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Whoa is me!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Necee on 7/09/04 at 00:05 (154902)

Well, we have started the construction of our dream home.
Has anyone here gone down that road? It's the first time for us and hopefully the only time.
I'd welcome any and all suggestions ya'll might have regarding this long process of decision making, etc.
The foundation sand was delivered today and spread out, hopefully the crew will start setting the concrete forms Friday.
Ok ya'll....I'm counting on ya, give me all your advice and ideas.

Happy trails....


Re: Whoa is me!!!!!!!!!

MARK L on 7/09/04 at 06:29 (154903)

Good luck! Is the cow getting its own room with a private bath?

Re: Whoa is me!!!!!!!!!

Susan S on 7/09/04 at 08:01 (154907)

Make sure the foundation is completely level everywhere. This is important if your house will be built on a slab rather than with a crawl space.

Re: Whoa is me!!!!!!!!!

Pauline on 7/09/04 at 09:00 (154912)

Here are a few of my suggestions.

1. Try to visit the site daily with your blue prints if possible and always take a camera and large metel tape measue with you. This way you
can not only keep track of progress but you can make certain when framing begins that walls are placed where they are suppose to be. You can also take pictures to document any mistakes.

2. Don't ever assume 'it will be done later' it's up to you to see that everything you expect is done before it takes more money and time to have it 'done later'.

3. Ask for extra screw nails to be placed in all plywood flooring or base flooring. You might even want to purchase some on your own and spend early evenings and week-ends putting in extra. Believe me it will save on noisy floor boards later on.

4. After the framing is done and window holes are in use scrap 2-4s found on site to add wood at the side of each window near the top. What you are doing is providing wood support for draperies later on. Any time you want to hang a rod you'll hit solid wood. Extend out a good distance especially if the windows are large. This is by far the smartest thing we ever did.

5. If you are building a two story home and can afford it and the home size warrants it put in two furnaces and two air conditioner systems or use zone heating and cooling. It makes keeping the upstairs cool and warm a lot easier.

6. Use good insulation and the max. amount it will eventually pay for itself.

7. If recessed lighting is being used, when you think you have enough add extra and put them on separate switches along with dimmers. Much easier not to use them than to have to put more in after the home is up. Don't count on table lamps to provide all the light in your rooms.

8. Take a black magic marker on site with you to make notes on the studs for your contractor. Things like move this switch box or air duct etc and watch were the holes for air ducts are being cut. Imagine where you will be placing furniture later on. Will the duct opening interfere with furniture placement?

9. Prewire every room for phone and cable. You might skip the baths unless its a large home and you'd need a phone in the bath. No cable necessary in a bath but that's my opinion. Also add extra electrical outlets on every wall if you can afford to do so.

10. Upgrade anything in the way of kitchen cupboards and windows at the time of building if you can. Its far more expensive to replace them later on than to have the payment in your mortgage.

11. Have the necessary plumbing for a bath in the basement put in and capped. This is usually done before the basement floor is poured so talk to youe contractor early. This way it will be available if you need it later on or decide to finish your basement. No basement in the home skip this one. Also add electrical outlets near the flooring if possible. If you finish your basement later on the outlets will be there. You can also ask about heating duct work, but can wait on it if the cost is too high.

12. Have extra electrical boxes put outside the home for Cristmas lights ect.and just to have elctrical usage on decks and porches. Also add extra water spouts for hoses etc.

13. Check to make certain that the holes around plumbing for toilet drains and water pipes are large enough that when they expand they will not rub on wood to cause noisey pipes later on. No pipes touching wood please.

14. If possible use the new 'no tank' system for hot water. They are wonderful and supply hot water faster.

15. Enjoy the process as much as you can. There will be frustrations but remember everything can usually be fixed if you catch it early so visit your site often and document changes that you require be done.

16. Lastly, take a small piece of red ribbon or cloth and nail or staple it on a stud between one wall anywhere in the home. This is an old Italian custom to bring you luck, love and peace and to keep those who live in this home safe:*

What a wonder time in your life, have fun building your dream home.

Re: Whoa is me!!!!!!!!!

Susan S on 7/09/04 at 09:08 (154917)

Wow, Pauline, I'm printing that out for myself, in case I ever build another house!

Re: Whoa is me!!!!!!!!!

john h on 7/09/04 at 10:52 (154932)

You might also consider:
1. buying a 13 SEER Air Conditioner as they are very efficient. 14 SEER is better but the cost differential not worth it.

2. Use insulated tilt in windows.

3. If you are going to install a security system 'hard wire' it while under construction.

4. There are hot water systems that do not use a tank and provide endless hot water on demand and you are not constantly keeping a large tank heated. they have used these in Japan for 50 years.

5. Request Architectual 30 year shingles. They really look good compared to standard shingles and do not cost that much more. Also ask for the mildew proof if you are in an area with mildew.

6. If your home has a crawl space insulate the flooring from the bottom and consider visquene on the ground if you are in a wet/damp area.

7. Install turbine roof fans and make sure you have sufficent vents along the roof line. Insure you have sufficent insulation in the attic.

8. Install good quality outside doors with bolts/throws that are very secure. A lot of builder will use cheap locks and a child could kick the door in.

9. insure your builder specs your home with a proper size HVAC system with proper size return air ducts. If you are going to install ceiling fans do it now. Trane and Carrier are good HVAC systems.

10. Many people have both gas and electric outlets for their dryer and oven. Code may even require it.

11. If you have a hot water heater in the attic insure you have a large pan underneath that vents to the outside. Code usually requires this but builders sometimes forget to vent the pan to the outside.

12. With energy cost so high insulation is money well spent so use it liberally and not just minimum required by code.

13. Last but not least make sure you can install a Direct TV antenea so you can watch all NFL football games.

Re: Whoa is me!!!!!!!!!

Susan S on 7/09/04 at 13:22 (154954)

I'm sure my terminology is off, but in the framing, make sure the 2x4s (the vertical beams) are what they call '16 on center' meaning they are all no more than 16 inches apart from center to center of one beam to the next.

Also, there might be many things you want them to correct, and you may get tired of telling them things to redo, but go ahead and tell them everything you really want redone or corrected. I requested something special in my house, and after they put it in, I didn't really like it, but didn't say anything because I was just tired of going back over and over. But now it would cost 4 times as much to redo it than it would have cost to ask them to redo it while the house was being built.

Re: Thanks Ya'll !!!! I need some specific advice about tankless water heaters now.

Necee on 7/09/04 at 13:34 (154955)

Wow, you have given me some wonderful ideas! Pauline you sound like you've done this before....is your husband a builder??? And John, I've been wondering about those 'tankless' water heaters. We are getting conflicting reports about those, some say they are great, others say, they don't heat the water fast enough or get it hot enough. If anyone on the board uses those, hopefully they will respond and give me their thoughts.

Our windows are insulated...here in Texas they must be low E windows.

We are using the blow in type of insulations for the walls and attic, it has a R30 rating much higher than batting, and mostly there are no void areas, because everything is covered, unlike batting which just buts up to the studs.

The roof will be a metal one, they last much longer, the insurance is less, they are a little more expensive to install, but......are better in the long run, and besides, I like the looks of a metal roof.

The outside will be Austin stone, and we are using Hardipanel for the trim. It will be stained like cedar, and is fire and termite resistant.

Ya'll keep those 'thinking caps' on.....I'm sure I'm going to have tons of more questions and concerns, I do appreciate all the info you've given me so far, and have printed this out to take with me to the building site.

Thanks again to everyone.


Re: To: Mark

Necee on 7/09/04 at 13:39 (154957)

Hey Mark...I hadn't thought about that.........great idea!! Wonder if she wants to use the claw foot tub to drink out of our bath in it??
Heck, she can just have our room and master bath....we'll use the outhouse.

Happy trails......

Re: Thanks Ya'll !!!! I need some specific advice about tankless water heaters now.

Pauline on 7/09/04 at 13:45 (154959)

No my husband isn't a builder of homes. You learn from your own experience and that of friends and family. We've been around the home block a few times.

One last tip: Don't close until everything you want finished has been done to YOUR satisfaction and make certain to do a walk through just prior to closing. I'm sure your attorney will fill you in on the rest.

Re: Whoa is me!!!!!!!!!

Necee on 7/09/04 at 16:23 (154987)

Thanks Susan.
Our outside walls are all going to be framed with 2x6's, and of course the inside plumbing walls will have to be that way to allow for the pipes, etc.

You're so right about getting things the way you want it, and making changes now, instead of waiting....I certainly don't want any regrets.
Thanks for all the info.


Re: Whoa is me!!!!!!!!!

Carole C in NOLA on 7/09/04 at 18:22 (155006)

Necee, how exciting! I don't know anything about building, since I have yet to have that experience. But like many of us, I dream and draw floorplans of 'the perfect house' now and then. How wonderful to have your dreams come true! :)

Carole C

Re: Whoa is me!!!!!!!!!

MARK L on 7/10/04 at 08:21 (155022)

Heating and A/C suggestions:
Use hot water baseboard heating not hot air with A/C added
Put underfloor heating in the bathrooms and every where else you can afford to do it. This is the ultimate type of heating system- the warmth just radiates up and it's even all over the house. A warm tile bathroom floor on a cold morning is delightful. You can set your stats to a max of 69-70 and feel very comfortable on a cold winter day because the heat is just flowing up around you and not just going up along the walls.

A/C ducts placed in the ceilings- if you add A/C to a hot air heating system the ducts are usually sized to the heating system and are usually to small, are placed at the floor level and this seriously compromises A/C efficiency.

Don't oversize the A/C system- you'll have cold damp air instead of cold dry air. Add an electronic air filter and a washable pre-filter to the A/C system and you'll cut your cleaning and repainting jobs by reducing air borne dirt. Have the air handler set up so that even when the A/C compressor is not running you have air circulating through the filter system.

Use the hot water from the heating system to heat water for your domestic supply. Put in a hot water storage tank like a Weil-McLain Gold Plus 50 gal. and you'll have all the hot water you need if you size the furnace properly. The hot water furnace heats the domestic water by sending boiler water through a coil, it's stainless steel and will last forever unlike a glass lined water heater that has a relatively short life especially if you have well water. Do not ever consider making hot water with a demand type electric water heater. You'll go broke in a hurry.

Have a heating engineer or HVAC company that has an engineer on staff design the system- there are very sophisticated software programs that will design the system taking into account house location, construction material, number of residents, even to the consideration of which way the sun hits the house on winter days and weather conditions in your area. A plumber usually does not have this type of info and the result will be a more efficient economical system. The amount of air entering each room can be, calculated, measured and adjusted for the particular demands of that area.
Don't scrimp on windows and doors- get the very best you can afford and you'll save money every day. Visit the house after the windows and doors are installed and before the walls are rocked to make sure all the pockets around the window and doors are properly filled with insulation and that there are no voids.
Wrap the house with Tyvex and make sure that the contractor tapes all the seams.
Insulate interior walls and floors and your house will be much quieter.
Ceiling fans are a must as far as I'm concerned.
If you are building any decking with treated wood make sure that stainless steels or triple galvanized screws are used- the new additivies being used in pressure treated wood causes the old type of screws to corrode very quickly especially near coastal areas

I probably added $50,000 to the cost of your house.

Re: Whoa is me!!!!!!!!!

john h on 7/10/04 at 09:39 (155035)

With the cost of energy going up every day his advice is very good. Get an energy expert to look over your plans. I recently replaced all the windows (23) in my home with the best windows I could buy. I conducted a Blower Door test to find all air leaks I could. While crawling under my house I found an air duct that had fallen and broken at the joint and had been pumping air under the house for I do not know how long. Make sure these guys secure those A/C ducts with strong hangars and use good insurlation and tape at the joints. With a well insuulated home you can cut way back on the size of the HVAC system you need. I know you are in Texas Neecee and as I remember that is a state with a major mold problem. Forget the Swamp Cooler (ha ha). I used one in my days in Lubbock. By the way I lived in Harlingen, Waco, Lubbock,Wichita Falls, and San Antonio. .

Re: Necee

wendyn on 7/11/04 at 18:56 (155129)

Marriage counselling. In advance.


Re: Necee

Necee on 7/12/04 at 00:56 (155143)

Good advice Wendy!!!!!!


Re: Whoa is me!!!!!!!!! TO: MARK

Necee on 7/12/04 at 01:13 (155144)

Thank you Mark......these suggestions are great! I appreciate you taking the time to fill me in on this stuff.
I've heard good and bad about that Tyvec wrap, some say to use it....others say not too. The reason being is that it supposedly holds in dampness. We plan on having the HVAC in the attic, we've been told that it's much quieter there, and besides it frees up more closet space.
Is the hot water furnace that you are referring to the same as those tankless water heaters?? Those are fairly new here in Texas, most people don't use them because of that, we are seriously considering using one istead of a traditional water heater, but don't know all the facts about them. Those glass lined water heaters take up a lot of space, and leak when they get old.
We haven't made a decision yet on which brand of HVAC unit to buy....some say Trane are the best....others say Carrier.....I don't have a clue!

Keep those ideas coming, I appreciate every one of them, I've printed them all out, and will use as a reference as this project progresses.

Thanks again!


Re: Whoa is me!!!!!!!!!

Kathy G on 7/12/04 at 08:40 (155149)


I have no experience whatsoever in building my own house but I used to work for architects. Did you employ one to help you with your design? My sister, if you recall, lost the whole bottom floor of her house in Hurricane Isabelle, and the only advice I gave her was to get an architect involved in the initial stages. Construction is moving along nicely and my brother-in-law told me the other day that the architect was worth his weight in gold.

We all use Tyvek here in New England and we've had no problems with it. When we had our house sided, the contractor put it on and it's been fine. Of course, our weather is totally different from yours.

The people I've known who have done construction always say the biggest mistake they made in building or remodeling is 'nickel and diming' things. The advice you've received is so correct. A couple of thousand extra spent now will save you twice that amount down the road.

I'm so excited for you!

Re: Whoa is me!!!!!!!!!

Suzanne D. on 7/12/04 at 09:14 (155152)

Necee, I've never experienced building a house (or even buying one as we have always lived in a church parsonage), so I am afraid I have little advice for you. I have heard several friends through the years talk about their experiences, and it seems that constant checking on the progress is helpful as well as trust in the people who are hired to do the work.

Our church just completed a building in which many of the members helped do work to try to cut down on the costs. Still, the cost involved was more than had been anticipated. This seems to be a common thing to have happen from things I hear.

I DO wish you the best and hope the experience is a fulfilling and successful one for you!

Suzanne :)

Re: Whoa is me!!!!!!!!! TO: MARK

john h on 7/12/04 at 11:21 (155168)

Trane does make all its own parts from motors on down but I do not know that is a big difference or not. They are more expensive than Carrier. Some sevice people I talk with say the Trane is the better unit but some say there is not that much difference. The installer and ductwork will make more difference I think. I manage several large shopping centers and office buildings and buy 10-15 units a year. We also lease a very large office/warehouse to Trane.

Re: Whoa is me!!!!!!!!!

john h on 7/12/04 at 11:37 (155172)

Neecee: My first house building experience. 1961 in Albany, Georgia. My wife had picked out all the appliances, flooring, countertops, etc. The house was going well until one day I stopped by and the back of the house had a completely different brick color than the rest of the house! I called the builder only to find he had run off with his 16 year old baby sitter. I called the bank who was financing the house and they further found out he had built the house 2 feet onto a power easement. My loan was a VA guaranteed loan and I did not have to close on it. I moved on the base in base housing..


Necee on 7/12/04 at 12:22 (155179)

Wow John, your first house building experience sounds like it was a nightmare.....I sure hope mines not like that.

We got several bids from builders in our area, and talked to lots of folks.
The one we chose has a very reliable reputation, we've seen his work, and and those we talked to highly recommended him. I really feel comfortable with using him, he's not one to cut corners, and pays close attention to detail. He sees that things are done right, and LISTENS when I have a question or concern. Of course we are just now starting this project, and have a long way to go, so....we'll see.

I noticed something the other day when we were having the foundation sand brought in to the site, I mentioned to my builder that I DID NOT want any of my trees damaged by those dump trucks, so before they started, he told each one of the drivers to be careful around the trees, and that he and I would be very upset if any got damaged. I appreciate him remembering things like that and paying attention to what I say.

I was reading this morning about foundations, and how to keep the perimiter of a foundation moist. The article said to place soaker hoses no closer than 6' to the foundation, and keep the area moist...not soggy, just moist, which brings up a thought.......We are in the country, and so we don't have the luxury of a city sewer system. We will be having to install a septic system, there are several to choose from, the arobic system which when the tank gets full of water it will allow sprinklers in the yard to come on, this water has to be treated once a month with expensive clorine tablets, and inspected once a year, so the maintance on that type of system is high and expensive in the long run. The other system is the pump system, there are no sprinklers that pop up....there is just a pump that comes on and pumps the water through the lateral line and away from the house, (in our case the line will run out into the pasture). There is no chemicals to add, and no yearly inspection. So......knowing all that, we have to make a decision on which system to go with. I CAN'T DECIDE!! My husband suggested we have the plumber run us a 'gray water' line. All the water except sewer water, ( washer, sinks, showers) would go into a tank placed underground, and then it could be used to water the yard, etc.

Any thoughts????? I'm all ears.