New House Building: Money Saving, Convenience and Healthy House Tips
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- Finish the Basement now or later
vs Detached garage
- What are the dangers of building
in cold weather?
- Thought for the Day
- Subscription Information
Please forward this newsletter to anyone whom you think may
Finish the basement now or later
A frequent question of new home buyers is "Should
I finish my basement now or later?" The answer depends
on your needs. If you need an extra bedroom, bathroom,
or a playroom for the kids, or if you need an in-law
suite, then "need" is the guiding factor, and
now is the time to do it.
If you do not "need" the
finished space now, but are thinking along the lines
of the next few years,
we suggest that you get the outside walls of the basement
properly insulated top to bottom, vapour barrier applied,
and drywall applied, followed by a couple of coats of paint.
In many communities, the outside walls of basements have
to be framed, insulated, and covered with vapour barrier
at the time the house is constructed. So the added cost
of the drywall, taping, and painting is minimal and it
will really spruce up the basement, as well as reduce heating
costs. The best time to do this is when the basement is
still empty. Of course you will need to make sure that
your building permit covers this, and that your electrical
work gets done, and inspected. The cost can be quite nominal,
for this extra drywall work in the average basement.
brings up another frequent question, "How much
will finishing a basement cost?" Again, personal taste
comes into it a lot but $20 to $25 per square foot is a
rough guide, and should turn a typical basement into a
comfortable living area. Remember, the finishing and the
furnishing really impact the appearance of living space.
a health perspective, you will really appreciate a properly
finished basement because the house is much
easier to keep clean and less prone to mould, and dampness.
of timing, finishing a basement is a big project and will
require a great deal of planning. You must decide
what will be the purpose of the rooms, and what will be
the layout of the entire area. Bathrooms and kitchens will
require extra consideration. In addition, you and your
contractor will have to address issues such as heating,
cooling, airflow, and dehumidification.
Flooring is an important
matter. Ideally, a basement floor should have a wooden
sub floor on top of the concrete,
then a healthy flooring material applied on that. This
will ensure a warm and dry floor for the living area.
are another interesting topic for basement finishing. As
mentioned, drywall is the least expensive and most attractive
finish. However, it may not be the right way to go in the
basement of your new home. Once drywall is up, rearrangements
of water pipes, electrical wiring, central vacuum, ductwork,
and telephones, all become much more complicated. A good
quality suspended grid system with sound absorbing ceiling
tile is another alternative. Also combinations of drywall
and suspended ceilings in basements, can be attractive
as well. Bedrooms under bedrooms are probably not going
to need much rearrangement, so their ceilings could be
done with drywall.
Building material is continuously increasing
in cost, as is labour. If we use a conservative 5% as the
year average cost increase, we see that what costs $1000
now will cost about $1276 in 5 years. So a 1000 square
foot basement, at $23/sq.ft. will cost about $23000 to
finish today, but $29,348 in 5 years.
Whatever you decide,
get 3 to 5 estimates, personally verify numerous referrals
for each contractor, make sure
you have a contract, and obtain all necessary building
permits. Finally, be vigilant in your selection of contractors.
Some Useful Links
Basement Finishing ideas at Eran Building and Remodelling
Attached vs. Detached Garage
Consumers building a home have a number of considerations
to take into account when making a decision if they should
add an attached garage to their home or if they should
consider a detached garage. Design specifications, intended
use, code requirements, cost, air filtration from the garage
into the home, and city bylaws are some of the major items
to think about. We will explore each of these areas in
this short newsletter. If you would like more information,
the web sites listed at the end of this article can provide
you with additional detail.
If you are planning an attached garage, generally the exterior
design will fit the design of your home and you need to
make decisions about the interior of your attached garage.
Items such as size of your garage, single or multiple garage
doors, garage door opener’s, number and location
of electrical outlets, work areas, central vacuum outlet,
telephone outlet, lighting especially if there is a work
area involved and amount of storage space that you will
require. Detached garages will have all of the same issues,
in addition to exterior design, location of the garage
relative to your home and access to the garage from the
street. Utilities such as electrical and telephone will
need to be connected to your home and placed in protective
conduit between your home and the detached garage.
Most garages, attached or detached are used for parking
the owner’s vehicles, yard storage and sometimes
a small work area. If you plan something more ambitious,
such as vehicle maintenance, major hobbies, then these
should be taken into account when deciding on the type
of garage you will select as well as interior design.
The majority of cities and towns in North America have
developed code requirements covering the construction
of attached and detached garages. The reader is strongly
encouraged to check with your local officials for building
code requirements and also any permit requirements
you may need. Your local builder can also generally
assist you with city bylaw requirements and all inspections
Cost of your Garage
There are many factors, which will determine the overall
cost of your garage. You may decide to hire a general
contractor or manage the construction yourself. If
you have an attached garage, then your house contractor
will likely manage the addition of your garage. If
you decide on a detached garage, you may need quotes
for excavation, form setting, concrete, carpentry,
roofing, electrical, bricklaying if applicable, siding
installation etc. Building your attached garage can
provide reduced cost for construction of your garage,
since one or perhaps two of the walls will be interior
walls of your home.
Attached garages have a health consideration that is
not generally found with detached garages. Studies
have shown that fumes from various items stored in
the garage can infiltrate the home from an attached
garage. Gasoline for yard tools such as lawn mowers
or snow blowers, chemicals for gardens etc can find
their way into your house, both into the basement as
well as into the main living areas of the home. If
you are susceptible to any kind of pollutants, then
this may be a major consideration you will take into
account when deciding on a detached vs. attached garage.
Some useful links to check out
Planning your Garage
Example of Detached and Attached Garage Requirements
Air Infiltration from Attached Garages in Canadian Houses
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3. What are the Dangers
of Building in Cold Weather?
Builders and homeowners alike are concerned about construction
during winter months, particularly in cold climates were
the temperature routinely is below freezing for much of the
winter. This article will cover issues surrounding the pouring
of concrete foundations in cold weather.
If the proper building construction techniques are not followed,
concrete will not cure properly causing potential problems
later on such as cracking and dusting to name two concerns.
Not only will you reduce the strength of the concrete, dusting
may occur and cause possible indoor environment problems
later for the homeowner. We also recommend to homeowners
to seal any exposed concrete walls with a good quality concrete
sealer to reduce the effect of concrete dust on household
air quality. This article will discuss some of the steps
homeowners should look for when considering having a home
constructed during the cold winter months. We have also have
provided a number of web sites for those who require additional
information and detail as a reference.
In order for concrete to cure properly, temperature minimums
and moisture levels must be managed during the curing cycle
to ensure proper 28 day strength characteristics are achieved.
Cold weather concreting requires special steps to ensure
that the concrete does not freeze and also does not dry too
rapidly during cold dry winter months.
Prior to pouring concrete in winter months, builders must
plan for proper equipment, manpower, weather protection,
and appropriate concrete mix with accelerating admixtures
and heated mixtures to help develop early concrete strength.
All snow an ice must be removed from concrete forms and the
sub base prior to pouring concrete and all items that come
in contact with concrete should be not be below 32 degrees
Concrete pouring and curing must be managed in cold weather
situations. The cost of winter construction with the additional
requirements identified below must be compared to delays
until warmer spring or summer temperatures. Special attention
must be given to the following:
Ensure concrete has cured
and do not allow concrete to prematurely dry out
Ice from forming, which stops hydration and seriously
insulation blankets or heaters
Avoid direct contact with heaters,
that may cause soft dusting
Ensure heaters do not run out of
fuel and avoid fire hazards
Remove heat protection in a manner
that prevents rapid cooling of concrete
Triple insulation at corners and
edges of walls
in place as long as possible to prevent rapid drying
Ask your builder to explain the
step they will take to ensure a high strength
properly cured concrete foundation and floor
for your new home.
Municipal Code Requirements
Many municipalities or state agencies have specified
technical requirements for cold weather masonry construction
covering temperature conditions below specific temperatures,
often at 41 degrees F, or 5 degrees C. Your concrete
subcontractor should be well aware of these requirements
and should be able to demonstrate to you the steps
they will take to ensure that these requirements will
For more detailed information, we have provided links
to several web sites that provide addition information
about concrete in general as well as about pouring
concrete in cold weather conditions.
Some useful links to check out
NRMCA – About Concrete
Cold Weather Curing
Cold Weather Concrete Tips
Cold Weather Concreting
4. Thought For The Day
If there be any truer measure of a man
than by what he does, it must be by what he gives.
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