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Finding the right materials for your home


Living environments do affect your health and general well being. Design elements, lighting, spaciousness and finishes can provide a warm and inviting home.

Building materials can cause physical reactions in some people that out weigh all emotional benefits of building a new home. If a few cost effective steps are taken, your new custom built home can even benefit your general health and state of mind.

Formaldehyde is prevalent in many building products, and can cause head aches, provoke allergy disorders and other physical symptoms. Tight construction techniques can trap these chemicals and result in increasingly strong concentrations over time.

Products such as “OSB” board or panicle board have several times the levels offormaldehyde used in most plywood. Most commonly used for roof decking, OSB is being, used more and more as a wrap for the entire house. Even if materials are hidden in walls or on the exterior surfaces, they can still affect the interior living, spaces at some point. The secret is not to completely eliminate, but control the levels of exposure to them.

Latex paints are less toxic than oil based enamels. Paint manufacturers are now making low or no Volatile Organic Compound (VOC ‘s) products available for reasonable prices. VOCs are actually a class of carbon based chemicals that have the capacity to rapidly evaporate. Once airborne, many VOCs have the ability to combine with each other, or with other molecules ill the air to create new chemical compounds.

Pest control is a fact of life in the Gulf Coast area. You will need to take some form of affirmative action to prevent or eliminate these little visitors. Traditionally most people ase a monthly service to spray pesticides along the baseboards, door openings and wet areas of the home interiors. Though this is the most effective control method, it can also have the greatest effect on your health, pets, carpets and finishes. Chemicals can cause discoloration and deterioration of flooring materials over time, especially when combined with direct sun exposure.

The latest approach is an in-the-wall pest tube delivery system linked to an exterior inlet valve. The pest control service plugs hoses into me exterior jack and sprays powders into all garage and house perimeter wall cavities. No chemicals are sprayed directly into the living space. This is the option that BetterBilt Homes has chosen and installs this system during the framing stage. The system is relatively new and long term reliability is in the process of being proven.

Other natural products can also reduce the use of toxic chemicals on grass and landscaped areas. This is especially important when pets and small children can touch chemical residues and ingest the products even months after application. Pine straw and
other natural mulches can control weed growth in lieu of herbicides, if proper thicknesses are used.

Interior air quality can be improved by electrostatic filters that run by air friction and static electricity. These can be washed and reused on a weekly or monthly basis.

Other special air purifiers can scrub the air to eliminate specific air quality problems for certain people. Window coverings, carpet and upholstery can harbor high concentrations of dust and mold. As the air is stirred these irritants trigger other related allergies and illnesses. If you have specific health issues you deal with regularly, consult your doctor for specific recommendations that could best benefit you. Central vacuums can exhaust dust filled air directly outdoors. Hard surface flooring such as ceramic tile or hardwood floors have historically benefited those with inhalant allergies. Concrete driveways are safer for the health conscious. Asphalt is a petroleum based product Just like Formaldehyde and pesticides.

Excellent volumes have been written on more extensive and costly methods of healthy construction. Personal experience has proven these above recommendations to be cost effective and well worth the effort. The lush vegetation attracts many new residents fit each year to this area. Many are not used to the pollen, moisture and chemicals that support the unparalleled natural beauty of the Gulf Coast areas. A few simple precautions can often help a more sensitive person to fully enjoy their new home environment; and feel even better as a result of building!

BetterBilt Homes will continue to study the effects of building products on those who live in the homes and adjust our building standards accordingly.

Got a question or comment? Please feel free to visit www.betterbilthomes. corn or email me at

Common questions and issues will be discussed in future columns.

Scott Siple
General Manager
BetterBilt Homes