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House Building Construction

May 15, 2011 By: admin Category: home construction

In building an ideal home, mature and detailed plans are needed, not just a plan, but it must be executed with ease. There are many things to be considered in order to make a plan in developing home renovation. Preparing a budget is not the least, this cannot be denied, but it can be limited. That is why this should be considered carefully. In order to allocating the funds, the renovation of the house must be programmed not just once. The important thing to consider is the type of the building after the renovation, ornamentation, and partners.  Those things will play very strong in this renovation process. (more…)

The Advantages Of Steel Buildings

May 03, 2009 By: admin Category: home construction

Construction works of any kind will always be a complicated endeavor and thus require the services of construction professionals who can offer valuable and cost effective suggestions. The trend in construction works nowadays is the use of steel either for a residential or a commercial building project.

Metals are inherently strong materials and they have been used by contractors to build strong buildings and other construction projects. While the use of steel in construction has been getting much publicity today, steel buildings have been built as far back as the 20th century especially for warehouses and airplane garage or hangars.

Today, steel buildings are not only used in specific types of construction projects but steel has become the top choice material for building malls, churches, offices and even residential homes. This may be because steel is not only a strong material but it is generally less expensive than other materials and it can easily be acquired or built.

Most contractors prefer to use steel in their construction projects because prefabricated steel make their projects easier to complete. Prefabricated steel is mass produced by factories that get the building specifications from contractors and deliver the steel components to the site.

The advantages of using prefabricated steel materials can actually be summarized into three aspects; the cost of the materials, the speed with which the project can be easily completed and the durability of the materials to be used in the project.

Guidelines in using prefabricated steel for construction projects:

The owner or the head contractor must make sure that the proper design and building specifications have been given to the prefabricators. The specifications must include the building measurements and the architectural design. The blueprint of the construction project is important because it will specify the actual materials to be used.

Once the blueprint has been approved, the contractor can then order the pre fabricated steel materials from the factory and these will be delivered to the site with the exact measurements specified in the blueprint.  The prefabricated steel materials are all ready to bolted or attached.

Prefabricated steel materials can fast track construction works because while the materials are being prefabricated in the factories, the contractor can already lay the ground for actual construction like pouring the foundation, insulation, wiring, plumbing and other important aspects of the construction process.

While steel buildings are easily completed once the specifications have been set, focus must also be placed on existing building codes and zoning plans to make sure that everything about the construction is legal.

Building Your Dream Home – Part 3

March 25, 2009 By: admin Category: home construction

Exterior Framing Continues

With the home’s sub-floor down and the exterior walls framed and up, the framing crew was on to the roof. Though the roof was rather simple in structure with just a 12/12 pitch and no valleys it was a significant framing undertaking due to just the size and height of it. The house was 32 feet wide by 44 feet in length, and the exterior side walls stood 11 feet tall in the great room. This exterior wall height of 11 feet translated into a roof ridge that was 27 feet off the floor of the great room. Consequently staging was required to install the ridge pole and roof rafters. In addition, since the span from the top of the walls to the ridge was so long, heavy 2x12s were required for the roof rafters. Within a week, however, the team had completed the installation of the roof rafters and the house began to take on real shape.

I should comment briefly about the sub-floor and exterior walls before I move on.

I decided on using ¾” tongue and groove plywood for the sub-flooring rather than OSB/particle board as I was concerned that the OSB was too sensitive to moisture. I was concerned about this, both from the construction phase and from normal home use. I was concerned that during the construction phase that snow and ice could potentially lead to damage such as warping. I have seen this before when OSB was used on sub-flooring. I was also concerned that during the life of the home, that there could be water incidents, e.g. a leaking dishwasher or washer machine that also could also lead to water damage to the floor. I also believe that plywood is stronger and that it would provide for a more solid and rigid floor.

Regarding the exterior wall framing I used 2×6 construction. This is typical in New England as the additional wall depth allows for higher insulation factors; a must in colder climates.

Sheathing the Outside of the Home

In order to get plumbing and electric contractors onto a site typically they want the home “buttoned up”. This includes the roof shingled and the doors and windows on. Thus my framing crew moved onto the exterior sheathing once the walls and roof framing were complete.

As with the sub-floor, I again chose plywood for the exterior sheathing for the same reasons mentioned earlier. On the exterior walls ½” exterior grade plywood was used. On the roof 5/8” exterior grade plywood was used. I know many builders today use OSB for both the walls and roof, however, I still believe for stronger construction plywood is the way to go.

The sheathing effort took about a week to complete. During this time exterior doors and windows showed up on the site. Staging the delivery of material reduces theft and insurance risk as well as keeps a less cluttered construction site. However, as I have indicated earlier, communication is critical when you are doing “Just-in-Time” material delivery.

Installing Exterior Doors and Windows

The installation of the doors and windows was a major undertaking for this project as the lake side view of the home was literally a wall of windows; 32 feet in width and 27 feet in height. A great deal of engineering had gone into the window design so that the 10 large custom windows would fit together like a jig saw puzzle. This said, when the windows arrived on site and were inspected, it was determined that some of them were not built correctly to the dimensions specified. After much debate with the framing crew, the window vendor and me we reached a compromise on sharing the cost of fixing the windows. The window vendor took back the improperly sized windows and the framing crew began the installation of the doors and what windows they could install. Fortunately the window vendor was able to return to the site with the properly sized windows within a few days and the construction phase did not miss a beat.

Completing the Interior Framing

With the doors and windows installed, the framing crew proceeded to complete the Interior Framing. This was an exciting time, as the rooms began to take real shape. You could now walk down hallways and into bedrooms and closet areas. Within just a few days the interior walls were complete and the framing crew proceeded onto the roof for the shingling.

I should note that 2×4 construction was used on the interior walls as insulation was not required on the interior walls.

Shingling the Roof

The last task to complete before the house could be classified as “Buttoned Up” was to install the shingles on the roof. Fortunately my framing crew was also able to do this task, thus eliminating the need for yet another subcontractor.

I chose a 30 year architectural shingle due to the quality and look I was trying to achieve on the home.

Though relatively a simple roof, it was quite large and the weather was less than hospitable. Consequently it took nearly 2 weeks to complete this task. However, with the roof complete, my electric and plumbing contractors were now able to begin their work.

Also, with the main house now structurally complete, the framing crew moved onto the garage framing and construction phase. As a result of staging the garage behind the main home construction phase, I was able to have subcontractors work in parallel without getting in each others way.

Rough Electric and Plumbing

With the house “Buttoned-Up”, my Electric and Plumber subcontractors showed up to begin the roughing in phase of their respective tasks.

Rough Electric

I had met a few days before on site with the Electric subcontractor to discuss the placement of all the wall outlets and switches, as well as where the light fixtures would be situated. During our discussion he marked the wall studs for the placements of the electric wiring boxes so that we could visualize the entire electric wiring scheme. We also marked where the telephone and cable boxes would reside.

During the electrical rough in wiring phase, the electrician installed all the wiring boxes and ran wire from the boxes to where the main circuit panel box would reside.

Rough Plumbing

As with the Electrical Subcontractor, I had met several weeks earlier with the Plumbing Contractor. During this meeting we discussed the form of heat for the home, as well as where the bathrooms and kitchen were to reside in the home. We also discussed types of bathroom fixtures including tubs, sinks and toilets. Consequently, when he showed up on site he new exactly where to run main drain and supply pipes and vent stacks. He also roughed in all of the plumbing for each bathroom and kitchen plumbing fixture.

Within a week both the Electrical and Rough Plumbing contractors had completed their tasks and had successfully passed their respective inspections.

Building Your Dream Home – Part 2

March 22, 2009 By: admin Category: home construction

Razing the Cottage

With new house plans and permits in hand, subcontractors hired and a Septic Design in process, it was now time to raze the existing cottage. I considered employing the local fire department to burn it down, however I chose the demolition route instead. Though I did not contact the Fire Department, I was convinced that this route would have led to multiple delays and pitfalls, as I would have been at the whim of several town employees and weather conditions. The demolition route required only the excavator subcontractor and had less weather related schedule risks. In addition, the demolition cost and effort was very reasonable. Within two days, it was as if the cottage never existed on the land. It is important to note, however, that the cottage was relatively small. It was 22’ x 30’. If the cottage had been significantly larger, then the Fire Department route may have made more financial sense.

The demolition effort itself basically consisted of three parts. First, all of the furniture and appliances needed to be removed. Most of these items were old and musty and were not worth saving. Next, the excavator used a large backhoe and tore apart and crushed the building into small pieces. Finally, the excavator loaded the debris into several 20 cubic yard dumpsters, which were then hauled away by a dumpster company. Finding the appropriate dumpster company was a little bit of a challenge, as there are strict regulations on the disposing of certain home construction material. In addition, the dumpster costs can dramatically increase depending on how far away their facilities are from the construction/destruction site.

Breaking Ground

After the cottage was razed, and the stakes were placed outlining the boundary of the new home, it was time to break ground. This was a very exciting time as my dream was about to begin to take shape. I was building a large contemporary home with a wall of windows facing the lake front. Admittedly it was only a hole in the ground, but this hole represented the rough footprint of my future house. Seeing the hole, I could begin to more easily visualize my future home.

Digging out the hole and preparing the site for a foundation is one of the most critical aspects of building a new home. As a result, I spent several occasions with both the Excavator and Foundation subcontractors reviewing the house plans and the site prior to, and during the excavation. It was imperative that all of us were on the same page to ensure that the foundation walls, with all its jogs and step ups/downs would be located and installed per the plans. During these meetings a few adjustments were necessary to the foundation plans, however with all the team members involved the changes were minor and absolutely necessary. The changes helped prevent more serious problems later on and ensured that the outside aesthetics of the home were maintained.

As I already indicated, the foundation is extremely important to any quality home. If the foundation is not built upon a solid footing, nor constructed of the appropriate concrete strength, the foundation walls will crack in short order. These cracks can lead to water in the basement, settling in the framing, and eventually cracks in the finished walls and ceilings. Consequently, it is imperative that the excavation site not only be properly dug out, but also backfilled with crushed stone and sand to provide for a stable base and to enable proper drainage underneath and around the home. In my case I had the excavator dig out sufficiently to enable 18” of crushed stone to be backfilled into the hole and still meet my foundation plan requirements.

Once the site was prepared for concrete, the foundation crew installed concrete footings 18” wide and 12” deep. In addition they installed several cement footings in the middle of the house footprint for lally columns. The footings represent the base of the home and support the concrete foundation walls and the home itself. Due to the fact that it was winter, Calcium Chloride was used as an accelerator to speed the curing time of the concrete. In addition water had pooled in a portion of the hole, so constant pumping was necessary during the curing time.

After a couple of days, the foundation crew installed forms for the concrete walls. A day later the foundation walls were poured. Three days later the forms were removed and the foundation walls were in. I then had my excavator subcontractor return. After tarring the outer walls, just up to the level of where the finished grade would be, he installed a perimeter drain around the foundation and then backfilled the foundation with clean sand and fill. It is important that boulders and clay not be used as backfill material. Boulders can crack the foundation walls while being pushed into place, and clay can lead to improper drainage around the home.

With the foundation in and backfilled I was ready for framers.

The Framing Stage

The framing stage is probably the most exciting part of building a home. In a relatively short period of time, literally days, a house begins to take real form. Within less than a week knee walls were up, floor joists were installed and a plywood sub-floor was down. After a couple of weeks, the first floor walls were up and ceiling joists were being installed. I was so impressed I was convinced my new home was a month ahead of schedule. Boy was I wrong.

Before I elaborate on my misconception I should jump back for a minute. While the excavation work went on, I was also engaged with the Framing subcontractor. The Framing subcontractor needed to order framing material including lumber, doors and windows, shingles and siding. Inevitably there were issues with the availability of material and delivery dates, and as a result, we spent a fair amount of time resolving these issues. Fortunately, due to constant communication and quick problem solving we were able to have the initial delivery of lumber arrive on the site within a day after the backfilling of the foundation.

It is important to note, that it is at this time of the project that the large outlays of money begin to occur. Lumber costs for a home construction are quite large, and final payments are due to the Excavator and Foundation subcontractors. Excavation/Sitework and Foundation installations are a significant portion of the cost of building a home. In addition, the Framing subcontractor requires a portion of his labor to be paid in advance.

Also, it is very important that Homeowner Construction Insurance be obtained prior to the construction phase. This insurance protects the Homeowner/Builder against material theft and job injuries. All of your subcontractors and their employees should be insured but don’t count on it. During any building project, subcontractors are bound to hire extra help for short stints and I would be surprised if these temporary employees were added to the subcontractor’s insurance policy. The homeowner/builder insurance policy is small change compared to the risk of theft or the threat of injury lawsuits.

As I indicated earlier, I was in for a surprise with the framing phase of my home. As mentioned, the initial framing moved quickly. However it was still winter and frequent snow storms and extremely cold weather began to hit. This dramatically slowed progress. In addition, with the fresh supply of snow it quickly became apparent that my framing crew had an affinity to snowmobiling. So even on the sunny days my framing crew was frequently absent. No matter my level of complaining or prodding I was unable to control my framing subcontractor’s work ethic.

Consequently, I had to contact my plumbing, electric, and fireplace subcontractors to inform them of the delay. This was extremely painful to have to do, as I had no definitive date on when I would actually need them and each of them had very full calendars. As a result, to be able to call them at the last minute and expect for them to drop what they were doing to come to work on my project was highly unlikely. Again, through regular communication with these other subcontractors I was able to mitigate some of this problem, however my project did experience significant schedule slips due to my framing crews shenanigans.

In retrospect, I am not sure what I could have done to have prevented this problem. Reference checks on the Framing subcontractor had been positive. I guess I should have asked what his hobbies were and made sure they did not correspond to the season I wanted the work done. It is also a fact that unexpected things do happen on any project and one should expect it and plan accordingly. For example, put some contingency dollars and schedule into your project for events such as mine. Also, I can not stress enough to establish a rapport and regular communication channel with all of your subcontractors. Do not assume anything during a project of this size.

To Be Continued ….

In Part 3 of “Building Your Dream House”, the Framing continues and Rough Electric and Plumbing begin. Stay tuned……………

For more help on building a new home, see HomeAdditionPlus.com’s New Home Construction Bid sheet. The New Home Construction Bid Sheet will help ensure that your new home construction project goes smoothly and is completed on time and budget.

Building Your Dream Home – Part 1

March 19, 2009 By: admin Category: home construction

For most of my adult life I had thought about someday building my Dream Home. Several years ago I finally got the chance. I had purchased a lake front lot with a small cottage on it. My initial intention was to use the property “as is”, and someday raze the old cottage and build a new home in its place. After a couple of weekends in the musty old camp I came to the conclusion that I needed to speed up my timetable.

Part of the dream in building my own home was to act as the General Contractor and to personally supply a great deal of sweat equity. I accomplished both of these goals, however it was not easy. There were many roadblocks and bends in the road along the way. In the subsequent parts of this chronology, I will review my experiences in hopes that others may gain from my experiences.

Determining the Home Style and Size

After making the decision to raze the cottage and build a new home, I had to first determine what type and size of home to build. My lot was limited in size and required careful planning to ensure that I would meet all of the setbacks governed by the town I lived in. Although I had these concerns, I decided to forgo the Architect route. I deemed it too expensive and probably not necessary for the style of home I wanted to build. Instead I picked up a handful of Home Plan magazines and surfed the internet for home designs. I also picked up an inexpensive software package for designing homes and floorplans. After a week of reviewing home plans, I found one that met most of my requirements in terms of a floorplan. The footprint was smaller than I wanted, but I concluded that I could redraw the floor plan accordingly using my newly purchased Home Design Software Package.

The Home Design Software package was not as simple to use as the instruction manual implied, however after a couple of weeks I had a floorplan with all the dimensional information.

Assuming the role as the General Contractor

As I had indicated earlier, one of my goals was to assume the role as General Contractor on this project. I quickly learned that banks frown upon lending construction mortgages to everyday homeowners and to folks who have little professional building experience. I got around this issue by deciding not to use the banks for financing. However, from what I learned later, it may have been possible for me to assume a construction mortgage if I had quit my day job and applied for the loan as a “full time General Contractor”. Indeed, I would have needed to complete a full proposal to the bank with all costs and subcontractors identified, but this is necessary anyways.

As the General Contractor I developed a build schedule and task list. Some of the top items included: Identifying subcontractors, pulling permits, and having a septic design approved.

Carefully Pick your Sub-Contractors

Identifying the right subcontractors is the most important task a General Contractor performs. Poor selection of subcontractors can lead to delays in schedules, cost overruns, poor workmanship and strife between the various subcontractors on the job. Prior to hiring subcontractors, it is important to visit their current jobsites. Review their work on existing jobsites and mingle with the other subs to judge the working relationship. In addition get two or three reference checks on the subcontractors. If there are poor workmanship, personality issues, or references move on. Do not settle for second rate subs, even if it means slipping your schedule or costs goals, as you will more than likely suffer even larger schedule slips or higher costs by hiring the wrong people.

Pulling Permits

Once you have selected and hired your excavator, chief framer, and foundation company, review with them your plans. Make sure you walk the site with them, and carefully stake out the house footprint, paying careful attention to lot setbacks, septic tanks, leach fields and well location. Once all are agreed upon with the house plans and the location of the home, contact the building inspector and review with him/her your plans. You will need to submit a very thorough package to the building inspector prior to getting approval. There are frequently town and state forms that need to be filled out regarding wetlands, and home thermal analysis. In addition, detailed engineering drawings of the proposed home may be required. In my case the Framer was able to assist in developing additional sketches of the house plan to ensure structural compliance to local, state and federal building codes. If I had used the initial home plans I had obtained, those would have been sufficient. I also could have contacted an architect with my selected plans to provide additional details, however it was not necessary in my case.

After about a week and several hundred dollars later I had the permit to build a new home.

Septic Design

My home required its own septic system on site. As a result, I required a septic design and an associated permit for the new home. I recommend pursuing this as early as possible in any new home project as this can take up to 2-3 months to complete as both town and state approvals are required, not to mention site and engineering work.

Without knowing exactly where the septic system and tank will reside, it may be difficult to locate the exact position of the home and in many cases the building inspector may not approve the building permit until the septic design permit has been obtained. I was fortunate in that the property already had a small septic system on the lot, so the building inspector gave me approval. I was at financial risk, however, in the event the new septic design was not approved or needed to be repositioned from the proposed location. Fortunately that was not the case and I was able to move forward on razing the cottage and beginning site work.

To Be Continued ….

In Part 2 of “Building Your Dream House”, I will cover razing an existing building, performing site prep work, and pouring foundation walls. Stay tuned…

For more help on building a new home, see HomeAdditionPlus.com’s New Home Construction Bid sheet. The New Home Construction Bid Sheet will help ensure that your new home construction project goes smoothly and is completed on time and budget.