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Footings and foundations are to homes what feet and legs are to the human body: footings anchor the home to the ground and support the foundation, which in turn carries the weight of the home.
Although foundations have been made from a number of materials — stone, block and even treated wood — reinforced concrete is used in the vast majority of new homes. The contractor erects wooden forms, installs steel reinforcing bars (“rebar”) between the form faces, then fills the forms with poured concrete. After the concrete sets, the forms are removed.
There are three main foundation types: full basement, crawlspace, and slab-on grade. Different types are popular in different parts of the country, with reasons that include ground conditions and local market expectations.
Although full basements can be found in many areas, homeowners in the Northeast tend to expect them. A full basement typically consists of footings placed deep below the region’s frost depth and eight-foot-high walls that enclose a four-inch-thick poured concrete slab. This creates an underground room that can be used as a storage and mechanical space, and/or finished to create a living area.
Basement finishing is a growing trend: Homeowners are turning these spaces into recreational rooms, gyms and entertainment centers. If the lot slopes or allows for a walkout configuration, the basement will have natural light, good ventilation and a more spacious feel. If you think you might want to put a toilet in the basement, consider including a well for a grinder pump.
If you plan on finishing the basement, you may want to consider installing rigid foam insulation beneath the slab. While it may not noticeably lower energy use, it could make the space more comfortable. Even when not finishing the basement, insulating the slab and walls can reduce problems with mold and mildew, since the insulation reduces the chance of condensation by keeping the concrete at a higher temperature.
Basements with insulation under the slab “don’t smell like basements and feel clean and dry,” says Portland, Maine architect Jesse Kaplan. “It’s a tremendous improvement over what people are used to. Honestly, I would never build a house without insulation and a vapor barrier between wet soil and concrete for the quality and comfort issues alone.”
He says that under-slab insulation isn’t just for the far North. “Soil temperatures down South are warmer than in the Northeast, but they’re probably below the dew point even more of the year, so the dampness is even more of an issue.”
Crawlspaces are most common in the Southeast and parts of the Midwest. The footings are placed below the frost line, but there’s only enough headroom between the ground and the floor frame for someone to crawl around.
Most crawl spaces include foundation vent openings. They’re supposed to prevent the buildup of excess moisture, but in practice they often backfire by bringing moisture into the space. “Open crawlspaces can become breeding grounds for mold and moisture,” says Brian Coble, who directs the High Performance Homes program at Advanced Energy, a North Carolina building science research firm. “This moisture can soak the home’s framing, leading to rot and structural failure, and can carry mold spores and other pollutants into the home’s living space.”
Building scientists like Coble now recommend sealing and insulating the crawlspace and covering the ground with a polyethylene vapor barrier, or even a concrete slab. These details add cost, but a multiple home field study (27 homes in different parts of the country) by Advanced Energy confirmed that they can also lower space conditioning bills and reduce mold and mildew. As a bonus, you end up with a tempered, dry storage space. If there’s enough headroom, the heating unit can also be placed there, freeing up space in the house.
The slab-on-grade foundation is just what it sounds like: a concrete slab poured at grade level that serves as the subfloor for the home’s main living area. A shallow footing around the edges of the slab transfers the weight of the home’s walls to the ground. Before the pour, a bed of gravel is spread across the slab area to allow drainage, wire mesh is rolled out to reduce the chance of cracking and any in-slab plumbing pipes or electrical conduit is installed.
Slab foundations are most common in warm regions and where there are high water tables, such as Florida. When used in northern climates, special frost proofing details are required, which, in most cases, consists of a short foundation wall (called a “stemwall”) poured on footings placed below the frost line. Putting a layer of rigid foam under the slab in a slab-on-grade home is also a good idea in the North, and absolutely necessary if the slab will have embedded hydronic heat.
Note that using a foundation type that’s not common in your area may affect the schedule and budget. With a slab, for instance, the mechanical systems have to be completely figured out before the slab is poured, so that the proper elements are put in place. If that’s not standard practice where you live, subcontractors may raise prices to cover unexpected time and cost overruns.
Regardless of foundation type, the foundation walls and footing are designed to work as a unit, supporting the weight of the home and transferring that weight to the surrounding ground. How well they do this depends in part on what type of ground the footing rests on.
Foundations for commercial buildings are custom engineered for each site, but in residential construction that’s usually only true in special cases. “Almost all residential foundations are designed according to generic expectations of the area’s soil conditions,” says Atlanta-area structural engineer Chris DeBlois. “If the foundation crew starts digging and finds unusual conditions, then they will make adjustments.”
For instance, dense, dry soil will be stable, forgiving of less-than-perfect construction and less likely to settle after the house has been built. But if the site has soft, wet clay, the foundation will be much more likely to settle, leading to cracked tile, drywall and even masonry. In that case, it’s a good idea to get an engineer involved to design a foundation that will remain stable.
Keeping it Dry
Concrete is not waterproof, so water that sits on the outside of the foundation wall will eventually make its way inside as water vapor. “Surface water that seeps into the ground near the house will quickly become an interior moisture problem,” says Steve Easley, a San Francisco-area trainer who advises builders around the country on good building practices. The result: a damp home environment that encourages mold and mildew growth. This is true regardless of foundation type.
To prevent this, a waterproofing coating is usually brushed on the outside of the foundation. Perforated pipe may be placed around the perimeter of the footing to catch any water in the soil and drain it away. Note that most waterproofing coatings require a footing drain for the warranty to be valid.
Landscaping also plays an important role in keeping foundations dry. Easley recommends siting the house well enough above grade so that water can easily drain away from the foundation. Using firm rather than loose soil close to the house will also help.
Signs of Trouble
Small hairline shrinkage cracks aren’t unusual with a new foundation or of serious concern, but some other types of cracks should raise a red flag. “The size of the crack is less important than its configuration,” says DeBlois. “A narrow, vertical crack is seldom a sign of problems, but if the crack is significantly wider at the top than at the bottom, it could indicate that the foundation is settling unevenly.”
The most worrisome type of crack, according to DeBlois, is a horizontal one, which could indicate a structural failure of the wall. Fortunately, this type of failure is more common with block walls and is extremely rare with poured concrete.
It should be clear that while designing and building a stable, dry and trouble-free foundation for your home is a straightforward process, proper detailing is important. The best way to protect yourself and your home is to hire an established builder with a long-standing reputation for quality work.
As an added precaution, you could hire an independent inspector to check the foundation before framing begins. This is only done in a minority of homes, but Jules Falcone, a Media, Penn.-based home inspector, says it is worthwhile. “An independent inspector will check the workmanship to make sure the foundation is built right.”
Falcone estimates cost at a couple hundred dollars, depending on where you live. That’s a small price to pay to ensure the job is done correctly.
Mazza Building & Development company would love to answer your questions about building a custom home in Birmingham MI and nearby areas. Call the Birmingham MI custom home builders at (248) 625-3305.
If you are looking for the right Custom Home Builder in Birmingham, Michigan or surrounding areas, look no further! Mazza Building & Development Company provides top quality and experienced Custom Home Building in Birmingham, Michigan and nearby cities.
Why Hire a Custom Home Builder?
Instead of managing the building of your new home, you may consider hiring a home builder. The purpose of build-my-own-home.com is to serve as a consumer awareness web site for you, whether you are your own home builder or end up hiring one. We give advice for looking over the work of others, knowing what to expect, and understanding what you see during the building process. All these are essential, regardless of whether you or someone else serves as the home builder. Here are some tips to help you make the builder decision.
Why would I want to pay a custom home builder to manage the building of my home, instead of doing it myself?
You might decide that you don’t have the experience or time to adequately manage the pricing, legwork for approvals and permits, buying materials, hiring subcontractors, keeping the house and job site clean, and scheduling for your new home building project. A lot of time and money are involved in building a house, and a good home builder earns his pay.
Finding subcontractors, or “subs,” who are honest and dependable, and who strive to do excellent work, can be a most difficult task. When we started building houses, we spent a lot of time researching subs through friends and supply houses. We also snooped around job sites of good home builders who had the best reputations, to see which subs they used. That really helped us to identify good quality subs.
Good subs may also be picky or cautious about working for homeowners, especially if they have plenty of work. Several of our subs have told us stories about working on new houses for homeowners who were managing the project themselves, that turned out to be really tough due to indecision, poor coordination between trades, lack of scheduling, and slow payment. Some avoid working for homeowners, and will only work for licensed builders who are “in the business.”
The question of hiring a home builder is all up to you, as to what you want to do, and what you believe you can do on your own.
Are you looking for an experienced Custom Home Builder in Birmingham, Michigan or nearby areas? If so, call the expert Birmingham MI Custom Home Builders at Mazza Building & Development Company (248) 625-3305 to get started on your dream home!
Have you been dreaming of building a custom home in Birmingham, MI? If so, call the top rated Birmingham MI custom home builders at Mazza Building & Development Company at (248) 625-3305 for a free consultation.
If you’re in the market for a new home, chances are you’ve been looking at pre-built or semi-custom homes. But if you want something that you can truly make your own, a custom-built home offers exactly what you’re looking for.
Top Reasons to Build a Custom Home
When you build a custom home, you can take advantage of the flexibility and creativity it offers. Here are five great reasons why opting for a custom-built home is the best choice when it comes to home ownership:
- You can build a home completely to your specs and unique tastes. There’s no need to worry about how to work around someone else’s blueprints.
- Need a bigger garage, extra storage space or an extra room for exercise or entertainment? You can incorporate all of these extras plus much more into a custom-built home. You can also add extras that account for your present and future needs, such as aging in place options like entryways built with wheelchair accessibility in mind.
- You can easily incorporate energy-efficient extras into a new build at a lower cost than it would take to retrofit green options into an existing home. These options can help you save hundreds of dollars each year on your overall energy costs.
- Custom homes require less initial maintenance than existing homes since everything is practically brand-new, from the flooring and building materials to the appliances, HVAC and plumbing systems. It’s also much easier to keep track of their condition from the start, unlike with existing homes with used appliances and HVAC systems.
- Custom homes offer a tremendous level of customer satisfaction that’s unmatched by already-built or even semi-custom homes. When you build a custom home, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that there are no other homes just like it. A custom home is truly a one-of-a-kind deal.
If you are looking to hire an experienced custom home builder in Birmingham, MI, call Mazza Building & Development Company at (248) 625-3305 for a free evaluation.
Mazza Building & Development Company specializes in custom home building in Birmingham, MI and nearby areas. Let us create a beautiful and unique custom home in Birmingham, MI that suits your exact needs. Call (248) 625-3305 for a free consultation.
Whether you’re building a new home or are just plain curious, here’s a sneak peek at what homeowners can expect in the coming year.
Bigger Is Not Always Better
One of the most significant changes among the trends in home design and construction is that homes are actually getting smaller, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The average size of a new, single-family home is expected to be around 2,152 square feet — that’s 10 percent smaller than it was in 2010.
Part of the reason is the recent downturn in the economy, which made a lot of consumers more conscious of their finances. Another is a renewed focus in lowering heating and cooling costs, diminished expectations for home price appreciation and an aging demographic that doesn’t require huge amounts of space.
Living Room — What Living Room?
Living rooms continue to be replaced by great rooms that combine kitchens and family rooms, with plenty of room to do everything from homework to entertaining. Many of the NAHB survey respondents expect living rooms to vanish altogether, but it’s not the only room fading away. Mudrooms, third bathrooms and formal dining rooms are also expected to slowly disappear from new-home plans.
It’s So Easy Being Green
The trend toward energy-efficient windows and appliances — as well as engineered woods and high energy-efficiency ratings — is expected to reach an all-time high as consumers continue to become aware of the long-term savings and other positive implications associated with energy efficiency.
Also trending are water-efficient features such as dual-flush toilets and low-flow faucets. Features we’re less likely to see in new-home construction include insulation beyond what’s required by code, solar heating and tankless water heaters.
The New Kitchen Basics
Recessed lighting, double sinks and ample room to sit and eat are the top trends in kitchen designs, according to the NAHB survey. Whether it’s actual table space or a simple breakfast bar, families are moving toward enjoying all of their meals — even those enjoyed on special occasions — in the great room.
Massive walk-in pantries, desk and computer areas and large central islands are not as sought-after as they once were, while extras such as wine coolers and hot water dispensers are all but disappearing.
Some Things Change — Others Stay The Same
Trends in colors and materials are perhaps the likeliest to change from year to year, as these decisions are largely a matter of taste and preference. Mixed metals, such as copper and gold, or metals mixed with wood, are expected to become popular in 2015, says Denise Dick, vice president of the National Kitchen and Bath Association.
“Copper in particular is becoming very hot, as are grays and blacks.” The latter colors seem to be the new neutrals, as they work with a variety of additional colors and materials. Expect to see everything from hardware to fixtures, and perhaps even trim, in these new neutral shades. At Maison & Objet, the premier design fair in Paris, metallics were everywhere — even in kitchens where not only copper, but gold and bronze popped up. The result is a luxe look that works with most color combinations.
Warm And Cozy Kitchens
Those sleek, ultra-contemporary kitchens are also no longer as popular as they once were. Many homeowners realize this is not a universally beloved look and the decision to go this route can affect your ability to resell a home.
“Clean and simple is still important, but not necessarily contemporary,” says Dick, who is also the owner of Signature Kitchens by Design in Carrollton, Texas. This means designs that merge both modern and traditional details, such as Shaker-style cabinets, will continue to trend as they tend to have wider appeal. The idea is to exude a warm and welcoming feeling over the colder look of contemporary kitchen cabinets.
Cool To The Touch
Consumers are developing a new-found appreciation for texture, especially when it comes to engineered woods and stones that mimic raw materials. The textured surfaces give these materials a unique feel that seems more organic than the high-gloss, smooth surfaces of years past. Rather than honing everything until it looks shiny and new, homeowners are leaving materials in their natural form, so as to appreciate their true beauty.
Making A Splash In The Bathroom
Both designers and builders report receiving requests for fixtures that control multiple water sources. Additionally, they receive requests for touchscreen displays that give homeowners more control over features such as water flow and temperature.
Freestanding bathtubs are also becoming more affordable. From curved to angular and from vintage to contemporary, today there are myriad of styles in a variety of price points.
On the flip side, homeowners are becoming more realistic about their use of tubs, as well as space. As a result, some are forgoing tubs altogether in favor of more space. For those who much prefer a shower on a regular basis, the space savings can mean the difference between having a linen closet or a two-person shower versus a giant tub that’s barely used. source: newhomesource.com
Mazza Building & Development Company specializes in unique custom homes in Birmingham, MI and surrounding areas. Call (248) 625-3305 for more information today!
Mazza Building & Development Company prides itself in offering the latest styles and trends of custom homes. Please call our experienced team at (248) 625-3305 for more information about custom homes in Birmingham MI.
Trends in Custom Homes
Green Building Concern for the environment is growing among U.S. households—and so are energy costs. Because of this, many custom builders are embracing green building techniques. Features like solar panels, water-saving appliances, insulation to improve heating efficiency and the use of renewable or recycled building materials are all popular techniques to improve a home’s efficiency. Custom builders allow buyers to include a wide range of green products and give them the opportunity to weigh each cost and benefit to create a home that is stylish, comfortable, but also eco-friendly.
To find out more about green building you can visit NAHB’s Green Building & Energy Efficiency page.
New Amenities Specialized amenities really set custom homes apart. Today home owners like to see features that will improve their lifestyle through health, entertainment or comfort. Yoga studios, resistance pools and fitness rooms can be added to encourage healthy living; game rooms, theaters and even a bowling alley can be added for fun; and for comfort, breezy, screened-in porches or warm hearths can make your home feel cozy and welcoming.
Custom amenities are also taking a turn to the world of tech. In world where there’s an app for everything, buyers are beginning to expect a custom home to do more and be “smart.” Nowadays you can control many features in your home using a phone, controlling energy usage, security systems, lighting and even the music playing in each room.
The Atkinson Residence in Berlin, Md. won a silver award in the 2012 Best in American Living Awards for its use of layered balconies and porches that make the most of the home’s spectacular view of the water. This nook is an example of the unique architectural details often included in custom homes.
Multigenerational Living Whether it’s aging parents moving in with their adult children or young adults living back with Mom and Dad, multigenerational households have specific needs when it comes to a home.
Custom builders are seeing an increasing need to tailor homes to this lifestyle. According to a 2011 study by the Pew Research Center, 39% of adults ages 18 to 34 have had to move in with their parents in recent years. In the same year, the U.S. Census reported that 4.3 out of 76 million households were made up of at least three generations.
Multigenerational families often build homes that include the traditional “mother-in-law suite” or even feature a locked-off living space within the home. These apartment-style spaces can have their own kitchenette, full bathroom and living areas to provide a sense of privacy and independence.
Universal Design As the country grows older and many baby boomers look to retirement, Universal Design (UD) features are an ever-growing priority for many custom buyers and builders. UD is used to ensure that features like wider doors, lower countertops and fewer stairs are used to create a home that everyone can enjoy comfortably. An accessible home allows owners to age in place, prolonging their ability to stay in the house independently and can also increase value by opening the market to any future buyer, despite age, stature or ability.
If you are interested in a custom home in Birmingham MI and nearby areas, please call the custom home building experts at Mazza Building & Development Company (248) 625-3305 for more information today!