An educated consumer can learn a lot by reading about home building packages, kits and upgrades on line. Hearing home builders and contractors describe them can be even more informative. Often it is good to consider what they are eager to talk about, in contrast to what they are not saying. Compare many sites to see what each company discusses, and then e-mail them to ask the questions they left unanswered.
Home Building Packages, Kits and Upgrades What to Look For
Home Building Packages Price
While many kit provider websites are very forthcoming with prices, some websites refuse to discuss the price of their product. It is downright annoying. Sometimes wholesalers will have websites, and use local dealers so that prices vary by area. Look to see if they offer a list of home builders, contractors or local dealers who offer the product in your area. Perhaps their websites will list a price. Other times the company wants buyers to call or e-mail to request a free quote. Still other companies though tend to be determined not to reveal their price.
Home Building Packages Stud and Joist Size and Spacing
This is vital information. Always look for the larger sizes of lumber.
Home Building Packages Insulation Thickness
Unless your climate happens to be perfect year round, always go for insulation thicknesses of at least 5 inches. Each additional inch will lower your electric bill.
Home Building Packages Types of Insulation
Look for 5 or 6 inches of polyurethane as slightly preferable to an equal amount of polystyrene. Don’t consider anything less than 5 inches of any type of insulation. Closed cell insulation is virtually the only insulation to consider for the walls and attic of traditional stick built homes, and radiant barrier insulation is an important plus for the attic. These are the types of insulation you need. Avoid fiberglass insulation. Consider individual R-values listed as well.
Home Building Packages Types of SIP, ICF and ICP
Structural insulated panels, insulated concrete forms and insulated concrete panels each have their own advantages. Be sure to read each company’s website to determine the thickness of insulation, the strength and durability of supporting materials, and whether the panel replaces exterior siding, interior drywall or both. A panel that doesn’t require an additional exterior or interior surface is more valuable. Look for insulation thickness of at least 5 inches which offer a durable exterior.
Home Building Packages Shells and Kits
Shells and kits are home building packages often delivered to your building site in pieces. Most kit dealers either claim that the kits are pre-cut and easy to assemble, or offer to put your kit together for a fee. Unless you are fairly agile, in good physical condition and somewhat adept at carpentry, I wholeheartedly recommend either using the dealer’s installation services or hiring a contractor to put the kit together. Kits install quickly so it won’t cost that much to get the job done right by a pro.
Home Building Packages Shells and Kits: Constructing a Kit or Shell
Kits are a great way to get an energy efficient structure for a low price. While most people do need help with constructing the walls and roof of a shell or kit, they should find it fairly simple to do most of the interior work on the home. Drywall, paint and wallpaper are fairly simple, and should be no problem for any capable adult, who is in average physical condition. Most people find installing stock cabinets and countertops challenging but doable. Even some of the plumbing might be suitable for a talented do-it-yourselfer, but you’ll still need a plumber to install your toilet, and run the drain pipes. You will absolutely have to have a licensed electrician.
Exterior siding is less than manageable for most people, especially for a two story home. The principle of application is fairly simple in most cases, but it requires the use of very tall ladders. Hire someone to do this, unless you have at least two family members who are comfortable assembling scaffolding and carrying siding up a tall ladder. Roofing is simple, but there is a risk of falling, and the heat on a roof can be unbearable in summer. Unless you are in excellent physical condition, and used to heavy labor, I’d recommend hiring a professional who is used to the heat and the height.
Home Building Packages Shells and Kits: Upgrades
Upgrades are usually mentioned more often by home builders and contractors, than by kit and shell companies, but occasionally you will see an upgrade to your kit available. In general upgrades to kits and shells involve heavier floor joists, and 2 by 6 inch wall studs instead of 2 by 4. These kinds of upgrades are vitally important. Any upgrade that involves heavier lumber, superior grades of wood, thicker insulation or thicker concrete are an absolute must. Pay less attention to carpet, appliance and cabinet upgrades which are the stock and trade of traditional home builders. All these items can be replaced, and likely will be replaced several times over the life of your home.
Home building packages vary, and so does the advertising of various types of kit builders, shell builders, home builders and contractors. Be sure to learn about each company, and consider which products and services meet your needs. For more information on home building packages, kits and upgrades download our free 98 page book and see the other articles on this site.