Does anyone have experience with building a custom home?


By Kevin   Follow   Sun, 18 Nov 2012, 12:46am   11,447 views   171 comments
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I've decided that since I have to live out in the 'burbs anyway, I might as well live in the perfect house. 9 out of 10 builders around here just slap together the same old generic qasi-craftsman style homes with awful layouts and pointless features like tiny unusable porches and formal living rooms.

We have a crap ton of money and I'm overpaid.

We're looking to buy a few acres of land and then spend ~$800k to build the thing (architecture, land prep, construction, etc.)

Does anyone have experience with having a custom home built (particularly modern design; no shingles or crown molding here)? Was it worth it compared to what you could have bought for the same amount of money? How was the financing?

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  1. swebb


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    52   5:38pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    "6months overschedule"??? Based on what contract duration? As a result of "50% cost 'overruns'"????? Were additional contract days granted as a result of these "overruns" i.e, change orders?

    If not, why didn't the owner invoke liquidated damages? I think someone is talking out their ass here and it's not me.

    Don't shoot the messenger, I'm just relaying what I have been told. For the record I trust my father's word over yours. He says "more than 6 months behind schedule" and I think 50% is in the ballpark for the cost overrun. Maybe he fucked up, but that's what happened.

  2. Kevin


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    53   5:47pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    New Renter says

    Kevin says

    Adding 20 windows in a large modern style home is quite a bit, but not unreasonable. I imagine it added a good $25-50k to the price tag though. Our builder suggested budgeting $1200-1500 per window since we want high grade aluminum instead of vinyl .

    Any particular reason for going with aluminum?

    Like I said, we're going with a modern design. Fiberglass looks like plastic. Clear anodized aluminum is beautiful.

    The downside is meeting the energy codes. Milgard is the only vendor I know of that qualifies.

    New Renter says

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    bob2356 says

    Nonsense,

    Wrong again. 2x4 are prohibited for multistory structures.

    And PS...... slapping together houses is barely considered "construction". Get out sometime and take a look around you.

    @ Kevin: ARE you considering a multi-story house? If not this tangent is meaningless.

    It may be meaningless, but I would never consider building a house with 2x4s regardless of size. The cost difference is inconsequential (it might actually be cheaper in a single story, since you could go 24" OC instead of 16"). In cold weather the 2x6 will pay for themselves in two winters.

    Our actual building plans are for a two-story home with a walkout basement (so essentially three stories on one end).

    swebb says

    Don't shoot the messenger, I'm just relaying what I have been told. For the record I trust my father's word over yours. He says "more than 6 months behind schedule" and I think 50% is in the ballpark for the cost overrun. Maybe he fucked up, but that's what happened.

    I don't know that he fucked up, but it sounds like he was dealing with a contractor that either:

    a.) Ripped him off big time

    or

    b.) Low balled the estimate to get the contract.

    b is *extremely* common amongst shady contractors. If you get quoted anything less than $150/sf average, double and triple check references.

    Another common thing is providing an estimate for construction costs only, and not being upfront about the GC's fee, site prep, utilities, etc.

  3. swebb


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    54   6:01pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    swebb says

    The architect fees made up a significant portion of the overall cost.

    Nonsense. 10% at the very max. and that is high

    If you notice in my original message I estimated (with a ? mark, If I recall) 10%. As built, all in it was about 6.5% of the total. As planned without the land, it was closer to 12%.

    In any event I consider that a significant cost, especially if it can be essentially eliminated by going with a stock floorplan.

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    Site specific problems can be a major pain.

    Then don't build on it. Get another lot. Lots are cheap.

    Kevin says

    They bought the last riverfront lot available in the area they wanted to build. The lot was not cheap and buying another wasn't an option.

    Custom houses mean custom problems.

    Complete BULLSHIT.

    Folks, when you hear "custom" as it relates to housing, know that you're getting bamboozled. It's just another way to inflate the price per square foot. There is no "custom" anything. Everyone builds to IBC. EVERYONE.

    I did give an example of an unanticipated issue that was due to the custom design. If it had been a spec plan the porch-over-living-space problem would have been dealt with and "baked in" to the price. As it happened for them, they had to "solve" the problem when it came time to build. Maybe the architect fucked up. Maybe the builder took advantage of the situation. I don't know. All I know is that they had to spend a significant chunk of unplanned $, and I think it's fairly easy to attribute it to the custom nature of the house. Staircase, being custom, was also quite a bit more expensive than what you would get from a typical build. The south facing sunroom also added cost. I stand by my statement.

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    lololol. 6" walls is CODE.

    Not in Kentucky. To humor you, I called my brother and asked him. He's in new construction on a daily basis. What he said to me was that "every once in a while you will see 2x6 construction"...the rule is 2x4.

  4. Kevin


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    55   6:33pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    Kevin says

    you get quoted anything less than $150/sf average, double and triple check references.

    Don't be silly. We bid, win and build wood framed structures for a very small fraction of that amount.

    In phoenix, where nobody wants to live and you don't have any weather.

  5. swebb


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    56   7:08pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    are river front lots everywhere. There is always a substitute.

    Oh, my bad.

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    And I stand by my experience that "custom" is simply another means to upcharge in the contract or add as a change order. Both are massively inflated. I know because I prepare CO's daily.

    When I say custom, I guess I mean not only that you get to specify the floorplan and such, but that you will be doing things that are non-standard, more costly, etc. If you build dozens of the same home, you have economies of scale working for you, you learn any tricks or difficulties with the build, and you amortize those costs over many houses. When you do a one-off house, you don't have that advantage. On top of that you are probably building something that is more expensive anyway (100 windows, for example). I think the phrase "custom house" has meaning beyond just a way to charge more for the same thing. Take, for example, the cost of the architect. That is a cost that a custom home has that your step-and-repeat homes don't.

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    And we're in the heavy construction biz. And let me assure you, if you bought a new house with 4" walls, you got ripped.

    Maybe so, but that's what you buy in Kentucky. My original point wasn't whether or not the additional cost of a 2x6 was worth it...I was just trying to help the original poster with his question. In my experience deviating from the local norm can be costly beyond the difference between a 2x4 and a 2x6. Maybe the whole 2x6 thing is complete BS and was used as an excuse to charge even more...but the fact is that they deviated from the norm, and it cost them.

  6. Kevin


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    57   7:32pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Usually when someone says "custom house", they really just mean "you get to pick from one of three floor plans and one of five counter tops".

    Unless an architect draws up a unique plan tailored for your lot, nothing is custom.

  7. Buster


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    58   7:57pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    upisdown says

    You're trying to get everybody that reads this, to believe that you increased the total number of windows by 20, and that it had 60 total, and that you did not changed the dimensions or proportions of the floor plan.

    Since the architect cashed my checks, perhaps you may want to ask him if I am full of bullshit.

    http://malakoutiarchitects.com/?page_id=42

  8. New Renter


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    59   8:11pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    swebb says

    Maybe so, but that's what you buy in Kentucky. My original point wasn't whether or not the additional cost of a 2x6 was worth it...I was just trying to help the original poster with his question. In my experience deviating from the local norm can be costly beyond the difference between a 2x4 and a 2x6. Maybe the whole 2x6 thing is complete BS and was used as an excuse to charge even more...but the fact is that they deviated from the norm, and it cost them.

    No. It's what you choose to buy. People don't know any better and they hand over all power to guys like me, lying realtors, mortgage pimps and "inspectors". 2x6 perimeters might add 0.5% to my framing number. The labor is the SAME.

    @ Darrell

    Clearly as a builder you have a lot of information that is useful to Kevin. So can you please tell us how would you as a builder advise Kevin to handle things to minimize costs yet achieve most of his goals?

    If custom plans are too expensive where can Kevin find thousands of standardized floor plans to choose his dream house from?

    If he needs to modify the plans to suit his goals would a draftsman be a good way to go to save money or should he go to an architect? What kind of modifications to the plans might he be able to do himself?

    If he wants to use a CAD model what software package would you recommend?

    How should he go about finding the best GC for the job? What questions should he be asking of the GC and references?

    What does he need to know going into the negotiations?

    How can he minimize change orders?

    What materials from what suppliers should he specify for the build? For example who makes the best aluminum windows? Which manufacturers suck or are likely to go bankrupt and nullify any warranty?

    What are the common tricks a GCs may try use to try to wring more dough out of Kevin and how can Kevin combat them?

    What tools should Kevin bring to the build to check the quality of work with? What should he look for?

    What should Kevin buy out of pocket and what can he trust the GC to source? For example should he buy a wall oven himself? How about the water heater?

    As a builder what do customers demand that you feel is a waste of money and what do they NOT ask for that in your opinion they should?

  9. Buster


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    60   8:11pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    Buster says

    Since the architect cashed my checks, perhaps you may want to ask him if I am full of bullshit.

    lmao.... It's a development. You didn't pay anyone except a contractor.

    Wrong again, probably like you were ignoring Nate Silver's prediction of the GOP implosion this month I bet. But of course you already phoned the architect to verify your ignorant assertion? No, guess you didn't.

  10. New Renter


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    61   8:27pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    @ Kevin

    How about a fireplace? Are you thinking gas, wood, pellet or electric?

  11. New Renter


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    62   8:28pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    New Renter says

    Kevin

    lmao.... "Kevin"?

    Yes Kevin, the OP of this thread.

  12. swebb


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    63   8:53pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    That's it. You get to pick your IFS. And overpay for them by massive amounts.

    So is that what all the confusion is about? You are talking about picking a floor plan and finishes and call it custom when we are talking about a house designed as a one-off by an architect?

  13. New Renter


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    64   9:05pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    New Renter says

    If custom plans are too expensive where can Kevin find thousands of standardized floor plans to choose his dream house from?

    There's this thing called google. "Dream"? Are you a realtor?

    Sure there's Google. There is also you, a builder who I had hoped should know a better answer to this simple question that "Google it"

    An no, I am not a realtor. If I were don't you think I'd be trying to convince Kevin to buy an overpriced existing house rather than build one new? I can't get a commission on that!

  14. New Renter


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    65   9:08pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    lmao

    Is "Kevin" an alias? Possibly. Do I have anything else to call the OP? No. So "Kevin" it is.

  15. Kevin


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    66   9:31pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    New Renter says

    @ Kevin

    How about a fireplace? Are you thinking gas, wood, pellet or electric?

    Gas, if any. Not one of those bullshit fake log things. I view a fireplace as purely decorative though.

  16. Kevin


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    67   9:32pm Sun 18 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    New Renter says

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    lmao

    Is "Kevin" an alias? Possibly. Do I have anything else to call the OP? No. So "Kevin" it is.

    That would be the dumbest alias ever. Kevin is what it says on my driver's license.

  17. New Renter


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    68   8:22am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Kevin says

    New Renter says

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    lmao

    Is "Kevin" an alias? Possibly. Do I have anything else to call the OP? No. So "Kevin" it is.

    That would be the dumbest alias ever. Kevin is what it says on my driver's license.

    That it would. Makes one wonder what name is on "Darrell's" licence.

  18. Bigsby


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    69   8:26am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    New Renter says

    That it would. Makes one wonder what name is on "Darrell's" licence.

    Darrell Troll.

  19. New Renter


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    70   8:26am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Kevin says

    New Renter says

    @ Kevin

    How about a fireplace? Are you thinking gas, wood, pellet or electric?

    Gas, if any. Not one of those bullshit fake log things. I view a fireplace as purely decorative though.

    That does leave you with more options. Personally I liked the idea of the fireplace as a back up heater as it remains operable during power blackouts.

  20. HeadSet


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    71   11:12am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    The truth is resale housing prices are nearly double retail construction costs. New construction is far far less costly than resale housing.

    I wish that were true in my state.

    Builders around here are sitting on thier lots. No one wants to build a spec just to be undercut by resale and languishing new construction. Contracts come first before they will even build one of their standard models, and the price is significantly higher than similar existing resales homes. I presume labor, material, and lot costs must decrease for the builder to profitably compete (which does not help the bulders who already bought expensive lots).

  21. HeadSet


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    72   11:26am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    New Renter says

    Optional – hardwire in Cat6 or better in all rooms. This might not be as necessary as wireless improves

    Definately hardwire in new constrution, preferably Cat7. Wireless may improve, but as soon as you get 1gig wireless you may need 10gig wired for 4k TV or some other high bandwidth device that may come along.

  22. upisdown


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    73   11:27am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike  

    HeadSet says

    Contracts come first before they will even build one of their standard models, and the price is significantly higher than similar existing resales homes.

    Contracts coming first has been the long term norm, but not really during the early 2000s.
    You think that an old/older house should be priced the same as a new one? New technology, amenities, etc., and today's labor rates, versus paying for outdated everything(that hasn't been brought up to date) and part of that labor, that was incurred at lower(past) rates but paying today's rates for it?

  23. zzyzzx


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    74   11:39am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    No, but if I were to buy a new house, I would want it custom built so that I could have real plywood instead of tha engineered wood crap, real wood in place of particleboard, 2x6 or 2x8's on the exterior walls for extra insulation, and way less windows than all new houses have (since windows are energy inefficient and reduce your privacy).

  24. swebb


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    75   11:48am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    Again..... why make a distinction when there is no difference?

    I think it's clear there is a difference, and I think you are being disingenuous, which is nothing new. It's a shame that you seem to have knowledge and experience that you could share but instead you insist on ridiculing people, being deceptive and evasive, and generally act like a troll.

    I think it's a good time to put you back on ignore.

  25. HeadSet


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    76   11:51am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    upisdown says

    Contracts coming first has been the long term norm, but not really during the early 2000s.

    Not too long ago, builders used to make "model homes" along with specs homes to sell right away. Now the model homes are up for sale long before the subdivision lots are sold and very few specs are going up. Even some "Parade of Homes" and "Homerama" showcase homes are languishing for years unsold.

  26. HeadSet


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    77   11:53am Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    upisdown says

    You think that an old/older house should be priced the same as a new one?

    I was refering to builders competing with houses that are only 5-10 years old.

  27. upisdown


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    78   12:09pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    HeadSet says

    Not too long ago, builders used to make "model homes" along with specs homes to sell right away. Now the model homes are up for sale long before the subdivision lots are sold and very few specs are going up. Even some "Parade of Homes" and "Homerama" showcase homes are languishing for years unsold.

    It costs a lot of money to maintain those model homes, and the developer/builder pays for that by passing on the cost to each and every one of their buyers. Yes, eventually those houses are sold too, but in all reality, isn't a model home a very inefficient waste of available resouces? Usually the parade of homes-houses are pre-sold, again as was the norm.

    HeadSet says

    You think that an old/older house should be priced the same as a new one?
    I was refering to builders competing with houses that are only 5-10 years old.

    A house 5-10 y/o, is still technically out of date compared to a new house, is it not?

  28. upisdown


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    79   12:16pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike  

    zzyzzx says

    No, but if I were to buy a new house, I would want it custom built so that I could have real plywood instead of tha engineered wood crap, real wood in place of particleboard, 2x6 or 2x8's on the exterior walls for extra insulation, and way less windows than all new houses have (since windows are energy inefficient and reduce your privacy).

    Custom built does not guarentee that plywood is spec'd versus OSB, unless it is specifically spec'd. Particle board isn't used at all in any structural way in ANY house, but Masonite type stuff is for finishes. And, 2x6 or 2x8 walls isn't really even nescessary in most of the US. What determines the structural design is heating and cooling degree days(climate), and of course location.

    Are you aware of some type of engineering study and testing that says OSB is an inferior product? Hint: the glue is the exact same in plywood(framing/structural) as OSB.

  29. upisdown


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    80   12:33pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    LiarWatch says

    You want to make a distinction where there is none. If you believe there is one, DEFINE the word "custom" as it relates to building out a project.

    LOL, some people just want to believe that "custom built" somehow = a gold plated shitter. It's a marketing gimmick, and it's usually aimed at potential top-end customers that can afford to "design" each and every room. And pay for it they do.

  30. swebb


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    81   12:57pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    LiarWatch says

    You want to make a distinction where there is none. If you believe there is one, DEFINE the word "custom" as it relates to building out a project.

    Go on. Do it.

    How about a project that has features, construction techniques, materials or design elements that are not commonly found in spec homes.

    I want my home to be able to float in case of a flood. I want to incorporate the tree that is on the lot into the inside of the home. I want to use dovetail joints instead of nails. I want an interconnected whole-house aquarium system. I want all floors to be made of glass. I want the windows to be exact copies of a late 1700 example, made from the trees on my property. I want traditional plaster instead of drywall, lime mortar on the hand made bricks, made from the clay on the property.

    And I don't want any power tools used in any part of the construction of the house.

  31. swebb


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    82   1:24pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    LiarWatch says

    Thank you for demonstrating you just don't know and don't want to know.

    LiarWatch = Darrell ?

    Another troll to ignore.

  32. zzyzzx


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    83   2:15pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    upisdown says

    Are you aware of some type of engineering study and testing that says OSB is an inferior product?

    Yes. Of course it is. You can tell by looking at it.

    http://www.nachi.org/osb-plywood.htm

    Compared to plywood, OSB swells more when it comes into contact with water, especially at panel edges. Swell is generally greater in OSB than in plywood due to the release of compaction stress in OSB created during the pressing of wood chips into panels. Swollen plywood will return to its nominal thickness as the wood dries, while OSB will remain permanently swollen, to some degree. Swelling is a nuisance because it can uplift whatever materials lie above, such as tile or carpet.
    Plywood floors are stiffer than OSB floors by a factor of approximately 10%. As a result, OSB floors are more likely to:
    squeak due to floor movement;
    cause hard floor surfaces to crack (such as tile); and
    result in soft, spongy floors.
    Nails and screws are more likely to remain in place more firmly in plywood than in OSB.
    OSB retains water longer than plywood does, which makes decay more likely in OSB than in plywood. Of course, tree species plays a large role in this determination. OSB made from aspen or poplar is relatively susceptible to decay. In one of the biggest consumer class-action lawsuits ever, Louisiana-Pacific (LP), a building materials manufacturer, was forced to pay $375 million to 75,000 homeowners who complained of decaying OSB in their homes.

  33. Kevin


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    84   2:49pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    So does anybody else have real experience? Or is this just going to be an endless stream of dipshits telling me I'm an idiot?

  34. swebb


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    85   2:54pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Kevin says

    So does anybody else have real experience? Or is this just going to be an endless stream of dipshits telling me I'm an idiot?

    Probably the latter.

    Look, it sounds like you are already on top of things and have a good handle on what you are getting into. I'd say there isn't a whole lot more here for you. Best of luck with your project.

  35. upisdown


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    86   3:14pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    zzyzzx says

    Compared to plywood, OSB swells more when it comes into contact with water, especially at panel edges. Swell is generally greater in OSB than in plywood due to the release of compaction stress in OSB created during the pressing of wood chips into panels. Swollen plywood will return to its nominal thickness as the wood dries, while OSB will remain permanently swollen, to some degree. Swelling is a nuisance because it can uplift whatever materials lie above, such as tile or carpet.

    That's why it's not spec'd for exposure, isn't it. And, there's a minimum sub floor thickness or underlayment for tile because of flex/deflection issues. Swelling that affects carpet? Huh? Seriously?

    zzyzzx says

    Plywood floors are stiffer than OSB floors by a factor of approximately 10%. As a result, OSB floors are more likely to:
    squeak due to floor movement

    Seriuosly? Do you know what the 'squeak' is? It's the wood moving up and down on the nail. That's why subfloors are glued and screwed. It has more to do with deflection of the joist than anything.

    zzyzzx says

    Nails and screws are more likely to remain in place more firmly in plywood than in OSB.

    What the nails or screws are nailed or screwed INTO is more important.

    zzyzzx says

    OSB retains water longer than plywood does, which makes decay more likely in OSB than in plywood.

    They BOTH retain water/moisture. But, the glue is waterproof in OSB, and in framing-grade/structural plywood

    zzyzzx says

    OSB made from aspen or poplar is relatively susceptible to decay.

    Plywood doesn't rot? NOW I've heard it all. That's some source, which after reading the stuff that you apparently pulled from it sounds that it sells or manufactures plywood or is some type of plywood industry rag.
    If OSB is SOOOO terrible and according to you and your link, why is it used throughout the whole residential construction industy, and other types too???? And that architects nationwide spec it's use?????

  36. upisdown


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    87   3:20pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Kevin says

    So does anybody else have real experience? Or is this just going to be an endless stream of dipshits telling me I'm an idiot?

    What is it you specifically want? Asking total strangers on the internet vague questions is wasting your time, and you should instead use that time and access to the internet to answer your own questions. And it's free.

  37. debtregret


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    88   3:28pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Kevin says

    So does anybody else have real experience? Or is this just going to be an endless stream of dipshits telling me I'm an idiot?

    Hi: I have experience. I did exactly what you are describing, although on a far smaller budget (and also got a likely far smaller house). We finished the project in 2004, after spending about 2 years on it from start of talks with the architect to the end (which was not the end...). It was very difficult and trying, although much of that was my own stressing out over things.

    I could write a book about it all. So much depends upon the team assembled, how well each know and understand the others, the levels of integrity (when the sh*t hits the fan, as it inevitably will in any large project, people's true colors come out).

    The very short story is we got a beautiful house very close to what we had envisioned. There are only a few things I think did not turn out well, and they were the direct result of them not getting the same degree of attention in the concept and design phase as they deserved. Great work cannot be rushed and is only very seldom a happy accident.

    It is also important to note that we built a very unmarketable 1080 sq ft one bedroom one bath. This is about 2/3 or maybe a little less from what we first planned, but we decided we would build only what the budget allowed, and the budget was a mortgage that could be comfortably repaid on one salary, just in case. As fate would have it, the week construction finished my wife was laid off...

    I skimmed through the posts, and I think most of your questions are not yet relevant. For example, what kind of windows have the best warranty, etc. etc. If you are truly interested in having a high-quality custom build house, there is a huge amount of ground work to be done -- deciding the basic style, determining what size your budget will allow, finding an architect that you have a good rapport with. Once you have preliminary footprint and ideas about finishes, you can start to find a builder who you think will be a good fit (with you AND the architect) and then get an idea of how far apart the architects ideas are from the builders reality (it is the builder who will bring you down to earth vis a vis costs).

    Then you begin the hard work of redesigning to bring it within budget. Construction is at least 18 months away (at least it was for us...).

    One thing I remember is we set aside about 25% of the architect's fee (separate from his design costs) to allow us to hire him to be actively involved during construction to monitor and work with the contractor. It isn't as simple as just handing off the plans and thinking it will all work out fine, because it won't. Contractors make money by finishing things and getting on to the next project, not by taking great care to ensure the spirit of the plans are brought to life... This doesn't mean they will do shoddy work (at least the good ones take pride in doing fine work), rather that they are movers and doers, not contemplative types...

  38. upisdown


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    89   3:37pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    zzyzzx says

    Yes. Of course it is. You can tell by looking at it.
    http://www.nachi.org/osb-plywood.htm

    LOL The assoc. of "certified" home inspectors? I think a licensed architect trumps a certified home inspector 24/7, to include professional standards and acccreditation, education, experience, industry R&D, etc., etc.

  39. David Losh


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    90   3:48pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    If you are close to Seattle there is Architects NorthWest: http://www.architectsnw.com/designServices/customHomeDesigns.cfm

    They sell you the plans, the plan book, or the 11X17s.

    The rest of it is pretty straight forward.

    It's a great time to custom build, and there are a few builders here in Seattle, that are honest, and fair.

  40. upisdown


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    91   3:52pm Mon 19 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike  

    David Losh says

    It's a great time to custom build, and there are a few builders here in Seattle, that are honest, and fair.

    Since the housing bubble burst, one of the positive things that happened was that all the inexperienced mopes that came into that industry to make a quick buck, went away.

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