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  • Writer's pictureKeith Groninger

Green Strategies - Durable Construction

Groninger Custom Homes builds green and sustainable custom homes in Winter Park, Orlando and Central Florida.

Durable construction techniques and materials offer a longer lifespan, less maintenance and save resources. A durable home requires less upkeep, fewer repairs, and lasts a long time without the need for remodeling or demolition. Higher quality products frequently come with a higher upfront cost that must be weighed against the long term benefit. These options should be discussed during the planning stage of a new home or remodeling project.

Here is Florida, constant moisture has damaging effects over time. Managing rainwater runoff and drainage on the property helps allow the house to dry out and prevent mildew, mold and wood rot. Water intrusion is the dominant detriment to the durability of a home.

Here are some of the techniques and solutions available.

  • Site drainage that moves rainwater away from the house is the first step to keeping things dry. The yard should be sloped so water runs away from the house. The floor level of the house may need to be elevated and areas around the house should be low enough that water runoff has a place to go. Sloping the garage floor and driveway are also good practices.

  • Deep roof overhangs or gutters help keep water away from the foundation. Keep in mind that gutters need to be maintained in order to be effective. We prefer 24 inch overhangs.

  • A secondary roof water barrier is an additional waterproof membrane that goes underneath the primary roofing material. A popular product referred to as "peel & stick" comes in big rolls and has an adhesive backing. Zip System roof decking is another form of secondary water barrier that we use on all of our homes.

  • Flashings for the roof and exterior wall surfaces play an important roll against water intrusion. A roof flashing referred to as a "kick out" has a notorious reputation as being problematic as are improperly sealed window openings. These are areas where attention to detail is the only way to prevent problems. Too many builders make the mistake of relying on their subcontractors without overseeing their work.

  • Rain Screen is a term that relates to how an exterior wall sheds water and prevents entry into the wall cavity. House wraps like Tyvek are good products but only if they are installed properly. From our experience, there are too many trades involved and most simply don't know or understand the importance of proper installation. Here again we prefer the Zip System of exterior wall sheathing because there are fewer opportunities for it to be compromised by an unknowing trade contractor.

  • Humidity is a subject that deserves much more space than we can include in this blog. Here in Florida, warm humid air is constantly trying to penetrate the exterior shell of a house and it will always find a way in eventually. There are different techniques and products available to manage humidity that should be discussed during the planning and design phase of a custom home. Be wary of any builder that doesn't mention this topic.

Bora-Care is a non-toxic wood treatment

Termites are another topic that should be part of a durable home construction plan but using the above techniques will greatly reduce the concerns because they can not survive without a source of moisture. The best way to prevent termites is to keep your house dry. In the past there were harsh chemicals used to prevent termites but those they were unhealthy and have been banned. The green approach to termite prevention avoids the use of toxic chemicals altogether.

There are also many durable materials that should be considered including, "Hardiboard" siding, fiberglass exterior doors, composite fascia and soffits, armored hoses for appliances and plumbing fixtures and, leak detection devices.

Little is more meaningful and personal than a home, and the experience of designing and building your own home should be rewarding and enjoyable. Choosing a builder is difficult. The process of designing and building a home involves numerous decisions about components, systems and services selected from criteria that includes price, quality, appearance and performance. How can you possibly understand everything unless the builder is willing to share all of the information?   

Allow us to introduce you to The GCH Way of building your next home. Please let us know if you have any questions. Keith Groninger

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