BLOG

Key Features for Your New Home

Key Features for Your New Home

So what are the key things our clients have liked in their homes?

Here are our responses to the most common question we hear when working with new clients.

Foundation
-You must get a soil sample on your lot
-2 cores minimum – front and back of lot
-Every foundation 2g builds is designed by an engineer
-Concrete piered post tension slab (2g standard)
-Better – helical piers and void boxes
—If you have any soil movement in your location, pier the post tension slab at a minimum. If you have a lot of soil movement, go with pier and beam or a slab on void boxes suspended by helical piers. We have done all types and we rely on the engineers recommendation.

Frame
-2×6 exterior walls (2g standard)
-Better – double offset 2×4 walls
—For adequate insulation and noise abatement 2g will not do exterior walls any less than 2×6. We generally space studs at 16” OC. We have done advanced frame builds at 24” with single top plates, but we prefer the tried and tested 16” OC with double top plates.
-2g Habitats uses Huber Systems
—-Advantech 1 1/8” subfloor for pier and beam and 2nd Floors (2g standard)
—-Zip System exterior sheathing (2g standard – You will never see T-ply or an equivalent on a home we build)
***We have still wrapped Huber systems with Tyvek for extra insurance once or twice.
-10’ or 12 foot ceilings down stairs
-barrels, groin vaults arches or other key details prefabbed by archways and ceilings
-pop up ceilings in master and other feature rooms

Insulation
-Foam insulation – open cell (2g standard)
—We have mixed feelings on conditioned attic space. We have done both conditioned and unconditioned attics and feel there are pluses and minuses to both
—We have also built several homes that do not use foam. You can still have an energy efficient home without foam, but you must decide what insulation you are using and whether attic will be conditioned or not (where HVAC is located) as it determines what type of HVAC unit you will get.
-Sound deadening – foam or blown cellulose is used as sound deadening on bedroom walls that share a wall with bathrooms or main living.
-Sound deadening is also used on all media/theater rooms.

Windows
-Composite, wood or clad windows
Do not be tempted to go cheap and get vinyl windows. Avoid vinyl at all costs. At 2g we love Andersen Windows particularly casement windows. Windows are a key part of your homes passive systems don’t skimp.
-When budget is a concern, 2g recommends wood or clad (400 series or E-series) on the front elevation and composite (100 series) on the rear and sides.

HVAC
-16 Seer HVAC – 2g Standard
-Returns or jump ducts in every room except baths and laundry (2g standard – critical to well balanced system)
-ERV’s – energy recovery ventilator (2g Standard) or upgrade to whole house dehumidifier – Fresh air management is critical with the tight envelopes 2g builds
-Upgrading to 21 Seer and geo thermal are good options, but it might be a while before you see your return on investment. Depending on your budget, we prefer to focus on the passive systems in your home first and ensure they are covered in the budget before allocating monies for active systems like HVAC and solar.
-We do not feel you should upgrade your active systems before you have adequate passive systems.

Plumbing
PEX plumbing (2g standard)
-Except for one municipality in Dallas where copper is required, 2g uses PEX in every build – the advantages are too numerous to list here
-Main water shut off in garage (2g standard)
-Manifold system – we have used these before and they are nice

Tankless Water heater (2g standard)
-only if natural gas is available as tankless electric heaters cannot keep up
-2g likes Rinnai and Rheem tankless water heaters

Recirculators – ok if you have a huge home, but you must have a reservoir for recirculator. We prefer to use multiple tankless heaters to feed key areas like baths and kitchens in larger homes.

Hose Spigots – one on all 4 corners of home (2g standard)

Pot filler above stove – (2g Standard)

Whole House filtration or water softening

*If any plumbing passes through main entertaining walls or along master suite we do quote cast iron drops in those areas to provide extra sound deadening – we will also foam or use blown cellulose in those walls.

Central vac – we have gotten mixed reviews. Most customers who got them say they use the sweep vents all the time, but rarely the central vac’s vacuum attachment as the dyson handhelds have been the go to.

Electrical
-Main panel is in garage (2g standard)
-Decora rocker switches (2g standard)
—Legrand Adorne is a preferred upgrade
-LED (6″ main areas, 4″ feature areas) Can lights throughout (2g Standard)
-Walk in closets on jamb switches (2g Standard)
-Ceiling fans in all bedrooms and living spaces (2g Standard
-Switched outlets in eves for Christmas lights (2g Standard)
-Under cabinet lighting (2g Standard)
-Over cabinet lighting
-Recessed nightlights on stairs and hallways (2g Standard)
-Switched Christmas tree outlet (2gstandard)
-Outlet in pantry and closet at shelves for chargers (2g Standard)
-2 Dedicated switched cans above master bed for reading lights (2g Standard)
-Recessed lighting in eves or uplights for exterior elevation
-Exterior outlets – dedicated reset in garage (black outlet) (2g Standard)
-20 amp circuit in garage and/or laundry for secondary fridge/freezer (2g Standard)
-Extra 20 amp circuits in garage for tooling/machinery
-20 amp circuits for media and theater rooms
-Switched lighting in attic (2g Standard)
-Exterior fans on patio
-Dedicated outlet in bathroom drawer for curling iron and hair dryer
-Dedicated power feed to panic room
-Prewired electric boxes at exterior for future buildout/exterior lighting (Switched or always hot)
-We rarely do switched outlets as most homes get Control 4 and our clients hate having the extra switches that don’t do anything when nothing is plugged in
-Tesla charger in the garage
-Disconnect for solar
-Disconnect for backup generator

Trim
-6” or 8” base downstairs (2g standard)
-4” or 6” base upstairs (2g standard)
*****height depends on scale
-8’ solid core doors (2g Standard)

Color Selections
These vary all over the boards, but here is what we have heard over the years as the most desired features:

Cabinets
-48” uppers minimum in kitchen
-36” tall bases in all baths
-Pullout trash drawer
-Drawers in all lower kitchen cabs
-Glass doors in feature kitchen cabinets with lighting
-Pullout trays in bathroom cabinets under sinks
-Popup stand mixer cabinet

Countertops
-Granite in main kitchen
-Quartz in secondary kitchen and bathrooms
–2g uses a lot of Cambria quartz
-Waterfall ends on islands
-Seating at islands
-Solid surface is popular in secondary bath shower and tub surrounds

Plumbing
-Kohler has been popular
-Spend money on your commodes – you spend more time there than you think
–Elongated commodes only – no round
–Comfort height commodes – 18”
-Pot filler above stove is a must
-Extra deep sinks – 10” minimum
-Reverse osmosis to fridge water supply
-50/50 on happiness with free standing bathtubs – they look stunning, but not the most user friendly

Floors
-Tile at exterior entries, bathrooms and kitchen – less maintenance
-Wood throughout living spaces
-carpet in bedrooms or wood with rug
-sound deadening a must if wood upstairs
-Epoxy garage floor or even better get Racedeck flooring

Exterior/Garage
-Sprinklers are a must. They are key to the health of your foundation.
-Gutters are a must – channel the water away from your home
-Drainage is key – you do not want stagnant water ponding – budget accordingly
-Landscaping makes a huge difference – budget accordingly
-Driveway a minimum of 20′ wide or you will be stepping into landscaping when getting out on sides
-Garage minimum or 3′ on sides of garage door opening to open doors. Example – if garage door is 16′ wide, minimum garage width should be 22′ wide

Low voltage/automation
-Highly encourage budgeting for Control 4 at a minimum
-On the higher end our homes get Crestron systems, but Control 4 is great
-Cameras and security interior and exterior
-Structured panel in media room or master closet to feed house
-Dedicated CAT-5 or 6 to all workstations and media

Securing Cast Stone

Securing Cast Stone

We have been asked a couple of times on Houzz how the cast stone or limestone is attached to our exteriors.  There are a few different approaches and it seems that every subcontractor has their own opinion on which technique is the best.  Overall, though, it seems to boil down to three main techniques.

Enjoy this great detailed explanation at www.StoneLedgends.com

Basic Techniques
With the numerous methods employed over many centuries, it has come down to three basic methods of installing stone. All work well, but the in-beds (which we’ll discuss below) require the most planning, because the inserts are usually part of the manufacturing process (some in-beds are installed with epoxy after the stone fabrication).

  1. Slots Cut – This works well with clips bent to fit the slots used in wall veneers or trim surrounding the doors. Easily hidden in the joints between stone, a horizontal slot can be cut in the back and a lintel installed making the attachment blind.
  2. Dowel Pins or Screws – Simple dowel pin is to drill a hole and put a steel pin into the stone and wire it back to the building. A favorite of today’s masons is the screws. They are predrilled and when driven home make a steadfast attachment. Mostly used between joints in the stone, the screws can also be used on the back with straps attached to the wall. Pins are used between the stone joints to increase shear strength. In the past, wire was favored as a tie back to the wall after wrapping it around the pins.
  3. In-Beds or Threaded Inserts – Very common in commercial installations where steel structures are most often used, these are used for welding or bolting. (It must be noted – this will require access for the weld or bolt).

Under these basic types, many techniques are used – depending on the situation. Here, we will review a few examples, but by no means are we implying they are the only way stone is installed.

Bearing the Load
So often I am asked if stone is load bearing? The answer is YES… depending on the size of the stone and the amount of the load.

  1. Span loading is the ability to span distances by placing steel lintels on the building or over openings. The lintels can be bolted to the structure for lateral loading. When this is done, one preference is to precisely slot cut into the stone and insert the steel lintel, thus allowing the stone to rest on the steel lintel while hiding it from view.Supporting the stone from underneath, the steel lintel is exposed – unless sandwiched between mortarjoints in horizontal runs, which completely covers the steel. It should be mentioned that coating the steel inhibits possible rust stains from forming – common in this practice.
  2. Lateral loading is used most in attaching wall veneers. You can screw into the wood steel or masonry frame with varying types and size screws depending upon your material & strength requirements. Some walls have air space behind the veneer to collect condensation on the backside of the veneer. In plaster or stucco applications the stone is installed similar to brick, but the fastener is generally beefier to carry the stone weight on the wall framing instead of transferring the weight using the veneer to the foundation.
  3. Shear loads are primarily used in pillars or columns that are free standing… but in the case of wall caps or parapet caps it may be desirable to tie the caps to the structure.
Attaching Stone to the Structure.
So far, we’ve covered attaching to the stone… now let’s discuss the structure.In centuries past, where solid block walls used stone as the entire structure, the walls were literally three feet thick. But as far back as the Roman Empire, even these walls used dowel pins made of bronze when the builder thought necessary. Today, you have three basic types of structures used in contemporary Architecture: WOOD FRAME, MASONRY FRAME, and STEEL FRAME.Attaching stone to the structure is done in many ways, and in most cases you can attach to standard framing members. But, sometimes it is necessary to have the structure specifically designed to make the stone installation as easy as possible… especially important in commercial applications where lightweight steel framing may be used, or where the spans are very long between framing members.

We hope this further explains how the cast stone is secured to the exterior of the home. At 2g Habitats, we wrap our entire exteriors with a plywood or zip board material.  We then use a true masonry 3 coat stucco application.  This provides for a solid foundation to anchor to.

If you have any more questions, we would love to hear from you!

Cambria Countertops Dallas, TX

Cambria Countertops Dallas, TX

We love selling Cambria countertops in Dallas, Texas. Quartz countertops are becoming more and more popular every day. For those of you that have not learned about quartz countertops, we thought we would share our lights on the countertop material.

Quartz countertops blend the strengths of both solid surface and natural stone or granite countertops. Cambria countertops are made from 93% natural quartz. The quartz gives them the look and feel of natural stone, but they are stronger, more scratch resistant and non-porous so they do not require sealing.

In the past we sold a lot of natural stone because quartz had a limited color pallet that mostly looked “terazzoey.” Lots of spots and flecks. Due to this we sold a lot of natural stone.

However, today companies like Cambria are creating countertop designs that are indistinguishable from natural stone. Designs like Britannicca and Ella are very popular with our customers.

If you are looking for new kitchen countertops or bathroom vanities in Dallas, Texas we encourage you to consider quartz countertops like Cambria, Caesarstone, or MSI for your project.

Quartz countertops have come a very long way design-wise in the last 5 years. We bet in many cases you will not be able to tell the difference between natural stone and quartz.

Make a Difference in a Child’s Life

Make a Difference in a Child’s Life

At 2[g] Habitats, we are supporters of DonorsChoose.org.  This is a wonder organization that is truly making a difference in classrooms around the country.  We encourage you to visit the site and make a donation if you feel lead to do so.  Remember, the children of today are the leaders of tomorrow.

For your inspiration, here is some feedback I have gotten from a few teachers:

Dear Mrs. Graham,

Thank you so much for donating all of these wonderful resources to our classroom! I’m so excited that there are people willing and wanting to help teachers. It means so much to me and my students to have such great people to support education! These fluency activities are going to offer great support in our small group guided reading time, but also for additional practice independently. Thanks again for caring about my students, their education and their future!!

With gratitude,
Mrs. G

 

Dear Mrs. Graham,

Thank you so much for funding my project! I love that fact that people like you are reinvesting in their communities and helping out the schools in their area. Its one of those things that when students realize that they have support from all sorts of people are them that they are more invested in the community themselves.

I am really excited to get these materials before school ended so now my students can enjoy using them during our physics unit. You have perfect timing! Thanks again!!

With gratitude,
Ms. B

 

Dear Mrs. Graham, 

Now that the school year has started, it becomes even more apparent on how much your gift has impacted my students’ learning. Last year, I was able to use your gift as an enrichment activity since it was fairly late in the year. However, this year I was able to use it a center piece for the introduction of Newton’s Laws and let students use to create hypotheses about the actions of the tube.

I really thank you for providing the funds to help with this and how such a gift affects my classroom year after year. I really means a lot to me that folks out there like you are willing to make this type of donation.

With gratitude,
Ms. Boettcher

Reminder: Air filter changing time

Reminder: Air filter changing time

Reminder: Air filter changing time

You need to change your air filters at least twice a year, but we highly recommend every 3 months. A clean air filter allows your HVAC system to run more efficiently and also provides a healthier living environment.