Good custom home building information should explain your choices not limit them. This site is all about providing a variety of home building information that can help you make the right choices for your family. I highly recommend you download our free 98 page home building guide. In this article I’m going to get you started by covering a variety of informational topics related to custom home building. Let’s get started.
Research is the key to successfully building a custom home. Use books and online sources to learn about building materials and their R-value. Some of the new structural insulated panels (SIP} and the insulated concrete panels (ICP) are very good choices because of the ease and speed of construction. The superior R value of their polyurethane and polystyrene cores and the superior strength and durability of ICP together with their ease of installation makes them excellent choices for homebuilding. You can get similar results however with a home built on site with 2 by 6 studs and insulated fully with closed cell spray foam insulation. Log panels are a very economical choice, and have space for additional insulation built in. The benefit of log panels is price and speed, but you can get a decent R – value with closed cell insulation as well.
There are also a variety of natural green materials that work well for panels. There are panels that use straw for insulation between concrete or wood. There are also techniques of using foam cores that are spread with cement on site. In dry climates papercrete, adobe, and various forms of earth blocks, and rammed earth work well, but in humid or rainy climates not so well. Pumice blocks, and pumice bags coated with Ferro Cement give good results in all climates, but getting a permit and a loan may be tricky in areas where this process isn’t common yet.
Windows are one of the most beautiful elements of a home. Unfortunately, unless they are energy efficient and installed properly they can leak out your heating and air conditioning. Most experts say that the total ratio of windows to walls for energy efficiency should be no more than 25 percent. Triple glazed windows, correctly installed with insulation around any gaps between window and wall can be very energy efficient though.
Construction techniques and materials vary necessarily, according to climate. Foundation to roof your home must be designed in accordance to the weather and soil conditions of your area. In cold climates basements are preferable because it is important to get the foundation below the frost line so it will not crack. In wet climates with a high water table, basements flood frequently and are a constant source of worry because of water leaks, and damp moldy conditions. Crawl spaces work best in clay soil, and cement slab foundations are less than desirable in insect prone or flood prone areas. Split-level homes and window basements are often a good solution to a high water table for those who want basements. In warmer climates lower pitch roofs save money on timber, but in cold snowy areas the roofs must have a much steeper pitch to prevent collapse. Knowing these principles is important, especially for people who move from one area to another.
Almost all areas have restrictions of some type. To avoid the majority of them, one can select a rural lot or acreage, but the bank loan process may still be a problem. While the current focus on energy efficiency has improved the chances of getting a loan on alternative materials, it’s still likely that you will have to make a large down payment on any unusual construction materials or techniques. Keeping it standard is the safe way to go, but if you want to try something revolutionary with your custom home, don’t be afraid to try. Speak to home builders and contractors about the possibilities, and don’t be discouraged easily if alternative materials are your dream.
Once you have determined what you can and cannot do, within the limits of your climate, soil, zoning ordinances, guidelines, and codes, with the economic resources you have available, it is time to get creative. Learning the rules first is important. A great artist once said that you have to understand the rules of design first, before you can even think of breaking them, or stretching their limits. Always know why others do things a certain way before coming up with a different design or method.
That said, wanting a custom home reflects a desire for uniqueness. If you wanted a home just like your neighbors, you’d have chosen a home that was already built, with standard specifications, in one of those neighborhoods where all the houses look alike. Instead you want a home that expresses your tastes. Using your imagination, both in materials, designs, and home décor will make your custom home uniquely yours. This takes a lot of planning and journaling of your research, but if your goal is a unique home, then it pays to be informed on your options. Building a truly unique and creative custom home requires gathering a lot of custom home building information, and using it to make informed choices.