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Building Your New Home
Intimidated by the idea of being your own builder? You’re not alone.
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anyone interested in building a new home.
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Are you considering being an owner-builder, but are intimidated by the challenge
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2. Poured versus cement block
versus pre-cast walls
In areas of the country that have basements, poured concrete
walls appear to be the most popular choice for many builders.
There are advantages and disadvantages for having a poured
concrete wall vs. a cement block wall vs. a pre-cast wall
that is poured off site and delivered on a flat bed truck.
We will review these advantages and disadvantages briefly
in this short article. Cracks in any of the basement walls
allows water and gases to leak in causing any number of
unhealthy problems. The stronger and better built basement
walls will protect your family from these two problems.
The main advantage of Cement Block Walls is that the basement walls will be plumb
and they will also be square making later construction of the home easier as
well as finishing the basement with drywall an easier task. Block walls are held
in place with mortar that is typically mixed on the site, as it is needed. The
mortar plays a critical part in the strength of the wall. Too much water in the
mortar can weaken the wall. Cement block walls are weaker than traditional poured
walls since the blocks are hollow. This may not be an issue for many homes, unless
there will be excessive weight from a larger home. You should discuss your cement
block wall with your builder. Placing re-enforcing bars in the hollow portions
and pouring cement into the hollows can also strengthen these walls. If you intend
to finish the basement you will have to add an interior wood frame, insulation
and moisture barrier and drywall.
Poured Concrete Walls are the traditional means of construction concrete walls.
Poured concrete walls are usually poured to a strength rating of 3500 PSI, are
poured on a footer and do not have re-enforcing bars. Poured concrete walls may
not always be plumb and the top may not be level if the forms are not adequately
supported during the pouring of the concrete. If there are delays in the pouring,
cold seams can develop which can also cause cracks later on. Weather such as
heavy rain or extreme cold and extreme heat can delay pouring of the concrete
and even weaken the walls if the walls are not allowed to cure properly. From
beginning to end of the pouring, a poured concrete wall will require up to a
week to complete by the time you pour the footings, let them set, install the
forms in place, pour the concrete and allow it to set properly. Finished basements
require vapour barriers, studded walls, insulation and drywall to be added later.
Precast Concrete Walls are becoming popular and have a number of advantages that
are attracting many builders and homeowners. The walls come with a footer that
is precast and the walls are set on a base of crushed stone, which can be adjusted
in depth based on the strength of the surrounding soil. The walls are poured
in controlled factory conditions to maintain pouring standards at 5000 PSI strength
ratings with re-enforcing bars in the concrete. The precast walls come with insulation
and lumber nailers already in place so that you can nail the drywall to the wall
without adding a lumber stud wall to hold the drywall. The best part is that
the basement wall can be erected in one day, bolted together and the joints sealed
to avoid any water leakage.
Precast walls have another advantages in cold winter climates. Since they are
poured in a climate controlled factory, basements can be installed during the
winter, even in the coldest part of the year, without worrying about the appropriate
curing of the concrete.
If you feel that strength of the load bearing concrete wall be important in your
home due to excessive weight you can consider re-enforcing both the cement block
wall or the poured concrete wall to increase the vertical and lateral strength.
Your builder will be the best person to discuss this with.
As we mentioned at the beginning, this is a brief summary of the various types
of concrete walls that can be sued in home construction. The web sites we list
below can provide you with additional information
Some useful links to check out
Poured Wall Basements
Precast Concrete Foundation Walls
Concrete vs. Concrete Block Walls
Pre-cast Foundation Walls
3. Asphalt or Fibreglass Shingles
This month’s article on asphalt or fibreglass shingles will review
a few of the reasons why you may want to consider asphalt only shingles vs.
fibreglass shingles for your new home. We will also cover some of the signs
that your existing shingles have deteriorated and have reached the stage
were they need to be replaced if you are purchasing a rebuilt home. We will
also briefly review some of the alternatives to shingles such as metal and
Asphalt shingles and fibreglass shingles can be purchased to last from 15 to
30 years, however a variety of external factors will affect the actual life of
the shingles. The following are some of the environmental issues that can affect
Debris on the roof such as leaves that builds up causing rotting
Excessive heat in the summer
Baking from the attic if the attic is poorly ventilated
Excessive traffic on the roof
High winds; and,
Installation in cold temperatures
Signs of severe wear on your shingles include: cracking of the shingles, holes
were the nails are, missing shingles, surface granules worn off, and curling
at the ends indicates excessive heat. High wind can damage or blow away shingles
and objects such as branches from nearby trees can damage the roof. Snow and
ice build-up in the winter can cause damage and also ice dams leading to water
leakage inside the building. If you see any of these items on your new roof,
quick action can prevent long term damage.
When you purchase your new home, the builder will usually include the minimum
quality shingle on your home unless otherwise directed by you. Fifteen year shingles
are possible and some builders will use them. Consumers should consider 20 or
25-year shingles to maximize the protection on their roof and avoid near term
Asphalt shingles consist of a felt base, coated with asphalt and covered with
a thick layer of ceramic granules to protect the shingle from the elements. Fibreglass
shingles have a fibreglass matt coated with asphalt to provide strength and support
to the shingle in addition to the ceramic granules.
The advantages of a fibreglass shingle over a pure asphalt shingle include increased
resistance to rotting from over damp conditions, warping and curling from excessive
heat and an increased resistance to fire. A major disadvantage to fibreglass
shingles is that they have a tendency to crack in cold temperatures when they
are not handled properly. The spring and the fall are the best times to apply
fibreglass shingles. The advantage of fibreglass shingles when they are applied
properly to your roof is that they provide long lasting protection to your roof
from the superior strength they receive from the fibreglass mat.
Metal roofs can be installed although the drawbacks may be a serious concern
to many customers. Metal is typically more expensive and has a number of safety
and operation issues. A Metal roof is heavier than asphalt; the roof is more
difficult to work on due to slipperiness especially when it is wet, denting from
walking on it or debris being blown against it as well. In addition some fire
marshals will not allow their men to be on a metal roof during a fire due to
safety issues. Asphalt shingles are much quieter during a heavy rain than a metal
We have briefly covered some of the issues associated with asphalt shingles,
fibreglass shingles and metal roofs. As usual there are also several links that
you can refer to find additional information.
Useful Web Links
Asphalt Fibreglass Roofing Shingles
4. Thought For The Day
Integrity is accepting responsibility when you have made