6 Tips For Selecting A Perfect Lot To Build Your New Custom Home

Perhaps you have decided to start searching for a perfect spot to build your new custom home in LA. Unfortunately, if you have never bought land before, the thought of purchasing a raw tract of it can be quite intimidating. As it is, purchasing new tracts of land is relatively different from buying an existing home; however, the same rules apply to both transactions. Knowing what to look out for and what to avoid can help you through the land purchasing processes. Here are some tips to help you through these processes.

Topography

If you want to break ground without spending huge chunk of your building money, it is recommended to consider the topography of your potential track of land. While a hilly country has no shortage of breathtaking views, all those hills can present quite a financial challenge. Uneven terrain will have to be terra-formed so as to support your home’s foundation. Land that experiences regular floods can also lead to additional considerations and significant costs when designing and building your luxury home.

Setbacks, easements and building envelopes

Plot size can be really misleading where there is a comparatively small building envelope after easements and setbacks are shown. As such, research on what percentage of your land is buildable prior to choosing and paying for it. An updated survey can help you identify easements that might affect your utilization of a potential property. Remember, no permanent building can ever be constructed over a utility easement.

Access

In a majority of cases, access is a complex issue that needs to be given due consideration before purchasing a vacant lot. For instance, access is rarely an issue in the cities. However, in the countryside, large tracts of land are cut off from the public roads and therefore are only accessible through private roads. This can introduce multiple issues. If your potential land is not accessible through a public roadway, then it might not have access to city sewage or water system. This means you will have to install a septic system and hollow out a well to handle these basic utilities, something that greatly adds to the construction costs.

A public roadway guarantees an easy route to a vacant tract of land or lot at all times. However, when a private road enters into the equation, things are bound to get a little more complicated. Where the property is landlocked, you might need an easement to assure access to your lot.

Utilities

Are all your required utilities on your lot? If not, it is recommended to try and discover who will provide these indispensable connections and at what costs. If any of these essential services is lacking, then rest assured that it will cost you money to bring them to your location.

Find out things about where you are purchasing

Try and discover which permitting authorities control the land you are considering. Is the property zoned? Is it in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of a local city or town? Or is it situated within the town limits? When considering a planned subdivision, your parcel of land will most likely be subject to extra set of deed and covenants restrictions, and that further restrict what you can build on your lot. Moreover, you subdivision might require an architectural review of your building and limit your construction to specific architectural styles. All in all, it is critical to first understand what you are getting yourself into before purchasing a given parcel of land.

Don’t go at it alone

It is highly recommended that you select a custom home builder and involve him or her in your lot selection procedures early enough, and for a good reason. His or her broad local experience and knowledge will save you a lot of money, trouble and time down the road. Furthermore, an involved custom home builder will assist you to perform cost analysis and comparisons between the different tracts of land you are considering.

5 Ways To Streamline Your Kitchen By Hiding Your Electrical Outlets

Have you ever come across a kitchen whereby the backsplash tile is cut crooked by the electrical outlet plates? Not only is this appalling, but it can be very annoying…like that crooked picture frame which cannot be straightened. Further, this problem is compounded by the fact that it can become almost impossible to match the swift plates and the plastic electric outlets to the colors and specific tiles. This is why hiding those wires is essential to streamlining your kitchen.

Leaving them exposed is simply not an option since building codes require that they be at certain distances.

This is because the outlets are designed in such a manner that they are able to limit the flow of electricity once they detect an unusual amount of current passing through them- an indication that electricity is attempting to ground via water, a human or other close by object other than the wires present. Consequently, these switches will have the “test and reset” buttons which not only make them feature prominently in the kitchen, but will also make them less appealing on your kitchen surfaces.

Therefore, to be able to integrate the electrical outlets into your kitchen design, you should try out the tips below.

Installing them along the upper-cabinetry line

This happens to be one of the most popular and easiest ways to streamline the electrical strips of the outlets along the upper cabinetry line which will make them only visible when someone bends down to view them.

Since there are certain power strips which are designed to do this- coming in various finishes- and having the capacity to be mounted parallel to the under cabinet lighting, you can always go for this option. Additionally, it is possible for your cords to run behind the countertop appliances ensuring they are out of sight and minimizing the chances of them getting splashed, splattered or tangled up.

Low and horizontal

If your house happens to have a countertop space which does not have an upper cabinet on top of it, you can opt to place the outlets slightly lower than usual and horizontally along the very beginning of the backsplash tile. When coupled with matching plates, the outlets will disappear.

Use a charging station

Usually, those things which are plugged to the outlets are the ones which make these outlets more prominent. For instance, the outlet used by your juicer is hidden by the juicer, whereas the outlet used by your tablet or smart phone resembles a tiny kitchen pest with numerous tentacles.

You can remove this appalling sight by converting your cabinet or drawer into a charging station with the outlets hidden behind the cabinet or drawer. This will then reduce all the kitchen clutter. Alternatively, if you have enough space, you can expand it to include a bona-fide message section into your kitchen design.

Adding a breakfast nook

Otherwise known as a coffee bar, the breakfast nook can help you mask an outlet or two. Once you incorporate these up to the end of the counter and possibly the peninsula, you can kill two birds with one stone- hiding the outlets and removing the countertop clutter. Usually, these sections should be kept clear to ensure that your early coffee routine is kept tidy and neat.

Under the island counter overhangs

Another space where the building convenience and codes require electrical outlets to be is in your island. If you occasionally happen to use accessory appliances on your island counter, you can opt to place a hidden power strip underneath your counter overhang.

By using the above tips to streamline your electrical outlets, you can ensure that once you’re done with your kitchen remodel in Los Angeles, you will no longer see the infuriating clutter and loose hanging wires in your kitchen.

Types Of Anchor Bolts That Are Used In House Bolting

Today, the effects of seismic activities on buildings and the ways of minimizing their impact have been learnt. This has been necessitated because of the ability of the quakes to make a building slide, shifting it off its foundation and finally overturning it. More so, their ability to collapse and cripple walls has necessitated studying them.

Also referred to as foundation bolting, seismic retrofitting or anchor bolting, house bolting is meant to make the house structure safer and stronger while preventing damage that is usually caused by earthquakes. These bolts strengthen the wooden frame of your house connecting it firmly to the foundation. Thus, the two types of commonly used bolts in anchor bolting are expansion foundation bolts and epoxy foundation bolts.

Epoxy foundation bolts

This is usually best suited if you live in an older home because the concrete is usually weaker. Since expansion bolts are usually shorter than epoxy bolts, this means that the epoxy type must be engrained deeper into the concrete. By so doing, it improves the bolt’s performance.

If you also happen to live in an area where the quake’s motion tends to lift up the structure of your home or building, then epoxy foundation bolts are best suited. This length allows the bolt to hold the wooden frame in place and prevents the concrete foundation from pulling away.

Expansion foundation bolts

If your building or home’s concrete foundation is in good shape such as on a new foundation in an old home or in a new home, expansion foundation bolts should be used. This is primarily because strong concrete is required for the bolts to be effective. They should be used in so far as they do not crack the concrete.

How to secure the bolts

Installation of the anchor bolts should be done with square plate washers. This is because they foster a stronger and better secure connection to the home’s or building’s foundation. Prior to the use of square plate washers, round washers were used to secure the bolts. Because they did not have the requisite strength to hold the bolts in place, they were replaced.

In other instances, other anchor types may be used which is dependent on whether or not the home or building has cripple ways. In some cases, homes will have a combination of areas where the floor rests on the home’s foundation and cripple walls.

Therefore, to determine if your home needs anchor bolting, you should go into its crawl space. This space will be found between the first floor and the foundation. You should locate the board sill plate found at the top of the foundation. Usually, these sill plates have been made from lumber whereby the board runs horizontal to the house’s vertical wall.

You should ensure that you inspect the anchor bolts’ sill plate. Usually, you will find them every four to six feet. In fact, most of the homes built during and after the 1930s will feature some form of seismic retrofitting in areas where earthquakes are prone. You should inspect to ensure that the present bolts have not weakened or separated so that they can provide support when a quake occurs.

Since ensuring the safety of your family is very important, ensuring that your home is safe particularly if you live in an earthquake-prone area in very important. Most importantly, any work that is undertaken to make the structure sturdier needs to meet the current industry standards. If possible, you should consult a repair expert or foundation contractor who engages in house bolting in LA. They will check whether any present bolting will need replacements and also to what extent new seismic retrofitting will be required.

Want To Get A Room Addition? 4 Questions To Ask Yourself

Today, technology plays a very important role in everyone’s lives. Not only have the advancements made people’s lives more comfortable, but they have also enabled people to live comfortably and convert their homes to a heavenly place.

Although making improvisations and changes to houses are deemed as old practices, technology advancements have allowed this task to be quicker and much simpler. This is because ensuring that the house continues to be attractive and beautiful is something that is deeply engrained in the soul. This is particularly so since with time our necessities and daily requirements tend to change. Thus, this has had the effect of necessitating an extra room in the house and as much as this is the case, there are four important questions that you should always ask yourself before making that room addition.

What are the benefits to be derived?

The benefits to be derived from having that extra room are in plenty and this will lead any homeowner to opt for professional room addition services. You have the ability to plan for numerous things with that extra room including family planning. Being able to expand your family can be easily done when you know there is sufficient space to comfortably accommodate them. Additionally, you can even plan for a guest room or home office by adding that extra room to your house.

How should you plan for the room addition?

A lot of planning and perfection is required if you intend on having the perfect extra space in your house which is usually not immediately available. First, you need to determine what you needs are to make the task simpler for the room addition contractors. Whether you require a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, guest room or study room, you should ascertain this since each need will require a specific type of design. This means that whichever one you opt for, you should ensure that it is the right one for proper planning to be done as changing midway is not advisable. More so, if you are contemplating on adding a room to your house, then you will need to determine the size of that room.

How do you ensure success in the task?

Since this task does not require an amateur due to its complexity, you should ensure that you seek professional contractors for the job to be done well and on time since it can often lead to delays and wastage of resources when done haphazardly. This is because there are very many minor and major obstacles to be run into which can only be handled by professionals. If you want to get the best results, then you need to hire skilled contractors for your room addition that will ensure you get proper return on your investment. Not only will they help you in the planning, but they will also construct that new room allowing you to have that extra free space in your house.

Where do you get the contractors?

With the numerous remodeling companies willing to help you undertake the remodeling project for your house, you simply cannot impose this responsibility on the first one that you come across. You should ascertain that the contractors are experienced in their field so that you are assured that they provide the best service. In fact, you should check whether the company has engaged in similar projects for you to be able to see the end results for such jobs.

By first asking yourself these questions when contemplating that extra room addition in Los Angeles, you will be able to plan, execute and seek the proper contractor for your home remodeling. This will result in that much needed extra space and allow you to live comfortably.

Solar Panels That Last The Test Of Time

A solar panel that defies the odds to stay around for long – usually up to 30 years – sounds like a promising choice. It is quite common to hear solar panel installers say that photovoltaic systems are much reliable because they can last for as long as 30 years. Regardless of personal choice, you need to make sure that when you are making your upfront investment on solar panels, it guarantees you uttermost strength and durability.

Solar panel design

The makeup of a solar system allows it to withstand all manner of weather conditions. Over the years, weather is one of the factors that vary from one season to another. Buying a solar panel that is low in quality will only spell problems for your energy source in the course of time. It is crucial to note that damage can easily on the underside of the solar panel because its design barely endures impact.

Home renovation

It is important to carry out home renovation once in a while. You may wonder what home renovation has to do with solar panel durability. Before solar panel installation, it is essential to ensure the state of your roof structure at home is perfect. A good roof structure not only makes solar panel installation easy but also offers a great and reliable structure that can firmly hold the solar panel. There are many other home renovations that you can do to increase its value and make it energy efficient.

For instance, room conversion in Los Angeles is a perfect for improving home ventilation and efficient energy utilization. Fortunately, you can find a contracting company that offers all these services – roof renovation, room conversion, solar panel installation and kitchen remodeling – making it easy for you to kill two birds with a single stone.

Dealing with a damaged solar panel

Over time, damages occur to your solar panel. It is paramount to take an action promptly when you realize your solar panel has any kind of damage. If you overlook the damage because it apparently appears nominal, you may wake one day with a solar panel that is not functioning at all. Therefore, you need to make a few considerations if your solar panel is damaged.

First, if you have a homeowner’s insurance that claim covers your solar panel, your insurance company ought to insure your solar panel for any kind of damage. If your solar panel is damaged, call your insurers immediately and file for claim to either get monetary aid or a replacement. The other alternative involves hiring a professional solar panel expert to fix the problem.

Getting the help of solar panel experts

When you call a solar panel expert for help, he may assist you with the warranty of the solar panel since a good number of them are usually aware of the manufacturer’s warranty as well as terms and conditions that apply. Warranties can potentially cover damages to the solar panel. In some cases, a polar panel installer can also recommend that you replace the outermost glass of the solar panel. Replacement of the outermost glass of the solar panel requires utmost professionalism. If replacement is made incorrectly, humidity can easily be trapped between the glasses and cloud the solar panel from getting full radiation.

Solar panels that last the test of time are the type that can endure all kinds of severe weather conditions. In addition, it is resistant to damage elements such as hails and branches of trees that end up on the surface of the panel when there is a strong wind. Hiring the right solar installer and making a few complementary home renovations are ways of making your solar panel design better and more durable.

How To Combine The Old And The New When Renovating Your Home

When you decide to renovate your old home, you need to think about what to change and what to keep. Most people do not want to replace everything especially when they have items that they love or that hold sentimental value. Your home might have some lovely period features that help to give the property the perfect character, making it unique. It is important to know how to get the best from the old and new before the renovation project begins. If you have a lovely old fireplace, you can find out how to keep it while replacing other features in the room.

You can update your room giving it a modern twist, while maintaining its classical look. It is important to avoid anything that can hide the beautiful architectural details in your home. Using contrasting paint colors can help to highlight certain features. Mixing the old and new in your kitchen can create the perfect effect. You can retain the original features like doors or hardwood cabinets, while replacing the appliances with modern designs and creating functional workspaces. Following are factors to consider when you decide to merge the new and old during your room addition in LA.

The history and architecture

When you decide to renovate an existing building, think about the architecture before you decide to make changes. Determine whether you want to maintain the period architecture to remain true to the building’s history. It is important to know that the value of your home may be affected by the changes that you make. Most homeowners who chose the home for its architecture opt to restore it to its original glory. Whether you are renovating to add space or downsizing, you can create the look that you want while retaining the overall architecture.

Carry out some research

When planning the renovation, make sure that you do some research on the home. It is a good idea to find out all you can about the building and the lot. The site may be bound by restrictions that can limit any changes that you may want to make. You need to ensure that you obtain permits before any building. Your location will determine how easy or difficult it will be to make changes. Make sure that you work with a reputable local construction company. This is the best way to ensure that you get the best information and services.

The design aspect you want

One important principle that you need to consider when renovating your home is the design aesthetic you want to implement. Do you want to stick with the original architecture and style or do you want to modernize your building project by combining old elements with some contemporary ones. When you determine the design style that you need, the entire planning process will be much easier. If you want to retain the original style or to maintain the existing character, you need to think about the materials you use, the placement or location of the extension, the scale of the project and its impact.

Consider your lifestyle needs

Think about your living needs when planning the renovation. You can create a contemporary design that will meet modern needs. The best planning approach will include a sustainable design that will meet your lifestyle needs. If you decide to make your home more modern, make sure that you ask the contractors about any design constraints that you may not be aware of. Find out the local authority requirements and remember that contemporary additions can help to update aging structures, which complements their context. In most cases, the new additions have contrasting design aesthetics to the existing designs they are connected to.

Choosing the right materials

Materials selection is an important component of the design process. Whether you choose to have a contemporary addition or you decide to retain the existing architecture, you have to be careful about selecting the right materials. Different materials can be used to create different interpretations of the same building. You can modernize the original building by changing the texture and the surface finishes used. A smooth surface can be altered to be matte, rough, polished or satin depending on your desires. It is important to know how to complement or contrast the different materials.

You need to know all the connection details, where the old meets the new. To create the perfect blend you need to know how to select colors, materials, finishes and details that make a visual distinction. The right scale and detailing will help you to create the look that you want for your new home. For the new and old to work effectively, the details should connect the different designs in a cohesive and innovative way. To get the best results, make sure that the contractor knows exactly what you are trying to achieve before the work begins.

Hot Tips For Renovating Your Old Kitchen

Renovating any part of your home can be truly rewarding. You can end up with a room that you will enjoy using and that will be more beautiful and functional. When planning your project, you need to realize that overlooking important factors can take away from the overall quality of the project or finished product. You should take the time to plan the project considering all the details so that you can realize your dreams. The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the home and it is important to ensure that the renovation creates a beautiful and yet fully functional space.

What you want to achieve

You need to determine what you want to achieve with the renovation. It is important to realize that renovating your kitchen is more than just the aesthetics. You should think about the best way to improve utilization of the existing space and to cater to your specific lifestyle needs. Enhancing functionality is an important objective as is integrating the space to work effectively with other areas of the home. Deciding the main objective of the renovation is important and it helps to set clear goals and to communicate these goals with those involved in the project.

Visualize the design elements

Visualizing the design ahead of time will help you to avoid issues that can delay the project. Before the work begins, get ideas and collect samples of all the materials that you plan to use. Plan the style and colors and come up with a mood board that will allow you to visualize how the different design elements will come together. Having this visual aid in a prominent place will allow you to determine whether you will be happy with the renovation results. This can help you to avoid last minute color and material choices that can have a negative effect on the renovation.

Choosing timeless trends

When renovating your home, you should note that trends keep changing or evolving. This means that what seems trendy today might be out of fashion next year! With this in mind, it is a good idea to choose timeless trends when renovating your kitchen. Instead of going for the latest design trends only to end up with a kitchen that looks outdated soon after the renovation, consider choosing materials and a style that you will love for years to come. There are magazines and websites that can offer inspiration that will allow your kitchen to maintain its modern look for a long time to come.

Think about the details

When it comes to any construction project, it is all in the details! When renovating your kitchen, it is easy to overlook small details that can have a huge impact on the overall results. Leaving the details up to the contractor to decide can leave you with a kitchen that does not reflect your needs. The overall beauty of your kitchen will depend on the details and you need to ensure that you consider the styling elements. Details like the style of the sinks, splashback choice, lighting fixtures, cabinet hinges, draining solutions and other features will determine the end results.

Working the appliances

When planning the kitchen design, you need to think about your appliances. Design the space around the appliances to ensure that your kitchen is highly functional. Research the appliances that will work best in your space and remember that the dimensions of the fridge, oven, cooktop, and dishwasher will play an important role in the finish and overall layout of the kitchen. Make sure that you leave enough space around the appliances to avoid unsightly gaps. Measure your space before shopping for appliances and choose integrated appliances that will create a seamless look in your kitchen.

Timing is everything

When planning your house renovation in LA, remember that timing is very important. While it is often difficult to keep a tight schedule, you need to be mindful about the different steps in the renovation project. A good contractor will know how to ensure that the kitchen renovation project goes smoothly. The renovation should add value to your home, which means that you should find out the best way to get a kitchen design that will serve you well in the long term. However much you want to keep the costs down, remember that choosing cheap materials or labor can work against you.

Avoid complete demolition even though you want a new kitchen. Demolishing your existing kitchen can be very costly and it is often not necessary. You can create the new look that you want while keeping the main structure. Unless your current space is too small for your needs, you should consider renovating without major structural work. Remember that a kitchen renovation can take a couple of weeks and you should be prepared for the downtime. Make sure that you make alternative plans for cooking and preparing your meals during this period.

5 Things About New Home Constructions That You Should Know

It’s no secret that the real estate market has picked during the past few years. But even with the improved success, prospective homeowners still find it a challenge to find the perfect home. This stems from a shortage of homes due to the increased demand.

As such, a significant percentage of them go the extra mile and consider building new homes from scratch. Home builders and construction companies, small or large, are taking up the practice and building new homes for new clients. But is constructing a new house the right thing to do? And if so, what the basics of new constructions should everyone be aware of?

New homes are often sold before construction ends or even starts

As a general rule, builders tend to have a well laid plan for the construction, sales and financing plan. To effectively implement them, efforts have been made to sell as many homes as possible before construction starts. Sales are achieved by building model homes and having potential buyers review all details of the house, including plans, finishes and fixtures while the houses are still under construction. Depending on the locality, permits for various aspects of the construction process have to be obtained before any contracts can be signed.

Most of the time, homeowners get to familiarize with the look and feel of their new home. If you are considering a new home construction, you will need to pay a deposit, which is usually a small percentage of the total purchase price.

However, you need to realize that not all homes in a given community will be available at a go. As construction happens in phases, so does selling. Builders opt for this so as to allow them to gauge the market. It helps them to identify market trends, as well as areas that can be improved upon. As a result, sales cycles can last for years and prices for different phases will differ.

Discounts can be given in the form of upgrades

It’s not uncommon to find prospective homeowners interested in houses whose sales cycles are almost over. In such cases, builders are kind enough to negotiate. And this does not refer to negotiations on price, but rather a few upgrades. This is because discounted prices tend to become public notice, which is not what builders want. Offering upgrades like installing hardwood floors instead of carpets garner more clients and sales more effectively. In addition, they are not as easy to trace as price discounts.

The first buyers often get the best discounts

For the sake of giving their project a good start, builders will often try to garner as many buyers as possible at the earliest stages. And what better way than to give incredible discounts to the first buyers? Enticing techniques can include announcing that a few homes will be available in a few weeks.

Another reason for giving good discounts to first buyers is that builders have to give investors and lenders the good news about their construction project. This is impossible if there are no buyers purchasing homes right from the start of the project.

For potential buyers, this means that there’s plenty of room to negotiate prices during the early stages of the sales process. This however comes with a risk. As one of the first buyers, you make a commitment. If at any point during construction should you change your mind about the property, there’s a good chance that you will lose all or part of the down payment.

New homes are often not listed in the local MLS

Regular sellers often list homes for sale with local real estate agents. This is however not the case with new constructions. For the purpose of controlling and saving on costs, builders will often hire employees to market both the construction on-site and off-site. So what does this imply for homebuyers? This implies that the property you are looking is probably not listed on the local MLS, and as such it may not turn up in your agent’s search results. Builders will often advertise new constructions in newspapers, online or billboards.

Builders have no emotional or personal attachments with the new home

Usually, resellers are people who have lived in a house for a long period of time with their families. For them, these houses hold memories that are dear to them as well as their loved ones. As a result, many issues arise during the selling process ranging from uncertainties to questions on the part of the reseller and the buyer. At the end of the day, it’s less about the money and more about what the next owner will do with the house.

On the other hand, it’s about how much money can be made from a new home by builders. There’s less sentiment and more of a numbers game. The price is based on the inventory, but a little room for negotiation is given. To get more information on custom homes in Los Angeles, do give us a call today!

What Should You Expect From An Earthquake Retrofitting?

The main objective of having a house earthquake retrofitted is to make sure that they are protected structural damage that’s often accompanied by earthquakes. The retrofitting simply makes it more difficult for a house to get uprooted from the foundation. Both existing homes as well as new ones need to be retrofitted so that they can withstand the effects of earthquakes.

While insurance can help you get prepared for an earthquake as you will be able to finance rebuilding, it won’t replace the house and certainly not the contents inside. Retrofitting houses for earthquakes on the other hand minimizes the damage and as such, all you may have to after an earthquake are minor repairs. Discussed below are several things you can expect from an earthquake retrofitting.

Expansion foundation bolting

Also known as mechanical foundation anchor bolting, expansion foundation bolting refers to anchoring the foundation’s mudsill. This is an affordable part of the retrofitting process, but to work well the concrete strength has to be good. This is because if the concrete cracks, then the bolts will not hold. They are usually installed in houses with new foundations or where the concrete is in good shape.

Plate washers

Recently, it was discovered that washers installed in houses prior to the 1990s did not provide enough holding strength as they weren’t long enough. This necessitated the upgrade of clamping washers usually installed with retrofit anchor bolts. To allow efficient clumping of the mudsill to the foundation, hot-dipped galvanized plate washers measuring 3” by 3” by 0.25” have to be used.

Foundation bolting

This basically refers to improving the connection between the concrete foundation and the frame of the building using bolts. Usually, this involves installing bolts that run through the mudsill into the underlying concrete. Mudsill refers to the piece of wood that lies on the foundation. For optimal effect, care should be taken when planning, placement as well as installation.

Cripple wall bracing

Many houses come with a short wall made of a wood frame that runs from the foundation to the bottom of the ground floor. This wall is known as cripple wall. The collapse of this wall is one of the main causes of damages during earthquakes. This makes it important to brace the wall against seismic movements.

To protect them from earthquakes, cripple walls are either stiffened or braced. A bracing effect is achieved by attaching the wall framing with high quality plywood. Stiffening, on the other hand, is achieved when plywood is attached along the walls of the house. The plywood that runs along the sides, braces the cripple wall in a front to back direction, while those that run along the front and back brace the cripple wall in a side to side direction.

Good detailing of connections from the ground, foundation, sill, wall and the floor is important. This makes it possible for load transfer to occur. Load transfer basically refers to transfer of seismic effects from one component of the building to the next.

Epoxy-set foundation washers

These work best for older homes whose concrete foundations are not as strong as those of new buildings. They also work in situations where seismic movements cause bolts to uproot upward from the concrete. Their biggest advantage is that they longer and therefore sit deeper in concrete, offering added protection against earthquakes.

Home without cripple walls

While cripple walls are common, not all houses have them. This makes them less susceptible to earthquake damage, but a considerable level of risk still exists. Toenails found between the foundation and the frame are not strong enough to handle earthquakes and slight movement can cause a lot of damage. Fortunately, there are a number of connection systems that one can use to protect their houses against earthquakes. The options will depend on the age of the home, access condition as well as the size of the frame.

Angle iron struts and foundation bolting

This custom upgrade provides a more efficient, economic, functional way of connecting the foundation with floor joists. The reason we are describing them as custom is because they are not ready made and as such cannot be directly purchased from a store. They have to order and custom made by a qualified steel fabricator. They are especially preferred for homes that sit on hillsides.

Foundation holdown brackets

Shear walls, sometimes require additional holdown brackets in order to effectively anchor them. This ensures that they are resistant to rolling and lifting, which often occur during earthquakes. Holdown brackets are installed at the ends of shear walls rather than their locations during house earthquake bolting in Los Angeles.

Soft story conditions

These are common in houses that are attached to garages. A large opening between the garage and the main house, usually the garage door, has little or no strength against earthquakes. Thus, the name soft story, referring to a story house built over a soft wall. Such walls are strengthened by bracing plywood on a wall that’s in line and next to the opening.

Custom Homes Vs. Semi-Custom Homes

Building a new house is always an exciting, challenging and eye-opening experience. There’s always a tone of decisions that need to be made. It’s sometimes hard to imagine that the whole experience starts with a simple idea that was put on paper a while back. But at the end of the day, that’s what it all comes down to: an idea that you eventually bring to life and call it home.

Many new homeowners are often faced with the challenge of deciding between a custom home and a semi-custom home. Both of these options have varied differences and offer different options for a new home. But like everything else, they have limitations. To make the choice easier for you, we look at the differences between custom and semi-custom homes.

Semi-custom homes

With these homes, you are presented with house designs and floor plans that were pre-designed. Out of the many that you are provided with, you choose one that you prefer most. You then make modifications to the plans to make it suit your desired style. You can revise the size of rooms and extensions among other things. Semi-custom homes are often built on a land lot owned by the builder or as part of a community.

Pros of semi-custom homes

  • Personalized design – Given that homeowners are allowed to revise and make modifications to original floor plans, they get to have a house with a design that’s specific to their families.
  • Budget – For homeowners who are on tight budgets, a semi-custom home is a great option. It is not as costly compared to custom homes, especially since you don’t have to pay for new house plans. Moreover, while some features and products may not be as unique as those of custom homes, they can still be purchased at subsidized prices.
  • Time – again, if you are working within a tight timeline, it’s easy to see why semi-custom homes are the better choice. This stems from the fact that the design phase is incredibly short, saving you and the contractor a lot of time.

Cons of semi-custom homes

  • Homeowners often have to compromise on style, design and much more if they go for semi-custom homes
  • The functionality and quality are compromised sometimes as well
  • Given a limited budget, high-end products and features have to be ruled out
  • There are limited options on where one can build their home

Custom homes

There is just one word to describe custom homes: freedom. Freedom is basically what everyone craves for in every aspect of their lives and to have that when building a new home is a bonus. Custom homes a limitless range of possibilities starting with the size of the house, design, products and features and whatever else you need just to create the best space for your family.

Normally, custom home projects begin with an idea that’s developed with the help of a qualified general contractor in Los Angeles. Over time, your idea, location, the needs of your family and other significant factors pull together and soon the custom home plan comes to life. As the name suggests, the house is completely custom built to fit your needs.

When it comes to location, custom homes are built where the homeowner prefers. In this case, it’s usually a lot owned by the homeowner. Given that everything stems from an idea and there are no shortcuts in the design phase, there are more decisions to be made.

Pros of custom homes

  • Control – Homeowners have control over every aspect of design and building process
  • The quality and functionality are always up to standards
  • Budget – Given the level of control that homeowners have, they can also set a budget within which to work
  • Uniqueness – The choices that are made during the design, building and décor phases make custom homes very unique to a specific homeowner and different from other properties

Cons of custom homes

  • Price – Custom homes are very expensive considering that the design is new. Moreover, the products and features chosen to contribute to hiked expenses.
  • Depreciation – Compared to traditional homes, custom homes depreciate faster. This means that they have a shorter life span.
  • The added expense of hiring an architect may be incurred if your builder is not a qualified architect
  • For this project, you may require a construction loan, which many banks do not provide. The makes financing a challenge.
  • If you have a tight timeline, this may not be the best option as custom homes take a long time to complete

While both may seem appealing, it’s always important to put consideration into budget, time, family needs and the level of uniqueness when deciding on the type of home you want. All these factors, as well a clear understanding of the similarities and differences between custom and semi-custom homes, are important will help you make a better investment for your family.