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Avoid Building MistakesWe are sure that you would appreciate Bill’s advice or recommendation on some of your questions and that’s why we created this section called “Ask Bill”. Here you may ask anything you want to know when building YOUR perfect dream house. Bill will be more than happy to answer all your questions and to provide you with helpful and valuable information.

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Latest Blog Posts

Rowlock: Word of the Week

Rowlock – In the boating world, a rowlock is the U-shaped device that holds an oar in place and acts as a fulcrum during rowing. But this website is based in the construction world. Around here, a rowlock refers to a classification of laid brick. It defines how the exposed face of the brick is oriented relative to the face of the finished wall. As the picture indicates, a rowlock is a run of bricks laid on the long narrow side with the short end of the brick exposed. Alternate brick orientations include stretcher, header, soldier, sailor, and... read more

Hose Bibb: Word of the Week

Hose Bibb – In construction, sometimes things are called by a different name than what the rest of the general public calls them. Case in point : hose bibb. When you go to hook up your garden hose so you can water your grass or tomatoes, you might say you’re using the spigot or faucet. In the construction world, this would not be accurate. That device that sticks out of your house, at roughly sill level, that has an on/off valve and a threaded end for hose connection is a hose bibb. In climates that are prone to freezing, the hose bibb is a frost proof hose bibb. In these installations, the valve itself is located inside the heated portion of the house. This prevents the freezing, and the inevitable breaking of the pipe. Home owners with these concerns are advised to “drain down” the hose bibb before the first freeze of the season to remove the water from the pipe beyond the... read more

Eye Brow Dormer: Word of the Week

A raised eye brow can mean many things. As you may or may not know, a dormer is the structural element you see protruding out from the plane of a sloping roof. The dormer is often a solution to creating more usable space. In a remodel, or new construction, the dormer allows for headroom, usable floor space and a window opportunity. The dormer window, much like skylights, allows a light source as well as ventilation to top floor. The specific size and shape of the dormer is specified by it’s style name. This dormer style pictured is an “eye brow dormer.” It has no vertical sides, and rises from the roof plane in a smooth wave. It resembles a raised eye brow peeking out of the roof. Outside of it’s functional benefits, the eye brow dormer can be a stand-out feature that defines a home’s... read more

Select the Right House Plan

With thousands of plans available on-line or through house plan books, how can I pick the right one? The shear number of choices makes this a tough task. And even if you are choosing among four or five models and plans in a builder’s development, the choice can still be hard. Here are my tips to make the task of choosing a house plan easier: 1. Write a program for yourself and then evaluate house plans relative to the program. 2. Use the process of elimination to winnow down your choices. 3. Look for “disqualifying” features. 4. Do not compromise on your program requirements. The first tip is by far the most important. A program is the architect’s word for a list of needs and wishes for the design. List out the basic rooms you want with target sizes for these rooms and spaces. Use your current house or a friend’s house as a benchmark. And don’t forget to make notes about your building site. It probably has a width limit and the slope of the site should be considered. Important – Make sure your programmed room sizes add up to the overall square footage your budget dictates. Include hallways, stairs, and closets, plus a 10% factor for the space consumed by walls and plan inefficiencies to get a realistic overall target square footage. Break this down by floor, too. By the way, we offer a Square Footage Calculator to make this task easier. Next, add notes about the characteristics of the rooms, how they should interact, which should be “connected” or near other rooms which should be sunny... read more

Choosing Paint Colors

Recently I was asked for tips to help homeowners navigate the ocean of paint swatches at the home improvement store. Selecting colors can be a daunting task. With so many colors to choose from it seems it would be easy to find just the right one. The fact is that there are millions of colors in the world with very subtle differences in hues. Still the number of paint colors available is actually limited compared to the possibilities. With so many paint color choices, but with a hundred times more color possibilities, it often feels like the perfect color lies somewhere between one color sample and the next. For greys and beiges, this is particularly true. Here are some tips to help with the selection process: 1. Sometimes it is easier to pick a paint color when you are not standing in front of many. many color choices. So instead of starting your search while standing in front of the rack of a zillion colors, start by finding an object, such as a throw pillow, a dress, some curtains, or similar that has the color you love. Take that object to the home improvement store and find the color that matches. Automatically this will  narrow your choices and make the selection easier. 2. Take note of which paint colors are your “first blush” choices. Often, the colors that catch your eye initially will end up being your best and final choice. Spending too long pondering your decision can lead to you questioning your own judgment. 3. Don’t make your final decision in the store. Take a strip of color samples (or several strips)... read more

Choosing the Right House Style

Recently I was asked by a reporter about house styles and the benefits of each house style. The question was fairly general, so at first, I didn’t know how best to answer it. But I collected my thoughts and answered it this way. I can say that house style preferences are regional, so there is no “best” or “favored” style. What is popular and appropriate for California is quite different from what is popular and appropriate in the northeast. This is because of differences in lifestyle, climate, and regional costs of materials and labor. If I had to state one style that may be the most popular in the United States on average, I would say Transitional would be it. That’s probably because it is loosely defined. Many versions of Transitional fit the category. I also think that transitional houses can suit today’s preference for open floor plan living while still maintaining a feel for traditional, non-modernist design. Traditional houses usually are subdivided into distinct rooms. That is not a popular feature in new homes. Today’s families prefer the kitchen, family room, and dining spaces to be open to each other so everyone can be together. This is a lifestyle change from fifty or sixty years ago. Whether you like them or not, the fact is there is only a very small market for modernist houses. That is why Colonial houses in the northeast, Spanish or Mediterranean style houses in Florida, adobe style houses in the southwest, Mountain house styles in the Pacific northwest, and Transitional houses throughout the country are strongly preferred. They have better resale appeal and value. The reporter asked about... read more

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