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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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Now displaying: 2018
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

Nov 21, 2018

Since windows are one of the most important design features and expensive line items in our new homes, it’s important that we know what window trends are current, so we don’t make the expensive mistake of purchasing windows that will take away from our homes curb appeal and resale value.  We want windows that will make our homes feel current and interesting and not tired and dated.  This week we’ll briefly discuss 7 window trends that you might consider for your project.

Show notes at  BYHYU.com

Nov 14, 2018

You can’t beat the durability and the low maintenance advantages of synthetic, faux wood materials. But  I’ve seen lots of synthetic, wood look materials, and although a few of them look pretty realistic, some people feel like no synthetic material can match the natural beauty of real wood.

And for those people, that beauty is worth the extra maintenance required to use authentic wood for the exterior of their homes.  So, for those of us considering using real wood on our new homes, whether as decking, or as exterior wall cladding, fences or garage doors, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most popular wood species used for exterior applications to help us decide which wood might be best for our projects.   We’ll also briefly consider composite and plastic wood alternatives.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Nov 7, 2018

Soffits and Fascia are parts of the house that don’t often get a lot of thought or attention from homeowners planning to build their dream homes.  But they’re important not only as design elements for your home but also because they protect your house.   And choosing the right materials for your fascia and soffits can reduce the required maintenance for your home. This week we’ll briefly talk about soffit and fascia options so you can make the best choice for your home.  Let’s start by establishing exactly what and where soffits and fascia are.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Oct 31, 2018

Last week I traveled to Austin TX for their Parade of Homes.  I like going to different parts of the country to see what new homes features are popular in different areas.  If we incorporate some of our favorite features from different regions, it can make the homes we build more interesting.  As you know, too often designers and builders tend to do what they have always done and that can translate into all the houses in an area looking the same, void of character and uniqueness. Sometimes the only way to incorporate fresh ideas is for us homeowners to make fresh suggestions.  A great way to get new ideas and inspiration is by looking at houses in areas outside our region. 

This year’s parade of homes in Austin Tx had only 5 houses available to tour, and one was a tiny house.  But even with such a small number of houses, it was one of my favorite Parades of all time. The homes were examples of casual, timeless elegance at its best.  There were light, bright transitional interiors (remember transitional is a balance between traditional and contemporary features). There were lots of  clean lines, both inside and out, but the houses weren’t so clean that they felt minimalistic or cold

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Oct 17, 2018

Whether you believe in global warming or not, it seems that storms are becoming more and more prevalent and damaging.  And even if you don’t live in tornado alley or a coastal region that’s prone to hurricanes, you might want to consider adding some storm-proofing measures to your new house.   Storm resistant materials and techniques will not only make our homes stronger and more wind and water resistant but also more airtight and energy efficient, in many instances.

Since high winds and heavy rain can potentially occur in many regions outside of areas classified as “storm-prone,” it’s beneficial to learn about what we can do to protect our homes from even occasional, unexpected stormy weather.  Case and point: Hurricane Michael.  Not only did it bring hurricane force winds to coastal areas, but it also brought 155-mph winds and associated tornados to inland communities, far from the coast.  So take a listen to this week’s list of storm-proofing features to see if any of them makes sense for your new build. 

Before we move into our mini-lesson, a shout out goes to Trista, for giving me this great show idea.  Thanks, Trista.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Oct 10, 2018

As we are continuing to prepare to start construction, I have been calling around for quotes for the insurance that will need to be in place before we begin work and I’ve run into some challenges.  There are two policies that you’ll need to protect yourself if you are acting as an owner-builder, one is builders risk insurance and the other is general liability insurance.  You may have trouble finding general liability insurance.  In this week’s episode, I’ll tell you how to overcome that trouble.

Show notes at  BYHYU.com

Oct 3, 2018

Building a tight house is the goal for most of us.  What that means is that the unintended openings, gaps, and holes in the home’s exterior shell and in the duct system should be sealed, to keep outside air from leaking in, and to keep inside air from leaking out. A tight house will be more comfortable and have increased energy efficiency and lower utility bills.  That’s because conditioned air produced by your HVAC system is less likely to escape and unconditioned outside air is less likely to sneak in through unwanted gaps.  A tight house is also quieter, cleaner, and has better indoor air quality because outside noise, pests and pollutants have fewer opportunities to enter the home. 

But if you’ve listened to past episodes, you know that if we build tight, we should also ventilate right.   You’ll hear old school contractors say that building a tight house is not a good idea because they argue that a house should breathe.  Modern building science has proven that old school contractors are wrong to avoid a tight building envelope.  But, that old adage that a house should breathe is actually right.  However, instead of house breathing through the uncontrolled air infiltration of a leaky house, we want a house with a tight building envelope that breathes through controlled ventilation.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Sep 26, 2018

Uncontrolled moisture, in the forms of liquid water and water vapor, is huge enemies of any home.  If not controlled, moisture can cause heating and cooling inefficiencies, resulting in an uncomfortable house and higher utility costs.  Uncontrolled moisture can also lead to rot, mold, structural damage,  and poor air quality. 

What specific methods you use to control moisture will depend on the climate in your region and the design and construction of your home.  This week we’ll go over some moisture control strategies that will work for the majority of us, but always consult with local contractors to a make sure these strategies will work for your project. 

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Sep 19, 2018

I’ve gotten lots of emails from many of you stating that you love the show but that you decided to hire a builder.  It’s almost as if you were apologizing for hiring a builder, but this podcast is for anyone building a house, so we can all build a quality dream home with or without a general contractor. 

Some people just aren’t interested in contracting their own homes.  They don’t have the time or interest to make all the decisions that builders have to make.  They don’t feel comfortable hiring and managing subs, and, in that case, hiring a general contractor is the best course of action.   There should be no shame associated with hiring as much help as you need to build your house. 

The purpose of this podcast to help all of us make informed decisions and better understand the construction process, whether we use a builder or not.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Sep 12, 2018

So, should you hire an interior designer?  Well, Interior designers will tell you that you should absolutely hire them to help you decorate your new house. But ask a barber if you need a haircut and you know what he’ll say.  Whether or not you hire an interior designer is an incredibly personal choice.  There’s no right or wrong answer.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Sep 5, 2018

According to the National Council for Home Safety and Security, only 17%  of houses in the US have a security system.  Many people have avoided home security because of the costly, long-term monitoring fees and annoying false alarms that plagued home security systems decades ago.  But systems today have improved. Systems are both simpler to use and more sophisticated than ever before. 

Homes that are targeted for crime are usually unoccupied homes with lots of cover, such as lots of tall bushes around the house. Homes with easy escape routes and easy access through unlocked or unsecured doors or windows are also favorites of criminals.  Home security system deters criminals. Think about it, When an alarm sounds and interior lights come on in response to an alarm and when exterior lights start flashing or a voice comes through a video doorbell when a potential intruder approaches, the bad guys are more likely to leave your house alone and go after an easier, quieter target.

Homes without alarms are three times more likely to get burglarized according to The National Council for Home Safety and Security. Some say that statistic is overstated since overall crime rates have dropped over the last several years. But whether that number is inflated or not, I don’t think anyone can argue that home security systems, at the very least, give criminals pause when they are considering which homes to violate.  And for many people, especially as they age, a home security system brings peace of mind.

This week, I’ll give you the basics of home security systems.  You’ll be able to find lots more detail on the websites of specific brands, but this mini-lesson should help you decide whether you have enough interest in home security to seek more information.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Aug 29, 2018

After discussing outdoor cooling methods, including outdoor fans, in last week’s episode, I realized we haven’t really talked about indoor ceiling fans.  So, this week, I’ll give you some quicks on how to select, use and maintain your ceiling fans.

The right sized ceiling fan will keep you cool and save you money. Ceiling fans cost very little to run as compared to air conditioners. Running a fan will allow you to set your thermostat at a higher temperature when it’s hot outside so you can save money on your monthly electric bill.  According to Energy Star, you can save 3-5% on air-conditioning costs for each degree you raise the thermostat.

Unlike air conditioners, ceiling fans don’t lower a room’s temperature or remove humidity from the air. But what we learned last week is that fans make us feel more comfortable by blowing humid air away from us and allowing the moisture on our skin to evaporate more readily.  That’s what cools us down, making us feel 4-8 degrees cooler.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Aug 22, 2018

In this week’s episode, I have some helpful strategies that we can use to keep the inside and outside of our homes cooler and more comfortable during the hot summer. I did some research on what we can add to our homes that will make high outdoor temperatures more bearable.  I’m talking about things we can include in and around our homes beyond an energy efficient air conditioner for our houses that have been sized according to Manual J calculation.  We’ll discuss things like awnings, outdoor solar shades, solar screens and other shading products, outdoor fans, misting systems, swamp coolers and outdoor portable air conditioners.

And since not all cooling systems work well in all climates, I’ll tell you which ones are best for dry heat and which are better for hot, humid climates.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Aug 15, 2018

This week’s episode is inspired by one of my favorite resources for homebuilding and design ideas and advice: Houzz. Houzz is spelled and it’s short for House buzz.  That site not only gives you access to thousands of inspiration photos, but also short blog posts and a helpful forum called Gardenweb. 

When I was looking through the “building a home” section of the forum and saw a couple of valuable discussions that inspired this week quick tips — one discussion having to do with the inclusion of a job site visitation policy in the contract and one discussion regarding deleting items from the initial specifications list.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Aug 1, 2018

After I finished last week’s episode, I thought of a few more design features you should consider for your home if entertaining friends and family is important to you.    If you didn’t get a chance to listen to last week, check out episode 126 called Designing your Home for Entertaining and Family Gatherings.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jul 25, 2018

Most of us building custom homes are not just doing it for ourselves, but so our friends and family can enjoy the space too.  Even if you don’t plan on being the central hub for regular cocktail parties, game nights and potlucks, your nice new house will probably be the spot for holiday dinners and casual family barbecues at least once or twice a year.   So, in this week’s episode, I’ll give you some quick tips on how to design a home for entertaining— with features that will make your parties run more smoothly, make your guests feel comfortable and features that will help you enjoy more time with friends and family during get-togethers.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jul 18, 2018

In addition to the suggestions and tips that I gave you episode 125 called “Consider These Things for Your Electrical and Lighting Plan”, I’m giving you 21 bonus tips that I’ve curated from past BYHYU episodes. So that you can easily access our lighting and electrical tips for your own lighting plan, I’ve put them all together in one and a half episodes.  You’ve heard these 21 bonus tips before, but I think this will serve as a nice refresher for many of you, plus it will save you the trouble of having to listen to several episodes to find lighting tips that that scattered around in different places. If you haven’t listened to episode 125, you’ll definitely want to do that too, as the lion’s share of the lighting and electrical plan suggestions are in that episode.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jul 18, 2018

After giving a general overview last week of what’s needed for the specifications for the plumbing, mechanical and electrical subs, I thought it would be helpful to go into more detail about the lighting and electrical plan that you will need to give to the electrician.  There is so much to consider.  I’ll give you a list of 50 suggestions that you can use as a checklist that will help you develop a pretty complete electrical and lighting plan before you even meet your builder or electrician for the lighting walkthrough. 

The lighting walkthrough typically happens in the rough-in stage, after framing is complete and before the drywall goes up.  Usually, the homeowner will walk through the framed house with the electrician and/or builder and discuss where fixtures, outlets, and light switches will go. 

But thinking through the electrical and lighting plan well before you do the electrical walkthrough will allow you more time to consider exactly what features and outlets we want, and where. This decreases the chances of you forgetting an outlet or light switch somewhere.  It will also give you an opportunity to develop more detailed specifications so you can get more accurate electrical bids. 

I’ll give you some suggestions in list form.  50 suggestions here and 21 more tips in the bonus episode.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jul 11, 2018

I just came back from the Tulsa Parade of Homes. The real estate market in the Tulsa area is pretty underrated. There are beautiful homes and neighborhoods there and I love their parade of homes. This was my third or fourth year going there for the parade.

Like always, this parade of homes allowed me to see what features are popular in new construction, at least in that part of the country. But I also saw some features in houses that gave me pause. Features that we should definitively think twice about before putting them in our new homes. That’s what I want to talk about in this week’s episode.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jun 27, 2018

I just came back from the Tulsa Parade of Homes.  The real estate market in the Tulsa area is pretty underrated.  There are beautiful homes and neighborhoods there and I love their parade of homes.  This was my third or fourth year going there for the parade. 

Like always, this parade of homes allowed me to see what features are popular in new construction, at least in that part of the country. But I also saw some features in houses that gave me pause.   Features that we should definitively think twice about before putting them in our new homes.  That’s what I want to talk about in this week’s episode.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jun 20, 2018

How much storage should we build into our new homes? What I read over and over again was that you should include more storage than you think you need for your family’s current and future needs.  That ample amount of storage will not only make living in your new house more pleasant but it will also make your house more appealing when it’s time for you to sell it.  This week we’ll talk about the one rule of thumb that I came across, plus I’ll tell you about a few storage spaces that some people forget to include.

Show notes at www.BYHYU.com

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