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Build Smarter with Alternative Materials

Build Smarter with Alternative Materials


Green from the Ground Up
Green from the Ground Up

Greening Your Home
Greening Your Home

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Photovoltaic Systems, 3E

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2012 International Residential Code

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Build Smarter with Alternative Materials

By: Leon A. Frechette

This book is for construction professionals who want a clear understanding of alternative materials and how using them can enhance their projects – both residential and commercial. It covers the materials - including their strengths and any limitations – as well as installation tips and manhour estimates.

Here you'll find the true facts, not the hype, about a variety of alternative materials. These are quality components that can help you deliver a better overall product – something your customers will enjoy and benefit from long after you leave their projects!

All the products covered here have been used or well-researched by the author and represent a cross section of available products. Build Smarter with Alternative Materials covers materials used in each phase of a project in order – from the foundation to the ridge peak:

  • Foundations
  • Walls
  • Roof systems
  • Framing
  • Roofing
  • Siding
  • Insulation
  • Radiant heat
  • Doors & windows
  • Trim
  • Interiors
  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Decking
  • Outdoors

 And it doesn't stop there. Build Smarter with Alternative Materials lists the manufacturers that make the products and associations that research them. You get the phone numbers, and mailing, e-mail, and Web site addresses so you can connect with the companies, obtain samples, or ask questions about a product or its installation.

Every builder needs a niche – an opportunity to land good jobs without having to underbid every other builder in town. This reference is full of new, exciting materials that you can offer to your customers with confidence. You may be the only builder in your area that knows about them. And this book is your key to that knowledge.

To write this manual, the author researched hundreds of products that have come on the market in recent years. The ones he describes in this book will do the job better, creating a superior, longer-lasting finished product, and in many cases also save you time and money. Some are made with recycled products – a good selling point with many customers. But most of all, they give you choices, so you can give your customers choices.

In this book, you’ll find materials for almost all areas of constructing a house, from the ground up. For each product described, you’ll learn where you can get it, where to use it, what benefits it provides, any disadvantages, and how to install it -- including tips from the author. And to help you price your jobs, each description ends with manhours – for both the first time you install it, and after you’ve done it a few times.


Why Use Alternative Materials?, 10

2 Foundations, 15

Permanent Wood Foundations, 16
Concrete Wall Systems, 21

3 Wall and Roof Systems, 37

Aerated Concrete Wall Units, 37
Mortarless Block System, 42
Structural Insulated Panels, 46
Insteel 3-D Panel System, 53
ThermaSteel System, 56
Panelized System, 59

4 Framing Materials, 61

Log Homes, 61
Steel Framing, 64
Prefabricated Homes, 70
Sheathing, 72
Framing Members, 78

5 Roofing Materials, 91

Shakes and Shingles, 91
Metal Systems, 97
Fiber-Cement Tiles, 99
Corrugated Fiber Roofing, 100
Miscellaneous Items, 101

6 Siding Materials, 111

Wood Products, 111
Hardboard, 116
Fiber-Cement Composites, 121
Vinyl-Type Products, 124
Masonry Products, 131
Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems, 134
Siding Maintenance, 139

7 Insulation Materials and Radiant Heat, 141

Insulation, 141
Housewrap, 149
Radiant Heat, 150

8 Doors, Windows, and Trim, 155

Doors, 155
Windows, 160
DecoRoof, 164
Skylights, 167
Molding, 169

9 Interior Products, 179

Wallboard, 179
Wallcovering/Cabinetry Products, 189
Flooring, 195
Problem Solvers, 205

10 Bathrooms and Kitchens, 209

Repair Instead of Replace, 209
Solid Surfacing, 215
Other Countertop Material, 220
Underlayment, 223
Paneling, 224
Fixtures, 225
Helpful Accessory Items, 228
Heat and Ventilation, 229
Let There Be Light!, 232

11 Decking, 235

Alternative Products, 235
Wood Products, 246
Hardware, 250
Protection, 256
Railing, 260
Landscaping, 262

12 Outdoor Products, 265

Railing and Fencing Systems, 265
Bulkheads/Retaining Walls, 276
Patios, 280
Invisible Pavements, 283
Miscellaneous, 287

13 Building to Help the Environment, 291

Reducing Waste and Recycling, 291
"Green" Building, 293
Who Can Help?, 295
Where Do We Go From Here?, 300

Appendix, 301

Abbreviations, 301
Who to Contact, 303
Organizations, 317

Index, 321

About the Author:

Leon A. Frechette received his license as a general contractor at age 22, and has over 20 years' experience in construction, remodeling, and related fields. As a business owner, he has hands-on experience in both residential and light commercial projects, including designing, bidding, and managing the job.

He serves as an expert witness in litigation, and created The Contractor's Helping Hands™ Packet, a series of business forms that help construction managers organize their jobs and communicate with the customer about actual job costs. This is Mr. Frechette's sixth book, and he continues to work on other book projects, columns, and feature articles.

336 Pages
- 8-1/2 x 11 in.


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