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3 Pillar Blog

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.

Friday FAQ!

Categories: Friday FAQ | Posted: August 12, 2016

Q: Am I liable for accidents that occur during the construction of my house?

A: In most cases, no. Builders and their subcontractors carry liability and worker’s compensation insurance against job site accidents. In addition, they are regulated by the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), as well as their insurers, to maintain a safe workplace, eliminate hazards, and train their workers in safe work habits and emergency response. Make sure that you follow your builder’s safety guidelines and procedures should you visit the job site.

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.

Friday FAQ!

Categories: Friday FAQ | Posted: July 29, 2016

Q: What’s meant by a “front formal” floor plan?

A: “front formal” floor plan means that the formal spaces—traditionally the living room and the dining room—are located along the front of the house, usually on either side of a formal entry foyer. The less-formal areas of the house, mainly the kitchen, are located along the back of the house and out of the immediate sight of guests entering from the front door. The front formal design has slowly gone out of style as casual, open floor plans and home offices have become more popular.

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.

Friday FAQ!

Categories: Friday FAQ | Posted: July 15, 2016

Q: Is the length of time a builder has been in business important?

A: Every contractor starts somewhere, and the best ones work hard during their early years to establish a good reputation. However, homeowners need to decide if they want to be part of someone’s learning process. One advantage of a contractor who has been in business for a decade or more is their longstanding relationships with subcontractors and suppliers. A high-quality contractor will develop relationships with high-quality subs, and these relationships have a lot to do with keeping the project on schedule.

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.

Friday FAQ!

Categories: Friday FAQ | Posted: July 1, 2016

Q: What is fiber-cement siding?

A: Fiber-cement siding is one of an increasing variety of exterior siding products. It is made of a fiber-reinforced lightweight concrete that is most often manufactured to look like clapboard (or lap) siding. Smooth or textured, and occasionally containing recycled content, it is more durable than wood, vinyl, or aluminum siding products and therefore costs less to maintain. Fiber-cement siding also serves as an effective thermal mass to minimize heat loss or gain through the structure, thus reducing energy use and 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.

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.

Friday FAQ!

Categories: Friday FAQ | Posted: June 17, 2016

Q: How many jobs are you currently doing?

A: With real estate prices rising, new homebuilders and remodelers alike are busier than they have been for years. Because of this, some homeowners worry that their contractor will be spread too thin. The best way to avoid such worries is to hire a pro. One reason professionally managed companies tend to dominate their markets is that they have the systems and staff in place to manage multiple projects. And their financial stability means they don’t have to scramble to take every project that comes along. The result is a higher-quality product and happier customers.

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.