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Building Tips and Meet the Artisans

Keith Lathon, Builder/ Developer (Retired)
Building Tips and Meet the Artisans
Paul R. Williams, Architect: Recognize a Great One
The World's Best


Sometimes you have to sell a home before you can build. Here are a few tips to help you sell your home.
1. Remove personal items, they make buyers feel uncomfortable.
2. Remove unnecessary things, to maximize the home's limited space.
3.Decorate each room to its best potential.  PS, You may have to call in a Decorator.
1. Sales agreement:
2. Pre-construction:
3. Foundation:   Check formwork before pouring footings begin.
4. Framing:   Inspect the framing and it is structurally safe.
5. Exterior finishes:
6. Mechanicals:     Inspect roughed in plumbing, electrical and HVAC.
7. Insulation & Air Duct sealing:    Inspect all installation, must be correct. 
8. Interior finishes:    Inspect finished electrical, plumbing and HVAC.
9. Landscaping:
10. Pre-closing:    Final walk through, before Occupancy Certificate.
11. Closing:

Getting Started: Building Permit:


What Is a Building Permit?


A building permit is the document you receive from your local building department that actually "allows" you to do construction. Once you have a site, a house plan and a builder in place, your builder will then apply for a building permit, which is needed before construction can start.


How to Get a Building Permit


Here are the steps your contractor must go through in order to secure a building permit:

1.       The contractor will talk with local officials to discuss the plans of your house, and the experts will advise him or her of any revisions that need to be made to the plan.

2.       Submit the application to local officials for formal review. This review will determine if the proposed house meets with local code. For example, does the plan have adequate infrastructure, fire protection to service the area, etc. This can take as short as a couple of weeks to as long as a couple of months.

3.       The following is needed for a building permit --

o        House plans, including the foundation elevation and framing considerations.

o        Sign-offs from the architect and engineer.

o        Soil reports showing the condition of your site. This is important in rural areas where an additional septic permit may be needed.

o        Approvals and reports from other agencies requested by the permitting office.

4.       Once the application is approved you'll be asked to pay a fee based on the project size, and once payment has been received you're builder can pick up the permit from the local city or county building department.

5.       Once the permit is received it must be hung up at the property site.

Note: Don't forget to put the cost of your building permit into your construction budget.




Blueprints and Plans

While seeing your home on paper isn't nearly as exciting as seeing it complete, it's a good idea to get familiar with the plans and construction documents for your home. Every home is built from a unique set of plans, traditionally called blueprints. An architect draws the plans for each home and for the layout of the community, and the local municipality approves them.

Note: Plans are used primarily by site supervisors and subcontractors before and during construction. But you may use plans to understand the structural choices for each model available in a community, as well as where a specific home site will be located within the community.

A set of plans usually contains many, very detailed components. For this discussion, we'll focus on elevation drawings, floor plans and site development plans.

Elevation drawings show the home as it will look when you're standing directly in front of it. Four views of the elevation are usually shown:

1.       Front elevation

2.       Rear elevation

3.       Left-side elevation

4.       Right-side elevation

Elevation drawings are useful in helping you visualize what the home will look like from the outside. They often contain details for exterior doors and trim, window sizes, roofing materials and facade materials. They also can show structural choices that are visible from the exterior, such as additional windows, porches, decks and roofs.

Floor plans show the home as if you were looking at it from above, with the roof lifted off. As a rule of thumb, items on a floor plan indicated by a solid line are those that begin at the floor level and extend 4 feet vertically. Items shown by a dotted line are those above 4 feet, such as features in the ceiling. For example, kitchen cabinets standing on the floor are indicated by solid lines; kitchen cabinets hung above the countertops are shown using dotted lines.

A separate floor plan is included for each level of the home -- the basement, the first floor, and the second floor, as appropriate. Each level typically is shown on a separate page of the plans. Each level contains details such as room names and dimensions, locations for walls, doors, windows, and other features. To determine the approximate size of each room, read the dimensions directly from the floor plan; do not use a ruler to measure for yourself. Also, consider the dimensions printed on the floor plan as approximate, not as exact.

The site development plan shows the layout of the community, including streets, utility lines and individual home sites with dimensions and setbacks, which is the minimum distance required by the building code between a building and property line. 

Getting Started: You Need a House Plan

What Is a House Plan?

A house plan is a series of drawings that basically describes what you're going to be building and how to build it, and it consists of all the sheets necessary to describe the house -- floor plans, elevations, sections, interior elevation details and the structural set.

A house plan will also include details of the foundation, framing, roof, plumbing and electrical wiring.

Working with a reputable architect or design firm is a great way to secure a house plan because it provides you with a ton of options.

What are Some of the House-Plan Options?

  • An architect, if you choose to hire one, will guide you through the entire design process for your home, and she or he will make sure your dream home is built properly.
  • There are several other ways to secure a plan as well. Several ready-made plans can be found in books and online. After choosing one of these plans an architect can assist in modifying the plans to suit your needs.

Note: When choosing or designing a house plan, it's important to keep any financial constraints in mind. You need to think about your budget and what you can afford. Be sure to get feedback from the builder, even if it is a ballpark figure.

Financial Construction Tip: Don't make changes after construction starts, or at least keep them to a minimum or the costs can skyrocket. Be sure to make changes in the plans "before" the building process begins.

  • A great house plan should take more than just a bunch of measurements and codes into consideration, it should also take your family's future into consideration. For example, when you're designing your home or working with an architect, be sure to include features that will allow you to stay in the home for years. This early stage is the best opportunity to do this. You can do things early on for very little money that will save a bundle later on after the home is constructed.
  • If you're planning on having children, for another example, you can have plans that provide a den now that can be divided into bedrooms later.
  • If you do plan to design your own home you'll need experience in structural engineering and plan drafting.


What does "Up to Code" Mean?

You've probably heard this phrase many times in association with building a home. Codes are the minimum standards that are required to build any home. And, unfortunately, most potential home builders believe this means what is the least I can do to meet standards, when -- in fact -- it means just the opposite. Codes are actually rules that tell the builders the best way to build your home.

Note: Keep in mind that there are different codes for different parts of the country, which is why it's vital that if you hire an architect, he or she is very familiar with the local home-building codes.



How to Hire An Architect

You want to hire a trophy architect? Well, be prepared—they are the ones doing the interviewing, and then they’ll tell you to wait in line.

So how to begin? The following five cardinal rules will help get your foot (and house fantasies) in the door. To the extent that rapport is established and a commission results, a few of these pointers will serve you well through the duration of construction.

  1. Know The Architecture
  2. Be Flexible
  3. Talk Money/Money Talks
  4. Get in line and Have Plan B
  5. Offer Transcendence

Building Inspectors and the Homebuilding Process


 No discussion of the construction process would be

complete without talking about the building inspectors. If you are not familiar with the construction process, see The Construction Process. Building inspectors review many components of the home while it's being built to make sure local building codes are followed. If building inspectors find a violation, they will halt construction until the problem is corrected and re-inspected. Once a home successfully passes a building inspection, a notice is posted on the home site, signaling that construction can continue safely.

When Do Building Inspections Occur?

Building inspections occur at specific times in the construction process. These predetermined times are selected to give the building inspector maximum access to the areas he or she needs to see.

The following chart shows building inspections common in many regions of the country. Keep in mind that the building inspections required for your municipality may be slightly different.

What Can Stop Construction?

As the building inspector reviews the home throughout construction, some typical problems that may cause him or her to halt construction include the following:

  • Poor soil conditions or cold weather during the "foundation" stage.
  • Point loads not properly transferred down to next lower level during the "framing" stage.
  • Lack of proper ventilation in the cathedral ceiling during the "mechanicals" stage.
  • Incorrect R-value of insulation in the walls or ceilings during the "insulation and air sealing" stage.
  • Malfunctioning electrical outlets or switches during the "interior finish" stage.
  • Missing exterior railings on porches or decks during the "pre-closing" stage.

It's important to note that all of the items listed above are related directly to your health and safety.

Building inspections are frequent throughout construction; however, the site supervisor is responsible for walking through each home daily to inspect the quality of construction.


Serious defects often present themselves in telltale ways. If you see one or more of the following problems in your home, hire an engineer to investigate.


1. Deep cracks in the foundation or basement walls. They can be signs that the foundation was laid on a poorly compacted base or poorly graded soil.

2. Sagging floors or leaning walls. A shifting foundation or structural problems with support beams could be to blame.

3. Windows and doors that never sit well in frames or close properly. House-framing problems may be at issue. If the beams, studs, and joists weren’t correctly sized or assembled, the whole house may not hang together well.

4. Cracks in interior walls. Wide cracks could signal a foundation problem. Generally, though, fine cracks are cosmetic, the result of normal aging.

5. Water damage. Warning signs include mold, rot, and insect infestation in exterior walls; staining, swelling and discoloration on interior walls; and a musty odor. Possible causes: improperly installed roofing, no flashing around penetrations and joints, no moisture barrier in a climate that requires it, lack of a drainage space behind brick or siding, poorly installed windows and doors, holes in siding, and trapped water-vapor condensation from heating and air conditioning.

6. Flooding, sewer and drain backups, and switched hot and cold water. Flooding and backups may result from poorly graded land or faulty sewer and water-main connections. Switched spigots may signal improperly installed plumbing.

7. Excessive heating or cooling bills. Rooms that don’t get warm or cool enough can be another signal that air ducts may be leaky or improperly connected.

8. Shorting or dead outlets. The electrical system may be installed incorrectly.

9. Lack of required permits. This indicates that building authorities have not performed the required inspections.


Why the problems? Many experts point to the country’s 10-year housing and real-estate boom. The top 100 U.S. home builders together sold an estimated 1,000 new homes a day in 2002, or one-third of all new-home sales.

That pace strained production. While home builders nurture the image of painstaking traditional craftsmanship, most new homes today are produced as if on an assembly line. Building affordable homes means being acutely aware of time and costs. Those builders that are public companies have the added pressure of shareholders to satisfy, industry executives and former employees say. Builders are completing homes in 90 to 120 days. A decade ago, the range was 120 to 200 days, according to one industry study.



Let us make your house better, flow better, function better. "Any Builder that puts one Shower Head  in a Master Bath, should be shot!" Why do you have to freeze when you and your sweetie are taking a shower together? We fix all those mistakes. Call us we can make your house better.


The Artisans:

Visit these sites to see what passion will go into your house.