Building Your Dreams.

The Role Of The Building Inspector In Residential New Home Construction

Building a new home is a complex process involving many different trades and engaging a variety of building codes.  One of the building codes that we are governed by in the State of Wisconsin comes from the Department of Safety and Professional Services, Chapter 321, Construction Standards or as it is also known as Comm. 321. 

Comm. 321 has been adopted so that now all new residehome-inspectionntial construction homes throughout the state are compliant with these codes before an occupancy permit will be issued.   It is the role then of the local building inspector to make sure that all new homes are built to these standards or above.

There are very specific times during the process of building a new home that the inspections are made and the work is inspected which then must pass or exceed the building codes.  The first inspection is made is just prior to the footings for the concrete walls being poured.  The next inspection deals with the rough framing of the structure.  Following that is an inspection of the plumbing, HVAC and electrical.  Once the approval of this work is completed the home is ready to insulate.  Approval of how the insulation was installed and how much is in place must occur before the next step of dry walling the interior walls will be allowed.  Lastly at the very end of the home build the inspector comes back to make absolutely sure that everything has been built to code and only when he or she is satisfied that all is correct an occupancy permit is issued allowing the home to receive occupants.


Obviously, the role of the building inspector is a very important part of the process so that the checks and balances are in place to make sure your new home is built to standards that make it safe and habitable.



EIFS AS A Alternative Siding Material

EIFS is an acronym for exterior insulation finish system that is yet another method for finishing the exterior of a new residential home or a commercial building.

EIFS System

Unlike most exterior siding products EIFS provides a stucco like appearance along with superior thermal performance further insulating your new home.  The application of EIFS over the top of the exterior sheathing is done in multiple processes in order to achieve an underlying barrier which prevents water from penetrating the substrate plus achieving a high performance top coat that will remain beautiful for years to come.

The application process starts with a liquid water resistive barrier applied to the entire surface behind the areas that will be finished.  Next the installation provides for a drainage plane which is created allowing water that would get behind the finished product to drain out keeping the substrate dry.  Then over the top of the drainage plane a layer of foam is mechanically fastened or with adhesive glued in place, to which then mesh is applied.  This mesh provides a surface for the water resistive base coat to adhere to and serves as the weather barrier.  The final coat is a colored layer of acrylic polymer which is troweled creating the unique and beautiful final coat. 

If you are looking for a home exterior option that is truly energy efficient and stunning, EIFS could be your solution.

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How Much Insulation Is Recommended In A Cold Climate

How Much Insulation Is Recommended in a Cold Climate

Wisconsin is in a climate zone map 6 which is considered a cold environment.  In this type of climate, the US Department of Energy and the EPA Energy Star Program recommends R49 to R60 attic insulation, in cathedral ceilings R30 to R60, exterior walls R13 to R21, for insulated sheathing under your siding R5 and for a slab on grade floor R25 to R30.  The “R” stands for resistance and the ability to resist heat traveling through the material.  So the higher the number the greater it can provide this resistance and reduce your energy consumption.

Now that you have the “how much” you also need to consider the type of insulation, the benefits and the cost.  First let’s discuss the most common form and least costly type of insulation, fiberglass batten or rolls.  Here the batten or roll is cut to fit into the area it is being placed with care being taken to make sure that the batten or roll is not compressed lessening its R value.  Batten Insulation

Next is blown in insulation which offers a higher R-value inside the wall but is costlier than regular batten or roll.  In this application a netting is placed across all the wall cavities where the insulation will be blown into, then they make a 3-small holes into the netting at various heights and lastly mechanically blow the insulation in completely filling the wall cavity taking care to neither under fill nor overfill the cavity.  Blown In Insulation

The other option is spray foam.  This is the best product to use for preventing drafts plus achieving a high R value in a wall cavity but the costliest.  When considering spray foam, we recommend using closed cell foam for its ability to achieve a higher R value per inch plus providing a higher tensile and bond strength.

Spray Foam ApplicationWe at Cobblestone Builders use a blending of these products by using spray foam and blown in insulation achieving a R-26.22 inside the wall cavity eliminating drafts and providing a system that saves you money each and every day by reducing your energy costs.

Cobblestone Builders Building Better For You!


Concrete As A Decorative Material?

Concrete is a composite material made up of Portland cement which originates from a limestone and clay mixture, aggregate and water. This mixture when used and formed hardens into a durable stone like material that has many uses.Concrete wood plank floor

When we typically think of concrete our thoughts are of a material used in foundations, roads, driveways and patios that is gray in color and offers excellent long lasting properties. But have you ever considered concrete as a decorative material? Today we have many choices extending beyond the usual gray surface we are familiar with to enhancing our homes appearance.

Stamped concrete is a process where the concrete flatwork is patterned to resemble brick, slate, stone, tile or even wood planking. These distinctive patterns are then colored, enhancing their overall appearance and beauty. Acid staining is a water based surface penetrant that produces a permanent color that will not peel or flake and generates a very unique and attractive marbleized appearance to your patio or basement floor. Dyeing concrete is another popular option. Here the contractor applies a pigment which is either water or solvent based penetrating into the concrete resulting in a solid color. Using this technique and by simply adding a colored border around a patio, sidewalk or driveway will create a beautiful look. Epoxy coatings are layered over the top of the concrete. This coating provides a topcoat that protects the concrete from salt and other abrasive materials and can be used to refurbish a concrete surface that has been damaged. Then with the addition of aggregate or colored chips sprinkled into the surface this coating is not only durable but good-looking as well.Acid stained concrete

Have you considered concrete countertops? A relatively newer addition to the use of concrete that with the use of stains, pigments, decorative aggregates and or epoxy coatings makes a statement with its unique feel and appearance.

Concrete offers us so many options and has proven itself to being a truly versatile and long lasting product that with the proper care will beautify your new home for many years to come. Ask a qualified and insured contractor to help you make your selection.

Cobblestone Builders Building Better For You!

Drywall Techniques and Finishes

Wallboard, gypsum or drywall as it is commonly called has been used throughout the construction industry as a building material for interior walls since the early 1900’s. Now with modern technology and various additives it has evolved to a material that will resist mildew and increase fire resistance allowing it to be used in a variety of areas throughout a construction project.Drywall Sanding

The beauty of using drywall as the finished interior wall surface is its versatility in providing a background that easily adapts to different styles of final finishes. Each of the final texture products has its own character and can deliver a look that is tailored to different individual tastes.

To achieve a wall ready for the finish let us start from the beginning. The first step is applying the drywall using screws and fastening it to the bare studs. Next the contractor will start applying drywall tape and additional joint compound over the tape which seals off the butt joints visually hiding them. Repeated steps of feathering out the mud and sanding will provide a surface ready for the texture. Remember that before applying the texture it is very important, a primer first be applied to the walls to eliminate banding and texture problems.

Now comes the texture and the choice for what texture to apply depends on solely on the individual and their personal tastes. You can choose from a number of different ones but the three most common are knockdown, orange peel or smooth finish. Knockdown is frequently used in new construction and is the most forgiving of textures masking many imperfections. Here the contractor splatters mud onto the wall with a sprayer and after a short period of drying takes a wide broad knife and goes over the splatter creating the knockdown effect. Orange peel is similar in application but less forgiving and leaves a smaller pattern of mud on the wall so that the contractor does not take any further steps but instead lets this pattern dry on the wall. Smooth finish has no texture mud applied, is the least forgiving and as the name suggests leaves the wall smooth without any surface variation.Drywall Spray

Whatever the finish is that you choose for your new home have the contractor provide you with an example board so that you can see the differences between the different texture types and choose the level of the application you want for the knockdown or orange peel whether it be a heavy, medium or light splatter.

Cobblestone Builders Building Better For You!


Today’s smart consumer shopping for a new home should be sure to understand the concept behind a HERS rating. A HERS or Home Energy Rating System is a nationally recognized rating that allows you the consumer to take the guess work out when comparing a home’s energy efficiency.

HERS Index

Homes may look alike from the outside but how do they compare on the inside or behind the walls? The builder or salesperson may tell you all about their quality products they have installed and how great they are but in reality did they care enough to make sure that these quality components were installed correctly providing you with the best possible installation? The HERS index uncovers these truths with specific diagnostic testing and brings these facts to a rating system that is easy to understand and more importantly gives you the consumer a tool to make critical comparisons between the way a new home, existing home or multi-family home has been built.

Spray Foam Application 1

For example, a typical new home on the HERS index scale would be rated at 100 and an existing home depending on its age 110 or higher.   Based on this scale with a new home at 100 the lower the score achieved the higher the energy efficiency of the home. So if a home is rated at 70 it is 30% more efficient than a typical new home or if it is rated at 110 it is 10% less efficient than a typical new home. A home that would be rated 0 would be a home that is called a zero energy home. When this is achieved it means that the total amount of energy used roughly equals the amount of renewable energy created onsite through the use of photovoltaic and wind sources along with highly efficient HVAC, lighting techniques and water conservation.

So when you are assessing builders and their homes be sure to ask about their HERS rating number to be assured you are purchasing a proven and tested energy efficient home. A Cobblestone Builders home is usually rated at a 54 or 46% more efficient than a typical new home saving you money each and every day.

Cobblestone Builders Building Better For You!

What Is Talkin’ Construction?

If you have been following the Builders Showcase digital magazine or the Builders Showcase TV show on Fox 6 every Saturday morning at 9am you may be wondering what is the idea behind the article and segment called Talkin’ Construction?  About 5 years ago Cobblestone Builders was looking for a way to differentiate us as a concerned and knowledgeable home builder and wanted to share the many things we have learned with our combined 40 years of experience. Kadlec SIS & Basement Insulation Talkin’ Construction started out on a local radio station with a weekly live 20 minute call in format bringing in our various contractors, vendors and occasional building inspector to share the knowledge they have in their professions with our listeners.   Over the 3-1/2 years that this weekly radio show ran we answered a variety of questions sharing our expertise until one day the idea came about to join up with Builders Showcase and reach out to a new audience Stevie and I are excited to be able to utilize this type of format and answer the questions that you, our audience, has submitted. Now not only do we have the ability to offer answers to your questions but we can showcase the products and construction from the very beginning stages to completion when the home is ready to move in. We hope that you enjoy as much as we do learning about all the products and components that go into building a home and seeing our finished projects. Remember, if you have a question for us regarding construction or a product you can submit it to and who knows you might just end up on TV! Dirk & Stevie Cobblestone Builders Building Better For You!

Build a Strong Floor Using I-Joist

When building a new home you want it to be energy efficient, cost effective, sturdy and built to last. One of the most important components that are specified during the build of a new home is the way the floor system is engineered and built. A bad flooring design will result in a bouncy and unstable feeling along with a greater potential for squeaks which will create problems for years to come. I-Joist Basement View We at Cobblestone Builders require our floors to meet demanding requirements over and above the normal building code. Starting with the proper engineering we specify a floor that is rated L/480 achieving a no more than a 0.3 inch deflection. We are able to provide this rigid floor system by utilizing I-Joist which provide the strength, stability and consistency throughout the home. Then over the top of these support members we place another quality product, Top Notch 350 floor sheathing, which is glued, nailed and screwed down into place. LP I-Joist So what is an I-Joist? Basically let’s start out by having you picture a steel beam with its “I” shape having a top and lower flange. Then picture a solid web between the upper and lower flange combining the two. Make these all these components out of wood and now you have an I-Joist. I-joist come in different depths and flange sizes allowing them to span farther distances than traditional dimensional lumber and importantly will not bow, crown, twist cup check or split! Combine this with that fact that there are less trees used in the manufacturing process and not only do you have a better more stable floor but also one that is “Green” helping to conserve our natural resources. I-Joist Cobblestone Builders Building Better For You!

What Are Ice dams And Is There A Cure?

In the climate that we experience here in Wisconsin ice dams can be an occurring problem on a sloped roof. The ice dam is formed when the accumulated snow on the roof melts and starts its downward travel towards an area on the roof that is below or at freezing, typically at the eves, forming an accumulation of ice, damming up later melting snow which then cannot drain properly off of the roof.  This backed up water can then leak back into your walls and home causing extensive damage.

Roof dam cause graph

Why does this happen? A small amount is caused by the natural freeze thaw occurring on warmer sunny winter days but the true culprit is what is known as a hot roof. A hoot roof is a condition where the heat from the living space of your home is rising up and able to get into attic space warming up the bottom of the roof heating it up and starting the process of melting the snow causing the ice dam.  The warmer air from your home is finding its way through open spots through the ceiling, framing, recessed cans, exhaust fans, plumbing vents and light fixture outlets. Another cause is the lack of proper ventilation in the attic. Again we have warm air rising into the attic and having no other place to go because of the poor ventilation but to heat up the underside of the roof causing the snow melt.

So, we have a problem but how can it be fixed? There are going to be a few things that will be needed to be checked starting with air penetrations into the attic. Any penetrations or openings through the ceiling into the attic should be sealed, preventing the warm air from your home entering the attic which also will help to reduce your energy consumption. Next make sure that you have a proper amount of insulation in the attic. We at Cobblestone Builders provide an R-50 blanket of blown insulation into all the attics of our new construction homes for energy efficiency.   Lastly, make sure that the attic is sufficiently ventilated through the roof either with a ridge vent, slant back vent or pan style roof venting and don’t forget to check along the edges of the walls for air flow baffles.

Roof dam icles

The problem of water damage to a home can be very costly so making sure that your home is performing properly and that ice dams do not form in the long run saves you money.

Cobblestone Builders Building Better For You!

Jason & Andrea

My husband and I love our new home. I extend my compliments to Dirk and Stevie at Cobblestone Custom Homes both for the quality of the home’s workmanship and the entire purchasing process. Our first home purchase was stressful and a terrible experience. Therefore, we were apprehensive in buying another new home. Without a doubt, the purchase of our Cobblestone Custom home was the most pleasant home purchase we have made.  Dirk and Stevie took the time to answer questions and made us feel comfortable throughout the entire purchasing process.  My husband and I love our dream home and we look forward to making lasting memories with our family. Thank you, Dirk and Stevie, for your patience, professionalism, workmanship, and friendship.

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