Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Home Sound Proofing Control

In my view home soundproofing and sound control is an essential benefit to living in a well constructed home. Reducing ambient noise adds to client comfort and lifestyle. Let’s review the basic, low cost options and then take a look at some more thorough methodologies for controlling interior noise levels in your home.
At Wardell Builders, the basics include:
·        Insulation in every interior wall and between all floors

·        Sound board (fiberboard) installed on walls between bedrooms and common room or baths

·        Solid core interior doors

·        Use of 5/8” drywall over ½” drywall

·        Careful locating of outlets boxes
The theories of home soundproofing and home sound control involve two primary methodologies, first absorb sound, next block it’s transmission through the structure. The items above do both of these tasks fairly well and inexpensively. Insulation and sound board absorb sound. Solid core doors and 5/8” drywall help prevent the transmission of sound. Locating electrical boxes (as much as possible) to prevent them from being back to back in a common stud bay maintains the wall assembly sound characteristics. All of these methods require thinking and good craftsmanship. The best acoustic assemblies will have poor results if installed incorrectly.
The strategies listed above will do a reasonable job with wall assemblies; insulation is a marginal aid to floor to ceiling assemblies. Fiberboard can be difficult to use in some finished floor applications. Our basic floor assemblies start with a manufactured joist system. This can be I joists (like Truss Joist or TJI) or open web joist (Red Built or Trim Joist). A prime benefit of manufactured floor joist is their low sound transmission. Above, a solid plywood or OSB layer (3/4” minimum) is glued and twist nailed in place. This assembly with insulation and 5/8” drywall below will do a moderate job in controlling sound between floors. With this method the finish layer installed above will heavily influence sound transmission. Carpet will absorb the sound prior to its transmission through the floor. Hardwood floors will be quiet for low sounds but higher pitched sounds will easily transmit. How can this be improved?
Floor assemblies can be greatly improved by adding a few dollars to the design. Below the joist, resilient channel can be installed to breakup transmission to the drywall. The drywall itself can be upgraded to a “QuietRock” or equal product. This is a laminated drywall designed for sound control. Acoustic caulking can be used between the ceiling and wall drywall to inhibit sound transmission. On the top of the floor frame assembly, sound deadening products (cork, vinyl mass, gypcrete, enkasonic, etc.) can be applied that will greatly reduce sound transmission. This finish installed above tends to drive the selection of these products. Their application can enhance or reduce the viability of the finished floor’s lifespan. There are too many factors involved to cover in this short blog.
Sound control is lifestyle enhancement. Make sure it is designed into the construction of your home. When thought of early, planned and installed correctly the benefits will be easily apparent and effective. Other than the more exotic installations, none of these should be seen as cost prohibitive. The basic addition of interior insulation will add much less than two thousand dollars to a five thousand square foot home. Sound control is a high value purchase and should be a part of any quality home.
Home SoundProofing | Home Insulation | Solid Core Interior Doors | Sound Control in your home |

Wardell Builders | info@wardellbuilders.com  | 858-793-4190 | Solana Beach, CA 92075





Saturday, November 3, 2012

Construction Grading Jobs and Soils Work

Construction grading jobs and soils work:  these are arguably the phases of construction work that can cost the most per hour with the greatest risk of surprises.

Large pieces of land grading equipment with their heavy equipment operators cost in the $100’s per hour to run. The basis of the grading work is the evaluation of the soils conditions derived from scattered samples. You really don’t know what you will find when you start uncovering the ground. No other work can proceed until the ground is ready for construction and if surprises are found – you have no choice but to rectify them immediately.

The long term success of your custom home’s foundation and structure begins with proper bearing soil. Your home foundation is engineered to the type and bearing capacity of your soil. There are many types of soils, based on their clay to sand ratio, amount and type of rock and degree of stability. Most top soil is unsuitable for home foundations and can be easily compacted allowing for little bearing foundation bearing capacity. Most home sites, even if the grade elevations are not changing, will have the top few feet removed and replaced. This replacement can be a reinstallation, under controlled conditions, creating an even density and bearing throughout the build area.

If a home site is underlayed with formational soils (very firm, old ground) the weathered soils above will still need to be replaced and keyed into this firm layer. There are times when the depth of home footings can extend into this layer and the need for removal and recompaction is greatly diminished. In the southern California, coastal regions, this usually only occurs when a house basement is constructed with the home. The depth of the home foundation under the basement can easily be set deep into the underlying soil formations.

In locations where stable soil is located very deep on the site, coastal hillside or cliff side lots, we will drill down to reach the formational layer and extend the house foundation down with caissons. Caissons are vertical tubes of reinforced concrete typically extending three times the depth of the loose unstable top soils, into the formations below. This is a more costly foundation system for most homes but the only alternative when stable soils lie too deep to reach with traditional grading. The other use for a house caisson system is to shore up the side of an excavation against a nearby property line. This is to avoid the chance of the grading cut collapsing.

The surprises can come when unexpected soil conditions exist. The Soils Report can only assure us of conditions where the samples were taken. I have been on a project where an old stream bed lay between two sampling sites. The soil in this area had to be removed to a depth of sixteen feet and replaced. An expensive surprise but work that had to be done to ensure a home that could last many years with a solid and well founded home foundation system.
Home Foundations | Grading |Soil Tests Reports | Construction Solutions
 Wardell Builders | info@wardellbuilders.com  | 858-793-4190 | Solana Beach, CA 92075

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Operable Window Types and Window Options

Window configurations available for custom homes can confuse the most diligent homeowner. I thought a simple review of various types and where they might work best for you was in order. All of the terms used below can be searched on Google images. A picture is worth a thousand words.

I won’t worry about window shapes here, best to think about squares and rectangles for today’s discussion. Lets start with the parts that make up all operable windows:

Window Frame – this is the box or jamb that fixes to the wall of your home. It is comprised of a sill (the bottom), legs (the sides) and the head (top piece).
Window Sash – This is the operable portion of your window. It is comprised of styles (the sides) and rails (the top and bottom).
The frame of the window is the interface for the wall finishes. It is what the trim is attached to, the drainage plane lathing and the hardware to operate the window sash.
Mulled window – window frames joined together to create fill larger openings.
Fixed unit window – a window that lacks hardware and cannot be opened.
Types of operable windows:
Single hung window – An operable sash passes vertically by a fixed sash within the same window frame. Typically this window will be taller than wide. Least expensive option. Provides ventilation but the sash parts obstruct some view. The glass will be in different planes visually.
Double hung window – Two operable sash can pass vertically by each other in the same frame. Typically this window will be taller than wide. Provides the same volume of ventilation as a single hung but allows for the ventilation to be at the top and/or bottom of the window.  Sash parts obstruct some view. The glass will be in different planes visually.
Glider window - An operable sash passes horizontally by a fixed or operable sash within the same window frame. Typically this window will be wider than tall. An inexpensive option. Provides ventilation but the sash parts obstruct some view. The glass will be in different planes visually.
Awning windows – a single sash hinges at the top and swings outward when opened. Typically this window will be wider than tall. Ventilation volume is more limited than with a single or double hung. This type of window projects into the space beyond the frame. In some locations this would be a hazard. Usually used above or below larger fixed windows to provide ventilation or mulled together to fill tall openings with wide and short frames. When mulled the glass is in the same plane. More expensive than the options above.
Casement windows - a single sash hinges at the side and swings outward when opened. Typically this window will be taller than wide. Ventilation volume is very good with plus that typically it can catch and direct breeze into the home. This type of window projects into the space beyond the frame. In some locations they will take up exterior space though usually not a hazard. When mulled to other casements or fixed units the glass is in the same plane. Allows for the least visual obstruction; more expensive than the options above.
Tilt Turn windows/Hopper windows – these windows use hardware that allow the operable sash to act as both a casement (with all of the same attributes) and also hinge from the bottom and project into the home. The hopper feature provides a limited venting with safety. Many of windows of this type will allow for the window in the casement mode to hinge in such a way that you can clean both the interior and exterior sides of the glass from the interior. These are the most expensive but also the most versatile.
I have likely raised more questions than I have answered. Please feel free to call me, Terry Wardell, at Wardell Builders, 858-793-4190 with any questions.
Windows - Home Window Options - Window Types

Wardell Builders | info@wardellbuilders.com  | 858-793-4190 | Solana Beach, CA 92075


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Home Safety Lighting

Home Safety Lighting

The lighting design elements in custom homes can greatly enhance the architecture and the owner’s lifestyle. Many of these elements including indirect lighting sources, focused art lighting, adjustable levels of light, daylight controls are well known to the trade and are featured in many San Diego custom homes. Other aspects of lighting design, overlooked in the glossy photographs, are home safety lighting and convenience.
Home Lighting fixtures and elements that provide safety always add to the comfort and livability of the home. Motion sensors can be set to turn on at a low level of light, washing across stair treads or providing a path to the bathroom late at night without being bright. Bright lighting late at night can be jarring, a low level, safely guiding the way becomes a convenience that one never notices….unless its gone.

Ever driven into a garage, stayed on a call too long and had the garage door light go out? At Wardell Builders we have always installed a motion detector for at least one of the garage lights. Simply open the car door and the garage is well lit and easy to move through. When we install a lighting control system in a home, either Lutron Homeworks or Vantage Lighting, we always like to include an “at home” switch near the common entry. This can set a low level of light in the home providing a level of comfort when you’re the first one in.
In another blog I will address Home Lighting Control systems. They can be easy to use, for you and a first time guest! Home technology solutions can be simple or too complex to use. We prefer you to have an easy time in your house, the best way to make it a home.
Home Safety Lighting | Home Lighting Design Ideas
Wardell Builders | info@wardellbuilders.com  | 858-793-4190 | Solana Beach, CA 92075

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Home Basement Contruction - Foundations

Home basement foundations require extra care and thought beyond what is typically used for an on grade slab. 

Many custom homes, especially in Del Mar and La Jolla California have basements. 

Home basements are a very usable design element in a home, especially where FAR’s (Floor Area Ratios) and land lot sizes preclude additional above ground building footage. Think of the benefit home basement construction ideas could offer the homeowner…perhaps a car lift which provides extra garage parking or a quiet space for a media room.

Typical home slab thickness for foundations are a thin (5” to 6”) layer of reinforced concrete with a supporting perimeter footing of thickened reinforced concrete (18” to 24” deep and wide) and thickened concrete at structural point loads within the homes footprint.  This works well both structurally and economically. 

Moisture control is ensured with a gravel layer topped with a heavy plastic layer directly below the concrete slab. This prevents water migration up to the concrete and stops water vapor penetration as well.  This moisture control is just not enough for most home basements.

Home basements by nature create a well for site and neighborhood water. They must endure higher water and water vapor pressure values. A daylight basement (or walk out basement) is able to use gravity to alleviate much of this pressure, but a typical home basement does not have that luxury. 

The first step in controlling water and allowing for structural needs is switching from a slab/perimeter footing model to a mat foundation model. In a mat foundation the bottom of the concrete is flat and level, this precludes trapping water under the slab between the footings. A continuous water barrier can be installed below the mat tying up into the basement walls. 

Drainage can be provided below and along side the waterproofing membrane. The key to a successful basement is relieving water pressure against the structure. A mat foundation with a properly installed below grade drainage system will alleviate that pressure and allow the waterproofing system to work.

A nice additional benefit for our custom home clients: it is typically less expensive to form a mat foundation than a standard detail once you are down in the basement hole. A bit more concrete, a bit less labor and a much better system!

Daylight basement ideas | Home basement Construction

Wardell Builders | info@wardellbuilders.com  | 858-793-4190 | Solana Beach, CA 92075