What’s really behind those walls?

Lets face it, these days most builders can build a decent looking home, but how do you really know if it is built the right way. You should really ask, “What’s behind your walls?”

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At Belman Homes, we are not ashamed of how our homes are built and we would love to share with you some photos that will surely shock you about how some new construction homes are being built these days. There are some pretty big builders in this market using below normal construction methods, so we hope it will really make you ask “What am I buying” and before you start signing on the bottom line, you better make sure you know what you are really getting with your home.


Stick Built vs. Panel Built:

All Belman Homes are stick built on site.  What that means is we literally build the home stick by stick (or one stud at a time) on the job site.  This has several advantages.

  1. Walls will be more square – What happens to a bunch of wall panels on the back of truck on our bumpy Wisconsin roads? I’ll tell you what, they may be square at the factory but they don’t end up that way on a job site.
  2. No jogs in our walls – When homes are panel built you have many places where pre-made wall segments meet. Unfortunately, they don’t always line up and this will cause a jog in the walls.
  3. Let’s face it, sometimes things on jobsites are slightly different than the plans, with a stick-built home with a professional carpenter, they can make adjustments in the field and actually improve the product.
  4. The mentality of a panelized home is to get it up quickly. As you can see first hand in these pictures below of the exact same floor plan, one built as stick and one as panelized, there is a huge discrepancy in quality, fit, and care. I for one would be horrified if my home turned out like this. You should be too!

Imagine building a new home and having crooked walls or jogs in the walls.  You deserve better than that!

Ok, so now that we covered stick vs. panel there is a lot more to the actual wall construction that you need to know.


2×4 vs. 2×6

All Belman Homes are built with 2×6 walls. This is the traditional way of building a home, and for good reason. A bigger stud is stronger and also allows for more insulation space and insulating area than a thinner 2×4 wall. Why do other builders use 2×4 for exterior walls?  Simple: It’s cheaper. With traditional batt insulation, which is very common in our industry, a 2×4 wall can only accommodate R-13 batts whereas 2×6 walls can take R-19 or R-21 batts. The higher the R-value, the more insulation value.

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Belman Homes Wall Section ^

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Other Builder Wall Section ^


16” on Center vs. 24” on Center Walls

This might be the most disturbing thing you will start seeing on new homes. Many big builders, and especially the starter homebuilders, have their studs 24” apart. Belman Homes are 16” apart. I don’t care what anyone says, more wood in your home more frequently is stronger. I know if the wind is blowing at my house or the big bad wolf is come to blow my house down, I know what spacing I want on my house. So, why are some builders spacing their studs farther apart? Once again, it’s cheaper.

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Belman Homes Wall Section ^

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Other Builders Wall Section ^


Foam vs. OSB Wall Sheathing:

All Belman Homes have ½” osb (Orientated Strand Board) on the outside. This makes the wall system stronger and provides great sheer wall support. On top of the wall strength it also makes the home harder to access from the outside. Look below to see how flimsy this home could be with a wimpy 2×4 wall, foam on the outside, thin vinyl siding and only a sheet of drywall as the only hard material between you and the outside world.


What Kind of Insulation Are You Getting?

There are a lot of insulation options these days so lets compare what is commonplace vs. what Belman Homes is using. Most builders who build with 2×4 walls use R-13 insulation. This is the highest R-value insulation you can fit within that small space without upgrading to a more expensive spray foam insulation.

Most builders who typically build 2×6 walls will use R-19 batt insulation, which is typically a sound building practice. Belman Homes takes it a step further including R-21 insulation within solid 2×6 walls enclosed with sturdy O.S.B. sheathing for energy performance and durability. On a recent study, we found that on heating costs alone, our wall system will save over $946 per year, compared to an R-13 2×4 wall on a mid sized home! 


Noise Matters Too!

A thicker wall with more wood and a solid siding is much quieter than a thin wall with vinyl siding. If you have a home built like that, you better hope you are nowhere near a train track, busy road, school, factory, or noisy neighbors. I vividly remember spending a night in my in laws vinyl siding, 2×4 wall home when the rain started coming down. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night.

I don’t know about you but I am not buying the largest investment of my life, the place where I am raising my kids, and spending ½ my life, based on price.

Bottom line, make sure you look at a few homes your builder is building before you make that purchase and make sure to ask lots of questions. Better yet, take a good look at your cross section on your plans so you know what you are getting into.

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Belman Homes Wall Section ^

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Other Builders Wall Section ^


Floor Systems:

Wall systems are not the only areas where vast differences in homes can occur. Many builders will try to control costs by increasing the spacing of their floor joists to reduce materials. Many builders will use 19’ inch or 21’ on center floor joist spacing. While this may pass engineering calculations, you will feel a noticeable difference in the flooring. Depending on the size of the room, the amount of furniture, or the size of the cabinets and countertops you will experience deflection in the flooring when you walk across the room. If you walk into a home and you feel the floor rumble when you walk onto it you may want to look in the basement to see how far the floor joists are spaced out. When you walk through a Belman Home, you will notice how sturdy the flooring feels. You see, we always space our floor joists 16” on center, no matter what the calculations will allow. It’s not about saving money with us, it’s about building a solid home that you can raise and grow your family into.

We hope you found this article interesting and informative. There are many different ways to build a home and due to the housing recession many builders have adjusted their construction methods to reduce their costs. Many of these cuts are within the walls and floor systems, which you may not even see or notice until it is far to late. So before you buy or build your next home, make sure you ask yourself, “What’s really behind those walls?”

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