One of the first things you’ll have to decide when building a house is whether you want to be an owner-builder, or use a general contractor for your project. If you are considering building the home yourself, episodes 2 and 7, called "You Can Save Money, Lots of Money, But Should You Build Your Own House?" and "Build Your House Yourself, But Not All By Yourself" will give you some insight on acting as your own general contractor.
If, however, you want to use a builder to construct your new home, you’ll have to choose between a custom home builder and a production builder. Much of your decision will rest in how many choices you wish to make and how much input you’d like to have during the construction process. In this week’s episode, we’ll talk about the differences in production builders and custom home builders and I’ll give you the pros and cons of each. A shout out goes to listener Architects guide for this week’s show idea.
Let’s get right into it….
Really quick episode this week about something I recently learned about that can make our lives easier and help us to save on our electricity bills: Smart outlets or smart plugs.
First let me tell you the difference between an outlet and a plug. An outlet is a built-in rectangular receptacle with usually 2 electrical sockets that is an electrician installs in the wall, floor and sometimes drawers. A plug is a small square or rectangular box with sockets that plugs into an existing electrical outlet. Plugs are often used when you need more than 2 sockets. An electrical strip is a variation of a plug.
If, like me, you’re a fan of HGTV’s Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines, I bet you remember the Barndominium episode. They restored an old barn into a beautiful family home. Although barndominiums have been around for decades, that episode of Fixer Upper, and the popularity of modern farmhouse and rustic chic decor have made many homeowners decide to build a barndominium for themselves.
So what exactly are barndominiums? Well, barndominiums are a type of barn, usually, but not always, made of metal. These metal barn structures are then upgraded, finished, and furnished to serve as a comfortable home, at least in part.
They are an alternative to traditional stick-built new homes for homeowners who love a barn aesthetic and who want to live in an unconventional house. And although this style house is not for everyone, there are a few homebuilding practices and features of barndominiums that most of us can incorporate into our homes and homebuilding experience, no matter what home style we choose.
Last week we talked extensively about water softeners and water conditioners. Water softeners and conditioners help to alleviate many hard water problems, including limescale build-up in your plumbing. But water softeners and conditioners are ineffective in removing chemicals and contaminants that can cause less-healthy, bad-tasting and foul-smelling water. For those issues, you’ll need a water filtration system.
Although city and county water systems typically do a good job of removing harmful quantities of contaminants from tap water, they leave behind small amounts of substances that most of use would rather not drink. Some tap water contains the residue of treated sewage, industrial waste, agricultural chemicals, pharmaceuticals, toxic metals like arsenic and mercury, plus fluoride, disinfectants, and storm runoff.
Other contaminants that might be found in tap water, or especially in well water, include Illness-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites, and pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, as well as Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs).
In this week’s mini lesson, we’ll get into the different types of water filtration systems and what sort of certifications you should be looking for before you buy one.
How Do You Know If You Have Hard Water in Your Area and What Can You Do About it? Water Softeners vs Water Conditioners— BYHYU 165
If your area has hard water, you’ll usually notice. There will probably be whitish, yellowish, or grayish deposits on shower heads and faucets, and around drains, and sometimes even in toilet bowls. These deposits are called limescale, scale or scaling and are usually deposits of calcium and/or magnesium. This scaling is a tell tale sign of hard water.
It’s said that about 85% of all households in the US have some degree of hard water. Some of the hardest water in the country is found in the midwest. Take look at the map below showing the level of water hardness in different areas of the country.
To commemorate our 100th episode, I want to give you some of my favorite homebuilding and design tips that I’ve learned over the past 2 years of this podcast. I’ve learned so much, but these are some of the most relevant things.
We’ll go over 50 tips in this week’s mini lesson, but since this is the 100th episode, it only makes sense that I give you a list of 100 of the most important pieces of homebuilding knowledge that I've gained. So we’ll go over 50 tips now and I’ll send you 50 more tips and tricks if you email me at info@BYHYU.com or you can get in touch with me through the "Contact Us" tab above.
All you have to do is type the number "100" in the subject line and as a thank you for helping me get to episode 100, I’ll send you a PDF of a list of 50 bonus tips, plus the 50 tips that we’ll cover in today, so you won’t have to take notes. You’ll end up with a list of 100 of my favorite bits of homebuilding information. Now don’t worry about me spamming you. I wouldn’t do that.
Before we get to the first 50 tips, I want to sincerely thank you for your loyalty and support and for encouraging me to keep the podcast going with your awesome reviews and kind emails. I especially want to thank you for sharing the show with friends, family and coworkers by text, email and on social media. You are the reason the show is doing so well. Since I’m not great with social media, I’ve been counting on you to spread the word about the podcast/blog and you’ve done that, so thank you.
As we move forward with the podcast/blog, I’ll continue to give you quick tips, mini lessons and interviews that will help you make informed decisions about your homebuilding options, but when I actually break ground on my own project, I’ll be doing more regular project updates and I’ll tell you what materials, appliances, fixtures, and methods I’ve decided on and why. Thank you again for all that you’ve done to help me over the past 2 years.
Okay, let’s get into the first 50 most relelvant homebuilding tips.
BEST OF BYHYU: Hot Water Heaters 101— Learn about the Pros and Cons of Conventional and Tankless Water Heaters— BYHYU 163
Did you know that most water heaters use more energy than all other household appliances combined? According to the US Dept of Energy, water heaters account for almost 17% of a home’s energy use. Other sources say it’s up to 30% of the a home’s energy. This week’s mini lesson will help you decide if a conventional, storage tank water heater or a tankless water heater is the better choice for your new home. And the choice is probably not as cut and dried as you think.
Conventional, storage tank water heaters are still the most common type of water heaters found in new homes in the US. But tankless water heaters are steadily gaining popularity. We’ll go over the basic information about how conventional water heaters and tankless water heater work, plus the pros and cons of each system.
Let's start with this week’s pro term.
BEST OF BYHYU: Size Matters… BUT SO DOES DESIGN. 20 Design and Construction Features That Can Save You Money When Building a New House—BYHYU 162
Most people know that the square footage of a house will affect the cost of construction, but many people don’t realize that how a house is DESIGNED and LAID OUT will also affect the bottom line. And since many of us are unaware of what design choices we can make to reduce our construction costs, I’ve compiled a list 20 money saving design and layout ideas.
The easiest way to save money DURING construction is to figure out how to reduce costs BEFORE construction even begins—during the design and planning phases. The cost to build two houses with the same square footage can vary greatly depending on how the houses are designed and constructed. Great savings can be hidden in small details, and a few dollars saved here and there can add up to thousands of dollars over the course of construction. We’ll find out how we can design our homes to reduce construction costs in a moment, but first let’s define our pro term: Cantilever
BEST OF BYHYU: What Homeowners Would Do Differently If They Built Again—Advice From Those Who Have Already Built A Custom Home —BYHYU 161
As we plan to build our homes, I thought it would be a good idea to scour several blogs and forums to get advice from those who have built before. I specifically wanted to find out what mistakes people had made in planning and building their homes—what they would do differently if they were to build again. So I’ve compiled an extensive list which details the things that homeowners would do, and did do differently when building their second, third and even fourth houses.
Let’s learn from the experiences of others, so we won’t make similar mistakes. Now, some of what others consider “misses” won’t matter to you in the least. Some features should not be included in your house plans because they won’t enhance the way you live. And many of the suggestions are pretty luxurious in nature, so they may not fit everyone’s budget or style. Take suggestions that resonate most with you and the vision you have for your home. But listen with your current and future lifestyle in mind. Think about how you currently live in your home and how you might live in 5, 10 or even 20 years.
Before we get into the main topic, let’s talk about our pro terms for this week. There are 3 of them because they’re closely related and people often get them confused. They’re roofing terms. The first is:
Eave: An eave is the edge of a roof. It is the overhanging lowest part of a roof. Eaves usually project beyond the side of the house for both decorative and practical reasons. The eaves project beyond the house to direct rain water or snow away from sides of the house and larger eaves provide shade.
Two of the main parts that make up the eave are the fascia and the soffit.
Today we'll talk about one of the main ways you can save money when building your dream home… by being your own general contractor or builder. But CAN you build your own home? Are you allowed? And SHOULD you?
We'll also cover the pros and cons of being your own builder. Plus discuss some things that owner builders can do to increase their chances of success.
But first, let's get to today’s Pro Terms.
PRO TERMS: Builders Risk Insurance and General Liability Insurance
Most of us want to get the biggest bang for our buck, and, if possible, we prefer making purchases when items go on sale. And that goes for things that we’ll need for our homes. So I read a few articles on the best times to purchase certain homebuilding and household items.
To be honest, after reading many sources on this subject, I found no solid agreement the as to the exact best times to find sales prices on different items. One source would say sales occurred on certain items most often in May, and another article would say November, but what I’ve compiled for you in this week’s episode is a list of the most often sited best times for buying things for the home. Although there will be sporadic sales throughout the year for different homebuilding and household items, there are certain, predictable times of year when specific products and materials can be bought for significant discounts.
As I go through my homebuilding process, I’ll be letting you know what I learn in my preconstruction and construction meetings, and what tips I pick up on the job site from contractors. Last week I met with my architect and construction manager to clear up a few last details before we send the plans off to more subcontractors for bids. Although my experience and my house will obviously be different from yours, I’m hoping what I learn through my process will help you with your project. This week, I have a short list of quick tips that I picked up during my meeting.
Well, we’ve made some progress. We finally got our foundation and structural plan from the engineer and our building permit has been approved. Hallelujah!
Putting in some time and effort to get organized before we break ground will help the construction process go more smoothly and be less stressful, for us and our contractors. It’s important to get information out of our heads, and out of our numerous piles of magazines and papers, and off of our scattered sticky notes, and instead, organize all of our design and construction information into an easy to use system. This week we’ll talk about how we can organize all the information we’ll gather before and during the construction process.
During Design and Construction Week, the International Builders Show (IBS) and the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) come together for one huge trade show that showcases the newest products and materials for residential design and construction. This year the show was in Vegas and despite the very cold weather (it snowed... twice... in Vegas!), I made my way to the convention center to check out most of the exhibitors.
If you go to the show every year, like I’ve done in the last several years, you’ll see the many of the same tried and true products on display each year. But there are a few things in this year’s show that caught my eye.
Here's a list of some of my favorites:
Radiant heated driveways, also called snow melting systems, are installed just beneath a driveway’s surface and used to remove snow and ice without having to shovel, plow, snow blow or salt the driveway. They keep the pavement warm enough to melt falling snow so it doesn’t accumulate. They also keep the driveway too warm to allow water to freeze into slippery, dangerous ice.
With snow removal, time is of the essence. If you don’t remove snow shortly after a snowfall, walking and driving on the fallen snow can compact the snow, making it more difficult to remove. Compacted snow sometimes becomes as slippery as ice, increasing the risk of people slipping and cars sliding.
Even if you don’t live in a region that gets lots of winter storms, you might consider a heated driveway if the limited amount of snow and ice you do get causes unsafe passage to and from your home— if you have a sloped driveway that would be difficult and dangerous, to drive on or clear, or if you have a sun-starved, north-facing driveway where snow and ice might not melt for many days, or even weeks.
For those who get any amount of snow and ice but don’t have the time or physical ability for adequate removal, you might at least consider a heated driveway. Keep in mind, in regions that get less snow, it’s harder to find someone to hire for snow and ice removal. In areas where you have to remove snow and ice yourself, a heated driveway could even be considered an aging-in-place feature.
Heated driveways save homeowners time, effort and money by keeping them from having to remove snow and ice themselves or having to hire someone to do so. If you live in an area where it snows often during the winter, you might think of a heated driveway of less of a luxury and more of a practical amenity. Some snow storms are so heavy that homeowners have to shovel several times a day. Installing a heated driveway could save them countless hours of shoveling.
This week we'll learn more about the different types of heated driveways, the cost to install and run a system, and the alternative to a heated driveway.
Last week, in episode 152, we went over 8 things you should never say to your contractors. I want to do a brief episode so we can complete our list. However, this is, by no means, a comprehensive list. If you can think of some other things we should never say to a contractor, let us know in the comment section below.
Although communicating with our contractors is an important part of successfully building our homes, there are certain things that we should never say to them. This week, and next week, we’ll discuss some of those taboo phrases or questions that should never be uttered to our contractors. Here's the first part of our list...
1. You’re the only one bidding on this job.
Last week we talked about whether a buying an extended home warranty is a smart idea. Those home warranties are offered by third party companies that will help pay for repairing, and, if necessary, replacing, covered appliances and home components, such as plumbing. Extended home warranties are usually somewhat comprehensive policies that cover more than just one appliance or house component. But this week, we’ll discuss the wisdom of getting extended appliance warranties on specific appliances, including HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) units.
Most retailers and dealers offer extended warranties, also called service plans, at the time of purchase. And some manufacturers will let you buy extended warranties within the first year of the purchase date, as long as the regular manufacturer’s warranty hasn’t expired. Let’s talk about if, and when, those extended appliance warranties are a good investment.
If you’re like me, you’ve been seeing commercials for extended home warranties and wondering if they’re a good investment. These home warranties are supposed to go beyond the coverage that you get with the usual homeowners insurance policy. They are warranties that are offered by third party companies that will pay for repairing, and, if necessary, replacing, covered appliances and home components, such as plumbing, should problems arise. So are home warranties a smart idea?
The information in this week’s episode comes from a article that was recently posted on Houzz called "32 Home Design Trends That Will Rule in 2019." Houzz chose those 32 design trends after analyzing data from photos and articles that have been saved from the site, plus interviewing professional designers. The trends are those they think you can expect to see a lot in 2019. Many of them are features we’ve seen over the last several years, but that will still be popular in new homes this year.
I was trying to wait until we actually started construction before I did another project update, but I know you guys have been wondering what’s been going on since my last update back in September. Well, as you know from the title of the episode, we still haven’t started construction.
As with most features in your home, the way you design your kitchen island should be a matter of functionality, personal taste, your budget, and your lifestyle. This week’s quick tips will help you design an island that is not only on trend style wise, but also functional and comfortable.
You may or may not have heard of central vacuum systems, also called “central vac.” People who know of them generally love 'em or hate 'em. This week we’ll talk about the pros and cons of putting a central vac in your new home. We’ll also go over the cost of the system and who would benefit from it most.
Let’s get right into it.
This week we’ll talk in more detail about a rainscreen, which is a moisture control measure that can be used in new construction. I briefly introduced you to rain screens in episode 134 called "Learn to Control One of Your Home’s Biggest Enemies: Moisture". But in this week mini lesson, we’ll have a more in depth discussion of rainscreens and talk about when they are recommended. But before we get to that, let’s go over a Pro Term.
Pro Term: Flashing:
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