""

3 Pillar Blog

Building Success 101

Categories: Building Success 101, Design, Newsletter | Posted: April 11, 2017

Q: What is contemporary design?

A: A contemporary kitchen is characterized by cabinets with simple lines (that is, without ornate moldings) and by metallic hardware finishes. This design style also puts high value on natural light and views to the outside, which means lots of window area. Explanations for this style’s growth include a more well-traveled populace (contemporary styling is popular worldwide) and the desire for homes with the sleek lines of high-tech products like the iPhone.

The Super Kitchen

Categories: Design, Newsletter | Posted: April 4, 2017

Recent research shows what homeowners want in this crucial room

Although the design of a custom home is a personal statement, most people give at least some thought to market appeal. For this, the most important aspect is the kitchen.

A great kitchen adds real value. A November 2016 article on Realtor.com reported that 69 percent of its home listings make the kitchen a central selling point and that homes with luxury kitchens sell eight percent faster than comparable ones in the same ZIP code.

Those luxury kitchens are hot. For its 2016 Kitchen Trends Survey, Houzz.com asked 2,700 homeowners about their product and design preferences and found strong demand for “super kitchens” that serve as the center of family life. The reason? Nearly two-thirds of homeowners spend three or more hours per day in the kitchen on activities that include cooking, dining, and entertaining.

With the range of activities going on in kitchens, people are adding more features than ever. These include dining tables, homework spaces, TVs, wine refrigerators, and built-in coffee makers.

And with the growing popularity of decks and other outdoor spaces, nearly two-thirds of homeowners want kitchens that open to those spaces, whether that opening is a sliding glass wall system or just a single entry door.

Who Wants What

Of course, these preferences aren’t monolithic. For instance, the Realtor.com article noted that they vary at least somewhat by region, with people in New England more likely to spend money on large kitchens than Midwesterners, who put greater emphasis on affordability and efficient layout. And homeowners in the Southeast are more apt to settle for a smaller kitchen if that means they can keep a formal dining room.

What homeowners want also varies by age group, especially when it comes to design styles. Millennial homeowners (ages 25 to 34) tend to be fans of contemporary and farmhouse styling while baby boomers (ages 55 and older) are drawn more to traditional designs. Millennials also spend more on pantry cabinets or islands, which are part of that farmhouse aesthetic.

Color choices vary by age group as well. “Younger buyers are more likely to keep resale value in mind and tend to choose neutral wall colors and white cabinets,” says Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz. “White also lightens up the kitchen and makes it feel bigger.”

When it comes to surface materials, homeowners value durability and ease of use. They want countertops that can take the heat of a hot pan, and flooring they can stand on for long periods without fatigue. Virtually all are interested in built-in storage, with homeowners prioritizing this “over all other functions of their kitchens,” according to the study.

Finally, while some appliance manufacturers are touting high-tech features, homeowners seem underwhelmed–a mere five percent opt for an oven they can control remotely from their smartphone. Durability and looks are more important, with 72 percent of homeowners opting for stainless steel. It seems like some things never go out of style.

Building Success 101

Categories: Building Success 101, Newsletter | Posted: March 15, 2017

Q: Can I buy my own fixtures?

A: In most cases, no. The brands and models that professional builders offer are those that have proven reliable and come with solid warranties. Items like toilets sold at home centers may be different than those sold to pros through plumbing distributors, even if they’re from the same manufacturer. The pro model will generally use higher quality parts and allow the builder to stand behind a product during the full warranty period.

Estimating Time

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: March 7, 2017

The work of building a price and schedule for your custom home is a project in itself.

There’s a reason that quality project estimates don’t happen overnight. Every home is a collection of thousands of individual components that range from large-scale assemblies like walls and roofs to small items like doorknobs and faucets. The builder has to consider every one of these elements when projecting what it will cost in time and materials to complete the home.

How long this takes varies by project type. For instance, a production builder that builds the same plan over and over will be able to generate estimates on the spot in its design center. That’s because even though the company offers some options to buyers, it’s really mass-producing a cookie-cutter product.

Custom homes are different because each one is unique. An estimate for a simple custom home can easily require 40 hours of staff time, and even more if it’s a complex architectural design. The logistics of getting the estimate done means those hours will likely be spread out over several weeks.

The builder needs to calculate the time and expense for everything from having the plans reviewed by permitting agencies to framing the shell and installing the roof, mechanicals, interior finishes and landscaping. Assembling all these numbers is a massive project that requires experience, knowledge and organizational skills. And, of course, time.

In addition, the builder needs to ensure that the products being priced for the home are the ones the customers want and that the budget will support. In many cases, this means investing time to complete the plans and clarify the product specifications, or specs.

People come to the table with dramatically different assumptions about costs, so the builder needs to clarify these assumptions. For instance, the home’s overall quality level may indicate that it’s safe to base the fixture allowance on standard Delta brushed-nickel faucets, until a discussion reveals that the homeowners are imagining something more expensive. This clarifying work may need to be done for every line item in the estimate.

The builder also needs to solicit prices from each trade subcontractor that will work on the home, from the excavator to the plumber and painter. This can be the most time-consuming part of the estimate. If getting the subcontractors’ bids in house weren’t enough of a challenge, those bids also need to be put under a microscope.

That’s because the builder needs to make sure that subcontractors’ estimates are realistic. For instance, if a drywall bid seems low, the builder has to know enough to ask the drywall contractor how many sheets the estimate was based on, and someone on the builder’s staff needs to check those calculations. When asking for bids from 30 trade subcontractors, it’s not unheard-of for one or two to submit inaccurate bids because they were busy and needed to get their estimate to the builder on deadline. That’s why bids must be carefully reviewed.

All this work is about getting the estimate right. Taking the time to do a thorough and accurate job today will save time, expense and headaches tomorrow. It’s an area where patience pays real dividends.

Fighting Moisture and Mold

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: February 21, 2017

No one wants to think about house mold or, its underlying cause, moisture.  As professional builders, however, we are aware of the dangers created by moisture infiltration and we are in a position to prevent it. That makes it our responsibility to lead the discussion.

Prevention of moisture infiltration—and the mold that can follow it—is a critical objective of green building. Both construction practices and products used in green building are designed to keep moisture in its proper place and to prevent mold spores from settling where they can grow. Such a high-performance home will achieve optimum effectiveness and durability of everything from the home’s structural frame and insulation, to its heating and cooling system, and even most finishes.

A key to managing moisture is to begin with a healthy respect for the nature of water and the dynamics of moisture transmission. Understanding the nature of mold and moisture allows us to find and apply appropriate solutions to direct, vent, and otherwise shed moisture from the home.

Moisture and mold control strategies…

We use an air-moisture barrier (also called a housewrap) behind the exterior siding or stucco blocks which shed wind-driven rain while venting (or drying out) any moisture that somehow gets past it.
Proper flashing (or sealing) around openings before the windows and doors are installed is essential. This strategy will not be effective unless those units are placed tight and square in their openings.
The roof must be “dried in” with building paper under the shingles to shed and direct the flow of water.
Other common practices include a well-designed and reliable system of gutters and downspouts. Attic insulation is used to keep the temperature of those spaces moderate, countering high levels of humidity. Roofs are designed to prevent standing water or ice dams and waterproofing membranes are installed in basements that both seal and insulate below-grade spaces.

And don’t forget, moisture can also be generated inside a home. Cooking, bathing, and laundry can produce a significant amount of moisture vapor (or steam) that will affect finishes and indoor air quality if not properly vented. We specify and install the most efficient kitchen, bath, and laundry ventilation systems to effectively remove moisture from inside the home.

In spite of media hype, the vast majority of new homes built today never experience significant moisture intrusion or dangerous mold growth. That being said, we take the issue very seriously to ensure that our homes meet the highest—and driest!—possible standards of performance for durability and for our owners’ health and comfort.

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.

Building Success 101

Categories: Build Process, Building Success 101, Newsletter | Posted: February 15, 2017

Q: Who ensures a quality job?

A: While the owner of a small contracting company might be on site every day, a professionally managed company will usually assign a dedicated project manager to the job. This person has in-depth knowledge about the project as well as solid working relationships with the company’s regular subcontractors. The site manager’s primary responsibility is making sure that the project gets built to specifications and that it meets the contractor’s quality standards.

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.

Building is Not a Game of Poker

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: February 7, 2017

Should you tell us your real budget? If you want a successful project, the answer is yes. Here’s why.

We occasionally meet homeowners who don’t want to reveal their true budget numbers. This lack of disclosure is not in their best interests and almost always sets the stage for disappointment.

Such reluctance is understandable, of course. Much of the online advice about hiring contractors treats the process as a poker game, with the contractor as the opponent. This mentality leads people to hold their cards close.

But the adversarial approach is the least effective one when planning a custom home. You’re not engaging in a one-time transaction; instead, you are partnering with a professional who will transform your design vision into reality. Success demands that you choose a builder in whom you have enough trust to discuss how much you are prepared to invest. You can give a range rather than a hard number, but it needs to be realistic.

A reality-based budget is a crucial tool in the construction planning process. Most people have preconceived notions of what a home should cost, based on square-footage prices they have seen here and there. But these assumptions seldom support the designs and products they’re envisioning, and the result tends to be frustration. Putting your budget cards on the table is the only way the builder can paint an accurate picture of what is possible.

The best approach is to bring your design—whether it’s a full set of plans or just a rough concept—along with your product wishes and your budget to your trusted professional builder for a planning session. The builder will weigh these against your ability to pay. If there’s a gap, having complete information opens the door to finding creative solutions.

These solutions usually involve a bit of value engineering, which is a systematic approach to making intelligent tradeoffs that satisfy the homeowners’ priorities using the funds they already have.

Value engineering may include altering the layout, such as reducing square footage in a way that doesn’t take space from the rooms you consider most important. If you’re applying for a construction loan, a knowledgeable builder will also make sure to reduce costs in ways that don’t lower the home’s appraised value. For instance, the market will likely value the home the same regardless of its roof covering, so choosing standard composition shingles instead of that shiny metal roof could slash the roofing cost by 75 percent without affecting the loan amount.

The value engineering process can also include specifying less-costly products that, while not ideal, are easily upgraded later. For example, you can replace that $50 light fixture with the $1000 chandelier you want when you have the cash. Or you could opt for inexpensive carpet today and install hardwood floors in a couple of years. The builder will also ensure that you make the best choices today on items that aren’t easily upgraded, like cabinets and countertops.

This tradeoff process can go on until you have a set of plans and specifications that give you as much as possible of what you want without creating financial hardship.

The builder can’t do this creative work without an accurate budget. In other words, an honest discussion about money is a prerequisite to getting a result that will satisfy. But it all comes down to choosing a pro that you trust to be your partner.

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.

Building Success 101

Categories: Building Success 101, Newsletter | Posted: January 27, 2017

Q: Where is the most potential to save water inside a home?

A: Bathrooms are the best place to start. Conventional toilets, showers, and faucets combine to consume an average of 41 gallons per person per day, or about 60 percent of a home’s daily indoor drain, according to the American Water Works Association. Installing low-flow toilets, showerheads, and faucets can drop daily consumption by 36 percent, a potential savings of 12,500 gallons of water a year per household.

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.

Wasting Water and Flushing Dollars

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: January 17, 2017

Most “green building” conversations emphasize energy efficiency. By contrast, the issue of water — its scarcity, purity, and significance to sustainability — is often overlooked or discounted.

That’s because in North America, we take water for granted; not only is it cheap, it is relatively abundant and clean. But while an average bathtub may hold 40 gallons of water, many people in developing countries survive on 8 gallons of water or less per day. In fact, an estimated 800 million people worldwide lack access to safe water supplies and 3.5 million people die each year from water-related disease.

Domestically, recent seasonal and longer-term droughts in several areas have triggered restrictions and household quotas on water use. In fact, average residential water rates nationwide continue to rise at a steady rate.

As a professional builder who looks out for the welfare of our homebuyers and our community, we accommodate requests and comply with all building code requirements to reduce a home’s water consumption.

In many cases, we can use low-flow plumbing fixtures including toilets, faucets, and showerheads, to automatically reduce water use without our homeowners noticing much (if any) difference in their convenience and performance. The latest clothes washers, dishwashers, and water heating systems also use less water (and save energy, too). All of those products are readily available and generally affordable.

But as much as these “embedded” water savings reduce consumption, there is more that we can do. We encourage homeowners to keep their water use in check with some simple changes to their lifestyle habits.

One easy way to save water at home is to limit your showers to no more than 10 minutes and avoid filling the bathtub unless absolutely necessary. Turn off the bathroom faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving.

In addition, homeowners can save water by running only full loads of laundry and dishes. If you have to hand-wash some dishes in the kitchen, fill one basin with soapy water (to clean/scrub) and another with clear water (to rinse) rather than continuously running the faucet.

As much as those lifestyle adjustments can reduce water inside your home, making some changes outside can be even more impactful. Easy stuff, such as using a broom instead of a garden hose to clean off your driveway or patio and washing your car less often (or at a carwash which recycles its water) can save hundreds of gallons of water a year.

But the real culprit of outdoor water waste is landscaping, and especially turf grass areas. If you can adjust or replace your lawn sprinklers with more targeted, rotating heads that limit overspray and set up a drip irrigation system for trees and shrubs, you’ll see a significant reduction in your water use.

With that, consider putting your irrigation system on a timer and setting it to run in the early morning to reduce evaporation.

You can also buy and install small rainwater catchment systems from a home improvement or hardware store, which can be used for seasonal flower beds or hanging plants instead of using potable water for those needs.

With so many areas in the developing world so desperate for clean, healthy drinking water, and our costs continuing to rise, can we afford to take water for granted?

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.

Building Success 101

Categories: Building Success 101, Newsletter | Posted: January 10, 2017

Q: Where do radiant floors make sense?

A: A radiant floor heats a room by circulating hot water through flexible tubing embedded in a concrete slab or subfloor. It’s often used as supplemental heat in a finished basement or in a bath with a tile floor. While some people prefer the gentle warmth emitted by a radiant floor, it takes a lot longer to heat up a room than does a forced air system. A radiant floor also costs less to install if the home already has a hydronic (water-based) heating system.

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.