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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: Page 1
Oct 20, 2021

Will open concept homes become a thing of the past?  In the midst of the pandemic, lots of people have been talking about wanting more private space in their homes.  And many are wondering if open floor plans are on their way out. I give you my prediction in this episode.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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Oct 6, 2021

As you probably know, a major part of doing our due diligence and vetting or investigating a contractor before hiring him or her is to contact some references.   Ask the contractors you’re considering for your project for ideally at least 3-4 references.  And make sure you actually contact those references.  Most people are very willing to help out by chatting about their homes and construction experiences. 

Some people think contacting references is not very helpful because they think the contractor will only give a list of their best customers who may potentially be unwilling to share anything other than the most positive remarks.  But you’d be surprised by how honest people will be, especially if the contractor is not in earshot of their comments.  Plus, my list of questions will hopefully elicit candid, valuable information.  

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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Sep 22, 2021

In the last episode, we had a brief overview of the rough-in phase of construction, including what goes on during the electrical rough-in.

This week I’ll give you some very basic information about your breaker box and where you should locate it.   Plus we’ll briefly cover when you’ll need a typical 120 volt electrical outlet versus a more powerful 240 volt outlet.  And we’ll end the mini-lesson with some talk about what size electrical service or the number of amps your house should have.  I know this sounds pretty technical, but these are things we need to understand on a basic level so when our electrician asks if we want a 120 volt or 240 volt outlet or if we want a 200 or 240 amp electrical service, we’ll have some idea of what he’s talking about.  As always, I’ll break things down into simple terms.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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Sep 8, 2021

Significant progress has been made on my house, but if you’ve been following me for a while, you know the process has been painfully slow. Soil instabilities found during excavation of my property and the subsequent foundation redesign and retaining wall construction added more than 6 months to my timeline. Record rains, including overflow of the river, a brutal winter storm, and a global pandemic added even more delays to my schedule before we had even started framing. Unfortunately, unrelenting pandemic-related shortages in materials and labor continue to wreak havoc on my construction schedule.  But we are making progress, it’s just slow progress.  The next step is rough-in.  We’ll go over what that means and I’ll tell you about some of the highlights of the last few months. 

www.BYHYU.com

Aug 25, 2021

This week we’ll go over some design tips that I read in a recent article on houzz.com called 7 Major Decorating Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.  Even if you like interior design as I do, it can be intimidating to decorate an entire house.  But information like this will give us some guidance and a little more confidence when making decisions about our decor. 

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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Aug 4, 2021

This is the second part of our interview with fireplace professional Jake Cromwell of Top Chimney and Roofing. He’ll continue his discussion about high-efficiency direct vent gas fireplaces, which he recommends for those of us who want the heat and beauty of a fireplace, but don’t want a lot of maintenance. He’ll also tell us what we need to look for if we want to mount our TV above our fireplace and where we can find certified fireplaces professionals.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jul 21, 2021

This week and next we’ll have a fireplace professional and educator on the show who will help us understand the different types of fireplaces and educate us about some fireplace misconceptions. We’ll also talk about his favorite type of fireplaces and the greatest piece of advice he has for consumers. In part one of our talk, he’ll focus on breaking down the major categories of fireplaces for us.  It’s a great interview so let’s get right into it.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Jul 7, 2021

The current homebuilding environment is a tough one. Builders and homeowners like us are dealing with historically high prices and historically low availability in building materials and labor.  In this week’s episode, I’ll tell you about a May 2021 survey done for the National Association of HomeBuilders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).  The survey outlines the percentage of builders in the US who have ordered building materials and experienced significant shortages in those materials. 

I’ll also give you a few ideas for what to do during construction delays that might result from materials shortages.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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Jun 23, 2021

The cost of lumber has increased more than 300% since April 2020. Lumber sold for $348 per thousand board feet before the pandemic and peaked to a record high of $1,500 per thousand board feet in May 2021.  Thankfully, prices have begun to fall in the last few weeks. 

I checked lumber prices today and they are around $935 per thousand board feet, which is still considerably higher than prices were when many of us started thinking building. And lumber prices fell several months ago and went back up, so we’re in unpredictable times.

With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit an episode that I did on 2 alternatives to traditional stick-built, lumber-framed homes. Those alternatives are Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) and Insulated Concrete Forms, (ICFs). Both SIPs and ICFs provide both insulation and structural framing components for the house.  

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the cost of a standard 2,000 sq. ft. home has increased by $34K since April 2020.   A similar 2000 sq ft house built with Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) also increased in price, but by only $8K or about 30%.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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Jun 9, 2021

If you’re considering building a house with exterior cladding made of stucco and/or manufactured stone or thin natural stone veneer, this episode is for you.   This week we’ll talk about the moisture control challenges that we can run into with stone veneer, manufactured stone, and stucco cladding. 

Peter Barrett is our guest today.  He is the Product and Marketing Manager at Dorken Systems.  Dorken specializes in high-performance air and moisture barriers used to protect residential and commercial projects.

We’ll delve into how we can help alleviate the moisture problems that are often seen today with stucco and manufactured stone.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

www.dorken.com

May 26, 2021

This week I’ll tell you about some minor, but frustrating construction challenges that I’ve had in hopes you will learn from my experience.  We’ll also discuss the “dried-in” phase of construction, rain screens, and the best-looking, virtually maintenance-free wood-alternative product that I’ve seen.

Shownotes at BYHYU.com

May 12, 2021

Decluttering gradually, over several months to a year before moving will decrease the overwhelm that usually comes with decluttering an entire house in a short period of time.  

This week, I’ll give you a decluttering plan that you can use to help make the process easier and more methodical. It’s ideal to pare down before you move into your new house because transporting unwanted and unused stuff from one house to another means more time, effort, and money when packing and unpacking. 

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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Apr 28, 2021

Before we move into our new homes, most of us will need to declutter. And if we have the time, we should consider decluttering gradually, over several months to a year. This can decrease any potential overwhelm that can come with decluttering an entire house. So, even if you’re just at the beginning of your home building journey, it’s not too early to start sifting through your belongings to decide what things are worthy of a spot in your new build. In this week’s episode, I’ll give you a list of some common sources of clutter and tell you how long you should keep certain items like tax documents and spices. In my next episode, I’ll give you a decluttering plan that you can use before your move.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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Apr 14, 2021

Heightened emotion and desire to make the best selections for our homes is understandable. But the pressure to make the “perfect” choice for every single thing in our new builds can deplete our time, energy, peace of mind, and definitely our enjoyment of the building process. If you tend to overthink most things or suffer from analysis paralysis or decision fatigue, this episode is for you.  

Show notes are BYHYU.com

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Mar 31, 2021

This week’s episode is part 2 of a show that I started a couple of weeks ago. If you haven’t listened to part 1, you might want to do that now because we’ll have some quiz questions in this episode that will cover information from the current and the previous show.

As I told you last time, I recently selected the plumbing fixtures for my project and was surprised about how much there is to consider when choosing toilets. In this week’s mini-lesson we’ll cover one-piece vs two-piece toilets, toilet height, floor mount vs wall mount toilets and some options that you can look for that will help keep your toilets cleaner for longer.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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Mar 17, 2021

I recently selected the plumbing fixtures for my new build and surprisingly, one of my toughest decisions I had to make was regarding which toilets to get.  I never know there was so much to consider when choosing toilets. Should you get a one-piece or two-piece model? Where should you position the flush handle? Is a single or dual flush toilet better,? Comfort height or standard height?  Floor mount or wall mount? Whether we should pay extra for easy clean options and finally what color and style are best for your decor.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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Mar 3, 2021

No matter how large or small your house will be, most of us want our primary bathrooms to be a spa-like sanctuary or at the very least a place where we can escape, renew and relax.    And with us spending more time at home over the last year, many of us are adding more amenities in bathrooms and homes—amenities that make our homes feel more comfortable and luxurious since we haven’t been able to get away on vacation or even to the gym or spa when we’ve wanted to.

So on today’s show, we’ll explore some of the reasons you might consider putting a steam shower/room or sauna in your new home. 

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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Feb 17, 2021

This week I’ll give you an update on my own project and go over some miscellaneous tips and tidbits I’ve learned over the last several weeks of going through my personal build.   I didn’t want to give you another update until I actually had a structure to talk about. And now I do.  We are currently framing!!  I’ll also tell you about current lumber prices and give you some miscellaneous home building tips and tidbits.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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Feb 3, 2021

If you are looking at multiple neighborhoods or lots on which to build your new house, there may be some areas on the outskirts of the city that might interest you, but require you to have a septic system.  Having some basic knowledge of septic systems and how they compare with city sewer systems will help you in making a decision about whether a lot needing a septic system could be right for you.

Sewer systems are more common and usually preferred, because they're funded and maintained by local governments. But as people move further away from cities, septic systems are becoming more popular.  About 1 in 5 US households use septic systems. Septic systems are environmentally friendly, and give homeowners full control over their drainage. Plus, being open to lots that require a septic system gives you so many more possibilities for your homesite, especially those sites in rural areas.

Many people are apprehensive about the costs and maintenance involved with a septic system. But does a septic system really cost more and require frequent maintenance? That’s some of what we’ll talk about today.  And If you fall in love with a lot needing a septic system, this episode will help you decide whether to put that lot on your shortlist of possible homesites, or whether to scratch it off your list altogether.  

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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Jan 20, 2021

Because of the odd, but real, pandemic-driven toilet paper shortages, more and more homeowners have added, or are considering adding toilet seat bidets to their homes.   So, this week I thought it would be valuable to revisit an episode about bidets.  Keep in mind, bidets won’t usually completely eliminate the need for toilet paper, but will usually reduce your need to just a few squares per bathroom break.    

As you’ll hear, you’ll want to tell your electrician where you want to include toilet seat bidets so he can install an outlet near the toilet to power the bidet.  But what I’ve learned since that show, is that you’ll also want to instruct your plumber to plumb those bidet toilets with both cold and hot water.  Typically a toilet only gets cold water, but if you’re adding a bidet, you don’t want a shocking blast of just cold water on your bottom when you activate the bidet.  You’ll want comfortably warm water, so make sure you tell your builder or plumber that you want a cold and hot water mix for your bidets.    We’ll also discuss radiant floor heat for master baths.  

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Dec 30, 2020

This week I have part 2 of the list of the best things homeowners did when building.  The information comes from a couple of posts at Houzz. com.  Homeowners who had built previously listed the favorite features they included in their builds—features that made life in the house easier and/or more enjoyable.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Dec 16, 2020

I was recently on Houzz on the “Building a Home” forum in the gardenweb.com section of the website. One of the discussions there caught my attention. The homeowners were asked to list “The Best Things You did When Building.”This was a forum discussion where homeowners who had built previously listed the favorite features they included in their builds—features that made life easier and/or more enjoyable.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

Dec 2, 2020

Although I’m not particularly interested in having the very latest gadgets, electronics, or technology in my house, one techie element I do want to invest in is fast, reliable internet service.  Having high-speed internet is nice for those of us who mainly shop online and visit various websites and social media platforms, but a fast internet connection is especially important if you or your family members are gamers or movie or tv buffs who regularly use streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. Or if your household has multiple people using the internet simultaneously.  So in this week’s mini-lesson, I’ll tell you about fiber optics internet, the fastest type of internet connection available. And we’ll also compare it to the other internet options.

Show notes at BYHYU.com

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

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