More Information About The Enduring Popularity of Wood Houses

Many potential homeowners have the perception that wood houses are inferior to their concrete and brick competition. It’s true that concrete, brick, and stone have become more popular home building, but this doesn’t mean a wood house has nothing to offer. Wood has several advantages over other building materials. It is a cheaper, easier to work with, and can often reduce the building time of your new home. Plus, better technology is allowing wood homes to become more and more energy-efficient.

Durability and Climate

The biggest concern many potential homeowners have is the durability of a wood house. It’s true that wood won’t hold up the heavy pounding of a hurricane or tornado as well as concrete or brick. Yet, a wood house is less likely to collapse under the stress of an earthquake. It may sound odd, but wood has different properties of structural integrity. Concrete and brick are denser materials that aren’t as easily knocked over by simple brute force, but tremor waves can crack it. Wood has greater structural flexibility, allowing it to absorb the ground tremors.

Naturally, this has led to wood houses remaining popular in California. For other parts of the country, you may have a more ambiguous choice, and you should talk to home builders in your area how each kind of building material holds up under local climate conditions.

Wood-Framed Houses vs. Log Homes

Log homes and wood houses are not the same thing. Sure, both are made from wood, but for cost, performance, and style, these two types of home couldn’t be more different. One of the advantages of wood-framed houses is the cheaper building costs. Log homes can be machined or hand-crafted, but either way, you’ll probably end up paying more. In fact, in many cases, a wood house can be as much 50% less than a comparably sized log home. On the other hand, a log hog is probably going to be more energy-efficient, last longer, and bring a greater level of comfort and magnificence. It may sound counterintuitive, given the idea most people have in their minds of “log cabins,” but log homes are among the more luxurious and expensive homes available today.

Other Wood House Options

Wood-framed houses are sometimes pre-fabricated, meaning they are designed and built in a controlled facility and, then, transported in sections to the building site. Wood house building companies may offer different levels of complete construction. This versatility can be great for DIYers, who need the basic framing erected, but can do much of the subcontracting work themselves. If this doesn’t sound like you, don’t worry other some companies also offer “turn-key” construction, where your home is ready to live in upon the completion of their construction services.

Traditionally, wood houses are stick frame, where the wood timbers act as just another wall stud. Today, more and more wood housing is added with rigid foam and/or oriented strand board. This allows less wood to be used during construction, but will also create a more energy-efficient home.

All Information About Log Homes

Log homes have come a long way since the days of Abe Lincoln. They now come in three basic styles and include as many modern-life luxuries as your budget will allow.
Like all kit or system-built homes, log homes are also usually less expensive per square foot to construct than traditional homes. Some log home owners build their own, but most work with manufacturers and/or general contractors to construct the home.

Types of Log Homes

Log homes come in three basic types: milled log homes, handcrafted log homes, and timber-framed homes. While none of these is inherently better than another, each has qualities that will make them more or less appealing to certain homeowners; each will also be better suited to particular situations.

Milled Log Homes

Milled log homes are manufactured by machines such as planers, lathes, and profilers. They come in kits that can include either just the wall logs or everything to ensure a weather-tight shell. Milled logs are uniform and smooth and are assembled on-site, unlike handcrafted homes, which are pre-built at the log yard. Kit homes typically have many vertical butt joints because most kit makers have a limit to the length of log they can mill. Ten- to twelve-foot logs are roughly the industry standard for maximum length.

Some milled log home kit manufacturers can produce hundreds of kits a year because the work is performed by machines. The majority of the kits they manufacture are for their standard plans or slight deviations of them. It should be noted that some kit makers do not use real logs as their raw material.

Handcrafted Log Homes

In contrast, handcrafted log homes are authentic and traditional. They are created by experienced log smiths using techniques that are centuries old. Many of these log home building methods have been around since the first century. The primary tools used in the trade are hand-axes, wood chisels, log scribes, drawknives, and chainsaws.

Handcrafters generally do not produce as many homes a year as milled kit companies due to the time and labor demands of the trade. Handcrafted log homes are typically custom designed, allowing the homeowner to create a floor plan that suits their individual needs and taste.

Handcrafted log homes are built with full-length logs with no vertical butt joints and much larger diameter logs than milled homes. Architecturally, handcrafted log homes seem to offer more latitude than milled homes. Design elements such as scalloped corners, chamfered window and door openings, and interior log walls with decorative archways add to the overall appeal of handcrafted log homes. This type of log home allows each log to exhibit its own personality, rather than making them conform to exact specifications.

Timber-Framed Homes

Built using a post and beam construction, timber frame or large-sized square timber homes use a dimension-shaped wood source creating flat interiors and exteriors. Because the frame carries all the structural weight of the house, the beams enable the structure to have large open spaces, often two stories high, vaulted ceilings, and large expanses of window and open interiors that flow from one room into the next.

Log Accents

It’s also possible to use log accents on conventionally framed homes. These would be in the form of trusses, mantels, staircases and railings, posts, entry gates, porches, and various specialty designs to get the look of the log home within traditional framed construction.

Log Home Energy Efficiency

Log homes are quite energy efficient. In most cases, a log wall will outperform a conventional wall frame for R-value (used in calculating energy efficiency). Each wall contains millions of tiny air pockets that store heat in the winter time and cool air in the summer, each radiating back into the room, resulting in greater energy efficiency for the same square footage as a conventionally-built home.

All About Rezoning a Home

Property rezoning is typically done either for an investor to make a profit or for a homeowner to make his or her property more comfortable. Those who purchase a property with the hopes of rezoning for profit are often focused on changing the way that property can be used (for example, changing a residential property into a commercial property). It can also be done by creating multiple lots from a single piece of land. Homeowners who are simply trying to improve their own property by building a cottage, guest house, or even an outbuilding or garage, will also find that rezoning is sometimes a necessary part of the project. Obviously, the process is not a prerequisite for every backyard installation, but as it may be required by law, there are a few things every homeowner should know.

Rezoning Property: When Is it Necessary?

If you are rezoning to improve your property and not to make a profit, the process is something you may wish to avoid all together. In many cases, smaller buildings like sheds will require no property rezoning whatsoever. In addition to the size of the intended additional structure, the location in which you live will play a huge part in whether or not you will have to deal with rezoning. Property in a rural area is less likely to require changes than property that lies within a city or town as projects that occur where no neighbors exist have less of an effect on other people.

Hiring a Permit Service for the Rezoning Process

If you’re thinking of adding an outbuilding or guesthouse and the local building department concludes that your project will require rezoning, you have a couple options. You can go through the process yourself, you can hire a permit service to go through the process for you, or you can reduce the scope of your intended project in the hope that it will no longer require rezoning. Property owners who decide to deal with the process on their own are often unprepared to go through all the red tape this task entails. Before you go this route, do yourself a favor and at least talk to a permit service about their rates; even if you decide to do it yourself anyway, the permit service will be able to give you a better idea of what to expect.

Property Rezoning Etiquette

When changing the form or function of a plot of land, rezoning property is a necessity for a reason. If you are rezoning to enhance your property, your county building authorities need to make sure that the changes you plan to make will not hurt your neighborhood or the people in it. This is something you, however, should be considering from the start. Placing a business in a residential neighborhood can have an effect on many things like parking, traffic, and even safety in some cases; adding a guest house might not have as dramatic effect on the area as a whole, but it could have a profound effect on your neighbors’ properties. Obstructing views from a favorite window or blocking light on a garden plot may not seem like a big deal to you, but could have your neighbor in an uproar!

Whatever your intentions, there is typically a polite and courteous way to achieve them. If you take the perspectives of your neighbors and neighborhood into account before you plan your project, there is a good chance that you’ll end up with results that make you as happy as those around you!

Should You Know About Some Construction Problems & Solutions

This articles exists to shed a little light thing that may, and often do, go wrong on a custom building or renovation project, and to provide possible solutions to these problems. In general, the Construction Agreement you have should provide answers to most problems. The General Construction Conditions should communicate the steps that should be followed in the event of a conflict between contract documents. The order of precedence generally recognizes more recent documents. Here is the order of precedence to follow:

1) Owner-approved Change Orders.
2) Construction Contract and Addendums as listed in the contract.
3) The Blue Prints as specified in your contract.

Problems due to discrepancies between documents are automatically solved by this order of precedence. Here are other common problems you may encounter:

PROBLEM 1: Incorrect custom orders

SOLUTION: The purpose of construction specifications is to define and clearly detail the materials you will order for your job. If you receive an incorrect order, comparing the project specifications and a copy of the custom order the contractor placed with the supplier should determine responsibility. If the custom order was not completed properly, you have a choice. You may accept what was delivered by mistake, avoiding delays in your construction project; or you may reorder to receive exactly what you desire, but you’ll be forced to push back your completion date. You have to understand that acceptance of an improper custom order usually translates into some benefit for the homeowner—whether it’s a discount from what they ordered or that the contractor is going to have to give something else in return for the homeowners accepting what they didn’t order. The question is who is paying? If your supplier did not make the mistake, then it’s your contractor’s responsibility.

PROBLEM 2: Subcontractors mistakenly working off of an old set of blueprints:

SOLUTION: This is a problem for your contractor, and unfortunately it will delay your schedule. The best solution is to prevent it by ensuring that every set of drawings is dated, and that all subcontractors are working with the most recent plans. Dating eliminates any confusion about which set of plans is most current. The date of the final set of blue prints should be noted in your Construction Agreement and posted with the Ground Rules so everyone and every subcontractor on the site can check their plans to confirm that date is on their set of plans.

PROBLEM 3: Additional cost occurring in the course of construction. Unforeseen conditions, like bad soil, termite damage or dry rot, often are discovered during construction.

SOLUTION: If you encounter one of these problems, the only alternative to emergency spending is to stop the project. Unexpected cost is always a sore point. Your construction agreement already addresses unforeseen circumstances, and if extra work is required, your contractor is entitled to additional money. If, however, there is some doubt as to whether the circumstances were unforeseen, you deserve a full explanation. If your contractor overlooked some part of your job and consequently your estimate was low, they are responsible for this oversight. If necessary, a third party could help you resolve any dispute. Share the story with either your architect or an unrelated building official to get an objective opinion.

PROBLEM 4: Delays in construction. One of a homeowner’s biggest fears is: “How can I guarantee this work will proceed as quickly as possible?”

SOLUTION: Ask for a production schedule with your construction contract so that you can monitor your contractor’s progress. There are a number of acceptable reasons for delays, some of which were reviewed above. When there is a problem and there are delays, these delays need to be addressed as quickly as possible. Regardless of whose mistake it is, you and your contractor need to communicate regularly in regards to construction delays. What are the delays? What will the outcome be? The biggest sin with construction delays is not talking about the delays because it allows homeowner fears to manifest and grow. The more open the communication between homeowner and contractor, the better.

PROBLEM 5: Well-intentioned mistakes. There are times when a carpenter or a subcontractor believes he has a more efficient way to complete some part of your plan or feels he or she has an “improvement” you would really like. Unfortunately, in so doing, they may deviate from the blue prints, and you end up with an appearance different than you expected.

SOLUTION: The sooner you discover their mistake, the better. Fixing such a deviation may be as easy as moving a wall stud or repositioning a door or window. Whether or not it’s an easy fix, try the following:

1) Find out why the alteration was made. There may be a good explanation. If there is neither a good explanation, nor is the problem easy to fix, see if you can spend a couple of days living with what was done. You may begin to like it.

2) Agree to accept the alteration in exchange for an “extra” you desire. If the subcontractor faces an out-of pocket expense, he may be willing to do a little bit of “horse trading.” If the mistake was large enough, you may, for example, negotiate for the built-in bookcase you wanted in the den.

3) Your final option is always to tear out and rebuild the alteration according to plans.

PROBLEM 6: “I didn’t know it would look this way. Upon the completion of framing or some other stage of construction, you may discover they don’t like the results and want it rebuilt some other way.

SOLUTION: This is a common occurrence, and it is caused when homeowners are not able to imagine how 2-dimensional blue prints will translate into their real living space. As a homeowner, you may want to change some things. The degree or number of changes will probably be determined by your budget. As the price of your project goes up, you may decide there are certain imperfections you can live with. Remember, however, these are compromises that you will live with for the next 10 to 20 years. Make sure you feel secure in your choice. Otherwise, you may end up regretting your decision every time your eyes cross this “imperfection”. That is not something you want to live with.

Learn More About Finding a Good Draftsperson

Mass production certainly has its benefits. If it weren’t for assembly line style techniques, we would have very few of the modern conveniences we are now so accustomed to. Though it keeps costs down, mass production has one drawback that becomes readily apparent in a discipline such as construction: It makes everything look the same. Amid the vast amount of homogenization that occurs in many facets of life in this country, it’s nice to come home to a place that is truly your own. Many homeowners want a home designed just the way they want it, not some house from a cookie cutter builder, and some are willing to pay a pretty penny for it.

What a Draftsperson Does

As homeowners search for the house of their dreams, they may end up finding a house plan in a newspaper, order plans from a magazine, or just have an idea of what they would like based on houses they have been in. Getting those ideas on paper and having blueprints drawn to give to contractors, however, is a job that few homeowners attempt themselves. Since most municipalities do not require that construction plans for single-family dwellings be done by a registered architect or engineer, a draftsman is likely to be able to put your ideas down on paper at a lower cost.

If you have a set of plans you purchased from a magazine or other source, the draftsman can also make modifications to meet your needs and/or satisfy local building codes in order to get a building permit. A draftsman can also take the plans to structural engineers or other licensed professionals to be stamped if a particular element in the building should need special consideration. Draftspersons can also make drawings of existing buildings if needed, such as to apply for homeowner building permits to make modifications.

The Modern Draftsman

Once, a draftsperson’s plans were all drawn by hand, but now (as with many aspects of modern life) the computer has entered the field to allow drafting to be done more quickly and accurately. The latest Computer Aided Drafting & Design (CADD) software can do 3D renderings and drafting which includes floor plans and elevations as well as plumbing and electrical plans to meet the standards set by the UBC, BNBC, BOCA and SBC building codes.

Although private individuals may not need plans for a single residence to be drawn on computer, it is frequently required for larger commercial and governmental jobs. It is also easier to make changes to drawings created on computer and send them electronically, if needed. Therefore draftspersons are often asked to convert plans on paper to a CAD program for future use.

Draftsman vs. Architect

While an architect’s main function is to design and oversee, a draftsperson’s job is mainly to sketch out the designs. If you are looking to construct a truly custom house from scratch, you’ll probably end up needing the skills of an architect or a structural engineer. Draftsmen are simply not as thoroughly trained in the design aspect of home planning, though making alterations to existing plans and sketching out ideas is well within their field.