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Cordwood Construction

Cordwood construction is the process of building a wall out of stacked cordwood-just like fire wood-with the exception that mortar is set between the pieces of cordwood to secure them in place. This amazing beautiful and ancient technique for building utilizes smaller logs that would be unsuitable for conventional log cabin building. Curved walls, unique as each individual log, makes for exciting design opportunities that are both economical and practical.

While cordwood construction looks as if it’s supporting the walls up, many times, they are not. A basic frame and roof system are built first, then walls are backfilled in, similar to brick home construction. Although a cordwood wall could support some roofing structures, many local building codes prevent that from happening.

Since the roof goes up first, it is very easy to work on cordwood walls in all kinds of acclimate weather conditions. A complete mortar or cobb mixing station can be set up under the cover of a dry roof. This makes cordwood building techniques a first class all-weather project.

Cordwood construction contains another unique element. As cordwood is cut to whatever thickness you want the wall, a cavity is created between the two opposite sides of the masonry walls. Insulation is then able to be placed in between the two walls, creating an R-factor that is incomparable to conventional wall building insulation.

To further the green factor as well as the R-factor, use cobb masonry. Cobb is the use of mud, straw and Portland to create an adobe like cement that bonds just about to anything and is very simple to make.

One of the most common misconceptions of cordwood construction is that the ends of the logs rot. If you build your roof overhang out to 24″, keep all cordwood pieces off of the ground 3′ and build on a solid foundation like stone or block, rot will be impossible. Use rot free logs with no bark and avoid wood on wood contact to avoid future problems with rot.

Surviving the New Construction Process

Starting From Scratch, The New Construction Project

Many people are overwhelmed by the new construction process. It's one of my favorite things.

If you have ever been through the process you know what I mean. Maybe you have sworn to never do it again or maybe, even though it was horrific, you couldn't help but subject yourself, again. Whether your first time or fourth it can be daunting. The goal of this article is to help you get off to a good start.

As with any real estate transaction you, the buyer, is trying to get the most for your money and the seller, your builder, is trying to give you as little as possible for your money. What most new construction buyers may not realize is that new construction is negotiable. All of it, and the sooner the negotiations begin the better. So here's what you do:

Find the Perfect Spot
Consider how you live, do you need privacy? Would you like your neighbors close enough to chat? Figure out what you want from your development then find a few that meet those needs so that you have options.

Compare Each Development
Don't hesitate to look at a more expensive development you might find they offer more options as standard. You wouldn't believe what some builders do not consider standard. Read every piece of paper in the brochure. Ask the builder's agent what is standard, what is extra. Get an example of a typical upgrade and what it would cost.

Get the Most for Your Money
Choose the home and development that offers you the most of what you need as part of the starting price. Then consider your upgrades.

Identify your changes or upgrades, windows, floor plan changes, flooring, kitchen or bath upgrades. Identifying these changes before you sign the contract gives you more bargaining power toward the cost of your new home. These things can all be negotiated up front and made part of your offer. It is difficult to negotiate the price of your wood floors once you've signed the contract. You are bound to pay the standard upgrade charge.

Make a list of your preferred upgrades or changes, assign a number to each, one being the most important and so on. Determine the charge for each (usually listed in the brochure, if not call the builder's agent) and include a dollar amount for each upgrade. Total it up. If you're way over budget start knocking off the things lower on the priority list.

Make an Offer
Depending on the housing market, how well the neighborhood is selling, make an offer. Considering the starting price, plus the upgrade charges, come up with a number that's fair but well in your favor. They will counter, be prepared with your walk away number, and stick to it.

Share your new construction advice and experiences.

Visit for more new construction advice and check out the New Construction Workbook, a step by step guide to help you manage the process.

Hire a Home Inspector for a New Construction Home?

When my wife and I decided to purchase a new construction home, we did what most prudent shoppers do: we researched areas and schools, analyzed the economic growth potential of the town, “got a feel” for neighborhoods, and checked out the reputation and quality of local homebuilders. What we almost failed to do was hire an independent home inspector prior to closing, but we took the advise of family and friends, and did it anyway.

Given that the house was “new” construction, we were naive in thinking that everything would be perfect, or at least in such great shape, that any minor flaws later discovered would be just that, minor. Suffice it to say, the additional expense of hiring an inspector was well worth it. For example, the first “minor” item that our inspector discovered was the presence of small punctures across our roof. It was determined that the cause was likely from foot traffic during the application of the shingles by the crew working on it. His recommendation was that these (damaged) shingles should be replaced. While he was up there, he also noticed that some of the shingles were loose, and could be easily lifted with 2-3 fingers.

Another area of concern was in our attic; we specified a certain level of insulation, which in the construction industry is measured in terms of an “R” factor (i.e. R-30 insulation factor in our case would be approx. 15.2 inches of insulation) In reality, we only had about 12.5 inches of insulation, which by my math calculations was almost 3 inches shy of the goal. It may not seem like much, but we did pay for a higher amount of insulation when we selected our upgrades at the beginning of the home-buying process.

Other items included: a misaligned interior door (that hit the frame when closed), lack of electrical power in three kitchen sockets, dirty drain pan as part of the A/C system, damaged outside water faucet, gaps around bath faucets that needed caulking, and a few other minor flaws. Unbelievable as it was to us that so many things could be wrong, I questioned “how” and “why?”; while our builder was extremely responsive and addressed (fixed) every item within two days, they explained that it was not uncommon for these things to happen, and here is why:

The main reason is that the builder hires a General Construction Manager, often referred to as the “GC”; this is the person or organization who is ultimately responsible for coordinating all aspects of the construction process, including but not limited to: ordering supplies, hiring contractors and subcontractors for framework, plumbing, mechanical and electrical engineering, roofing, landscaping, etc. What this means is that at any one time, a variety of contractors could be working on building your home. In addition, and this is particularly true in newly constructed communities, the contractors or sub-contractors being used, might also employ different crew members from day to day. For instance, if an employee of the roofing contractor is out one day, that roofer may pull one of the guys from another house that doesn’t need him, to go work on your house. This could occur with any contractor at any stage of the building process, thus adding a dimension of unwanted inconsistency during the construction of your home.

Another possibility could be that since these contractors work on so many homes, many of them with the same or similar floor plans and elevations, there tends to be an aspect of the job that is mundane because of its repetitive nature. That could potentially lead to mistakes, laziness, or even indifference during the performance of their workmanship. So is it worth the added expense of hiring an Independent Home Inspector? We think so; I consider the set-back of $450 minor when compared with the possibility that I could have found myself replacing a roof, having higher energy bills, or a broken-down A/C system because I failed to have these things checked out.

Finding a Home Inspector is relatively easy and affordable. You can obtain a quick list from your local Chamber of Commerce or Yellow Pages, or even the Internet. We have been quoted in the range of $350 – $500 in the Fort Worth, TX area, and I imagine they are similar throughout the U.S. Some factors may affect their fees, such as square footage of the home or additional services, like lead-paint testing (likely not needed for new construction based on current regulation), water testing and radon testing. The best choice is one that you are comfortable with in terms of price, reputation and service. Many inspectors provide prompt on-line reporting with photos, which was very helpful for us as we were relocating from across the country and were not able to attend the inspection.

As a final thought on purchasing a new construction home, don’t assume that an inspection guarantees everything is perfect. They do provide disclaimers about what they do not inspect for and there is the chance that they missed something as well (hopefully not!). Another item to consider is that an inspector may not know about other items you specified with you builder. For example, we wanted the tile in our entryway to extend all the way towards the center of the house, near where the family room began, where it would be met by the carpet we chose. Well, when we arrived at the house (after the home inspection), we discovered that the builder mistakenly ended the tile short of where we specified, in the foyer. Fortunately, we had a very reputable and responsive builder, and they offered to either correct the problem or compensate us in some other way. We ended up leaving it as is, and convinced the builder to install two garage door openers with sensors and remote controls, at no additional cost!

Some builders are not as nice or willing to be flexible, so be prepared for anything, even with new construction homes!

Home Theater Construction: Important Points

Home theater systems are an exciting aspect of everyday entertainment. Changing your lifestyle related to the way you watch TV and movies could be beneficial for you. There are many options to choose from when considering a home theater construction for your viewing pleasure. The wireless home theatre systems are becoming more and more popular because the style is affordable will fit comfortably within your home. Needed space will be opened in a compact room with home theater construction.

Many people also choose to customize the home theater construction to suit their needs and wants. This is optional as preferences vary from person to person. There are many home theater construction plans that are available for purchase that are simple, unique and reasonably priced. A good option to see what styles are available is to look online or print magazines that will have examples. Advice is available regarding the home theatre construction plans to give you an idea of what to expect and what the unit contains.

Many plans can be found for home theatre audio components like the wiring information and installation, and how to install other parts that are required to maximize home theatre sound quality. The internet is filled with websites that will give information on the best available options to choose for your home theatre construction.

Benefits o home theatre construction

The components of your home theatre are your choice. You pick what goes into the home theatre construction. The best quality audio components may be added, or a medium quality audio component that works well. Choose according to your budget.

Pre-constructed packages are not required when selecting a home theatre construction package. The components may be customized to suit your needs. The home theatre system is your creation. It could have a TV system, a projection system, high quality, state of the art surround sound, DVD viewing and much more.

An individual must decipher what it is that is required out of a home theatre construction. Decide what type of TV is required, what type of audio is required and what the quality should be. Also take into consideration how much you are willing to spend on this endeavor. Before purchasing a home theatre construction plan, consider the amount of space required and where your new home theatre will be situated. A large home theatre system may not fit in a small room. Always take the amount of space available into consideration.

Getting the best quality and a good deal for the money you spend. The unit can be state of the art or even lower than this. Spend as much as you like or spend as little as you like but know you will experience viewing pleasure.

How to Choose Exterior House Paint Colors

Choosing exterior house paint colors can feel like an overwhelming task if a homeowner goes blindly into the project. Walk into any home improvement store and a customer will find a massive amount of color paints to choose from. The good news is that there are professional painters that help with that and also here are a few color rules that can help eliminate some of the guesswork when needing to choose exterior house paint colors.

Are you ready to try something other than white paint for your exterior house color scheme? Here are a few tips to keep in mind during your next house painting project. Planning ahead is the key to make any home improvement project a success, especially when painting a house.

Do you want your house exterior to have a lively appearance? If that’s the case, then focus on choosing a warm color scheme. Would you rather have your house exterior look more subtle to the outside world? If so, then painting a house with a cool color scheme going to make it more likely to blend in with its surrounding environment.

Now that you’ve chosen between warm or dark colors for your painting project, it’s time to decide whether your exterior house will have a dark color scheme or a light color scheme. In general, the lighter your color scheme, the more eye-catching your house will appear (because light colors contrast with most natural environments). If you want your house exterior to closely match its outdoor environment, then painting a darker color scheme will likely be your best bet.

An accent color is another painting project to include when planning exterior house colors. When you’ve decided on the color of your house’s main areas, the accent color (to be used on the places such as around the windows and on the door) can help pull in the entire look. For instance, a lighter accent color against a darker main exterior house color helps a small house appear larger. And remember, just because this is an accent color does not mean it shouldn’t fit in with your overall color scheme. Choosing an accent color that adds pizazz, but still looks good with the main house color will prevent any unsightly clashing of colors.

Take the time to gather the right color scheme for your house exterior before getting up on that ladder and your painting project will go much more smoothly. Home improvement does not have to mean pulling a “Tim Allen” (with DIY blunders galore) any longer.

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