Building an Energy Efficient Custom Home - featured image

When planning your Northern Michigan custom home, energy efficiency is a special consideration especially with the harsh winters that we often experience.

One of the best things about building a new custom home is that it allows you to get things right from the very start. This is the perfect opportunity to make sure all the things that you wish were different in your current home are done right when planning and building your new home.

Home Layout and the Sun

When designing your home, keep in mind how the sun will track across the property through the course of the day and each season. Will windows receive adequate light or too much? How will this affect your heating and cooling? Will you need additional daytime interior lighting to be comfortable? Will you be using solar panels, and will they have adequate direct sunshine?

Trees and landscaping can help or hinder. Shade is typically welcome but sometimes trees can also block out sunlight where you would otherwise want it. Will you need to plant, trim, or remove trees?

Insulation

Insulation serves two purposes; It retains heat during the winter and keeps heat out during the summer. Insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve your home’s energy performance. And of course, it is always easier and less expensive to add insulation during the construction process rather than later.

While there are many brands and types of insulation available, the most important factor is their proper use and installation based on your actual blueprint and design. We discuss this with each prospective customer so that we can offer the absolute best outcome.

Regardless of the insulation type, Lakeshore Custom Homes always follows the manufacturers guidelines and instructions to assure best performance and longevity.

Sealing and Caulking

We pay special attention to sealing places that can allow air to enter or exit the home. These places can also allow moisture in as well. Typically, these locations are windows and doors, and where exhaust fans, dryer vents, plumbing, electrical outlets, and utilities penetrate through exterior walls or roofing.

We apply the appropriate caulk or sealant depending on the location and materials to be sealed along with any additional flashings or fittings.

We are especially attentive to seal and insulate where the sill plate, band board, and floor joists meet as these can lead to energy losses if not tended to properly.

Windows and Doors

Energy efficient windows along with proper installation, sealing and insulation can make a huge impact on your energy efficiency.

We recommend ENERGY STAR® rated windows from Andersen, Marvin, Simonton, and Windsor. Each company offers a wide variety of styles and finishes and have warranties that back up their quality.

Window treatments, curtains and blinds also influence the overall energy efficiency of your windows too.

Also see our in-depth article Choosing Windows For Your Custom Home.

Heating and Cooling

Now that your future home is going to be well insulated and properly sealed, an energy efficient heating and cooling system will perform even better. Properly sizing the heating and cooling system to match the size of your home is important. This allows the system to operate efficiently and to be most cost effective.

Ductwork

One area that is frequently overlooked is the ductwork. Part of doing it right from the very start includes sealing ducts. In the hundreds of feet of ductwork in a typical home, there are countless places that air can leak. Air losses here only makes your heating and cooling system work that much harder and drives up utility bills.

Sealing the seams of your ductwork prevents air from escaping and improves the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. This reduces energy losses, helps control moisture, and creates a more temperature stable environment.

Insulating ductwork where it passes through crawl spaces will also increase your heating and cooling efficiency and help control condensation and moisture.

Solar Electric

Solar panels are gaining popularity in Northern Michigan. This is due to more efficient panels, favorable tax incentives for homeowners, and cooperation with electric utility companies to buy excess power produced by individual homeowners. If you are considering a solar system, we can work with you and our electricians to make certain that your needs are met.

Water Heaters

Selecting the right size water heater that meets your needs is an important decision. Overly large heaters can waste energy and money. Too small can do the same (not to mention being annoying and inconvenient). On-demand heaters might be the right choice and can be used in conjunction with traditional water heaters to provide adequate and timely hot water when and where you need it.

Household Appliances

Besides heating and cooling, your major appliances such as refrigerators, ranges, ovens, washers, and dryers account for most of your utility costs. Look for ENERGY STAR® ratings when selecting these. Don’t forget lightbulbs, home entertainment, and computers either.

Smart Home Features

Technology can help automatically manage your heating, cooling, and lighting costs. For additional information, see our article that discusses Smart Homes in detail.

Backup Generators

While not necessarily related to energy efficiency, it is worth considering during the planning stages. If a backup generator is desired, we can make sure that the electric system is designed to accommodate a generator. Even if you don’t install one right away, this can save you time and money should you decide to install one later.

Are you ready to make your lake house dream a reality? Contact us today to make an appointment to discuss your home building plans.

Moisture Control for Your Northern Michigan Custom Home - featured image

Moisture control is one of the most important concerns when building a quality custom home. Northern Michigan’s climate has abundant rain and snow that must be managed to maintain a dry and healthy home.

Excess or unwanted moisture inside your home can lead to mold and mildew, wood rot, it can damage insulation, and it can even attract termites and other pests.

From the foundation to the roof and everything in between, Lakeshore Custom Homes takes special care and consideration when planning and building your new home.

Keeping Moisture Out of The Home Is the First Line of Defense

Site Prep and Foundation

Preparing your building site is the very first step. We examine the site and determine the proper grading to help move water away from the home.

Then the foundation is designed with drainage to move water away from the house. Waterproof coatings are added to the exterior of the foundation to keep moisture out. Depending on the water table, a sump pump system may be required and if so, designed so that it can evacuate the water efficiently.

Vapor barriers are used in crawl spaces to prevent moisture that can rise from the soil.

Siding

Before exterior siding is applied, we wrap the home with a water-resistant membrane. This protects the wood from any moisture that might find its way past the siding and protects the home during construction. We use treated wood in appropriate locations to ensure longevity.

This wrap is carefully overlapped into window and door openings so that when the window or door is installed, a waterproof barrier is present to help avoid moisture from finding its way inside. Windows and doors receive flashings to create an overlapping physical barrier and help move moisture away from their framework.

Any holes to accommodate exhaust fans, dryer vents, plumbing, electrical outlets, and utilities also receive similar treatment to keep moisture out.  Additionally, caulking is used where necessary to create a pliable seal that can accommodate changes in temperature and avoid cracking over time.

Roofing

Modern roofs work as a system that are designed to move water, ice, and snow away from the home, and to protect the underlying insulation and air gap within the attic space.

Shingles and a water-resistant underlayment protect the underlying roofing materials and allow the water to drain away. Gutters and downspouts provide a means to direct the water further away from the home and foundation.

Regardless of which roofing material you choose; we always follow the manufacturer’s installation guidelines to achieve the best results and protect your investment.

Special attention is given to roof valleys, dormers, gables, chimneys, skylights, and vents since these all need appropriate flashings.

Ventilation of the attic area is important so that this space remains dry and allows the insulation to create an effective thermal barrier. Ventilation helps eliminate condensation than can occur as outside temperatures fluctuate. Soffit and ridge vents are the most common method of achieving this. Other methods might be used depending on your individual home design.

Special Considerations for Ice and Snow

During the freezes-thaw cycle of winter and as winter ends and spring arrives, melting snow and ice needs proper drainage.

Step flashings are of critical concern in northern Michigan due to our large snow falls. We are mindful of how snow may drift and accumulate on your roof. When the snow melts, it could seep behind the siding. To prevent this, we install appropriate flashing that creates an additional barrier and directs the moisture away.

Ice barriers prevent water from collecting between the edge of the shingles and the underlying wooden roof structure. A special membrane underlayment is used to protect the wooden roof decking. Heated eaves are a potential option that can help prevent ice dams. Contact us so we can discuss the pros and cons of this based on your roof and home design.

Controlling Moisture Inside Your Home

While Northern Michigan isn’t terribly humid, our change of seasons and variable weather means that all homes will have a certain degree of moisture inside.

One of the ironies of creating a tightly sealed home is that while it can keep moisture out, it can also trap moisture inside. This means that extra attention to ventilation is important.

Cooking and bathing are two major sources of moisture that can be controlled with ventilation. Range hoods and bathroom ventilation fans are the norm in modern homes.

Condensation from central air systems can be controlled by insulating ductwork. Whole house dehumidifiers and moisture extraction systems can help manage the interior air humidity making your home healthier and more comfortable.

Winter will usually mean a drop in humidity. While this is welcome to an extent, too dry of air can make it feel cold, damage wooden furniture, lead to dry, itchy skin and eyes, and can even impair ones’ immune system.  A well-planned heating and cooling system can address both summer humidity as well as winter dryness.

Landscaping

Landscaping can play an important role in managing moisture too. In addition to grading, what you plant can assist in helping to absorb water and minimize erosion. Certain plants absorb more moisture from the soil than others. Also be leave enough space between the house and shrubs and plants to promote airflow.

Avoid planting trees that have wide spreading root systems as these can crack or damage the foundation or drainage system. Keep this in mind if your home has a leech field and septic system.

Are you ready to make your lake house dream a reality? Contact us today to make an appointment to discuss your home building plans.

Keeping it Clean – New Construction House Cleaning - featured image

COVID-19 Update
We are taking precautions to keep our employees and homeowners safe. We are following the guide lines set forth by the CDC, MIOSHA, during this global pandemic. We are continuing on our journey to build you custom homes that will last you generations. Give us a call and we will make your custom home dream come to life.

The following article was originally published in November 2014.

Lakeshore Custom Homes takes pride in the fact that we will always keep our jobsites clean. We insist on creating a professional atmosphere at all of our job locations. This should be a standard among all builders but unfortunately it isn’t. Keeping a jobsite clean throughout the entire building process not only impacts everyone’s safety but also helps to increase productivity.

New construction house cleaning is different than what many people consider “residential cleaning”. It really consists of three phases: A Rough Clean, Maintenance Clean, and Final Clean.

  1. Rough Clean

    The “rough” clean-up, is performed once the exterior walls and framing of the project are complete. Large debris is removed from the interior as well as the exterior of the building. It generally, involves a rough sweep/shop vac of the floors as well. The goal to remove and haul away as much debris as possible, removing materials no longer being used, and eliminate as much dust as possible from the work area (including heating vents).

  2. Maintenance Clean

    The “rough” clean-up, is performed once the exterior walls and framing of the project are complete. Large debris is removed from the interior as well as the exterior of the building. It generally, involves a rough sweep/shop vac of the floors as well. The goal to remove and haul away as much debris as possible, removing materials no longer being used, and eliminate as much dust as possible from the work area (including heating vents).

  3. Final Clean

    The “final” clean-up, is performed once all the construction has ended and the building is complete. This phase is quite detailed. It requires stickers and decals being removed from all surfaces including interior and exterior windows. Putty, paste and adhesive is removed from floors, tubs, sinks and showers, All cabinets and drawers must be vacuumed to remove the dust then wiped clean. Floors and carpets are cleaned. Light fixtures, mirrors, appliances, counters, ceiling fans, vents, hardware, and cabinetry are cleaned. A touch-up is sometimes required at the end if a contractor needs to address something on a punch list.

The end result is a turn-key, walk in ready home. If you are looking for a reputable builder, please contact me at Lakeshore Custom Homes (231) 642-0724.

Sincerely,

Chris Mason, Owner