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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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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

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

info@BYHYU.com

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

info@BYHYU.com

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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