New Home Construction

Building a home is still one of the prime dreams of most Americans. The thrill of choosing a home style, location and then watching the whole process unfold is enough to give even the most cynical person goose bumps. And the great thing about building a home today is that the normal wood-frame home is going through a revolution not seen since prehistoric man first moved out of the cave.

The wood frame home is basically a box made from sticks of wood with sheathing of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) and a system of triangles, or trusses, for a roof. Even new home construction made from concrete blocks have a truss-style roof and rely on the box system. But new styles of building are pushing the envelope as designers look for better and cheaper ways to make homes that are more energy-efficient and resistant to extremes in weather like hurricanes.

Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF)

Concrete is a great building material but it is hardly energy-efficient. It is almost like glass for sucking the heat out of the inside of a home and was never popular for new home construction in northern areas of the country. Insulated concrete forms (ICF) are interlocking units made from a foam product that are stacked, reinforced with steel bars and filled with concrete. This idea puts 2” of foam on both the outside on side walls giving the walls a high R-value. In addition they are extremely weather-tight, fire-resistant and sound-proof.

The majority of ICF modules are made of insulation materials such as extruded polystyrene, polyurethane or expanded polystyrene (EPS). These foam units are connected with plastic ties or webbing that also hold the steel rebar and provide furring strips for attaching both interior and exterior paneling. The concrete is usually poured when the modular walls have been constructed to a height of between 4 to 8 feet. It fills all the spaces except where window and door boxes have been installed. Depending on the size of the home the roof or second floor is usually put on when the walls are 8 feet high and can be either steel or wood joists. ICF forms can be built in all sorts of shapes so architects can count on the product for their new home construction designs.

Steel-Frame Homes

Lightweight steel framing (LSF) is a product that is often over-looked when it comes to new home construction. Contrary to popular belief steel studs and joists are light and extremely strong. In the marketplace wood joists and studs are rarely equal. Contractors sometimes have to sort through a pile of construction materials containing warped, knotted, twisted and water-logged pieces. This slows down the process. In addition, drying wood may cause a wall to twist slightly causing problems for drywallers.

LSF pieces are uniform and go together much like the old “Meccano” sets only the installers use self-tapping screws. There are holes for plumbing and electrical wiring so these trades have an easier time with the utilities. LSF studs don't shrink or move with age and can be manufactured on site by a mobile press similar to the ones used by seamless gutter installers. This saves waste and the contractor gets the right amount of studs and joists. In addition, LSF is fire-proof and stands up well in severe weather conditions. However, in cold areas LSF walls should be sealed with spray insulation to form heat barriers. In addition it is not wise to use LSF in basements as the condensation may cause rusting.

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)

In all areas of the country energy-efficiency is becoming a cause for concern whether a homeowner is concerned about saving heat energy or air conditioning costs. A new product in new home construction, structural insulated panels (SIPs), begin with a rigid foam center of between 4” and 8” thick and this is sandwiched between two layers of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB). These two bonded materials are so strong that they become the entire wall, taking the place of wood or steel studs. In addition SIPs can be used to make the roof which enables the homeowner to have cathedral ceilings.

The crews for installing SIPs arrived after the first floor has been installed. Starting from there they quickly get the entire first story completed in a few hours. This speeds up the entire new home construction process. Once the home is occupied the results are instantaneous. In a cold winter the density of the solid walls mean that cold air cannot enter the home through cracks in the walls caused by shrinking wood.

Every year there are literally hundreds of new building products that receive patents and then go on to the building stores. Professional builders who specialize in new home construction are usually up on the latest methods but it is up to the prospective homebuilder to find the company who is suited to building the right home. For information on building professionals in your area consult our Contractor Directory or simply post your project online and one will contact you.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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