Sposen Homes Blog

     

There are two types of foundations predominantly used during the construction of a new home; Stem-Walls and Monolithic slabs.  Both carry specific benefits and challenges during construction and it is important to know these before breaking ground during a new home building project.  In this article we will explore the differences and benefits between the two types of foundations.

Monolithic Slab

Monolithic means “all in one pour” so the foundation is constructed in one single pour that is made up of a concrete slab with thicker areas under load bearing walls and all perimeter edges to take the place of footers. Because this Slab is poured all at once, it is much faster and keeps labor costs low.

 

When used under the right conditions, Monoslabs can be just as sound as Stem-Wall slabs. In most sub division community builds, the ground is level throughout the entire property and more densely compacted with very little fill dirt required. In this case, if all finished floor elevations are the same from lot to lot and there is very little slope, Monoslabs may be the best choice.

 

There are some major issues that can arise if lot conditions are not contusive to a Monolithic Slab. They can not be used when a lot of fill dirt is required because the concrete is more likely to crack if the ground isn’t compacted well enough. This is a problem for homes that need to be built up to rise above a flood plane provided by your engineer (as most lot builds in Florida must). In this situation, Monoslabs tend to crack around the perimeter walls and other major load bearing areas. This cracking can cause structural issues which affect other aspects of the house further down the building process like drywall and flooring if the framed walls aren’t stable.

 

For these reasons, most lot builders in Florida (including us) prefer stem-wall foundations.

Stem-Wall

Stem-Wall slabs are constructed in a multi-part process where a footer is poured at virgin ground level, then blocks are laid forming a wall up to the finished slab elevation.  This type of foundation is much more stable when fill dirt is required achieve the final build elevation. This process takes a bit longer than the Monolithic Slab, but a more stable foundation will prevent other issues down the road that could arise with trusses or wall construction.  When dealing with varying lot conditions Stem-Walls are a much more consistent method of foundation construction.

Quality construction starts with a solid and consistent foundation, and in our experience a Stem-Wall is the best way to go.

Building an inground pool is a very exciting time for any homeowner but creating the perfect venue for relaxation and leisure takes a great deal of planning.  Pool designers spend a large amount of time focusing on drainage while also maintaining the integrity of the pool, patio and yard space. Diverting runoff water flow away from your pool and home is a focus of any pool designer/builder. One tool commonly used to achieve the desired water flow while bolstering the structural integrity of the pool is a retaining wall.

Retaining walls are best described as a wall or structure built between your pool and a slope in your yard. Determining wall placement and height are two factors to consider early in the construction process. If your yard is perfectly flat, there is simply no need for a retaining wall (very rarely is this the case). Most homes must be built up using fill dirt to achieve the required flood level. With these prevailing slopes a retaining wall in many cases will be required.

 

Our Retaining walls begin with a concrete footer poured with rebar running throughout the length of the deck. Blocks are then stacked and filled with mortar and rebar that ties into the footer. Repeat this process with each layer until the desired height is reached. The final layer is a paver boarder secured by a layer of mudset providing an aesthetically pleasing finish.

The best practice is to consult your pool construction company to first determined if a retaining wall is even necessary. Once you have determined the need, your pool designer or engineer can recommend the right construction style, length, height and placement of your wall to maximize aesthetics and functionality so your patio and pool area will remain structurally sound for decades to come.

An important decision that can go overlooked during the construction process of your new home is the type of insulation to be used throughout the structure. Not doing your homework on the different types of insulators can have costly repercussions throughout the life of your new home. Historically, fiberglass insulation was the standard material used when insulating a residential home, but recent trends show a shift in the market toward spray-foam.  Spray foam is widely recognized by builders as the superior option to traditional fiberglass and here’s why.

Spray Foam has the ability to expand once applied to the area. Standard spray foam consists of two chemicals, polyurethane and isocyanate, commonly found in various materials likely around your house already (mattress and furniture foam). When the compounds are sprayed out of a spray foam gun they expand as soon as they leave the hose. This affords it the ability to completely cover the area in need of insulating. It fills every nook and cranny drastically reducing the airflow when compared to its distant cousin fiberglass.  Spray foams expanding capabilities allow it to save somewhere around 30% in annual energy costs potentially saving the homeowner thousands over the products lifespan.

Another huge benefit of spray foam is the life of the product. The measure of how well a product can restrict the flow of air is the resistance value or R-value. The R- value of fiberglass is 2.2 per inch when it’s brand new and will deteriorate over time with an expected life span of about 10-25 years if it remains dry. On the other hand, spray foam has an initial R – value of 3.5 and maintains that high level of performance for upwards of 80 years. Although foam must be applied by a professional if it needs to be replaced or repaired, there is a slim chance it will take place in your lifetime due to normal wear and tear.

Unlike fiberglass insulation, foam is also impervious to mold and bacteria. One of the worst nightmares to a homeowner is mold appearing anywhere in their house. The open cell foam compound popularly used for residential insulation does absorb some moisture, but spray foam provides no nutritional value to mold or bacteria.  If there is nothing for the mold to feed on, then it won’t be able to grow or spread. Pair that with its superior ability to prevent moist outside air from penetrating the sealed barrier mentioned earlier in this article and you have a solid first line defense from harmful bacteria.

The major negative attribute of spray foam is the initial cost. Fiberglass generally costs about $0.40 per square foot and can be installed by anyone. Spray foam generally costs around $0.80 to cover the same area and must be applied by a professional due to some minor health risks when in wet form. After about a 12-hour curing process where the foam is allowed to harden it becomes safe to touch with no harmful gasses emanating from it.

Spray foam is quite literally a product that will pay for itself over a few short years by cutting down on energy costs and providing a smaller workload for the air conditioning unit. We highly recommend it in every home we build.

One of the first things people notice when visiting your new home is the driveway. There are a ton of different options when it comes to choosing the right materials for the job. Two of the most popular options are decorative paver stones or concrete slabs. The three most important factors to consider are the initial cost, maintenance cost, and overall aesthetic look.  To help you decide which route best suits your specific job, we’ll compare both materials with these three factors in mind.

Initial Cost

There is a slight disparity between the two materials as far as initial cost is concerned. A concrete slab driveway will generally be the cheaper option if you elect against an upgrade to stamped concrete, but not by much. You can plan on saving around 10% when choosing concrete over decorative pavers, but those savings could be forfeited down the road with higher repair costs.

Maintenance Cost

Concrete is relatively easy to maintain but cracking is likely to occur at some point down the road. As the ground moves over time it puts stress on the surface of the concrete causing it to crack in various places. If a minor crack appears it can sometimes be fixed with a spot treatment or patch, but the repair will be easily noticeable with how difficult it is to match concrete poured at different times. If the cracks are severe and over multiple spots you may have to tear up the entire slab to redo it. 

If pavers crack, each one can be easily removed and replaced. You can order the replacement paver to closely match the color of the damaged one thus not disrupting the pattern. If they sink, simply remove the sunken paver, add fill dirt to bring it back up to the proper level and replace it. Both repairs can be done with a much lower cost and labor compared to problems encountered by ground shifts beneath concrete. 

Overall Aesthetic Look

One of the first things people notice when arriving at a new home is the driveway so it’s important to make sure it provides the first impression you desire. Paving stones come in a variety of shapes and colors, providing design freedom to anyone building a new home along with being generally more appealing than a boring concrete slab.

However, there many different practices used to alter the appearance of concrete such as texturing, staining, or stamping.  Stamped concrete is a technique used to mimic the appearance of pavers although you still have issues with cracking and repairs.

Many people prefer the look and benefits of lower long-term maintenance costs of pavers over concrete, but personal preference and budget will go a long way in ultimately determining which route is right for you.  You should look closely at all options and get quotes for both before making a final decision.     

You should always verify the allowances in your lot contract for fill, clearing, permits, impact fees and site prep.  A good builder will make sure to inspect your lot PRIOR to the execution of your contract to ensure that the allowances for your site specific prep costs are aligned with what is needed.  It is still possible to have overages above the adjusted allowances if there are unforeseen circumstances like rock or additional fill, but for the most part doing an inspection in the beginning will eliminate any surprises in the end.

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It is good practice to check on any building restrictions that may be attached to the Cape Coral lot you are interested in prior to purchasing it.  Most restrictions can be worked around, however it does take planning, time and additional dollars to complete.  We have compiled a complete outline of the process of verifying lot restrictions that may be in place on lots located in Cape Coral, Florida.

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When you have a new home built, home warrants are automatic. That means that your builder will guarantee the work performed as well as several home systems. Are home warranties worth it? The answer to this question is yes. Without protection, you would be liable for the repair or replacement of some high dollar items.

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Do you feel claustrophobic every time you walk into your small laundry room? Do you struggle with keeping things neat and orderly in such a small space? If you answered yes to either question, you have several viable solutions. In fact, you have multiple laundry room ideas that can make a small space more functional. Instead of feeling frustrated or even defeated, consider some of the suggestions provided.

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Often times in the flooring world, we interchangeably refer to ceramic and porcelain as TILE. They are both in the tile family, come in many shapes and sizes and both offer great choices. However, there are a few major differences and it is important to understand those differences before making your purchase. Continue reading ..

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We get a lot of inquiries from clients about building custom homes.  There are many factors that come into play when determining a price for a custom floor plan, but some of the main ones are outlined below.

Soft costs:

Soft costs are the costs associated with the specific lot location.  They include things like fill, clearing permit and impact fees. Different lots have different fill dirt costs which are determined by the finished floor elevation requirements vs the current lot elevation.  Also any clearing required will also add to the costs as well. Keep in mind the removal of trees will require additional dirt to be brought in to fill in the holes left by removal of the stumps.  The tree debris will also need to be hauled away as well. Permit costs and impact fees are determined by the local governing municipality and have a direct relationship to the house size and the “impact” it will have on the neighborhood.

We perform a lot inspection in order to better assess the costs associated with your lot. 

FLOOR PLAN & structural engineering associated:

The floor plan layout and engineering design have a direct effect on the costs associated to construct. The more complex the floor plan is, the more it will cost to construct.  More complex plans require additional engineering and additional engineering usually requires a more highly skilled subcontractor to execute. Plan engineering will determine a lot of things, including the number of concrete pour cells and size of structural beams required to span across different openings.  Concrete costs typically makes up 15-20% of any housing budget and therefore has a major impact on build cost. The number of courses of concrete required for your stem wall foundation or the height of your tie beam are major contributors to concrete costs.

We use our 65 years of combined construction experience to value engineer your custom plans to ensure you get a quality product without breaking the budget. 

Selections and Finishes:

Finishes have to do with flooring and cabinets selections as well as electrical and plumbing fixtures.  As you can imagine there are an array of different options and all of which have major differences in costs. Flooring costs have the greatest swing in prices with Carpet being the most affordable and the cost of popular plank tiles being a lot more.  Cabinets costs vary based on the composition of the cabinet boxes, the door styles and the cabinet options.  Plumbing and light fixtures also have big swings, designer fixtures always garner a premium.

We like to have our clients either pick from one of our pre-selected finish options or sit with one of our designers to pick all their custom finishes prior to finalizing their custom home budget. 

Final Thoughts:

Once we have a complete understanding of the above information we can accurately price out a set of plans within a week or so. The final timeline has a lot to do with how quickly we can get your selections figured out.  If you have a custom home plan you need priced out or are interested in having a set of plans created, please reach out to us and we will help you to understand the next steps.

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