green construction blueprints

Everything You Need to Know About Hiring a Green Construction Architect

Many home builders are interested in green construction, or the idea of building a green or energy-efficient home from scratch. But finding the right architect for such a project can be a challenge, considering the architecture industry is still trying to adjust to the green building craze. Some architects specialize in green construction; while others would like you to believe that they’re skilled in these matters, but they’re actually still learning their way. If you’re interested in constructing a green building, use these tips to find the right architect for the project.

Understanding Their Concept of “Green”

When trying to hire an architect for a green project, you’ll want to make sure that you’re on the same page. That means understanding their concept of the word “green”. Some architects will sell themselves as green builders, but they might not be familiar with what makes a building environmentally friendly. Ask them to describe what makes a building green. If their answer is about choosing energy-efficient appliances, they might need some more training on the subject. They should be focused on lowering energy bills and keeping the building relatively small and contained.

What Goes into Their Green Design?

Now is a good time to start asking about the specifics of what they consider to be a green design. An architect that’s well-versed in high-performance green construction will talk about insulating walls and ceilings, limiting airflow to the outdoors, and implementing self-sustaining energy systems into the building’s construction. This goes far beyond choosing an energy-efficient air conditioner or fitting your home with energy-efficient appliances.

Learning About Their Previous Experience with High-Performance Green Construction

Many architects don’t have adequate training when it comes to green construction. They may have an idea about what goes into a green building, but when the time comes to design a project from scratch, they’re flying blind. Many architecture schools are just starting to offer green building programs to their students, so finding an architect with a “green” degree might be difficult.

Try to learn as much as you can about the architect’s background and education. Even if an architect didn’t study green architecture in college, they might have a long history of building green structures. Ask for some previous work samples or existing structures they’ve worked on.

Finding a qualified green architect for your next project usually requires a little more legwork than if you were building a normal home. Green architects tend to be easier to find in places like California, New York and Washington, but there are season pros all over the country if you know where to look.

If you’re looking for a green architect in the Bay Area, contact CRC Builders Inc. to learn more about our services and past experience!
eco-friendly fireplace

Eco-Friendly Fireplaces: The Benefits of Adding a Green Fireplace to Your Property

Everyone loves to snuggle up next to a crackling fireplace, especially when there’s a fresh covering of snow on the ground. But traditional wood-burning fireplaces might not be the best choice for your property. They can release toxins into the air, decrease air quality, and make your home less energy efficient. If you want to install a fireplace in your home but without the drawbacks, consider choosing an eco-friendly fireplace instead. Learn more about the benefits of using a green fireplace from the professionals at CRC Builders Inc.

Less Wasted Heat

With a typical wood-burning fireplace, much of the heat created by the fire ends up going right out the chimney before it has a chance to raise the internal temperature of your home. Once the heat escapes, cold air from the outdoors will sneak inside your home, forcing your furnace or HVAC system to work that much harder to keep your home warm.

You can avoid this issue by using a natural gas or propane fireplace that eliminates the heat loss from the chimney. Natural gas and propane fireplaces don’t release the same amount of toxins into the atmosphere as a wood-burning fireplace, which means less smoke and you can bring more heat directly into your home.

Better Air Quality

Burning wood releases small particles into the air that can lead to a number of health issues and concerns, including respiratory issues. These fine particles can easily be ingested or inhaled, especially if you’re lighting a fire in a small space with little ventilation. This can be a danger to you and your loved ones when you’re lighting fires in your home on a regular basis.

Instead of burning wood, you can use a natural gas or propane fireplace that reduces these emissions by up to 90 percent. You can also use a pellet stove, which burns cylinders made with compressed sawdust, reducing the amount of toxic emissions in your home. Your family will breathe easier knowing that your home is not filled with toxic particles that can do lasting damage to your health.

More Savings

Switching to a green fireplace can help you and your family save money. You’ll have lower HVAC costs by not wasting as much heat and pumping clean heat directly into your home every time you light a fire. Your local or state government might also provide generous tax breaks and subsidies when you install an eco-friendly fireplace in your home. You can enjoy the soothing ambience of a real fire in your home without throwing your money out the window.

With better air quality, more energy efficiency and less wasted heat, switching to a green fireplace can make all the difference in the world. Contact the pros at CRC Builders Inc. to learn more about the benefits of going green.
attached vs detached garage

Detached vs Attached Garages: Which Is Right for You?

Garages are considered standard for some people but for many others, they are deemed a luxury. If you are a homeowner who is debating whether to have an attached or detached garage installed, you’ll want to become familiar with the benefits and drawbacks of each type in order to make the best-informed decision possible. You’ll want to start with determining the extent to which you’ll need to use your new garage, whether it be for extra storage for items or just as a cover for a vehicle. The average cost of new garage construction is $21,000, but many factors can raise or lower your final costs. Following are some of the pros and cons of each type of garage for you to consider:

Benefits and Drawbacks of Attached Garages

Probably the biggest benefit of having an attached garage is convenience – especially during inclement weather. When moving from your house out to your car, you won’t have to get rained on, snowed on, or anything else. This also applies to belongings you may have stored in the garage; many people keep an extra freezer or refrigerator in the garage, and to get to them, you won’t have to leave indoor comfort with an attached vs. detached garage.

Another advantage to building an attached garage is that the builder can use a pre-existing wall in the process of construction. This is going to save you money not just on construction materials, but also on HVAC and insulation materials, as well. Laws dictate that all garages must be ventilated; however, it is much easier and less expensive to accomplish this with an attached garage.

Many homeowners look to use their garages as workspaces or even an extra room; therefore, electricity is already present in the home and can easily be expanded to include the garage, as well. With a detached garage, the same process is much more difficult.

Attached garages do also come with a few disadvantages. To start, space is the main down-side. Many lots are narrow and don’t have the room required for a sufficiently-sized attached garage on the side of the home. This is often the case in older neighborhoods and in places like downtown areas. Zoning is another potential issue when adding an attached garage; it’s not always easy to obtain permits for existing structures and even when they are easy, they are often expensive.

There are two additional potential disadvantages of attached garages: security and health. If someone breaks into your attached garage, they would have access to your home as well. However, if you had a detached garage, they would have access to it and nothing else. Health concerns of an attached garage include inhabitants of a house being in close quarters with garages and breathing in dangerous gases from them.

Pros and Cons of Detached Garages

As far as health goes, the American Lung Association suggests that a detached garage would protect homeowners from breathing oil fumes, pesticides, and carbon monoxide. However, as is the case with attached garages, the number one benefit is the extra storage and space. In addition, many detached garages easily can provide a living space above them. This space could also be used as additional storage area.

Many houses that are situated on narrow lots are ideal lots for detached garages because they stretch long for detached units to be placed somewhat behind the homes. Many homeowners add a deck or patio above, which is usually not possible with attached garages. For people who don’t have a lot of yard to their property, the detached garage provides much spatial potential.

A final advantage of detached garages is the fact that they are easier to expand than attached ones. Whether you might look to expand a one-car detached into a two-car detached or you’re starting with a structure that was designed initially instead for storage, you’ll have an easier time expanding when you’re working with a detached structure. Permits for detached garages are also easier to obtain.

That being said, detached garages do have a couple of disadvantages. You’ll have to deal with the weather elements outdoors as you go from your house to the garage, which can be difficult to handle sometimes, depending on circumstances. In addition, you won’t have the advantage of having an existing wall to build upon like you do with an attached garage. Running electricity and venting is easier with an attached vs detached garage, too.

If you’re looking to add an addition to your home, whether it’s a detached or attached garage (or even if you’re not sure which type, yet) contact us today. CRC Builders can help you with every stage of the build, from the design to the actual construction and beyond!
pier and beam foundation

Pier & Beam Foundation vs. Slab Foundation: Which Should You Use?

Prior to the popular use of slab foundations underneath structures, most homes were elevated in the air by pier and beam foundations (sometimes also called post and beam). These days, however, pier and beam structures aren’t used as much, but are still the standard in some parts of the country that get a lot of rain or are in flood zones.

Should you opt for a pier and beam foundation or a slab foundation for your new home? Read on to weigh the pros and cons of pier and beam foundations in relation to slab:

Pier and Beam Foundation Benefits:
  • With a pier and beam foundation your home can have a crawl space high enough to actually crawl through. Utilities, plumbing, wiring, and ventilation will be easier to access if/when issues arise with the various systems of your home.
  • You won’t have to worry about concrete floors having to be broken open in the event that there are major plumbing issues with a pier and beam structure; a plumber might need to break a slab floor in order to reach damaged pipes.
  • In general, slab structures are usually more expensive to repair than pier and beam foundations; in addition, they also generally have fewer foundational problems than slab structures.
  • As was previously stated, pier and beam structures are elevated to help protect them from moisture and flooding.
  • Thanks to the air under homes with pier and beam foundations, there’s an extra little bit of insulation under there. In addition, if you’re a person that likes the feel of a wooden platform under your feet instead of a concrete floor, you’ll enjoy a pier and beam foundation.
The Benefits of a Slab Foundation:
This is all not to say that there are no benefits to having a slab foundation – there are:
  • Slab foundations are almost always less expensive than pier and beam foundations to build. Elevating a home is just about a sure thing that it’ll be more expensive than just building on a slab.
  • With a pier and beam structure, you might notice more bouncy, creaking floors – even some sagging floors over an extended period of time – but not with slab foundations.
  • With a slab foundation, you’ll probably have fewer problems with ventilation and moisture issues in your home because there is nowhere for moisture to build up under the home.
  • On a related note, you might have fewer issues with mildew, mold, and rotting wood if you have a slab foundation.
  • You also might have more bugs and rodents in the crawl space of a pier and beam home than with a slab foundation.
If you choose a pier and beam foundation for your home, be sure that you have considered a builder carefully – poor design and faulty builds can add to any list of problems, especially if incorrect pier and beam spacing or shim failures occur.

Do keep in mind that repairing issues like these is usually cheaper and easier than with slab homes – for example, if the slab foundation of a home starts to shift and crack, it might actually be impossible to fix. However, it’s also important to remember that regardless of the foundation you choose, no structure is perfect, but most issues can be repaired if they are found early.
termite damage

How to Naturally Protect Your Home from Termites When Remodeling

Keep Termites Away from the Wood in Your Home with These Tips

As any contractor will tell you, termites can be a major headache when you’re building a house from scratch or renovating an existing home. Wood is like catnip to termites, and you can bet that all those wood chips and dust are going to attract lots of wood-hungry critters and insects. At this point, many homeowners might reach for something toxic under their kitchen sink or at the local hardware store, but you don’t have to resort to toxic chemicals when you’re trying to keep termites at bay. There are many all-natural solutions to your termite problem.

Borate – A Natural Mineral

If you’re struggling to contain your termite problem during a home improvement project and you’re not exactly enthusiastic about spraying your home with a bunch of toxic chemicals, you can try using borate, a type of mineral that’s found naturally in the earth and in many plants and animals. But borate is also a natural termite and roach killer. You might be familiar with borate if one of your parents or grandparents used to sprinkle some of it in the washing machine. Typically, borate is used in a wide variety of products, including textile fiberglass, detergents and soaps, agricultural compounds, and, unsurprisingly, pest control products.

Using Boric Acid-Based Products

The pest control industry has been getting an earful from concerned homeowners like you that are worried about filling their homes with toxic chemicals. That’s why many pest control companies are switching to boric acid-based products that are free of toxic chemicals. These products usually come in a powder form.

Putting the Powder in the Right Spots

To get started, sprinkle some of the powder around the area where you’re working and other high-traffic areas for termites. This might include underneath major appliances, around crevices and narrow openings, and anywhere else you might have spotted a termite.

How Much Should You Use?

Most people make the mistake of pouring huge globs of powder on the floor, but the termites aren’t going to crawl on top of a large mound of mysterious white powder. Instead lightly coat the floor or the wall with a thin layer of powder. In order for the treatment to work, the termites will need to walk through the powder. Any wood they try to eat will be contaminated and they will die shortly afterward. So, it’s best to make the powder look invisible. Cut a small opening in the top of the container and pour the powder out slowly without letting too much collect on the floor.

Boric acid-based products are by far your best bet when it comes to killing termites naturally. You shouldn’t have to deal with a pest infestation when you’re trying to get some things done around the house.

If you’re looking for a reliable remodeling company that knows how to keep termites at bay, contact the professionals at CRC Builders!
home sound proofing

The Benefits of Having a Soundproof Room

Ensure Your Privacy with Practical Sound Control

If you live in a quiet neighborhood or you’re looking to put some distance between you and your housemates, you might be interested in building a soundproof room. This reduces the amount of sound that passes from one room to another. Maybe you love to blast your favorite music, watch a blockbuster movie with the volume all the way up, or throw a party with your friends. Whatever the case may be, creating a soundproof room can help you make the most of your property.

More Privacy

If you live in a house with other people or you’re just a few feet away from your neighbor, everyone around you will be able to hear everything you’re doing in your room unless you invest in some practical sound control. Owning a home should give you plenty of privacy, unless you’re doing something that makes a lot of noise. Suddenly, your privacy goes out the window. Even if you think that no one can hear what you’re doing in your bedroom or studio, there’s a good chance that all that sound is traveling to someone else’s ears. If you want to keep your private life private, making the walls soundproof is usually your best option.

Staying on Good Terms with Your Neighbor

Creating a soundproof space isn’t just about maintaining privacy, it’s about respecting the other people around you. Whether it’s your roommate, a family member, or your next-door neighbor, everyone deserves some peace and quiet. If you plan on making a lot of noise, creating a soundproof room will help you avoid an unruly encounter with the people around. If you own your own home, you might have to live next to your neighbors for the next several decades. Unless you like being at odds with the people next door, you might want to build a soundproof room for all your noisy activities.

How to Achieve Practical Sound Control

If you’re looking to soundproof a room in your home, you’ll likely need the help of a professional. Practical sound control means limiting the amount of air flow coming in and out of the room and limiting the vibrations moving through the space. Sound travels through the air, so you’ll need to seal off access to the room as much as possible.

In order to achieve this, the contractor may pad the wall with extra studs if the room is being constructed from scratch. They may also seal any openings including electrical boxes and outlets with some kind of sealant or putty. Another option is to add an extra layer of drywall to help insulate the space. If it’s an existing room, the contractor might prefer to install a series of padded mats against the wall. This material absorbs most of the sound vibrations.

If you’re looking to soundproof a room in your new home, contact the professionals at CRC Builders. They’ll help you find the privacy and peace of mind you’ve been looking for. Make some noise and contact CRC Builders today!
custom lighting

Tips for Choosing the Lighting in Your Home

Building a Custom Lighting Setup that Enhances Your Lifestyle

If you’re going to build a custom lighting setup in your home, you need to make sure that you know exactly what you want to get out of the project. After all, built-in custom lighting fixtures are permanent and can’t be rearranged, unlike a lamp that you can unplug and move to the next room. Before you contact a custom lighting solutions company, spend some time in your home and think about what you envision yourself doing in the space. Lighting is all about purpose. What is each lighting fixture supposed to achieve? Use these tips when choosing a custom lighting setup for your home.

Creating the Right Ambience

If you want a lighting setup that focuses on ambience, you’ll want to consider balancing the space by adding some small wall scones around the inside or outside of your property. Directional wall scones can add a wash of light to an otherwise dim corner or surface area. This creates a layered affect that pleases the eye.

Built-in Lighting as Décor

Lighting doesn’t always have to help you complete a certain task. Lighting can also be a part of your home’s overall décor. Adding lights around the space will help you achieve a certain look and feel. If you’re looking to lounge around with a glass of wine, you can add some dimmed accents that make the space feel more relaxing. For your at-home office, try infusing the space with some bright overheads that encourage productivity.

Adding Multiple Light Sources

It’s always a good idea to add multiple light sources if you spend a lot of time in a room. This creates a sense of balance, helping you see a space or an object in its entirety. With so much activity going on in your office, the kitchen or bedroom, having more light is usually a safer bet. You’ll be able to move from one task to the next without running out of light.

Night Lighting for Safety and Utility

Lighting can also be a reliable safety feature. Incorporating a built-in lighting setup into the area around your home can make the space feel more inviting and ward off unwanted intruders. If you have trouble getting around your home in the middle of the night, some minimal track lighting will help you navigate the space with ease. You can also add a built-in night light to your child’s bedroom or the nursery.

Contact the professionals at CRC Builders for all your custom lighting needs.
cost of building a custom home

A Guide to Custom Home Financing

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Custom Home and How to Finance It

The process of building a custom home tends to be more involved than that of buying a resale home. If you’re ready to go the extra mile, find out more about how much it can cost to build a custom home and how to finance the project.

Get Your Financial Records in Order Beforehand

Before you begin the process of looking for financing, you need to make sure that you have all your documentation in order. You’ll need the latest copy of your credit score, hopefully from all three credit report firms, including Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. If you see any errors, you’ll need to fix them before you get started. Just like you would apply for a mortgage, you’ll also need documentation to verify your income, employment history, bank accounts, and tax filing history.

Finding Out How Much You Can Afford

As glamorous as you might want your dream home to be, you need to be able to afford whatever blueprint you come up with. Talk to some builders to get an estimate of how much it will cost to build the custom home, including extra room for accidents and unexpected setbacks. Compare the total with your income, regular living expenses and other financial obligations. As a general rule of thumb, you can afford to build a new home that’s up to two to two and a half times your average yearly income.
Whatever lending institution you choose will use your average income along with your credit score and debt obligations to make sure that you can get approved for the loan. So, you can save yourself some time by getting a sense of how much you can afford beforehand.

What Kinds of Financing Options Are Available?

When building a custom home, you have a lot of financing options at your disposal. You can shop around for the lowest interest rate from some lending institutions in your area as if you were financing a normal resale home.

Builder Financing

You can also take advantage of what’s known as builder financing. Some large or medium-size construction companies will have mortgage subsidies incorporated into their business. You can use these services to get a financing plan that’s designed around the home building process. Some options will include incentives for upgrading certain features of your new home.

Bridge Financing

You can also apply for bridge financing, which is a form of financing that’s designed to help you get through the transition period. This usually takes place before you’ve sold your current house and before your new house has been finished. Bridge loans usually only last for six to nine months, so construction can get underway on your new home before you’re ready to move.

Coming up with a plan and the total cost of your custom home will help you get a better idea of what kinds of financing options you’ll need. Individuals looking to build a custom home can contact the professionals at CRC Builders for more information.
custom backyards

Custom Backyards for Creating the Perfect Outdoor Space

Use These Backyard Ideas as Inspiration for Your Next Outdoor Project

The backyard can be one of the most underutilized areas of a person’s home. If you have some space to work with, why not customize your backyard by adding some personal touches? You can create a relaxing space with plenty of seating, a cozy fireplace, or some extra room for all your possessions. Use these backyard ideas to get your creative juices pumping.

Adding a Custom Fire Pit

A fire pit will actually make you want to use your backyard. They’re relatively inexpensive and create the perfect atmosphere for almost any occasion. Add some custom seating around the fire pit to help people feel welcome in the space. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re not too close to trees and other pieces of debris that could catch on fire.

Staying Organized with Outdoor Storage

If your garage is filling up with all kinds of random stuff, why not make use of all that space you have in your backyard? Adding a custom outdoor storage shed or shelf can make all the difference when it comes to staying organized. There are plenty of moisture-resistant wood options out there to help you design a hardwood unit that blends in with the rest of your property.

Building a Sitting Wall to Divide the Space

Never underestimate the power of a sitting wall. In addition to giving your guests another place to sit down, a sitting wall helps break up the space in your backyard. You can separate certain areas to differentiate the space based on how it’s going to be used. One area could be used to show off your green thumb, while another space is for lounging with your guests.

Get more custom backyard ideas from CRC Builders. They’re here to help you design the ultimate California backyard.
building a custom home

The Benefits of Building a Custom Home

Create the Ultimate Retreat with Custom Home Building

If you’re on the fence between buying a resale home and building a custom home, think about how much effort you want to put into the buying process. Are you simply looking to sign on the dotted line, or are you willing to take an assertive role and design a space from scratch? Both methods have their pros and cons, but building a custom home is your chance to make your dreams a reality. Learn about all the benefits of custom home building.

Designing a Space That’s Truly Yours

This goes without saying, but it’s worth repeating. Designing a custom home is your chance to leave your mark on the world. Whether the house stays in your family for generations or a new owner learns to love it just as much you do, your new home will stand the test of time. You’ll feel a real sense of ownership over the space, and you’ll be making a lasting contribution to the neighborhood.

Unlimited Possibilities

Buyers tend to spend months or even years searching through existing homes only to find out that none of them satisfy their expectations. You might realize that the backyard isn’t big enough, you don’t like the neighborhood, or the upstairs bedroom is just too small. You don’t have to worry about that with a custom home. The possibilities are endless. You can rest assured that whatever you and your designer come up with will be exactly to your liking.

Hand-Selected Materials

When you buy a resale home, you might never know exactly what you’re getting into, especially if the home was built decades ago. From lead paint to shoddy wood, finding out what type of materials were used to build the resale home can be next to impossible. But when you build a custom home, you can hand-select every item or material that’s going into the space. Learn more about the benefits of building a custom home and contact the professionals at CRC Builders today!

Featured img via Vermont Timber Works Inc.