How to Choose a Supplier

Building and restoring top-quality residences begins with the materials we work with. From concrete to siding to lumber, the right building material is essential in our business. 

Over the years, The Horton Group has built trusted relationships with product manufacturers to ensure we are getting quality materials on a timeline that works for our clients. As we continue to work through these challenging times, we are more grateful than ever for trusted suppliers who are willing to go the extra mile for their customers. 

When selecting a supplier or product manufacturer, look for these qualities to ensure you are getting quality resources from a reliable company:

Experience & Knowledge

What experience does the company have in the field? Learn who has used their materials, look at finished projects, and read client testimonials. Years in the business can indicate a business that has built trust, but it is not the only evidence of knowledge in the field. 

Quality

You need to be on the same page as the manufacturer when it comes to quality. Do you have the same expectations? You can also visit the production floor to see how they treat the goods they handle on a daily basis. 

Product Diversity

It’s good to have options. How many different selections does the supplier have on hand? If they don’t have something you are looking for, inquire about how they can source your desired materials.

Accountability

Timelines are often tight in our industry. Make sure you find a manufacturer you can trust, not only for the quality of the materials, but also the timeliness and delivery of those materials. 

Communication

Excellent communication is a must between the supplier and the buyer. Determine how reliable they are with answering questions and responding in a timely manner. 

Training and Education

As the world advances, so should our materials. Ask your supplier how they stay on top of new technology, green materials, and best practices. 

Warranty

Does a warranty back the materials? Learn about the standards of the material and the supplier. This way, if something goes wrong, you know what your options are.

It’s always exciting to work on a new project, pick out materials you love, and watch your vision come to life. Remember there are many working parts to any home construction work, and working with the right people will make the process go as smoothly as possible.

How Builders are Responding to Changing Times

Connecticut, like many states, has deemed construction as an essential business. Builders and developers have quickly adapted to make worksites and client interactions safe for all. 

According to a recent survey of NAHB members, several measures are being implemented that allow the construction industry to continue to build and sell homes. 

The majority of those who responded stated that non-construction employees are working from home during these times. Also, instead of open hours for tours, 59% of those surveyed are scheduling private showings. 

Though not mentioned in the survey, many builders are also implementing virtual options. At the Residences at 66 High Street, interested parties can either schedule a private showing (two people per showing), or a virtual showing. We are able to utilize technology to best fit the needs of every individual. 

Even with an essential business status, not all construction jobs have continued. Of those surveyed, 48% have halted construction projects, or will do so in the near future. Fortunately, however, only 25% have needed to lay off or furlough workers. 

At The Horton Group, we continue to make adaptations and follow CDC guidelines so we can continue to move forward safely. 

 

Fiberglass vs. Spray Foam Insulation

Insulation may be hidden behind the walls, but it plays a big role in keeping you comfortable all year long. 

The job of insulation is to keep the house warm during the winter and cool during summer. With heating and cooling accounting for about half of the energy used in the home, proper insulation can cut back on energy usage and save homeowners money. 

Keep reading for a comparison between two types of insulation: fiberglass and spray foam. 

Fiberglass

Fiberglass insulation is the more traditional form of insulation. This type of insulation comes in pre-cut rolls or blown-in loose fill. It works to regulate air temperature by trapping air inside tiny glass fibers, slowing the transfer of heat. 

Pros of Fiberglass

Fiberglass insulation is inexpensive to install when compared to other types of insulation. It comes in pre-made R-Values, and it maintains performance levels for an extended period of time. Fiberglass is also easy to install.

Cons of Fiberglass

Though commonly used and easy to install, fiberglass is not as effective as spray foam at maintaining comfortable temperatures. Fiberglass cannot fit into every crevice, which can allow for air leaks. This is especially true in colder regions.

Spray Foam

Spray foam insulation is newer than fiberglass and is becoming more popular in homes. Spray foam is installed by spraying a polyurethane foam into walls and ceilings. The foam expands to create an airtight seal. Spray foam can be used as the primary method of insulation or as a supplement to existing insulation.

Pros of Spray Foam

Since spray foam creates an airtight seal, it protects against pests, rodents, and mold, in addition to its insulating properties. It is more energy-efficient than fiberglass, sealing off any crevices so air cannot leak in. It also has a longer lifespan, because it does not break down or sag over time.

Cons of Spray Foam

Spray foam is more expensive than fiberglass. In addition, spray foam should be applied by a professional, which increases the cost even more. The installation process can be messy, so make sure you work with a professional who has experience with spray foam.

If you are ready for new insulation, speak with your contractor to determine what type is the best option for your home. 

 

What is MEP Engineering?

When building, people are often amazed at the floorplan, visual aspects of the structure, and the timeline.

The behind-the-scenes (or in our case the behind-the-walls) elements don’t garner much attention. Yet the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems keep people comfortable. 

What are MEP Systems?

MEP stands for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing. Let’s break down each system here:

  • Mechanical. Mechanical systems include heating and cooling systems, allowing people to stay comfortable inside, no matter the temperature outside.
  • Electrical. Electrical systems keep us connected. We all know how inconvenient it is when the electricity goes out. Electrical systems keep the lights on and other systems running.
  • Plumbing. Plumbing systems provide clean water for drinking, bathing, and cleaning while removing wastewater. 

 

What is MEP Engineering?

MEP Engineering is the design and construction of the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems in a building or residence. MEP engineers, or consulting firms, are often used when large buildings are being constructed. They design, estimate costs, and build MEP systems so that the interior spaces are ideal for comfort at home or work.

Benefits of MEP Engineering

It may seem pretty straightforward to install heating, cooling, lighting, and plumbing in a building. When done poorly, it can result in uncomfortable conditions: too hot or too cold, poor lighting, noisy HVAC systems, and inefficient use of energy. 

When strategically designed, MEP engineering can:

  • Lower costs
  • Improve lighting
  • Improve heating and cooling
  • Solve water or plumbing issues
  • Conserve water
  • Conserve energy
  • Automate building systems
  • Improve concentration and mood in the workplace
  • Increase comfort

While MEP Engineering may not be necessary for a single-family home, thoughtful planning and design in offices and multi-unit residences is essential. 

Builder Confidence Reaches 20-year High

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, you may have heard that at the end of 2019, the national inventory declined by 9.5%, according to realtor.com

What does this mean? With fewer homes on the market, and buyers actively searching for their next house, experts predict inventory will remain low into 2020. 

It also means that builder confidence levels are breaking records.

National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index

Every month for the past 30 years, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) conducts a Housing Market Index survey. This survey gauges builder perceptions of current single-family homes sales and sales expectations for the next six months.

The last two monthly surveys – December 2019 and January 2020 – have the highest confidence levels for builders since 1999. The confidence level reached 76 points in December and decreased by just one point in January. To compare, builder confidence in January 2019 was 58 points. 

What does this mean?

With low inventory levels, low mortgage rates, and a strong labor market, builders are going into 2020 with high levels of optimism. 

NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde said,

“Low interest rates and a healthy labor market combined with a need for additional inventory is setting the stage for further home building gains in 2020.”

Builders are prepared to tackle the problem of low housing inventory, particularly for single-family homes and starter homes. Buyers who are frustrated with a lack of housing options can work with builders or search for new development projects in the area. 

Are you considering building in 2020? Contact us today!

 

 

Design-Build vs. Design-Bid-Build

You decided to build.

Do you know what type of build process you want to commit to?

Beyond choosing the right builder, you need to understand how the builder will complete the scope of work. Two methods are design-build and design-bid-build. We go over the differences between these two processes below. 

Design-Build

With design-build, the owner signs just one contract with the builder (or project manager).

Often, design-build companies have their own team to handle all aspects of the project, including design, construction, and all trades. With this type of construction process, the owner has one point of contact, making it easier to communicate. 

The contractor can also hire subcontractors for trades as needed, though they resume all responsibility for the finished project, cost, and schedule. 

Design-Bid-Build

Design-bid-build is the more traditional model in construction. Design and construction are handled by two different companies, with two separate contracts. 

Where does the bidding come in?

First, the design team works to complete a set of construction documents for the project. From there, various contractors can submit bids for the project. Usually, the work goes to the lowest bidder. This can help to ensure the cost of construction will stay low. When communication between all parties is strong, this process is effective. 

When completing new construction, it is most important to feel comfortable with who you are working with. From there, you can discuss the type of building process that best fits your needs. 

 

4 Types of Construction Contracts 

A construction contract is a legal agreement between all parties involved. Construction projects have numerous people involved both on and off-site: the project manager, owner, designer, contractors, subcontractors, and more. To ensure all parties involved are protected, the contract must be clear and agreed upon by all. 

Construction contracts clearly state project compensation, responsibilities of all involved, and risks assumed by all parties. 

The following contract types are used in construction projects and are customized to meet the needs of each new build. 

Lump Sum or Fixed Price Contract

A lump sum, or fixed price, contract includes a total fixed price for the entire project. The contractor estimates the total cost of the project, including costs associated with overhead and risk. With a lump sum contract, the contractor assumes all risk. Incentives or penalties can be included in the contract for timeline adjustments.

Cost Plus Contract

With a cost plus contract, the contractor is paid for actual purchases and labor costs. A pre-negotiated amount to cover the contractor’s overhead is also included. All expenses are classified as either direct or indirect. 

In this type of contract, the owner assumes all risk and is involved in construction administration. In addition, there is no incentive to reduce labor costs by finishing ahead of schedule. 

The most common variations for a cost plus contract are:

  • Cost Plus Fixed Fee
  • Cost Plus Fixed Percentage
  • Cost Plus with Guaranteed Maximum Price Contract
  • Cost Plus with Guaranteed Maximum Price and Bonus Contract

Time and Materials Contracts

With a time and materials contract, the owner and contractor agree on an hourly or daily rate. Similar to a cost plus contract, all fees must be included and classified as direct or indirect. Overhead and markup costs also need to be added, and owners can put a cap in place. Time and materials contracts are most often used for a small scope of work. 

Unit Pricing Contracts

For larger scopes of work, builders and federal agencies will often use a unit pricing contract. This contract determines the payment for a specific task (i.e., the number of residential units), which is multiplied by the quantity of that task. With unit pricing, the exact price will not be known until the project is completed. 

The type of project you are working on will determine what contract you will need. Always review your contract in full and discuss any questions with your builder or project manager. 

 

Recycling Construction Materials

Sustainability and green living is becoming more evident in homes and workplaces. It’s one thing to create a green finished product; it’s just as important to make the construction process environmentally friendly. 

Construction & Demolition Materials

Many of the materials used in construction can be recycled. Construction & demolition (C&D) waste comes from building and tearing down houses, buildings, roads, and bridges. C&D materials can be recycled in the following ways:

  • Concrete rubble can be reused in new projects. 
  • Wood can be recycled into mulch, compost, animal bedding, wood pellets, and more.
  • Gypsum drywall can be recycled into new drywall, in the production of cement, and as an additive to composting operations.
  • Asphalt can be recycled an endless number of times, as it never loses quality.
  • Metals can be sent to metal scrap yards and reused.

Additional materials that can be recycled include glass, cardboard, and paper.

Many C&D materials can be reused. During a demolition or remodel, items that can be reused in new projects should be removed carefully before tearing anything down. Items that can be reused include:

  • Doors
  • Hardware
  • Appliances
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Windows
  • Brick and masonry
  • Excess insulation
  • Paint
  • Packaging materials 

Benefits of Recycling C&D Materials

In 2015 alone, 548 million tons of C&D debris was created, with 90% coming from demolition, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Recycling construction materials has both environmental and economic benefits. 

When recycled materials are used, the consumption of natural resources is decreased, saving energy. By reusing materials, less waste goes to landfills. Since landfills are filling quickly, it often costs more money to dispose of materials than it does to recycle them. This can help to reduce the building project expenses. 

Whether recycling of reusing materials, planning is essential to fulfill rules and regulations. Local recycling centers, landfills, and waste departments all work with construction companies to reduce waste and achieve green building practices. 

 

5 Tips to Prepare for a Remodel

You’ve met with your contractor, set a budget, and are excited to see the vision for your updated home come to life. 

Now you have to live through the remodel. 

Remodeling your home is a thrilling venture, especially if it is something you have been working towards. Knowing the changes you want is the first step, and it is exciting when construction gets underway. If you plan on living in the home while renovations are taking place, you need to prepare for life in a work zone.

Here are some tips to make the construction phase as seamless as possible. 

Prepare Emotionally

By preparing mentally to live in a home that is being remodeled, you will ease into the mindset needed. There will be a certain level of mess (after all, things are being ripped up and put back together), noise, and workers entering and exiting. Find a contractor who communicates clearly and plan extra time outside or visiting loved ones. Remind yourself that though things may get hectic, it is just a phase!

Pack Up

Pack up your belongings as if you are moving. This helps the workers, as they will not need to work around any of your things. This step will also be beneficial to you because the space you are living in will not be overcrowded. Keep your essential items, and put the rest in storage.  

Establish Living Zones

Where will you be spending your time when you are in the house? Decide how you can repurpose the rooms that are not being worked on to help you live as comfortably as possible. Perhaps the master bedroom becomes more like a studio apartment, with an area for sleeping and a space for a living room. If your kitchen is being remodeled, set up a countertop with a coffee maker, small fridge, microwave, and toaster oven for use at home. You will need to be creative when creating living zones, but it will help make the transition easier. 

Seal the Work Zone

Work zones are full of dust, construction materials, and tools. If possible, make a separate entryway for construction workers, and tape off the work site from your living space. 

Prepare to be Flexible

During a remodel, unforeseen issues may arise. Your contractor works to make sure everything runs smoothly. Plan to communicate with your contractor regularly, so you understand the progress of the project. This way, if a surprise does pop up, you can calmly decide what your next step is. 

Renovations do not have to be extremely stressful, but they do require preparation, communication, and flexibility. Are you ready to complete a remodel?

WordPress.com.

Up ↑