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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: 2019
Oct 23, 2019

It’s one thing to see small samples of countertops, tile, paint, and flooring in a showroom or retail space, but to see those design features displayed in new houses is so much more helpful. Not even full-sized samples such as doors, plumbing fixtures, and lighting fixtures have the same impact in a showroom or a photo as they do up close and personal in real-life applications.  That’s why I take as many opportunities as I can to go to new homes around the country.  I want to stay on the pulse of what's new and trending and what design features seem to be here to stay for the foreseeable future— the ones that emerged several years ago, but don’t seem to be going anywhere, like linear fireplaces.   

I recently went to 2 parades of homes— in Kansas City and one in the Memphis TN area.  I visited about 30 different brand new homes— about 6 in Memphis and the rest in Kansas City. Many of the features that I saw, we’ve talked about on other design trend episodes, but I think it’s important to keep revisiting the topic of home design so we don’t build and decorate a brand new house in a way that looks dated soon after we move in.  Here are some of the top design elements that I saw in those parades of homes…

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Oct 16, 2019

The Energy Information Administration says that home appliances produce the third-largest energy expenditure in the home, representing about 9% of the typical energy bill.  Only heating and cooling, and water heating use more energy.   

Specifically, refrigerators and clothes dryers have the highest operating costs per year.  To decrease the amount of energy used in our homes, we can choose Energy Star appliances and products.  This week, we’ll learn more about the Energy Star program and how much more efficient its certified appliances are.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Oct 9, 2019

Because most of us want not only a beautiful, well-designed house but also one that is energy efficient and/or sustainable, over the coming months I’ll be doing several episodes where we’ll talk about noted high-performance houses that have been covered in the media.  I’m a big believer in learning from others and may able to incorporate into our own projects some of the design elements and materials used in other recognized green, energy-efficient homes.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Oct 2, 2019

Because of the popularity of white interior walls, and white backgrounds in general on blogs and social media posts, we have grown accustomed to thinking of white as a go-to backdrop for many of our interior spaces.  White is familiar, bright and offers a clean background for highlighting home furnishings and features.  The fresh, clean background is why most museums and galleries use white walls to showcase artwork. White can be a great choice for traditional and contemporary spaces. But to some people, white can come off as cold, boring and overdone.  This week we’ll talk about the pros and cons of white walls.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Sep 25, 2019

Did you know that the average home build produces about 8,000 pounds of waste?   And with increasing landfill and building material costs, reducing job site waste could both help the environment and save you a significant amount of money.  The less you have to throw away, the less money you have to spend getting rid of your construction waste.

When renting a dumpster for a construction site, you’re charged based on the size dumpster.  The more waste you accumulate, the larger and more expensive the dumpster you’ll need. In addition, the weight of the debris will also have some bearing on waste management fees.

This is an unexpected line item that ideally we want to avoid.   In this week’s episode, I’ll give you some quick tips on how to reduce job site waste so those overage fees are less likely to occur. Plus we’ll hear from Angela Phillips of ZTERS, the waste management solutions company that I’ve been working with.  Angela will give us a little more insight into how we can manage our waste more efficiently.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

ZTERS.com

ZTERS DUMPSTER SIZING TOOL

Sep 18, 2019

This week’s episode is based on an article that I read in Houzz called “10 Home Design Trends on the Rise”. They made this list based on trends that they see in photos that designers and homeowners have submitted and based on their conversations with design professionals.   This list includes things that I too have been seeing in the past few years that I think we’ll continue to see in new homes as we go into 2020.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Sep 11, 2019

Don’t call it a comeback, marble’s been here for years.  But in the last decade, marble has become more popular than ever, especially in bathrooms and kitchens.  But… how good of an idea is that?  In this week’s mini-lesson, we’ll look at the pros and cons of using marble in our new homes and the difference between 2 of the most widely requested types of marble: Calcutta and Cararra marble.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

BYHYU.com

Sep 4, 2019

For decades, the standard ceiling height was 8 feet tall—a dimension that resulted from two 4-foot-wide drywall sheets laid together horizontally.  But homes are now being built with standard 9 or 10-foot ceilings on the first floor, and ceilings at 8 or 9 feet tall on the second floor. 

With today’s taller ceiling heights, the potential space above standard upper kitchen cabinets has become larger and we’ll have to decide how far up we want our cabinetry to go.  Should we leave an open space between the upper cabinets and the ceiling, or should we fill that space with a soffit or with additional cabinetry?   This week we’ll talk about the pros and cons of cabinets that extend all the way to the ceiling.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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Aug 28, 2019

Last week, we began a mini-lesson on the pros and cons of different exterior door styles. We went over 2 of the most common styles—single, standard doors and French doors.  Plus, we talked about a new kid on the block, bifold doors. In this second part of our list, we’ll discuss some more old school and new school door styles, including sliding doors, pivot doors, and dutch doors, and we’ll be answering the burning question “Are storm doors still a thing?”

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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Aug 21, 2019

Whether you’re deciding on the style of door you want for your main front entry, or to your patio, or to any other area that leads to the outdoors, there are several door styles to consider. It’s not just a matter of choosing a traditional single or double, French doors for your main entrance. You could also install a pivot door or a dutch door.  And for patio doors, there are French doors, sliding doors, and bifold doors.  This week, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of each style of exterior doors. 

Shownotes at BYHYU.com

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Aug 7, 2019

In part 1 of the mini-lesson, we talked about how many homeowners and house designers pay too little attention to roof overhangs because they think of them as purely aesthetic. But overhangs have several important functions: they can protect exterior doors, windows, and exterior walls from rain and snow; they can shade windows from hot summertime sun rays, and they can help keep basements and crawl spaces dry by directing rainwater away from the main structure of the house.

This week, we’ll go over whether you need deep roof overhangs for shading on the north, east and west sides of your house.  Plus I’ll tell you what you can do to protect your house from the sun’s heat and rain if you either don’t want overhangs or can’t have them because of building code.  Yep, building codes in some areas don’t allow overhangs.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Check out ZTERS Waste Solutions, your one-stop source for job site dumpsters, portable toilets, fencing, and storage units.

Jul 31, 2019

Although you may have thought about the color and material you want for your roof, the typical homeowner puts little thought into the actual design of their roof.  And roof overhangs specifically, forget about it.  Roof overhangs haven’t even crossed most people’s minds.    

In this week’s mini-lesson, I’ll tell you why overhangs shouldn’t just be an afterthought.   And why almost every new home should include them, where possible.

Check out ZTERS.com  for all your construction site services 

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jul 24, 2019

Where you place your dishwasher can increase or decrease your kitchen’s functionality and flow.  And although there is no one exact right place that dishwashers should universally go, this week I have a list of quick tips that you should think about before deciding where to put your dishwasher.  If you haven’t heard our Dishwasher Buying Guide Quick Tips, you might want to go to episode 80 and take a listen.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jul 17, 2019

In recent years, homeowners have been opting for fewer upper cabinets to give their kitchens a more open, airy feeling.  Some people want completely empty walls, maybe with a window, where traditional upper cabinets would have gone.  But many homeowners are requesting open shelves, sometimes called floating shelves, in place of some or all of their upper cabinets.

People are typically either adamantly for, or adamantly against open shelving in the kitchen.  You’d be surprised how much emotion is stirred up by the subject of open shelves. Some people claim they are one of the most beautiful and most functional features you can put in a kitchen, and others say that open shelves are not only unsightly but unsanitary.

So let’s get a bit more insight about when open shelves are a pretty and practical solution for a kitchen, and when they should be avoided.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jul 10, 2019

I have a couple of pocket of doors planned for my new house and when I was talking to a contractor about them, he said: “I hate pocket doors.” That is not an uncommon statement.    Some people love pocket doors because they’re sometimes the only small space door solution available, but pocket doors also have some problems.  So let’s talk about the pros and cons of pocket doors and let’s briefly discuss some pocket door quick tips.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jul 3, 2019

One of the first things you’ll have to decide when building a house is whether you want to want to be an owner-builder or use a general contractor for your project.  If you are considering building the home yourself, episodes 2 and 7, called “You Can Save Money, Lots of Money, But Should You Build Your Own House?” and “Build Your House Yourself, But Not All By Yourself” will give you some insight on acting as your own general contractor. 

If, however, you want to use a builder to construct your new home, you’ll have to choose between a custom home builder and a production builder.   Much of your decision will rest in how many choices you wish to make and how much input you’d like to have during the construction process. In this week’s episode, we’ll talk about the differences in production home builders and custom builders and I’ll give you the pros and cons of each.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jun 26, 2019

Really quick episode this week about something I recently learned about that can make our lives easier, make our homes safer and help us to save on our electricity bills:  Smart outlets or smart plugs.

They allow you to remotely control and automate the electricity going to that smart outlet or plug.  Smart outlets and plugs work pretty much the same way, but smart outlets are built-in and electricians can easily add them to newly built houses.  Smart plugs might be a better option for existing homes.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jun 19, 2019

If like me, you’re a fan of HGTV’s Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines, I bet you remember the Barndominium episode.  They restored an old barn into a beautiful family home.   Although barndominiums have been around for decades, that episode of Fixer Upper and the popularity of modern farmhouse and rustic chic decor have made many homeowners decide to build a barndominium for themselves.

They are an alternative to traditional stick-built new homes for homeowners who love a barn aesthetic and who want to live in an unconventional house.   And although this style house is not for everyone, there are a few homebuilding practices and features of barndominiums that most of us can incorporate into our homes and homebuilding experience,  no matter what style we choose.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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

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