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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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Nov 18, 2020

Since we can often learn from the project of others, in this week’s episode, we’ll be reviewing a modern-style, green home with Lake Washington views in the Seattle Washington area.  It’s a 2 story house that’s almost 3200 sq ft.  There are 4 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms, including a mother-in-law suite. The house has solar panels and is certified by the DOE Zero Energy Ready program, the Northwest Energy Star program, and EPA Indoor air PLUS program.  And this home costs the homeowners only $21 per year for utilities.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Nov 4, 2020

For years Fort Worth magazine has teamed up with an area builder and local designers and vendors to build a house highlighting the latest in home design.  Called the Dream Home,  it’s been a showcase house charity fundraiser that many in and around Dallas, TX look forward to every year.

This year, for the first time, 3 homes were built to be showcased in an event called, not Dream Home, but Dream Street.  The 3 luxury showhomes were in all on the same street in Southlake, TX, a suburb outside of Dallas. Each house had a different builder and designer so I knew it would be interesting to see the similarities and differences that showed up in the different houses.  Going to these showcase homes often lets us in on what’s up-and-coming and tried and true in homebuilding and decor.

Some of the most prominent design features were those that I’ve talked about before and ones that I’ve seen in previous parades of homes.  But to me, it’s always helpful to know what’s still trending and what has gone by the wayside.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Oct 21, 2020

A couple of weeks ago, I took a road trip to the Vesta Parade of Homes in Memphis, TN.  As usual, there were several new construction houses in the same neighborhood that were open for tours.  I think this was my third year going to the Vesta parade of homes, and it never disappoints.  The houses were transitional in style, meaning there was a mix of traditional and contemporary decor.  Patterns and colors of furniture, rugs, and art leaned just a little more traditional than contemporary, probably because of the southern sensibility of the homes, buyers, and designers.   But materials and fixtures had mostly clean lines and sleek finishes and were similar to what I’ve seen used throughout the country and on design websites and in magazines.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Oct 7, 2020

Choosing the right hot tub entails more than picking out the prettiest unit that’s within your budget.  It’s important to know the basics about a hot tub’s construction, jets, water pump, filtration system, and maintenance in order to choose a spa unit that will be enjoyable and energy-efficient. Here is a list of things you should consider before buying a hot tub.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Email me at michelle@BYHYU.com if you’d like to be a guest

Sep 23, 2020

At the end of August, I released episode 212 where we talked about what features to choose if you want a quieter garage door.   In that show, we focused mainly on the garage door opener, track, and apparatus. This week, we’ll focus on the outer shell of the garage door— the material the door is made of (steel, wood, fiberglass, aluminum, and glass, or vinyl) and how that material will effect the door’s look, price, durability, and level of maintenance.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Sep 9, 2020

Average lumber prices have more than doubled from mid-April to late August 2020.  Prices moved from a low in April of $348 per thousand board feet to over $900 per thousand board feet in August. This price surge is adding over $16,000 to the price of the average single-family home according to the National Association of HomeBuilders.  And it’s adding several tens of thousands of dollars to higher-end homes.  The extreme increase in lumber prices have been made worse by tariffs of more than 20% on Canadian lumber imported into the U.S. The U.S. typically gets quite a bit of lumber from Canada. 

Given these historically high lumber prices, many homeowners and builders are currently wondering if prices are likely to decrease back toward normal, and if so, when. Folks are further questioning whether now is the right time to start a build or whether waiting is a better option.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Aug 26, 2020

We've all heard how loud opening a garage door can be, but what you may not realize is that opening a garage door doesn’t have to be that noisy.  There are garage door features you can choose that can make opening your garage door much quieter, which is particularly important for attached garages and garages with rooms above them.   

We’ll also cover when choosing 2 single garage doors is better than choosing one double-wide garage door.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Aug 12, 2020

Between having to regularly endure the weight of heavy vehicles and varying outdoor elements such as driving rains, sweltering heat, ice, and snow, driveways get lots of use and abuse. Therefore, it’s important that we choose the best driveway surface for our circumstances.

There are several options to choose from and each has its pros and cons with respect to durability, maintenance, aesthetics, sustainability, and price.   Keep in mind, when considering price, you want to be sure to factor in not only the initial cost of your driveway but also the long-term costs associated with maintenance.  You’ll also want to think about how the material will perform your area’s climate.  Some driveway materials may be better for your region’s weather conditions than others.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jul 29, 2020

In the last episode, we started discussing how to compromise with our partners when designing and building a house.  This week, we’ll complete our list of tips that will help us come through the home building process with a home and relationship that both partners are happy with.  Now remember, not every suggestion will work in every single situation, but you should be able to find at least one or two tips on the list that will help you come to a compromise for almost every disagreement.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jul 15, 2020

Building and decorating a house should be and can be, a really happy time in your life. But it can also be a time of stress.   One of the major sources of stress can come from having to make a number of decisions that both you and your partner have to agree upon.  How do you design and decorate a home when you and your significant other have completely different styles? Even when people have very similar tastes, there will inevitably be some areas where one person’s first choice is different than their partner’s. 

In this mini-lesson, we’ll go over tips on how to compromise with your partner during the homebuilding journey.  Not every suggestion will work in every single situation, but you should be able to find at least one or two tips on the list that will help you come to a compromise for almost every disagreement. 

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jul 1, 2020

When deciding on which contractors to use for your project, you’ll need to compare prices, which means asking each potential contractor how much they will charge. There are several ways a contractor or supplier can outline cost:  an estimate, a quote, and a bid. 

Although the terms are used interchangeably, there are important distinctions that we should understand. That’s what we’ll talk about in this mini-lesson— the difference between an estimate, a quote, and a bid. 

Show notes on BYHYU.com

Jun 17, 2020

Do y’all remember that episode of Seinfeld where the girl Jerry was dating looked either really pretty or really unattractive depending on the lighting she was in?  That bad lighting is what we want to avoid, especially in our homes.  Although I don’t consider myself to be overly concerned with looks, I’d rather avoid the spooky, ghoulish shadows on faces that can show up because of poorly designed lighting. 

It used to be that only models, actresses, photographers, and entertainers were aware of what type of lighting is most flattering.  But in this new era of selfies, social media posts and youtube channels, lighting our homes in a way that flatters us and our surroundings has become top of mind for even the average Jo(e). 

I’ve come up with a list of tips that we can incorporate into our homes to not only make the lighting design functional but also flattering.  If we can do relatively simple things in our homes to make us look and feel our best, why not?  I mean, we need to include lighting in our houses anyway, so why not use and place fixtures so that they shine the very best light on ourselves and our guests. 

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jun 3, 2020

n the last episode we began a mini lesson on range hoods, also called vent hoods and exhaust hoods. We talked about how you should properly size and position your hood and what amount of power you’ll need. And I strongly recommended that, if at all poss

May 20, 2020

We typically give quite a bit of thought to most of our kitchen appliance choices. But exhaust hoods… they get much less love.  Most people don’t give range hoods the attention they deserve. They might think some about the aesthetic design of the range hood, but not a lot of people think through how to size and position a hood, and what features they should look for in a range hood that will give them the perfect balance of suction power and quietness.

If you think about it, the range hood, also called an exhaust hood and a vent hood is one of the more hardworking appliances in the kitchen.  Because it removes irritating fumes, smoke, heat, odors, and potentially damaging moisture, the exhaust hood allows for a safer, more comfortable, cleaner, less smelly, and more enjoyable kitchen experience.   In this episode, we’ll discuss a few things that will help us make informed decisions about what sort of hood we should choose. 

Show notes at BYHYU.com

May 6, 2020

This week we have the second half of our list of design tips that should help us start thinking through the interior decor for each room of our homes.  Last week, we talked about some of the first things we should consider when starting a room design.

I suggest you take a listen to last week’s episode if you haven’t already because we discussed some foundational design guidelines that will help you know where to start decorating a room or house. Knowing where to begin is sometimes the hardest part of choosing your decor.  If we can figure out our starting point, the rest of the design will often fall into place. 

This week’s tips will help you pull all your different room designs together to give your house some cohesion and flow. We’ll also cover scale, color and contrast, and how to decide what you like if your Pinterest boards seem to be all over the place. 

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Apr 22, 2020

When building a home, there are so many design decisions to make that it can be overwhelming.  And even for those of us who love designing, it’s hard to know where to start, especially when you have an entire new house to decorate. So in the next two episodes, we’ll go over a few tips that should give you some general design direction, including where to start.   

Now, if you don’t enjoy decorating, or you have no interest in choosing furniture and accessories for your home, you probably want to consider hiring an interior designer.

To help you decide whether working with a designer is the way to go, take a listen to episode 132 called “Should I Hire An Interior Designer?”

Even if you decide you want to work with a designer, this episode will still be helpful to you because you’ll still have to answer the designer’s questions about what you like and dislike.  And although the designer could make all your final decisions for your home’s interior, You’ll still need to articulate how you want your house to look and live, to guide the designer's selections.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Apr 8, 2020

In the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic, now more than ever, we’re aware of actions we can take to help prevent the spread and growth of viruses, bacteria,  and other illness-causing microorganisms.   And that got me to thinking, are there ways we can design our houses that will also help fight and prevent germs?  Obviously, we can’t completely eliminate microorganisms, and we shouldn’t want to because some of them are beneficial.  But what can we include in our new builds that will decrease the chances of unhealthy bacteria and viruses living and thriving in our homes?

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Mar 25, 2020

The novel coronavirus, COVID 19 is on everyone’s minds.  And for those of us in the middle of construction, or simply planning a new build, it’s natural to wonder how the pandemic might affect our homebuilding plans.  I stress the word “might” because no one can be sure how long this pandemic will last, or how long-lasting its effects may be.

In an effort to better understand what could possibly happen in residential construction in the near future, I talked with a local builder and scoured the internet for articles on the subject.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Mar 11, 2020

According to residential construction expert Mike Holmes from the show Holmes on Homes, “If your garage is attached to your house, the most important thing is to make sure it’s sealed. You must keep fumes, exhaust, and carbon monoxide out of the house”.   You don’t want off-gassing in your garage from your vehicle’s exhaust to seep through the garage drywall into the main house.  You also want to insulate certain walls of the garages.  Learn which ones in this episode.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Feb 26, 2020

This episode was inspired by a question that I got about garages from Joe, from my home state of Virginia.  Hey Joe!  This week we’ll talk about the pros and cons of an attached vs a detached garage.  Now, many of you might think, why would I build a new house with a detached garage?  Doesn’t everyone want the convenience of an attached garage?

It’s important to realize that there are advantages and disadvantages to both detached and attached garage structures. And that’s what we’ll briefly discuss.  There are many factors to consider when making your decision, including your budget, your lot size and shape, your desired level of personal and home security and your sensitivity to chemicals and fumes.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Feb 19, 2020

A quick episode this week giving you some suggestions that will help you save money on your cabinetry.  The things I’ll mention won’t give you the most durable, beautiful or practical cabinetry, but if you’re willing to sacrifice some beauty and convenience, you can save quite a bit of money.    Keep in mind, you don’t have to use all the suggestions to save. Incorporating even one or two of these design features can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Show notes on BYHYU.com

Feb 12, 2020

The kitchen is the heart of the home and one of the hardest rooms in the house to keep clean. You’ve got crumbs, smoke, grease, dirt, dust, stains, spills and splatters to deal with. But there are practical ways to design our kitchens that will make maintaining and cleaning them easier.  I have a list of 20 tips. Andy many of these tips can also work for bathrooms too.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Feb 5, 2020

Those of us who want to build a well-constructed, energy-efficient home should aim for a tight building envelope that minimizes air leakage (meaning it’s airtight), controls moisture, and has a generous amount of insulation.

In episodes 27-31, we looked at several different ways to insulate a house, but this week, we’ll consider how much insulation is enough and whether over insulating a house is a thing?

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jan 29, 2020

IBS, The International Builders Show is the largest yearly residential and light commercial construction trade show in the world. Typically more than 1400 construction manufacturers and suppliers showcase the latest and most in-demand products and services in the industry. 

Although I love seeing homebuilding products on the showroom floor of IBS, my very favorite part of the show is touring the 2 official idea houses they build every year — The New American Home® (TNAH), and The New American Remodel™ (TNAR). You know I love a show home, especially one that’s been built with energy efficiency and quality construction in mind.  We can get ideas for pretty decor almost anywhere, but it’s so much more valuable for us to look at examples of houses that are not only pretty but well-built.  High-performance concept homes, like the New American Home, can give us ideas about materials and methods that we can either use or adapt, for our own projects.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jan 15, 2020

Whether you have small children living with you full-time or you’re an empty nester who will have grandchildren or nieces and nephews visiting on a fairly regular basis, you should consider incorporating kid-friendly design into your new house.   This includes features and decor that are safer and more practical for little ones. This week we’ll talk about 12 kid-friendly design features.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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