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August 2011

Why True Built Home?

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Why True Built Home?

What makes a True Built Home a Great Way?

Simply put, you do! Because we take our clients’ needs seriously, by listening carefully, we’ve been able to create a system that’s sure to please our customers. With so many on your lot builders, why choose True Built Home?

Design: we offer a large selection of stock plans. The designs we offer are intelligent and functional, able to meet the demands of your modern family. However, what if you like everything about a stock plan except the size of one room, or the layout of a kitchen, etc?  This is where True Built Home shines. We have two on staff designers both with years of hands-on practical experience in construction. They can take our stock plan and for a modest fee redraw the plan to be exactly what you are looking for. Or, they can start from a blank sheet of paper and draw the plan that’s in your head and from scratch create an entirely new design just for you! Your choice.

Wall heights: Some on your lot builders choose to use a short 88 5/8” stud. Not us! We are proud to build to a true 8-foot wall height (92 5/8” studs). So you stand proud and walk tall in our homes, rather than feeling like you’re in a mobile home!

Floor system: True Built Home uses the best performing I-Joist on the market. “Why is our joist better?” Joists are rated according to their “performance”. Performance basically means little or no bounce or spring. When joists are spaced too far apart it can allow for a bouncy feel as you walk as well as increased squeaking. The reason for spacing them further apart is obvious-fewer joists saves the builder money. However, some joists have more bounce than others, even while spaced closer together. By not skimping on our joist spacing and by having the best performing joist on the market, we ensure you less spring or bounce from a True Built Home.

Our website: we offer a large volume of information so that you are able to educate yourself about construction and our building process. In fact, you will no doubt feel the same as many others that our site offers more information than two of our largest competitors combined, hands down. We are very transparent with our prices giving you the flexibility NOT to be pressured by a salesperson, but to have the freedom to price your project on our website day or night in the comfort of your home.

These are only a few of the ways in which True Built Home, an on your lot builder, is truly a great way. If you would like to learn more, why not call your local True Built Home branch and ask, “what makes a True Built Home a great way?”

Success Stories

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Success Stories

Every now and then, we can’t for the life of us, please all of our clients. But, we never give up trying, sometimes at our own expense. Then again, the following good families from Burlington, to Idaho, to Astoria have found a way to enjoy and prosper because of the True Built Home program of building. Perhaps you will be a part of this too…..




We have received more than one compliment on our new home, not only for it’s appearance but also speed of construction.  We would like to thank each and everyone of you for your efforts, be they obvious or behind the scenes, and would like to give special thanks to Cory.  We appreciate his responsiveness and rapid results.

Cory, thank you so much for keeping everything on track.  The house simply looks great!

                                                                                                                                                                                        Carmen Mercer-Deer Park


Just wanted to say we couldn’t be happier with our decision to build a home with True Built Homes! We did a LOT of research before deciding what builder to go with and you definitely lived up to our expectations. Our Superintendent Mike was wonderful to work with, he had to put up with a lot . . . . I worked for two different custom home builders out of Snohomish County and it was rare to ever have a build go this smoothly… I just really wanted to say KUDOS to True Built Homes and please feel free to use us for a reference in the future. We are also happy to show our home if someone in our area wants to see a finished product.

Thanks again,

Mischa Venables-Selah

Great design, Great Service, Great Home:

We had a pretty complicated “deal” – solar, dual fuel heat pump, extra low voltage wiring, and we built an “Apartment” first, with the main house to follow in a few years – Lewis, David (architect), Roy, Mike and the rest of the crew REALLY gave us the confidence and assurances that they could do this – and they did! We REALLY love our place in Prosser, and whenever anyone visits we get compliments on the design and workmanship – we’re still a few years from building the “addition” (when we retire and can live full time in Prosser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ~Clay Jackson-Prosser

Hi Lewis,
Just wanted to thank you and your great team you, David, John, Eddie ( who had to put up with me the most) and your quality subs. The house is great, even better then I hoped for in construction and appearance.
I had spent five months comparing five different builders and you won out.It also helped having you less then a mile from home and your good record with the BBB and the Attorney General. Thank you for working with me and letting me incorporate some of my ideas – your flex-ability helped a great deal. Thank you also for working through my issues with concrete and shower size, (I should have had your shower but this one will be fine).
I can highly recommend you and say quality and dollar for dollar you would be very hard to beat and you have been good to work with from the top down.

John Glass~ Sincerely, John Glass, Gig Harbor

My experience with True Built Home started with a lot of research. There are many “on your lot” home builders to choose from and they break down into what I would categorize as two tiers – cheaply made cheap houses and expensively made expensive houses. My family and I visited all the builder show rooms, listened to all the sales pitches of the $38 per square foot builders, and then came home to sift through the mountain of information.

Crunch the numbers and you will find that yes you can build a house for $38 per square foot but not one that you will live in. However, you get what you pay for and it is an inevitability you will upgrade so many things just to make a livable house that you will eventually pay out more than you would with a company that is more upfront like True Built Home. With these other companies you will probably get a house that will fall apart sooner rather than later. Please Google customer reviews of “$38 per square foot custom home builders” or visit the True Build Home website for reference and numerical comparisons. Seriously, just read the reviews, its scary. Leave customers of these other companies to worry about low quality labor, delayed construction deadlines, and surprise expenses.

True Built Home represented the exception to the cheap vs expensive house paradigm I mentioned above. My family and I spent a lot of time researching their company before we ever stepped foot in their office. They are very workman like and they don’t come off as if they are just trying to sell you something. In fact they go out of their way to find the best value even if it means not buying a particular item or upgrade from them. The crew is straightforward with what they have to offer and confident in their network of subcontractors.

The building process of our house with True Built at the time of this writing is at about 60% and so far the process is right on schedule. Patience is key because while True Built works fast, there will always be delays in the way of inspections, weather, scheduling, and logistics. Keep in the mind the owner is responsible for cleaning of the job site during construction so be prepared to sweep a lot of sawdust and haul unused lumber away. There were times when some things such as choices and upgrades were missed and did not get saved or not timely communicated without intervention, but overall those hick-ups were all of the minor variety and reversible.

Make no mistake about it, this is an experienced crew. The sales guys provide and break down the different options of what you might want for your house, the designer sits down and meticulously tailors your plans with a focus on livability and equity, the foreman is thorough and active in communicating with you at every step both face to face and via their slick online communication system, and the boss Lewis is both involved and available at all times to advise throughout the building process. This company’s crew has seen and built countless houses and they will blend that wealth of experience with your own input to create a home you will be proud of.

Summary: My experience with True Built Home began with research, progressed with a great experience, and is resulting in an excellent home. I give them a 95 out of 100. You will be really really happy building with them.

~ Aaron and Tony Wong, University Place


“Building a home with True Built Home has truly been a pleasure. The quality of the construction is OUTSTANDING! True Built Home has been with us every step of the way. I feel that I have been helped with decisions above and beyond. With their help I have a beautiful new house. I feel that I was kept informed on everything that was happening and what needed to be done next. True built Home of Burlington has been great and I would definitely recommend building a home with them. I love my new house.”

WilsonV5.7.09 002 WilsonV5.7.09 006 WilsonV5.7.09 096~ The Wilson Family, Oak Harbor


“We are currently in the beginning stages of having our home built by True Built Homes. From the start, even from the very first conversation with TBH, they have been fantastic. We shopped around, spoke with, and visited with all the different home builders in the area and after doing a lot of research we decided that TBH was the best choice. Unlike their competitors TBH answered all of our questions honestly, without any deception, and were not motivated by just trying to make a sale. This company is all about making a top quality home and also making sure that the customer is completely satisfied with it. They have been extremely helpful from step one of the building process and amazing throughout, excellent communication, and A+ professionalism. We anticipate leaving an additional positive comment as we proceed….this is truly a very “successful story.” We definitely highly recommend True Built Homes!!”

~ Jerry & Denise Denney, Port Orchard


“True Built Homes has been amazing. Where do I begin? First, we called for an appointment to see a sample home. Our Senior Sales Consultant gave us a guided tour of a True Built Home and even gave us home baked chocolate chip cookies. When I say US — I mean my husband, our 3 kids, my sister, her husband, their daughter and of course me. That’s a lot!! The craftsmanship of the True Built Homes is OUTSTANDING. Afterwards, we sat down and went over any and every possible aspect of the True Built Homes. Since, we’ve asked to change one of the floor plans to better suit our families needs. Two days later they e-mailed us a new floor plan. Wow, can you say prompt and with the same great quality as the other plans. Plus, all our other e-mails have been answered the same day or the next at the latest, and always with great detail. I can’t say enough about these guys!! They have been so helpful and attentive to us. True Built Home is the only way to go!

~ The Rutledge Family


“I am very impressed with True Built Home. They have been very patient with us as we take the steps to have them build a house for us. They have been able to answer all my questions and have kept in constant communication with us. Sheldon and the others at CBay have made our filling for permit process run smooth. They also did a great job with our plot (site) plan I was very happy how they kept constant communication as well. I look forward to getting our building permits and updating my success story! I have already recommended TBH and CBAY Services to people as I am truly impressed with their customer service and knowledge.”

DSCF5134 Miller house front view from garage~ Starleen Miller, Lakebay


Happy family with a True Built Home13. Milgard Windows now installed

“True Built Home guided me every step of the way, suggesting tips, and giving me a timeline on permits/fees. The house has proceeded quickly, and looks excellent!!!! We are moving in earlier than expected, and it is all thanks to True Built Home and True Built Home building methods!” We were so happy, my mom and dad built a True Built Home too!

Happy True Built Home owners.~ Mark Bohlman, North Tacoma

My wife and I have a beautiful house thanks to Lewis and True Built Home. He was hands-on, answering our questions, giving us great value for the money, and in the process became a friend that we care about. We receive compliments about our home all the time, and it was a fantastic, affordable, and enjoyable experience.

Bohlmans 1st stake out~ Robert Bohlman in Tacoma, WA


“I am happy to say that I have had nothing but good things to say about True Built Home. They have gone well beyond the call of duty to assist me with my project and I haven’t even purchased a home yet. The Customer service that is provided there is refreshing to say the least. When I am prepared to build my home there is no question it will be with True Built. I would recommend them to anyone who is thinking about building their own home. Thumbs up to a great company!”

~ JT Graham WA


“I am currently not having Lewis build a house for me, but he is building one for a friend of mine. Both True Built Home and all of the subcontractors have been extremely friendly as well as completely professional. I have witnessed every stage of the house build and am very impressed with the craftsmanship and quality of the home. Also, the time frame for this build has been exceptional even with the weather delays of late. I would highly recommend True Built Home to anyone considering having a house built.”

~ Blake Bertrand, Port Orchard


“Good Morning, You certainly put together a very well laid out and very Marketable Monthly Web Letter! I like the fact that your Company seems to really value responsiveness, flexibility, ingenuity, and yet still maintain the Focal Quality without comparison Strategy. I sincerely Hope that Business is well with you and your Company. I look forward to meeting with you again soon. Have a Great Day!”

~ M.S Kitsap


“Wow, the kids would love fighting over the Wii in the showroom!! True Built Home has been so helpful and attentive to our family. You’ve let us come into your home, gave a guided tour, made us cookies and then sat down and went over any and everything possible aspect. Any question I’ve e-mailed since has always been answered promptly and with great detail You couldn’t ask for more. Thank-You!!!! The Rutledge Family”

~ The Rutledge Family


“Like many I was skeptical about building a home at such a low price, but Lewis was very convincing it could done and I would be happy. Happy, I was SHOCKED at how nice things got done and how well organized my project was.”

~ AF, WA. Pierce County


“The professionalism with which Lewis treated us was refreshing. He made sure to communicate all details, even discouraging us not to build if we did not have the patience for it. That’s how real he can be.”

~ BB, Lewis County, WA.

“Hi Lewis, I don’t have a question yet, but I’m of the opinion that small business owners don’t get enough ‘good news’ so when I see something I like- I try to tell them so! My fiancé and I are probably 6-8 years away from building our home but it’s our ultimate goal, so I occasionally browse the Internet, looking for ways I can prepare – and so I’ll know if a ‘good deal’ is really all that good when we come across it. I just wanted to say that your site and your philosophy is the best I have ever seen. Your explanations are realistic, but not depressing. Your examples are thorough and really convey the potential pitfalls…We’re familiar with many of those risks as my fiancé was in real estate for a couple of years, his uncle is an architect, my dad was a general contractor, and we just finished a renovation where we did everything but the plumbing ourselves…nothing is ever as it seems when you start out. Anyway, I saw your link on the Google add space (on the right) and couldn’t help but read your entire site. I’m thrilled to have discovered your company and I certainly will revisit your site often – and recommend it to anyone else I can. Thanks Steph for your kind words. Staff, TBH”

~ Steph Dahlin, PHR


“Recently I finished my True Built Home. I wanted to say a few words about the home, the process and the good folks at True Built. First, I love my home! Having had a interior designer pick and assist me with the selections only did justice to the home itself. Big vaulted ceilings, wide hallways, a large soaker tub and a formal dining room… it’s just a whole lot more than I ever thought it could have been. I had looked into other affordable on your lot builders. Some had a decent product, but the floor plans left me unsatisfied. While others had a good price, but the home was built and finished with really cheap products. True Built Home had a plan that was something I did not have to just settle for, and then the design team worked patiently with me to add my personal touches. There was never any attempt to “soak” me for options or upgrades and when I had a question about any of the pricing, they had a fair and knowledgeable answer for me. Lewis and his team are seasoned, experienced, fair and pretty fun to work with. My home finished nearly 30 days a head of schedule, came in under budget, looks great and make me very happy that I decided to avoid the heartache associated with some builders and chose quality over a cheaper price. My name is Mike Suldan, and my house is not for sale.”

on your lot cutom home Picture 017 Suldan Painted Front Small Photo~ Mike Suldan, Pt Orchard


“Dear True Built Home, My input regarding the Co-Construct program and the system in which True Built Home operates. I believe the calendar is the most useful, very nice looking ahead and seeing what is scheduled. The contractors have come in give or take a day or so per that schedule so it is working. Your Project Manager Eddie has been great to work with, so has the rest of True Built and its staff. Much appreciated getting quick responses back from my phone calls and e-mails. I have never had to wait, which to the customer is so frustrating sometimes. I have also tried to stay on top of my responsibilities, because it should go both ways. Hope this helps what you are pursuing on feedback, not only in regard to the website, but to your business as well. Take care, Ron” (as of 6/2010 Mr Cain has 50k of equity)



True Built Home, thank you for rocking out and changing my life in the process. Time nor space doesn’t allow me to share how truly grateful and blessed I feel for having chose You and having You chose or accept doing the work for me. Your professionalism and insight is tried, true and trusted. This was our first experience having a home built, and with much reservation, though I had the desire to build a house, True Built Home Owner and staff, by remaining professional, personalized my experience by standing by me and their final product throughout the entire process until now. What seem unpreventable stress that I endured during the project seems now completely unnecessary, but this too, True Built saw me through. Thanks to all of you for a job done that I am able to celebrate. Though just saying “thank you” does not seem enough. Thank you for putting up w/me. Continued success folks.. GOD bless! OH, and  one more thing, my home currently has over $100,000.00 (one hundred thousand dollars) worth of equity. And is a great asset to the community. Having it built remain a total success story. Thank you True Built Home, Inc..

~ John Rumph, True Built Home, Inc client


“I didn’t know who these guys were when others were saying they were “full of hot air”. Then, I visited their office in Gig Harbor. When I visited their office, all they could do was speak well of their competitors that I have become very familiar with while shopping around. I now know they have a very ethical method of business and I figured “if this is how they start then I would be eager to see what they are like in the process of building a home”. I also heard a couple things both good and very good about them so I thought I would check them out myself. Super impressed! Especially their Co-Construct software where they let the client see the schedule online any time of day or night. That’s unique! There’s no better choice with other companies that I have found. They have several years more experience and less attitude than the other larger but less reputable companies out there. Believe you me when I say, you can trust them and you’ll end up with a great home.”

~ Contributed


“I ordered plans from True Built Home for myself because we live in North Idaho, which was out of their territory. They had a plan I loved, and I asked if they could engineer it for our area as well, make some changes for me, and meet our code. What I was asking was not the usual thing for True Built Home, but they were exceptional in their response. It was approximately two weeks from the time I made the initial request, with final changes, until the plans were mailed to me. They communicated with me regarding suggestions they had for me, which were very appropriate and helpful. The end result is better than I originally intended, and I could not be happier. Thanks Donna. If you would like plans engineered for your area, why not contact True Built Home for turn key blue prints.”

~ Donna Collier, Priest River ID


“…love your floor plans and you have the best website”

~ K.B Or.


I am a vendor for True Built Home and can truly say that the attention that they give to not only their vendors, but even more so their customers, is impressive! I have over two hundred builders/customers on the books that we do work for, and the professional and dignified manner that they deal with Bear Plumbing is very refreshing and unique . It is really a pleasure to work with not only the office, but likewise the guys in the field. To put it in other words-True Built Home would be in the top list of general contractors that I would use for my own property or recommend to familly and friends.

~ Jeremy Gatchell in Tacoma, WA


We have worked with True Built Home for a few years and have found their team to be one of the best organized and on time builders we work with. Their projects always have the extra touch with outstanding business ethics. Thanks Guys!

~ A/C Electrical, Inc. in Spanaway, WA


A True Built home is Built at a great price and most importantly with good material, and excellent quality, True Built does not charge the extra $ that other competitors do for the smallest things, True Built is an organized company with lots of knowledge in building your home the way you want it to be built, and not whats the cheapest. definitely give them a try you wont regret it. (five thumbs up for True Built Home )

~ Nick Luzhnykh in Puyallup, WA


As a subcontractor for True Built Homes, I couldn’t be more happy to be working with this company. They have always paid on time and have been great to me. Very easy to communicate with on every level.

~ J&A Concepts, Inc. in Olympia, WA


Painting Doors and Trim

By | Learning Center | No Comments

The quality of doors and trim that you find in a stick built home is typically superior to what you would find in a mobile or manufactured home. Washington Home Builders find that the most people choose a 6-panel white doors with matching white trim. Here are some things to remember about True Built Home’s white-painted door/trim package:

The doors and trim do not arrive at the site painted white; they are primed only, and so you will either need to paint them yourself or hire a painter.

Doors and trim are left unpainted for a couple of reasons. First, during the handling of the doors in transit, white paint can easily get scuffed or dirty. Also, the trim will be cut to fit at the site and then nailed to the wall; plus the nail holes will need to be caulked; and the paint would end up slightly damaged during this process and would need to be repainted anyway.

Usually a roller or sprayer works the best and fastest for painting the doors.

Keep looking back at your work for runs and fix them before they begin to dry. The corners of panels are a place where runs are particularly likely to run. Keep a good brush handy to wipe the drips out


As a suggestion, you might consider instead of upgrading to the white package, upgrading to our solid hemlock door/trim package. Although the hemlock package is about twice the cost of the white door package, there are some advantages that outweigh the cost:

  • The doors are entirely solid
  • The doors and trim are pre-stained to match the cabinet package you order, so the resulting look is quite rich and carries throughout your new home
  • With the white door package, the cost of the painter added with the cost of the package itself may end up actually costing more that the hemlock package which does not require painting.

Furniture Buyer’s Guide

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Buying a piece of furniture is a long-term investment of sorts next to a house and a car. The furniture that we buy should last us a long time so we should be careful in selecting the right furniture for our home.

There are a few points to consider in selecting your furniture:


A couch or a chair is something you sit on everyday. You sleep on a bed every night, hence you need to think of the durability of the furniture that you use often. Can the item last you a long time? Some brands even offer guarantees for items such as mattresses. Do not compromise your safety and health when deciding on your furniture. In addition to a good nights sleep, a good bed ensures your backbone health while a sturdy chair minimizes the risk of the wood splintering or breaking.

Taste and Style:

When selecting the furniture for your home, visualize where you will actually place the furniture at your home and decide if the color and style matches the overall look of the room. Sticking to timeless style ensures the long use of the furniture rather than “seasonal pieces” which go out-of-style very fast.

Value for Money:

Cheap items are not always the best buy but expensive items are not necessarily value for money, either. Look out for promotions at furniture shops or large furniture retail stores and decide if the purchase is worth the money spent. Do not be penny wise, pound foolish.


Buying a piece of furniture just because it looks good and you like it without considering the practicability will turn it into a white elephant at your home. Consider the use of the furniture before you make a purchase.

What is OSB?

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Oriented strand board (OSB) is a performance-rated structural panel engineered for uniformity, strength, versatility and workability. It is utilized internationally in a wide array of applications including commercial and residential construction and renovation, packaging/crating, furniture and shelving, and do-it-yourself projects. The most common uses are as sheathing in walls, floors, and roofs.

Some manufacturers may treat the wood chips with various compounds toxic to termites, and other home destroying pests (aka “varmints”)  as well as to molds, and fungi. This can add to the life of your home.

High technology manufacturing equipment has the ability to orient the strands so they overlap and interlock at a 90 degree angle. Each strand of wood is completely coated with a high performance resin glue. After the OSB leaves the hot press, you have a structural, engineered wood product with superior high strength characteristics.

Because it is engineered, OSB can be custom manufactured to meet specific requirements in thickness, density, panel size, surface texture, strength, and rigidity. This engineering process makes OSB the most widely accepted and preferred structural panel among architects, specifiers and Washington state home builders.

How to Paint

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One of the ways True Built Home can build affordable homes is by allowing the homeowner to do their own painting. How is this the case? If we were to paint the house, we would hire a subcontractor, and then they would paint the interior Orcas White. Very rarely does a homeowner want white walls, and so very often they will end up repainting within the first year anyway. So rather than us do it, we allow you to pick your own colors and either hire a subcontractor yourself (thus eliminating our profit markup and saving you money) or you can paint the house yourself and save even more money.

Interior House Painting Tips

If you decide to paint the home yourself, here are some recommendations that some experienced painters have made:

  • Don’t forget to get everything you need before starting. Running out of paint in the middle of the job can result in poor quality results and that’s definitely not what you want. If you’re not sure how much paint you’ll need, ask a professional at the paint store for advice. And remember if you’re in doubt it’s better to have too much paint than not enough. You will always need ‘touch up’ paint later.
  • Use a new or very clean brush.
  • Use either lotion or latex gloves. If you want to keep your hands clean while painting, use latex gloves. These are great especially when you are using a paint that is oil-based.
    However, if you have allergies in using latex gloves, you can apply hand lotion as an alternative. If you apply a thick coat of lotion before you paint, cleaning will only be easier for you when you are done.
  • Always remember to start it from the top going to the bottom.
  • Use a sprayer: You can use a roller, but it takes much more time and may require more cleanup when you’re done. On a True Built Home, your opportunity to paint the interior comes after the mud on the drywall has dried. At this point the floor coverings have not been laid, and there are no cabinets or doors-the interior is completely bare; so you can bring a sprayer in and spray away to your heart’s content.

One homeowner with a 2260 square foot home  working at a reasonable pace painted the interior of his entire home in 2 days.

  • If you do use rollers and brushes, don’t get stingy. When you use cheap roller covers, this will only create a fuzzy form on your wall. Also, cheap brushes will only create uneven brush marks. Rollers that come in multi-packs sold for one dollar are not advisable to buy. It is more advisable to spend a little more money for better manufactured tools. Be practical in a clever way.
  • When you are done: If you don’t plan to clean the roller or the brush after using it, yet you are planning to do the painting again after a few days. It is suggested that you wrap them inside a plastic bag very tightly and place them inside the freezer.
  • Use sandpaper to sand down any the patchy areas

These practical tips can help you in doing your interior house painting. Simply follow these interior house painting tips carefully and you will never meet stress in painting.

Pick the Right Paint

A few recommendations about the type of paint that usually works best:

  • Egg shell paints in children’s rooms: they look nice and clean up well. Dirty handprints wash right off without messing up the paint.
  • Semi gloss paint in bathrooms:  flat finishes are notoriously difficult to clean and bathrooms have a tendency to need a great deal of cleaning.
  • Satin finish in the kitchen, living room, and hallways: it’s more expensive, but this type of finish is very durable which is nice in these busy areas.
  • In smaller rooms: a high gloss paint. Light from windows and electrical fixtures will reflect off the paint and make the room feel larger. Caution: high gloss paints do have a tendency to show imperfections.

Framing with Fir Trees

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Douglas Fir-Western Larch (DF-L)

This species combination has the highest modulus of elasticity (MOE or E) value (the stiffness factor in floor systems) of all North American softwoods. In strength properties, DF-L has the highest ratings of any Western softwood for fiber stress in bending, tension parallel to grain, horizontal shear, compression perpendicular and compression parallel to grain.

Douglas Fir (DF) is often the standard against which all other framing species are measured. Its strength combined with a superior strength-to-weight ratio, high specific gravity (for excellent nail and plate-holding capability), excellent dimensional stability (giving “green” DF products the ability to season well in position), the moderate decay resistance of its heartwood, and documented excellent performance record against strong forces resulting from winds, storms and earthquakes, have given Douglas Fir its reputation. It is also tight knotted and close grained, adding the bonus of beauty to its structural capabilities. Color, grain pattern, texture, knot size and type are addressed in the rules for appearance grades.

Douglas Fir is the lead species for the West, with more volume shipped than any other species, and its sterling performance history is recognized the world over. It is abundant and widely available in second and third-growth stands yielding products in multiple grade classifications: dimension and other framing products, engineered structural products such as MSR, finger-jointed, and glu-lam products, high (clear) to low (economy) grade appearance products, and industrial and specialty grades. DF doors, manufactured from products in the Factory & Shop grade classification, are renowned for their beauty and performance.

Douglas Fir’s light rosy color is set off by its remarkably straight and handsome grain pattern. Sapwood is white to pale yellow; heartwood is russet with high contrast between the springwood and summerwood. While similar, Western Larch is slightly darker in color, with the heartwood being a reddish brown and the sapwood a straw brown.

Douglas Fir grows throughout Western forests with the most abundant region being in the coastal climates of Oregon, Washington and northern California. In the Inland Region, east of the crest of the Cascade Mountains, Douglas Fir and Western Larch often grow in intermixed stands. Usually marketed separately in the appearance grades to provide more options for the marketplace, coastal and inland Douglas Fir and Western Larch share similar structural performance characteristics and are often combined in dimension lumber structural products. While DF products from the various parts of the vast Western Region are virtually indistinguishable in terms of appearance, the growing conditions of different parts of the region contribute to the physical working properties of the species. Consequently, Douglas Fir’s growing region is identified in the grade stamp. Douglas Fir from the US coastal and inland regions is designated as DF, or when combined with Western Larch as DF-L. (Canadian DF products are identified as DF-North.) Douglas Fir originating from Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah is designated as DF-S. Coastal DF represents 73%, inland DF-L represents 26%, and DF-S represents 1% of the species’ production in the Western U.S.


There is no such thing as a Hem-Fir tree; it doesn’t exist. Hem-Fir is a species combination of Western Hemlock and the true firs (Noble, California Red, Grand, Pacific Silver and White fir). Being only slightly below DF-L (and above DF-S) in strength properties, this is an extremely versatile species group and useful for multiple, general-purpose framing applications. In the structural framing grades, Hem-Fir is capable of meeting the span requirements of many installations.

Hem-Fir is often considered by those seeking wood with a very light color as the most desirable of the Western softwoods. It is as light or lighter in color than some of the Western pines but stronger. Products are available in structural, appearance and remanufacturing grades. It is easily pressure treated with preservatives, making it useful for decks and other outdoor amenities.

Hem-Fir products are white to a light straw color, sometimes with a slight lavender cast, especially around the knots and in the transition area between the spring and summerwood’s growth rings. The heartwood is not distinct. Sometimes small, delicate dark grey or black streaks appear in the wood. Hem-Fir is fine grained and even textured, with a refined appearance. In the clear and nearly clear appearance grades, these products lend formality to wood interiors. Hem-Fir is often specified for high quality case goods, doors, moldings and millwork.

Full House Sound Systems

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Full house sound used to be considered a luxury. Today, it’s become more common, easy, and affordable. While it is possible to wire a house after the walls are closed, it is very difficult. You can save yourself a headache later by doing this before sheetrock is hung.

One of the advantages of a stick built home over a manufactured or mobile home is that it is much easier to install speakers and wiring before

Systems themselves are becoming easier to use. Control capabilities can vary from a simple volume control to an automated touch screen that allows you to not only browse your digital music library but control lighting and intercom systems. There is elevator music and then there is rich, dynamic sound that rivals a large stereo system. Better wire, better electronics and better design are critical to achieve maximum enjoyment. You can enjoy your system in different rooms of the house simultaneously, allowing multiple users to listen to the same audio source or a different program altogether. The kids can listen to a CD in the back yard, Mom can listen to satellite radio in the den and Dad can listen to his MP3’s in the garage.

If you decide to run wiring for a full house sound system yourself, you will first need to let True Built Home know no later than at the time of your preconstruction meeting so that we can schedule it in with our project manager. You will need to obtain a low voltage electrical permit, which you can do through your local building department. It can take about 1 week from the application to receipt of the permit, and the wiring must be run before the installation of insulation so please plan your schedule accordingly.

Making a Small Home Feel Larger

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Smaller homes such as ADU’s and casitas offer many advantages over larger homes. Smaller homes are usually less expensive and occupy a smaller footprint on the lot, leaving more space for those who love big yards. House cleaning is much easier, and wasted space is minimal. Heating and other energy costs are often reduced.

On the other hand a smaller home is . . . well  . . . smaller. This doesn’t need to be a disadvantage though. If you have a smaller home, it is possible to make the space feel larger than is actually is. Conversely, a small room can be perceived as smaller if the space is not optimized for utility.

What are some ways to make a smaller home feel larger than it is?

  • Use of light: Lighter usually feels larger. Larger windows make the room feel open to the outside. Use accessories that emit and/or reflect light such as large mirrors, and track lighting.

One advantage of building a brand new home is having skylights installed during construction. Skylights can offer light from above which can make the home feel brighter.

  • Paint walls a lighter color: Painting walls a darker color may make the room cozier, but it can also have the effect of making it feel smaller. Lighter pastel colors are usually best for making a room feel larger.

Related to use of color is the color of the wood used. For example, light wood stains make smaller kitchens seems larger. Lighter doors make longer hallways seem more open, and so forth.

  • Clear out the clutter: Clutter always makes your rooms feel smaller. So avoid hanging on to furniture that isn’t used much. Make good use of space under beds and other furniture for storage. Get rid of stuff that’s just lying around. Everything in a room should have a purpose. If something new comes in, something old needs to be removed.
  • Open up floor space: Show as much floor as possible. Try to move furniture against the wall. Use a see through glass coffee table instead of a solid wood one. Smaller furniture usually works best. For example, if there are only two of you, do you really need a large couch? A loveseat may work just as well and make the room feel larger.
  • Keep the air moving: stagnant air can make a space feel constricted. If you’d rather not open windows, a ceiling fan or heat pump will give movement to the air that will create a more comfortable environment.
  • Pick an open floor plan: Having your kitchen open into the living room is more social and also makes both the kitchen and the living room feel larger.

True Built Home’s designers are very conscious of making the kitchen open and comfortable for the cook of the house. You will notice that his kitchen plans are open and the layout of the appliances is logical.

You don’t have to feel cramped in a small home. By following these practical suggestions, your small home will feel larger.

What is an ADU?

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In the 1940s and ’50s, many American families rented out an extra apartment over their garages or in the basement of their homes as a way to earn some extra income to help with the mortgage payment or with other household expenses. In fact, backyard cottages and attic and basement apartments were a common feature in many communities across the country. Since then, as more communities have adopted restrictive residential zoning regulations, such apartments, technically known as accessory dwelling units (ADUs), have been either severely limited or banned altogether, usually in the name of protecting single-family neighborhoods.
Recently, however, perceptions and attitudes toward accessory dwelling units are once again beginning to change. Much of this transformation can be attributed to the effects of the affordable housing crisis as well as the growing numbers of smaller households. In addition, new growth management laws are requiring many communities to plan for and accommodate higher housing densities.

Against this backdrop, many communities in Washington have begun to reexamine the appropriateness of zoning regulations that severely limit or prohibit accessory dwelling units. Accessory dwelling units have emerged as an important component of the affordable housing strategies being carried out in many Washington cities. For cities over 20,000 in population, the Washington State Legislature has now mandated that accessory dwelling units be encouraged and allowed in single-family zones. As a result, many Washington State home builders are being inundated with requests for ADU floor plans that are attractive, and yet affordable housing.


An Accessory Dwelling Unit (abbreviated ADU) is a secondary living unit built on a parcel of land with another primary home, with its own kitchen, bathroom and sleeping facilities. ADUs are typically smaller than the primary dwelling-most jurisdictions limit them to between 800 and 1250 square feet of living space. This varies by jurisdiction of both cities and counties.

ADUs have also been referred to as “mother-in-law apartments”, “accessory apartments”, “garage apartments”, “rental units” or “second units” depending on their design and purpose.

Subject to local regulations, ADUs may be located either inside, attached to, or detached from the primary home on your property. To be considered attached, living space of both the primary and accessory dwelling units must abut (be on opposite sides of the same wall). Incidental and accessory features such as trellises, decks, patios, breezeways, garages or tool sheds do not generally establish an attached structure.

There are a variety of standards which may be applied in the case of an ADU. These might include limiting the overall number of residents in both units, limitation with respect to home occupations, the location of entrance doors and size of the ADU. Where an ADU is created in a new or existing detached structure or by the addition to a house, there are additional standards regulating the exterior appearance and materials of the ADU. These additional standards include provisions for the height, roof pitch, trim, eaves and windows. Your local building department can provide additional guidelines that should be followed.


Many municipalities now encourage homeowners to build Accessory Dwellings on properties with single family homes. There are many restrictions that apply, however; there is a reasonable amount of flexibility that allows most homeowners to add ADUs on their property. Also, in many cases, the homes do not have to be owner occupied.

ADUs provide a surprising number of benefits to communities, homeowners and renters.

  • Financial Benefit to Tenant: ADUs can be rented for reasonable rents since construction costs are less than conventional homes. Also, ADUs offer housing opportunities in more desirable single-family neighborhoods for some that might not be otherwise be able to afford to live there. Living in an ADU would give these households the opportunity to enjoy the amenities typically found in many single-family neighborhoods, including more privacy, a quieter environment, and less traffic congestion.
  • Financial Benefit to Homeowner: ADUs can provide homeowners with extra income to help meet rising home ownership costs. ADUs can provide many homeowners with needed additional income to meet high mortgage and maintenance costs. This can help young families or single parents, as well as additional income for elderly homeowners who are living on fixed incomes.
  • Assisting Family Members: Another advantage of an ADU is for providing needed housing for family members. Some parents will provide and ADU for young adult family members and young couples who are just getting started. Elderly family members can avoid both the emotional and financial costs of having to move into a nursing home. Another possible option to assist the elderly is for the elderly homeowner to build and move into the ADU and rent out the main house to relatives or the public. This scenario allows the elderly homeowners to live their lives out on their property without the expense and maintenance of the larger home.
  • Increased Property Value: The addition of an ADU can increase the current and resale value of the property significantly above the initial cost of the ADU. A secondary rental unit or “guest house” can be very attractive to potential buyers. Also, if financed through a mortgage on the property, the interest payments and some of the closing costs are usually tax deductible.
  • Tax Benefits: Homeowners can apply a portion of the rental income to maintaining their property. So, ADUs can encourage better upkeep of existing housing.

Allowing the development of accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, in single-family homes is becoming an increasingly popular technique for creating low- and moderate-income housing for both homeowners and renters. Homeowners benefit from the additional rental income that they can use to pay part of their mortgage payment or to help with the upkeep on their homes. Renters benefit from the availability of moderately priced rental housing in single-family neighborhoods. The community benefits from the addition of affordable housing for little or no public expense.

With offices in Tacoma, Arlington, Spokane, Vancouver, Yakima, and Salem Oregon, True Built Home has been successfully helping families create their dream homes across the state of Washington and in parts of Oregon since 2008. As a home builder with years of experience, we have developed an easy, step-by-step process for you to find and create the home you’ve always wanted at an affordable and reasonable price. Our specialty is in pre-designed efficiently built homes as an alternative to either manufactured or modular homes. We are built 100% on your site. Additionally, we have taken the time to equip our web site with lots of helpful information and tools you can use to carefully plan and begin to understand the process of new home construction.

If you’re thinking about moving into your dream home or have any questions, please give us a call. Our friendly staff of experienced home builders is ready to help you. Contact us for a free consultation today! If you are unsure if we service your area, please check out our following service pages for more details.