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.
Whether you have small children living with you full-time, or you’re an empty nester who will have grandchildren, or nieces and nephews visiting on a fairly regular basis, you should consider incorporating kid-friendly design into your new house. This includes features and decor that are safer and more practical for little ones. This week we’ll talk about 12 kid-friendly design features.
Before we move on, shouts out go to Larissa and Brian. Thanks for letting everyone on iTunes/Apple Podcasts know that you think this podcast is “A must listen for anyone building their home.” I’m so glad the show has helped two and I’m grateful for your encouraging words. I also want thank all of you who have followed me on instagram
@ultimate idea house. I appreciate you for helping me out.
Alright, let’s get to our list of 12 kid-friendly design features.
Back on track after unavoidable pre-construction setbacks, my homebuilding journey has had its share of challenges, even before the foundation was placed. But delays have been used as opportunities for design improvements that will make the house even more resilient than originally planned. This episode is kind of a construction update. I’ll tell you about our delays and what we did to make lemonade out of lemons.
Before we move on, I wanna give many thanks to Ginalupeho and Ben14826 for our latest Apple Podcasts 5 star ratings and reviews. They titled their reviews “Best Beginner Podcast I’ve Found” and “Best Home Building Podcast.” You two wrote such persuasive reviews. Anyone remotely considering listening to the podcast will definitely be inclined to give it a try because of reviews like yours. Thank you for writing such kind words. I don’t know if you realize it, but this podcast is a lot of work and when I get tired, or tempted to think it’s not really making a difference, it helps me to read your positive feedback. I’m grateful to all you who have ever left a nice review or sent me a kind email. Thank you. Thank you for giving back in that way.
Ok, let’s move on to this week’s show.
Do you know what you should consider when choosing your home site? After deciding to build instead of buy a new home, many people are so focused on the house design and that they give little thought to the LAND on which they will place their future home. But what lot you choose is a major factor in determining how much it will cost you to build and maintain your home, and how much you will ultimately enjoy it.
I’ll go into more detail momentarily, but as always, let’s start with todays Pro term.
Pro Term: Easement
What’s the best place for your washer and dryer? I’m a fan of putting them near bedrooms and bathrooms where there is easy access to where dirty clothes are taken off and clean clothes are stored. But there are also some benefits to locating the laundry room in other parts of the house, such as the near the kitchen, in a mudroom, in a hallway closet, or even a basement. This week we’ll talk about the benefits and disadvantages of locating your laundry room in different areas of the house.
Before we get to that, I want to sincerely thank popsicle puppy for your iTunes/Apple Podcasts 5 star rating and review. I’m so humbled by your kind words. He or she says, in part, "I have been working in the construction field for 10 years now and I wish I could rebuild some of my projects with the information I have gleaned from you!" That’s one of my favorite reviews ever! Thank you so much.
As I was going over the lighting plan for my new house, I wondered if there were different rules for lighting rooms with tall ceilings as opposed to standard 8 foot ceilings. Is ok to use the same type and average number of recessed lights throughout your house, no matter a room’s function or ceiling height? Does a 2 story foyer or rooms with vaulted ceilings need special lighting considerations?
One of the biggest problems with the house I currently live in is that the rooms are dark. The lighting is not bright enough and it’s too yellow. In the house that we’re building, I want to make sure that we choose recessed lights and lighting fixtures that will adequately illuminate our house (which I’m finding becomes increasingly important as I get older and my eyesight gets poorer). I don’t want to have to pull out my iPhone light, like I do now, to tell the difference between navy blue and black pants, or to do certain tasks. I want to be able to turn on a room light and see everything I need to see.
Worse than not installing enough canned lights and lighting fixtures, is wasting money by having an appropriate number of fixtures, but fixtures that don’t put out adequate light in specific situations, like in rooms with tall ceilings. I did some research about how to light rooms with tall ceilings, which many of us will have in our new builds. The information was much harder to find than I anticipated. But, after days of searching lighting design, electrician, lighting manufacturer, and retail lighting websites, I came up with a few tips for some basic guidelines for lighting rooms with ceilings greater than the standard 8 feet.
This week I have a review of one of my most popular post/episodes. It’s a mini lesson packed full of information. It covers lighting design basics and lighting terminology. This is a good review for next week when I’ll have a brand new episode that will discuss lighting specifically for rooms with tall ceilings, that is ceilings that are 9 feet or higher. Basic lighting design principles need to be tweaked a bit for rooms with high ceilings, and we’ll talk about that next week. But have a listen/look to Lighting 101 now, so you’ll be ready for next week. And quiz yourself, if you’ve listened before.
I love lighting fixtures. I’d have a beautiful chandelier in almost every room of the house, if I could. But there’s more to lighting than pretty fixtures. Lighting is first and foremost functional. I briefly covered lighting in episode 25 called "8 Kitchen Design Mistakes to Avoid". Mistake #6 was “Going Light on Lighting.” That’s not what we want to do in the kitchen, or any other place in the house.
In this week’s mini lesson, we’ll go over some basic rules to follow when choosing lighting for your new home. Now, an electrician or lighting designer will be invaluable in making specific suggestions your project, but today we’ll cover some general guidelines.
As with most guidelines, experts sometimes disagree. I noticed when doing my research that one website might have slightly different guidelines and advice than another. So the tips and rules that I’ll outline today may be just a little different from what you read or hear elsewhere, but this information should help you give you some basic, practical tips that will get you on the right path to a well-lit home.
We’ll go over the different categories of lighting, where to put warm white light as opposed to cool white light and we’ll get into what size recessed lights are best and how you should space them.
Before moving on to our mini lesson, let’s go over a few Pro Terms: Ambient lighting, Task lighting, Accent lighting and Decorative lighting. These are the 4 major categories of lighting.
This week we’ll review a previously built energy efficient home so we can consider some of the materials and methods for our own homes. The case study house is an affordable green house that cost $114 per square foot to build and is located in Seattle, Washington where the average house is $200 per square foot.
You probably know that Seattle, Washington is a fairly damp region with 38 inches of rain and 5 inches of rain per year. The summer average high temperature is in July and is around 76 degrees F and the average winter low is 37.
Remember, It’s important to consider the climate where a house is built so you can compare it to the weather in the region you plan to build. That way you can use or tweak the methods and materials in the case study homes and make appropriate choices for your climate.
Whether you want to a hire a professional to design and install the landscaping for your new home, or do it yourself, there are a few basic tips and rules that will help you plan outdoor spaces. Let get right into them.
1. Identify the feelings, style and functions you want for your yard.
Even if you plan on hiring out some or all of the work, you need to think about how your landscape will be used and how you want it to look and make you feel. Do you need areas to entertain guests? Are you looking for solitude and privacy? What color combinations do you like and what would go well with the exterior of your house? Do you prefer a garden that’s cozy and cottagy or formal and dramatic or zen and more minimalistic? The answers to these questions will help you define the parameters of your landscape design. Your preferences, needs and budget should drive your landscape design whether you hire a professional or not.
BEST OF BYHYU: 20 New House Must Haves— Design Features that Homeowners Most Often Request in New Homes—BYHYU 186
This week we have a list of features that many homeowners are requesting in new homes that they’re buying or building. This is according to an article in Professional Builder magazine where builders, architects, designers and other industry experts were asked about must have features that today’s homeowners want. Take a look and see how many things on the list will be included your new home. You may not want to include all these elements, but consider the ones that are best for you and your family.
Before we go any further, let’s go over this week's pro terms:
Built-in, Overlay and Integrated Refrigerators
How should you coordinate/pair your backsplash and countertop? Should they be matchy-matchy or contrasting? Which should you choose first? And how much influence should your flooring and cabinet choices have on your choice of backsplash and countertop? This week I’ll give you a few quick tips to help you with making your choices for these two major surfaces of the kitchen (and bathroom).
It’s one thing to see small samples of countertops, tile, paint and flooring in a showroom or retail space, but to see those design features displayed in new houses is so much more helpful. Not even full sized samples such as doors, plumbing fixtures and lighting fixtures have the same impact in a showroom or a photo as they do up close and personal in real life applications. That’s why I take as many opportunities as I can to go to new homes around the country. I want to stay on the pulse of what's new and trending, and what design features seem to be here to stay for the foreseeable future— the ones that emerged several years ago, but don’t seem to be going anywhere (like linear fireplaces).
I recently went to 2 parades of homes—one in Kansas City and one in the Memphis, TN area.
I visited about 30 different brand new homes, about 6 in Memphis and the rest in Kansas City. Many of the features that I saw we’ve talked about on other design trend episodes, but I think it’s important to keep revisiting the topic of home design so we don’t build and decorate a brand new house in a way that looks dated soon after we move in. Here are some of the top design elements I saw in those parades of homes…
The Energy Information Administration says that home appliances produce the third largest energy expenditure in the home, representing about 9% of the typical energy bill. Only heating and cooling, and water heating use more energy. Specifically, refrigerators and clothes dryers have the highest operating costs per year.
Because most of us want not only a beautiful, well-designed house, but also one that is energy efficient and/or sustainable, over the coming months I’ll be doing several episodes/posts where we’ll talk about noted high performance houses that have been covered in the media. I’m a big believer in learning from others since we may be able to incorporate into our own projects some of design elements and materials used in other recognized green, energy efficient homes.
Let’s get right into it.
Because of the popularity of white interior walls, and white backgrounds in general on blogs and social media posts, we have grown accustomed to thinking of white as a go-to backdrop for many of our interior spaces. White is familiar, bright and offers a clean background for highlighting home furnishings and features. The fresh, clean background is why most museums and galleries use white walls to showcase artwork. White can be a great choice for traditional and contemporary spaces. But to some people, white can come off as cold, boring and sterile and overdone.
Choosing a white is not as "black and white" as you might think. There are hundreds of shades of white. You’ve got to put some thought into selecting the right white for your spaces. Although your eye may be drawn to the the purest, whitest white, be careful, because the whitest white can look, well, kinda like primer. Many times a cool white or a warm white is a better choice. A cool white is one with blue, gray or green undertones and a warm white has brown, red, orange, yellow or pink undertones.
Did you know that the average home build produces about 8,000 pounds of waste? And with increasing landfill and building material costs, reducing job site waste could both help the environment and save you a significant amount of money. The less you have to throw away, the less money you have to spend getting rid of your construction waste.
When renting a dumpster for a construction site, you’re charged based on the size dumpster. The more waste you accumulate, the larger, and more expensive the dumpster you’ll need. In addition, the weight of your debris will also have some baring on the waste management fees.
When a dumpster is picked up from a construction site for emptying, the dumpster and debris are weighed at the disposal station. After it has been emptied, the dumpster will be weighed again to determine the amount of waste disposed of. If you exceed the weight of the dumpster’s capacity, you’re usually be charged an overage fee. This is an unexpected line item that ideally we want to avoid. In this week’s episode, I’ll give you some quick tips on how to reduce job site waste so those overage fees are less likely to occur. Plus, we’ll hear from Angela Phillips from ZTERS, the waste management solutions company that I’ve been working with. Angela will give us a little more insight how we can manage our waste more efficiently.
This week's episode is based on an article that I read in Houzz called "10 Home Design Trends on the Rise." They made this list based of trends that they see in photos that designers and homeowners have submitted, and based on their conversations with design professionals. This list includes things that I too have been seeing in past few years that I think we'll continue to see in new homes as we go into 2020.
Don’t call it a comeback, marble’s been here for years. But in the last decade, marble has become more popular than ever, especially in bathrooms and kitchens. But… how good of an idea is that? In this week’s mini lesson, we’ll look at the pros and cons of using marble in our new homes, and the difference between 2 of the most widely requested types of marble:
Calacutta and Cararra marble.
Before we get into that, let’s go over a couple of Pro Terms: Topical sealers and Impregnators.
For decades, the standard ceiling height was 8 feet tall—a dimension that resulted from two 4-foot-wide drywall sheets laid together horizontally. But homes are now being built with standard 9 or 10 foot ceilings on the first floor, and ceilings at 8 or 9 feet tall on the second floor.
When 8 foot ceilings were standard in most homes, cabinets were often designed to accommodate that height. Standard cabinets could go all the way to the ceiling by adding crown molding and trim in the gap between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling. Alternatively, cabinets would extend to a dropdown, drywall soffit within the kitchen. An interior soffit is the drop-down box that runs along the ceiling that often hides plumbing, ducts and electrical wiring.
With today’s taller ceiling heights, the potential space above standard upper cabinets has become larger and we have to decide how far up we want our cabinetry to go. Should we leave an open space between the upper cabinets and the ceiling, or should we fill that space with a soffit or with additional cabinetry?
Last week, we began a mini lesson on the pros and cons of different exterior door styles. We went over 2 of the most common styles: single, standard doors and French doors. Plus, we talked about a new kid on the block, bifold doors. In this second part of our list, we’ll discuss more old school and new school door styles, including sliding doors, pivot doors and dutch doors. And we’re answering the burning question “Are storm doors still a thing?“
Let's get right into it.
Whether you’re deciding on what style of door you want for your main front entry, or to your patio, or to any other area that leads to the outdoors, there are several door styles to consider. It’s not just a matter of choosing a traditional single, or double, French doors for your main entrance. You could also install a pivot door, or a dutch door. For your patio doors, there are French doors, sliding doors, and bifold doors to consider. This week and next, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of each style of exterior door.
Last week, I introduced you to roof overhangs. Remember, a roof overhang is simply an extension of the eave or “edge” of the roof. The overhang can extend beyond the exterior walls of the house many inches, or a few feet.
In part 1 of the mini lesson, we talked about how many homeowners and house designers pay too little attention to roof overhangs because they think of them as purely aesthetic. But overhangs have several important functions: they can protect exterior doors, windows, and exterior walls from rain and snow; they can shade windows from hot summertime sun rays; and they can help keep basements and crawl spaces dry by directing rainwater away from the main structure of the house.
We learned that all sides of the house will benefit from 16-18 inch overhangs because those overhangs will protect the house from the elements. And that the south side of the house will see the most impact from deeper overhangs for shading. Remember, the roof overhangs for shading are usually 24 inches minimally, but more often 36 inches or more.
I’ve been using the word wide to describe the overhang sizes because that’s what the articles I read used, but I think the correct dimension is deep. Deep is measured from front to back. Wide is technically a side to side measurement. The depth of overhangs is mainly what determines how much shading they will give (although width matters too). But I digress…
This week, we’ll go over whether you need deep roof overhangs for shading on the north, east and west sides of your house. Plus I’ll tell you what you can do to protect your house from the sun’s heat and rain if you either don’t want overhangs, or can’t have them because of building code. Yep, building codes in some areas don’t allow overhangs.
Although you may have thought about the color and material you want for your roof, the typical homeowner puts little thought into the actual design of their roof. And roof overhangs specifically, forget about it. Roof overhangs haven’t even crossed most people’s minds.
A roof overhang is simply an extension of the eave or “edge” of the roof (I mistakenly said "house" on the podcast). The overhang can extend beyond the exterior walls of the house many inches or a few feet.
In this week’s mini lesson, I’ll tell you why overhangs shouldn’t just be an afterthought. And why almost every new home should include them, where possible.
Before we get into the meat of the mini lesson, let’s go over a Pro term.
Pro term: Scupper
Where you place your dishwasher can increase or decrease your kitchen’s functionality and flow. And although there is no one exact right place that dishwashers should universally go, this week I have a list of quick tips that you should think about before deciding where to put your dishwasher. If you haven’t heard our Dishwasher Buying Guide Quick Tips, you might want to go to episode 80 and take a listen.
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