HGTV Dream Home 2015: Building Best Practices and Materials

Learn about time-tested materials that have withstood weather conditions, unique to the storm-battered island of Martha's Vineyard.
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By: Peter Walsh

Many of the homes on Martha's Vineyard have stood for centuries and the HGTV Dream Home 2015 project would be no exception. Starting with the design, which echoes the existing homes, the home would be built with many of the same time-tested materials that have withstood the weather conditions that are unique to a storm battered island in the Atlantic ocean. "On the island, there are a lot of extreme conditions to contend with," says local contractor, Tim McHugh, owner of Timothy McHugh Builders, Inc., Edgartown, MA.

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Higher-end materials were used to be sure the home would endure for generations. For example, double pane, aluminum clad wood windows and doors with impact resistant storm glass, were used throughout the house. Rot resistant red cedar wood shingles were used on the roof instead of the typical asphalt shingles. In fact, the Field Club community guidelines require that the roofs in the neighborhood all have wood shingles for a consistent look, says McHugh. Thicker grade, white cedar shingles were used on the exterior walls that would, in about five years, weather to gray as would the roof.

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Working shutters were installed that could be closed to protect the windows in severe storm conditions. All the fasteners including those that hold the copper flashing is either stainless steel or galvanized to prevent rust and corrosion. Composite materials made of PVC were used alongside the cedar materials for added durability. "Although it's not standard practice," McHugh says. "You wouldn't know the difference."

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Composite materials are becoming more accepted in traditional building, McHugh explains, adding the about 70 percent of the jobs he is doing on the island include PVC materials. "People think it's cheap but it's actually more expensive than wood," he says. Once properly installed, it requires less maintenance than wood. For example, McHugh explains, paint lasts longer on PVC than on wood. "The reason paint peels is because of the moisture in the wood," he says.

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Inside the house, painted plaster was used on some walls and ceilings including in the heated garage. Another time-proven material, plaster is not typical used in many newly constructed homes but in HGTV Dream Home 2015, it was a natural choice.

"It's quicker, harder and better and costs about the same as drywall," says lead architect, Patrick Ahearn who uses plaster in most of the new homes he designs. It's also in keeping with the style and quality of the home. It's applied as a thin skim coat over blue board so there are no gaps or joint tape that could pull away over time.

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