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Build Your House Yourself University

Wish you knew more about the biggest investment you will most likely ever make? Build Your House Yourself University (byhyu) will teach you to save money and make smart decisions about the construction of the place you and your family will call HOME. We will help you understand residential construction— simplify and demystify the design build process. You’ll come away with successful strategies for building your own house, with or without a general contractor. Become an educated consumer, even if you prefer to buy, rather than build a new house. Complex construction jargon and best practices will be explained in easy to understand terms. It’s not the typical DIY (do it yourself) show. You will learn how to MANAGE the labor, not DO the labor for your new house. Join me, Michelle Nelson, host and fellow informal residential construction student. I’ll share the research I find on home design and building as I prepare to build my home. Together, our community of future home builders, will learn the tips, tricks and trends of experienced contractors and industry experts. I’ll interview owner-builders and construction professionals. During our mini lessons, I’ll inform you about framing, flooring, windows, insulation, kitchen cabinets and countertops…almost anything having to do with new construction homes. You’ll hear about energy efficiency and green building too. There will be product reviews in which you will be introduced to cutting edge, as well as, tried and true products and services. And in keeping with the university theme, episodes will end with short, fun quizzes. If we do our due diligence BEFORE we start construction, we will actually start construction with the most difficult part of the project behind us. Let’s put in the time, effort, preparation and research BEFORE we break ground and building our homes will be much easier and more enjoyable.
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Jun 12, 2019

Last week we talked extensively about water softeners and conditioners.  Water softeners and conditioners help to alleviate many hard water problems, including limescale build-up in your plumbing. But water softeners and conditioners are ineffective in removing chemicals and contaminants that can cause less-healthy, bad tasting and foul-smelling water.  For those issues, you’ll need a water filtration system.

Although city and county water systems typically do a good job of removing harmful quantities of contaminants from tap water, they leave behind small amounts of substances that most of us would rather not drink. Some tap water contains the residue of treated sewage, industrial waste, agricultural chemicals, pharmaceuticals, toxic metals like arsenic and mercury, plus fluoride, disinfectants, and storm runoff. 

Other contaminants that might be found in tap water, or especially in well water, include illness-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites, and pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, as well as Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs).

In this week’s mini-lesson, we’ll get into the different types of water filtration systems and what sort of certifications we should be looking for before you buy one.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jun 5, 2019

If your area has hard water, you’ll usually notice.  There will probably be whitish, yellowish or grayish deposits on shower heads and faucets and around drains, and sometimes even in toilet bowls.  These deposits are called limescale, scale or scaling, and are usually deposits of calcium and/or magnesium.  This scaling is a tell-tale sign of hard water. 

It’s said that about 85% of all households in the US have some degree of hard water.  Some of the hardest water in the country is found in the midwest.  Take look at the show notes at BYHYU.com to see a map showing the level of water hardness in different areas of the country.

In this week’s mini-lesson, we’ll discuss what hard water is, what problems it can cause, and what solutions we can add to our new homes to decrease those hard water problems.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

May 29, 2019

To commemorate our 100th episode, I want to give you some of my favorite homebuilding and design tips that I’ve learned over the past 2 years of this podcast. I’ve learned so much, but these are some of the most relevant things.

We’ll go over 50 tips in this week’s mini-lesson, but since this is the 100th episode, it only makes sense that I give you a list of 100 of the most important pieces of homebuilding knowledge. So we’ll go over 50 tips today and I’ll send you 50 more tips and tricks if you email me at info@BYHYU.com.

All you have to do is type the number 100 in the subject line and as a thank you for helping me get to episode 100, I’ll send you a PDF of a list of 50 bonus tips, plus the 50 tips that we’ll cover in today, so you won’t have to take notes while listening to this.

You’ll end up with a list of 100 of my favorite bits of homebuilding information. Now don’t worry about me spamming you. I wouldn’t do that. So just email me at info@BYHYU.com and put the number 100 in the subject line and I’ll send you the list of my 100 favorite homebuilding and design tips.

Before we get to the first 50 tips, I want to sincerely thank you for your loyalty and support and for encouraging me to keep the podcast going with your awesome reviews and kind emails. I especially want to thank you for sharing the show with friends, family, and coworkers by text, email and on social media. You are the reason the show is doing so well. Since I’m not great with social media, I’ve been counting on you to spread the word about the podcast and you’ve done that, so thank you.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

info@BYHYU.com

May 22, 2019

Did you know that most water heaters use more energy than all other household appliances combined? According to the US Dept of Energy, water heaters account for almost 17% of a home’s energy use. Other sources say it’s up to 30% of a home’s energy. This week’s mini-lesson will help you decide if a conventional, storage tank water heater or a tankless water heater is the better choice for your new home. And the choice is probably not as cut and dry as you think.

Conventional, storage tank water heaters are still the most common type of water heaters found in new homes. But tankless water heaters are steadily gaining popularity. We’ll go over the basic information about how conventional water heaters and tankless water heater work, plus the pros and cons of each system.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

May 15, 2019

Most people know that the square footage of a house will affect the cost of construction, but many people don’t realize that how a house is designed and laid out will also affect the bottom line. And since many of us are unaware of what design choices we can make to reduce our construction costs, I’ve compiled a list 20 money-saving design and layout ideas.

The easiest way to save money DURING construction is to figure out how to reduce costs BEFORE construction even begins—during the design and planning phases. The cost to build two houses with the same square footage can vary greatly depending on how the houses are designed and constructed. Great savings can be hidden in small details, and a few dollars saved here and there can add up to thousands of dollars over the course of construction.

Show notes at www.BYHYU.com

May 8, 2019

As we plan to build our homes, I thought it would be a good idea to scour several blogs and forums to get advice from those who have built before. I specifically wanted to find out what mistakes people had made in building their homes—what they would do differently if they were to build again. So I’ve compiled an extensive list which details the things that homeowners would do and DID DO differently when building their second, third and even fourth houses.

Let’s learn from the experiences of others, so we don’t make similar mistakes. Now, some of what others consider “misses” won’t matter to you in the least. Some features you’ll hear about today should not be included in YOUR house plans because they won’t enhance the way you live. And many of the suggestions are pretty luxurious in nature, so they may not fit everyone’s budget or style. Take suggestions that resonate most with you and the vision you have for your home. But listen with your current AND future lifestyle in mind. Think about how you CURRENTLY live in your home AND how you might live in 5, 10 or even 20 years.

Our Pro Terms for today are Eave, Fascia, and Soffit. Two of the main parts of the eave are the fascia and the soffit.

Go to www.byhyu.com for show notes.

May 1, 2019

We talk about one of the main ways you can save money when building your dream home… by being your own general contractor or builder. But CAN you build your own home, are you allowed and SHOULD you? Some pros and cons of being your own builder are outlined. We’ll also discuss some things that owner-builders can do to increase their chances of success.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Apr 24, 2019

Most of us want to get the biggest bang for our buck, and, if possible, we prefer making purchases when items go on sale.  And that goes for things that we’ll need for our homes. So, I read a few articles on the best times to purchase certain homebuilding and household items. 

To be honest, after reading many sources on this subject, I found no solid agreement as to the exact best times to find sales prices on different items.  One source would say sales occurred most often in May, and another article would say November, but what I’ve compiled for you in this week’s episode, is a list of the most often sited best times for buying things for the home.  Although there will be sporadic sales throughout the year for different homebuilding and household items, there are certain, predictable times of year when specific products and materials can be bought for significant discounts.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Apr 17, 2019

As I go through my homebuilding process, I’ll be letting you know what I learn in my preconstruction and construction meetings and what tips I pick up on the job site from contractors.  Last week I met with my architect and construction manager to clear up a few last details before sending plans off to more subcontractors for bids.  Although my experience and my house will obviously be different from yours, I’m hoping what I learn through my process will help you with yours.  So this week I have a short list of quick tips that I picked up in my meeting.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Apr 10, 2019

Well, we’ve made some progress.  We finally got our foundation and structural plan from the engineer and our building permit has been approved.  Hallelujah!

I’ll tell you more details about our progress, plus review a couple of construction terms.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Apr 3, 2019

Putting in some time and effort to get organized before we break ground will help the construction process go more smoothly and be less stressful, for us and our contractors.  It’s important to get information out of our heads and out of our numerous piles of magazines and papers and off of our scattered sticky notes and instead, organize all of our design and construction information into an easy to use system. This week we’ll talk about how we can organize all the information we’ll gather before and during the construction process.

Show notes at www.BYHYU.com

Mar 27, 2019

During Design and Construction Week, the International Builders Show (IBS)and the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) come together for one huge trade show that showcases the newest products and materials for residential design and construction.  This year the show was in Vegas and despite the very cold weather, I made my way to the convention center to check out most of the exhibitors.   If you go to the show every year, as I’ve done in the last several years, you’ll see many of the same tried and true products on display each year. But there are a few things in this year’s show that caught my eye.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Mar 20, 2019

Radiant heated driveways, also called snow melting systems, are installed just beneath a driveway’s surface and used to melt snow and ice without having to shovel, plow, snow blow or salt the driveway.   They keep the pavement warm enough to melt falling snow so it doesn’t accumulate.  They also keep the driveway too warm to allow water to freeze into slippery, dangerous ice. 

Even if you don’t live in a region that gets lots of winter storms, you might consider a heated driveway if the limited amount of snow and ice you do get causes unsafe passage to and from your home— if you have a sloped driveway that would be difficult and dangerous, to drive on or clear, or if you have a sun-starved, north-facing driveway where snow and ice might not melt for many days, or even weeks. For those who get any amount of snow and ice, but don’t have the time or physical ability for adequate removal, you might at least consider a heated driveway.  Keep in mind, in areas that get less snow, it’s harder to find someone to hire for snow and ice removal.  A heated driveway could even be considered an aging in place feature.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Mar 6, 2019

Last week, we went over 8 things you should never say to your contractors.  I’m a little hoarse this week, but I want to do a brief episode so we can complete our list.  This is, by no means, a comprehensive list.  If you can think of some other things we should never say to a contractor, let me know in the comment section of the show notes at BYHYU.com.

Feb 27, 2019

Although communicating with our contractors is an important part of successfully building our homes, there are certain things that we should never say to them.  This week, and next week, we’ll discuss some of those taboo phrases and questions that should never be uttered to our contractors.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Feb 20, 2019

Last week we talked about whether a buying an extended home warranty is a smart idea. Those home warranties are offered by third party companies that will help pay for repairing, and, if necessary, replacing, covered appliances and home components, such a

Feb 13, 2019

If you’re like me, you’ve been seeing commercials for extended home warranties and wondering if they’re a good investment.  These home warranties are supposed to go beyond the coverage that you get with the usual homeowners insurance policy.  They are warranties that are offered by third party companies that will pay for repairs, and, if necessary, replacing, covered appliances and home components, such as plumbing, should problems arise.  So are home warranties a good idea? 

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Feb 6, 2019

The information in this week’s episode comes from an article that was recently posted on Houzz called 32 Home Design Trends That Will Rule in 2019.   Houzz chose those 32 design trends after analyzing data from photos and articles that have been saved on the site, plus interviewing professional designers.  The trends are those they think you can expect to see a lot in 2019.   Many of them are features we’ve seen over the last several years but are still popular in new homes.

Now, To clarify, design features that are on trend can be very different than features that are trendy.    A trend is defined as a general direction in which something is developing or changing.  A design trend is often classic— something that will look good many years or even decades from now, like white or light colored walls. Something that’s trendy, has faddish appeal.  It may look very interesting and current in the next year or two, but it will probably look dated in a decade— think of sponge-painted faux finishes on walls from the early 2000s.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jan 23, 2019

I was trying to wait until we actually started construction before I did another project update, but I know you guys have been wondering what’s been going on since my last update back in September.    Well, as you know from the title of the episode, we still haven’t started construction. 

Our site has been cleared and leveled, and it’s ready for construction.  The floor plan is complete and Keith, the builder I hired as my construction manager, is ready to go. But, for several months, we’ve been waiting on the structural engineer to complete the foundation plan and the other portions of the plan that need to be engineered. 

ShoShow notes BYHYU.com

Jan 16, 2019

As with most features in your home, the way you design your kitchen island should be a matter of functionality, personal taste, your budget, and your lifestyle.  This week’s quick tips will help you design an island that is not only on trend style-wise but also functional and comfortable.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jan 9, 2019

You may or may not have heard of central vacuum systems, also called “central vac”.  People who know of them generally love them or hate them.  This week we’ll talk about the pros and cons of putting a central vac in your new home.  We’ll also go over the cost of the system and who would benefit from it most.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Dec 26, 2018

This week we’ll talk in more detail about a rain screen, which is a moisture control measure that can be used in new construction.  I briefly introduced you to rain screens in episode 134 called “Learn to Control One of Your Home’s Biggest Enemies:  Moisture”. But in this week mini-lesson, we’ll have a more in-depth discussion of rain screens and talk about when they are recommended.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Dec 19, 2018

Hardware refers to all the metal knobs, levers, latches, pulls, hinges, and handles in a house.  When building a new house, we’ll need to decide what style and color hardware to choose for the cabinets, windows, drawers, and doors.  So, in this week’s episode, we’ll go over what’s trending in hardware and metal finishes.  And we’ll talk about whether mixing metals is still ok.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Dec 5, 2018

Most of us will include tiles in several rooms in our homes.  Tiles in the kitchen and bathrooms are most common, but new homes today might have tiles as the main flooring in our living rooms, on fireplace surrounds, as feature walls, and as outdoor flooring. 

As a material that will be used repeatedly in our homes and as a material that can be potentially pretty expensive, the last thing we want to do is invest in a tile that’s no longer in style.  As with everything, going for classic favorites that have stood the test of time is always a safe bet, but choosing materials that are classic, interesting and current, all at the same time, makes the most sense for the longevity of your design and for the resale of your house.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Nov 28, 2018

For those of us who want to make our homes as safe possible, incorporating some fire resistant features is a smart idea. Interestingly, many ordinary, everyday homebuilding materials are either naturally fire resistant or they can become fire resistant with a few tweaks. Although most building materials are not 100% fireproof, many materials that we’ll talk about today will give your house a fighting chance if it’s ever threatened by fire. Homes built with the right materials, the right landscaping layout, and smart detailing have a far better chance of escaping a fire with less damage.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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