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3 Pillar Blog

Helping You Breathe Easier

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: January 3, 2017

How professional builders create a healthy indoor environment.

If you have questions about how healthy your new home will be, you’re not alone. A March 2016 paper by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University detailed a nationwide study that asked 2200 people whether they had concerns about their indoor environment. Nearly half expressed some worry, and the issue cited most often was indoor air quality, or IAQ.

Those results are what we would have expected. Energy codes are mandating nearly draft-free homes at the same time that manufacturers are introducing more synthetic materials and chemical-based finishes. When you add high-profile media coverage to the mix—like dozens of news stories in 2009 about drywall imported from China emitting hydrogen sulfide gas, and a 2015 CBS 60 Minutes segment about formaldehyde emissions from imported laminate flooring—people naturally want assurances.

The good news is that today’s professional builders take their responsibility for good IAQ very seriously. They spend time educating themselves on the issue. They carefully choose materials. And they make sure the home’s mechanical system is engineered to deliver the needed fresh air.

Knowledge and Experience

When it comes to materials choice, experienced builders have a big advantage because they have taken the time to test manufacturers’ claims. A 2010 review of residential building product information put out by Lawrence Berkeley Lab found “no consensus” in how manufacturers certify chemical emissions, and the situation hasn’t improved since then. Pros know enough to go beyond the labels by keeping careful records about customer satisfaction and analyzing that data to confirm which products don’t cause health complaints.

As for the building shell, a tightly built, energy-efficient home may have better air quality than an old, drafty one because it gives the mechanical system more control over the indoor environment. The pro will ensure that your home maintains good air quality by specifying that mechanical ventilation replaces stale interior air with fresh outside air at a predictable rate.

Hidden Health Factors

While material choice and ventilation play obvious roles in IAQ, there are two other factors most homeowners don’t think much about: the size of the mechanical equipment and the ductwork.

Heating and cooling equipment that’s properly sized, with carefully installed ductwork, will use less energy and deliver better air quality. For instance, while an oversized air conditioner will keep the home cool on a muggy summer day, it won’t remove enough humidity. And ducts with leaky transitions that run through an unconditioned basement, attic or garage can draw mold, insulation fibers or chemical fumes into the living space.

The professional builder avoids such problems by hiring a top-notch HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) subcontractor. The HVAC pro uses the latest software to match the mechanical system to the home’s heating and cooling needs and makes sure the system is correctly sized with properly sealed ducts.

The bottom line is that a new custom home is an opportunity to create a healthy indoor environment. The smart homeowner will choose a professional builder with a track record of making sure this happens.

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 | Posted: December 30, 2016

Q: What is net-zero energy?

A: A net-zero energy balance is achieved when a home produces as much energy as it consumes over the course of a 12-month period. Though a challenge to accomplish, and almost always requiring some sort of on-site energy generation system (e.g., solar roof panels), achieving a net-zero energy balance isn’t as unrealistic—or as expensive­—as it was just 5 years ago.

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.

Develop your Building Team: Earlier is Better

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: December 21, 2016

Traditionally, people have been conditioned to follow a certain, linear path to building a new home. That is, hire an architect or designer to create the plans, select a builder and then maybe bring in a stylist or interior designer to apply the finishing touches.

But the reality is that this step-by-step approach to getting a new house is not only outdated, but can be risky in terms of cost and quality. A better approach is to form your project team from the outset. Doing so fosters a cooperative rather than combative or competitive working environment that produces more satisfying results. It’s also a dynamic that’s more likely to ensure you’ll get what you want in a new home at the price you can afford.

By bringing your design and building professionals together as soon as possible, they can dedicate their efforts to meeting your needs and looking out for your budget.

Selecting a professional builder at the outset of your new-home project allows that person or company to work with an architect or designer to deliver plans and specifications that are realistic and can actually be built. It also increases the likelihood that the project will come in on time and on budget.

Too often, the old approach left builders having to argue changes to the plans  and specifications that sometimes compromised a home’s aesthetic value, if only to make it affordable. Downsizing is difficult. No one wants to be disappointed or feel like they had to sacrifice something—especially a favorite feature or product—because it was discovered to be too pricey.

This is much less likely to happen when architect and builder are working together early in the process. By combining their expertise they can help ensure that what’s drawn can be built without sacrificing design quality and staying within budget. This collaboration can result in a far better housing value.

Here are some additional reasons to hire a builder from the beginning:

Materials ordering. Some products and materials require long lead times—perhaps months—between order and delivery. A professional builder can identify these situations and be able to place an order so that product delivery will not delay the construction schedule.

Code compliance. More so than design professionals, builders know the applicable building codes as interpreted by the local authority and inspectors. They can help insure that plans will be approved for a permit the first time they are submitted.  When plans are kicked back for changes, a home start can be delayed, or worse, a job may be stopped midway to address a code issue.

A professional builder also will know when and how to submit for a building permit and schedule necessary inspections during construction to establish and maintain a tight building schedule from the beginning.

Buildablity. You can draw anything, but even something as seemingly simple as a window or door needs to be installed properly. If allowed to be part of your new home’s planning process, professional builders and their subcontractors can quickly and easily identify potential installation issues before they become costly problems on the job site.

A collaborative effort from the outset allows ideas and information to flow among your design professional, builder, stylist, and you before anyone commits a significant amount of time and money to your new house. Sharing ideas and alternatives to achieve the best result is a far better approach than discovering a better idea too late, or not at all.

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!

Categories: Friday FAQ | Posted: December 16, 2016

Q: Why do so many products need to be ordered ahead of time?

A: Manufacturers and pro dealers stock a lower variety of products than they once did. There are various reasons for this—for example, just-in-time manufacturing and inventory management—but the bottom line is that a lot of items can’t just be picked up at the store. The order-to-delivery time can range from a day to a few weeks, depending on the product and the manufacturer. That makes timely selections crucial.

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.

How Much Will It Cost?

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: December 7, 2016

Home pricing is a complex subject. Here’s how we answer the most common question.

A question we get from a lot of potential clients is “What’s the per-square-foot cost of your homes?” Some clients arrive armed with numbers gleaned from Internet articles. Others quote realtors who appraise and advertise houses by the square foot.

It’s an understandable attempt to simplify a complex subject—but when it comes to custom homes, this approach is too simple.

Production builders do often price homes by the square foot. What the potential client may not have considered, though, is that these companies are simply product manufacturers. They build the same plans over and over. Like car manufacturers, they offer relatively few models and limit the number of options available for each. This allows them to calculate the cost of each model and option to the dollar, leaving little to the imagination.

Custom building is different. While professional custom builders rely on proven, scientific management systems to finish a home on time and budget, creating an accurate budget is as much craft as science. No responsible builder will quote a per-square-foot price without more information, because doing so would risk misleading the client.

That’s because a custom home is not a product; instead, it’s the physical realization of a particular client’s dream on a specific site. Because each client’s dream is unique, the only way to estimate the cost of its realization is to ask some follow-up questions.

These questions start with checking assumptions about what the client means by square footage. Do their assumptions include the garage, or the unfinished basement or attic space? Also, do they understand that prices for excavation, utilities, permits, and engineering vary greatly, depending on the site and the jurisdiction in which they want to build?

Once the assumptions and variable costs have been clarified, we ask for a general overview of the home they’re envisioning. Is the floor plan complex or simple? Is it a traditional two-story Colonial with a couple of dormers and intricate interior moldings or a modern structure with a flat roof, lots of glass, and minimal trim?

Finally, we need to define the level of interior finishes they want. Some people give a nondescript answer like “medium.” While that’s too general, it is a good place to kick off a more detailed conversation about expectations. A professional builder can help refine those expectations by starting with some easy questions, like the client’s preferences between two levels of plumbing fixtures, flooring, windows, or siding. The answers will tell us what to ask next.

After sorting through the topics above, we may be able to show them plans and photos for similar homes we have built in the past. And we can often provide a ballpark estimate of what it would cost to build that home with their finish specifications on their site.

The key word in the above paragraph is “show.” We can’t do this over the phone. The clients need to spend some time with us before we can offer a realistic idea of what they can get for their budget. Regardless of whether they ultimately decide to build with us, this is time wisely invested.

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!

Categories: Friday FAQ, Uncategorized | Posted: November 25, 2016

Q: What’s the most effective way to save energy?

A: Meaningful and impactful energy efficiency requires a comprehensive approach and commitment from the home’s design through construction and including the homeowners’ lifestyle habits. To pick just one method or material, such as attic insulation or high-performance windows, is a step in the right direction. However, this is only a small part of what could be accomplished by an all-inclusive approach.

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 an Organized Builder?

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: November 16, 2016

Investing in the design and construction of a new home is a daunting task, something most people do once or maybe twice in a lifetime. The last thing you need is a builder who doesn’t have it together.

Why does that matter? Simply, homebuilding today is an increasingly complex endeavor, involving dozens of trade partners and materials suppliers, requiring compliance with building codes and other regulations, demanding financial savvy and tight management, and calling for keen attention to every detail. This demands a highly organized approach to the new home construction process.

A hitch along the way can have a big impact on quality, performance, durability and satisfaction … or it can be mitigated or avoided altogether to protect your investment and give you peace of mind through the process and beyond.

One difference between these vastly different scenarios depends on how organized your builder is.

But what does an organized builder look like, and how do you evaluate a builder’s ability to guide you through this time-consuming and sometimes confusing process?

There are several signs that indicate a professional builder’s business acumen, organizational skills, and other capabilities that help ensure ultimate satisfaction with your new home.

Cleanliness. A clean and organized job site can often reflect a builder’s overall organizational competency. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, a clean job site is safer for workers and visiting homeowners, reducing liability. In addition, materials that are properly stacked, staged, and covered reflect a concern for quality construction and respect for the budget and schedule.

Responsiveness. The number-one complaint among dissatisfied homebuyers is that their builder was slow to respond, or never did. By contrast, an organized builder understands the importance of being responsive from the first contact through completion and beyond.

Often, professional builders develop a process for responding to calls or emails from potential and current clients, usually within 24 hours. They articulate that policy upfront and follow it through to establish and maintain reliable expectations.

Protection. Professional builders don’t allow themselves or their clients to be at risk. To mitigate and prepare for hazards, they are fully insured and — if required by law — licensed and bonded. And if you ask about those protections, they’ll provide the necessary documentation and lead you to the proper agencies and organizations for more information.

In addition, an organized builder pays his subcontractors and materials suppliers from your job (and only your job) on time and per his contracts with those partners. He then collects lien releases once the contracts are satisfied (based on mutual satisfaction with the work performed) to protect you from having any liens placed against your property for unpaid services or products.

Passing the baton. If you haven’t yet noticed, organized builders work to make sure their clients know what to expect throughout the building process … including what happens after move-in and beyond the expiration of the builder’s service warranty.

Professional builders know how and when to pass the baton for the care and maintenance of the house to homeowners. This is an incremental process that logically shifts responsibility over time rather than abandoning clients at the doorstep of 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.

Friday FAQ!

Categories: Friday FAQ | Posted: November 11, 2016

Q: How do the homeowners’ decision-making skills affect the project timeline?

A: All building projects depend for their success on timely decisions. From approving the design before work starts, to choosing finishes as it nears completion, the ability to make timely decisions ensures that the project gets done more quickly. The inability to make choices only leads to delay and increases costs.

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.

Why Home Tech Is a Wise Investment

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: November 2, 2016

Simple, affordable and easy-to-install wireless is making the long-predicted smart home a must-have.

PC Magazine has called 2016 The Year of the Home—the start of a flowering of wireless devices that will make home life easier, healthier and more fun. Research certainly bolsters that view: a Coldwell Banker survey found that nearly half of homeowners either already own or are planning to buy smart home devices, and technology forecaster Gartner, Inc. foresees 500 connected devices in the average home by 2022.

This growth is thanks mostly to affordable wireless technology. Home tech devices now cost a fraction of what they did a decade ago, and most offer a simple smart phone or tablet control interface.

Today’s devices also offer tangible lifestyle benefits. For instance, whole-house automation systems like those from HomeControl will manage lighting, security, temperature and energy consumption—all from a single app. Low-cost, entry-level alarm systems like those from SimpliSafe start with basic security and are easily expanded as budgets permit. Automation systems like these are designed to be consumer-friendly, but your builder can work with a technology integrator to install and configure them so everything is ready to use on move-in day.

Rather than a system, some people prefer to choose from the growing array of standalone wireless devices. Most start with home security, such as a wireless shade that automatically closes at night, a camera they can check from a phone, or an expandable security kit that costs just a few hundred dollars.

The fastest-growing security device category is probably the electronic lock, and there are many to choose from. Examples include the Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt, which allows a homeowner to remotely set temporary entry codes—for instance, so the cleaner can only get in the house at a certain hour—and the popular Ring™ Video Doorbell, which lets you use your phone to see who is at the door. The Ring can even be connected to a motion detector that alerts you of suspicious activity on the property. If you’re someone who worries about the garage door, apps like LiftMaster’s will remotely confirm that you closed it and also will tell you if someone opens it while you’re gone.

Environmental alarms like Delta’s Leak Detector will alert you if there’s a leaky faucet or water main, while the Halo smoke detector knows the difference between fire and smoke and will call your phone (rather than chirping) when it needs a new battery. More complex systems will automatically turn the water off if there’s a leak, or kill the HVAC fan to slow the spread of a detected fire. (These systems require an integrator but still cost just a fraction of what they did ten years ago.)

Smart HVAC controls are also proliferating. For instance, the Nest thermostat learns and automatically meets your temperature preferences and will even talk to your phone’s location services to sense when you’re coming home so it can turn up the heat. And Febreze makes an air freshener that works with Nest’s Home/Away Assist to evenly disperse a scent through the HVAC system.

Let’s not forget entertainment and convenience. An example of the cutting edge here is Amazon’s wireless Echo speaker, which recognizes voice commands and will stream whatever audio you request from a variety of Internet sources. Can’t remember if you need milk? With the Smarter Fridge Cam™, you can use your phone from the grocery store to take a look.

Although a lot of people worry about getting all these devices to work together, an electronics integrator can configure a tablet to control the TV, the heating and cooling, the lighting and everything else. Your builder can coordinate the integration.

This is just a small taste of what home technology can do now, let alone what it will be able to do in the near future. An Internet search will turn up many more possibilities. And if the benefits of smart home technology don’t capture your imagination, consider resale value. If the people at Gartner are correct—and the exploding number of smart home devices indicates that they are—then it won’t be long before buyers discount the lack of smart devices the same way they now discount the lack of a cable TV connection. In other words, a small investment today could really pay off tomorrow.

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!

Categories: Friday FAQ, Uncategorized | Posted: October 28, 2016

Q: Who services warranty claims?

A: In most cases, the company responding to the claim will be the one that did the work—the plumber for a leaky faucet, the flooring company for a flooring issue, and the builder for window problems. The best professional builders work only with trade contractors who stand behind their work and respond promptly and professionally to customers. The builder’s reputation relies on satisfied customers, so trade contractors who fail to meet these obligations are quickly replaced.

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.