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3 Pillar Blog

Friday FAQ – Wood flooring

Categories: Friday FAQ | Posted: February 12, 2016

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

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 – Cool roof

Categories: Design, Friday FAQ | Posted: February 5, 2016

Q: What is a cool roof?

A: A cool roof is defined as a roof that either reflects the sun’s heat away from the roof or is designed to ventilate a narrow airspace under the roof finish to keep it cool. Either way, the result lowers the temperature of the home’s attic space, which helps reduce the amount of energy needed to cool the house.

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.

Controlling Allowances

Categories: Build Process, Newsletter | Posted: February 3, 2016

Strict allowance policies benefit homeowners as much as builders.

Why do builders prefer that the homeowners choose every single item that will go into the house before they break ground? It’s not just for the builder’s convenience. A choice postponed may end up being made at a time when the homeowners are feeling a lot of construction stress. Decisions made under stress raise the chance of buyer remorse.

But the reality is that some people have a difficult time choosing finishes like flooring, light fixtures, tile, and carpet before the house has at least been framed and they can walk through the spaces. Allowances are a necessary concession to that reality. They let the homeowners choose a limited number of products after the project is underway, while still keeping the job on schedule and on budget.

It’s useful to think of an allowance like a Visa gift card. Say, for instance, that the builder and homeowners agree on a $20,000 allowance for kitchen cabinets and countertops. The homeowners can spend that money any way they want. They may want mid-range solid surface countertops and ornate cabinets with intricate moldings, or they may opt for plainer, less expensive cabinets and marble surfaces. They just need to stay within the allotted $20,000.

Like a gift card, an allowance will have an expiration date. That’s the date by which choices have to be made. But there’s an important difference: if someone doesn’t use a gift card on time, they lose the money; if the homeowner doesn’t make allowance choices on time, the money will still be there, but the delay will throw off the job schedule and may raise the final cost.

Because of their potential to cause trouble, most builders limit allowances to a few line items. These vary by builder, but common ones are lighting, plumbing fixtures, exterior doors, ceramic tile, and carpet. During the planning stage, the builder will suggest an amount that makes sense given the budget for the overall home. Homeowners who want to spend more—or less—on these items need to tell the builder at this point.

Most builders also insist that the customer purchase allowance items from their regular suppliers and that they be installed by the builder’s regular trade partners. For one thing, the builder can’t be confident in the quality of unfamiliar products from unfamiliar vendors. For another, the use of regular suppliers and installers is crucial to controlling costs. It eliminates situations like the customer who chooses carpet from a supplier unfamiliar to the builder, only to find out that it is European carpet in metric sizes that will leave a lot of unwanted waste (that the homeowner has to pay for) and that takes 20 weeks to get, while the house will be done in five.

When choosing multiple items like faucets and light fixtures, a budget-conscious customer will match styles. Using a different faucet style in every bath raises costs; keeping the fixtures consistent brings more purchasing power.

The bottom line is that a well-defined allowance policy benefits the homeowners as well as the builder by controlling costs, keeping the job on schedule, and reducing unwanted stress for everyone. People who have built homes in the past usually understand this, which is why they generally prefer to work with a builder with a clear policy.

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 – Markup vs. Profit Margin

Categories: Friday FAQ | Posted: January 29, 2016

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.

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 – “Housewrap”

Categories: Build Process, Friday FAQ | Posted: January 22, 2016

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

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 “housewrap,” this layer is installed as a continuous material just behind the siding, stucco, or brick finish. The housewrap provides a barrier blocking the exchange of air through the structure, thus reducing heating and cooling costs. Housewrap 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.

New Technologies are Lighting the Way

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: January 21, 2016

Remember the old center-of-the-ceiling light fixture? You entered a room, hit the wall switch, and a couple of light bulbs behind a semi-transparent plate shed general, flat light over the whole room. All features of the room, good and bad, got the same emphasis. There was enough light to avoid tripping over the dog, but not enough light to read by.

Things have changed. Lighting is now a sophisticated design element of the modern home, whether that home is traditional or contemporary in style. Every aspect of lighting—placement, function, control, style, energy-efficiency—has evolved to offer exactly what is needed in each room.

The thoughtful placement of lighting fixtures with specific function can make a dramatic change in a room. For example, instead of a big overhead fluorescent panel, new kitchens now feature task-specific fixtures such as recessed spot lights over the sink and other work stations, strip lights under wall cabinets, or dropped fixtures over work islands or eating areas. Other examples of task lighting include automatic bulbs in cabinets and pantries, up- and down-lights that showcase landscaping or artwork, and fixtures positioned to throw light on stair treads.

Lighting controls have also come a long way from the simple wall-mounted switch. Homeowners can program or manipulate lighting schemes to create custom ambiance for a casual dinner party or an intimate evening at home. Timers, remote controls, dimmer switches, and motion sensors enhance the flexibility, beauty and convenience of a lighting design using both wired and wireless technologies.

Besides increasing the technical sophistication of their products, lighting manufacturers have had to keep up with current styles and fashions. Pendants, wall sconces, chandeliers, and domed fixtures are available in an almost endless array of styles and finishes. In addition, lighting suppliers have developed a greater range of compatible fixtures to achieve a coordinated look for all lighting products in the house.

Security lighting has also grown in popularity in recent years. Inside the home, high tech wired and wireless timers can be programmed to create the illusion of activity while the owners are away. Outside, motion-activated lighting is a basic feature, especially at entries. Outdoor fixtures can highlight house numbers to assist emergency services. Lights in the garage and house can flash on and off as part of a security system that alerts neighbors or police of an unauthorized intrusion.

Outdoor light fixtures are increasingly powered by solar energy and light sensors to save even more electricity. Small photovoltaic cells are built right into path and landscape products to power them only at night. These systems require no wiring or current from another source, making them safe and easy to replace as needed. Homeowners enjoy the added convenience and beauty of outdoor lighting, whether or not they remember to turn them on or off.

Professional builders incorporate modern lighting design and products in their new homes, adding long-lasting value while enhancing style, convenience, comfort, security, and efficiency.

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 – Safety hazard

Categories: Build Process, Friday FAQ | Posted: January 15, 2016

Q: What’s the most common job site safety hazard?

A: In residential construction, the most common hazards relate to falls, namely from roofs or areas that are more than six feet above the ground. OSHA reports that scaffolding, fall prevention, and ladders are among its top 5 most-frequently cited violations. They recently tightened standards to further mitigate those hazards.

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 – Insulated Windows

Categories: Build Process, Friday FAQ | Posted: January 8, 2016

Q: What is an “insulated” window?

A: Newer windows are often referred to as “insulated” because of technology that retards, blocks, or slows the transfer of air through the unit. Most people are familiar with fiberglass or other types of insulation material in a wall cavity. In a window, the “insulation” is a combination of several factors. Most common are windows with at least two panes of glass enclosing a ‘dead’ airspace between them. The airspace may also be sealed to contain a clear, odorless gas (commonly argon), which is heavier than air and thus an even more effective insulator. Better yet, one or both inside surfaces of the glass can be permanently laminated with a clear coating that further retards thermal transfer and protects the home interior against solar heat gain and damaging ultraviolet rays.

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 New Science of Building

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: January 6, 2016

Creating a durable and efficient home is no job for amateurs.

There’s a common but flawed perception that older homes are more durable than contemporary housing, with fewer mold and moisture problems. While it’s true that some newer homes have had well-publicized mold issues, they are by no means the rule. These moldy homes do share a common denominator, however—they were built by people who didn’t understand how to get the most out of contemporary materials and construction practices. That takes an educated professional builder.

In ancient times—30 or so years ago—someone with basic construction knowledge could build a serviceable home. No more. Today, the combination of contemporary building materials and code-mandated construction practices have made homes more complex with less margin for error.

First, consider the evolution of materials. Suppliers used to sell framing lumber cut from mature trees that could absorb a lot of moisture without problems, a quality known as hygric buffer capacity. Builders put that lumber into drafty walls where any moisture absorbed by the wood could escape before it caused problems.

But those mature trees have all been harvested. Today’s homes use a combination of engineered boards and dimensional lumber cut from fast-growing species—neither of which can store and release as much moisture as old-growth wood could. To complicate things further, energy codes mandate that those materials be put into well-insulated, nearly airtight walls.

These are not drawbacks. Engineered wood offers real structural advantages, and well-insulated walls make homes more comfortable and efficient. No modern builder or homeowner would want to do without them. The materials and insulation aren’t the problem; the problem is builders who don’t know how to work with those materials.

That makes it crucial to hire a builder who understands the basic principles of moisture-related building science. Yes, good design and construction is now a science as well as an art.

Professional builders use bulletproof roofing, siding, and flashing that keep water out of the structure. They also know how to craft an efficient wall system that can handle the large amount of moisture put into the home’s air by a typical family (from activities such as cooking and showering) without problems.

These builders understand that drying potential is as important as moisture resistance, and that wall systems must be optimized for the local climate. For instance, if any of that airborne moisture works its way into a wall, it needs to dry primarily to the outside in a heating climate but to the inside in a cooling climate. The educated pro knows how to make sure that happens.

The bottom line is to build the home so that its structure stays dry no matter how wet the weather or how many long, steamy showers the occupants take. A lot of older homes did that on their own, so builders and designers could get by without much knowledge of building science. That is no longer the case.

Does your builder understand this?

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 – Home loans

Categories: Friday FAQ | Posted: January 1, 2016

Q: How are loan draws figured?

A: A good draw schedule balances the contractor’s need to get paid for work done and materials purchased, with the homeowners’ and bank’s desire to not pay too far ahead of what has been completed. On a new home, payments are usually matched to completion (or “substantial completion”) of a particular phase: foundation, frame, drywall, and so on. On a remodel, payments often depend on percentage of completion. It’s important that the homeowner communicate with the contractor to ensure there are no misunderstandings about how and when funds will be disbursed.

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.