Tags: ‘Neighborhood’

Trim and Millwork – Special Touches!

Installation and completion of drywall, ceramic tile, and hardwood means you can start a very exciting phase on your new home…trim and millwork!

Wood Molding Profiles

During this phase of finishing your new home, all of your creativity and personal touches start to come to life. If this is your first home, you might not have extra trim work features, but simply adding door frames, doors, and baseboards starts to bring your living spaces to life. Trim and millwork features such as crown molding, chair rail, panels, built-in bookcases, special features in closets, and wood trimmed windows, enhance the value of your new home and let you add your special touch. You may want to add special finishes to a single room or throughout, but trim features can often be added at a later date if you want to start slow.  Millwork comes in a wide variety of shapes, or profiles, and sizes. You can pair baseboard with crown molding to create a dramatic crown mold feature.

Wainscoting-Dining-Room

You can pair chair rail with panels below it.

Built-in entertainment centers in family rooms and/or bonus rooms add functionality and house the myriad assortment of electronics used today.

Imagine columns in a two story entry wrapped in sheetrock. Then imagine those same columns with wood trim added. Now you have a dramatic entry!

 

Wood trim and millwork are not the only materials available for the interior of your new home. Stone and reclaimed barn wood produce gorgeous feature walls.

reclaimed barnwood

There are no limits to what you can do to trim out your new home…the creativity and vision lives in your imagination!

 

Drywall…a muddy process!

After insulation installation is completed and inspected, drywall installation and finish begins.

house1Large boom trucks pull up on your lot and hoist sheetrock through an upstairs window designed to open and allow this process to take place (both sashes are designed for removal). Specialty sheetrock designed to repel moisture will line the bathroom areas, and the rest of your rooms will take shape with the hanging of the sheetrock. The majority of the sheetrock in your new home will be ½” thick, on both walls and ceilings.

Building codes do require some walls use a fire resistant sheetrock which will be 5/8” thick. The walls in a garage that are common to living areas should be covered with 5/8” thick sheetrock.

Sheetrock hung with screws requires a maximum spacing of 12” between screws, while sheetrock hung with nails requires a maximum spacing of 7” between nails on ceilings, and a maximum spacing of 8” on walls. As a home dries and settles, nails can back out causing “nail pops” and necessitating repairs. I strongly urge you to require screws of the proper length be used to hang all of the sheetrock in your new home.

hanging_sheetsProperly hung sheetrock will have the joints staggered so that they do not line up over the top of each other. Much like a brick pattern, you should see joints staggered over the walls. Note that sheetrock comes in different lengths and widths. To minimize waste, sheetrock should be ordered as close to the size of a room as possible. A very simple example follows – your room is 12’ x 12’ with a 9’ ceiling, so two sheets 54-1/2” x 12’ will cover one wall without waste. In a perfect world, all of your rooms would be sized to minimize sheetrock waste. If your General Contractor is on site, minimizing waste should not be an issue.

Upon the completion of hanging, the taping and floating process begins. Specialty paper tape is applied over all joints in a generous bed of sheetrock mud. The excess mud blends the edge of the tape into the wall surface and create a smooth wall. After the initial coat of mud dries, an additional coat is applied, allowed to dry, and then sanded to a smooth finish.

Years of experience have shown me that the majority of repairs, required after a final walk-thru on your completed home, emanate from drywall repairs. Following the application of the prime coat of paint, shine a bright light over all drywall surfaces, identify, and repair imperfections before the final coat of paint. This is important because repairs and paint touchup will never blend as well as a full coat of paint on your wall.

Upon completion, the plywood subfloors in your home need a good cleaning to scrape up and remove excess mud, and you are ready to begin tile and hardwood flooring.

Exterior Finishes – Brick, Siding, Stone, Fascia

The building process does not always occur one phase at a time. For instance, while the mechanical rough-ins proceed on the interior of your new home, exterior finishes progress concurrently. Foundations receive a water repellent coating, the installation of a curtain drain occurs, and exterior fascia begins.

Homes may receive a brick foundation with siding, or they may feature a mix of brick, siding and stone. If the exterior finishes on your home are predominantly masonry (brick and/or stone), watch for a few key items during application – weep holes to allow for airflow between brick or stone and wood on exterior walls, proper slant on door and window sills to allow for water shed, adequate usage of brick ties to hold the exterior finish to the walls, and appropriate sizing of lentils to support the weight of the masonry product you chose for your home.

Wall ties, weep holes, flashing

A one inch to two inch cavity exists between the brick veneer wall and the framed wall. A brick tie holds the brick veneer to the wall. This is a thin piece of metal, approximately eight inches long and one inch wide nailed to the framed wall every 16” horizontally and vertically. If you use a queen-sized brick, insert brick ties at least every five courses. Note that brick comes in many different sizes, and the amount of brick, brick ties, mortar, and sand required will vary depending on the size of the brick you select for your new home.

Ventilation between the brick veneer and the framed wall allows moisture to escape and keep your home dry and sound. Weep holes placed around your foundation and over windows and doors allow air to circulate and keep the interior framed wall dry. While a mason builds the brick veneer, he can easily apply cotton cording from the wall through the mortar joints which will create a cavity for moisture to wick away from the brick.  The application of stone veneer also requires the same ventilation and flashing that brick veneer employs.

A wide variety of siding products might be used on the exterior of your home, and those products may be aluminum, vinyl, or masonry in nature.  A popular product that became available a few years ago, manufactured by James Hardie, is a fiber cement siding called Hardie Plank.  These products do not require special consideration to allow for air circulation between the veneer and the framed wall, and come in a wide variety of styles and colors.

Let us know if we can be of assistance in building your next home.

Mechanical Rough Ins – Plumbing, Sprinklers, Electrical and HVAC

After framing passes inspection, you can begin mechanical systems rough-ins. Rough in refers to the parts of a system that reside in the attic, crawlspace of wall cavities of the home. Four systems require a rough in phase before insulation or sheetrock are added to your new home – plumbing, sprinklers, heating and air conditioning (HVAC), and electrical.

Plumbing Rough InWe recommend that your first mechanical system rough in be plumbing. Plumbing materials are rigid and require proper placement and fall, and these materials do not easily flow around other systems.  When you made your pre-construction decisions, the placement for cabinets, vanities, tubs, showers, and toilets, designed a plumbing system for a licensed plumber to connect a water supply and sewer discharge to for maximum efficiency. The plumbing rough in receives an inspection and must adhere to codes requirements before passing inspection.

More and more jurisdictions are requiring the use of sprinkler systems in residential homes. Check the jurisdiction you are building in to ascertain whether or not you will be required to include a sprinkler system in your home. If you are required to include this system, the rough in should be completed before electrical or HVAC systems are started.

 

The electrical system rough in follows the plumbing rough in. Your builder should have a final electrical walk through with you before the electrician starts wiring your home. People often find their lighting requirements change when they actually walk through their framed home. Standing in a room allows you to visualize the placement of furnishings, so you can actually tell where you need a receptacle or additional lighting. Task lights, spot lights, recessed lights, and track lights added at this stage of construction cost less now that at the end stage of construction because the additional labor required is minimal. If your home will require any special wiring, such as security systems, intercoms, surround sound music, or central vacuum systems, now is the time to plan for those additional features. A licensed inspector, employed by the state you live in, will perform the electrical rough in inspection.

HVACThe HVAC system rough in follows plumbing, sprinklers, and electrical, and the inspection for this system often occurs at the time of the plumbing inspection. Flexible duct lines that direct the conditioned air in your home are routed over, under, and around other systems. The placement of equipment housed inside the attic of the home occurs at this point. Codes requirements dictate that plywood flooring be placed around units in attics so the equipment is accessible for service. A tip for you about HVAC systems…screw down plywood covers over any vent openings in the floors. This will keep debris from accidentally falling into your air supply lines.

Please do pay special attention to the order that systems are added into your home. A good cook knows not to rush the process, and a good builder knows this, too!

Drying In – Roofing, Windows and Doors

Upon completion of framing, the next phase deals with the dry-in of your new home. Water intrusion cannot be regarded too lightly and roofing applied to your home as soon as possible helps maintain dry components, followed by the installation of windows and doors.

My preference has always been to complete the roofing before installing windows and doors. The “gravel” on roofing shingles can scratch window glass, and gravel from shingles gets rubbed off during installation. Making every effort to avoid accidents and breakage throughout the building process saves times and money.

Proper roofing installation includes layers of materials applied correctly. Think of these layers as a raincoat, each layer applied on top of the other and overlapping to allow water to shed off of your home. When you put on a raincoat, you allow it to overhang all of your clothing; you don’t tuck your raincoat into your pants. The same logic applies here.

Roof Anatomy

Roofing layers should be applied to dry decking in this order…first, roofing felt to protect roof decking. Keep in mind that you want the felt to overlap the prior run starting at the lower edge of the roof and working your way up to the ridge. Nail roofing felt in place with plastic cap nails. Use a water shield product on areas with lower pitches, such as porch roofs, where roofs adjoin vertical walls, in valleys, at drip edges to prevent ice dams, around skylights and plumbing vents.  Many roofs fail due to the lack of a proper starter strip being installed before the installation of shingles. Starter strip is installed on the roof edge and should overhang the eave. Shingles are then applied, taking care to properly install them in valleys and to use flashing where roofing edges meet vertical walls, vents for airflow and sleeves over plumbing vents. Ridge vents are often used in place of individual vents placed along the back side of the roof near the ridge. Ridge vents are more aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Your general contractor monitors the workmanship of the trades that work on your home, and the presence of your general contractor on site during the process insures the correct application of materials.

There is one additional step to complete your roof following the application of exterior walls finishes…counterflashing. Counterflashing covers the joint where wall finishes such as brick meet roof edges.

Windows and exterior doors installed upon the completion of roofing complete the encapsulation of your home to keep it dry for the duration of the building process.

Footer and Foundation

The governing authority approved and issued your building permit, and you can actually begin the first physical phase of construction on your new home…the footer. A licensed surveyor sets the corners of the home for the footer excavation. The surveyor uses the site plan prepared prior to the issuance of permits to accurately position the home on the lot. The excavation of trenches for the footing to the proper depth and width occurs at this point, as well as the installation of steel rebar. A codes inspection occurs and upon approval, concrete is poured to the proper depth. Employing the services of a soils engineer may be required in some areas, but we highly recommend having soils checked by an engineer always. The footer and foundation insure the stability of your new home. Width and depth of a footer depends on the type of structure.

Footer with Rebar

The next step requires the return of the surveyor to pin the corners of the house on the footer for the accurate placement of the foundation walls. You may use concrete block for a crawlspace foundation, or poured concrete walls for a basement foundation. An engineer will design the concrete walls for strength and stability, and a company that specializes in the erection of poured concrete walls follows the engineer’s design. Designate the placement of openings for services to enter the home at this time.

Following the erection of the foundation walls, installation of the sill plate occurs and a codes inspector performs a foundation inspection to insure that all work adheres to codes regulations. Following the passing of the foundation inspection, framing lumber and the framer begin building your new home.

Poured Concrete Walls

The framing stage is very exciting because you will actually begin to see your new home evolving, and we will offer insights into framing next.

If you have any specific questions regarding the footer and foundation phase, please contact me.

Congratulations! You Found A Neighborhood You Love!

Your realtor has helped you locate a neighborhood or subdivision that you would love to live in, and there are lots ready for a new home! Now you have questions about the process, right? If you found your preferred neighborhood with the help of a realtor, you have a true advocate to help guide you through the process…and there can be a multitude of variations from one neighborhood to the next.

houses-336436_1280Many developers have preferred builders to better control the quality and style of home built in the neighborhood. Most of the neighborhoods you look at will have this type of situation. If there are multiple lots available, the on-site realtor will be able to setup appointments for you to meet the builders and discuss your wants and needs in a new home…an interview per se. Personalities vary and if you are custom building, you will want a builder you are comfortable with, who communicates well with you during the process. Depending on the size of the home you are building, it might take over a year to build your home. By all means, check references and test communication response before you make a final decision.

There are other variables to consider, too. Be sure and get a copy of the Codes, Covenants and Restrictions for the neighborhood, and inquire about the Homeowners’ Association. If you like what you see in the neighborhood, it is probably because of the CCR’s. Well-designed guidelines help protect your investment. How much are the monthly association fees? Are residents paying their fees on time and is the Homeowners’ Association properly funded? Delinquencies can disrupt the association’s good standing for mortgage financing.

It is always a good idea to confirm the school districts, especially if you have a preference for the schools your children may be attending. While you are doing so, check into additional amenities available in the area – shopping, medical facilities, and entertainment options. It goes without saying, that if you can bring your own builder, I would love to have the opportunity to work you!

Not totally convinced the subdivision fits your needs?  Coming soon…building on your own land!