While every home design has its pain points, designing a modern home comes with its own list of challenges. Clean, simple designs are the trademark of modern home design and builds, and any imperfection or flaw tends to appear exaggerated. As Jordan Smith of @jordansmithbuilds says, “They require ‘even more perfect’ builds.”
We caught up with several builders about recent modern home builds and asked them to share some of their top tips for implementing a modern design. Even with decades of experience under their tool belt, they too grapple with how to build a modern house.
Modern homes feature intentional asymmetry, strong horizontal composition and large expanses of glass—all design fundamentals that can create significant structural challenges.
When building a high-quality custom home, it is important to get the fundamentals of the house right. "It is relatively easy to replace counters, tile and flooring especially as trends change," says Smith. "Foundations, sub-floors and framing, on the other hand, are nearly impossible to change once they are integrated into the house. As such, the materials and methods used for these critical areas must be carefully considered and selected."
Constructing perfectly straight, modern lines
You can’t build a flawless, straight wall with typical lumber. “LP® SolidStart® LSL is just what the name says—SOLID,” says Smith. “With this premium product, you can build walls that are perfectly straight and that you know will stand the test of time.”
Joseph Acevedo, president of Acevedo Construction, is framing a custom home featuring straight, modern lines; long spans; and demanding finishes. “When we started this project, we noticed the home had very demanding lines with no room for error,” says Acevedo. “In past builds with traditional lumber we would run into problems like shrinkage, movement in the service of the lumber, wane, just imperfections. We can’t have that on a modern home build, so we went with LP SolidStart LSL.”
Smith agrees LP SolidStart LSL helps build a straight wall. "The biggest advantage of LSL is its straightness. If you look down a wall, every stud is going to be lining up exactly with the stud next to it. And that's because our bottom plate is an LSL and our top plate is an LSL and as long as I've got these in parallel and directly over the top of each other, our walls are going to be completely straight. We don't have to worry about any bowing, either, when we install it or over time."
Constructing the structure for oversized windows
While they appear as simple, linear lines, modern home designs and builds are often complicated to construct.
Jim Bale started his company, Jim Bale Homes, more than 40 years ago. On his most recent custom build, he encountered a number of challenges. The handicap-accessible modern home is over 6 500 square feet and calls for high-caliber, long-lasting building solutions to ensure the homeowner’s peace of mind.
Bale used LP SolidStart LSL to make sure the more complicated design elements in the home are strong. For example, in the great room a double-height wall of windows provided an especially difficult challenge. "LP SolidStart LSL helped to ensure that the wall was straight and stable," says Bale. "One of the product's big advantages is that you can achieve perfect straightness. In a wall like this that's filled with large windows, the engineered wood in LP SolidStart allows you to go from the floor to the ceiling. The strength of the wall is great because of LP SolidStart LSL."
Construction for modern amenities
While custom homes offer the positive experience of building extraordinary amenities and features typically not found on builder-grade houses, the level of craftsmanship to execute these fine details must be exact.
Brad Ennis, president of Ennis Custom Homes, recently built a modern home that required a tremendous level of detail in the home. “The master bedroom closet had four section drawings just for the windows alone, which provides an idea of just how intricate this home is,” said Ennis. The custom home included automated shades that were hidden and integrated into the framing, so LP SolidStart LSL’s straightness and structural capabilities were critical to the performance of these high-tech amenities.
Additionally, the home features a combination of standard windows and a curtain wall. Ennis's team of curtain wall installers have seen the benefits of LP SolidStart LSL firsthand. "When I asked the installation team how things were going with the curtain wall, they remarked about how straight and plumb the openings are, which they weren't used to with other products," said Ennis.
Construction for stable, flat floors
“I do mainly really large houses at this point in my career and using engineered wood like the LP® SolidStart® I-Joists ensures that the floors are level. It’s a much more stable platform to put the house on,” says Bale of the advantages of using LP Building Solutions products. “This was my first experience using LP Legacy® Premium Sub-Flooring,” said Bale. “My carpenters said it went together much easier than competitive products, and that’s all I need to know to see that it works.”
Large format tile floors and natural stone are among top choices in luxury homes, making sub-flooring for heavy tile and hardwood critical.
Building to combat moisture
When it was time for general contractor Jeff Smith to build his own home, he chose high-quality building materials that saved time and money in installation. He knew LP WeatherLogic® Air & Water Barrier would be the defense against air and water intrusion both during and after construction.
“I posted Facebook photos while we were installing the LP WeatherLogic panels, and I had something like twenty contractors contact me to ask about the blue product on the house,” said Jeff Smith. “Builders are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves from the competition, and when you’re driving through a neighborhood that nice blue LP WeatherLogic color really jumps out and grabs your attention.”
Building an “even more perfect” clean modern home starts with products that won’t warp or shift throughout the build. LP SolidStart LSL combined with LP Legacy and LP WeatherLogic creates an incredibly straight wall and sets the foundation for the rest of the build. It also makes your choice of siding go on easier.
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