There are few things that happen in a lifetime with so many mixed emotions as building a new home. New home construction isn’t for the faint of heart but the process of creation, although bumpy at times, is still worth the effort. You can walk people through your home and how them exactly the part you played in is construction.
The best part about building a home today is that so many new techniques and materials have arisen in the past ten years. Everything from the structure to the landscaping has been improved and, in many case, with lower costs.
One of the newest trends in building is the introduction of Structural Insulated Panels, or SIPs. This is a wall system that is composed of a sheet of rigid foam insulation sandwiched between to sheets of oriented strand board of OSB. The result is a structural strength based on the principles of a I-Beam hand so does away with traditional framing techniques. The walls make up the frame, sheathing and insulation is one sheet. In addition SIPs come in several thicknesses that can have an R-Value of between 13.5 and to 25. In addition SIP’s can form the roofing structure of a home making it a great way to get cathedral ceilings.
Another great foam-based product is ICF, or insulated concrete forms. ICF’s are hollow blocks made of ASTM C 578 polystyrene foam spaced apart by plastic webs from between 4 and 8 inches. The ICF’s are stacked with the adid of interlocking feet much like children’s blocks. Steel reinforcing rods are snapped into the plastic webbing and tied with wire. The concrete is poured into the hollow space between the foam sides of the block forming a solid insulated wall.
Not only are ICF walls strong they have an amazing insulating value in new home construction. The Insulated Concrete Form Association states that 4 inches of foam sandwiching a 5-inch concrete wall is rated at or above R-17. A thicker wall can get overr R-20. In addition, air leaks in an ICF home are nil because of the kept to continuous sealing provided by the foam insulation and concrete. The ICFA goes on to say that the combination of all these factors- high R-values, low air leakage and high thermal mass - can account for up to 25% to 50% energy versus wood or steel-framed homes. In addition, they can withstand hurricane force winds and tornadoes and this is why ICF is becoming so popular in areas with those dangers.
Once demonized by the government because of its urea-formaldehyde content, a new formula of closed-cell foam insulation is making its way back into Canadians homes. With new home construction the walls are framed, piped and wired and then the insulation spray is applied. Unlike fiberglass batt insulation the expanding foam gets into all the tiny spaces effectively sealing off the wall and preventing the tiny convection currents of air that plague standard fiberglass-filed walls. Therfore not only does it give the R-value of regular insulation it also ups the energy conservation. It also adds strength to the walls and holds the pipe and wiring in place.
No part of the home, with the exception of the foundation, is as important as the roof. New roofing materials such as laminate-asphalt, powder-coated aluminum and pressed-concrete tiles have made roofs both affordable and durable. Steel roofs are also becoming popular and with the new non-fade, vinyl coatings make this a viable covering.
Vinyl siding is the mainstay of the siding industry but new products are working their way into the market. Now there is a vinyl product that features a foam backing. This not only adds to the R-value is reinforces the product so that it won’t fly off in a fierce wind. In addition, just like the roofing, steel and aluminum have come a long way in their development featuring coatings that will not have to be repainted for decades.
The standard windows these days are low-emissive and argon-filled windows. The “low-e” means that they are coated with a transparent film that reflects heat back into the home. The space between the windows is filled with a heavy argon gas that impedes the formation of convection currents between the glass. It is this action that leads to energy loss in other, more traditional windows. Triple-paned windows are now becoming the standard of new home construction.
Decks project indoor living space outdoors and are becoming a structure of the creature comforts that we enjoy indoors. Most modern decks put on an older home usually mean a renovating of the structure. In new home construction the deck is built into the plans. In either case there many great new products such as vinyl, aluminum and composite decking that can withstand the heat of the sun and the sub-zero winter temperatures.