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Build Your House Yourself University

Wish you knew more about the biggest investment you will most likely ever make? Build Your House Yourself University (byhyu) will teach you to save money and make smart decisions about the construction of the place you and your family will call HOME. We will help you understand residential construction— simplify and demystify the design build process. You’ll come away with successful strategies for building your own house, with or without a general contractor. Become an educated consumer, even if you prefer to buy, rather than build a new house. Complex construction jargon and best practices will be explained in easy to understand terms. It’s not the typical DIY (do it yourself) show. You will learn how to MANAGE the labor, not DO the labor for your new house.Join me, Michelle Nelson, host and fellow informal residential construction student. I’ll share the research I find on home design and building as I prepare to build my home. Together, our community of future home builders, will learn the tips, tricks and trends of experienced contractors and industry experts. I’ll interview owner-builders and construction professionals. During our mini lessons, I’ll inform you about framing, flooring, windows, insulation, kitchen cabinets and countertops…almost anything having to do with new construction homes. You’ll hear about energy efficiency and green building too. There will be product reviews in which you will be introduced to cutting edge, as well as, tried and true products and services. And in keeping with the university theme, episodes will end with short, fun quizzes. If we do our due diligence BEFORE we start construction, we will actually start construction with the most difficult part of the project behind us. Let’s put in the time, effort, preparation and research BEFORE we break ground and building our homes will be much easier and more enjoyable.

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How Much Does It Cost To Build A House? —BYHYU 107

I’ve hesitated to do an episode on the cost of construction because homebuilding costs can vary greatly from house to house and region to region.  But, “How much does it cost to build a house?” is a question that comes up a lot.  So I decided to give you some information collected by the National Association of Home Builders.  They did a cost of construction survey which asked builders from around the United States to break down their construction costs for the typical home they built in 2017. This week’s episode will cover a lot of numbers that you cant possibly remember, but I want to give some points of reference for our own project.  I’ll not only share the average cost for each major category of the building process, such as site work, framing and the foundation, but I’ll also tell you what percentage of the total cost of construction each segment represents.  Here are some quick averages:  The average single-family home built in 2017 was 2,776 square feet, so almost 2800 square feet. The average lot size was about 11,186 square feet. The average construction cost of a typical single-family home in 2017 was $237,760.  Show notes at BYHYU.com


7 Mar 2018

Rank #1

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Where To Save Versus Splurge When Building a House—BYHYU 093

Most of us have to consider budget when making decisions about our dream homes.  And some budgets are tighter than others.  So in this week’s episode, I’ll give you some tips on the best places to save when building a house versus areas where you should splurge. Before we get to those tips, we'll define a pro-term: Value engineering. Value engineering is a term that you might hear some architects and contractors use when talking about saving money when building a house. Value engineering is an economical way of building that removes excessive costs but preserves good design. In other words, value engineering aims to lower the cost of building without lowering functionality.  That’s achieved by spending in some areas and saving in others. So, our lesson this week will focus on value engineering. Show notes at BYHYU.com


15 Nov 2017

Rank #2

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7 House Design Layout Mistakes to Avoid—BYHYU 104

This week I have a quick episode telling you about 7 house layout mistakes you should avoid when designing your home.  Most of them are mistakes that I almost made until I mentally walked through the house.  Some of them are mistakes that my architect didn’t even see until I brought them to his attention.  So do your due diligence, even if you are working with a professional, and literally study your house plan before you finalize it. Show notes at BYHYU.com


14 Feb 2018

Rank #3

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Solar Power/Solar Panels 101—BYHYU 099

“Solar energy" harnesses the energy of the sun to power your house. A 2017 report from the International Energy Agency says that solar energy has become the world’s fastest growing source of power– marking the first time that solar energy’s growth has surpassed that of all other fuels. Most people who want to install a solar panel system are motivated to do so either because saving the planet is important to them and/or because saving money on their utility bills is important to them.  Either way, solar panel systems are tremendously beneficial. This week’s episode will give you a basic overview of solar power systems, including the pros and cons of the different types of solar panels, the average cost, and the amount of maintenance needed.  We’ll also talk about leasing solar panels. Before our mini lesson, we’ll go over a few pro terms:  On the grid, zero energy homes, and off the grid. Show notes at BYHYU.com


10 Jan 2018

Rank #4

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BYHYU BONUS EPISODE: 21 Bonus Electrical and Lighting Plan Tips—BYHYU 125.5

In addition to the suggestions and tips that I gave you episode 125 called “Consider These Things for Your Electrical and Lighting Plan”, I’m giving you 21 bonus tips that I’ve curated from past BYHYU episodes. So that you can easily access our lighting and electrical tips for your own lighting plan, I’ve put them all together in one and a half episodes.  You’ve heard these 21 bonus tips before, but I think this will serve as a nice refresher for many of you, plus it will save you the trouble of having to listen to several episodes to find lighting tips that that scattered around in different places. If you haven’t listened to episode 125, you’ll definitely want to do that too, as the lion’s share of the lighting and electrical plan suggestions are in that episode. Show notes at BYHYU.com


18 Jul 2018

Rank #5

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Lighting 101—Recessed lights, LEDs, and More—BYHYU 103

I love lighting fixtures.  I’d have a beautiful chandelier in almost every room of the house, if I could.  But there’s more to lighting than pretty fixtures.  Lighting is first and foremost functional.  I briefly covered lighting in episode 25 called “8 Kitchen Design Mistakes to Avoid”.  Mistake #6 was “Going Light on Lighting.”  That’s not what we want to do in the kitchen or any other place in the house.  In this week’s mini lesson, we’ll go over the basic rules to follow when choosing lighting for your new home.  Now,  an electrician or lighting designer will be invaluable in making specific suggestions your project, but today we’ll cover some general guidelines.  As with most guidelines, experts sometimes disagree.  I noticed when doing my research that one website might have slightly different guidelines and advice than another.  So the tips and rules that I’ll outline today may be just a little different from what you read or hear elsewhere, but this information should help give you some basic, practical tips that will get you on the right path to a well lit home.  We’ll talk about the different categories of lighting, where to put warm white light as opposed to cool white light, and we’ll go into what size recessed lights (can lights) are best and how you should space them. Show notes at BYHYU.com


7 Feb 2018

Rank #6

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When Is The Best Time to Build a House? The Answer May Be Different Than You Think— BYHYU 117

So when exactly is the best time to build a house?  I always assumed it was the spring or summer because that’s when everyone seems to start construction.  And depending on what your goals are, spring and summer are the best times.  However, fall, and rarely winter, could be a better time to start. Again, depending on your goals. Show notes at BYHYU.com


16 May 2018

Rank #7

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Things You Should Never Say To Your (Sub)Contractors, Part 1— BYHYU 152

Although communicating with our contractors is an important part of successfully building our homes, there are certain things that we should never say to them.  This week, and next week, we’ll discuss some of those taboo phrases and questions that should never be uttered to our contractors. Show notes at BYHYU.com


27 Feb 2019

Rank #8

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Choosing a Kitchen Range, Cooktop or Oven—BYHYU 110

The kitchen stove is a visual and functional focal point in many kitchens. And there are several options from which to choose.  This week’s mini-lesson will give you an overview of many of those options, including, ranges vs cooktops, plus electric, gas, induction, convection, and dual fuel cooking.  This lesson should help you choose the best stove for your new kitchen.  We’ll also talk about the very basic differences between cooking with gas versus cooking with electric. Show notes at BYHYU.com


28 Mar 2018

Rank #9

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Who Knew You Needed This Information for the Building Permit!—Project Update— BYHYU 113

I thought I could fill out my building permit application in just a few minutes, but I couldn’t because I didn’t have all the information I needed.  Learn what information is needed for a building permit application and how I went back and forth with the builder I wanted as my consultant. Show notes at BYHYU.com


18 Apr 2018

Rank #10

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No One Told Me I’d Run Into This Challenge— Insurance Woes—BYHYU 136

As we are continuing to prepare to start construction, I have been calling around for quotes for the insurance that will need to be in place before we begin work and I’ve run into some challenges.  There are two policies that you’ll need to protect yourself if you are acting as an owner-builder, one is builders risk insurance and the other is general liability insurance.  You may have trouble finding general liability insurance.  In this week’s episode, I’ll tell you how to overcome that trouble. Show notes at  BYHYU.com


10 Oct 2018

Rank #11

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How Should You Pay a General Contractor? Fixed Price versus Cost Plus Contract?—BYHYU 121

A couple of weeks ago we talked about the bidding process, mainly as it pertains to owner-builders bidding for subcontractors themselves.  This week I’ll give you a quick overview of the different types of contract agreements you might decide on if you ’re going to hire a general contractor to build your house.  We’ll briefly discuss fixed price contracts and cost-plus contracts. Choosing which type of contract to use is almost as important as choosing which general contractor to hire. Show notes at BYHYU.com


13 Jun 2018

Rank #12

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Consider These 50 Things for Your Electrical and Lighting Plan— BYHYU 125

After giving a general overview last week of what’s needed for the specifications for the plumbing, mechanical and electrical subs, I thought it would be helpful to go into more detail about the lighting and electrical plan that you will need to give to the electrician.  There is so much to consider.  I’ll give you a list of 50 suggestions that you can use as a checklist that will help you develop a pretty complete electrical and lighting plan before you even meet your builder or electrician for the lighting walkthrough.  The lighting walkthrough typically happens in the rough-in stage, after framing is complete and before the drywall goes up.  Usually, the homeowner will walk through the framed house with the electrician and/or builder and discuss where fixtures, outlets, and light switches will go.  But thinking through the electrical and lighting plan well before you do the electrical walkthrough will allow you more time to consider exactly what features and outlets we want, and where. This decreases the chances of you forgetting an outlet or light switch somewhere.  It will also give you an opportunity to develop more detailed specifications so you can get more accurate electrical bids.  I’ll give you some suggestions in list form.  50 suggestions here and 21 more tips in the bonus episode. Show notes at BYHYU.com


18 Jul 2018

Rank #13

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3 Kitchen Island Quick Tips— BYHYU 147

As with most features in your home, the way you design your kitchen island should be a matter of functionality, personal taste, your budget, and your lifestyle.  This week’s quick tips will help you design an island that is not only on trend style-wise but also functional and comfortable. Show notes at BYHYU.com


16 Jan 2019

Rank #14

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How to Build a Fire Resistant House— BYHYU 142

For those of us who want to make our homes as safe possible, incorporating some fire resistant features is a smart idea. Interestingly, many ordinary, everyday homebuilding materials are either naturally fire resistant or they can become fire resistant with a few tweaks. Although most building materials are not 100% fireproof, many materials that we’ll talk about today will give your house a fighting chance if it’s ever threatened by fire. Homes built with the right materials, the right landscaping layout, and smart detailing have a far better chance of escaping a fire with less damage. Show notes at BYHYU.com


28 Nov 2018

Rank #15

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Do you need a structural engineer? Part 1--BYHYU 003

Today we have the first part of an interview that I had with structural engineer Phillip Lewis.  We’ll learn more about what a structural engineer does and who might need one. www.BYHYU.com


27 Jan 2016

Rank #16

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Central Vacuum Systems: Do They SUCK or Are They Worth the Money?—BYHYU 146

You may or may not have heard of central vacuum systems, also called “central vac”.  People who know of them generally love them or hate them.  This week we’ll talk about the pros and cons of putting a central vac in your new home.  We’ll also go over the cost of the system and who would benefit from it most. Show notes at BYHYU.com


9 Jan 2019

Rank #17

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Understanding the Bidding Process—BYHYU 119

After last week’s listener question episode about what to do when your bids are coming in above expected, I thought that a more in-depth mini-lesson on the bid process would be helpful.  Bids… that’s what we’re talking about this week. Once we have a detailed plan for our project, in the form of accurate architectural drawings/house plans and written specifications, the bid process can begin. Our goal in going through the competitive bid process is not just to get the lowest price for the job, but to get the best quality work for the lowest price. Show notes at BYHYU.com


30 May 2018

Rank #18

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How Will You Pay for the Construction of Your Dream Home? Construction Loans 101—BYHYU 047

Hey BYHYU. Welcome to Build House Yourself University. I’m Michelle Nelson, your host and fellow student, and together we’ll learn the basics of home design and construction and demystify the building process, so we can build our dream homes, with or without a general contractor. Most people don’t have the means to pay cash for the construction of their new homes, so most folks will need to take out a construction loan. We’ll talk about the different options for financing new construction in this week’s mini-lesson. Show notes at BYHYU.com


7 Dec 2016

Rank #19

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Affordable Interior Design with Betsy Helmuth BYHYU 089

This week we’ll learn some interior design basics, especially as it pertains to new and remodeled homes. You’ll hear my conversation with Betsy Helmuth, owner of Affordable Interior Design and host of her own interior design podcast called Big Design, Small Budget. It’s one of my new favorites. I just love it and here’s why: In the same way this podcast simplifies and demystifies homebuilding concepts, Betsy, on Big Design Small Budget, simplifies and demystifies interior design. So, to go along with BYHYU’S tips and tricks for building your dream house, Betsy gives strategies for decorating your dream house. Today you’ll hear Betsy's expert opinion on what to do and where to start when designing rooms from scratch. She will tell us what fixtures and finishes should stay consistent throughout the whole house, and when it’s ok to add in different color palettes and styles. We’ll also hear why Betsy says that investment furniture and all-neutral rooms are no-nos. Shownotes at BYHYU.com


11 Oct 2017

Rank #20