When you step into your newly constructed home for the first time, you should feel great. It’s a fresh start, a new place to call your own. But what if your construction company cut corners? What if you knew certain components would fail or fall apart within a few years? Or that your home would be ice cold in the winter and musky in the summer?
Unfortunately, that is the reality many new homeowners face today. Tons of construction companies look for way to shave costs and end up selecting subpar materials for your home, or skipping crucial steps in the building process. Here are four things to watch for:
Why do they matter? According to This Old House, quality windows can slash your heating and cooling bill by up to 40% each year. Leaky windows can also let in moisture, which leads to mold (a known health hazard).
What to avoid? Be wary of vinyl-framed windows that are poorly built with poor sealing. Vinyl is also not an environmentally-friendly product to manufacture because it uses chlorine and fossil fuels. Also, vinyl-framed windows tend not to last as long as other superior materials.
What to choose? Our favorite pick is Marvin Integrity windows with a wooden interior and ultrex (essentially fiberglass) exterior. Wooden-framed windows are typically very durable, energy-efficient, and aesthetically-pleasing. These windows stand the test of time and many come with a 50-year guarantee.
Why does it matter? As with low-quality windows, poorly insulated walls and attics can dramatically increase your energy bill. Ideally, a well-insulated wall (according to Energy Star), should reduce outside noise, block pollen and dust from entering your home, help control humidity levels, and decrease your chances for ice dams in the winter.
What to avoid? The main thing to avoid is insulation with a poor R-value (thermal performance), or insulation that will break down easily or let moisture into your home. Most importantly, don’t skip insulation! Make sure your walls, attic, and pipes are all well-insulated.
What to choose? We primarily use closed-cell foam insulation that blocks vapors, resists mold, has a long lifespan, and has a high R-value. We also have a unique method for how we spray and set our insulation that leads to big energy savings (Contact us for more information about our process).
Why does it matter? Poor roofing can expose your home to leaks and moisture (which can lead to rot or mold growth), can pool or capture water, or might let in wind or inclement weather. A roof is expensive to replace you want to make sure it’s done right the first time.
What to avoid? Unfortunately, we often see construction companies using three-tab shingles, which are typically thin, bow easily, and do not offer ideal protection against inclement weather. These shingles have a relatively short lifespan and do not raise your property value or add curb appeal.
What to choose? Our choice is architectural shingles (such as these) that provide all-weather protection, resist leaks, and come with a lifetime ltd. warranty.
Why does it matter? Flooring is one of the first things prospective home owners look at when house-shopping. If your flooring is cheap, it will chip, flake, or bow and will simply not look as good as quality flooring.
What to avoid? Avoid cheap laminate and vinyl flooring (that might dent, bubble, or tear) or low-quality tile that is susceptible to chipping. Consider the aesthetic value of your flooring and also consider whether or not the product is environmentally friendly (i.e. laminate and vinyl use fossil fuels in their production).
What to choose? We recommend different types of flooring for different spaces, such as hardwood flooring or tile. Always look for a 30-year warranty on materials when picking out your flooring.
The Takeaway: Yes, there are trustworthy construction and design companies out there, but you should always be cautious when choosing your home construction team. Contact us for more tips on what to look for in new home construction.
Samantha Grose is both Associate AIA and Allied ASID. She is the lead designer for Optima Homes and JP&CO. She takes a unique approach to design creating spaces that are casually sophisticated and timeless in design, where you and your family can live comfortably. She has worked extensively throughout the TWIN CITIES area having completed many new homes and large scale whole house remodels.
Samantha received her BS from the University of Minnesota majoring in both ARCHITECTURE and ART. She is deeply committed to a creative approach giving you highly functional spaces with an aesthetic appeal for everyday living.