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.

Radiant Floor Heating 101

Radiant floor heating, or underfloor heating is an energy efficient and practically invisible method of heating your home. If you’re remodeling an existing home, adding the finishing touches to your new home’s plans, or just dreaming a little, radiant floor heating is worth knowing about.

What is it?

This type of flooring can be found as far back as the Romans who invented this method of heating their marble floors. With this method, heat is conducted through the surface of the floor instead of through the air.

How does it work?

Most radiant flooring falls under two types: hydronic, heating through hot water pipes, and electric, heating through electric wires. Both types of underfloor heating are buried under the floor. An electric radiant floor heating system is more cost-effective and easier to install, but tends to be more expensive in the long run while the hydronic radiant floor heating system is more expensive and difficult at installation and less expensive to operate. How to choose? The rule of thumb is that electric works better for smaller areas while hydronic is more efficient for larger areas or the entire house.

Pros and Cons

Because heat rises, radiant floor heating is an energy efficient way to make certain that you stay warm. With more traditional Western heating methods, heat often gets trapped near the ceiling, or in houses that aren’t sealed well the heat escapes outside. Underfloor heating systems can be tricky to install in an existing floor, you will need to tear up the entire floor to install it. There are a few other options if you want the benefits of radiant floor heating but don’t want to go through the pains of installation in an existing house. Electric radiant pads are one of these options and worth exploring a bit more.

Stone, ceramic tiles, and concrete all work very well with radiant floor heating. Wood floors might not work so well, but talk to your custom home builder about your options if you just can’t live without a hardwood floor and radiant floor heating, there are still some ways to make this work. Vinyl and laminate flooring, as well as carpeting do not work very well with the necessary heat flow.

Hardwood Floors VS Laminate

Laminate flooring is a great and cost effective option to make your custom home appear that it has hardwood flooring, but is it worth the investment? This post is part of our series on flooring pros and cons, you can read our previous posts about bamboo flooring and hardwood flooring vs. carpet.

Benefits of Laminate

Laminate flooring is significantly cheaper than hardwood flooring and can also be more resistant to scratches, moisture, and stains.  This of course depends entirely on the quality of the laminate and maintenance.  Laminate can imitate the appearance of hardwood or stone, or almost anything.  Because hardwood flooring is susceptible to moisture or direct sunlight, it is not always the best choice for bathrooms, kitchens, or in rooms with harsh sunlight.  Upkeep for laminate flooring is easier than hardwood, there is no need for polishing or waxing, but it should be frequently cleaned. The average cost of laminate flooring averages from $4-8 per square foot, but can often be found for less.

Benefits of Hardwood

Hardwood flooring, because it is made from natural, durable material and finished, can last more than 75-100 years when properly maintained.  In comparison, laminate flooring, made of synthetic fiberboard with a laminate finish will never last that long; top quality laminate will need to be replaced about 15-25 years after installation but repairs and installation can be far cheaper than repairing or replacing hardwood floors.  Upfront costs for hardwood flooring is the primary deterrent of installation, the average price of hardwood floors is $8-15 per square foot (though the cost can range from $2.75-200 depending on the quality and type of wood).  The general rule for hardwood flooring is the harder the wood, the more durable and more expensive.


As a rule, laminate and hardwood are both easy to maintain but that doesn’t mean that maintenance is not necessary.  Both types of flooring will last longer when harsh chemical treatments are not used and when kept clean.  The use of rugs and felt pads on the feet of furniture is also a good way to ensure that your floors last longer.

Hardwood Floors VS Carpet

The struggle over the choice of flooring for your dream home is an age-old problem.  Hardwood floors speak of quality and will last much longer than carpeted interiors but carpet is cheaper to lay down and so the upfront cost is much lower.  Your custom home builder can answer a lot of your questions about what is the best option for your home, but here’s a bit of general information to get you started.

Benefits of Carpet

As mentioned above, carpet is both easier and cheaper to install, prices can range from $0.50 up to $8.50 per square meter while hardwood flooring prices (depending on the type of wood) can range from $2.75 to $200 per square foot.  Proper carpet installation is much quicker than installing hardwood floors because hardwood flooring requires precision and any small mistake can quickly become an expensive problem.  Sometimes improper installation of hardwood can lead to your floor being more prone to water damage.

Carpet, though it requires much more rigorous and regular maintenance, can be replaced easily and cheaply while a hardwood replacement is going to cost quite a bit more.  Carpet also has a wide range of color, design, and texture options available and is a good insulator for heat and sound.

Benefits of Hardwood

Hardwood flooring is known for its durability; if maintained and treated properly, it can last up to 100 years and will get more beautiful with usage and age (not really an option for carpet).  Carpets have a comparatively short lifespan with the top quality carpets lasting about 15 years.  On average, a carpet will only last about 6 years as they can quickly begin to look worn from collecting dust and stains.  When your hardwood floor begins to look worn, your first response isn’t necessarily replacing it.  Most hardwood floors will need refinishing about every 20 years and you can also just repair portions of it by pulling up the damaged boards and replacing it with matching wood.  Cleaning is also far easier and hardwood won’t trap allergens and dust as carpet does and therefore the air inside your home will be cleaner.

As a homeowner, you should always consider the resale value of your home.  Hardwood flooring is an elegant addition to any home and it is generally viewed very favorably by home buyers therefore the resale value is usually increased when hardwood flooring is present.

If you want to read more about types of hardwood flooring, we recommend our post about bamboo flooring.