Just wanted to share this interesting video that shows where and how the Structurally Insulated Panels we use are made. Check it out!



This beautiful home is being constructed “slab-on-grade” which is contractor-speak for on a slab of concrete. It’s about 3,500 sq. ft. and includes a storm shelter near the center of the home that’s walls will be bolted to the cement floor, and unattached to the rest of the home’s walls/roof. (We all know one of those is a must when tornadoes are always a possibility, although hopefully will never be necessary.)
On a side note: Here’s an article about SIPS that includes a couple images of SIP homes that survived tornadoes while those conventionally built houses around them were destroyed. Article you should read.

The roof is a complex maze of trusses in all sorts of configurations, but the guys have been able to sort it all out without much trouble.


We have been waiting for the water to dry up for months with this project. What a relief to finally get rolling!


The view from the road.


The view from the back


Inside it feels huge right now without the interior walls framed up.





Top plate almost finished and then trusses go on!


A pile of glue and screws go into putting a SIP home together.


A thin layer of foam is all it takes to keep moisture from the concrete from getting into the walls.


The pile of trusses…

And one from just the other night (7/23/13) After a majority of the trusses were set.


It will be neat to see this whole place come together in the upcoming months ahead.


We are almost totally finished with our work on the Nelson home near Glenville. We’ve also shingled a house, remodeled a bathroom, put steel on a huge shed and also a garage… among other things that I’m surely forgetting.
It’s been a great first half of the year. The customers have been awesome. I appreciate their business.
This summer we will be starting on a new, slab on grade, one story home for a great family near Northwood, Iowa. We have also been booked to build a series of homes in Charles City for a development named Parkside.
The Parkside Development is a change of pace from our normal direct building for homeowners, but it’s all been positive so far in the planning process. Morning conference calls are a nice alternative to evening and weekend meetings.
Basically we just do our best to keep up with demand and add new employees to the workforce as needed. So far we’ve been able to find some great skilled workers.
Hope our luck keeps up.
Here are some highlights from the Nelson Home.
SIP Home









I’m happy to share with you photos from the second new home will are building this year in Lake Mills.  It’s for yet another Helgeson family!  (Gotta say, I’m happy they are making this a new family tradition!)

The couple is related to the last home I built in Lake Mills and it’s actually right across the street!  Nice!

At the end of November, the site was excavated for the new home and the concrete foundation was poured in the first part of December.

As soon as it was ready, we were setting floor trusses and laying the subfloor on December 12th.  Since the weather was nice the next day and we were waiting on the panels for the exterior walls to be delivered, we did a little homework ahead of time  – so to speak – and framed up the interior walls so we could quickly install them in case the weather took a turn for the worse.

That Friday the panels arrived from Extreme Panel Technologies, Cottonwood, MN.  First thing Monday, Dec 19th, we were putting together the exterior walls.  Tuesday we finished the exterior and moved on to installing those interior walls we had a jump-start on.

Can you believe this is just 4 days of carpentry work?  Crazy.

This is one of the key reasons we have such positive views on Structurally Insulated Panel (SIP) construction.  It saves a lot of time, and we all know time is money… and who doesn’t like to save a bunch of that?

Another thing to notice in these pictures is the lack of construction waste.  All the panels are custom, created just for this home plan.  That means they are all pre-measured, the doors and windows openings are cut in, and we are able to have very little construction site waste during the early stages of rhe building process.

Check out the one picture… it shows how the panels already have electrical chases for the wiring to be pulled through.

I’m not going to go into the energy efficiency, which is amazing, but you can check out more info on the “Building with SIPs” tab above.

Just a key note:  I thought it might be good to explain that SIP panel homes are nothing like a modular home or that.  I can see where someone might get confused since the building progess is so fast, especially in the initial stages of construction, but these are a high-quality, custom designed, green building product.  You can find any house plan you like and it can be created with these highly energy efficient panels.  Check out the Structural Insulated Panel Association’s website for even more information www.sips.org

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This week has sent Andy down to Southern Iowa, past Ottumwa to the Pine Ridge Hunting Lodge to build a new lodge for Tom & Rhonda Brakke at their hunting preserve.  You can click the link to see their accommodations so far.  Right up his alley, huh?  🙂

In the meantime, the crew is going strong at the Helgeson home putting up trim and prepping for insulation.  Some of the things they have been working on last week don’t show much in the photos, but they coated all the concrete on the foundation that shows to give it a really nice, finished look.  Also they installed all the soffit and fascia, which takes quite a while on a home this big, with so many corners and you don’t have much to show for it when you’re done.  Soon the siding will be getting installed and that will really show BIG progress and FAST!

Better let these guys get back to work...

I am a little embarrassed since I haven’t posted pictures of progress on this home since the ones I took May 6th… so actually you will see a lot of progress compared to the last ones I posted.  I did take some pictures May 21st just never got around to getting them up on the blog.

At the end of May they erected the garage panel walls, and finished all the roofing.  They also installed all the windows and Andy framed in some arched doorways that will be sheetrocked.  (They did have a whole week off from this project while they went to Brainerd, but the home-owners didn’t mind at all.  They were actually a little happy because it gave them time to make some decisions they hadn’t really had time to think about since progress has been moving so fast.  It was a win-win.)

Can’t wait to see the pictures Andy brings back after working on the lodge.  I’ll be sure to share them as soon as he returns… I promise!


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This summer is a busy one for the crew at AHC.  They left last Tuesday, early in the morning after Memorial Day weekend,  to head up North to tackle a project for some customers we have from down by Emmons, MN.

Whenever you build, it’s so much less stressful when you have a personal reference or past positive experience with the contractor you hire.  There is a lot of trust involved when you’re spending so much money on a project.  And no two projects are the same, there is no real cookie cutter or pattern to follow.  Sure, there are plans, blueprints, but anyone who has built knows that there are always changes and/or imperfections in even the best laid plans.

It was an honor to be asked by the Rentz’s to accept their project to build a cabin up by Brainerd, MN.  They had been thinking about it for years and had done some of the prep-work ahead of time, putting in a septic system and a shed with electricity.  They already knew they loved the location because they’d had a camper parked up there in the past and so this was just the next BIG step.

The concrete was poured recently and so when the guys arrived, they were all set to mark out the layout and start installing the Structurally Insulated Panels.  Andy took a few pictures each morning so you can really see the significant amount of progress they made each day.  The guys worked most days from 7am to 7pm, trying to make the most of their time.

Day One: SIPs are delivered from Extreme Panels.  They set all the bottom plates, erected all but one wall of the exterior shell, and got the window/door openings cut and prepped.

Day Two: Trusses Are Delivered!  Installed top plates, completed interior framing and set most of the trusses.  Very pleased so far with service from the Deerwood Lumber Yard.  Can’t beat a locally-owned family business!

Day Three: Erected the last exterior wall, framed in the covered deck, and started sheathing the roof, applying roofing felt, and installing shingles.

Day Four: Finished Roofing.

Day Five: Installed all Windows and Exterior Doors

Day Six: Frame in Front Deck and Apply House Wrap.

Can you believe how much they got done in under a week?  By the sixth day, the guys were all ready to come home.  They managed to enjoy themselves a little bit in the evenings, trying out a little fishing and golf… but really they had worked such long days and were so exhausted all they really wanted to do was sit in the air conditioning.

This week the electrician is heading up to do some work.   Before long the crew will be heading back up north to finish siding, soffit/fascia and sheetrock.

Check back often!

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I must apologize for not posting sooner.  Andy and the guys have been working hard to get this house built in a timely fashion, even with all the rain and the wind the last couple weeks.  I am constantly amazed at his work ethic and that of the guys on his crew.

The Lake Mills home is really taking shape.  The Structurally Insulated Panels are all installed for the outer shell of the home and they got all the trusses on at the beginning of the week.  I think it was last Friday that it was really windy in the afternoon and the homeowner stopped by after work to see the house and she said “You guys are crazy!”  They were up on the roof.  But, like Andy says, “Nothing gets done if you wait for the weather to be perfect.”   Which is so true.

But today is absolutely perfect and I believe the guys are roofing some more, laying down shingles.   They are also punching out the deck on the rear side of the house and installed a huge pile of plywood over the past few days.

Another fun announcement is the addition of a new member to the crew.  Bob!  He’s the son of a previous Andy Houg Construction customer/friend.  So far, he’s really impressed Andy… and that’s not easy to do!  Not many people can measure up to Andy’s expectations of intelligence and work ethic.  It makes me happy to write out those paychecks!

Speaking of which… better get back to the books!

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You can see the garage has been excavated and started

Getting Closer…

The Lunning house is getting close to completion.  These last two weeks have been a buzz of activity as the cement was poured in the garage, the tile was laid in the bathrooms, light fixtures were hung and all sorts of other finishing touches are installed.

The Andy Houg Construction crew has been busy installing trim and interior doors, stair railing and closet systems.  I was able to stop out a couple times to get some photos taken on my ipod.


P.S. I had to “walk the plank” to get to the house last time… this weather sure is a pain, but at least it’s starting to feel like spring.

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Well, I don’t know about you guys, but our home was hit hard by a virus that’s been making the rounds I hear.  Our son, Collin, stayed home on Monday because he had been having a slight fever and cough over the weekend and he needed that extra day to recooperate, then Andy started in on the symptoms on Wednesday and stayed home Thurs and Friday for the most part… he did leave on Friday for a while and Saturday too, to do some work.  But, I’m happy to say I got him to stay home all day Thursday and vegetate… for the most part.

I tried to take his cell phone away from him for an hour so he could take a nap and he acted like I was asking to cut off his hand.  Seriously.  That phone rings all the time.  At least a couple times an hour.   Most of the calls are legitimate work related calls, but I told him there weren’t any that were going to be life-or-death emergencies that couldn’t wait for an hour.  Needless to say, I wasn’t successful in taking his phone… thank goodness for his crew of guys who were able to accomplish some work on Friday because it drives him insane to not be getting things done.

Guess that’s a good characteristic to look for in your contractor.



P.S. Last week they’ve been waiting for the painters to finish in the Lunning’s house and they’ve been working on putting some more steel on that shed.  I have a few pictures to share that I took of the painters working with my Ipod and I have a  neat photo Andy shot of the icicles on the framework of the shed.

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This past Monday, Andy took pictures at a house he built over a year ago down in the Ventura/Clear Lake area.

It’s a beautiful, rustic, cabin-type of home.  Basically, it’s like Andy’s dream home because it’s got stained wood galore and lots of wild game trophies hanging from the walls.

I love it because of the beautiful windows and the huge open living area and loft over the kitchen… and the amazing stone fireplace.

They are just finishing out the basement now.  Waiting to finish a basement is a popular option for many new home owners that want to spread out the overall cost of building.

Actually, I shouldn’t even be calling it a basement because that brings to mind dark, dirty, concrete walls.  This my friends, is more appropriately called a “lower level”… yeah.  🙂

So back to business.  Andy and the guys were doing some more great stonework in the family room downstairs.  They are surrounding the TV’s alcove with beautiful El Dorado stone and they also installed all this great wainscoting with a picture rail above it to display photos or other artwork.

I am really excited to see the finished product in person because this house is really magnificent and the homeowners do a great job of decorating the space and making it feel homey without feeling like a showroom or too cluttered.

Enjoy the slidehow… sorry about the dust in some of the pictures – like I said, Andy took these.

I guess then you know they’re really working when they’re stirring up that much dust!


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