A properly oriented plan can save you a lot in fuel bills and give you a lot more enjoyment of your house and your building site.
|A good house-site relationship|
It's amazing, every time a backhoe starts a new house foundation, how different soils can be from one building site to another. From loose sand to solid rock and everything in between, and sometimes all on the same site!
Soil type can have a big impact on the cost of construction. Even if you know a lot about the underground conditions on your site, it's a good idea to keep a little cash in reserve to deal with potential surprises lurking under the turf.
How much do you know about the soils on your home site? It's relatively easy to learn the basic characteristics from your County Extension Service or local building department. You might also contact builders and excavators with experience in the area and ask them what they've encountered on other projects they've built near you.
Some types of foundation systems that are popular in one region are unheard of in others. Typical practice in many areas is poured concrete walls - a potentially expensive option if your plans call for concrete block. It's important to know what foundation systems are common where you're building.
But even a house with the proper type of foundation for your site may need to be specifically engineered to accommodate the local soils - and the local building department.
Soils drain and retain water differently, and soils have vastly differently capacities to bear structural loads. In most areas, you'll have to show the building department that your foundation is designed for the local soils conditions.
|Room additions should also|
take advantage of the "four S's"
The Plumber's Credo - "everything flows downhill" is extremely important to remember when designing your home. On a developed lot, the municipal sanitary sewer line is buried near the front (usually) of the lot. The height of this pipe will determine the depth below grade of the basement slab since the effluent from the house must "flow downhill" to the sewer line.
An undeveloped lot is one where the utilities - electricity, water, gas, and public sewer - aren't brought from the street to the buildable area of the lot. On larger undeveloped properties there may not be any public sanitary sewer to connect to at all. On such a lot, you'll need some type of private sanitation system.
Several types of private sanitation systems are in use today including the traditional septic tank and leach field, aeration systems, and "mound" systems. They can vary widely in cost, and not all health districts allow all types. The choice of system will also be heavily weighted by the soil type and slope of the lot, and the available area(s) for the system. A typical leach field system will require a large clear area for a primary and second field.
Since a private sanitation system is more expensive than connecting to a public system, the cost isn't typically considered in the "base" cost of building a house. A private sanitation system is usually an "extra".