People seem to really like the quiz questions at the end of each episode, so this week we have what I’m calling a semester exam. The whole episode is dedicated to exam questions that are based on information that we’ve covered in episodes 1-19. Most of them are original questions. I repeat 2 or 3 previous quiz questions, but for the most part, these are original. I plan to do a semester exam every 20th show, so let me know how you like the format. Our exam today will have 35 questions.
1. True or false: A structural engineer should be involved in the design of all new construction.
False. Most homes that are being constructed won’t actually NEED to have a structural engineer involved, especially if it’s a typical house on a standard, level lot. You should consider consulting a structural engineer if you have challenging home site such a steep lot or one with unstable swampy or clay soil or if you have a house plan that includes a large open area, such as a two story great room.
Some regions might also require a structural engineer’s stamp of approval for house plans bought online or roof trusses.
2. What is a footing?
The footing is the base of the foundation. The footing is designed to distribute the weight of a house over a larger area of soil and to provide a firm, level surface for constructing the foundation walls.
3. In construction, what does SIP stand for?
SIP stands for structural insulated panel and a SIP is made up of a core of foam insulation sandwiched between two structural boards, typically oriented strand board (OSB). SIPs are a highly energy efficient alternative to traditional stick framing.
4. Who is the manager responsible for the coordination of a construction project and for hiring specialized subcontractors to perform the construction work?
The general contractor or builder. So if you think you can manage people, problems, money and time, you will probably be able to manage the construction of your home.
5. True or False. Licensed general contractors usually pass their builders' discount on to the homeowner.
False. Many builders charge homeowners the retail rate for supplies and pocket some or all of their builders’ discount.
6. True or False. Owner builders typically have more trouble getting banks to finance their construction projects when compared to homeowners who hire a licensed contractor.
True. Many banks feel uneasy about loaning money to owner builders, especially when a licensed contractor is not at all involved in building the new home. But most banks WILL finance your project if you act as the GC but have an licensed contractor serve as a consultant or site supervisor. Alternatively, there are certain lending institutions that specialize in working with owner builders. Just google owner builder financing.
7. What is the primary insurance policy that safeguards the general contractor against the risks of potential lawsuits over accidents, injuries, and illnesses that occur on the job site.
A. Builders risk insurance
B. An umbrella policy
C. Workers’ compensation
D. General liability insurance.
The answer is D, general liability insurance safeguards against potential lawsuits over accidents, injuries, and illnesses that occur on the job site.
Builders risk insurance covers loss or damage to the house under construction, as well as loss or damage of any of the materials and equipment used in the project.
An umbrella policy is a form of liability insurance that will supplement your basic liability policies, such as your general liability, auto, home or renters insurance. An umbrella policy protects above the limits of your basic policies. This protection is designed to kick in when the liability on these other policies has been exhausted. This insurance coverage is usually not required for owner builders, but it may be something to consider if you want extra coverage.
Workers’ compensation covers medical costs and a portion of lost wages for an employee who becomes injured or ill on the job. Since the vast majority of owner builders will hire independent, non-employee subcontractors, in most regions homeowners acting as their own general contractor are not required to get a workers’ compensation policy. But check with your lending institution and insurance company to be sure.
8. What is green board?
Green board is water resistant drywall. It’s highly efficient in bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements and kitchens where moisture is frequently in the air. Because it is water resistant, and not waterproof, it is not the drywall that goes behind the tile in your shower surround or any other areas where it can come in direct contact with water.
9. All of the following are aging-in-place features except:
A. Door levers instead of door knobs
B. Comfort height toilets that are about 2 inches taller than standard toilets
C. Hallways and doorways that are 2 feet wide
D. First floor master suites
The answer is C. Aging-in-place hallways and doorways should be at least 3 feet wide, just in case you might need a wheelchair in the future. You could get away with a 32 inch doorway, which a wheelchair could get through, a 36 inch doorway would be much easier to maneuver. And if you have the room, you can widen the hallway to 48 inches, for even greater ease of movement.
10. Which is a current trend in residential construction-- Laundry rooms near the bedrooms or laundry rooms in basements?
Laundry rooms near bedrooms is what we see in lots of new construction— that way the washer and dryer are near hampers, closets and dressers.
11. True or false: Tom Silva of "This Old House" gave laypeople who want to build their own homes the following advice:
Get some knowledge of the project you are trying to complete. And know how to ask the right questions so you can hire the right people for the job.
The answer is true. Remember that not all regions will allow homeowners to act as their own builder, but if you are allowed to build your own home, you can gain lots of residential construction knowledge from Tom Silva’s show “This Old House” and from blogs, websites, and books. And hopefully you are finding this podcast to be a helpful resource. You could also get first hand construction experience by working with Habitat for Humanity. That’s a great way to prepare ourselves for our projects and serve others at the same time.
12. What is a continuous load path?
It's a method of construction that uses a system of wood, metal connectors, fasteners (like bolts and screws) and shearwalls to connect the structural frame of the house all together. The roof is connected to the walls, the walls are connected to the floors, and the floors are connected to the foundation.
Because a continuous load path ties the house together from the roof to the foundation, the house is more likely to stay together when ground forces or high winds try to pull your home apart. A continuous load path is critical is area prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados or high winds.
13. What do you call the estimate of all the materials needed to complete each part of a construction job. It’s a detailed list of every component and piece of equipment necessary for a project.
D. Take five
The answer is take-off, A. Some suppliers, such as lumber companies, will give you a complimentary take-off in hopes of getting your business. There are also companies that will do the take-off for your entire project for a fee. Those other terms have nothing to do with construction.
14. True or False: Since general contractors get a fee of 10-25% of construction costs, most GC's charge homeowners exactly what they get changed for materials and labor?
False. In addition charging homeowners a builders fee of 10-25% of construction costs, most builders also charge homeowners a mark up on materials and supplies, plus they mark up the labor costs.
15. If you want to act as the general contractor for your new house, but also want help from someone in the construction industry, you could:
A. Hire a construction professional as job site supervisor or construction manager
B. Hire a construction management company
C. Hire a construction professional as a consultant
D. Do any of the above
I bet you know this one. The answer is D— you can do A, B or C.
A construction professional that could help owner builders might be architect, a framing carpenter or other subcontractor, a retired builder or licensed builder who is willing to take a lesser role as consultant or site supervisor.
Construction management companies offer some or all the following: financing for owner-builders, construction support and advice, take off services, vendor recommendations and material purchasing options. These companies act as consultants for owner builders, but they are usually NOT on site during construction. Occasionally you can find a company with a local presence, in which case you can hire that company for site supervision.
16. True or False: A construction manager and construction management company typically charges one half to two-thirds less than a general contractor?
True. Instead of paying a builder’s fee of 10-25% of construction costs, you would be paying a project manager or management company 5%-17.5% OR LESS for their services. I’ve seen some fees as low as 3%.
17. What is a legal right of way for someone to use someone else's property for a specified purpose.
A. Permission of property use
D. Owner’s assurance
The answer is easement, B. An easement is the legal right of way that allows someone else to use part of your property for a specific limited use. Easements can be granted to other persons, such as a neighbors who want to walk along the community nature trail that falls along your property or a neighbor who needs access to a shared road. Easements can also be granted to an entity, such as an electric or gas company, so they can run power or gas lines on your land.
A Survey— defines the boundaries or property lines of a parcel of land.
I made up the other 2 options.
18. What is the main disadvantage to building on a flat lot?
Flat sites don't drain water well and may they may require extensive water diversion efforts.
19. What building code is generally recognized as America's standard code?
International Building Code
Building codes place minimum standards of construction upon building professionals in order to ensure the safety of a home, and its surroundings, and the health and safety of the home’s occupants.
Although the International Building Code is often used in the US, you should check with your local Building Department to identify which code is used in your area.
20. Building permits fees are typically based on which two of the following:
A. The home’s square footage
B. The homeowner’s income
C. The builders’s fee
D. How long it will take the house to be constructed
E. The value of the project
Counties typically base their permit fees on the square footage of the home and/or the value of the project, A and E are the answers.
21. True or false: Passive house is strict, voluntary building standard of energy efficient construction that results in homes that require very little energy for heating or cooling.
22. What is the term for a weakness within the home’s structure where heat and/or cold are lost at an increased rate?
A. Thermal bridge
B. Thermal break
C. Thermal door
D. Thermal spot
A, thermal bridge, is the term for a weakness within the home’s structure where heat and/or cold are lost at an increased rate. External wall corners are often un- or under-insulated so those corners contribute to thermal bridging.
A thermal break BREAKS the bridge where heat can escape. Insulation provides a thermal break. Thermal door and thermal spot are nonsense terms. I made them up.
23. Fill in the blank: A HERS Index Score is a numerical score given to a home which indicates the home’s ____________________.
B. Structural strength
C. Orientation to the sun
D. Energy efficiency.
The answer is D— energy efficiency.
24. True or false: The standard new home has a HERS index score of 50.
False. A standard new home has a HERS index score of 100.
The HERS Index ranges from 0 to 150 points. A house with a HERS score of 50 is 50% more energy efficient than a standard new home.
25. What are the main disadvantages of having a oversized air conditioning unit?
Oversized units result in a humid, clammy house. Because the oversized ac cools the house off so quickly, the unit turns off quickly— before it has time to remove the humidity from the air. In other words, an oversized ac cools, but doesn’t have time to dehumidify.
Oversized air conditioners have a shorter life spans than properly sized systems. Because they turn on and off so frequently, greater stress is put on the system.
This is called short cycling.
Finally, with oversized systems, you’ll pay more up front and in the long run, since oversized systems are obviously bigger and more expensive than they need to be and less energy efficient than properly sized systems.
To make sure you get an appropriately sized heating and cooling system for your new home, insist that your HVAC contractor or designer do a Manual J calculation.
26. True or False: According to information from the 2014 US Census report , the average home built in the US is just under 1500 square feet.
False: The average home built in the US is just under 2500 square feet.
27. That 2014 US Census report also revealed that houses built by owner builders required how long to build?
A. 11.5 months
B. 8 months
C. 18 months
D. 3 months
It took most owner builders 11.5 months to build their homes. General contractors took an average of 8 months to complete a house. Of course, the amount of time it takes to build ours homes will vary depending on several factors, including how large and detailed and complex our house plan is and well we plan and prepare before we break ground.
28. What is the term for the edge of the roof?
Eave. The eave 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.
29. Why is creating a photo diary by taking pictures throughout your construction process a good idea?
A. It gives you a record of where wiring, pipes and other structures are just in case repairs or changes need to be made in the future.
B. It gives you proof of what materials and construction methods were utilized during construction.
C. It discourages contractors from cutting corners and using subpar materials and methods since they know there be a visual record of their work.
D. All of the above.
The answer is D.
30. Yes or No: Should slab foundations in hot climates typically have horizontal insulation under the slab?
No. In hot climates, you usually wouldn’t put horizontal insulation under the slab because you want the slab foundation to contact the cool soil so that cool soil can help keep the house cooler and lower a homeowner's utility bills.
31. The top of a stud wall is called what?
A top plate.
32. Advanced framing corners, also called California corners, contains how many studs?
The answer is 2. With only 2 studs, advanced framing corners have more space for insulation, providing a thermal break. Traditionally framed corners have 3 studs.
33. Which one is not a money saving design feature?
A. Centralized plumbing
B. A smaller, simpler foundation with as few corners as possible
C. A simple, not too steep roof
D. Stain grade custom cabinets
E. Open floor plans
The answer is D. The more customized your cabinets, the more expensive and stain grade wood cabinets are typically more expensive that painted cabinets. You can save even more money on cabinets by replacing some of your traditional cabinets with open shelving.
34. What is the name for horizontal concrete work such as patios and driveways?
35. What of the following are some cost savings tactics that owner builders can use when constructing their homes?
A. Ask suppliers to match or beat their competitors’ prices, including online competitors.
B. Ask subs about discounts that you can get for helping with labor.
C. Talk to and hire subcontractor company workers instead of hiring the subcontracting company or the company owner
D. Ask suppliers for a builders discount
E. Shop for close outs and discontinued or floor model appliances and fixtures.
F. All of the above
The answer is F, all of the above.
Well, that’s it for your semester exam. How’d you do? I bet you know far more now than you did several weeks ago. I hope you enjoy the rest of your week. Come back next week for BYHYU.