately, I may never be able to adequately close in my ceiling. I used wood I-joists and had to run a lot of my piping below the joists to avoid too many holes in the joists. I would use 2x4 open web truss joists if I had it to do over again. They cost a little more than I-joists but you save much more by removing the labor of drilling holes for electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc. I also had a P.E. tell me he thought the web trusses held up better in a fire.
Lastly, use fire-rated doors for all entries/exits.
Fire ratings can be complicated -- keep it simple.
<none>clipped on: 10.23.2008 at 06:58 am last updated on: 10.23.2008 at 06:58 am
RE: best energy saving building techniques (Follow-Up #23)
We have climate swings from 105 to -20...in a wildfire zone.
We're using areated autoclaved concrete blocks (AAC), finished with concrete stucco (gigacrete) straight to the block, no interior drywall or exterior screening needed. Then, a metal unvented roof (code required) which is insulated with foam sheeting, the room side is cedar tongue n groove.
The build cost is the same as framing if you can get the transportation cost on the block down by arranging a rail car delivery (far in advance). Building code treats this like regular concrete block, R-value is high.
<none>clipped on: 10.21.2008 at 07:48 am last updated on: 10.21.2008 at 07:49 am
Lemieux exterior doors (pics) (Follow-Up #1)
I recently purchased two Lemieux exterior doors for our new house for the same reason that you stated above...solid mahogany for a great price. The doors are installed and I LOVE them! I had no problem ordering them or having them delivered.
I too was hesitant because the price was so good but, was told by two different door suppliers that although they don't often have customers that order them (probably becasue they aren't widely known in the states) they have never had a problem with them and their customers seem to be very pleased with the quality.
<none>clipped on: 10.10.2008 at 01:26 pm last updated on: 10.10.2008 at 01:27 pm
RE: Wolf or Dacor Range? HEELLLP! (Follow-Up #1)
I spent months and months studying and attending cooking demos on all the high end appliances. After all these and asking lots of people who really do cook/bake. I narrowed down to three (Thermador, Wolf and Miele.) The Wolf was my favorite but I have degenerative disc disease and their range doors and racks were the heaviest and hardest to open and close. I also was not fond on the blue interior. But they are fabulous quality and everyone who had one was so very pleased with them! I do bake and roast often and that bending down and heavy opening would get to me. That left me with the options of a double oven in wall at a good height with easier doors and a pro range top. After attending many demos (in So. Calif. we have several high end stores that have them on weekends) I watched and cooked with Thermador, Miele, Dacor, Viking. In my honest opinion,
the Dacor was the worst and had the most problems. (I have a close friend who has had hers (range) repaired and replaced in lasst 3 years and is still having problems with new one! Thermador had the best Pro style range burners.
The star burners go from Wok cooking (15,000 or 18,000 btu's to super slow simmer where you can melt chocolate on a paper plate on the burner and it melts without scorching paper! I also liked that you could pick your burner arrangement ( 6 burners, titanium griddle (lifts out and goes in dishwasher) some have to be hand-scrubbed on the range or you can have a grill or more burners! The viking was nice too but did not have all the functions of the thermador. I purchased the Thermador 6 burner stainless Pro style range top with titanium griddle and I absolutely
love it! I purchased the Miele Master Chef double ovens with convection. I love them too! I bake almost daily and I can't believe how awesome everything turns out.
I even use the proofing feature to proof bread and make
my own yogurt! They clean so well too! and are easy to open and close (much lighter than the Wolf ones) but very sturdy. I can bake 6 trays of cookies (large sheets) at one time! I have had them over a year now and am even more pleased than ever! Everyone has different cooking styles and every family has unique needs. I cook for almost 30 people at holidays and birthday (just immediate family!)
and I find my 6 burner and griddle and 3 ovens. I also have a KA ultima speed cook/micro/convection is a great combo for large parties. I also recommend a pot filler!
I use mine several times a day and just love it!
Happy kitchen shopping! I spent a year and a half studying and visiting cooking showrooms before I designed my kitchen, so, I would be happy to try to help in any way!
<none>clipped on: 10.10.2008 at 07:19 am last updated on: 10.10.2008 at 07:19 am
RE: Charity Work Needed - Help Dizzy Blonde Bid (Follow-Up #4)
The design drawings will show the physical layout, dimensions, and materials to be used in the project in scaled plans, sections, elevations and details. They should also contain structural framing plans & details, window & door schedules, a finish schedule, and a schedule of any equipment or materials the owner will supply for the contractor to install. More detailed information (kind of sheathing, concrete strength, fixtures, hardware, finish materials, etc.) would be listed in the Specifications which can be written on the drawings or in a separate document.
When elements of the design are not known at the time of bidding, they are sometimes included as an Allowance. This is just a price that you set for that element so that it can be included in the contract price and all bidders can use the same value for it. Later when the element is specified, the contract price is adjusted up or down by Change Order. If you use this method it is wise to set the quantity if possible and only use the allowance for the materials, not labor. Be sure to include a clause in the contract allowing you to choose the supplier of any allowance and for you to opt to supply the element and get a full credit from the contract price. Also negotiate the contractor's mark-up for increases in allowance amounts.
Removable appliances are usually bought by the owner and installed by the contractor in order to avoid unnecessary mark-ups.
Since the contract documentation will usually include more than printed drawings, it is best to refer to them as the "design documents" or "contract documents" rather than "blueprints", the long obsolete term for drawings reproduced with the white on blue "cyanotype" process. Bid drawings, written specifications, and other instructions will all become part of the contract and should be carefully prepared and described in the contract in order to avoid misunderstandings and disputes later.
<none>clipped on: 09.23.2008 at 01:44 pm last updated on: 09.23.2008 at 01:44 pm
RE: Macadamia Nichiha Shake Photos (Follow-Up #20)
It's a beautiful house but I feel I should once again warn everyone about the use of "picture frame" trim below the window sills even though it is too late to do much about it.
A properly detailed window sill should extend over the siding and form a drip. Modern clad windows often omit this detail in order to make it easier to fabricate and ship their windows. That means it is necessary to add a "sub sill" below the window to form this drip feature.
When a flat trim board is installed below the window, water that runs over the sill will attempt to enter the cladding at the caulked joint. When this joint eventually fails (if it was caulked properly in the first place) water will be drawn into the wall system by capillary action.
The only way to avoid the problem without adding a sub sill is to bring the bottom of the sill flashing out between the first and second courses of shingles so only one course is exposed to potential water damage.
My first experience with this problem was 30 years ago at the large Spinnaker Island condominium development in Hull, MA. Andersen, the architect, and the builder kept blaming the water leaks below the window sills on each other. Removal of the trim and siding proved that the sealant joint between the sill and the picture frame trim had been installed tight without a foam backer rod and had begun to fail within weeks of installation.
I would not rely even on properly installed sealant to waterproof any horizontal joint. It should be considered nothing more than a cosmetic joint filler.
<none>clipped on: 09.12.2008 at 03:28 pm last updated on: 09.12.2008 at 03:28 pm
RE: Structural Garage Floors (Follow-Up #4)
John, I am in the midst of a project just as you describe. Mightyanvil described two options. A third is a product called "Lite Deck" which is similiar to ICF. The forms are foam and have to have to be braced for 21 days while the concrete topper cures. It was estimated at $20 per sqft by company out of Ohio.
I went the prestressed plank route. I didn't want to pay the litedeck price and I didn't want to deal with steel and posts in the basement. With concrete planks I could span the 24 ft depth of the garage. The planks themselves cost $10 per sq ft with tax and trucking. To that you have to add the extra cost of additional foundation work and the floor slab below as well as crane time to set them. The plans then have to be topped with 2 inches of concrete minumum. I haven't gotten that far yet. My walls needed to be 8 inch ICF to bear all the weight of the floor and the gargage loads. The planks are 6000 pounds each.
This was a non-trivial decision but made lot of sense in my case due to my site grade.
You mention three lower level garage doors. The one garage door I put in was the biggest issue for my floor system. There is a great deal of weight which needs to be carried across that header. We ended up with six #7 rebars and had to keep the door height to seven feet to allow two feet of concrete over the opening. When we frame the garage we are going to header over that opening in the wall above so that the roof loads are carried on the solid foundation and not that opening. A structural engineer is definitely a requirement.
You may also run into a some issues trying to deal with the prestressed concrete folks. Some don't respond to residential inquiries. I found my supplier via the Prestressed Concrete Institute website (www.pci.org). I used Nitterhouse Concrete Products in PA and they were an absolute joy to work with. There were closer companies but most didn't want to bother with my little 24x40 ft job.
This one shows the planks from the side. There is one more course of ICF blocks that went on after the planks were set. It forms the curb and locks the planks to the walls. You can also see long rebar rods stick up from the wall. Those get bent into the joint between the planks and get grouted in to tie the floors to the walls.
I was planning on writing this up once I finished the entire garage as I hadn't seen anyone on Gardenweb discussing this before. At this point I'm in a weather hold waiting for a good chance to pour more concrete. Hopefully that will happen before my carpenter becomes available.
<none>clipped on: 09.09.2008 at 08:45 am last updated on: 09.09.2008 at 08:45 am
RE: Structural Garage Floors (Follow-Up #2)
Such a slab is called a "structural slab" instead of a "slab-on-grade".
The poured concrete on metal decking is called a composite system because steel studs are electrically welded to the top of the steel beams through the ribbed metal decking. When the concrete is poured it acts in a composite manner making the beams stronger. The ribbing of the metal decking allows the least amount of concrete to be used and it has deformations along the ribs to help the two materials act together structurally. There is no more efficient or lighter weight system possible that meets the code requirement for a concrete floor in a garage.
The metal decking usually doesn't span much more than about 10 feet so there would need to be at least one intermediate beam under a 2-car garage floor. However, that steel beam could be designed to be deep enough to span the entire garage width but at considerable additional cost.
The kind of pre-cast concrete planks that are extruded with round cores running lengthwise will also span across a similar steel frame but they have to be about twice as thick and add quite a bit to the weight of the structure. I can't think of a benefit to this option except perhaps achieving a fire-resistance rating without having to spray fire-protection on the bottom of the deck but the composite concrete and metal deck garage floors I have designed were thick enough to achieve the required rating without spray-on protection. Columns and beams are usually required to have two layers of fire-resistance rated gypsum board. Precast concrete that can span the entire garage would have a single or double T shape and take up a lot of headroom below.
Some jurisdictions restrict the use of a space below a garage because of the potential for combustibles collecting in a lower enclosed space. For code compliance it would be a good idea to involve an architect unless the builder or engineer have already worked these issues out with the local building officials.
I would not consider the space created to be cheap. It would cost considerably more than $10/s.f.
<none>clipped on: 09.09.2008 at 08:44 am last updated on: 09.09.2008 at 08:44 am
furthermore (Follow-Up #10)
Manufacturers like STO offer a higher grade EIFS system for commercial projects that is rarely used for homes perhaps because home builders don't look far beyond conventional systems.
STO makes a liquid-applied vapor permeable weather/air barrier that is applied to the sheathing. It covers joints and wraps into openings which are reinforced with mesh tape. It's called GoldCoat and can be applied by sprayer or roller by anyone.
Huber makes a similar system but the sheathing is coated in the factory and the joints are sealed with tape in the field.
WR Grace makes a fluid-applied permeable air barrier called
I would use one of these systems with StuccoWrap for any form of stucco.
Here is a link that might be useful: GoldCoat
<none>clipped on: 08.18.2008 at 12:51 pm last updated on: 08.18.2008 at 12:51 pm
RE: stucco - I need some help (Follow-Up #8)
In a real cement-based stucco system, the underlaymnet/weather barrier/air barrier that is placed over the sheathing should be a double layer so it can work properly as a drainage plane.
DuPont's StuccoWrap (wrinkled Tyvek) or DrainWrap (same product marketed for siding) with a cheap micro-perforated housewrap over it or two layers of building paper/felt should work fine.
Stucco did not stick to the old building felt made with cotton rag and high grade asphalt and because it wrinkled during installation it provided a drainage plane. Unfortunately, the stucco will stick to any modern single layer.
There have a lot of problems (especially in the Northwest) with single layer underlayments combined with poor window flashing and lack of kick-out flashing. (Contractors willing to use one layer of underlayment often also omit other waterproofing as well) A double layer of underlayment is now required by many states or local communities.
Here is a link that might be useful: stucco problems
<none>clipped on: 08.18.2008 at 12:49 pm last updated on: 08.18.2008 at 12:50 pm
RE: Huber Zip system vs Normal Sheathing/Tyvek (Follow-Up #2)
Vapor permeable acrylic coatings are the future of weather/air barriers because there is no space for moisture to collect like there is with a plastic wrap. The disadvantage of this system is the joints. I wold ask Huber if there is a primer for the tape.
If you like this idea the ultimate version of it is a liquid applied system like STO GoldCoat because it wraps into the openings and covers the reinforcing mesh at the sheathing joints and it has been used for a much longer time. Unfortunately few home builders are familiar with it unless they also do commercial work.
<none>clipped on: 08.18.2008 at 10:46 am last updated on: 08.18.2008 at 10:46 am
RE: Review of plans and finishese (Follow-Up #18)
sorry I am late to the party here - i just stumbled onto this thread. I live in N VA and just finished a custom build - starting with a set of on-line plans. Here are a few things i learned:
1) The local code can be very different that the code where the architect who drew those plans is located. In my case, the architect was well known in Texas - but if I tried to build to that exact plan I would have had problems. The live and dead loads are very different in regions where you get snow - just as one example. In Texas they don’t normally do basements - we wanted one. That drove a lot of structural changes. Not very high in cost - but something that had to be done. Unless you are lucky enough to be in the same area where that the on-line plan was made for - you will need someone to make the mods. The cost for this should not be excessive if the mods are minor.
2) Before you purchase the plans, make sure you speak with the designer first. Most of these on-line sites are just store fronts. You should find out if the person who drew them is a licensed architect (and who it is - then you can search about them for them on-line). Also find out what plans are included in the set - is it just a floor plan or does it have roofing, framing, foundation, elevations, electrical, plans etc.). You want detailed plans - and ones that have been used before in a real build (they should have pictures they can show you). You can also typically buy a review set of these plans for a smaller fee which will be applied to the total cost when you purchase the final plans. I recommend getting those first.
3) Even though a plan may look great and have all the detail, you can't assume that you can build the house within some cost per square foot or other ball park estimate. One of the biggest mods our architect made to our plan was the roof. Our builder studied the roof design and told us that it would significantly drive up the cost of the home. We were changing the outside elevation anyway, so re-doing the roofline and pitch was fine with us. When the architect re-designed the roof, he actually gave us more square footage on the second floor so that we could add another bathroom - a nice bonus.
3) I would not assume that you can’t afford an architect or architecture services . And I also don’t think it has to cost 10% of the house. We made a lot of changes to our plan and it cost $15K, around 2% of the total cost. It was worth every penny.
4) When you start looking for an architect don’t get discouraged. I ran into a lot of pompous pre-Madonna’s who tried to feed me a load of crap on what I needed to do to the plan and it was going to cost me out the wazoo. Be prepared when you deal with this species . But if you look hard enough, you can find what you need.
5) We found are architect through our builder - someone who he has worked with extensively. If you use a custom builder, you might want to see if they can provide the design services you need. In the end it helps you both because you know that the plan is done to code.
<none>clipped on: 08.15.2008 at 09:28 am last updated on: 08.15.2008 at 09:28 am
RE: Solar Thermal (Follow-Up #1)
not from NY but I have Heliodyne brand flat collectors and am very happy with them, they are know as the cadilac of solar collectors. Some people say the evacuated tubes are better but Home Power magazine a few moths ago they tested many makes and models of collectors and the data said flat panels are a little better and usually cheaper.
Go to your library and check out lots of old copies of home power
also to to builditsolar.com as Gary has put toether a great site with lots of info
Here is a link that might be useful: build it solar
<none>clipped on: 08.14.2008 at 11:14 am last updated on: 08.14.2008 at 11:14 am
also (Follow-Up #7)
If it is the moisture resistant gypsum wall board made for use in interior damp areas and sometimes called "greenboard", it is not acceptable for use on the exterior of a building by any recognized standard.
If you wish to use a gypsum sheathing product many manufacturers make a board specifically designed for use as exterior sheathing. When it has a paper face it is usually dark gray/brown. It is supposed to be water resistant but if you put a sample of it in a bucket of water it will turn to mush so the edges must be very well protected from moisture. All gaps should be sealed before any underlayment or housewrap is installed.
A far better material is DensGlass Gold by Georgia-Pacific which has a yellow fiberglass mat instead of a paper face.
Who was responsible for designing the exterior wall system?
<none>clipped on: 08.14.2008 at 07:54 am last updated on: 08.14.2008 at 07:54 am
RE: Are these windows mulled, individaully installed, custom orde (Follow-Up #7)
The short answer is to trim them in the field.
But it depends on the window you want and how authentic you want to emulate the traditional/historic windows shown in most of your examples.
Typical clad windows that are shipped without trim (nail-fin windows) aren't really "mulled" in the old fashioned way; they are attached either tight together or 1 1/2" apart (for a single stud) and a plastic or metal cap is installed to cover the joint. Unfortunately, the cap doesn't make the joint look like a traditional ganged window assembly. Traditional double-hung windows had weight pockets that forced them to be farther apart than modern windows even when there was no structure between the windows. Even before sash pockets, windows in masonry structures had stucture between them and even Palladio's windows usually had columns between the main window and the flanking windows. You don't need to copy the original design perfectly but when something has become so much a part of architecture for so many centuries you should deviate from it with care and respect. Otherwise, you should design something more original.
To make it look authentic you can either order clad nail-fin windows separately and trim them in the field or you can order wood framed windows (with optional metal clad sash) with any authentic mulled spacing you like and the full trim will be installed in the factory. (Marvin is good at this).
For the clad windows it is important to add a sill nosing (usually PVC-see the ATW link) because so few window manufacturers provide a sill that projects or slopes or is deep enough to look right (or keep water out of the siding below). Adding a sub sill also provides the "sill horns" that extend under the jamb trim in a traditional window.
Some aluminum clad window manufacturers will apply an aluminum trim with the appropriate width between windows at the facotry but they are very expensive.
Here is a link that might be useful: ATW trim
<none>clipped on: 08.11.2008 at 07:57 am last updated on: 08.12.2008 at 09:16 am
RE: design software (Follow-Up #6)
Home design software should meet several criteria if is going to be useful without providing a hair pulling experience. Besides giving the user the ability to draw two dimensional room layouts, it should provide 3D visualization. Architects are trained to visualize inhabitable space from flat two dimensional drawings. Most of the rest of us have a hard time doing that. For us, the software provides that functionality.
Quality consumer home design software is descended from professional architectural design software. Architects and other design professionals pay thousands of dollars for these programs that provide CAD with 3D visualization. Some of the manufacturers of these programs offer stripped down versions for consumers. Generally speaking, these consumer versions are every bit as accurate as the professional versions, but lack some or many of the features of their big brothers. They tend to be well documented, because the professionals demand it. It is easy and relatively inexpensive to edit existing documentation versus writing it from scratch.
The word professional needs to be put in context here. It is a marketing term, and it often abused. Just because a piece of software is labled professional doesn't make it so. However it does usually make it more expensive. :-)
Other manufacturers of consumer home design software offer a product that has no roots in professional architectural softare, and it usually shows. In my opinion, these products tend to be cobbled together 3D visualization programs without any real CAD underlayment. As a result they suffer in both accuracy and ease of use. They also tend to be particularly lacking in documentation.
The marketing of both types of consumer home design software is shameless. The manufacturers put out multiple versions of what is essentially the same thing with confusing claims as to what can be done with the product. Each version is hobbled in some way in comparison to those versions that cost more. The consumer doesn't find out exactly how the program was crippled until he or she discovers what it won't do, not what it will do.
The best bet is to select a product from one of the companies that make genuine architectural design software. There are at least two of them, perhaps more. Buy the most expensive version you can afford. It will be worth it in the long run.
I have listed some of the things I feel are very important for the home user. There are a lot of other features that are nice to have but not essential.
1. It should connect walls automatically. Software that doesn't have this feature tends to be very tedious to use. It will take much longer to produce a drawing, if the user has to postion each and every wall manually.
2. It is essential that it provide accurate dimensions from the correct structural components. It is no good to just say two walls are 12 feet apart. It is necessary to define how the measurements are taken. Are they taken from the outside of the framing, the inside of the framing, the outside of the siding, the interior drywall surface, etc? Good software will let you select and set how dimensions are taken. It will also be obvious to someone viewing the floorplan.
3. It should provide you with the ability to define your own walls. A wall definition describes how many layers the wall has, how thick each individual layer is, and what they are made of. It should handle multiple wall definitions. If you can't properly define wall layers, you will lose accuracy. It is insufficient to simply say a wall is six inches thick or four inches thick, etc.
4. It should handle curved walls. They are not that uncommon.
5. It should build staircases automatically. It should not have fixed staircase dimensions. You should be able to set the rise, run, angle, and width yourself. It should handle multiple landings. It should handle curved staircases.
6. You should be able to position and change existing walls without deleting and redrawing them. You should be able to move walls by specifying their length or relative postion to another wall or any object. If you can't do this, the software will be extremely tedious to use.
7. You should be able to break a wall with a click of the mouse and have separate definitions for differing parts of the wall. This requirement may seem exotic, but its not. For example, this is exactly what is needed to properly draw a wall that starts as an exterior wall, then continues across the back of the garage, where it becomes a fire wall by law.
8. You should be able to join walls of differing thicknesses, end to end, if necessary.
10. There should be a user definable grid that can be turned on or off. There should be a user selectable feature to snap objects to the grid.
11. It should be able to handle all types of foundations. It should not restrict you to predefined slabs, crawl spaces, and basements. You should be able to mix foundation types on the same plan.
12. You should be able to set the floor height of each room independently. There should be a means to have a change in floor height within a room.
13. Floor heights should be set relative to the ground. You should be able to set floor heights to negative values.
14. It should handle multiple unconnected structures in the same plan.
15. You should be able to set the ceiling height of each room individually. It should handle coffered ceilings. It should handles soffits and firdowns.
16. You should be able to select moldings. You should not be confined to a particular style.
17. Roofs are one of the most difficult things to draw. It should automatically generate the roof. All parts of the roof should be manually editable. You should be able to draw a roof manually. It should handle all roof types, not just gable or hip. It should handle mixed roof types, even if they must be manually drawn.
18. There should be specific provisions to draw and edit dormers.
19. It should be capable of handling attic living spaces or story and a half designs.
20. There should be a generous library of windows and doors. These should be of all common types, and they should all be editable for size and position in all directions. It should also be possible to have door frames without doors, and framed openings without casings.
21. The program should be able to display how the sun's rays will strike the house on any given date and time. This is essential to determine how light will affect the interior of the home. To do this, the program must have provisions for inputing the exact latitude and longitude of the home site and the orientation of the structure on the property. This functionality is lacking in many programs.
22. There should be a generous library of kitchen cabinets. These should be editable in industry standard increments in all dimensions.
23. There should be a generous library of furnishings and fixtures. It is essential that furnishings be editable for size, so that you may position furniture symbols in your floor plans that are sized to match your own furniture.
24. There should be multiple 3D views that can be turned and tilted. There should be an overview. There should be a dollhouse view, which allows you to look inside the house without the roof or the floor above in the way. This single feature will provide more insight into how well your design will work than any other.
25. You should be able to take sectional views of the house.
26. The program should support multiple layers. This allows you to control what is printed and what is not. Layers can also be used in difficult editing situations.
27. The program's default setting should be changeable. Virtually every default should be under the user's control. It is essential that the defaults be stored in the drawing's file.
28. There should be complete and thorough documentation. There absolutely should be a tutorial. The lack of a tutorial is a red flag.
Any program that meets all of the above will have many more features, including multiple material selections, import capabilities etc. It certainly will not be the least expensive in any given product line up, but it will be a lot more capable and a lot less frustrating than most.
<none>clipped on: 08.04.2008 at 02:03 pm last updated on: 08.04.2008 at 02:03 pm
RE: Final Walkthrough Checklist Help... (Follow-Up #2)
We are (hopefully) going to be doing this in a few weeks, here is a preliminary list :
- open and closer every window - make sure they move freely and seal
DW will probably:
- check around every piece of molding looking for cracks
That's the list I came up with in 5 minutes drafting this post. There will be others added, I am sure. Our walk through will probably take a FULL day.
Don't laugh - we made the mistake of glossing over things in the last house we bought (not a custom house) - and that was a big mistake. This time we are bringing food and water, our cameras with plenty of batteries, and a very long sheet of paper to document everything. The builder is going to hate us when we are done.
<none>clipped on: 08.04.2008 at 01:59 pm last updated on: 08.04.2008 at 01:59 pm
RE: Foam Insulation Yes or No? (Follow-Up #9)
It is difficult to give a yes or no without knowing what kind of foam and to what other kind of insulation you are comparing it, in what climate, what kind of wall assembly and for what budget. Sure, foam is great...in the right climate and wall assembly but it is always more expensive than the alternatives. Don't try to design your building envelope one piece at a time. Think about it as a total system in a specific environment.
Unfortunately, the last place you will get unbiased information is from an insulation contractor. The aged R-value of 3 1/2 inches of closed cell polyurethane foam is 21. That's quite a bit more than the alternatives but the cost is quite a bit more. You would need to be in an extreme climate to be sure you could pay that investment off in a reasonable time period. If you live in a more moderate climate you would need to do the ROI calculation. Most believe the most cost effective way to get to the R-20 range is with fiberglass or cellulose in a 2x6 wall.
The closed cell foam can also form a vapor barrier and that might not be compatible with your wall system. I have only used the open-cell foam, not for R-value but to avoid venting a roof.
In general, dense pack cellulose seems to be the favorite right now. In a very cold climate a layer of foam insulation board is placed over the sheathing to reduce heat loss through the studs (This is the weak point in foamed 2x4 stud walls) Unfortunately, there is little reliable information on the internet about fiberglass and cellulose insulation; it all comes from poorly disguised industry organizations and it is often exaggerated.
Start with the wall construction/vapor management system appropriate for your climate, consider your budget, and then think about types of insulation.
<none>clipped on: 08.04.2008 at 07:43 am last updated on: 08.04.2008 at 07:43 am
RE: Final Walkthrough Checklist Help... (Follow-Up #4)
A GC that will finish their work willingly is a contradiction in terms.
As to punch lists? Here are a few to consider after the punchlist from...
1) If there are gas appliances, turn them all off including pilots but make sure the gas valves to the appliances are on. Go to the meter and look at the 1/2 or 1/4 pound gauge for 5-10 minutes. If it does not move, there are no gas leaks. How do I know about this trick? When we tried to turn on our hot water heaters (in my opinion, GC did not do it b/c he did not want to pay for the gas usage probably), they had major gas leaks between the valves and the hot water heaters.
2) Turn on all HVAC and make sure they are operating and heating and cooling (actually measure the temp from the vents to be sure)... guess again! Gauges are not necessary, just use the back of the hand, if the air coming from the vent is warmer than room temp, heat is working, if cooler, AC is working.
3) Operate ALL plumbing fixtures to be sure they work, there are no knocks when turning valves on and off and the fixtures are consistent in operation (valves/sink stoppers open the same, etc). Make sure toilets flush and STOP running.
4) All electrical fixtures/outlets operate as expected including all 2/3/4 way switches.
5) make sure any all venting requirement of gas appliances meet manufacturer's specs (not just code). If it does not meet manufacturer's spec, all bets are off. (YEP! guess again)
6) check any special additions to make sure they are consistent with spec's.
7)Inspect all sheetrock seems closely. Look for cracks in butt joints, bed joints and corners.
8) Look closely for nail pops in sheetrock especially in the ceilings where the ceilings meet the walls.
9) Confirm all combustibles are removed from the access/service panels/areas of gas log fireplaces. (Yes..guess again)
10) Make sure gas and electrical service are adequate for your house.
11) Make sure vent hood is actually hooked up and venting to the outside.
12) Make sure GC confirms all gas valves meet code (guess again). They MUSt be accessible without moving the appliance or they will turn off your gas.
13) Check for any leaks if you can get it to rain. It did here finally and we discovered more leaks.
14) make sure all appliances work (includng hot water heaters).
15) Everything in the previous posts (all good points).
16) Try to hold at least 5% on GC for 90 days to be safe. I trusted our GC and he pretty much wrote us off within 2 weeks of paying him in full after a 16 month $1MM project. We have experienced many of the items listed above after payoff!
17) If I think of more, I will let you know.
<none>clipped on: 07.31.2008 at 01:53 pm last updated on: 07.31.2008 at 01:53 pm
RE: Whats the dif between cedar & fir and is this country french? (Follow-Up #10)
Most cracks occur at openings at the upper corners and around corners due to settling as well as the openings being a weak spot in the structure with flexing. Another cause of cracking is not allowing the scratch/brown coats to set and cure for a minimum 30 days before the top coat is applied. During this 30 day period, the scratch coat/brown coat will crack which is normal up to a point where the cracking generally ceases. By waiting for this before applying the top coat, the cracking wont follow through the top coat. Hairline cracking is typical and should be expected on traditional 3-coat stucco, but the cracking is barely visible, you really have to look hard to spot it. Anything more should be addressed. Ask stucco contractors in your area if they are familiar with the acrylic top coat. Traditional top coating has been around for a long time with success, the acrylic is an improvement that lessens cracking because it remains flexible with teperature changes and during settling, around openings,etc. It's almost like having a rubber membrane on your walls topically. Re-inforcement around the opening corners during the lath install wih pieces of rib lath lessen the chance of cracks in those areas.
<none>clipped on: 07.31.2008 at 07:46 am last updated on: 07.31.2008 at 07:46 am
RE: Whats the dif between cedar & fir and is this country french? (Follow-Up #6)
Traditional cementious based scratch coat/brown coat/acrylic top coat, (three coat system), will hold up better than the traditional three coat system that uses a standard top coat. A reliable stucco job is highly dependent on the mix and application, but most important is the lath under it. The use and proper install of a double ply underlayment as well as proper flashing techniques/drainage plane is what makes a succesful moisture free wall cavaty.
<none>clipped on: 07.31.2008 at 07:44 am last updated on: 07.31.2008 at 07:44 am
RE: HurriQuake nails? (Follow-Up #9)
No one said the bolts and ties were not important. These nails are not a replacement, they are an addition. For the very small difference in price between these and regular sheathing nails, they are well worth it. The man who developed them did walk through many direct hits and he knew the destruction could have been mitigated if not prevented.
They are NOT the same as ring shank nails. Read the specs and the reviews.
Living where we do in both a regular hurricane zone and a more rare, but not unheard of earthquake zone, the use of the Hurriquake nails in addition to other precautions was a no brainer.
"Tests conducted by researchers at Florida International University and the International Code Council—the independent building-safety standards organization—confirmed that the HurriQuake has more than twice the "uplift capacity" of standard power-driven nails. Other independent tests showed that the HurriQuake can double a typical home’s resistance to high winds and add up to 50 percent more resistance to earthquakes."
It’s a great article, I recommend reading the whole thing.
Here is a summary of what makes them different from the first link.
"Most wood frame construction fails at the fastening point, which is why a superior nail design is so critical to structural integrity. Two independent laboratory tests concluded that HurriQuake™ withstands uplift forces of over 271 pounds/square foot (depending on nail pattern and shank diameter). In essence, this offers up to twice the resistance to high wind conditions, also referred to as uplift capacity, when compared to standard sheathing nails.
Unlike other sheathing nails, HurriQuake™ has its own exclusive code report (ESR-2020). Because of its performance characteristics, the HurriQuake™ nail exceeds Miami-Dade county code, which is arguably one of the strictest construction codes in the country. As a result, the head of the nail is marked with either an "HQ1" or "HQ2" for easy identification during inspections.
Another enhancement includes a stiffer plastic collation formula that breaks away more effectively as the nail is driven. This reduces "flagging" (the collection of collation material under the nail head) for a cleaner, flush application of the next layer. This helps prevent the squeaky floors that often result from flagging and under-driven nails.
HurriQuake™ touts high-quality carbon steel alloy construction to meet code requirements and exceed a bend yield of 100,000 psi. "The value proposition of this next generation nail is quite compelling." said Dr. Sutt, "The additional cost to use HurriQuake™ nails on an average 2,000 square foot home is less than fifteen dollars. This is a small investment when you consider the fact that it may save thousands of dollars in the long run."
Here is a link that might be useful: Nail info
<none>clipped on: 07.22.2008 at 01:28 pm last updated on: 07.22.2008 at 01:28 pm
Has anyone used these HurriQuake nails? Do they require a special nail gun?
"The HurriQuake nail is a construction nail designed by Ed Sutt for Stanley-Bostitch, a division of Stanley Works, and patented in 2004. The features of the nail are designed primarily to provide more structural integrity for a building, especially against the forces of hurricanes and earthquakes."
"Independent tests of the nail's stretch were conducted by several organizations, including Florida International University, Clemson University, and the International Code Council. Those tests confirmed what the researchers at Bostitch had claimed, that they had created a better nail. Among all of the different tests, it was found that the new nail had twice the "uplift capacity" of other power driven nails, as well as doubling a home's resistance to wind and increasing earthquake resistance by up to 50%."
Some good pictures:
Here is a link that might be useful: Wikipedia article HurriQuake
<none>clipped on: 07.21.2008 at 10:01 am last updated on: 07.21.2008 at 10:01 am
RE: My First Dream Home (Follow-Up #5)
dreamer_2008, The specific laws regarding M&M liens vary considerably from state to state however the general rule is that ANYONE who provides materials or labor for the improvement of real property can file a lien against that property if they don't get paid. The time limits regarding when they can file liens and what proof they have to provide before doing so vary considerably so you should have a brief conversation with a construction lawyer in your state who can guide you on how best to protect yourself. It might cost you $250 to $500 but that is small change compared to what fighting (or clearing up a lien) can cost you.
You are smart to demand lien waivers from every single person you know about but unless you are acting as your own GC, there is no way you can possibly know who everybody is. Your GC should be collecting lien waivers from every person he pays but many builders don't bother. [I know I have to stay on top of my own builder constantly but have made it a matter of principal that I simply will NOT approve any draw until I personally see the lien waivers from every single mechanic (laboror) and/or materialman he claims to have paid up to that point or that he intends to pay with that draw! My builder is very slowly getting better about collecting the waivers because he has learned that if he doesn't then his pay is delayed until he does.
Also, find out from the attorney what the time limit is for people to file liens in you state and whether you have a statutory right (or obligation) under your state's laws to hold back some percentage of the total price from your builder until the time for filing liens is past. Where you have a statutory obligation to withhold a percentage in case a lien if filed, and you fail to do so, you may have no recourse to your builder if it turns out that he has stiffed one of the many many people who provide labor or materials for your build. At the same time, your contract may call for you to pay your builder his final draw with no retainage when you accept possession... even where the law requires you to retain a percentage in case of liens! This puts the homeowner in a bind but an attorney can advise you on how to deal with it and protect yourself.
<none>clipped on: 07.07.2008 at 10:38 am last updated on: 07.07.2008 at 10:38 am