This week we have an interview that I did with Ben-Adam Smith for his podcast House Planning Help. We talked about building in the United States versus building in the United Kingdom.
Before we get to that, let me first thank Ankur81 for an amazing iTunes 5 star rating and review. I can tell you put a lot of thought into that review, Ankur81, so thank you. It says, in part, “Great Podcast. This should be the first thing any homeowner who wants to build a house should listen to before they do anything else.” Wow, thank you for writing that, and thank you for writing it so that all of iTunes can see it. That helps iTunes and potential listeners know that you find this podcast helpful, and that helps with our reputation and ranking. It also gets me a little closer to my goal of getting 100 5 star ratings. Good karma is headed your way, Ankur81.
Ok, let’s move on to the interview that I did with Ben Adam-Smith for the House Planning Help Podcast. Here’s a summary of what we talked about. You can listen to the interview on the podcast player located at the top of the page.
I informed Ben’s audience that I’ve been producing the Build Your House Yourself University podcast since the beginning of 2016. I see the BYHYU podcast and community as a big study group, where I lead the lessons in the basics of residential design and construction, but where I am a student too.
I decided to teach with podcasts, as opposed to just written posts, because podcasts are a great medium for learning while multitasking. I love that people can learn while doing chores, working out or walking the dog.
I used to dream of building a house in the countryside with lots of acreage— that is, until I spent a few months actually living in a rural area. Then I realized that I prefer living closer to stores, restaurants and my job. In contrast to where Ben lives, I live in the suburbs where there is plenty of land from which to choose.
One of the most helpful things that I have learned in my research is that a home can be rated for its energy efficiency with the Home Energy Rating System (HERS). Independent HERS companies test your home for efficiency and air tightness during construction. There are different targets available, so depending on your budget and your the level of energy efficiency that you want to achieve, HERS can help determine which type of insulation, HVAC system, windows, etc. are best for your home.
Another great find that I’ve made along the way is the company Simpson Strong-Tie. They sell metal bolts, ties, and fasteners to connect the roof to the wall studs, the wall studs to the flooring, and the flooring to the foundations. This is called a continuous load path. This is especially important in storm-prone areas of the US. The continuous load path strengthens the house so it’s less likely to be damaged by high winds.
Ben asked me to name 3 things that are great about the US housing industry:
1. The US has plenty of land available (in contrast to many parts of the UK).
2. The US is has numerous, diverse building materials and suppliers available.
3. Homeowners who have built custom homes are open and happy to their share ideas and experiences, whether in person or on the internet.
Ben then talked about the 3 things that are great about the UK housing industry:
1. Great diversity in projects, especially self build projects.
2. The UK has many people doing innovative, problem solving work.
3. Self builders in the UK are also very open to sharing.
Next, we talked about 3 challenges within the US housing industry:
1. The self build movement in the US is not very popular. And while homeowners are generally very open to sharing information, builders and general contractors are not. In the UK, on the other hand, Ben says that people within the building industry are generally very helpful and willing to share their expertise.
2. Subcontractors are less likely to prioritize owner-builder projects when compared to projects done by GCs. Sometimes owner-builder projects get put on hold while subs go and do work for general contractors.
3. Owner builders may have difficulty getting financing. But banks tend to be more open to lending to owner builders if someone with building experience is hired as a site manager.
3 Challenges within the UK building industry:
1. Ben says that almost all house building in the UK is driven by profit, so you don’t always get quality results.
2. There is no easy, straight forward way to learn to self build for the first time.
3. Ben says that it sometimes seems that building a home in the UK is only for the wealthy. The more money you have, the easier the journey will be.
That’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed that intertview. Join me next week for episode 50 of Build Your House Yourself University— BYHYU. And take a peek at our Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/BYHYU/.