Considerations for Building a “Green” Home

If you are planning a new home construction project, you may have heard about the popular trend of building a “green” home.  But what exactly does that mean, and what are some important considerations for using green materials in the construction of your new home?  This month’s blog examines the advantages and disadvantages of building green and the different green construction materials and/or methods to consider in your home build.

What does green mean in construction?

As part of an overall focus on our climate, greater emphasis has been placed on environmentally responsible construction methods and materials.  This trend is termed “green” to associate with the natural ecosystem and the plant world.   

Over the last several years, green construction and standards in the commercial construction business have also influenced the residential home construction market.  Green construction is designed to use natural resources more effectively and reduce overall waste and environmental impact by using sustainable materials and methods.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of green construction?

If you are an environmentally conscious person and are planning to utilize green materials and construction methods, it is helpful to understand the advantages and disadvantages before taking this construction route.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Green materials provide you with cost-savings over time. 
  • Homes with green materials are healthier for household members.
  • Some green materials provide greater efficiency for basic home functions like heating, cooling, and water.
  • Green construction materials are expensive and upfront costs may deter homeowners from going green.  Cost-savings are not realized right away.
  • Green materials are difficult to attain, especially during the current supply-chain problems experienced in the US.
  • The construction process may take longer when using green materials.

What are some examples of popular green construction materials and methods?

If you are considering a green home, discuss your intention with your builder and learn about the options available.

Here’s a short list of six common green materials used in new home construction:

  1. Solar shingles:  These renewable energy shingles are designed to blend in with your roof shingles.  While they function to protect your roof from the elements like your shingles, they provide a source of power to your home for various needs.
  2. Wool insulation:  This insulation is made from sheep’s wool and provides many benefits to your home’s insulation.  When the wool is bonded together to form insulation, they are biodegradable, sound-proof, and sustainable.  Wool is an excellent material that can absorb dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde and other toxins from the air within the home.
  3. Tankless Hot Water Heaters:  Tankless water heaters provide hot water “on demand” versus storing and maintaining a large amount of water like traditional water heaters.  These energy-efficient heaters last longer than traditional heaters because they do not store water.  
  4. Bark Siding:  Bark siding is a durable and attractive material used on home exteriors.  Because bark is readily available, it is a great option for siding a home, and it also creates a natural look to the home with the rest of the environment.  Poplar is a common bark siding used in many home construction projects due to its durability and look.
  5. Rainwater Collection Systems:  These are designed to collect rainwater and store it for use in outdoor watering.  These systems reduce the amount of water use by recycling clean rainwater.
  6. Recycled Steel:  Recycled steel is an alternative to traditional wood framing.  It is a strong product that absorbs C02 and helps to save trees in the natural environment.

Many green materials used in construction are designed to reduce the waste of traditional materials and provide similar or greater function.  There are ways you can also add green touches to the interior of your home, for example, with automatic lights that go on and off when you leave a room.  Enabling your home with SMART features allows you to control many functions to create better efficiency and use.

If you are interested in learning more about using green materials in your new home construction, speak with one of the builder consultants at Prominent Builders and Design.  We can explain to you the advantages and disadvantages of each one and what is available to incorporate into your home.

You’re Building a New Home or Remodeling – Have You Thought about Home Security?

If you are considering a home construction or remodeling project, have you thought about how home security fits into your plan? Home security is a reality that we sometimes want to avoid. After all, thinking of the possibility of a break-in or someone stealing packages from our front porch is never a pleasant subject. If you’re looking for ways to improve your home’s security, there are plenty of options available to you. We will discuss some of those in this month’s blog post.

The important items for consideration in your home security audit include the following:

  1. Home Entryways
  2. Interior/Exterior Lighting
  3. Alarm Systems
  4. Interior/Exterior Cameras
  5. Privacy Level

The easiest way to get started on your audit is to do a daytime and nighttime “walkthrough” of the home and the exterior.  In this post, we provide you with some questions to consider when conducting your home security audit.

Home Entryways

Your doors and windows are the first choices for intruders because many homeowners do not leave them secured or have locking devices that are easy to break or disable.

Audit Questions:

  • Are your door locks secure and reinforced from picking, drilling, or forced entry? Do you have deadbolts?
  • How are any sliding doors secured?
  • Are your windows all locked on the ground floor and upstairs where there is easy access?
  • Are windows blocked by shrubbery or landscaping?
  • Does your garage door have a locking mechanism? Do you lock the entry door from the garage into the home?

Suggested Entryway Improvements:

  1. Upgrade your door locks to include heavy steel, non-picking, and double locking mechanisms, such as a key and a deadbolt.
  2. Don’t hide keys in obvious places, like under the doormat. Intruders are very savvy to places where homeowners may hide keys.  If you prefer not to use a key, consider purchasing a reputable electronic lock that is controlled by code entry.
  3. Make sure that windows are not blocked by shrubbery, which can help hide an intruder looking to get into your home.
  4. Always keep doors and windows locked, even when you are home. Lock your entry door from the garage to the home at night.  Keep your garage door closed when not outside.
  5. Consider a security locking bar for sliding doors. This reinforces these doors, which typically do not have very strong locks.
  6. Arm doors and windows with local alarm sensors.

Interior/Exterior Lighting

Lighting is important for many reasons.  It is a deterrent on the outside of the home because it exposes any intruders, and on the inside, it can give the appearance of the home being occupied and it makes the home safer to enter for returning family members.

Audit Questions:

  • When you are not home, do you leave interior/exterior lights on?
  • Can you control your interior/exterior lighting from your mobile device?
  • Do you use automatic timers on your lights?
  • Are all home entryways protected with exterior lights?

Suggested Lighting Improvements:

  1. Automate interior/exterior lights with a SMART device so you can control them when you are not home or when you may be upstairs in bed. All these items can be added to your construction plan so you don’t have to retrofit after the fact.
  2. Use timers on interior/exterior lights that adjust on/off times automatically without your intervention.
  3. Add exterior motion-sensor lights in entryway areas. These save energy by turning on when they detect motion and turning back off when the motion subsides.

Alarm Systems

There’s a broad range of alarm systems available to homeowners today.  From fully installed/monitored systems to “DIY” packages that you install yourself.  Your comfort level and budget for security can dictate which option you choose to protect your home.

Whether monitored or local systems, these systems usually include several different types of alarm devices, including:

  • Window and door sensors
  • Door chimes
  • Motion detectors and cameras
  • Lighting and cameras
  • Panic features (for in-home invasions or intruders) with direct access to monitoring stations

Interior/Exterior Cameras

There are a variety of cameras available to homeowners that you can install yourself and monitor from your mobile device.  For example, many homeowners see benefits in having doorbell cameras, like Ring or Nest.

Doorbell cameras protect you by showing who is at your door, or even give you the ability to monitor package deliveries.  Most cameras have optional subscription costs for storing videos in the Cloud.   Before purchasing a doorbell camera or home camera package, make sure to check out subscription rates and features and benefits of each product.

Suggested Camera Improvements:

  • Place exterior cameras at all vulnerable entryways.
  • Purchase a Cloud storage subscription for saving videos.
  • Add interior cameras near entryways as a safeguard from exterior cameras that may lose their power or be destroyed by an intruder.

Privacy Level

The last item in your home security audit is to think about your home’s overall privacy level to the outside world.

Audit Questions:

  • Do you use blinds or curtains on your windows/doors at night?
  • When no household members are home, does the home appear empty or occupied?
  • Do you keep your vehicle unlocked on the driveway or in front of your home?

Suggested Privacy Improvements:

  1. Close all blinds and/or curtains at night, so that intruders cannot see into your home to “scope” out your vulnerabilities. Our construction team can assist you with adding features like textured glass windows to provide privacy for certain rooms.
  2. Keep parked vehicles secured and avoid storing valuables in the vehicle that can be tempting to intruders.
  3. Keep your exterior well-lit at night to ward off any intruders.
  4. Keep your interior lit when not at home to give the appearance that your home is occupied.

If you are considering a new home or a remodeling project, the professionals at Prominent Builders are happy to talk with you about your home security concerns. We can assist you with incorporating various measures, like smart wiring and devices, that will enhance the security of your home. Contact us today for a consultation.

What to Expect with a Home Remodeling Project

When you are planning a major remodeling or renovation, you are rarely focused on the downside of the project.

Most homeowners focus on their vision and how the result of their project will impact their home.  However, good planning involves being prepared for the inevitable.   There are many things that can go wrong during a renovation project that could result in unplanned additional expenses and delays.  In this month’s blog, we highlight important considerations for planning so that you are not taken by surprise and are prepared to handle any obstacles that come your way.

Let’s consider a kitchen or bath remodel, for illustrative purposes of this blog.  Every homeowner wants their dream kitchen or bath to be completed on time, within budget, and without any problems.  Unfortunately, there are factors that can get in the way of accomplishing these goals.  We focus on the following five factors below:

  1. Permitting or Inspection Delays: If your project involves certain plumbing, electrical, or structural changes, it may require a permit.  Permits should be handled by your contractor and inspections planned within the appropriate construction timeline.  If an inspector is not available, or there are unresolved permit issues, this could significantly delay your project.
  2. Unexpected Plumbing or Electrical Repairs: Even though a contractor may complete a pre-project estimate, they may overlook issues you might have with wiring or pipes.  Many times, these issues are discovered once demolition has taken place, and walls are opened or plumbing is exposed.  Not only can these issues cause a delay, but there is also always a price tag to this type of problem.  If a discovery is made that your home may need re-wiring or re-piping, this could cost well beyond the anticipated project.
  3. Unexpected Environmental Damage: No one wants to find out there is mold or uninvited pests in their homes, but many times this is discovered when walls are demolished.  Mold may have grown inside the walls from past leaks or water damage.  If mold is discovered, you will have to work with a certified mold remediator to eradicate the situation.  This may involve extra tasks that were not planned and increase the cost.  There is a slight silver lining to this issue – most homeowners’ policies have coverage for mold and water damage, and you may be able to get assistance from your insurance company.  Finding pests like termites could end up being very costly to cover extermination, and protection before moving on with the project.
  4. Supply Chain Delays: An unfortunate reality of today is the problems the country is having with the supply chain.  Your remodel project may be impacted with delays on various appliances for your kitchen, plumbing fixtures, and even flooring supplies.  If the choices you make are not available, be prepared with second choices or you may need to delay your project for an unknown period.
  5. Poor Workmanship: Your contractor may find various trades to handle different aspects of your project.  If those trades are not qualified, you may experience damages or poorly installed elements within your project.   Poor workmanship becomes re-work, which then impacts the inspection and completion timeline. With Prominent Builders and Design, you will find that the contractors we use are some of the best in the industry.

Remodel projects always have a high degree of stress for the homeowner.

Help reduce your stress by having a comprehensive plan that addresses the potential obstacles you may encounter.  Keep in mind these four final thoughts on how to be better prepared for the inevitable:

  • Maintain good communication with your contractor before and during the remodeling process. Discuss what leverage you want to provide to your contractor to make decisions on your behalf and keep on track with the timeline and problems.
  • Budget for unplanned expenses by having additional money set aside. A rule of thumb is to have an additional 10-15% of additional money in the event of unavoidable expenses.
  • Work closely with your contractor to thoroughly and properly assess your project, vet sub-contractors, and develop an accurate timeline and cost estimate.

In the end, it’s always best to prepare for the worse (delay and costs) and hope for the best (in budget and on time)! Want to discuss your remodeling project with the professionals at Prominent Builders and Design? Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

The Five Popular New Home Design Trends for 2023

If you are planning a new home construction project starting this year or in the upcoming year, there is a lot to consider before beginning.  The choices you make for a new home, or improvements to your existing home should be dictated by your tastes, goals for the use and longevity of your home, and in some cases, the current design trends in the market.

This month’s blog highlights five popular design trends for new home construction or existing home renovations that will dominate the upcoming year.

Five Popular Design Trends of 2023

There’s little doubt that the events of the global pandemic since 2020 have had significant influence on many things in our daily lives.  These events have even influenced trends in new home construction based on changes to how we work, how our children learn, and even how we relax and entertain.

Trend #1:  Health and Wellness

This is a continuing trend from 2022.  As a result of the pandemic and the lockdowns in 2020, homeowners have turned their focus on “self-care” and finding ways to create balance in their lives from work and school.  Spaces that can accommodate home gyms, yoga, and meditation rooms, or even spa-like master bathrooms.  These spa bathrooms may include features like heated floors, steam or dry saunas, and spa-quality shower or tub experiences.

Trend #2:  Home Offices

With many homeowners working in a fully remote, or hybrid work arrangement, they want to have home offices that are up to par with being in their employer’s physical workspace.  Homeowners are abandoning the kitchen table with the laundry room as a backdrop on Zoom meetings for spaces that have built ins that communicate professionalism and productivity.  These built-ins accommodate optional computer desks, bookshelves, and high-tech solutions to deliver high-speed internet and telecom tools.

Trend #3:  Multipurpose Spaces

Homeowners no longer want specific rooms that have only one purpose.  Multipurpose rooms enable them to change configurations between being a gaming room to a large space for entertainment.  Many homeowners are using multipurpose space to allow for in-home gyms, where equipment is easily stored, and room conversions can take place.

Trend #4:  Upgraded Laundry and Mud Rooms

Organization has become a necessity for many homeowners and that organization is happening in the laundry and mud rooms.  Today’s mud rooms have more ways to store jackets, shoes, and the day-to-day happenings in a busy household.  Laundry rooms have seen more organization as well, with increased counter space for folding, more cabinets for storage, large laundry sinks, and even dog bathing sinks for the furry family members.

Trends #5:  Interior and Exterior Integration

As part of the focus on self-care, and greater opportunity for relaxation, many homeowners are blending the space between their interiors and the exterior of their homes.  Large walls with sliders that open to the outside porch or lanai are a great way to expand indoor/outdoor entertainment space.  Additionally, homeowners are installing outdoor kitchens that may include stovetops, refrigerators, and flat screen TVs.

As you begin your home construction process, make sure to consult with your Prominent Builders and Design home construction consultant about trends and the best ways to enhance your living experience.   With more homeowners spending a higher percentage of time in their living space, it makes sense to build the right experience that fits all your needs, preferences, and style. Contact us today.

The Final Step and Recap of the New Home Construction Process

This month’s blog post is the final in a series of monthly posts about the new home construction process.  Over the last five months, we have shared each of the critical stages of the construction process and what to expect.

Our series is below and follows the construction process from beginning to end:

This final installment focuses on the importance of the homeowner pre-closing inspection.  During this stage, a final walk through is conducted to identify any small or large issues that need to be addressed before the loan closing.  Issues can range from something that is inoperable, to damage that may have been caused and overlooked by contractors.  We share best practices for conducting the pre-closing inspection to ensure that you are fully satisfied with the work and your future new home.

What to Bring

  • If you plan to conduct the walk-through without the builder, make sure to have a trusted friend or someone there like your real estate agent with you who can help. Everyone sees things differently, so it will be helpful to have another set of eyes as you look around the home.
  • You should also plan to have a camera, or your mobile device, for taking pictures. It is important to keep a documented record of what you find, so you can follow-up on issues to ensure they are addressed by the builder.
  • Pad of paper and pen.
  • Phone charger or inexpensive electrical outlet tester (you can find these at any hardware store for under $20).
  • Every builder may handle this process differently, but in general you will be given a roll of blue tape and be asked to put it on items that require attention. Have enough tape for you and any other helpers.
  • Flashlight and screwdriver kit.
  • Try to schedule your walkthrough in the early afternoon, so you can have maximum natural light on the interior and exterior of the home

Walkthrough Checklist

The list below is not comprehensive for all the custom features that you may have added to your home but does encompass many items to inspect during your final walkthrough.

Electrical

  • Test all installed lighting, dimmer switches, and ceiling fans (if applicable)
  • Using the phone charger or tester, check that all wall outlets are working
  • Test GFCI outlets and reset
  • Check the circuit breaker box for proper labeling of all household circuits and look for any tripped breakers
  • Test HVAC system – air and heating; make sure cool air or heat is coming out of all vents within the home
  • Test doorbell and exterior lights
  • Test garage door opener (if applicable)
  • Test ceiling vents in bathrooms

Plumbing:

  • Run all faucets and shower/tub faucets, test hot and cold
  • Check for any leaks underneath the sinks
  • Flush all toilets and wait for the tank to refill, check for any leaks behind toilet or in wall connection
  • Test drains in all sinks and sealing around faucet
  • Run the garbage disposal (if applicable)

Appliances:

  • Check appliances, including oven(s), stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, and washer/dryer (if applicable)
  • Turn on oven at different temperatures, check lights
  • Test stove vents and light

Windows/Doors:

  • Open all windows to ensure smooth operation, check for screens (if applicable); check window locks
  • Test all doors and door locks; make sure all doors are properly hinged and close

Walls and Ceilings:

  • Check for any nail pops on the walls and ceilings
  • Check for full coverage of paint on walls
  • Inspect millwork (baseboard) for paint and sealing
  • Look for general damage on walls, ceilings, and baseboards

Flooring:

  • Inspect flooring for damage to tile, hardwood, or laminate
  • Inspect grout on tile
  • Ensure that carpeting is secured in all corners and ends and there are no raised areas or bumps

Vanities, Cabinets, and Countertops:

  • Depending on when your vanities or cabinets were installed, they may be subjected to damage from other contractors
  • Look for scratches, dents or other damage on all vanities and cabinets.
  • Test door hinges and alignment.
  • Test any soft-close drawers (if applicable)
  • Check countertops for chips or nicks. Run your finger along all the countertop edges
  • Check for sealing along seams of countertops and wall/backsplash

Exterior of Home:

  • Walk perimeter of home, checking landscaping
  • Test exterior hose or water sources
  • Check exterior walls for damage or any painting issues

As stated above, this list is not comprehensive.  If you feel the need for a more thorough inspection, speak with your builder about your interest in hiring an independent inspection service.   Independent inspectors can check areas of the home that you may not have access to or not familiar with what to look for during the inspection.  For example, they may access your roof and attic to check for waterproofing, insulation, and ductwork.

In the end, make sure to conduct a thorough inspection so that you are satisfied and share everything with your builder.  Ask about completion dates and priority of what will be done prior to closing, and items that you are willing to wait for post-closing.

If you have any concerns about your final walkthrough, make sure to discuss them with your Prominent Builders and Design consultant. If you are interested in starting a new home construction project, please give us a call.

The New Home Construction Process – Detailed Interior and Exterior Work

This month’s blog is the fifth installment of our series on new home construction from beginning to end.  In last month’s blog, we covered the steps leading up to drywall, along with the drywall process.

If you have gotten this far with your home’s construction, congratulations!  Your home is well on its way to completion – now the detailed interior and exterior work begins.  In this month’s blog post, we discuss the broader aspects of the interior and exterior work that will be the focus once the drywall is final and the home is secured from the outside elements.

Home Exterior

Some of your exterior work may have been completed prior to drywall, but the outside will continue to evolve as the interior work is underway.  Important exterior work that you will see includes:

  • Siding or other finishes, including weatherproofing material
  • Painting on the exterior walls, trim work, and other exterior components of the home
  • Sidewalk, driveway, and/or patio installation
  • Gutters and drainage work
  • Adding decorative features like shutters, columns, etc.
  • Landscaping and exterior lighting

Home Interior

Walls, Ceilings and Doors

As the detailed work begins inside the home, there may be a logical order for some of the work.  For example, you should see textured finishes added to walls and ceilings and possibly the millwork (such as door frames) before painting is started.  At the same time, your interior doors for closets and rooms may be hung on the frames and painted prior to being placed.

Bathrooms

Bathroom work usually begins with finishing out any tub or shower space.  This means adding shower pans, framing out shower niches, applying waterproofing compounds, and tiling the shower enclosure. Tubs are usually placed as well.

Next, your tile will be laid on the floor in the bathroom.  Sometimes, your vanities and sinks may be installed if they are available, and the tile work comes after.  The order of this work depends on the availability of construction trades, and materials.  Any electrical work such as lighting and vents will be completed as well as adding bathroom fixtures to sinks and tub/shower.

Flooring

Depending on the type of flooring, some of this work may begin after the texturizing and painting.  Typically, carpeting is not installed until closer to the completion of the interior.  But other flooring may be scheduled to begin as other areas are being worked on throughout the home.  Additional millwork may continue as well, such as baseboards once the flooring is installed.

Kitchen

Interior work in your kitchen is complex because it involves a wide variety of trades including plumbing, electrical, flooring, cabinetry, countertops, and finally appliances.  This work will take place as the trades are available, so it’s a good idea to stay in close contact with your Prominent construction consultant.  He or she will make sure that the right contractors are on site and that attention is given to protect any items that are already installed before heavy work is complete.  For example, sometimes your cabinets may be installed before the flooring is complete.  Every effort will be made to protect your cabinets from damage that may come from other trades.

Electrical and/or Gas

During this process, your electrical is being completed which may include switch plates and outlet covers.  You will also see any recessed or installed lighting added to the areas that were “roughed in” prior to drywall.  This could include ceiling fans and other custom electrical features in the home.

If you have gas in your home to power the HVAC, cooking or laundry appliances, this work will be completed during this time as well.  Most likely this is when you will also see your HVAC units installed in the home when the electrical work is complete.

Patience is a Virtue

There are many other large and small tasks that will be completed during this phase of the construction.  The most important thing for you as the future homeowner is to be patient.  You may see some areas worked on more than others, but keep in mind that all the work will culminate in a finished home.  Try to keep your stress level down by staying in frequent communication with your construction consultant and asking questions about the process.

In next month’s blog, we conclude this series on new home construction by reviewing the final stage before closing – the final walkthrough.  We will share tips and ideas on what to look for at this stage of the process prior to closing so that you can close with confidence on your new home. If you are ready to get started on a new home construction or you would like to renovate your home, give the professionals at Prominent Builders and Design a call today.

Continuing our Series on the Home Construction Process

In April, we began a series of blogs on the new home construction process from beginning to end.  Our series has covered the topics of Floor Plan Choices When Building a Custom Home, New Home Foundations – The Important Things to Know, and The Framing Stage of New Home Construction.  In this month’s blog, we focus on the main tasks leading up to the drywall stage and the drywall process.

Prior to Drywall

Before the drywall goes in, there are several important steps to complete to ready the home.  These include the following:

Closing in the Home from the Outside Environment

Once your new home is framed and the roof is intact, the home should be closed off from the elements with any exterior doors and windows. It is important to close off the home to begin drying it out from moisture and creating a stable temperature environment before any drywall, ductwork, plumbing, or electrical work is completed.

Electrical, Plumbing, and HVAC

Now that your home is closed in from the outside environment, critical work begins on laying your electrical wiring, adding your plumbing, and installing the HVAC ductwork.  These three items may happen simultaneously, or you may see one before the other based on the availability of the construction trades.

  • You will begin to see the wiring being added into the walls and rough ins for the wall outlets.
  • Pipes are placed into the walls throughout the home to prepare for the plumbing.
  • Duct work and rough ins for registers will also be added into the ceilings and the attic to prepare for your heating and cooling system.

Depending on the building codes, each of these items will be required to pass specific inspections.  Your home construction consultant will work directly with the inspectors to ensure that these items adhere to all the building codes and are ready to move on in the process.  Drywall cannot happen until all inspections are cleared.

Important Tip:  A helpful tip that may help you later is to carefully photograph all the electrical and plumbing prior to drywall.  Go around the home and take pictures of the wiring in the walls and the pipes.  Keep notes associated with your photos so that in the event you want to do something later once the home is complete, you have a record of where specific wiring or pipes are in the walls.

The Drywall Process

Once the necessary inspections are completed, it is time to begin the drywalling.

To help you to know what to expect, we explain the key steps in this process:

  1. Drywall materials are usually stored in a dry environment and given time to adjust to the room temperature.
  2. You may hear the drywall referred to as “plasterboard”, “Sheetrock”, or gypsum. Drywall is typically a ½ inch thick layer of plaster, which is sandwiched between heavy paper.
  3. Drywall is nailed to the framing on the walls and ceilings. The installer will use a nail gun to secure the drywall material to the framing throughout the home.
  4. Once the installation is completed, the drywaller will apply tape over the seams, any cracks in the materials, and cover the nail holes with a type of spackling compound.
  5. Drywalling is a quick process, especially if there are several installers working at once.
  6. Drywalling is a dusty process, so it is important that the construction site is cleaned of plaster dust before working on the next stages of the home.

Once this process is complete, you have reached a major milestone in the home construction process.  Your home now takes on shape and form and hopefully you will begin to have greater vision of what it will look like when it is completed.

In next month’s blog post, we will continue our series with a look at the tasks that now begin to add the various finishes to the home, including cabinetry, flooring, and paint.

If you would like to learn more about custom new home construction, reach out to a consultant at Prominent Builders and Design today to schedule an appointment.

The Framing Stage of New Home Construction

Over the last few months, we have posted a blog series about home construction from the ground up.  We started in April, with a look at popular floor plan designs.  This is an important step in the process that will determine many of the remaining stages of your new home construction.  In May, we looked at the common types of foundations.  Once the foundation is poured, cured, and/or built, it’s time to start putting some shape to your home with framing.

In the continuation of our series on custom home building, we focus on the framing stage this month. We will examine the important considerations for the framing process leading up to the pre-drywall stage.

What is Framing?

Think of your home’s framing as the bones of the home.  Together with the foundation, the framing plays an important role in the structural integrity of the building.  Because a solid structure is so important to a lasting and safe home, framing is governed by various building codes.  These codes ensure that your framing is built with strict engineering principles to protect your home and its occupants.  If Prominent Builders and Design is working on your new home construction project, you can be assured we are going to meet the strict code guidelines.

Types of Framing

Most residential home construction uses platform framing in the process.  Platform framing involves the use of independent walls on the interior and exterior.   The term “platform” implies that the structure sits on the foundation and then multiple levels, or platforms, are layered on top of the structure.

Platform framing uses treated wood to build the external and internal walls.  Some home framing may be constructed with metal, but it is not common.  Wood framing is easier to work with and costs much less than metal.

Platform framing is different from balloon framing.  Balloon framing uses long 2×4 wood that runs from the foundation to the roof.  This type of framing was used on earlier homes and connects the framing together.  However, it also poses a fire risk because balloon framing is more likely to cause major damage in the event of a fire and spread throughout the entire home.

In some states, such as Florida, framing may include the use of manufactured concrete blocks (cinderblock), to create the first level of a home.  This process is used to protect the structure of the home from high hurricane winds.  In addition to the concrete blocks, rebar (steel rods) is used to reinforce the concrete bases of the home.

Framing Components

As you are involved in your home’s construction, you may hear us mention many terms that apply to framing that are helpful to know.  These are common terms for aspects of the framing structure that may apply to the floors, the walls, the ceiling, or the roof.  These terms include:

  • Joists: Joists are horizontal framing components that run the length of the floors, or the ceiling.  Floor joists are the base for the wall panels and are used to support the floor and the structure.  Ceiling joists help to secure the load of the roof to the studs in the joists.
  • Truss: The floor truss is a way to support the floor of the home through a series of web-like structures that help to maintain stability of the floor.  On the other hand, the roof trusses are pre-manufactured wood structures that help to support the weight of the roof and distribute the weight over a larger area.
  • Sheathing: Sheathing is what covers the floor structure and is referred to as the sub-floor.  Sheathing is also used on exterior walls as panels made of plywood, gypsum, or other materials.  The sheathing strengthens the walls and is what builders will apply siding or other exterior components to the sheathing on the outside.
  • Top and Bottom Wall Plates: The plates are the structures that run along the top of the wall frame that support the roof and ceiling or run along the foundation to secure the framing to the foundation.
  • Rafters and Decking: A rafter is a roof structure that supports the sheathing and runs along the roof ridge to the end wall plate.  Decking is what lays on top of the trusses and rafters and provides the framework for the layers of the roof, such as the weatherproofing materials.

There are many other terms that apply to the various aspects of the framing in your home.  If you are interested, talk with your new home construction consultant.  It is always good to ask about how the home is framed so you can better understand the quality of craftsmanship that goes into new home construction.

In next month’s blog post, we will continue this series with a look at the tasks involved at the “roughing in” stage for the electrical, HVAC, and plumbing in your home’s frame.  If you would like to learn more about custom new home construction, reach out to a consultant at Prominent Builders and Design today to schedule an appointment.

New Home Foundations – The Important Things to Know

In last month’s blog post, we reviewed the popular custom home floor plans that are available in new home construction.  Picking your floor plan has a lot to do with your individual preferences, along with the utility of your living space.  We continue this series on custom building with a look at the foundation of your home.  While you may not necessarily choose the foundation for your home, it is useful to know more about the types of foundations that are typically used in home building.

The Importance of a Home Foundation

Your home’s foundation is a critical aspect of your home’s lifespan and safety.  In simplest terms, the foundation is the anchor to the rest of the house.  The foundation must be able to support the weight of the home and protect it from the elements of earth (in the form of seismic activity), wind, and water (e.g., underground water or moisture).  If your foundation is not solid, it cannot handle the stress of shifting ground and water over time and could result in structural damage to most of your home.

Factors for the Right Foundation

Factors that may go into selecting the right foundation for your home may include how you plan to use the space in your home.  For example, if you want to use space below ground level, then choosing a more secured foundation that provides adequate protection from the elements is important.  This ensures that any living space “below ground” is free from the damaging effects of moisture.

If you live in a warmer climate, the right foundation may be determined by the hazards of that climate – for example, Florida homes stay away from wood foundations because termites pose a risk to the homes.  Homes in Florida are also victim of hurricanes and strong storms, and so they require solid foundations to withstand hurricane force winds.

The type of soil, moisture content, and even the topography of the lot also plays a role in selecting the type of foundation for your home.  For example, a good builder may sample the soil and conduct a “perc test”, which measures if the soil will percolate water through it.

Common Types of Home Foundations

While there is a wide range of foundations for homes, we consider the five more common ones you will find in today’s homes.

  1. Concrete Slab Foundations: Probably the most common type of foundation, the concrete slab foundation lays on top of the ground.  Before the slab is poured, plumbing is laid out in the ground for access to the main plumbing system.  Slab foundations are usually about four to eight inches and do best in warmer climates where the ground may not freeze and thaw.
  2. Cinder Block Foundations: Cinder block foundations use fabricated concrete blocks, that are easily placed and stacked to form a home’s foundation.  Block foundations can hold more weight of the home due to their solid construction but can be susceptible to problems if not properly installed.
  3. Stone Foundations: You will normally find stone foundations in older homes.  Stone foundations use large stones that are cemented together.  If these foundations are not full waterproofed, they can deteriorate over time and cause damage to the home through cracking or moisture intrusion.
  4. Crawl-Space Foundations: Crawl space foundations have a space between the ground and the home (about four feet).  This space is not heated, but typically is vented so that there is free-flowing air to avoid any moisture build-up below the home.  Some homeowners may even use the crawlspace for storage or for home components like a furnace or water heater.
  5. Wood Foundations: A wood foundation may use a combination of wood and concrete the form the home’s foundation.  Wood foundations use treated wood for mold, fungus, and a variety of pests.  This type of foundation is more expensive to build but provides home protection from the cold over concrete versions.

If you are working with Prominent Builders and Design on your custom home, speak with your consultant about the type of foundation that will be used for your home.  Talk to them about the advantages and disadvantages of your home’s foundation, and the possible issues to consider over time.

Floor Plan Choices When Building A Custom Home

Building a custom home can be an extremely rewarding process!  Today’s homeowners who choose to work with a custom home builder get a chance to turn their dreams into reality.  But building a custom home comes with many choices and decisions.  One of those decisions that you need to make early in the process is picking the layout, or floor plan, of your new home.  But with so many options, what type of floor plan should you choose?

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