designers

Weather Issues and Your Home-What to do!

Weather issues rain

We watch the weather, talk about the weather, praise the weather, and curse the weather.  Weather is part of our daily lives and impacts what we do, how we dress, and where we travel. But do we really think about how the weather impacts our homes? When we design and build homes for our clients, we are cognizant of the finish materials we want to be used, the home designs and floor plans we create, and where the home is going to be built and how it will impact the design.  In our conversations with the builders we work with here at Residential Designed Solutions, these conversations are frequent and ever changing. We wanted to share some of our thoughts so that we can do what’s best for our clients.  We know we can’t control the weather, so what do we need to consider and what can be done to homes to help them be protected from weather-as much possible? Mother Nature is a powerful force!

Hail: Those pesky balls of ice can do a lot of damage to roofs, siding, and windows.  While we can’t stop all of the damage, there are things that can help minimize it. 

  • If you’re building in a hail-prone area, it might be a good idea to install hail-resistant roofing. A homebuyer might argue that insurance will pay for damages (which could raise their rates), but why not be proactive and install a roof that will stand up to hail?

  • Modified asphalt shingles, which have rubber-like qualities, protect from hail and wind and tend to be more affordable than shingles made from plastic, aluminum or copper. 

  • Savings from insurance companies may be available to those with hail-resistant shingles, providing savings in the long run for a more expensive roof.  Plus the upgraded materials can extend the life and wear and tear on the roof. 

  • Installing impact-resistant windows will lessen the impact of flying glass if hails breaks the window.  (See more about these windows below)

Wind: Wind is one of the most destructive elements for a home. Shingles can be pulled off, gutters pulled away from the roofline, windows broken, and doors blown in. Wind gusts can cause tree limbs to break and fall on homes, creating holes in the roof, leaks, and dislodged gutters. 

  • As builders and contractors, building a home that uses special connections, specialty clips and wraps to attach the roof to the home in areas that are prone to tornadoes and hurricanes is a must. 

  • Hip style roofs do not catch the wind as easily as a gable roof can, but again, what you build depends on the weather common to your area. 

  • Roof shingles, vertical siding, roofs, and window frames must have the construction materials properly installed to alleviate as much wind damage as possible.   

  • For clients that are really concerned, discuss building a one-story or low profile home, since these are less likely to experience wind damage. 

  • When building a home, look at the land. Are there trees close to the home that have the potential to fall on the home? Which ones can be removed? What is the landscaper planting near the home and if there are trees being planted, how tall do they get?

  • Installing impact-resistant windows can create peace of mind for clients, especially if they understand that while windows might shatter or crack when struck, the fragments will stay in place instead of being blown into the home. 

  • Consider installing doors that open outward. These doors are less likely to fail in a storm.

  • A cheap garage door might be just that in a windstorm. There are garage doors now available that have been tested for and constructed for wind resistance. If the doors are high profile, this might be worth investigating.

  • Roofers should use at least six nails or staples to hold each shingle and the nails need to be installed beneath the edges of the overlapping shingles. Homeowners may not know or inspect this, so we need to!  And was the waterproof underlayment installed beneath the shingles?

Rain: Water is a major cause of damage to a home. Water can find its way in through almost any surface material, so it is critical to plan for this and provide a drainage plane, so the water has an exit point. If not, the wet and dry process will cause materials to rot over a surprisingly short period of time. 

The other point of water entry to the home is through the basement walls. It is extremely important that the house be graded so that water drains away from the foundation and that any downspout or foundation drains either have a gravity exit or a pump with battery backup to ensure dry conditions below grade. 

  • A roof with an overhang design that extends the fascia board so that it creates a drip edge keeps rain from being driven across the surface of the soffit and into the eaves. 

  • If shingles happen to get blown off, having the seams taped with a self-adhering rubber or asphalt tape will create a solid obstruction against water. 

  • Properly installing and maintaining areas susceptible to water penetration is vitally important.

  • When installing flashing, caulk and roof cement look for areas of weakness. As the builder, inform your clients that areas sealed around the chimneys, skylights, and plumbing vents will dry out and erode over time, so they need to be inspected annually to prevent issues down the road. 

  • Understanding the soil’s condition where the home is built is another key to success in regards to preventing leaks in the foundation. 

Snow: There’s no way around this, especially here in Ohio. Snow is heavy and will fall. Knowing and understanding the building codes for roof design will prevent snow from collapsing roofs or causing sagging. 

Ice: Ice can cause significant damage to a home, but designing a roof to remain cold everywhere in the winter will help.  Heat escaping through an inadequately insulated roofing system causes snow and ice to melt even if the temperature is below freezing.  This water then refreezes when it reaches the uninsulated sub-freezing eaves, creating ice dams. Ice dams cause melted snow to back up under the roofing material finding the first tiny gap in the substrate and you quickly have water on your ceiling or worse.

  • This is a difficult fix, but find the hot spots and adjust the insulation levels and ventilation channels to even out the roof temperature. 

Sun: Knowing the materials needed to withstand the force of the sun are instrumental to the success of the build. The sun is a natural drying and aging occurrence both in our skin and our roofs.

  • Ridge vents and attic fans can be installed to help release excessively heated air and keep attic wood and roofing materials from aging prematurely. 

  • Painting homes’ exteriors with lighter colors keep air conditioners from working harder. Dark colored homes absorb more heat than light colors.  Another thought is to paint the home with a ceramic paint coating with ultra-violet ray reflectivity properties. 

  • Adding a UV-blocking film to windows will provide protection to homeowners, flooring, and their furniture. In some parts of the country the reflected heat from these reflective windows can actually melt the vinyl siding on a neighboring home so special care must be taken in making this selection.

  • Consider applying a coating to the roof to protect it from damage from the sun.  The coating should have a high emissivity and reflectivity rate. It helps to draw the heat of the sun away. 

  • Again, some of the responsibility falls on the homeowners to have regular inspections to catch cracked or curled shingles, or those that have faded or are missing. Regular inspections can save big headaches. 

We know we can’t control the weather, but we do have some control over how we build, what we use, and our desire to build the best possible home for our clients. Our due diligence can create homes that will withstand weather’s folly. Let our designers at RDS help you by creating homes for your clients for you to build or remodel.

 

Westport Homes & RDS - A Perfect Partnership

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We would not be successful without the expertise of the builders and contractors that we work with on a daily basis. They build the vision that we help create. Our relationship with our builders and contractors is important to us. Westport Homes is one of the builders that we work with and here are a few of their thoughts about working with us at RDS. 

Name: Susan Hall, Director of Architecture, Westport Homes

How was your experience with RDS – Residential Designed Solutions?
Our Westport Homes Columbus Division’s experience has been a positive one with RDS for the last 5 years. They are conscious of our schedules and help with many aspects of our architectural needs in the partnership we have established. 

What did you have designed or redesigned by RDS?
We have had numerous master architectural construction document sets developed, options to master plans added and individual specific contracts created.

What services do you like best that RDS provides?
They have assigned one lead designer to our account that takes personal ownership. They oversee our account by knowing all of our specifications, subdivision requirements, and develop out lot specific homeowner standard options and custom options selections with great care to the details. They have even visited our model homes and like to keep up with new model openings so they can stay “on top” of our products offered to home buyers.

Who else did you use or speak with in planning the design of the home before choosing RDS?
Westport Homes Columbus Division has not used any other company for our architectural needs.

What have your needs been and what are your future needs of an architect/designer?
Our needs have been to have help in developing out our preliminary designs into architectural construction document sets, adding numerous options to our existing master home plans, and developing individual lot specific plans. Our future needs are to continue to use RDS in the same manner but at a higher volume of lot specific plan development. I also foresee using their design services for future development of plan offerings to our clients.

How were challenges /issues/decisions/questions handled and communicated?
We handle most of our communications via email. We also communicate by phone as well as meetings in person. RDS has always met our needs and been available to us during our partnership with them. In fact, with our growing volume this past year, they have added additional staff to work on our account during peak times to meet deadlines.

What was your overall experience like?
Our overall experience with RDS has been a positive partnership in meeting the architectural needs for the development of master homes plans, adding standard options to the master plans, and creating individual lot specific plans with standard options, custom options, and local municipalities’ requirements.

What advice would you offer to a builder who is having someone design a home or redesign a space in the home?
We have and will continue to advise anyone needing architectural services to reach out to RDS. RDS has been in Columbus for almost thirty years and they know the building codes and local municipality requirements. RDS is actively involved in the building industry and have the personnel and expertise to help in any aspect of providing design services.

Would you use RDS again?
Westport Homes will most certainly continue to use RDS for our architectural needs.

We take pride in the services we provide our builders, contractors, and clients. Our designers will work with you to help your visions become reality. We’d be happy to talk with you and see what services we can offer. We thank Westport Homes for their continued support and confidence in us. The feeling is mutual; they are a fantastic group to work with.

Jim's Tip: Marble Floors - What We Need to Know

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Based on pictures shared with us from HOUZZ and PINTEREST by our clients, we are seeing more and more marble in upscale baths. The walls and countertops are not an issue, but the floors provide some challenges for both designer and builder.

The Tile Council of North America, TCNA, requires that any floors with natural stone applied must be designed with a deflection of L/720, twice as stiff as code requires L/360 (“L” is the length of the clear span of the floor joist in inches). The challenge is that we have no idea what your client is going to select when we lay out the structure for the house. If we know ahead of time, stiffening that floor area is simple. After the fact it may become very expensive.

Changing the subfloor or the backer board isn’t going to provide the required rigidity, you’ll have to add additional joists. This may mean removing and replacing HVAC, plumbing and electric to get these joists into place.

The simple solution for designers and engineers is to add a disclaimer to the plans, but that doesn’t help you one little bit. The best choice is for all of us to be aware of the potential problem and attempt to get a determination or at least a direction on floor surface selections from the homeowner before we complete the plans. If homeowners know there will be a lot of extra cost to change the floor later, that may help them make some decisions earlier. 

Let’s work together on solving this one!

I never recommend social media links to anyone but recently I came across Build w/Matt Risinger, a channel on YouTube with a lot of detailed construction information. He’s a custom builder in the Austin, Texas area and he is talking about performance vs. prescriptive codes; contemporary interior trim details, soundproofing tricks, hidden door ideas, etc. All in all, this is a very informative group of videos. His channel publishes new content twice a week so you can watch what interests you.

Below is a link to a short video from Matt on traditional framing vs. high-performance framing techniques. He walks you through two houses while talking about and pointing out the differences.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDsaMFY3OcE   I hope you find it as interesting as I have.

NARI ACE AWARD - 2018

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Winning an award is always exciting! Being awarded a NARI ACE Award is one of those exciting moments-because it happened again this year! We couldn’t be more proud of this award here at Residential Designed Solutions; we do what we do because of our clients.

What is the NARI Ace Award?

NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) of central Ohio gives ACE (Achievement in Consumer Excellence) awards yearly. Clients complete a survey online describing the work performed by the company and rating the company’s quality of work, responsiveness/reliability, timeliness/punctuality, and professionalism.

This award is important to us because it is a recognition program based on our clients’ feedback. Being recognized with the NARI Achievement in Consumer Excellence Award helps more consumers be aware of us, provides us with valuable client feedback, and recognizes us for the quality work we do.

We are honored to receive this recognition again this year. We take our craft seriously - designing homes is what we do! Thank you to our clients for their trust in us and for taking the time to recognize our work and their belief in us at RDS.

Jim's Tip - Who Comes First, Builder or Designer?

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I recently read an article in one of our trade publications written by a builder explaining in great detail why he insisted on being the initial contact with potential clients. He spent a good amount of column space demonstrating that his clients were best represented by working through his process to develop designs for their project. His belief was that only through a process such as his, would clients be able to have plans developed that would be able to be built with-in their budget.

Having worked as a residential designer both independently and in the employ of several builders, I certainly understand his perspective. It is very common for clients to come into our office with grand dreams, essentially with “champagne taste and a beer budget” as the saying goes. Someone must introduce some hard cold facts into the conversation very early so that realistic expectations are set before pen or mouse are in motion.

There is nothing worse than having a set of construction documents fully developed only to find out that the house is way over the client’s budget. A lot of money has been wasted including the builders’ time along with all his trade partners, bidding a useless set of plans. The point that the builder was emphasizing was that costs must be part of the discussion and controlled all the way through the design and construction process. I couldn’t agree more.

All our designers have construction management and hands on building experience which allows us to have a realistic cost perspective when initially meeting with clients. We always have a cost discussion before we get started so it really doesn’t matter who qualifies the client. The key is tracking costs at every step of the design process, from initial sketch “ballpark” pricing to final construction/contract documents.

The point that I want to convey is that it really doesn’t matter who comes first if both the builder and their designer are working closely together. The resulting home will be one that the clients are thrilled to own at a cost they are comfortable with. Contact RDS to see how seamlessly we can become part of your team.

The Challenge - Using Repurposed Timber Framed Barns in Design

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Ever have a challenge you can’t refuse? Our client wanted to develop a family retreat and as we began the design process, he came to us with an unusual challenge: to find a way to use two repurposed timber framed barns in the designs. Of course, we were excited about this request!

The smaller of the two timber frames is the cabin, which actually offered more challenges. The horizontal beams fell into some of the head room of the spaces, so we removed some and worked around the others that we were able to keep. 

The larger structure will be the main shared living space. It is built around a very unique gambrel roofed timber frame, which you don’t often see in Ohio. The frame becomes the core of the building and then “tractor shed” additions are added to the sides. One side becomes a bedroom suite, and the opposite is a screened porch, large enough to accommodate all the family at the same time.

The photos of the barn as it was being dismantled show the age and complexity we were working with.

Both timber frames were located and will be erected by Doug Morgan of Mount Vernon Barn Company, whose vision is to save and repurpose one hundred year old barns. I think they are well on their way!

Rendering credit goes to Derrick Davis of Davis Rogers Interiors.