Home Building 101: Major Phases of Construction Part III

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been walking you through what building a home entails, from the initial pouring, to explaining all of the inspections that take place, we’ve put it all together for you to quickly understand.  Today, we’ll continue to talk about this topic, here’s you can find part one and part two.

Drywall & Interior Textures

After the insulation is installed, the drywall and interior textures are begun.  After this is completed, the interior can be painted with primer to prepare it for the interior paint.

Exterior Textures

The exterior of the house will begin to be installed, this includes finished such as stucco, stone, brick, and siding.

Interior Trim & Paint

The decorative trim for interior doors, window sills, moldings, baseboards, and stair balusters are next installed as well as bathroom vanities, cabinets, fireplace surrounds and mantels.  Interior walls will then be painted or wallpapered.

Exterior Work

At this stage, any walkways, patios, and driveways that you have planned will be poured, though some contractors will wait until the house is completed to pour the driveway.

Floor, Counter tops, Exterior Grading

All vinyl, hardwood, and ceramic tile flooring is now installed along with kitchen and bathroom counter tops (we have a post comparing Corian and granite counter tops which might be helpful to you).  Any carpeting will be installed later in order to prevent any damage.  Not sure which kind of flooring to choose for your home?  You might want read our posts comparing hardwood and carpet, hardwood and laminate, as well as some general information on bamboo flooring.  Exterior grading is complete to make sure that water drains properly away from the home to prevent any foundation issues.

We hope that you’re enjoying reading this series of posts as much as we’re enjoying writing them.  If you’re looking for some home building ideas, it might be helpful to visit our post about luxuries to consider for your custom home, or how to build an energy efficient home on a budget.  Any suggestions?  Drop us a comment below.  See you next week when we wrap up this topic.

Cost Effective Energy Efficiency Part II

Last week we began talking about the misconception that an eco-friendly house automatically equals a more expensive house, we’ll continue the discussion of ways to make your house more eco-friendly while taking into account your budget and even saving money on your custom home construction.

Identifying Design Details

You and your custom home builder can go through your home design together and work to pinpoint areas in which you can focus.  Here are a few to get you started:

Using manufacturer specifications is an area of importance as actual in-field practices and manufacturer’s suggested practices can differ widely.  Installing appliances correctly can go a long way to saving you money.

Framed wall cavities should have all six sides enclosed in order to stop air flow through them.

Another area where a little to no extra effort will save you money is your AC and heating ducts, seal them properly instead of using duct tape.  Doing this doesn’t take more time, and if you tape them then the duct tape will deteriorate over time causing air leaks to occur.

Speaking of air leaks, you should make sure that all penetrations in exterior walls are sealed with caulk.  This should be a no-brainer, but sometimes these things can be forgotten or overlooked.

Insulation around your windows isn’t necessary, instead use low-expanding foam which will fill every crack to ensure that there are no leaks.

Insulation has a few things of which to be aware: Make sure that behind your bathtubs are insulated, it’s usually required but not always carried out in actual construction.  Your fire place’s firebox should also be insulated and checked for any leaks.  Finally, check that your insulation is extended through all exterior walls and that your exterior plates are sealed with caulk.

Though this is certainly not a comprehensive list of all the ways you can save money in your custom home construction while keeping it eco-friendly, it is a start and can spark some important conversation between you and the experts you are consulting.  Your custom home builder can walk you through many more options specific to your needs regarding having a home in south Texas.

Dream Home Luxuries

Building a custom home comes with many perks, one of which is being able to incorporate what are considered “luxuries” into the design and many times paying considerably less than if you installed those same luxuries into your existing home.  So if you have a bit extra in your housing budget, or just want to dream about your future castle, here are five of our favorite luxuries to consider for your South Texas home:


Solar Panels

We’ve written an entire series about solar paneling for your home, but the main thing that we love about solar panels is that it makes sense for the amount of sun we get here in Texas and it can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

Woodstove or Fireplace

Fireplaces and woodstoves are a beautiful focal point for any home, everyone loves to gather around a warm fire for a lively conversation, or for a solitary moment with a well-loved book.  Plus, it could help heat your home without you having to switch on your heating unit.  Not sure whether you should choose a wood-burning or gas fireplace?  We’ve written a little something that might help you make a decision.

Standing Seam Metal Roof

An easy favorite amongst architects, the standing seam metal roof is the stuff of dreams.  It is sustainable, energy-efficient, and is built to last.  Want to know more about it?  Check back next week for the low-down.

Flat-Panel Radiators

This heating system is quiet and efficient, with a gentle warmth that will envelope your house but remain hidden.  Minimalists adore this system because it frees up floor space but also integrates with practically any house design.  Check back in a few weeks for a blog post on the basics of the flat-panel radiator.

Interior Shutters

If shades and curtains aren’t really your thing, wooden shutters might be just the alternative for you.  Though considered old-fashioned by many, wooden shutters are a beautiful and quiet statement in your custom home.  They shut out enough of the outside to give you privacy, but allow light to filter in to create a warm ambience in your home that can’t be reproduced with artificial lights.

What are your top dream home luxuries?  Drop us a line in the comment section, we’d love to hear from you!

Wood-burning vs Gas Fireplaces

There’s nothing quite like a fireplace to cheer the soul; in many Texas homes, living rooms are the center of the home and a fireplace draws hearts together like no other centerpiece.

Throwing another log onto the fire is a nostalgic action, but is worth it?  Gas fireplaces are becoming increasingly popular and are often chosen over their traditional open wood-burning cousins.  Your custom home designer or architect can help you talk through the details of adding a fireplace to your custom home design, but let’s take a quick look at how they measure up.


Though a champion for creating a cozy atmosphere, wood-burning fireplaces fall behind gas fireplaces in heating.  The majority of the heat goes up the chimney, and this works to create a draft that actually causes other warm air in your house to take the same route out.  Wood-burning fireplaces get an efficiency rating of only 15 percent.  By comparison, gas fireplaces rate 75-99 percent on the efficiency scale and typically come in three types.  Inserts that can be installed in your existing fireplace, log sets that sit in your existing fireplace, and a completely built in fireplace.

Air Quality

Emissions are another thing to think about when considering which fireplace to choose.  Wood-burning fireplaces smell amazing, but that scent is actually a health and environmental hazard both in and outdoors.  Gas fireplaces produce about 0.28 pounds of pollutant particulates per one million BTUs of heat while wood-burning fireplaces produce 28 pounds.


Because real logs create ash and soot, fire-burning fireplaces require annual cleaning and check-ups to make sure that everything is clean and that there isn’t build-up that can lead to a fire hazard. Gas fireplaces also should be checked annually, but there is little more required than the occasional once-over with the duster.

Cost & Convenience

The cost of gas fireplaces compared to wood-burning fireplaces is about the same, wood and natural gas costs are not too different.  Your heat bill is where you might notice a large difference, gas fireplaces will probably enable you to keep your thermostat lower, while wood-burning fireplaces will require your heating system to work harder.  When it comes to convenience, you can’t beat a gas fireplace.  With the push of a button (perhaps even on a remote), you can start your fire.  Wood-burning fireplaces, on the other hand, might require you to pull your Boy Scout handbook out of storage.