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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
Jun 13, 2018

A couple of weeks ago we talked about the bidding process, mainly as it pertains to owner-builders bidding for subcontractors themselves.  This week I’ll give you a quick overview of the different types of contract agreements you might decide on if you ’re going to hire a general contractor to build your house.  We’ll briefly discuss fixed price contracts and cost-plus contracts.

Choosing which type of contract to use is almost as important as choosing which general contractor to hire.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jun 6, 2018

An outdoor kitchen is a space that used to be thought of as a luxury but is now regarded more as a must-have amenity in many areas.  Even if you only have a small space and a not so big budget, you can put your grill in a small outdoor kitchenette.  An outdoor kitchen will increase your home’s value, so it’s a great investment. This week, we’ll discuss some outdoor kitchen design features— some are practical for almost any budget and some are more luxurious.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

May 30, 2018

After last week’s listener question episode about what to do when your bids are coming in above expected, I thought that a more in-depth mini-lesson on the bid process would be helpful.  Bids… that’s what we’re talking about this week.

Once we have a detailed plan for our project, in the form of accurate architectural drawings/house plans and written specifications, the bid process can begin. Our goal in going through the competitive bid process is not just to get the lowest price for the job, but to get the best quality work for the lowest price.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

May 23, 2018

Recently a listener emailed me with a question that I thought would be good to answer on the podcast.  It has to do with the bidding process. 

Getting bids is the process of getting cost proposals from subcontractors.  To get an accurate bid, at a minimum, we need to give each subcontractor a set of house plans and specifications.  The specifications describe the specific materials needed for the job and the methods for construction.  We’ll talk in more detail about the bid process next week in a mini-lesson.  But right now, let me read you the question that I got, then I’ll give you my answer.

I've enjoyed listening to your podcast as we are in the pre-construction phase of planning to build our own home. However, in the past couple of weeks, our subcontractor bids have been coming in and we are starting to get concerned. I sent MULTIPLE bid requests to subcontractors for each trade, and even though all of them haven't come in, we are trending well above what it would cost to go through a builder. What am I doing wrong? Do general contractors have some underground network of cheap laborers that I'm missing out on because I'm not a GC? Any advice would be helpful!

Show notes at BYHYU.com

May 16, 2018

So when exactly is the best time to build a house?  I always assumed it was the spring or summer because that’s when everyone seems to start construction.  And depending on what your goals are, spring and summer are the best times.  However, fall, and rarely winter, could be a better time to start. Again, depending on your goals.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

May 9, 2018

This week we have the second part of an owner builder interview that I did with Juan Catano. He and his wife are remodeling their duplex and making it into a triplex.  In this part of the interview, Juan tells us what he wishes he had known before he started his project, what surprise costs he ran into and what mistakes he would warn other owner-builders about.   

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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May 2, 2018

Juan Catano works in industrial construction and is currently remodeling his home.  He and his wife are changing their duplex into a triplex and recently, they’ve taken on the role of general contractor.  This week, you’ll hear the first part of a 2 part interview that we did.  He’ll tell about their experience so far and about some of their challenges.  He also shares how he’s finding and managing his subcontractors.

Before we get into part 1 of the interview, I want to make sure that you know that BYHYU.com has a search box where you can search for different topics or past episodes.  The search box is at the top right of each post if you accessing the website from your tablet or computer.  If you’re on your phone, you’ll find the search box all the way at the bottom of each post. I just wanted to make sure you knew about that.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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Apr 25, 2018

I often see gutter systems on homes, but I was unclear about whether gutters are a necessity or not.  So I did a little research and I’ll tell you what I found in this week’s episode.  We’ll talk about who needs to add gutters to their house and why, and we’ll briefly cover the basic types of gutter systems and the approximate cost. 

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Apr 18, 2018

I thought I could fill out my building permit application in just a few minutes, but I couldn’t because I didn’t have all the information I needed.  Learn what information is needed for a building permit application and how I went back and forth with the builder I wanted as my consultant.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Apr 11, 2018

When choosing kitchen and bathroom cabinets, you already know you’ll need to consider material, cabinet sizes, paint or stain colors and style. But what about the cabinet sheen or finish? Have you thought about whether you’ll choose flat, matte cabinets or shiny, high gloss cabinets?

No matter what material your cabinets are made of, you have a choice of whether to go with a glossy, matte or semi-gloss finish for the end product. What sheen you should choose for your cabinets initially seems like a trivial decision that is based purely on aesthetics. 

But the sheen of your cabinets can not only dramatically affect the way your kitchen and bathrooms look, but also how well the cabinets function and how durable they’ll be.  Plus the amount of cleaning they’ll need. So, this week we’ll compare and contrast flat, matte surfaces with shiny, high gloss surfaces.   And we’ll end with some facts about semi-gloss finishes.

Before making any final decisions about the sheen of our kitchen and bathroom cabinets, it’s a good idea to familiarize ourselves with the pros and cons of each.  That way, we can make an informed decision and prepare ourselves for the cleaning and maintenance requirements of our selection.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Apr 4, 2018

This week I have a few quick tips for dealing with contractors.  These tips come from a 2017 article written in Consumer Reports called “Home Renovations without Aggravation—Learn how to combat shady contractor practices and avoid common and costly mistakes many homeowners make.” 

Although the article addresses home renovations, most of the information in the article is also relevant for those of us who will be building new homes.   

That consumer reports article highlights information from a recent survey of 300 general contractors from around the United States.  The survey was conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

In the survey, contractors admitted to some shady practices that are found in the construction industry.  Some of the shady industry practices include:

-contractors using unskilled laborers to carry out their work

-winning jobs with lowball bids and then jacking up the cost later with “unforeseen problems”.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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Mar 28, 2018

The kitchen stove is a visual and functional focal point in many kitchens. And there are several options from which to choose.  This week’s mini-lesson will give you an overview of many of those options, including, ranges vs cooktops, plus electric, gas, induction, convection, and dual fuel cooking.  This lesson should help you choose the best stove for your new kitchen.  We’ll also talk about the very basic differences between cooking with gas versus cooking with electric.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Mar 21, 2018

I’ve been wondering for a while now about the current trends and rules for crown molding, baseboards and other types of interior trim and molding. In my internet search, I didn’t find a lot of articles on the subject.  There’s some information defining the different types of trim, but not a lot of hard and fast rules to go by.  In this week’s episode, we're going over the few rules that I did find, I’ll cover whether it’s acceptable to paint the trim in different parts of the house different colors and I’ll discuss some less traditional trim options that you may not have heard of or considered. 

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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Mar 14, 2018

This week I want to give you a quick update on the status of my project.  My structural engineer finally completed my foundation plan (kind of), I got the official plot plan done and my POA approved my design.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Mar 7, 2018

I’ve hesitated to do an episode on the cost of construction because homebuilding costs can vary greatly from house to house and region to region.  But, “How much does it cost to build a house?” is a question that comes up a lot.  So I decided to give you some information collected by the National Association of Home Builders.  They did a cost of construction survey which asked builders from around the United States to break down their construction costs for the typical home they built in 2017.

This week’s episode will cover a lot of numbers that you cant possibly remember, but I want to give some points of reference for our own project. 

I’ll not only share the average cost for each major category of the building process, such as site work, framing and the foundation, but I’ll also tell you what percentage of the total cost of construction each segment represents. 

Here are some quick averages: 

The average single-family home built in 2017 was 2,776 square feet, so almost 2800 square feet.

The average lot size was about 11,186 square feet.

The average construction cost of a typical single-family home in 2017 was $237,760. 

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Feb 28, 2018

This past week in my area, it rained almost non-stop for 3 days.  And although I haven’t started building, I was thinking I’d pretty nervous if I had started and my house was being framed and exposed to all that water.

It got me to wondering… Is it ok if it rains while your house is being framed before the house is dried in?  If it’s not ok, what can you do if it does rain?  Do you need to wait for the lumber to dry?

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Feb 21, 2018

Outdoor living spaces are more important than ever.  Most folks building new homes want a deck, porch and/or patio where they can entertain or just relax as a family. 

When choosing the materials for the construction of your porch, deck or patio, the style of your home and your personal preference should definitely be considered.  A traditional colonial-style home would look nice with a brick patio, for example, whereas a more contemporary house might look better with an outdoor space made of poured concrete or sleek pavers. 

But, in addition to aesthetic considerations, we should also think about maintenance, cost, and the pros and cons of each material.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Feb 14, 2018

This week I have a quick episode telling you about 7 house layout mistakes you should avoid when designing your home.  Most of them are mistakes that I almost made until I mentally walked through the house.  Some of them are mistakes that my architect didn’t even see until I brought them to his attention.  So do your due diligence, even if you are working with a professional, and literally study your house plan before you finalize it.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Feb 7, 2018

I love lighting fixtures.  I’d have a beautiful chandelier in almost every room of the house, if I could.  But there’s more to lighting than pretty fixtures.  Lighting is first and foremost functional.  I briefly covered lighting in episode 25 called “8 Kitchen Design Mistakes to Avoid”.  Mistake #6 was “Going Light on Lighting.”  That’s not what we want to do in the kitchen or any other place in the house. 

In this week’s mini lesson, we’ll go over the basic rules to follow when choosing lighting for your new home.  Now,  an electrician or lighting designer will be invaluable in making specific suggestions your project, but today we’ll cover some general guidelines. 

As with most guidelines, experts sometimes disagree.  I noticed when doing my research that one website might have slightly different guidelines and advice than another.  So the tips and rules that I’ll outline today may be just a little different from what you read or hear elsewhere, but this information should help give you some basic, practical tips that will get you on the right path to a well lit home. 

We’ll talk about the different categories of lighting, where to put warm white light as opposed to cool white light, and we’ll go into what size recessed lights (can lights) are best and how you should space them.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jan 31, 2018

Although I haven’t started the fun, exciting part of the building process yet, I made an important phone call this week and introduced myself to the head building inspector.  In this week’s episode, I’ll give you a quick project update.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jan 24, 2018

Many of the trends that I saw at this year’s Design and construction week are a continuation of the what I saw in 2016 and 2017. I’m finding that homebuilding trends don’t typically change abruptly from year to year. So the trends that I talked about in episodes 5 and 55 still hold for this year. But this week we’ll talk about a few new trends for 2018.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jan 17, 2018

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

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Jan 10, 2018

“Solar energy" harnesses the energy of the sun to power your house. A 2017 report from the International Energy Agency says that solar energy has become the world’s fastest growing source of power– marking the first time that solar energy’s growth has surpassed that of all other fuels.

Most people who want to install a solar panel system are motivated to do so either because saving the planet is important to them and/or because saving money on their utility bills is important to them.  Either way, solar panel systems are tremendously beneficial.

This week’s episode will give you a basic overview of solar power systems, including the pros and cons of the different types of solar panels, the average cost, and the amount of maintenance needed.  We’ll also talk about leasing solar panels.

Before our mini lesson, we’ll go over a few pro terms:  On the grid, zero energy homes, and off the grid.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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