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3 Pillar Blog

Blog Category - Newsletter

Bath Trends: Enjoying the Royal Treatment

Categories: Build Process, Design, Newsletter | Posted: June 17, 2015

How far the bathroom has come in housing history! In a few decades it has transformed from an unheated outside shack to a treasured private retreat. Sure, the basic functions of a bathroom are the same, but in today’s master suites the space has evolved to include a variety of spa-like amenities and luxury features.

Matina Bath

As in the kitchen, design professionals and product manufacturers have focused their efforts on the bathroom with an increasing variety of styles, finishes, and features. Consider these current bath trends:

Shower Power: Forget about a single showerhead hung from the wall. Today’s showers offer multiple, adjustable heads that can be set up on any wall, featuring control pads to manipulate spray patterns, intensity, and temperature. Some heads, called shower tiles, are set flush to the wall or ceiling to provide a gentle spray, while handheld shower wands allow users the ultimate in water control.

Paik Master Shower

Tub Time: Bathtubs are not only getting longer and deeper, and with requisite whirlpool jets, but also can include mood lighting and spillover troughs to create a more relaxing experience. Called “chromatherapy” by one plumbing manufacturer, these tubs feature underwater LED lights that gently change color and include effervescent bubbling action from multiple underwater ports to enhance the soothing effect. Meanwhile, overflow tubs enable a deeper soaking experience without the worry of making a mess.

Wellness Centers: In addition to featuring luxury items, bathrooms (especially master baths) are getting larger—large enough, in some cases, to include in-home spa amenities including massage tables and yoga or dance areas that offer more convenience, privacy, and cleanliness.

Clothes Care: Along the same lines as the in-home spa and studio concept is the idea of a home-based laundry center.  Here you may find personal dry-cleaners, closet-like clothes fresheners and flat-rack dryers in addition to traditional laundry equipment. If the bathroom has the footage, why not install such products that make life easier and cut down on errands while attaining a higher level of quality care for your clothes?

Coglianese MB

Personal Service: Master bathrooms have become destinations. As such, additional conveniences can include laundry and clothes storage as well as a place to prepare snacks and refreshments. Often called “morning kitchens,” these mini-service areas offer built-in coffee and espresso makers, compact refrigerators, bar skinks, microwave ovens, and perhaps under-counter dishwasher drawers to privately serve the owners as they get ready for work in the morning or wind down at the end of the day.

Universal Access: Whether to accommodate a temporary injury, a more chronic disability, a young child, or an elderly relative or guest, the concept of universal or accessible design can be easily and affordably achieved in any bathroom without sacrificing style or luxury. Multiple-height vanities, lever-handled faucets, D-shaped cabinet pulls, and zero-threshold showers with built-in seating and handheld heads are just a few design and product ideas that can support any family member.

To learn more about this and other topics, sign up for our newsletter here!

 


 

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.

Friday’s FAQ | Flooring

Categories: Design, Newsletter | Posted: June 12, 2015

Q: What’s the difference between engineered wood flooring and solid wood flooring?

Example of Flooring

A: Unlike solid wood planks, engineered wood flooring features a main section or substrate made from thin sections of solid wood that are set in a cross-hatched pattern and laminated together. A thin veneer of solid oak, maple, or other wood on top of this base provides the appearance of a solid wood floor. Engineered wood flooring does not react as dramatically to changes in temperature or humidity and requires less maintenance than solid wood.

 

To learn more about this and other topics, sign up for our newsletter here!

 


 

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

Managing Your Family’s Future: The Customizable New Home

Categories: Build Process, Design, Newsletter | Posted: June 10, 2015

You may have heard the term ‘customization’ in your research for your new home. It typically means the process of making alterations to the floor plan or exterior appearance of a home to reflect your particular taste, lifestyle, and location.

But a subtle yet equally important variation on that term is emerging within the home design and building communities. Put simply, this newer usage of ‘customization’ expresses that new homes today are—by design—better able to adapt to the changing needs of their owners after they’ve moved in and for years to come.

This kind of customization has its roots in architectural features like the great rooms and so-called ‘flex’ spaces that many builders now offer. But true customization requires a more thoughtful approach to the floor plan, materials choices, and future lifestyle changes than simply including a room that allows flexibility in its use.

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Obviously, rooms like the kitchen and bathrooms are spaces dedicated to a particular use. But there’s no reason that a dining room can’t eventually become a home office, then switch back or become something else down the road, depending on what the family wants and needs.

More dramatically, consider a back room—properly designed—that could evolve from a simple bedroom into a den, home office, or studio apartment, and eventually into a first-floor master suite as the owners age and tire of climbing stairs to their bedroom.

Similarly, a storage area next to a second-floor master suite could, over time and if properly designed, become another bedroom or swap with the master bedroom, which could turn into an upstairs family room or office, private sitting room, or home gym.

These examples are practical and can also be cost-effective… if your builder has the forethought to ‘rough in’ plumbing and other mechanical systems. This level of customization could set the stage for a future rental apartment with a small kitchen and a private entry. Another smart option: leave sufficient room for a staircase or design the roof frame to accommodate dormer windows to finish an upstairs area adjacent to the master suite.

The possibilities of being able to ‘customize’ a home you already live in are inspiring. As much as we want to build new homes (it is our business, after all), we also like the idea of creating long-lasting communities of people who can build tight neighborhood bonds—which proper home design and planning allows.

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We also like providing homes that serve our clients now and in the future, reducing ongoing maintenance needs and extensive remodeling costs. The built-in flexibility also helps make the house easier to sell when the owners are ready to move on to another new home.

This newer kind of customization works best in new homes. As professional builders, we specialize in working with you to design the floor plan and construction process from the beginning to accommodate your family’s changing lifestyle needs.

 

To learn more about this and other topics, sign up for our newsletter here!

 


 

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

Friday’s FAQ | Insulation

Categories: Build Process, Newsletter | Posted: May 22, 2015

Q: What’s the difference between “batt” and “blown” insulation?

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A: Batt insulation is formed into long sections, sometimes with a kraft-paper facing on one side, and rolled up for shipping and easier installation. The batts are made to fit snugly between wall and floor framing members. Blown insulation is essentially the same product, just not molded. The loose material is forced by air pressure through a tube into the floor cavities of an attic space to insulate it. Blown insulation is typically used only in horizontal applications (like attic floors), but is thought to provide more coverage and better insulating value because it is able to get into every nook of the structural frame. Batts are more easily installed in vertical applications (such as walls) or fastened to the underside of the floor framing to insulate the house from the ground temperature.

 


 

 

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

Prefinishes: The ‘No-Name’ Construction Phase

Categories: Build Process, Newsletter | Posted: May 20, 2015

After the structural framing stage and the installation of the preliminary—or “rough”—plumbing, electrical, and heating and cooling components are complete, there is a no-name phase of construction we’ll call the “prefinishes.”

The reason this stage of the process has no common name is because several different activities—by several different trades—occur during this time. All of them combine to prepare the house for the finish products to come, from flooring to trim to lighting, and are vital in the overall performance of the house. Indeed, the sum of these prefinishes is called the “thermal envelope.” These critical steps include:

Housewrap. Also called an air or vapor barrier, this tough, woven sheet-like material is installed on the exterior walls around the entire house. Sections are fastened and taped together to keep water and air outside the structural frame. Housewrap protects the “thermal envelope,” improving the home’s energy efficiency and indoor comfort. The wrap covers the rough openings of the windows and doors. Once it is installed, we carefully cut out those openings and fold the material around the rough openings to ensure complete protection from the elements.

Woodford Home Wrap

Windows and doors. Once the housewrap has been cut to expose the rough frame openings, we carefully install each window and door. Attention to detail is critical at this stage to make sure that the windows and doors not only operate smoothly and properly, but also deliver maximum thermal benefits. Good quality windows and glass patio doors are now designed for improved control of thermal transfer, solar heat gain, and harmful ultraviolet rays.

A home’s main entry door is often a signature feature of the house. Depending on the home’s design, the entry door might include windows on one or both sides (sidelights) or over the top of the door (transom), or perhaps even a glass insert in the door itself. These design elements add character to a home’s design and heighten curb appeal.

At this stage, we install the garage door(s). Like windows and passage doors, garage doors have come a long way in their design options and insulating value.

Insulation. Insulation is typically installed in the exposed framing cavities of the exterior walls. Good quality insulation retards the transfer of warm and cold air through the home’s structure. Insulation makes the home more energy efficient and comfortable inside.

Different insulation products are sometimes used for different sections of the house. In the walls, for instance, formed batts of fiberglass insulation are designed to fit snugly between the studs. In the attic, a loose-fill (or “blown”) insulation is often more appropriate to pack the spaces between the roof framing.  An expanding, spray-applied foam might be most appropriate in the slight gaps between the window and door frames and their rough openings to seal the house more completely against air infiltration and thermal transfer.

Drywall. The last of the “prefinishes” is drywall, or gypsum wallboard panels. These familiar panels are cut to fit and fastened to the framed walls and ceiling, creating a smooth surface and substrate for paint, paneling, wallpaper, and other finishes.

Because whole and cut sections of drywall panels are pieced together, the seams between the sections must be filled and smoothed before the wall or ceiling finishes are applied. Taping the drywall joints is a process that requires several days, as multiple layers of “mud” are applied and sanded to deliver a smooth and uninterrupted substrate with no visible joints between the panels.

Great Room Drywall

The completion of the “prefinish” stage creates the home’s thermal envelope, fully protecting it and its occupants from the elements and from thermal transfer through the exterior walls and openings.

To learn more about the build process, subscribe to our 3 Pillar Newsletter!

 


 

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

What Is Customer Satisfaction?

Categories: Build Process, Newsletter | Posted: May 6, 2015

Research shows that good processes are key to a great building experience.

The best builders know which experiences homeowners find most frustrating, and they work tirelessly to avoid them.

Industry studies show that homeowners’ biggest complaints are about their builder’s processes, especially around scheduling, budget, work habits and customer service. Smart builders use data from these studies to help them understand what their customers consider important. And smart home-buyers can glean lessons from them on how to evaluate a builder.

One interesting point is that few custom home-buyers complain about quality. By the time they have chosen a builder, they take quality for granted—because that’s what they focused on during the selection process. They vetted their builder by looking at past projects or project photos, reviewing testimonials, and perhaps talking with past customers about their new homes.

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Looking at finished work is crucial, but if the homeowners want to know how they will likely feel during and after the project, they need to ask questions about the builder’s process. The best pros deliver a finished home by the date expected and for the amount agreed on. They show up on time for meetings and communicate about changes. They keep a clean, organized job-site — a sign of safe and efficient work practices. And they stand behind their work long after the job is done.

Such builders stand out from the crowd, as was documented in a 2013 study by Woodland, O’Brien & Scott, a consulting firm that tracks home-buyer attitudes nationwide. The company surveyed 12,000 new-home buyers on their builders and their builders’ processes. The most cited complaints were:

-Homes that weren’t finished on schedule.
-Finished homes that weren’t as clean or complete as the customers expected.
-Poor follow-up by the builder’s staff on incomplete items.
-Poor communications regarding the schedule during the project.
-A big factor behind these problems, say the authors, was that as housing recovered from the downturn many builders couldn’t find enough qualified staff to keep up with the increased workload.

Skilled labor is in short supply. A lot of highly skilled workers left the industry during the housing slump, and those who stayed tended to look for work with established, professionally managed building companies. These companies’ ability to attract the best talent has helped them largely avoid the customer issues uncovered by the survey.

The survey also found that builders with the happiest customers were the most proactive communicators. It found that home-buyers are often forgiving about delays if the builder’s staff keeps them up-to-date about the schedule and the anticipated completion date. They rightly see good communication as a sign that the builder cares about them.

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A custom home is a complex project with a lot of potential ups and downs. Customers should evaluate builders by making sure they have processes in place that will make the ride an enjoyable one.

To learn more about the build process, subscribe to our 3 Pillar Newsletter!

 


 

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

Friday’s FAQ | Markups

Categories: Build Process, Design, Newsletter | Posted: April 24, 2015

Q: What is the difference between markup and profit margin?

A: Markup is what a builder adds to the price of a given item, such as an appliance or lumber order, to cover his overhead costs and achieve a reasonable profit margin on the project. The profit margin is what he actually makes on that item after he pays his overhead, such as office space, cell phone bill, vehicles and labor.

Is the Least Expensive the Best Investment?

Categories: Build Process, Design, Newsletter | Posted: April 22, 2015

Choosing a builder based on the lowest cost per square foot or the lowest sales price may not get a buyer the best value. When it comes to your family’s future, the least expensive option may not be the best way to go.

Common sense tells us that there is a premium to be paid for a superior home. By that we mean a home that has more exacting standards, performs well over time, maintains its value as an investment and is built by a builder who stands by his work. Let’s take a closer look at these higher initial costs and why we believe it is worth paying a reasonable premium for such a home.

Better Materials. Professional builders who build to a high level of quality have higher standards for the materials that go into their homes. They cull lumber piles for the straightest studs and send the warped and knotted ones back to the lumberyard. They inspect and confirm deliveries, protect materials from weather, seek out the best warranties and track problems to weed out poor-performing materials.

Home Materials

When a company insists on that level of quality and provides that level of attention and care, one would expect to pay a bit more. Like cut-rate houses, substandard materials can deliver substandard results that often cost more to repair or replace than the premium you might pay upfront for a higher-quality option.

Better Construction. Builders who specify and only accept better-quality products do so to achieve a higher level of overall construction quality and long-term durability. They make sure products and materials are installed properly by the most competent subcontractors and adhere to performance standards that are far beyond what the local building code requires.

Why? Because professional builders know that their reputation is on the line with every home they deliver. When homeowners begin to see evidence of poor workmanship, it doesn’t take long for them to spread the word about how poorly the builder (and the house) performed. This is too high a price to pay for any company who is in business for the long-term and understands the value of a satisfied client.

As with better materials and products, a better-built home may (and should) cost more upfront, but cost less over time. As we’ve seen repeatedly over the years, it requires less repair, replacement and maintenance in the long run.

A Better Experience. Is it possible to put a price tag on peace of mind? Consider the value of a hassle-free new-home project. Less stress, no hurt feelings, no horror stories, no busted budgets, no lawsuits. What is it worth to have your new home built on schedule, for the agreed cost, with a builder who is there to answer your questions from groundbreaking through move-in and beyond?

Home Closing

And what do you get? A house that meets your expectations, that is solidly built, with superior fit and finish. It’s livable, comfortable, and meets your lifestyle needs. In other words, a “home.” Your 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.

Friday FAQ | Siding

Categories: Build Process, Newsletter | Posted: April 17, 2015

Q: What’s the paper-like wrapping I see on new homes before the exterior siding goes on?

Woodford Siding

A: It is increasingly common for quality-conscious builders to add an extra layer of weather protection around the outside of the house. Called an air barrier or “house-wrap,” this layer is installed as a continuous material just behind the siding, stucco, or brick finish. The house-wrap provides a barrier blocking the exchange of air through the structure, thus reducing heating and cooling costs. House-wrap also blocks moisture from getting into the walls where it can damage the insulation and framing.

 


 

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.

Managing Chance

Categories: Build Process, Newsletter | Posted: April 8, 2015

Building a new home is a dynamic and exciting process. As professional home builders, our goal is to make the process smooth and transparent for our clients. Once the job is underway, things happen quickly, so we work with clients to make decisions well ahead of time to help ensure they get their new home on schedule and on budget, as promised.

Most of the big design decisions are made before the first scoop of dirt is moved, but that is rarely the end of the decision-making process. Once construction is underway, owners often think of a few things they’d like to change. Adjustments may range from adding a room to a change in kitchen cabinets, choosing different flooring in the bathroom, or just adding an extra light switch or two.

We document such requests, called “change orders,” to make sure that all parties have a clear understanding of the scope and cost of the change. It is important for the homeowner to understand how change orders affect the building process. When homeowner and builder communicate well, the impact of change orders on the construction schedule and budget can be minimized.

A change order made after construction begins always has a cost. The cost may be the time and labor to make the change or it may be the price of additional materials or products required—sometimes both.

In addition, the timing of a change order affects the cost. Changes late in the building process typically cost more than earlier ones. Some changes may be cost-prohibitive, such as altering the foundation or adding a basement once we’ve started building a home’s structural frame.

We respect our clients’ desires to get exactly the house they want. And we know that some finishes (or even floor plans) may be hard to visualize until they’re actually installed or built. From long experience, we know that changes will happen and, consequently, we aim to be systematic about managing change orders. Our process ensures good communication and provides assurances between everyone involved. It also helps us stick to the schedule and minimize additional costs.

The change order process: The most effective change order processes follow a general pattern that creates a paper trail and provides reliable cost information up front, including:

  • Centralization. Change order requests are managed by one person to help ensure effective communication between everyone involved. This includes specialty trade contractors, suppliers, our job site managers, and, of course, our clients. We discourage homeowners from making special requests directly to a trade contractor, as this is a quick route to misunderstandings and disrupted schedules.
  • Documentation. Client requests are transferred to an electronic or paper-based change order form that initiates a paper trail and helps ensure greater accuracy and clearer communication.
  • Terms. We anticipate the types of changes our clients may make. We have a good idea of the cost and time most changes require. As a result, we can often communicate the terms quickly so that homeowners can make an informed decision in plenty of time to make the change or decide against it.
  • Confirmation. It’s important to everyone involved that no change occurs without a client signature. Clients must approve the cost and terms, as well as the style, finish, or other details about the change. This also ensures that clients are made aware of how the change may affect their move-in date or other aspects of the construction schedule.
  • Inspection. We may ask clients to visit the new home’s job site when the change is being made to make sure they are satisfied and don’t have any questions.
  • Payment. Costs for change orders may be billed separately, usually as soon as the change has been made and the work is completed to a client’s satisfaction. Sometimes we ask for a percentage of the cost or full payment up front before making a change, depending on the type of request.

By following this simple but thorough change order process, our clients can be sure that any changes they consider—whether minor or substantial—will be handled in a timely fashion without confusion, miscommunication, or unnecessary cost.

 

To learn more about the build process, subscribe to our 3 Pillar Newsletter!

 


 

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