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3 Pillar Blog

Blog Category - Newsletter

Maintaining Your New Home

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: October 5, 2016

A smart maintenance schedule will help keep a new home healthy and good looking for years to come.

If low maintenance is a priority, then having a new home built is a great choice. In a 2014 study by the National Association of Homebuilders, 73 percent of new homeowners reported average monthly maintenance expenses just one-fourth (25 percent) of those reported by owners of older homes. But while it’s relatively affordable to keep a new home in good working condition, proper maintenance is critical.

A new custom home will have a tightly sealed building shell. This reduces heating and cooling bills and helps the furnace and air conditioner maintain more even temperatures all year. With fewer unwanted drafts, it’s also easier for the mechanical systems to maintain ideal relative humidity (RH) levels in the home—30 to 45 percent in winter and 45 to 50 percent in summer.

Of course, the mechanicals will do a much better job of delivering these benefits if they’re well-tuned. A good ventilation system will keep the home’s air healthy, but its filters need to be kept clean, as do those in the heating and air conditioning units. It’s also a good idea to periodically clean the ductwork. (The National Duct Cleaners Association recommends a cleaning every five years, but frequency depends on factors that include homeowners’ sensitivities, the number of pets, and the surrounding environment.)

But even people who obsessively change their car’s oil on schedule may neglect these tasks. For instance, it’s not uncommon for a furnace to develop problems if the air filter hasn’t been changed for a long time. The service company shows up only to find that the motor overheated because the filter is clogged and the system can’t breathe. Fortunately, such problems are entirely avoidable: keeping your new mechanicals in good condition is a simple matter of working with your builder to develop a cost-effective maintenance schedule, and then setting reminders in your schedule to get the needed tasks done.

An added benefit from properly functioning mechanicals is that they will keep the home looking good for many years. That strip flooring is beautiful when first installed, but it could eventually swell if the indoor air is damp, while other wood products shrink if the air stays too dry for too long. (According to a leading website for finish carpenters, relative humidity in older homes can range from 25 to 65 percent in some parts of the country, a swing that can make a 12-inch maple board expand and contract by up to 1/4 inch.)

In short, regular maintenance of your home’s mechanical systems will help ensure a healthier, more comfortable space and a lower long-term cost of upkeep. Many product warranties also require regular maintenance. This is true for any home, old or new, but it’s especially important for today’s high-performance custom homes.

The specifics of the maintenance program will vary with the type of mechanical equipment as well as with the climate where the home is located. Maintenance needs are usually covered in the final orientation, but homeowners who have additional questions about how to maintain a particular product or piece of equipment should ask their professional builder.

3 Pillar Homes is a custom home builder in Columbus, Ohio. For more information about our new homes, please visit one of our model home locations in Jerome Village, located at 10602 Arrowwood Drive, Plain City, Oh 43064 or in Lewis Center, located at 2360 Koester Trace Drive, Lewis Center, Ohio 43035. You can always contact us by phone at 614-286-0659.

The Air You Breathe

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: September 21, 2016

Just as the human body has a respiratory system, so a house has specialized equipment to bring fresh air inside, filter it, distribute and ‘exhale’ it. The respiratory equipment in a house is often referred to as “HVAC,” for “heating, ventilating and air conditioning.”

As homebuilding has become more sophisticated, so have HVAC systems. From the days of a single source of heat, such as a woodstove, this vital function has expanded to include a variety of components that deliver and improve indoor comfort, air quality, and energy efficiency. Which system is appropriate depends on factors such as climate, square footage, house design and construction methods, budget, fuel sources, and personal preferences. The wide range of options gives the professional builder an opportunity to create exactly the best HVAC system for each home.

To help builders and owners evaluate the choices, HVAC products and systems are rated by their energy efficiency so that energy use and cost can be reduced. For example, the better a particular furnace may be in recovering, filtering, and reusing the conditioned (heated) air that it produces, the less fuel it needs to condition new air coming into the system. Today’s top-of-the-line systems achieve 90 percent or more efficiency in this regard.

Using high-performance equipment, a builder can design an HVAC system to heat, cool, and ventilate specific zones of the house. Even in the best-built and insulated homes, some areas of a house will be warmer or cooler than others according to the time of year or time of day. This is especially true in homes with multiple levels and large open spaces. A “zoned” approach to HVAC design puts conditioned air only where it is needed. With a delivery system composed of a customized network of air ducts, programmable thermostats, and additional equipment as required, a home will have no hot spots or cold corners regardless of season.

Of course, like any system in a home (or the human body), the HVAC system does not work alone. To be truly effective, each system requires a well-designed and constructed structural shell, together with regular maintenance, to maintain the desired performance. Optimum performance of any HVAC system requires insulated windows, insulated framing cavities in the walls, floors, and ceilings. In addition, a properly installed air barrier membrane wrapping the outside of the structural shell helps complete the package. In some cases, a well-built home enables the use of smaller and less expensive HVAC components.

A good HVAC system is essential to the comfort of any new home, contributing in large part to the satisfaction of the owner. As professional homebuilders, we are conscious of our responsibility to design and install HVAC systems that deliver consistent indoor comfort while using as little energy as possible.

3 Pillar Homes is a custom home builder in Columbus, Ohio. For more information about our new homes, please visit one of our model home locations in Jerome Village, located at 10602 Arrowwood Drive, Plain City, Oh 43064 or in Lewis Center, located at 2360 Koester Trace Drive, Lewis Center, Ohio 43035. You can always contact us by phone at 614-286-0659.

It’s Always Sunny in TV Land

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: September 9, 2016

Home shows don’t reflect the reality of building a new home.

Who doesn’t love a good drama, especially one they can imagine themselves a part of? With that in mind, it’s no surprise that home and garden shows enjoy loyal viewership, and that HGTV has earned a spot as one of the top ten cable networks. It’s great fun to curl up on the couch and follow the excitement of a home being built or renovated, of obstacles being overcome, and of a happy couple swelling with pride at the project’s completion.

The only problem is that some people let their homebuilding expectations be influenced by what is, in reality, a scripted drama driven by product advertisers. And while no one would admit to falling under this spell, the influence can be both subtle and pervasive.

Take the example of schedules. In TV land, problems with building permits always get solved by airtime, and you rarely see major delays from bad weather or from special orders that were botched by the distributor. In fact, the timetable for a typical TV project can be as different from that of a real home build as the prep time for a microwave dinner is from that of a gourmet meal. (Outcomes will likely differ, too.) Intellectually this is a no-brainer, but if someone watches enough projects being finished in a weekend, they could be emotionally set up to think instant gratification is possible.

Even with guaranteed sunshine and 100 skilled tradespeople working 24/7 to rush the project to completion, what kind of quality do you think you are going to get? Contrast that to the professional builder, who creates a detailed construction timetable that gives all the trades sufficient time to do top-quality work without tripping over one another.

The difference in timetables is really a difference in priorities and mindset. The show producer has to meet a shoot schedule; the builder has to take the time needed to create a home that will satisfy the clients for many years to come.

Then there’s the budget. From what we have seen, the costs on a TV project seldom reflect the actual labor, overhead, and product costs builders have to grapple with. Given these shows’ large audience, some manufacturers pay to get their products on screen. Others may discount the price or loan a product during filming then take it back later. These deals are seldom disclosed.

Not only that, the experience of watching enough $5000 professional-style ranges being installed can make a homeowner feel cheated if they’re denied one—even if the budget will only support one half that price.

The bottom line is that the producers of these shows are under pressure to create dramatic tension and to keep advertisers and product sponsors happy. They’re not looking at your budget and they are not thinking about your ultimate satisfaction. A professional builder—someone who has real skin in your game—is focused on both.

None of this is meant to slam the producers of these shows, who no doubt try to serve viewers by showing what’s possible in an entertaining way. So watch and enjoy—you may even pick up some useful decorating tips. Just remember that it’s entertainment.

3 Pillar Homes is a custom home builder in Columbus, Ohio. For more information about our new homes, please visit one of our model home locations in Jerome Village, located at 10602 Arrowwood Drive, Plain City, Oh 43064 or in Lewis Center, located at 2360 Koester Trace Drive, Lewis Center, Ohio 43035. You can always contact us by phone at 614-286-0659.

Excellence vs. Perfection

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: August 17, 2016

Famous football coach Bill Walsh was known for demanding perfection from his players during practices, even though he knew they would never attain it. His philosophy was if you don’t strive for perfection, you don’t have a chance to achieve it.

As professional builders, we follow the same philosophy; plan for perfection to attain excellence. Like Coach Walsh, we don’t stand a chance of delivering an excellent new home that satisfies a client’s wants and needs if we don’t set and expect the highest standards possible.

In the pursuit of excellence, we coach our homebuyers about the building process so that their expectations are high but realistic. We want our homebuyers to push and challenge us to always do better, but it is also our job to define excellence … and point out the difference between it and perfection.

Our best and most effective method for doing that is listening. Really listening. Not just to find out which floor plan a client prefers, but why and how it will satisfy their lifestyle needs. Not just about which community they want to live in, but also their concerns and questions about the quality of nearby schools, proximity to shopping and public services, and commute routes to work.

In this discovery phase, we craft a strategy for a new home that truly addresses and justifies our client’s reasons for making such a significant investment and sets us on course to deliver it according to those expectations.

It is also critical to maintain a regular and open line of communication during the construction process. As during the planning stage, our first job is to listen to and then educate and inform our buyers about the subtleties of new-home construction that are specific to their concerns.

Responding to a buyer’s question with “that’s just the way it is” or “it’s complicated” is unacceptable. Instead, we strive to deliver details, demonstrate our methods, and ensure that questions are answered to a buyer’s satisfaction. That approach and level of respect for our buyers helps build a better understanding of our work process all the way through the final walk-through and close of escrow.

Finally, a key component of delivering excellence comes after the sale, once a buyer becomes a homeowner. We make sure to communicate our policies and procedures for warranty service — once again demonstrating the difference between perfection and excellence. Ideally, we’ve done an excellent job of building their new home to the point where service callbacks are kept to a minimum; for those small warranty items that crop up after move-in, we work to be responsive and responsible to address them in a timely fashion.

As a homebuyer and owner, it’s okay to want the “perfect” home. The best we can do, however, is to strive for perfection and achieve excellence that satisfies the lifestyle needs of our clients and protects their investment now and well into the future.

3 Pillar Homes is a custom home builder in Columbus, Ohio. For more information about our new homes, please visit one of our model home locations in Jerome Village, located at 10602 Arrowwood Drive, Plain City, Oh 43064 or in Lewis Center, located at 2360 Koester Trace Drive, Lewis Center, Ohio 43035. You can always contact us by phone at 614-286-0659.

Questions and Answers About Solar

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: August 3, 2016

A lot of homeowners want to know more about this popular technology.

Residential solar electric systems have seen phenomenal growth in recent years, with those distinctive panels now a common feature on American roofs. Much of that growth is thanks to hefty price reductions—an installed system costs less than half of what it did in 2006—as well as to generous government incentives. Not surprisingly, many of our clients want to know whether specifying solar for their new home is a good investment. Here are brief answers to some of the most common questions.

Q: What types of systems are available?
A: While solar panels have long been a feature on rural homesteads—mostly in areas where the cost to run power lines is prohibitive—nearly all of the systems being installed on new custom homes are grid-connected. In effect, each system is a miniature power plant feeding the utility’s network.

Q: How does grid connection work?
A: The home draws power from the panels in daytime when the sun is shining. At night, or during the day when the home needs more power than the panels can supply, it draws from the electric grid. If the panels are generating more than the home is using (during the day when the homeowners are at work, for instance), the excess flows back into the grid. Most states have net metering laws requiring the utility to reimburse the homeowner for any electricity generated above what they use during any billing period. The reimbursement amount varies by state.

Q: Will the panels power my home if the grid goes down?
A: Unfortunately, no. During a power outage, the system’s inverter (the device that converts the direct-current electricity generated by the panels to the alternating current used in the home) automatically shuts down. As an added precaution, the utility may also require an exterior breaker they can access if there’s an outage. These are safety features to protect utility workers from being electrocuted.

Q: How much will I save?
A: It depends on system size and local electric rates, but the typical system will reduce the monthly bill by more than $100.

Q: What is the payback period?
A: For systems bought under the current tax incentives (see below), the monthly savings can recoup the cost in as little as 5 to 7 years. After that, power from the solar panels is essentially free. You’re still dependent on the grid, but if electric rates rise you only pay the higher rate on any power you have to buy from the utility. With most systems offering a 25-year estimated lifespan, you are basically pre-paying for 25 years’ worth of the panels’ generating capacity.

Q: What if we move before the payback period ends?
A: A study by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBL) found that a solar-equipped home will sell for an average of $15,000 more than a comparable non-solar home in the same market. The extra value is often enough to recoup the net system cost after the tax credits. LBL also found that solar homes sell 20% faster.

Q: What about the tax credit?
A: The federal government is currently giving a 30% Solar Investment Tax Credit (SITC). This is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your federal income taxes, reducing the system cost by nearly one-third. After January 1, 2020 the Federal Government will begin cutting the benefit each year until they evaporate in 2022. So if you are considering solar, the next few years will be your best opportunity.

Q: Do I need a southern roof orientation?
A: Ideally, yes. Panels will only generate their full capacity on a south-facing roof, which provides the maximum sun exposure. Although other orientations will work, the panels won’t generate their full capacity.

Q: Is there a calculated return on my investment?
A: Even if the home is oriented to achieve a perfect southern exposure, the return on investment (ROI) will depend in part on the home’s efficiency. Because a new home built by a professional builder will be designed and constructed to use less energy, it will lower net monthly bills and accelerate the payback period.

It’s not unusual to see a return on investment over the life of the system in excess of 250%. That’s more than 10% per year, which beats the stock market without the risks. And if electric rates rise, the percentage ROI will be even better.

3 Pillar Homes is a custom home builder in Columbus, Ohio. For more information about our new homes, please visit one of our model home locations in Jerome Village, located at 10602 Arrowwood Drive, Plain City, Oh 43064 or in Lewis Center, located at 2360 Koester Trace Drive, Lewis Center, Ohio 43035. You can always contact us by phone at 614-286-0659.

Backyard as Destination Resort

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: July 20, 2016

Most of us have fond memories of family barbecues in the back yard or running through the sprinklers. Only the clairvoyant among us could have imagined today’s new ‘back yards’: the highly appointed outdoor spaces that are becoming increasingly popular in today’s new homes.

Long gone are the days of the patio slab, rectangular swimming pool, and rolling kettle grill. Current outdoor living features and materials are just as stylish and creative as the homes they serve, providing multifunctional destinations for owners and guests.

Professional designs ensure a smooth transition to and from the indoors, provide artful square footage, and the proper utility connections for all of the desired features. Careful planning can even accommodate year-round enjoyment through creative options for shade, sun, and other weather conditions.

One of the primary requests for outdoor space is a fully functional kitchen. A built-in, gas-powered barbecue grill, complete with warming drawers, heating elements and plenty of grilling surface, is essential equipment for today’s outdoor chef.

Because an outdoor kitchen is often designed within a covered patio or veranda, grills are usually supplemented with a ventilation system to exhaust smoke and odors. Other conveniences include a sink and faucet, an under-counter refrigerator/ice maker, and a row of base cabinets topped by a weather-tough countertop.

An outdoor kitchen logically demands an outdoor eating area. Weather-resistant furnishings and upholstery are available in an increasingly wide range of styles to suit any taste and need, from formal dining tables to casual, plushy seating options. Outdoor rooms might also include a bar island between the cooking and eating areas. Such islands double as serving areas for casual meals.

Another popular feature of outdoor rooms is a fireplace-television combination. Modern gas-powered fireplaces are designed to simulate authentic wood-burning units, but with better energy use, heat distribution, and ventilation. Such chimneys can accommodate a niche for a flat-screen television, easily supplemented by small, outdoor-rated speakers for surround-sound. What used to be a plain patio has now become an enviable destination for family and guests.

To make the space accessible to the indoors and to merge indoor and outdoor entertainment space, many designs feature all-glass folding or pocket doors that create wide-open passages. When designed with the home’s micro-climate in mind, these doors may also help to cool the house with natural breezes. Ceiling fans keep the air moving through the outdoor room, while outdoor-rated lights in the ceiling and on the walls allow its use after dark.

To keep less-desirable weather out of both the house and the covered outdoor space, motorized roll-down screens—ideally concealed in the structure—keep pests, winds, rain, and other debris out. Such screens come in a variety of weights and are easily controlled by a remote device or wall switch.

The living space extends beyond the covered area, of course. Patios can be equipped with interlocking pavers, flagstones, or stamped or colored concrete to add dimension and interest. The open-air space might be a deck, increasingly finished with weather-resistant engineered planks that require little maintenance, maintain their color and structural integrity, and are eco-friendly. To complete the look, consider adding comfortable built-in seating and a freestanding fire pit.

Finally, modern pools and spas, are becoming works of art, incorporating fountains and waterfalls, rock formations, frameless edges, and other landscaping features.

Combined, a covered outdoor room, open deck or patio, and pool/spa feature create a value-added feature for any new home. By extending the living space with year-round options to enjoy it, the modern back yard provides years of enjoyment and boosts property value for any homeowner.

The old backyard has become a destination resort.

3 Pillar Homes is a custom home builder in Columbus, Ohio. For more information about our new homes, please visit one of our model home locations in Jerome Village, located at 10602 Arrowwood Drive, Plain City, Oh 43064 or in Lewis Center, located at 2360 Koester Trace Drive, Lewis Center, Ohio 43035. You can always contact us by phone at 614-286-0659.

The Importance of Structure

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: July 6, 2016

Framing details have a big impact on all aspects of a new home.

Most people don’t think much about their home’s structural skeleton—unless there’s a problem. Small mistakes made during the framing stage can cause headaches later on that range from annoyances to health issues. Let’s look at how a home gets framed, and how the builder makes sure it’s done right.

Most homes use “platform” or “stick” framing. The framing crew builds the floor platform then adds walls and ceilings one piece (one stick) at a time. Other workers then route pipes, wires, and ductwork through the frame; stuff or blow insulation into cavities; and cover the structure with drywall, siding, and trimwork. The system is efficient and proven. And the fact that all tradespeople understand it makes for more predictable scheduling and cost estimating.

The system’s familiarity also means that a good framing crew knows the consequences of not minding the details. Inadequately glued subflooring can cause floors to squeak when walked on. A wall that’s not plumb (straight up and down), level, and perfectly straight along its length can mean wavy drywall and sticking doors. An out-of-square corner could make trim harder to fit and prevent a wood floor from visually aligning the way it’s supposed to. The framer has to take steps to prevent these problems.

There are also many small items that need attention. Blocking has to be added behind everything from cabinets to baseboard, so that nails and screws that penetrate the drywall bite into something solid. Window and door headers have to align perfectly, as do rows of recessed lights. And there has to be enough space between the framing in the right places to fit ductwork and plumbing stacks.

While the framing crew builds to a set of blueprints and specifications, it is important to view the framing skeleton as part of the overall finished product. That’s why the framer works closely with the job supervisor, the professional builder’s on-site manager. The super is someone with many years of experience, who sees the house as an integrated system, and who understands how the structural shell will ultimately interact with all the other elements.

The super also has to oversee plumbers, electricians, and HVAC contractors. These trades will be cutting holes in the frame to accommodate wires and pipes and ducts. The super needs to work with them to make sure they don’t compromise the structure or create leaks. Like everything else on a building site, it’s a collaborative effort, and one reason why professional builders seek out experienced subs with good communication systems.

Then there’s the issue of moisture in the framing. For one thing, moisture trapped in walls can lead to mold. For another, wet lumber will move as it dries, causing nail pops and cracks in the drywall as well as squeaky floors and stairways.

Avoiding these problems starts with dry lumber. In older homes, the walls were drafty enough that wet lumber and minor leaks could easily dry out, but that’s not the case with today’s code-mandated tight construction. Nowadays, the educated, quality-conscious builder uses a systematic approach to dealing with moisture—an approach that includes checking the framing with a moisture meter and, if necessary, taking steps to dry it out before hanging the drywall. It also means detailing walls so that they block energy-robbing drafts but give any moisture that does get inside a way out.

The point is that the framer and job supervisor have to constantly think ahead to all the work that comes afterwards, and make sure that the framed structure will support a quality end product. The knowledge and experience needed to make sure this happens is part of the value a professional builder brings to the table.

3 Pillar Homes is a custom home builder in Columbus, Ohio. For more information about our new homes, please visit one of our model home locations in Jerome Village, located at 10602 Arrowwood Drive, Plain City, Oh 43064 or in Lewis Center, located at 2360 Koester Trace Drive, Lewis Center, Ohio 43035. You can always contact us by phone at 614-286-0659.

The Advantage of a “Single-Source” Builder

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: June 22, 2016

As a professional builder, we understand the importance of being in tune with the expectations of our homebuyers. We engage in continuing education to stay up-to-date with current trends in residential design and construction. We seek to anticipate what our homebuyers are looking for in a new home. We offer choices that fit each client’s budget and lifestyle. At the same time, we commit to high quality standards, remain on schedule, within budget, and service our work and the components we use to build each new home.

To achieve these goals, we must be very particular about the materials and products we recommend to our homebuyers.

Occasionally, a homebuyer may suggest something that’s not within our package of standard, upgraded or optional products. Although we constantly look for new and better ideas, some of the suggested products and materials may not meet the expectations we and our homebuyers have for lasting performance and cost efficiency.

To better understand the value of our role in offering a market-savvy selection of finishes, products, and materials for use in our new homes, consider the following questions and answers:

Q: My builder insists that I choose certain products and finishes by a prescribed date after signing the contract. Why is it so critical to meet those deadlines?

A: Making product selections early in the construction process, often before your home is started, allows us to insure that the products will get to the job site on time and within budget. Coordinating vendors and trade contractors involves a certain amount of “lead time”. This is the time it takes to receive a product from a supplier and schedule an installer. With timely selections from our clients we are able to keep a project on schedule and avoid paying a premium for rush deliveries.

Q: A contractor in my area says he’ll roof my house for a lot less than what my builder quoted, but my builder advised against using him. Why?

A: As with most things in life, a lower price doesn’t necessarily mean a lower overall cost. We seek out the best trade partners (like roofers) and negotiate the price of their work based on a variety of considerations. These include their availability, skills, experience, and ability to meet our deadline and quality standards. A low-priced roofer may not be sensitive to our schedule, leave the job unfinished or fail to meet our quality standards. This delays construction, often resulting in higher overall costs and extra work. Simply put, if the roofer is unknown to you and us, that’s a risk we’re uncomfortable taking on your behalf.

Q: I found some great outdoor light fixtures that would be perfect for my house. Can I use them instead of the ones being offered?

A: Some builders provide their clients with allowances to purchase certain products (usually finishes, like light fixtures) on their own. Even in those cases, however, we’re going to point our clients to the showroom of a reliable supplier; one with whom we work with regularly, can stay within budget and steer an owner in the right direction. An off-the-shelf or mail-order item, even a brand name, carries some risk for both builder and homebuyer. The builder must guarantee its installation and durability without truly knowing how it will perform in your home. It may also be more difficult to install than the line of products we offer, raising costs.

Q: Why does my builder charge more for the exact same faucet I found online for less?

A: A builder’s cost is more than just the price of an item. It may include the cost to ship and install it, to service it, and a nominal markup to cover overhead costs, insurance, storage, and profit. For all the products and systems in a home, we assume certain risks and costs on your behalf.

In order for us to give reliable assurances and properly service the products and features of your new home, we must manage and coordinate every aspect of the construction process. While we offer plenty of choices, those choices are determined based on extensive market analysis and years of experience in offering the most valuable commodity of all: your peace of mind.

3 Pillar Homes is a custom home builder in Columbus, Ohio. For more information about our new homes, please visit one of our model home locations in Jerome Village, located at 10602 Arrowwood Drive, Plain City, Oh 43064 or in Lewis Center, located at 2360 Koester Trace Drive, Lewis Center, Ohio 43035. You can always contact us by phone at 614-286-0659.

Hidden Benefits of Building New

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: June 8, 2016

The advantages of a new home go beyond the obvious.

The allure of a new home fires the imagination and ignites the spirit. We’ve all dreamed of living in a home with our version of the perfect gourmet kitchen, a beautifully appointed office, and a luxurious master suite. Having everything just the way you envision it is reason enough for most people to consider a new home over an existing property.

But the advantages go beyond the obvious: a custom home built by a professional builder offers performance benefits that only a new home can. These hidden benefits are as crucial to the homeowners’ ultimate happiness as the design, if not more so.

Many of these benefits are the happy offspring of the drive to save energy. Everyone understands that thick wall and attic insulation, careful air sealing, and better heating and cooling equipment make new homes very energy-efficient. But what some homeowners don’t realize is that these details do more than reduce monthly heating and cooling bills: they also make the home more comfortable, healthier, and quieter.

Energy-efficient details are mandated by many building codes, a fact that has raised the quality baseline for all new construction. Most professional custom builders go well beyond this baseline. They work with designers and use the latest software to analyze how the thousands of items that go into the home will determine its performance, and they hire employees and subcontractors who will do the job right.

The result is a home that offers superior performance in more ways than one. Consider…

Comfort. Properly detailed insulation, along with careful sealing of the building shell and the HVAC ductwork, minimizes drafts and helps keep temperatures even throughout the home. Comfort can be further enhanced by optimizing the home’s space design and windows to the local climate. High-performance windows can even be ordered with coatings that protect furnishings from ultraviolet light.

Health. Those comfort-enhancing, air-sealing details also help keep pollen and dust out of the home. High-performance windows resist condensation that can lead to mold growth. Today’s efficient heating, cooling, and ventilation systems are very good at removing unwanted humidity and other pollutants from the home, while bringing fresh filtered air in. Sealed-combustion heating equipment makes everyone safe by keeping carbon monoxide out of the indoor air.

Quiet. Double- or triple-pane windows, quality doors with good weather-stripping, and of course the air sealing and insulation already mentioned, make a new custom home naturally better at blocking outside noise than an older one. If there’s a busy nearby street, sound-deadening windows can be ordered to further muffle traffic noise. Inside, if there’s a home theater or a teenage musician, sealing gaps in those rooms’ walls and using sound-dampened drywall can give everyone what they want for less effort and cost than it would to retrofit an existing home.

A new home also provides a certain peace of mind and confidence that everything in the home will work the way it’s supposed to for years to come. That’s why professional builders use proven products with good warranties, along with highly skilled installers.

In fact, a lot of people build new homes for the same reason they buy new cars: to avoid unexpected, costly repairs. The big difference is that while buyers can add options to a new car, they have to choose from one of the dealer’s stock models. With a custom home, on the other hand, the buyers get a finished project that reflects their own vision. And the skillful use of energy detailing eliminates annoyances that could get between them and their enjoyment of that home. This superior performance is something an old house just can’t offer.

3 Pillar Homes is a custom home builder in Columbus, Ohio. For more information about our new homes, please visit one of our model home locations in Jerome Village, located at 10602 Arrowwood Drive, Plain City, Oh 43064 or in Lewis Center, located at 2360 Koester Trace Drive, Lewis Center, Ohio 43035. You can always contact us by phone at 614-286-0659.

The Opening Act: Preparing the Site

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: May 18, 2016

If you’ve ever driven past a new subdivision, you’ve likely seen a fleet of earth-moving equipment, multiple colored stakes in the ground, and the beginnings of streets, sidewalks, and foundations. These are the tell-tale signs of the building site being prepared for construction.

Site preparation includes several steps. A survey comes first. Topographical features — trees, streams, rocky outcroppings, relative elevations, and open areas — are carefully marked, providing the basis for everything that follows. Property lines must be located precisely to confirm setbacks (the allowable distance between a structure and a property line) in compliance with local codes. Streets and sidewalks are mapped and flagged. Then the surveyors stake out the location of the various underground utility conduits through the neighborhood and to each house. In the case of a single house under construction, the existing utility services in the neighborhood must be located and the connections to the proposed house carefully plotted. Finally, a soil test is ordered to help determine the type and design of the foundation construction.

Most, if not all, of this information is mandated by the local building authority. Copies of the surveys and tests, usually signed and stamped by a registered professional engineer, must be attached to the proposed construction drawings and submitted for permits or approvals from that authority.

Once those steps are taken and the plans are approved by the building department, the next “site prep” step can be taken. The location of the foundation or footprint of the home is staked to provide a guide for excavation. Typically, the stakes and batter boards (which demarcate every corner or turn in the layout) are connected by nylon strings to outline the exact perimeter of the foundation to be built.

Then backhoes or excavators can get to work, digging ditches to extend existing or new utility conduits — for electrical, plumbing, natural gas, etc. — to serve the house. Foundations are excavated using the staked-out lines as a guide. The plans will call for footings and — according to individual designs — a crawl space, full basement, concrete slab, or perimeter foundation walls in preparation for concrete forms, blocks, or other materials to support the main floor.

Every new-home project requires these site prep steps, and it is important for our homebuyer clients to understand this phase of the job enabling them to track our progress and get a complete picture of what is required to build their new home.

3 Pillar Homes is a custom home builder in Columbus, Ohio. For more information about our new homes, please visit one of our model home locations in Jerome Village, located at 10602 Arrowwood Drive, Plain City, Oh 43064 or in Lewis Center, located at 2360 Koester Trace Drive, Lewis Center, Ohio 43035. You can always contact us by phone at 614-286-0659.