Category Archives: Home Building

Review: The Complete Guide to Contracting Your Home

the-complete-guide-to-contracting-your-homeThe Complete Guide to Contracting Your Home is billed as “a step-by-step method for managing home construction”. This isn’t a “how to” manual for self building.  Instead, these pages help the complete greenhorn avoid sounding clueless when hiring subcontractors. For instance, construction images of foundations and framing look technical. In reality they’re simplified for clarity and don’t explain construction’s true complexity. Still what information that exists is timely and relatively accurate. Continue reading Review: The Complete Guide to Contracting Your Home

Buildwise Editor Wins Best in American Living Award

Buildwise editor Todd Remington, wins the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) – Best in American Living Award.

From the press release:
Architect Todd Remington wins the Best in American Living™ Awards (BALA). The residential building industry’s premier awards program spotlighting the most creative and talented builders, architects, designers, developers and land planners who redefine design excellence for homes and communities throughout the nation and Internationally.

Remington’s dedication to the research and design of residential architecture is transforming the industry. As Executive Editor for, Remington provides valuable insights about home-building and design for homeowners and professionals, delivered as entertaining kernels of wisdom. 

Featured Term: Engineer

From the Buildwise Unauthorized Dictionary

A funny but sexist cartoon. Both women and men are engineers.

Common Definition: A person who employs mathematics and scientific analysis for the design of building systems.

Unauthorized Definition: Engineers get excited about things no one else does. They love solving problems you didn’t know existed, in ways you don’t understand. Engineers solve these mysterious problems by performing precision guesswork based on unreliable data provided by architects and builders. Continue reading Featured Term: Engineer

Buildwise Editor Wins Best of Houzz

Buildwise editor, Todd Remington, wins Best of Houzz Award for 2017. He has won this award three years in a row.

From press releaseTodd Remington specializes in the art of traditional architecture. His award-winning homes and retreats integrate timeless patterns of design with cutting edge technology and today’s building science. That’s why people from all over the world voted his designs the Best of Houzz for 2017. And why he has become a design leader in residential architecture. Remington also writes about home-building and design at Whether you’re a homeowner or building professional, Remington’s posts shouldn’t be missed. 

Featured Term: 2×4 (and other Lumber)

From the Buildwise Unauthorized Dictionary

A stack of 2x4s and other dimensional lumber

Common Definition: A piece of precisely sized wood used for framing walls, floors, ceilings and roofs. Also widely used for hidden blocking behind towel bars and other items attached to walls.

Unauthorized Definition: A versatile piece of wood. Carpenters pride themselves on creatively employing standard lumber, especially 2x4s to build anything. Saw horses, cutting guides, ladders and other contraptions made primarily of lumber are common. A pickup truck held together with duct tape and 2x4s is likely owned by a carpenter. 2x4s are also employed by carpenters as a tool for overcoming architects, engineers and other obstacles around the job site. Continue reading Featured Term: 2×4 (and other Lumber)

8 Timeless Rules of Affordable Building

An affordable kit home from Sears & Roebuck, circa 1920s.

Today’s regulations, combined with consumer culture make affordable building more difficult than ever. Not only do codes require expensive construction (for noble reasons like safety and energy efficiency). Homeowners consider luxuries standard amenities. “The new refrigerator isn’t wifi enabled – what’s wrong with you?” Continue reading 8 Timeless Rules of Affordable Building

Review: What Your Contractor Can’t Tell You

What Your Contractor Can’t Tell You: The Essential Guide to Building and Renovating, could be called “What Your Contractor Should Tell You”. This paperback is full of valuable advice for everyone building or remodeling. Written by a construction manager, the focus isn’t about self-building or self-contracting. Instead, the reader will learn to reduce risk and increase success when hiring building pros. Thorough discussions about working well with others, budgets, contract types and avoiding common pitfalls are included. Also covered are tips for using budget as a management tool and understanding the pro’s perspective.  Continue reading Review: What Your Contractor Can’t Tell You

Featured Term: 0-Clearance Fireplace

From the Buildwise Unauthorized Dictionary

A sealed 0-clearance gas fireplace

Common Definition: A manufactured fireplace appliance. These units are made of lightweight insulated metal and don’t require a foundation. Gas units with sealed glass doors are vented “directly” through an exterior wall. Since no chimney is required, they can be placed almost anywhere.

Unauthorized Definition: A cheap metal box that doesn’t look like a real fireplace. A fake fire, only slightly better than hanging a photo of a burning log on the wall. Continue reading Featured Term: 0-Clearance Fireplace

Featured Term: Door Operation

From the Buildwise Unauthorized Dictionary

Common Definition:  The way a door opens and closes.

Door Operation Type: Swing x 2
Door Operation Type: Swing x 2

Unauthorized Definition: Doors operate in a variety of ways. But architects and builders prefer some types over others.  Pros can be quite opinionated about door types. Disdain is universal for doors that are hard to install or need constant maintenance. Topping the evil door list is the pocket door!

Sound Like a Pro: Below is a list of door operation types. Also included is a short description and industry perception.  Continue reading Featured Term: Door Operation

Is Self Contracting Reasonable?

Do you know what a good framing job looks like?
Framing under way for a new home.

What is Self Contracting?
Self contracting is the audacious idea that homeowners can manage their own construction projects. By eliminating the general contractor (GC), homeowners accept responsibility for hiring subcontractors, ordering materials, permits and warranty issues – in hopes of big cost savings.

Several popular books on the subject fan the flames, claiming homeowners can save between 25% and 42% while achieving a better project. Are these claims true? Can self contracting dramatically increase both savings and quality? Continue reading Is Self Contracting Reasonable?