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How to Plan, Contract, and Build your own Home by Richard M. Scutella and Dave Heberle | PDF Free Download.
Over twenty years have passed since the editors at McGraw-Hill received the manuscript for the first edition of this book. Back then, they measured it up and declared it was more than they had bargained for—both in words and illustrations.
So everyone looked at it, hoping to find chapters, or parts of chapters, that could be cut. After a while, it became evident that the book would be more helpful to its readers as it stood.
So nothing was cut and the publisher kindly agreed to put out a longer and more profusely illustrated version than originally planned. In a sense, the same thing happened with the second edition, which came out in 1991.
Except for a few minor changes, little of the original material was deleted, because almost everything still held true. At that time, additional information was included in many chapters. The book became thicker, packed with new material.
The third edition, published in 1999, received a general overhaul, with numerous chapter upgrades and many new sections.
Manufacturers continued to get better at what they do design and making innovative home products.
Outdated information was stricken from the previous edition, replaced by discussions about better components and construction techniques that gave homebuilders more options than ever before. That leads us to this, the fourth edition.
Like the others, this edition also contains more information than the publisher expected. But we couldn’t help it.
Current conditions demanded a concentrated focus on energy conservation. Why? Have you fueled up your car, van, or truck lately? If so, remember when paying $1.50 per gallon unleaded seemed like a robbery? Today that would be a bargain.
The sad truth is that fuel costs including home heating and cooling prices—are likely to keep rising.
They may back down a bit, for a while, but competition for raw materials and energy is heating up as countries such as China, India, and others industrialize to supply modern living conditions and goods to their citizens.
To help ease the pain of rising energy prices, the fourth edition of this book features practical information on construction details that will save homeowners energy and money. Lots of energy and money.
Realistic, cost-effective ways of including energy-saving components in your new home are discussed in practically every chapter of this edition.
But saving energy and money are not the only reasons to take charge of your home building process. We live now, more so than ever in an age of information. We know more about practically everything.
Motion pictures and television, supported by the print media, bring video and audio segments of war, ethnic atrocities, natural disasters, and political unrest into our very living rooms. Cable and satellite television carry 24-hour programming on nearly every imaginable subject.
Do you want to round clock coverage of the financial markets worldwide? How about an unending succession of cooking shows?
You’d like health, medicine, and wellness? Or fishing, golf, professional wrestling, country-western music, rock videos? Do you like romance movies? Science fiction?
Home shopping networks? Travel channels? Court TV? News headlines? History? Cartoons? Science? Weather? You name it. There are channels that focus on nothing but home and garden. Watch a side-to-side split-level from the planning stage to move-in condition.
The Internet, which has literally come of age since the first edition of this book, can quickly tap what seems to be an endless supply of details about any topic.
Personal computers, ever more powerful and accessible, run CD-ROMs containing enormous amounts of information, which will help you select from various products to consider for your home.
The Internet will also supply information on products available from numerous manufacturers. In short, there’s an incredible amount of information out there, which can be had for the asking.
To acquire such a cosmopolitan array of information, we’ve had to trade off much of the basic knowledge that our fathers and their fathers and grandfathers had once known.
Granted, they had learned such knowledge not by choice, but by necessity. A few hundred years ago, for example, people grew their own food, doctored their own sick, and built their own homes—with their own hands. They took care of all their basic needs by themselves.
Thanks to the collective progress realized over the past few centuries, much of that all-around knowledge has become of little use to the average person.
How many people must still be able to shoe a plowhorse, dig their own well, deliver their own babies, or even teach their own children how to read and write?
Today, if you’re an accountant, you’re an accountant. You have to keep up with an avalanche of changing accounting information to service your clients. If you’re a farmer, you’re a farmer, and you have to subscribe to the latest agricultural techniques to be a success.
Or, if you’re a builder of houses, you’re a builder of houses. If you can’t perform in whatever business you’re in, and if you don’t really know the ins and outs of the trade, you’ll be supplanted by other professionals who do.
Specialists who keep up-to-date with the evolving nature of their business will acquire the competitive edge needed to stay ahead of their peers.
Consequently, people no longer have the time, need, or inclination to acquire many of the basic skills our forefathers found unavoidable. Take the subject of houses, for example.
Because the public has largely turned the job of housebuilding over to a group of professional builders, not many people really understand exactly what a house consists of, or how all the parts must mesh together to make a satisfactory dwelling.
And that’s the reason for this book. The idea is simple enough: by understanding houses, you can better arrive at an understanding house—one that suits you perfectly, one that is constructed to give maximum enjoyment and value with minimum investment.
Everybody has to live somewhere, that’s a fact. You can live in someone else’s place for free, with parents or benevolent friends. Or you can make do at a place provided by an accommodating employer. You can reside at someone else’s place and pay rent.
Then again, you can choose to live in something you own. And at some point in their lives, most people prefer the latter option. This book has been written for people in search of a modern home situated in either a subdivision down the street or on five acres out in the boondocks.
Although it focuses on new construction, it also proposes what to look for in existing houses, new or old. Without knowing better, people considering the purchase of a new house will approach one or more builders with a sketch and floor plan ripped out of a magazine.
Then they’ll ask the builder how much he’ll charge to complete that same house for them. Depending on the amounts and quality of materials used, or rather, depending on what specifications or “specs” are followed, the cost of a 2000-square-foot two-story house can vary by tens of thousands of dollars.
By providing only a simple generic floor plan as a building guide, eager buyers overlook important pre-construction choices that should, in fact, be made by the buyers themselves. Instead of exercising their own wishes in the planning and construction of their new house, these trusting buyers leave consequential decisions completely up to the builder.
Another irony is that, when faced with such a complex and expensive task as the purchase of a new house, most people remain interested merely in the basic floor plan, the amount of square footage of living space, the appearance of the exterior sheathing, and other incidentals such as the color of the flooring and carpeting and the style and stain of kitchen cabinets.
Rarely do they care what thickness the outer walls will be, or on which side of the house the garage should be located.
They leave detail after detail to the builder’s discretion. Naturally, in this competitive business, the builder provides what the buyer wants in a manner most advantageous to the builder himself.
He tends to use materials that he’s been using on other houses he’s built, and he probably gets them in bulk, at a discount.
Unless otherwise requested, this usually means he’ll provide the absolute minimum specs needed to satisfy local building codes, even when, for a few dollars more, substantial long-range savings and additional conveniences can be enjoyed by the buyers.
Most minimum building codes can be satisfied with economy grade materials. “Economy grade” is a misleading term at best, because materials in that class actually end up costing more than materials of high quality, due to frequent maintenance and repairs needed and shorter life spans.
That can mean early replacements, all at extra cost and inconvenience to the homeowner. And marginal products, because they’re less durable, can lead to a very annoying and even uncomfortable house.
Unfortunately, marginal quality materials are found not only in low-priced houses but in many high-priced dwellings as well.
High-quality flooring, paneling, wiring, heating, and many other products cost only a little more, by and large than the same products of marginal quality. Certainly, the installation costs are about the same in either case; an identical amount of labor is required to put down a new floor of the best or worst vinyl.
All things considered, studies indicate that the initial price of a house built with high-quality materials will run only about 8 to 10 percent more than an identical economy grade dwelling. The argument to go with quality materials is a persuasive one.
But even before that comes the question: do you want to build a new house or move into an existing one? It’s entirely possible to find an older or recently built house that meets most of your needs and is constructed similar to the guidelines described in the following chapters.
Such houses can be difficult to locate, but in many cases, due to circumstances of the present owners, you can get more house for the money, but not without certain tradeoffs: the house might be in a location you don’t like, or it might have everything you asked for except a basement, a den, or a two-car garage.
With new construction, you have the opportunity to custom design your own house. With new construction, you’ll end up with more built-in conveniences, with better insulation and more energy-efficient appliances and heating/cooling systems.
There are also fewer repairs to worry about and less time spent maintaining things, especially with many of today’s maintenance-free items.
New homes generally require lower down payments, with better financing terms available to owners. Kitchens can be loaded with modern appliances and built-ins.
There are better roofing materials, flooring, easy-care carpeting, windows, and exterior sheathings. And it’s also a nice feeling to move into a house knowing that you and your family will be the first to live there.
It has that wonderful sweet new-house smell of sawdust, plaster, and carpeting. New homes are clean to the eye and touch and hold their value well when soundly constructed. Everything is under warranty.
You know exactly what went into the place, having periodically inspected its erection. You know that it’s a structurally sound dwelling, built with the latest high-quality, energy-efficient materials. No matter what you decide to go with new construction or an existing home buying any house is a major investment.
Let’s face it, finding or arriving at the right house for you can be a tough (though enjoyable) process. It’s not like buying a stereo, for example, where you can walk into a stereo store and listen to different brands and different models, turn them on, one after another.
You can pick up Consumer Reports and read reviews on them. You can shop for the same models all over town. But a house? The two biggest words in real estate have always been “buyer beware,” and for no small reason.
There are endless possibilities open to house buyers and endless pitfalls. A house is a lot more than a “hedge against inflation” or a pleasant alternative to paying rent. And sure, owning property will probably give you the urge to become involved with the community, and will probably encourage you to send out roots.
But most of all, a house is a dwelling in which human drama unfolds. Children grow up in houses. Marriages and other relationships flourish or flounder in them, in unique environments created within the home’s outer shell.
In homes we grow up, learn things, spend time together, eat, play, party, laugh, fight, cry, make love, pray, and entertain one another.
Homes reflect our personalities and uniqueness, and they deserve to be acquired as the result of careful deliberation instead of happenstance. Everybody has to live somewhere. If you have a say in the matter, then exercise it.
Get involved with selecting what you’re going to live in. It only makes sense. Why settle for less? Why put up with a building that doesn’t meet your and your family’s basic requirements? Especially if within those same means you have the ability to attain a dwelling far superior, with an optimal plan custom-tailored to your needs.
Talking new construction, you have to familiarize yourself with building jargon (it’s not tough) and prepare yourself for entering into a close and beneficial relationship with a general contractor who builds houses for a living.
You must understand the advantages and disadvantages of the various types of homes available in order to make an educated choice: ranch, Cape Cod, two-story, split foyer, or split-level. You should know how to arrange the rooms you choose for the greatest convenience of both initial construction and everyday living.
Beyond that, you should figure out if you might want to enlarge the house at a later date. If so, a few relatively minor modifications upfront can mean a lot of savings later. You need to know how to match the home you want to a building site.
And you need to know additional dos and don’ts along the way. In fact, in many cases, just knowing what not to do will lead you to the correct choice.
It’s a complex mix of qualities and factors that can make a difference between ending up with an extremely pleasant and valuable home, or a disaster. But don’t worry. Again, it’s not that hard to acquire a lot more house than you ever thought you could afford one built with conveniences and quality not usually included with your neighbor’s house.
And it will be a lot of fun. To get the most out of this book, first read the table of contents for a general idea of what’s covered. Then take it a chapter at a time, section by section, at a leisurely pace. Make notes on the numerous ideas that will result in energy savings.
After you’ve read the entire book, you can proceed with confidence that you are sufficiently prepared. Arrive at the house you want in your mind and on paper.
Use the checklists and summary points throughout the book so you don’t ignore any important considerations. Determine what construction costs are running by going to open houses and by asking builders and real estate agents at those open houses.
Realtors can provide valuable and free financial information, perhaps a helpful summary of mortgage rates in your area. And they can be instrumental in putting together packages requiring creative financing (especially when a sale hinges upon you getting the loan).
Although no one person could possibly use every shred of information contained in this book, together the details provide a comprehensive backdrop from which readers can draw whatever is needed to help illuminate their own specific situations.
Okay. Enough talk. Now let’s get into it. Let’s begin with some style.
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