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The Do's & Don't if Building Your Dream Home
Third in a series: Bricks and Mortar, Hammers and Nails, Getting
Your House Built and on Track
(If You Missed Part One Please Follow This
(If You Missed Part Two Please Follow This
Page 1 of 2
Well if you have been with us since
the first of these articles you should now be familiar with: choosing
a design and having an architect draw up the plan and schedules for materials
and specifications. You've interviewed and chosen a contractor and you
have set a date for the work to commence. Now the real job begins.
Homes are not just bricks and mortar and plywood and paint, they are
a living and breathing entity like no other. They are subject to their
surroundings and the environment and therefore in a state of constant
flux. Raising a roof from conception to certificate of occupancy is like
raising a child. It takes your undivided attention, strength perseverance,
and a bit of compassion. The easy and fun part was the conception. Raising
them to become self-sufficient and freestanding is the arduous part. It
would be impossible to cover all of the aspects of construction within
the confines of this particular article, but we will begin to discuss
and outline the tasks that you will need to supervise and accomplish,
to get the job done, including the banking and inspections.
If you have done your homework satisfactorily you have hired a contractor
who you can rely on, and who you have been meeting for initial planning,
scheduling and coordination. You have gone out to the site and you have
had it surveyed and staked out. Tests were performed to determine how
soft or hard the ground is, or if there is bedrock lying under the surface.
(This is all very important information you will need to do this early
on so that you can properly design the footings and foundation.) The utilities
have been arranged for and you have temporary meters and hook ups for
water and electric, and possibly a temporary, self-contained toilet facility
as well. You have addressed all the concerns for permits and permissions
and you have made preparations for site maintenance, trash removal (possibly
a large steel refuse container, size depending on the scope of you project)
and security during the course of your project. Both you, and the contractors,
are insured and you have made provisions for the safe keeping of all tools,
equipment, building supplies and materials that will be delivered to or
kept on the job site. You are now ready to break ground and lay the foundation
of your dreams.
Note: Keeping the work
site clean and free of debris is not only one of the basic tenets of
a safe and accident free job site, but it will help insure that any
pests or rodents do not move into your home before you do. They are
hard to evict.
Site Preparation and Foundation Work
Note: It is a smart
thing to keep a running diary of everything that occurs on your job
site. Make note of the day's weather, which trades are present
and how many men are working. All deliveries of equipment, materials
and supplies must also be recorded. Any discussions with supervisors
of labor should also be kept in the diary, noting any changes to schedule,
plan or specification. Make note of who was present at that meeting,
when it took place, what was decided and who would action on it. If
it is of a certain magnitude, have all those involved initial the entry.
Depending on the actual lay of the land, the environment and your design,
you will be doing one of three things first: excavating a hole for a basement,
trenching for piers and beams if it is to be a crawl space, or grading
and trenching if your design calls for a slab. The key point here is to
make sure the crew that performs this work is aware that the concrete
is being mixed properly, and poured in the proper manner (be careful for
rainy or very hot or cold days). Also make sure that any steel re-enforcing
being used is of the proper gauge/weight and that the pour is allowed
to cure for no less than two weeks before proceeding with that aspect
of the job.
Note: Whenever doing
grading or excavating never remove more soil than necessary. Once the
ground is cut too deeply, and then back fill is required, you will run
the risk of your structure settling into this uncompressed and unstable
fill and damages could result to the entire house.
The tree most prevalent types of foundations
in America are:
Slabs - The least
involved, the cheapest, easiest and fastest solution, which is best
suited to warm Southern climes, where there is little or no freezing
to crack the slab in winter causing ground water problems. Make sure
all the drainage and sewer, plumbing and traps, as well as any chases
or conduit for electric, telephones and other wired systems have been
properly installed before you pour. Once the pour is done you must live
with the results.
Crawlspaces - This
is possibly bit more money, but still much less than a basement. A crawlspace
elevates the house and allows for systems to be easily installed and
accessed after the home is built. Even though the home is elevated slightly,
it will protect the home from water and frost as long as the drainage
is correct and moisture barriers are used. Make sure that the proper
insulation has also been installed. No one likes a home with cold floors
and your energy consumption will also be minimized.
Basements - Basements
are the most expensive and time consuming of foundations and demand
a greater degree of skill than the first two options. Digging the whole
requires the use of heavy equipment, extensive and expensive forming
must be done, along with all the other preparations that a crawlspace
or slab would require. Drainage and reinforcing are two things that
should be paramount when designing a basement. Remember, it's
not supposed be a swimming pool, that comes later. Basements, although
more costly, also add value. The extra space can be well utilized for
the placement of HVAC (Heating/Ventilation/Air Conditioning) systems
and laundry equipment. Further, it is a good place for extra storage,
a work shop, extra refrigeration and freezers or a family room. If you
pan to utilize this space for any of these items be sure to plumb and
wire for these eventualities in advance. All of these idea are for things
that can be tucked away in the basement freeing up valuable living space
on the floors above.