Dream Builders OBX

Outer Banks Home Construction

Best Flooring for a Beach House

One frequent question that we’re asked is, “What flooring works best in a beach home?” The most definitive answer is that carpet, while fine for bedrooms, is not recommended for high traffic common areas in a coastal home. The good news is that there are a variety of quality products on the market that work very well in our seaside environment.

Certainly every Outer Banks contractor has an opinion on what works the best. Given my experience, the products that top our recommended list include prefinished hardwoods, ceramic and porcelain tiles and luxury vinyl flooring. The majority of our clients request hardwood flooring for their great room and hallways, and we’ve found prefinished wood is a great product that comes in a variety of appealing wood species.

This is solid wood flooring that has multiple coats of factory applied finish to protect against discoloration and water penetration. The quality has improved greatly in the last decade, and a part of this improvement is attributed to the newest finish called Aluminum Oxide. This finish is applied by a commercial process that includes a UV-cured urethane coat that’s great for color preservation and durability against stains and scratches.

Because the wood is factory finished the installation process is more efficient. There is no job site dust from sanding and no lingering odors from onsite staining. An added bonus is you can walk on the floors immediately whereas unfinished wood takes several days for the applied stain to cure. If you factor in the material price for unfinished wood and add the labor cost to sand and stain floors, prefinished floors price out as a better value.

Our preference is prefinished hardwood flooring that is ¾” thick. When and if the time comes, this thickness can be professionally refinished up to 3-4 times. Wider hardwood planks can be more susceptible to moisture-related issues. To minimize this potential, the widest plank we typically use measures between 4 and 4-1/2 inches. We also encourage homeowners to have ceramic tile placed in the entrance foyer and in front of sliding glass doors to lessen the potential of moisture permeating hardwood.

Whereas hardwood can be extended into bedrooms, a more budget friendly option is to install carpet in these rooms. We recommend a low piling in a neutral color that won’t easily show sand that can be tracked indoors. Ceramic tile is another functional and low maintenance flooring option for a beach home. This durable product is often earmarked for kitchens, bathrooms and utility rooms.

The majority of Outer Banks’s recreation rooms are located on the ground level slab with doors that lead to the outdoors. For this reason, ceramic tile is a dependable solution for the traffic that flows in and out from the pool area. Another flooring option for rec rooms is high quality luxury vinyl which is durable, tolerant of moisture and can be more economical than ceramic tile.

Outer Banks Pools

Fiberglass pools are increasing in popularity due to their low maintenance features, longevity and visual aesthetics.  As an Outer Banks builder, the vast majority of pools I’ve installed over the years have been concrete/gunite.  Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to install several fiberglass pools for clients, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.

Don’t get me wrong, those in our company are big fans of concrete pools.  With no limitations to the size or depth and the flexibility in custom designs, these pools can result in a work of art.  Yet, there remains a high cost of ownership over time which includes the expense to acid wash (every 3 to 5 years), resurface and retile (every 15 to 25 years) and the cost of chemicals and filtration for algae prevention. These expenses can result in the addition of a pool area not meeting many client’s budgets.

Concrete on the Outer Banks is a relatively expensive product so the decision to install a fiberglass pool in our area is often a more cost effective option.  These shells can last decades and many come with a limited lifetime structure and surface warranty – just be sure to read the small print to understand the conditions.

Because concrete is porous it creates the ideal environment for algae growth.  To prevent the growth and spread of these organisms requires regular scrubbings and the added cost of sanitizing chemicals.  In comparison, fiberglass shells are covered with a nonporous gel coating that resists algae so fewer chemicals are required and (as a bonus) this coating is less likely to stain.  In addition, the gel surface is smooth and nonabrasive which protects against hand and foot abrasions.

Fiberglass pools are prebuilt in a controlled factory environment.  Homeowners cannot design a custom shape, instead they choose from a variety of sizes and shapes with steps and built-in seating already manufactured into the shell.  Once selected, the pool shell is then trucked to the homesite for installation.

Whereas concrete pools can take weeks or months of onsite work to design and complete, a fiberglass pool can conveniently be installed in a matter of days.  A hole is excavated, plumbing is installed, a base of sand is prepared and then the pool is lowered into place and leveled.  To avoid bowing, the sand is then backfilled around the shell while the pool is simultaneously filled with water.

With many parents working full time jobs and shuttling children to extracurricular activities, time for home maintenance has become a more precious commodity.  In addition, the construction of second homes being built for future retirement is increasing on the Outer Banks.  Given both of these lifestyles, we’re seeing an increase in homeowners requesting easy care features like vinyl siding and railing, composite decking materials and low maintenance pools areas.

We purchase our fiberglass pools from a leading nationwide supplier that offers great design options in distinctive colors and patterns with corresponding mosaics and tiles.  To personalize your pool design, clients can also add water features such as water cascades, tanning ledges, vanishing edges and more. The results are quite impressive, so when deciding which type of pool best suits your needs, be sure to ask us about fiberglass options too.

Engineered Truss Systems

I initially used the traditional stick-built method to frame all of our homes, but over time we’ve advanced to trusses.  Now, the majority of the roofs on the properties we build are engineered roof truss systems.  As an Outer Banks contractor, I’ve found these systems to be much more efficient, cost effective and a solid component in meeting our coastal wind code requirements.

For those unaware of the difference, here are the basics:

Stick-Built – A home assembled on the intended homesite using individual pieces of lumber.

Trusses – These structural systems are built in a plant and they redistribute tension away from wall-tie and ceiling members.  They are delivered to a job site ready to assemble.

From an aesthetic perspective, when using roof truss system greater spans can be attained without the need for supportive exterior footings and interior beams and posts which allows for cleaner and more open living spaces.  Also, during the design process, expansive ceiling features and attic storage can be incorporated into the original roof design.

We also switched to engineered open web floor truss systems.  The major benefit is that these truss structures are perfectly designed to house HVAC ductwork, plumbing components and electrical wiring.  When constructing stick-built homes, tradesmen must cut holes through timber joists to install mechanicals. This can put the structural integrity at risk if a mistake is made. Having them located within the floor truss also means there is never a need to create unsightly drop ceilings to “cover up” mechanical systems that run throughout a house.  Most importantly, due to the design and construction of these trusses, floors tend to be more level and uniform which greatly reduces future squeaks and minimizes “bounce” or deflection.

It’s important to understand that roof and floor trusses are specifically designed for each unique home and, unlike stick-built frames, truss structures are sealed by an engineer.  They are built in a controlled environment so the timber is not negatively impacted by harsh weather, and the lumber is cut by programmed machines which results in greater accuracy and tighter fits when assembled.  Because of the efficient use of materials, automated plant construction results in producing truss systems for less money than one would use to stick-build the same house.  Additional cost saving are found through reduced labor hours to assemble engineered systems.

The streamlined process of creating trusses results in very minimal waste.  And, instead of end cuts being tossed into a construction trash bin, these materials are recycled into a multitude of other products which can be sold to consumers.

Prefabricated Wall Panels

For years the word “prefab” received a bum rap in the construction industry.  There existed a prevalent viewpoint that unless a home was stick-built by skilled carpenters, it didn’t actually qualify as genuine construction.  Over time, the benefits of panelized framing have come to outweigh this misconception and today the use of manufactured house components remains a growing trend nationwide.

The dominant reason is efficiency.  There are several reasons home deliveries can fall behind schedule.  The most obvious is weather, a factor faced by every Outer Banks builder, but that’s not the only reason for delays.  Building on a barrier island has unique challenges and one is the limited number of quality tradesmen available in each field, and these professionals are in high demand while balancing the work load for more than one contractor. Another notable element is delays in building materials deliveries that can occur in our remote location.

In all business it’s true that time is money and construction is no exception.  The use of prefabricated wall panels and truss systems eliminates construction delays related to material deliveries.  Secondly, when components arrive onsite they are ready for immediate assembly which increases the level of productivity for framing crews allowing them to move efficiently from one jobsite to another.

Exterior wall panels are manufactured from traditional framing timber in a controlled environment.  Whereas, stick-built walls are built onsite in unpredictable weather conditions which may impact the quality of materials.  The contractor provides shop plans and layout details to the panel manufacturer who feeds this information into a computer program that designs the unique panels required for your home.  This includes the precise placement of exterior windows and doors, interior doors and their corresponding headers.

This construction method results in a high quality product with precision cuts that are nailed and screwed together at the factory resulting in a better fit for increased durability.  The wall units are then labelled for easy onsite assembly and shipped to construction jobsites where an experienced framing crew can assemble the panels.

When compared to stick-built, wall panels can be installed in a more efficient manner that uses less manpower and poses fewer safety risks to the framing crew.  Also, due to the size of these panels substantially less theft occurs then when bundles of raw lumber are delivered to job sites.

The biggest advantage is that panelized components can assembled in fewer days resulting in a lower cost to the contractor, a savings that can then be passed to the homeowner.  And, once the home is “dried in,” the contractor can quickly proceed with scheduling interior finishes which results in a more efficient home delivery timeline.

 

Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation

Due to our weather and proximity to the ocean, Outer Banks contractors are held to some of the strictest building codes in the nation. Coastal winds, moisture content, humidity and our hot summer months are consistent elements that must be considered when developing standards and practices that result in premium construction.
When you build on (or near) the Outer Banks, achieving energy efficiency in cooling and heating your home is a crucial factor to take into consideration. Dream Builders Construction and Development recommends using Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) to insulate homes because it is the single most effective insulation barrier to minimize air leakage.
There are two types of SPF:
1. Closed Cell – This 2 pound foam is suitable for interior and exterior applications and features an R-value of 6+, and
2. Open Cell – This half pound foam is designed for interior application only and has an R-value of approximately 3.5.

Both closed and open cell are sound dampening and cannot sustain mold. R-value essentially means the resistance a product has to air flow, so a higher R-value means a greater insulation rating. With that said, both types of SPFs significantly reduce the amount of energy required to heat or a cool a structure resulting in long standing cost saving to homeowners.

How SPF Works: The foam consists of two chemical components that are combined onsite and then transferred to a mixing gun through a heated hose system. The reaction of these components creates foam which expands on contact and then quickly hardens to effectively fill wall and ceiling cavities.

Closed cell insulation resists water while open cell in not recommended for areas that come into direct contact with water. Our company predominantly uses the more environmentally friendly open cell to insulate the Outer Banks homes we build. Although we always use closed cell to insulate portions of any structure located below the base flood zone. This is an important step because closed cell insulation is impervious to moisture therefore rejecting bulk water that may occur through flooding.

Federal regulations determine insulation standards for R-values, thickness and the coverage area. We always use a licensed professional who provides an insulation certificate documenting this information on a Record of Installation. When your Outer Banks new construction home is completed, this is one of the many documents and warranties that are included in the personalized Homeowner’s Manual that we produce for our homeowners.

Building One Dream at a Time with ZIP System®

By / Dream Builders Construction, OBX New Home Building, Outer Banks Home Construction / Comments Off on Building One Dream at a Time with ZIP System®

A major objective for every business is to implement methods to improve quality standards. As an Outer Banks construction company, one of our main concerns is to protect homes against the daily impact of coastal elements.  Two major culprits are wind and moisture, so discovering the innovative ZIP System® answered the call to increase structural stability while providing a protective barrier against air and water.  An effective solution to dealing with a consistent one-two punch … so to speak!

Many contractors continue to use the traditional housewrap method.  Unfortunately the wrap can pull loose from plywood allowing water and air to penetrate the structure.  Gone unnoticed, this can result in costly repairs years later.  ZIP System® is a 3-in-1 panel that features a (1) wood structural panel, (2) water resistant barrier that is fused to the OSB panel, and (3) a specially formulated acrylic tape that adheres across and flows into panel seams to create an outstanding water tight seal.

If there’s one objective a contractor and owner can easily agree to, it is the importance of maintaining a timely schedule for home delivery.  Testing labs show that the installation of the two part ZIP System® is 40% quicker than applying traditional housewraps; and once installed the house is immediately water tight so tradesmen can proceed with interior work.  In my mind, this is the ultimate definition of efficiency!

As the owner of Dream Builders Construction and Development and an Outer Banks contractor since 2006, I have experience using ZIP System® products on walls and roofing since 2010.  Over the years, the time savings and quality results have provided monumental value to me and my clients.

An additional benefit is that a tighter structure means a more energy efficient home resulting in year-round savings to homeowners.  Last but not least, the original owner benefits from a 30 year limited warranty (from date of installation) which equals longstanding peace of mind.  When your company’s ultimate mission is satisfied clients, this product sets the stage for success. – Ali Amini

Zip House Zip Roof

24th Annual Outer Banks Parade of Homes



It’s time to mark your calendars again! The dates for the self-guided Outer Banks Parade of Homes are set for October 6th through the 9th, and plans to ensure another successful event are in full swing. Our unbelievable fall weather is no longer a secret, and this annual Parade has become a highlight for many offseason visitors.


The year’s event showcases 19 homes stretching from Corolla to Nags Head with houses range in size from just over 1,200 square feet to one that exceeds 10,000. This is a great opportunity to travel the Outer Bank’s coastline, meet contractors, discuss vacation rental investments, confer about home renovations and learn about new construction materials and trending decorative styles.

Attendees pay $10 per ticket and receive a publication with property directions and brief highlights on each home and contractor. Your ticket is valid for the entire four days so you can tour at your own pace, and all proceeds are donated to local charities. The homes are open to the public from 10am – 6pm on Thursday through Saturday and the event ends at 3pm on Sunday. Featured homes compete in categories, and attendees cast votes that result in one “People’s Choice Award” winner per category.

During the Parade of Homes, you’ll find our team in Dream Builder’s featured home, “Vitamin Sea – House #4” located at 623 Tide Arch in Corolla. Building this vacation property was a labor of love for all of us, and although it wasn’t listed for sale, it sold during the construction process! Our objective was to secure solid rental income by building an affordable Outer Banks vacation home filled to the brim with unique upgrades and fine finishes. Once complete, we carefully outfitted each room with an emphasis on upscale comfort, style and vacation fun!