Although I’m not particularly interested in having the very latest gadgets, electronics or technology in my house, one techie element I do want to invest in is fast, reliable internet service. Having high speed internet is nice for those of us who mainly shop online and visit various websites and social media platforms. But a fast internet connection is especially important if you or your family members are gamers or movie or tv buffs who regularly use streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. Or if your household has multiple people using the internet simultaneously. So, in this week’s mini lesson, I’ll tell you about fiber optics internet, the fastest type of internet connection available, and we’ll compare it to the other internet options. But let’s start the show by going over a pro term.
Pro term: Streaming
Since we can often learn from the project of others, in this week’s episode, we’ll be reviewing a modern style, green home with Lake Washington views in the Seattle Washington area. It’s a
2 story house that’s almost 3200 sq ft. There are 4 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms, including a mother-in-law suite. The house has solar panels and is certified by the DOE Zero Energy Ready program, the Northwest Energy Star program and EPA Indoor airPLUS program. And this home costs the homeowners only $21 per year for utilities (not $21 per month, but $21 per year!!).
As we usually do when we cover these highly energy efficient case study homes, let’s go over the climate where the house was built to see how it compares with the climate where you’re building. That will help guide you in figuring out whether certain features used in this case study house can be used for your own project.
For years Fort Worth magazine has teamed up with an area builder and local designers and vendors to build a house highlighting the latest in home design. Called the Dream Home, it’s been a showcase house charity fund raiser that many in and around Dallas, TX look forward to every year.
This year, for the first time, 3 homes were built to be showcased in an event called, not Dream Home, but Dream Street. The 3 luxury showhomes were all on the same street in Southlake, TX, a suburb outside of Dallas. Each house had a different builder and designer, so I knew it would be interesting to see the similarities and differences that showed up in the different houses. Going to these showcase homes often lets us in on what’s up-and-coming and tried-and-true in homebuilding and decor.
My husband and I visited on the very last day of the tours. Some of the most prominent design features were those that I’ve talked about before, and ones that I’ve seen in previous parades of homes. But to me it’s always helpful to know what’s still trending and what has gone by the wayside. So here are some of the design features seen in the Dallas Dream Street Showcase Homes.
A couple of weeks ago, I took a rode trip to the Vesta Parade of Homes in Memphis, TN. As usual, there were several new construction houses in the same neighborhood that were open for tours. There were several changes this year because of COVID. Each visitor was greeted at the front door of each of the houses by a friendly hostess who made sure we were all wearing masks and who encouraged us to use the hand sanitizer they supplied as we entered the house.
I think this was my third year going to the Vesta parade of homes. And it never disappoints. The houses were transitional in style, meaning there was a mix of traditional and contemporary decor. Patterns and colors of furniture, rugs and art leaned just a little more traditional than contemporary, probably because of the southern sensibility of the homes and designers. But materials and fixtures had mostly clean lines and sleek finishes and were similar to what I’ve seen used throughout the country and on design websites and in magazines. Here is the list of design features seen at the Vesta Parade of Homes in Memphis.
Choosing the right hot tub entails more than picking out the prettiest unit that’s within your budget. It’s important to know the basics about a hot tub’s construction, jets, water pump, filtration system, and maintenance in order to choose a spa unit that will be enjoyable and energy efficient. Here is a list of things you should consider before buying a hot tub.
At the end of August, I released episode 212 where we talked about what features to choose if you want a quieter garage door. In that show, we focused mainly on the garage door opener, track and overall apparatus. This week, we’ll focus on the outer shell of the garage door— the material the door is made of, and how it will affect the door’s look, price, durability, and level of maintenance.
Lumber Prices Are Soaring and Appliances Are Backordered Due To COVID, What Should You Do? BYHYU 213
Average lumber prices more than doubled from mid April to late August 2020. Prices moved from a low in April of $348 per thousand board feet to over $900 per thousand board feet in August. This price surge is adding over $16,000 to the price of the average single-family home according to the National Association of HomeBuilders. And it’s adding several tens of thousands of dollars to higher end homes. The extreme increase in lumber prices have be made worse by tariffs of more than 20% on Canadian lumber imported into the U.S. The U.S. typically gets quite a bit of lumber from Canada.
Given these historically high lumber prices, many homeowners and builders are currently wondering if prices are likely to decrease back toward normal; and if so, when? Folks are further questioning whether now is the right time to start a build, or whether waiting is a better option.
We've all heard how loud opening a garage door can be, but what you may not realize is that opening a garage door doesn’t have to be that noisy. There are garage door and garage door opener features you can choose that can make opening your garage door much quieter, which is particularly important for attached garages and garages with rooms above them.
If you’re not sure whether you want an attached or detached garage, you can listen to episode 199 called Pros and Cons of Attached vs Detached Garages. The information in the that show should help you make a decision. This week we’ll also cover when choosing 2 single garage doors is better than choosing one double wide door.
Between having to regularly endure the weight of heavy vehicles and varying outdoor elements such as driving rains, sweltering heat, ice and snow, driveways get lots of use and abuse. Therefore, it’s important that we choose the best driveway surface for our circumstances. There are several options to choose from and each has its pros and cons with respect to durability, maintenance, aesthetics, sustainability and price. Keep in mind, when considering price, you want to be sure to factor in not only the initial cost of your driveway, but also the long-term costs associated with maintenance. You’ll also want to think about how the material will perform your area’s climate. Some driveway materials may be better for your region’s weather conditions than others.
In this mini lesson, we’ll talk about the most commonly used driveway materials on the market, starting with the least expensive option. As we go through the list, you’ll see that the options get progressively more costly.
In the last episode we started discussing how to compromise with our partners when designing and building a house. This week, we’ll complete our list of tips that will help us come through the homebuilding process with a home and relationship that both partners are happy with. Now remember, not every suggestion will work in every single situation, but you should be able to find at least one or two tips on the list that will help you come to a compromise for almost every disagreement.
As a reminder, here the first 7 tips on our list:
1. Don’t take your partner’s difference of opinion as a personal attack.
2. Follow the 80:20 rule.
3. Think of the problem as your adversary, not your partner.
4. Pick your battles.
5. Be careful when compromising about the budget.
6. Make a list, and check it twice.
7. Allow for 3-5 vetos each.
Alright, let’s finish up our list of tips on how to more easily compromise with our partners during the homebuilding journey.
8. Make sure you’re sometimes home-free.
Building and decorating a house should be, and can be, a really happy time in your life. But it can also be a time of stress. One of major sources of stress can come from having to make a number of decisions that both you and your partner have to agree upon. How do you design and decorate a home when you and your significant other have completely different styles? Even when people have very similar tastes, there will inevitably be some areas where one person’s first choice is different than their partner’s.
In this mini lesson, we’ll go over tips on how to compromise with your partner during the homebuilding journey. Not every suggestion will work in every single situation, but you should be able to find at least one or two tips on the list that will help you come to a compromise for almost every disagreement.
When deciding on which contractors to use for your project, you’ll need to compare prices, which means asking each potential contractor how much they will charge. There are several ways a contractor or supplier can outline cost: an estimate, a quote, and a bid.
Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there are important distinctions that we should understand. That’s what we’ll talk about in this mini lesson— the difference between an estimate, a quote and a bid.
Flattering Lighting for Your Home: Make Everything and Everyone in Your House Look Prettier—BYHYU 207
Do y’all remember that episode of Seinfeld where the girl Jerry was dating looked either really pretty or really unattractive depending on the lighting she was in? That bad lighting is what we want to avoid, especially in our homes. Although I don’t consider myself to be overly concerned with looks, I’d rather avoid the spooky, ghoulish shadows on faces that can show up because of poorly designed lighting.
It used to be that only models, actresses, photographers and entertainers were aware of what type of lighting is most flattering. But in this new era of selfies, social media posts, and You Tube channels, lighting our homes in a way that flatters us and our surroundings has become top of mind for even the average Jo(e).
I’ve done a basic lesson on the terminology and logistics of lighting, in episode 103 called Lighting 101, but I thought it would be helpful to come up with a list of tips that would we can incorporate into homes to not only make the lighting design functional, but also flattering. If we can do relatively simple things in our homes to make us look and feel our best, why not? I mean, we need to include lighting in our houses anyway, so why not use and place fixtures so that they shine the very best light on ourselves and our guests?
In the last episode/post we began a mini lesson on range hoods, also called vent hoods and exhaust hoods. We talked about how you should properly size and position your hood, and what amount of power you’ll need. And I strongly recommended that, if at all possible, you should choose a ducted system that takes stale air outdoors. In this week’s episode, we’ll talk more about vent hoods and how we can make them quieter.
As I told you, the range hood can really shape our experience in and around the kitchen, for better or worse. If you don’t choose an exhaust hood that is the right size and power for your stove, you’ll be hot, and your hair, clothing and adjoining rooms will smell like whatever you cooked. Ever go to a restaurant and leave reeking of food odors? That’s because the restaurant didn’t have proper ventilation. So, we definitely want a strong vent hood. But as you probably know, a strong vent hood can be annoyingly loud. This week, we’ll discuss what we can do to make our vent hood less obnoxious. How we can make them as quiet as possible.
We typically give quite a bit of thought to most of our kitchen appliance choices. But exhaust hoods, they get much less love. Most people don’t give range hoods the attention they deserve. They might think some about the aesthetic design of the range hood, but not a lot of people think through how to size and position their hood, and what features they should look for in a range hood that will give them the the perfect balance of suction power and quietness.
If you think about it, the range hood, also called an exhaust hood and a vent hood, is one of the more hardworking appliances in the kitchen. Because it removes irritating fumes, smoke, heat, odors and potentially damaging moisture, the exhaust hood allows for a safer, more comfortable, cleaner, less smelly, and more enjoyable kitchen experience. So in this mini lesson and the next one, we’ll discuss few things that will help us make informed decisions about what sort of hood we should choose.
This week we have the second half of our list of design tips that should help us start thinking through the interior decor for each room of our homes. Last week, we talked about some of the first things we should consider when starting a room design.
I suggest you take a listen to last week’s episode if you haven’t already because we discussed some foundational design guidelines that will help you know where to start decorating a room or house. Knowing where to begin is sometimes the hardest part of choosing your decor. If we can figure out our starting point, the rest of the design will often fall into place.
When building a home, there are so many design decisions to make that it can be overwhelming. And even for those of us who love designing, it’s hard to know where to start, especially when you have an entire new house to decorate. So, in the next two episodes, we’ll go over a few tips that should give you some general design direction, including where to start.
Now, if you don’t enjoy decorating, or you have no interest in choosing furniture and accessories for your home, you probably want to consider hiring an interior designer. To help you decide whether working with a designer is the way to go, take a listen to episode 132 called “Should I Hire An Interior Designer?”
Even if you decide you want to work with a designer, this episode/post will still be helpful to you because you’ll still have to answer the designer’s questions about what you like and dislike. And although the designer could make all your final decisions for your home’s interior, you’ll still need to articulate how you want your house to look and live, to guide the designers selections.
The earlier we start thinking about our home’s interior design, furniture placement, and style, the better. Soon after, and preferably, during the creation your floor plan, you should be thinking about your interior design. The reason you want to put thought into your home’s interior decor so early is because certain design decisions can effect the framing, plumbing, mechanical and electrical plans for the house. For example, floating shelves need more structural support than regular shelves or built-ins do. And where you place tvs, lamps and accent lighting will obviously have a bearing on your electrical plan. Do you want a wall-mounted bathroom faucet? Well, it’s helpful for the plumber to know that before the framing is complete to make sure he has the necessary access for pipes.
In the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic, now more than ever, we’re aware of actions we can take to help prevent the spread and growth of viruses, bacteria, and other illness-causing microorganisms. And that got me to thinking, are there ways we can design our houses that will also help fight and prevent germs? Obviously, we can’t completely eliminate microorganisms, and we shouldn’t want to, because some of them are beneficial. But what can we include in our new builds that will decrease the chances of unhealthy bacteria and viruses living and thriving in our homes?
The novel Coronavirus COVID 19 is on everyone’s minds. And for those of us in the middle of construction, or simply planning a new build, it’s natural to wonder how the pandemic might affect our homebuilding plans. I stress the word “might” because no one can be sure how long this pandemic will last, or what or how long-lasting its effects may be.
In an effort to better understand what could possibly happen in residential construction in the near future, I talked with a small custom, local builder and scoured the internet for articles on the subject. Most of the information I got came from newspaper articles from different regions of the US, BUILDER magazine and Architect Magazine.com.
I thought long and hard about whether I should do a special episode for our 200th show, but I didn’t really have any profound ideas, so I decided just to do a regular episode. What I do want to do though is sincerely thank you for listening to to my little lessons that I helped me learn about homebuilding, as I was hopefully teaching you. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your kind emails and reviews. Thanks for telling friends and family about the podcast and for encouraging and supporting me these last several years.
My project has been more challenging than most, and has had a very slow start, but as we move forward, I’ll be getting busier and busier. So, I may only be able to put an episode every other week. It depends on my what else I’ve got going on. For weeks that I don’t put out a new episode, you might want to listen some of the episodes you’ve missed, or take another listen to shows you’ve heard before. I’ve told you this previously, but even though I’ve done the research for and recorded these episodes, I need to review them because there’s just so much information to remember. The other thing I'd advise you to do is subscribe to the podcast, so new episodes, as soon as they are released, whether that’s 2,3 or 4 times a month, will be added to your podcast library or email.
Alright, let’s get to this quick lesson.
According to residential construction expert Mike Holmes from the show Holmes on Homes,
“If your garage is attached to your house, the most important thing is to make sure it’s sealed. You must keep fumes, exhaust and carbon monoxide out of the house.”
This episode was inspired by a question that I got about garages from Joe, from my home state of Virginia. Hey Joe! This week we’ll talk about the pros and cons of an attached vs a detached garage. Now, many of you might think, why would I build a new house with a detached garage? Doesn’t everyone want the convenience of an attached garage?
It’s important to realize that there are advantages and disadvantages to both detached and attached garage structures. And that’s what we’ll briefly discuss. There are many factors to consider when making your decision, including your budget, your lot size and shape, your desired level of personal and home security, and your sensitivity to chemicals and fumes.
Quick episode/post this week giving you some suggestions that will help you save money on your cabinetry. The things I’ll mention won’t give you the most durable, beautiful or practical cabinetry, but if you’re willing to sacrifice some beauty and convenience, you can save quite a bit of money. Keep in mind, you don’t have to use all the suggestions to save. Incorporating even one or two of these design features can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars.
1. Choose simple profiles.
The kitchen is the heart of the home and one of the hardest rooms in the house to keep clean. You’ve got crumbs, smoke, grease, dirt, dust, stains, spills and splatters to deal with. But there are practical ways to design our kitchens that will make maintaining and cleaning them easier. I have a list of 20 tips. And many of these tips can also work for bathrooms. Let’s get right into it…
1. Keep lighting fixtures away from the stove
Those of us who want to build a well-constructed, energy efficient home should aim for a tight building envelope that minimizes air leakage (meaning it's "airtight"), controls moisture, and has a generous amount of insulation.
In episodes 27, 28, 29, 30, and 31, we looked at several different ways to insulate a house, but this week, we’ll consider how much insulation is enough and whether over insulating a house is a thing. Jeremy, this one’s for you.
Let’s get right into it.
IBS, The International Builders Show, is the largest yearly residential and light commercial construction tradeshow in the world. Typically more than 1400 construction manufacturers and suppliers showcase the latest and most in-demand products and services in the industry.
Although I love seeing homebuilding products on the showroom floor of IBS, my very favorite part of the show is touring the 2 official idea houses they build every year — The New American Home 2020® (TNAH), and The New American Remodel™ (TNAR). You know I love a show home, especially one that’s been built with energy efficiency and quality construction in mind. We can get ideas for pretty decor almost anywhere, but it’s so much more valuable for us to look at examples of houses that are not only pretty, but well-built. High performance concept homes like The New American Home can give us ideas about material and methods that we can either use, or adapt for our own projects.
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