Custom Home

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The Lot

Architectural Design

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Air Conditioning





Brick and Stone


Sheetrock ®



Paint and Wall Coverings



Say What?


The foundation is probably the one part of the home that I know the least about. Just make sure that your builder has done a soil study to know whether or not you will need piers.

Most foundation problems that I have heard about are a result of poor maintenance, not poor construction. There have been enough lawsuits over foundations that most builders are pretty careful about hiring the right engineers.


Did you know that a large tree can remove as much as 150 gallons of water from the soil a day? The recommendation I usually see is that the distance from the home for a tree should be its mature height. In other words, if a tree will grow to 20 feet tall, it should be at least 20 feet from the home. That is because the root systems for trees run parallel to the ground. Other plants such as shrubs or bushes also drain water from the soil.

Root barriers

You can use a root barrier to protect your foundation from trees. Root barriers can be either heavy plastic (PVC), copper, or fabric and herbicide. I recommend against using any herbicides. The barrier goes between the tree and the home. Read more about root barriers.

Water trees on the side away from the foundation.

Removal or pruning

If the tree is close to the foundation, you need to be careful. If you remove the tree, its roots might have been supporting the foundation. Removing the tree might cause a void in the soil under the foundation. In this instance, simply pruning the tree can reduce its water intake.

Water Reservoirs

Another solution is to build water reservoirs every three to four feet around the perimeter of the tree. Dig holes about 18 inches in diameter and two feet deep. Fill the bottom two-thirds with gravel and the top one-third with mulch and sod.

Soak it

Use soaker hoses at least 18 inches from the foundation. Burying the soaker about three inches deep is best, but you can just place it on top if you want. If you are going to bury it, use a porous pipe instead of a soaker hose.

I recommend two systems. One for the sunny side of your home (west and south) and one for the shady side (east and north). This will prevent over watering on the shady side.

The setup can be pretty simple. Use a "Y" so that the faucet can be used for other things. On one side of the "Y" use a pressure reducer. Next connect a vacuum breaker (backflow valve). Next connect a timer or even better, a moisture sensor. Then connect the soaker hose.

Start at 15 minutes per day twice daily. During the hot and dry summer go up to four times a day for 30-60 minutes, and during the winter, you can probably cut down to once daily. You will have to use your own judgment. Do not over water. It is not good for the plants, grass, or foundation to over water.

Decisions before pouring

Before your foundation is poured, you will have some decisions to make:

  • Are you going to have any electrical or phone floor plugs on the first floor? Often floor plugs are useful in the family room, study, or formal living room. They allow you to have lamps or phones away from a wall.
  • Will you want any electrical, phone, or cable TV outlets on your kitchen island? Electrical outlets on your kitchen island are great for parties. You can plug in crock pots, warming trays, and coffee makers.

Both of these items require a PVC pipe to be run to the correct location that is big enough for the wiring. It is better to have too big of a pipe than too small.

Balthazar Custom Homes

If you are looking for a great custom home builder in Dallas, check out John Balthazar of Balthazar Custom Homes. He is fair and knowledgeable. His quality is first-rate. He uses great sub-contractors.

You can contact John at 972-618-7653.


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