Never underestimate the importance of building the right house for you and for your site. Many times, homeowners and builders alike select “tried and true” stock plans, believing them to be a safe investment. However, if using those plans results in an unintentional view of the neighbor’s HVAC unit from the family room, or a kitchen that feels disconnected from the rest of the home, the money saved by using “safe” plans goes out the window—literally.
Thirty years ago when Tim Anderson broke ground on an A-Frame at the county line, he had no way of knowing that the sportsman’s hideaway he envisioned would become an entirely different adventure. Tim met his wife Kim, and in time they became parents.
The bachelor pad, turned family home was cozy and private, but as the years passed, the Anderson’s decided to make more room. They added a large combination living, kitchen, and dining area across the back, almost doubling the size of the main level.
The crawl space is not an area where many homeowners dare to venture. It is often dark, damp and cold—uninviting, to say the least. Unfortunately, this seldom-visited underbelly of the home can reduce the indoor air quality of the living areas above, causing moisture-related problems to the structure of the home and increase utility costs.
“We are retired and would like to remodel our home to make it comfortable for us in our retirement years. What should we look for?”
This is an interesting question and one that many will be considering soon. By 2020, the number of Americans age 50+ is expected to reach nearly 120 million, according to U.S. Census Bureau projections. And with a majority of them interested in living in their own homes for as long as possible—Houzz’s recent Aging-in-Place report found that 61% of respondents 55 or over planned to stay in their homes indefinitely.
Ask builders what causes most construction delays and the answer will likely be a
toss-up between weather and homeowner selections. While no builder has control of the weather, the best professionals have a tried-and-true selection process that they’ve spent countless hours perfecting.
I know what you’re thinking… Selections? How hard can that be? Why spend so much time constructing a bullet proof selection process? We already know what we want. Right?
“We have recently noticed a green board on the exterior of some homes under construction. Would you explain the purpose of this new product?”
Most likely, you have seen a type of WRG (water-resistive barrier). But before I put my building geek hat on, allow me to back up and explain what a WRB is and why we need one in the first place.
No matter how carefully it is applied, siding, brick, stucco, or other siding is likely going to leak at some point in its service life. The layer beneath the siding-the water-resistive barrier, or WRB-is what will protect the wood framing in your home from rot and mold when water sneaks in through the exterior cladding.
Kitchen lighting is an often-misunderstood part of the building or remodeling experience. While there’s no doubt that kitchens have evolved into central entertainment and gathering centers, we sometimes forget that kitchens still have very specific functional purposes. Given that we are often slicing and dicing or working with hot cooking vessels, proper lighting is essential in various spaces throughout the room.
Newly completed homes seemingly all look the same. The fresh paint and sparkling finishes are remarkably attractive. While they may all look the same in the beginning, homes – just like people – can have beauty that is only skin deep. Poor construction methods can cause homes to begin a rot/decay process far too soon, while others last for many decades or even centuries.
I have written many articles over the years about the importance of proper building techniques and moisture-prevention methods that stand the test of time, but today we want to focus on the mechanics of wood decay in a bit more detail and hopefully shed light on the “why” behind wood rot in homes.
“We have heard that changes made after the construction project begins can be costly, but we don’t understand why. Would you help us better understand the costs associated with change orders?”
Even small changes made after work begins can have surprising effects on the budget. Here’s why.
Minimizing change orders is one of the most effective things homeowners can do to control costs. The reason is that seemingly small changes can have cost impacts beyond the builder’s control—costs that ultimately are borne by the customer.
There is more to the exterior design of a home than just a pretty façade. In resilient, comfortable, high-performance residential projects, design of the building envelope is the homes – and its occupants- primary defense against unnecessary moisture and comfort related failures.
Given the issues of building resilience, durability, design, and client comfort, some builders are leaning on new performance standards to create high-performance home exteriors. It all starts with understanding a few important principles.
“We just want a small remodel project, do we still need to invest in design?”
This is a great question that has been asked many times over. After pondering whether design is necessary for hundreds of projects over 30-plus years, my answer always seems to be the same. Good design does not guarantee success, but bad or no design does guarantee failure.
Before COVID-19, homeowners had wanted to transform bland yards into practical extensions of their homes. But like many other home trends, the pandemic accelerated the desire for seamless, functional and beautiful outdoor living spaces as people followed stay-at-home orders and had more time to invest in creating their own backyard escapes.
Today, people are committing larger budgets for a comprehensive outdoor experience that caters to cooking, entertaining and everyday living.
“We are shopping for quartz countertops for our new home. We have seen countertops online that appear thin and sometimes unattractive, while others are much thicker and more attractive. Why is there a difference, and how can we get the thicker countertops?”
This is a great question that I encounter frequently. Most assume these “thicker” countertops result from thicker granite or quartz slabs, but Interestingly, there are essentially only two countertop thicknesses sold in this region. So how do some companies market thicker countertops?
I find that homeowners prefer to take plenty of time researching their kitchen appliance selections, so it’s never too early to begin the process. Additionally, many of them want some advice when making the final choices.
Once the process has begun, the sheer number of models to choose from can feel overwhelming. Appliance manufacturers offer styles and features for every taste and lifestyle, and they update those models about as often as car makers do. So, narrowing the choices can be a challenge.
Everyone is incredibly busy these days. And with so much work to be done, how do we deal with the added burden of supply chain disruptions and labor shortages?
Building or remodeling has always been a remarkably complicated process, with hundreds of moving parts interacting at any given time. While some made-for-TV shows seem to make it look effortless, building or remodeling is a highly technical process involving critical-path scheduling, accurate specifications, technical drawings and highly specialized software and staff. If we add supply chain disruptions to the mix, it’s easy to see why so many projects have become severely delayed.
“We recently encountered a competitor to Hardie Plank called LP SmartSiding. Would you help us understand how LP SmartSiding compares to Hardie Plank?”
The most common installation for both products is lap siding installed as individual planks. When compared to vinyl siding, these products will have a traditional wide plank look with sleek straight lines we’ve come to expect with traditional wood siding without wood siding maintenance.
Custom-tiled showers are a sizable investment and should last the lifetime of
your home. Unfortunately, if you tear out shower tile as often as I do, you’ll find a host of catastrophes, including horrifying mildew and mold growth as well as failed framing – rotted through after long-term exposure to water.
The culprit often is misunderstood building science in a tile shower system. From a construction perspective, the function of a shower is to protect the wood structure of the home by capturing water and directing it into the plumbing system.
What started as a small water leak under the refrigerator ended up being a dream home remodel for Casey and Cheryl Hixson. Although the Hixsons’ house, which was built in 1959, had been through a facelift by the previous owner, this was the first full-scale remodel. “We had talked about it several times in the past, but this was a good time to do it,” said Cheryl.
As is the case with many older houses, one thing leads to another when it comes to repairs. “When they took the floor up under the refrigerator, they discovered asbestos, which then required all of the floors on one whole side of the house to be removed,” said Cheryl. “And we decided that since we were doing that, we were just going to go right ahead and make our dream house.”
With today’s rapid-growth forestry products and cookie cutter blueprints, it is important to remember that the family home is meant to last for more than a single generation.
And this is definitely a place where size does not matter. From the Thanksgiving turkey, to holiday parties, and ordinary occasions—even tiny homes have unlimited space to hold new memories.