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What is a Quality Build and What are Good Selections?-- The Ashlar Difference

December 28, 2022

Part of our mission at Ashlar Homes is to help anyone that wants to be a homeowner become one. We believe that no matter the budget, homeownership is achievable and can be built without compromising quality. We work hard to construct a home of the highest quality materials and craftsmanship. While the finishing touches and selections are important to the overall look of the home, they aren’t the things that determine true quality of a home. True craftsmanship and quality is in the little things most people cannot even see when walking into a beautiful home. At Ashlar Homes, we focus on what is behind the walls, how the house is engineered, the setting of the home on the lot and much more. 

Here are just a few examples of underlying quality vs visual appeal that are key differentiators of homes built by Ashlar.

Engineering. All of the components of a house must work together. This is an important part of the engineering phase. How is the house designed structurally so that all components feed into one another safely and efficiently. This step is done at a desk, before a house takes form. 

Setting the home. While it may seem like you just drop a hole on a lot and start building, there is much more to setting a house that affects the quality. First, it is important that the proper type of home is set on the lot and not forced.  i.e. walk out, daylight, split levels, etc.  Second, taking into consideration the surrounding homes, the grading plan for the development is a major factor.  It’s important that the lot is properly graded and water runs away from the structure. This helps prevent water damage and foundation issues in years to come.  Choosing the proper home for the correct lot plays a major role in this setting of the home and Ashlar Homes’ building of the entire community makes this a much more concentric process and better setup for the overall look of the area.

Materials used. There are many different materials options that can be used when building a home. For example, Ashlar Homes uses Zip board, a structural wall system with an integrated water resistant and air barrier that streamlines the weatherization process and transforms it with a simple two-step installation. Further, we use engineered I-joists instead of dimensional lumber in some of our product lines for floor systems, which shrink and contract less than dimensional lumber. This reduced shrinking and contracting reduces squeaks, drywall cracks and nail pops. As part of the engineering process we take a close look at the materials and effects on the overall home structurally. For example, we review things like roof loads, floor loads, weight of granite or quartz countertops, and how they all play a factor in the performance of the floor system of the home.

Double wall construction. This is a method of building that produces a much better wall system both from a structural standpoint and a maintenance standpoint. In single wall construction you have a building paper wrapped over studs and then a sheet of siding placed over that paper. If nails are driven too far or the product is not caulked properly the wind and rain are now passing through that system into the interior of the house. Windows in this scenario are placed on top of the siding and attempted to be flashed. This type of window install meets no manufacturer install guidelines. At Ashlar, we use a double wall construction which means our homes have a system of a sheathing product over the studs and then the weather barrier that is a better substrate to tape and adhere it to. Next the windows are installed and flashed and another layer of veneer of brick, stucco, or siding is applied over that. We believe that is one solid house!

Cabinet Construction. While there is much about cabinetry that falls in the selection process, how a cabinet is manufactured and built within the home makes a big difference on quality. 

Cabinets finished in factories where the components can be taken apart to be finished has an impact on the quality. It keeps all parts clean and allows paint to dry without other elements such as dust interfering. Cabinets that are finished in the field end up having sawdust, dirt and debris in the finish because it is impossible to get the home clean enough to prevent dirt and dust blowing up when finishes are being sprayed. Further, finishing cabinets in the home provides high risk of overspray on the rails of drawers which prevents them from operating properly. We install a finished product in our homes for these very reasons. 

Some of the common misconceptions about items in a home that homeowners think provide quality:

Countertops.  Often granite or quartz are seen as making a home have a high level of quality.  While granite and quartz look stunning and provide a visual appeal to the home, other products used in the kitchen or baths which are less expensive do not have less quality. In many cases, the quality and performance is paralleled with that of quartz or granite. 

Fireplace or no fireplace.  While some people see a fireplace as an elegant upgrade to the home, over the years, we have learned this is really more of a personal preference. The existence of a fireplace or not and whether it is included in standard features or not does not make a home of better quality. We understand the importance of ambiance and features that make a house feel homier so we include a fireplace in the selection process so each homeowner can decide the right selection for their lifestyle. 

Size of base trim in the home.  The size of baseboards do not equal quality. In fact, the size of the baseboard really comes down to efficiency of cost. A smaller baseboard doesn’t mean it is a lesser quality. It just means the house can be built more economically with that particular selection. 

Carpet. A home could have carpet that is less dense but that doesn’t mean the house is compromised quality either. A good quality carpet can be different levels of thickness. The quality comes with the way in which the carpet is made. Is it solution dyed? Does the color go all the way through? What is the backing and how is it twisted? These factors can all play a crucial role in quality despite thickness or the density of the carpet. 

Metal or edging around tile. This is definitely more visually appealing but not indicative of quality. We use metal trim around our backsplash and showers because we believe it adds a nice finishing touch that provides clean lines. However, it’s a visual nicety and does not increase the quality.  

At Ashlar Homes, we strive to find the perfect balance of a home that is visually stunning and built with high craftsmanship, but won’t break the budget. We believe everyone should be able to afford a home and not have to compromise quality. We are proud to focus on those details you may not see but will provide a home that will stand the test of time and allow your family to create memories for years to come.

We have been in our home now for over a year. The home is beautiful and we love it! As with all new projects issues will inevitably come up, and what separates good companies from bad ones is how well they handle those issues. They have always addressed any concern we've had in a polite and timely manner and have been an overall pleasure to work with.

Mathew Connell