February 2007 House-Building Home Page

Money Saving, Convenience and Healthy House Tips
For The Building of Your New Home



  1. Introduction
  2. Managing Your Builder
  3. Alternative Framing Opportunities
  4. Adding Cabinets in Your Garage
  5. Summary
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This month's newsletter is devoted to several diverse topics associated with new home building. Managing your builder is a topic that many people discover they needed to think about after it is too late, their home is behind schedule or worse will miss cost targets.

We will also touch on framing techniques and some of the alternatives that are available along with the pros and cons of each.

Finally every man treasures his garage. This is his space and a place for many men to get away for a few minutes and play with their grownup toys. Organization and storage can add a great deal to the value of your home as well as make it a more pleasant place to work on your pet projects. Cabinets in your garage provide excellent storage systems.

As usual with all of our newsletters we will provide useful links for our readers to find out more detailed information about each of these subjects throughout our newsletter.

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Managing Your Builder

Anyone planning to build their own home, using a general contractor or a recognized local builder should take the time to educate themselves on all aspects of the design and construction of your new home. An informed homeowner can always be more aware of the dangers and pitfalls of managing your builder when they understand the building process and can foresee some of the issues before they arise. One of the first useful links included in this section is a link to a site that will walk you through the entire process of home building from selecting a site to setting contracts and scheduling. This is a highly recommended site for all of our readers to review.

As in many projects, there are several primary elements that must be considered and then there are thousands of details to be worked through. Primarily you are dealing with time, cost and meeting major milestones if your home is going to be ready on time. A builder with experience and a reputation for producing a home on schedule while meeting your level of quality is one to be treasured.

The National Association of Home Builders provides a number of resources and information that will be useful to builders and new homeowners alike who are contemplating the construction of a new home and are planning to manage the general contractor or the sub trades themselves.

Contracts are important for a number of reasons. First they force both sides to examine and define the details of what is being delivered, the schedule, the cost and the penalties if these are not met. Even a simple contract is much better than a verbal contract since they provide protection for both you and the contractor and reduce the chances of misunderstandings. Contracts also do not replace communication with your builder. Often the greater the level of communication there is between you and your builder, the lower the chances are of your expectations not being met.

Regular inspection of your home while it is being constructed is also useful in a number of ways. Inspections provide an opportunity for the homeowner to assess quality and adherence to design requirements. Costly mistakes and associated time delays can often be avoided. If you are planning to visit the construction site often, care must be taken to ensure that you meet all safety regulations and local building code regulations. For example, most building sites require a hardhat, safety glasses and safety boots to provide appropriate levels of protection.

A final inspection should be scheduled before you move into your new home to review all elements of your home from a safety perspective as well as aesthetics. This includes all electrical outlets, heating, cooling systems, and all local bylaws and building codes. In many locations, owners are not allowed to move in before an inspection is completed and any items identified are corrected.

In addition to the above inspection, an inspection with your builder is also a good idea to identify any design or quality issues. These can be fixed after you move in, however it is important to identify them before you occupy your new home.

Finally, the success of your new homes construction is often dependent on the relationship you have with your builder. It is important to cultivate a positive trusting relationship that is backed up with appropriate contracts.

Some Useful Links:

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Alternative Framing Opportunities

Traditional framing for homes and even apartment buildings under four floors has used wood framing techniques or stick building for many years. Developers and architects are beginning to explore other framing techniques in efforts to control costs as the price of wood increases as well as deal with unique design requirements to meet the needs of their customers.

There are advantages to each style of framing including versatility, price, insulation, environmental considerations as well as finding skilled trades people who are familiar with the various framing alternatives and have the skills to work effectively with these techniques.

Insulated concrete forms, structural insulated panels, modular construction, steel framing, timber framing, autoclaved aerated concrete blocks and engineered wood framing are several of the recent methods that are emerging for residential home building.

Home owners working with an architect or builder to design a new home should consider the following variables when considering various framing techniques including traditional stick building: Ease of handling; price; stability; strength; energy efficiency; durability; availability of skilled trades people; construction time; insulation value; health issues for some materials.

Several case studies have been completed to assess various alternatives to traditional stick building. Most conclude that when compared to traditional stick techniques, alternative framing styles are more expensive. However local conditions, availability of skilled resources and local needs must also be considered.

In California for example, environmental controls and requirements are becoming more stringent and various commissions including the California Energy Commission are adding additional building standards to their requirements covering thermal bridging and exterior insulation for steel frame homes. Our readers are encouraged to check with your local building commissions for the latest requirements when designing a new home.

As you work with your builder or architect, new homeowners should take into consideration the cost vs. design attributes and advantages that each framing technique provides compared to the objectives they have for their home.

We have also included a link to a site that discussed the various phases of a home during construction including framing. Although this particular reference refers to traditional stick framing, the same concepts can be considered for other types of framing such as steel etc.

Some Useful Links:

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Adding cabinets in your garage

The time to design and build your garage cabinets is actually before you even move into your new home. If you are living in a home now with a garage and do not have any cabinets or storage shelves, you already know what a mess it can be and how difficult it is to find anything. In fact you may not even be able to place your car in your garage.

Garage cabinets and shelving can make a huge difference in the value of your home as well since everything is stored properly and well organized leaving a positive impression every time some one enters the garage. In addition any chemicals you may have and other items that may represent a safety issue or environmental consideration can be safely stored away out of the reach of children who may accidentally get their hands on the wrong items.

Building garage shelves and cabinets can add value to your home, provide a safe environment, allow you to organize your possessions and also provide additional security for those expensive tools that you may want to store in the garage.

The steps in designing your garage are much the same as any other room in your home. First decide what items will be stored in your garage, what level of safety do you need, do the cabinets need to be locked, what size do they need to be, do you want to organize things around tools, toys, lawn materials, environmental items such as paint, lawn spray etc., will you still be able to leave your car in the garage and will their be room for a work space and storage of your larger tools. This is an important first step since it provides your architect / builder with some guidelines regarding your needs.

Next is the type of cabinets that are needed. A basic decision is whether your cabinets will be fixed to the wall or will you need to move them from time to time. If so, cabinets on casters is something you may want to consider. In addition, cabinets on rollers or casters can be moved to the next home you build as well providing an extra advantage. They can be moved outside if you need temporary space or plan on a thorough spring-cleaning.

Cabinets come in a variety of materials including particleboard, solid wood, resin and metal cabinets. Metal cabinets are obviously stronger and more durable, however if your cabinets will be exposed to salt contamination from winter slush then you may want to keep them off the floor or consider wood cabinets. Particleboard also can deteriorate quickly if it is exposed to any moisture. Solid cabinets will provide excellent support for any items you plan to store in them. Flimsy cabinet shelving will often break and the doors can even fall off. Taking the time to design strong sturdy cabinets will ensure that you have many years of service.

Location of your cabinets in your garage is also very important, since you will be storing your car and other items in your garage. In addition you may have a workspace devoted to hobbies or other activities and your garage cabinets should be located next to the workspace to ensure both comfort as well as safety.

Always place any items that could be dangerous to children high enough so they are unable to reach them. This can include lawn chemicals, pool chemicals and even sharp edged tools, which could fall and hurt them. Installing lockable cabinets provides that extra bit of security for your possessions as well as for little ones.

Our useful links listed below provide more detail associated with the issues we have discussed, and as well provide links to some of the different types of cabinets that can be purchased for your garage.

Some Useful Links:

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