What's the best siding, roofing, heating,and flooring material to use?


11 Years
Mar 17, 2008
Northern NY
My husband is wanting to either buy a rental building, build a house, or both this year. I've been trying to figure out different things we would want to use if we build a house. I like to plan ahead. Been planning for a few years but since it is getting really close to the point that we will be building I want to have some stuff picked.

We want something that is affordable and easy to install. Pretty much what we have figured out is we want a prow front house. We already looked into all the pros and cons of this type of house. Depending on our budget it will be either a 1.5 or 2.5 story house. The land we will be building on is flat and across the side road from his dad's house. We don't want to do a basement due to his dad's basement always flooding and having problems. We will either go with a slab foundation or a crawl space. If we go with a slab then that floor will be stained concrete but we don't know what to pick for the other floor(s). One concern is our dog has sharp nails and gets overly hyper. We need something that won't scratch up easily. Also needs to be something that won't fade from the windows. One big problem is my husband doesn't like the look of wood so it cannot be a wood floor. He is alright with the look of stone laminate flooring but I'm worried about the water areas and the dog.

The area we live in gets very windy and during the winters gets around -20 at night (thankfully it has been mild this winter). I was thinking of going with metal roofing. My FIL said they can cause a lot of problems with the shrinking and expanding causing the nails to move around which then leads to leaks. I did read something about using an underlayment that heals around the nails to avoid leaking but wasn't sure if that would work. I have also read that rubber roofing is a good choice but I don't know of anyone that has used it to ask questions about it.

I don't even know where to begin with the siding. I know vinyl siding up around here cracks easily during the winter. My FIL thought we should use bevel clapboards. I've seen fiber cement and engineered wood listed online but read different results with it. My husband would love to use stucco but I don't know how well that would work with our weather or anything about the synthetic stucco.

I would love to use hydro radiant heating. The only problem is the cost of putting it in especially the dry insulation. Is this something we could install ourselves and have a professional come and test it out for leaks?
Metal roofing has advanced way beyond lead head screwnails. There are several types of fastening systems. The standing seam is probably the best, if you can afford it. All fasteners are completely concealed, and when it's done, the roof is basically one solid sheet of metal. It does require some special machinery, and a crew with knowledge. I don't care for the look of it, and much as I do the ribbed metal, but there is no possibility of weather intrusion.

As for siding, I am a big fan of the cement board siding, such as Hardiboard. There are several comparable brands on the market, with a variety of patterns: Smooth, roughsawn, shake. Also, a variety of widths.

I'm not a big fan of ongrade slabs. They tend to be a victim of water intrusion, from floods. If you live in snow country, you would have to deal with snow being above the floor level.....How about an offgrade slab, using a stemwall? The good thing about an offgrade wood structure, if you put it 4 or 5 ft offgrade is the storage space, under the house. plus access to plumbing and wiring.

Just do your homework. There's plenty of information out there.
I agree with Royd on the roofing.
Metal roofs have a life of 50+ years.
Portions of my house have a metal roof that are over 100 yrs and just starting to need replacing!
It may not be a DIY project, but It's worth it.
Studies here in SC tend to push copper roofing as the longest lasting, but the upfront cost is high.
Hope this helps!
Thanks for the replies. There are so many different options for stuff that it is hard to choose and to pick stuff for this climate.

I do like the offgrade slabs. My father's house had one which made it a lot easier when fixing problems. My husband was the one more interested in a slab since he could have it stained instead of installing a floor. He didn't mind having it tore up to fix stuff. One problem I seen with that is tearing up one area and staining it again would have an edge where the two stains meet. I have been looking more into a thin slab on top of the subfloor which he could have that stained without the worry of having it tore up. Also if we were able to afford the radiant heating we could install it in the thin slab. That probably won't happen unless he buys a rental place first.

We plan on having the foundation, frame, roof, well, plumbing, heating, and electricity done by someone else. We do have a few relatives that know how to do some of that stuff and would cut us a deal. My husband's friend can do all the drafting and certify it. My FIL owns the land we would build on which my husband is an attorney so he can do the land transfer himself and just pay the transfer fees. My husband, his dad, sister, and a cousin all have some drywalling experience. We have an Amish that we will probably pay to make our cabinets. Even though they will cost more they will be made very well. He would also be willing to help out on other parts of the house.

My SIL built her house a couple years ago and was her own contractor. She tried to do as much of the work herself that she was able to do which saved her a bunch of money. We want to do the same but learned from some mistakes she had made. She built a house with a garage below it that had high ceilings and had wood put on the garage doors (3 of them) to look like the rest of the house which costed a lot of money. She ended up with unusable doors cause they were to heavy to open easily. Her whole downstairs ended up being a waste of space. Now she wishes she would of designed the house different. It was suppose to be a temporary home while she saved up till she got a nicer one built and then use that one as a rental. She spent more than she wanted to and now due to relationship problems that will be her only house.

We are taking our time at choosing what we want. It didn't take us long to decide on a realistic house style. We had plenty of wants for our dream home that weren't realistic unless we were very rich. We knew we wanted a lot of windows since the winters are long and dark. We both have pretty much lived in one bedroom our whole lives. With the thought of having a house we wanted an open floor plan since we are use to being next to each other all the time. That's when we seen the prow style houses. The looks, open floor plan, and not being completely closed off from the upstairs got our attention. Shortly after that we were going out of town and happened to see one of the larger prows with the wings sitting off in the distance from a main road and that really got my husband liking the style. We don't completely have the floor plan picked out since we don't know how big of one we are going to make. We would do some adjustments to fit what we need. Mostly be closets, laundry area, and possibly a large walk in closet upstairs that could be also used as a baby room. I've been looking at a ton of pictures of the inside of prow chalets to see what I do and don't like so I can have changes made to fit what we want.
One thing you might consider, if you are going with an offgrade slab, would be to install the actual plumbing inside of larger pipe, so that it could be accessed, without tearing up the slab. Let the access to these tubes be above grade, and seal them off, until you need to do plumbing repair. You could install large enough piping, so that it wouldn't close up from deposits in a hundred years.
If you need help or instructions on anything to do with air conditioning and instalation of it let me know. I only know certain things but my dad owns his own company and i could give you his work email and you can ask all the questions you want pertaining to that. He is always very helpful when it comes to DIY things and could probably give you a list of what you will need and how to do it.
A warning about fiber-cement siding (HardiBoard, or similar): It's not terribly thermally stable. It can shrink or grow depending on the temperature (check the product information for actual figures). Unless you use super-duper elastomeric caulk (stretchy), your caulk joints might crack and open up, and you'll have gaps at all the board joints.

On our porch enclosure, I'm planning on using pre-primed beveled cedar siding, and end-priming all cuts prior to installation.
Thanks again for all the replies.

I'm not sure what we are doing for the a/c yet. I'm definitely going to do more research before choosing an certain item to use for anything.

We will probably end up using the metal roofing since a lot of houses around here have them and I think they look nice.

Here is a link of the main site I keep going back to that I like the floor plans and the looks of the houses from. I like plan #5. http://www.cabininthewoods.us/Cabin_Models/Chalet.htm Here is a link to a picture of a similar floor plan as #5 except for the upstairs. http://www.cabininthewoods.us/Images/Large Interior/Landscape/25.jpg It's the picture that really got me liking the interior. Really close to what we want and the perfect size.

Do they measure the 44' from the tip of the prow to the back of the house? How much square footage would that be for the main floor and the half story after you take the wedges off from the prow since it isn't squared? I've just been guessing around 1632 sq. ft. by multiplying the 44'x24' and adding it to the 24'x24'. I know it would be less than that due to the prow and the way the upstairs is. I know they measure from the outside of the house inward on floor plans for the living area. I've been taking a foot off the measurements for the rooms to get more of an actual size and using a tape measure to see how big of a space it would be. I don't want the rooms to small.
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I agree on the roofing and, if I were 50 years younger and doing it all over again, I'd opt for a geothermal heat pump for heating/cooling. It is a huge initial investment that will pay for itself if you stay for 20 or so years. Toss in a high efficient fireplace and, even in Northern NY, you should be able to be warm and cool year around.

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