July 2020





Office: 843 846 2500


July 2020
Number 77

Celebrate the 244th Anniversary of our nation’s founding!
July 4, 2020.

May God continue to bless America!

Edith Rose, Willis & Debby’s least one, is sporting a new bib her Mama made her. Little Edie is about 4 months old.

From the desk of Bill

We are half way though 2020. What a year it has been. We’ve seen the impeachment of a sitting President, a pandemic virus from China, protests, riots, looting and vandalism. I suspect this list will grow a good bit larger by the time elections roll around this November.
It turned out the impeachment seems to have basically been a political hit job. No evidence was found that a crime was committed by the President, thus the impeachment should have never happened. The whole process seems to have been very flawed. Now we get to hear about an investigation of the investigation.

The virus from China has totally disrupted our economy and the lifestyles of millions of people. In the end, the chance of dying because of this virus (if you are not living in an assisted living facility) is about the same as being struck by lightning if you have lived for 60 years. Of course, this is statistically and any deaths are tragic.

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), about 60,000 people who were not in assisted living facilities died with (but not necessarily because of) the virus. Each year about 1,000 people are struck by lightning. In 60 years, that would mean 60,000 people would be struck by lightning — a familiar number. While we obviously should use good sense regarding our health, perhaps the virus is not quite as bad as we have been told. (The following numbers are for the United States, not the world.)

Leading Causes of Death In 2017
In the United States
According to the Center for Disease Control

Heart disease 647,457
Cancer 599,108
Accidents 169,936
Lower respiratory diseases 160,201
Stroke 146,383
Alzheimer’s disease 121,404
Diabetes 83,564
Virus from China (2020) 60,000
Flu and pneumonia 55,672
Kidney problems 50,633

Virus from China deaths are the approximate number of people who died in 2020 with (but not necessarily because of) the virus that were NOT living in assisted living facilities.

Probably the most disturbing event to me this year is the rioting, looting and vandalism. Certainly, I have no problem with demonstrations or protests, but when they turn violent, I have a serious problem. I understand that the protests were basically hijacked by hoodlums, but America should not tolerate such behavior. Stealing merchandise, vandalizing, killing, raping and other dastardly acts are not the acts of a protest, but simply lawlessness. Now, some hoodlums have taken over several blocks of a city and the mayor says they are “patriots”? In the United States? Really? Lawlessness by any other name is still lawlessness.

We have also heard demands to defund and/or retrain the police. Of course, there are some bad police. There are some bad carpenters. There are some bad teachers. There are some bad businessmen. Every group has some bad people in it. I suspect, however there are just a few more bad people looking for trouble than there are bad police. How about retraining (or more accurately, training in the first place) the hoodlums? I think the real problem with that idea of training children is it requires two parent families. It also requires parents to be responsible for their children instead of just blaming someone else. Unfortunately, it is always easy to find someone to blame.

On the personal side, Kandy and I learned we are expecting our 36th grandchild about December this year. While I understand the concern some have about overpopulation, what will happen to us as a nation and a world if responsible people don’t have children? 

  • Are children expensive? Yes. (The more children I have the fewer toys I can buy for me.)
  • Does raising children take a lot of time? Yes. (The more children I have, the less time I have to play.)
  • Does raising children bring a lot of heartaches? Sometimes, but they can also bring a lot of joy and happiness.
  • Should we bring children into this world as bad as it is? Yes. (The world has always been “bad.” At least we are not being fed to the lions at the moment.)
  • Are there any guarantees children will turn out right? No. There are no guarantees, but we can do our best. I like what John Wayne said in The Sea Chase (1955) when he was told he could not outrun a ship that was chasing him, “Maybe not, but I can try.” I can try — one of my favorite quotes when I am facing a very challenging situation. I could quit or I could try to overcome it.
  • Are children worth it? Absolutely! They are to me.

Do I think everyone should have a lot of children? Not necessarily. I think that is a personal decision. I no more want to tell someone how many children they should have than I want someone to tell me how many children I (or my children) should have.

Keep looking up. The best is yet to come!


Sealed Crawlspaces

Most homes built in our area are built on either slabs-on-grade (concrete poured over fill dirt) or foundations with crawlspaces. While there are some cost advantages to slabs on grade, there are a number of advantages to homes built with a crawlspace. (A crawlspace is where there is room between the bottom of the floor and the ground.)

Typically with a traditional crawlspace, the bottom of the floor of the home is insulated. This insulation can be fiberglass or (better) spray-in foam. There is another alternative which is probably better than insulating the floor. That is to seal the crawlspace and insulate the foundation walls.

If your crawlspace has even a small opening, you are subject to unwanted visitors. For some reason, mice and other rodents seem to really like the taste of insulation on wires. This is not a good thing.

If your floor is insulated with spray foam, that is good for several reasons: it seals any holes that might be in your floor (where there are penetrations, for example), it conforms tightly to the floor, so there are no air leaks to nullify the thermal barrier and it provides a good R rating. Spray-in foam can also insulate any pipes under the floor.

Like anything else, there are downsides to foam insulation. Since wires and pipes are covered with foam, it can be difficult to trace them and figure out what goes where if there is a problem. The foam can also distort the location of leaks. If you have a leaky pipe, water may flow over or through the foam and drip out far from the actual leak. To find the leak, you have to dig out foam without damaging hidden wires and pipes. This is a difficult (thus expensive) task.

With fiberglass insulation, there seems to be a tendency for it to trap moisture between the insulation and the floor which can cause serious problems (buckling floors, mold, mildew and rot). Moisture under houses is a real issue here in the appropriately named Lowcountry.

If only your floor is insulated and you have HVAC air handlers and ducts under your home, they are also subject to moisture and consequently will rust after a few years.

What is a good alternative? A sealed crawlspace solves a number of these issues. With a sealed crawlspace, the insulation is not on the bottom of the floor, but on the foundation walls. The floor of the crawlspace has to have a vapor barrier (as it should in any home). Typically, we pour a thin (2 or 3 inches thick) concrete slab on the ground in the crawlspace (called a “rat slab” for obvious reasons — it makes it very difficult for rats or other rodents to find a way into the crawl space).

Insulation is (typically) sprayed on the foundation walls down to about 6″ above the ground. The lower few inches of the foundation wall is left bare so your termite service can make sure no termites are tunneling up to your house. The dirt tubes subterranean termites have to build to reach wood are clearly visible and can be treated.

This is a photo of a crawlspace we sealed on a home we built. Notice the gap in insulation at the bottom near the rat slab. The termite technician is able to carefully look below the insulation for any signs of termite tubes.

A big plus for sealed crawlspaces is the bottom of the floor is exposed along with pipes, ducting and wiring so troubleshooting and repairing items is much easier. Under floor leaks are easy to locate. The sealed crawlspace also provides an environment much better for any HVAC equipment (air handlers and ducts, for example) that may be under your home. Sealing the crawlspace also makes rodent infiltration much less likely.

How about the elephant in the room: Cost? For new construction, the cost of a sealed crawlspace is about the same as foaming the floor because less insulation is needed (the area of the foundation walls is usually less than the floor area). A rat slab adds to the cost. All things considered, the difference in cost between spraying the floor and sealing the crawlspace is not really much. You should consider having a sealed crawlspace under your home if you are going to build. If you have an existing home and it is not a slab on the ground, you might be able to seal the crawlspace without spending a fortune. Call us, we will look at your situation and explain options to you. No cost to you and no obligation, of course. Call us. We can help.

Next month, we plan to discuss exterior paint. Don’t miss it.

June 2020





Office: 843 846 2500


June 2020
Number 76

We have new chicks here on the homestead! They were hatched mid May. Mother hen is pretty tolerant of little ones holding the chicks.

From the desk of Mandy

Have you ever wanted to “get organized”? I certainly have. Life in general is just easier and better when I am organized, but sometimes maintaining organization or even initiating it can be a real challenge.

Being “organized” means different things to different people. For some people, a desk is “organized” when everything is right on top. For others, a desk is only organized when every item is neatly compartmentalized in a neat row of matching and clearly labeled containers. What you need to figure out is what being “organized” means to you. (Your space [kitchen, closet, drawers, etc.] might be convenient for you if it is organized according to the preferences of another.)

When organizing your space, it is very important that it makes sense to you. If you can’t find anything or you’re always putting the ‘right’ thing in the ‘wrong’ place, you may need to change where you are keeping it. Getting “organized” is just a fancy way of saying it has been sorted. You have like things together and they have a happy home in which to live. Sort by color, size, type, shape, anything you like. If you’re organizing your clothing drawers, you may wish to sort by type of garment. Getting dressed can be such a frustrating experience if you are continually pulling out a pair of yoga pants when you really want a tank top. Try sorting your clothing into different drawers: underthings, socks, t-shirts, pants, shorts, pajamas, etc. After you’ve decided what goes where, decide how you’ll want to see them when you open the drawer – do you like to see vertical stacks or horizontal rows? (Sorting by color at this point is strictly a matter of preference, but it does make for a terrific aesthetic!) Similar items that are folded into similarly-sized rectangles make a very tidy finish.

If you’re organizing the hanging things in your closet, you may wish to sort either by type of garment or color of garment. If you sort by type, you’ll separate the jackets from the buttonups and the dresses from the cardigans. If you sort by color, you’ll wind seamlessly through a rainbow of colors: purple to red to orange to yellow to green to blue to black. (Neutral colors such as ivory, grey, and brown can be reserved for very last and then tucked in wherever they are most coordinated; browns usually go nicely between purple and red, but grey will probably go after black.)

If you’re sorting your books, the sky is the limit! Sort by author, subject matter, size, title, or color. Think about the kind of vibes you want with these books: a set of identical books in a tightly regimented row exude a sort of fanatical precision, while books in varying sizes and colors, displayed horizontally or vertically (or both!) set a more relaxed mood.

Whatever you are organizing, there is no wrong way to do it! If you’re not sure how would be ‘best’, try anything. If you try sorting by size and it looks silly when you’re done, change it to sorting by color. If that’s bad too, try sorting by type of item. If sorting by shape just makes sense to you, do it that way. The key is to make what is yours work for you.

Are You Prepared for Hurricane Season?

The official hurricane season for us begins June 1 and ends November 30 — a full six months. That is not to say that all hurricanes will happen during the season, but historically, most do occur during the six months. Each season has an average of 10 named storms. Six of those will go on to become hurricanes and 2 1/2 of the 10 will become major hurricanes (category 3 or higher). Of course averages don’t really mean anything. The most storms on record occurred in 2005 (28 named storms resulting in 15 hurricanes).

This chart shows the average number of tropical storms and hurricanes by month for the years between 1851 and 2017. As you can see a few storms occur out of season (May and December), but for the most part, they fall within the season. We have already had two named “out of season” tropical storms this year.

While hurricanes might be thought of as large wind storms, they bring several dangers with them. Wind, of course always comes with hurricanes. Sometimes if a hurricane spawns a tornado, the winds can be severe — approaching 200 miles per hour like the EF4 (175 mph) tornado that devastated the small town of Nixville not far from us. Hurricanes can also bring with them storm surges (rising water) and in the appropriately named Lowcountry, that can be a big problem. Two other issues are related to the winds from a hurricane or tornado: flying debris and falling trees.

Although winds from a hurricane are less in strength than wind from a tornado, they can still be significant.

  • A Tropical Storm has winds of 39 to 73 miles per hour.
  • A category One Hurricane has winds of 74 to 95 miles per hour.
  • A category Two Hurricane has winds of 96 to 110 miles per hour.
  • A category Three Hurricane has winds of 111 to 129 miles per hour.
  • A category Four Hurricane has winds of 130 to 156 miles per hour.
  • A category Five Hurricane has winds of over 157 miles per hour.

South Carolina is the fifth most likely state to be hit by a hurricane. We have been hit by 30 hurricanes (between 1851 and 2018) with five major (category 3, 4 or 5) hurricanes. Being near the coast increases our chance of damage a bit since hurricanes tend to diminish once they are over land.

Hurricanes can do a lot of damage, but if they spawn a tornado (not uncommon), winds can be much higher — upwards of 200 miles per hour. Fortunately, tornadoes are relatively short lived and small compared to hurricanes, but the damage they do can still be devastating.

This is the handiwork of an EF4 (175 miles per hour) tornado that hit Nixville, South Carolina (about 30 miles WNW of our jobsites) mid April, 2020.

Although a gentle breeze seems harmless, stronger winds can apply an amazing amount of force to large objects (such as houses). For example a 100 mile per hour wind blowing on a wall 10 feet high and 40 feet long will apply about 150,000 pounds of force to that wall. The force goes up with the square of the wind speed, so a 140 mile per hour wind results in 300,000 pounds of force. The Nixville tornado (175 mph winds) would have put 460,000 pounds of force on that hypothetical wall.

If you are having a home built, be sure your contractor uses proper tie down methods for securing your home. You won’t need the ties until you need them and then it will be too late to add them. They need to be there from the start. Hurricane tie down hardware is not the place to cut corners. We ALWAYS use more tie down hardware than required for our wind zone and attach it properly.

This is an actual photo of rafter ties improperly installed on a home in our area (but, obviously, not built by Willis Sinclair). With only two of the nails solidly in the top plate, the holding power of the tie is dramatically reduced. Notice the entire row of ties seems to be like this.

Wind not only presents a big force on buildings, but also trees and any loose items. Trees may be uprooted because often the ground is saturated with the rain that comes with the hurricane. Trees may also be broken by the strong winds. Flying and falling debris can cause severe damage to a home that stands up to the wind.

Storm surges (rising water) are also a concern here in the Lowcountry. The elevation above sea level here is only a few feet depending on your location. Hurricanes north of the equator rotate in a counterclockwise direction (caused by the Coriolis effect). This means the wind speed (relative to items on the ground) on either side of the storm will be different because the speed the hurricane is moving along its path is added to the side with the wind blowing towards you and subtracted from the side where the wind is blowing away from you.

Wind from a hurricane approaching at 10 miles per hour would have a 20 miles per hour difference in wind speeds depending on if it passed on your right or left (facing the storm). If the storm passes on your right, the winds would be 20 miles per hour faster than if the storm passed by on your left.

Although a 20 mile per hour difference might not seem like too much, it can affect the storm surge. Part of the surge is caused by the low air pressure in the eye of the storm. This low pressure causes the water to rise. Another part of the surge is caused by the wind blowing the water towards the land on the north side of the storm. If the storm passes on your right, you will have a storm surge due to the low pressure plus the wind. If the storm passes on your left (again facing the storm), the surge will be less (the surge due to the low pressure minus the surge from the wind).

So, with all of this information what can you do? Call us. We can prepare your home for any approaching storms. We will bring in any loose items (lawn furniture, for example), attach protection to your windows (if you need it and have the protection at your home). We will also check your home and assess any problems after the storm passes. If we see any damage, we will do a temporary repair so further damage does not occur and then notify you. When you are ready, we will remove any hurricane protection and replace outdoor items.

When storms approach, we have limited time to prepare and we can only do so much before we are required to evacuate the area. If you want our assistance, call or email to be added to our list. Obviously, our regular clients and those on our list come first. If you are on our list and a named (significant) storm approaches, we will concentrate our efforts on preparing your home for the storm. There is no charge to be on our list. We only bill if we have to prepare and restore your home.

We cannot prevent hurricanes — they are a part of life in the Lowcountry, but we can help you prepare for them. Call us (843 846 2500). We can help.


Next month, we plan to discuss sealed crawlspaces and what advantages or disadvantages they have.

May 2020





Office: 843 846 2500


May 2020
Number 75

Note from the editor: 

This month, we are switching from our print newsletter to an email version. We are making the change for several reasons.

One of the reasons is by switching to electronic delivery we have less impact on the environment. We don’t send a huge number of newsletters, but as far as we are concerned, every little bit helps.

With electronic delivery, we cut the 2 week lead time for the printer down to virtually zero.

A third advantage is that we are not tied to what we can fit on two sides of an 8-1/2 x 14 inch piece of paper. With electronic delivery, we can add as many words and photos as we need to discuss our subject.

Yet another advantage is an electronic format makes it easy to share the newsletter. If you think someone would like to read it, just forward it to them. They will have a copy and so will you. If they would like to subscribe, they can send us their email address (newsletter@willissinclair.com) and we will add them to the list. They can also see the newsletters on our web site (https://www.willissinclair.com).

You will typically receive one newsletter per month near the end of the month. We will not share your email address with anyone.

If there are any subjects you would like us to cover or any comments (good or bad) about the newsletter, please call the office (843 846 2500) and speak with Mandy or email us at newsletter@willissinclair.com.

Starting next month, Mandy will join our rotation writing a column for the newsletter. Don’t miss it!

Willis Sinclair, Inc. (dba Willis Sinclair Homes) was 11 years old on April 21. (We were Ponds & Sons for several years before establishing Willis Sinclair in 2009) Our anniversary seemed like a great time for burgers, chips and strawberry delight (thank you, Debby)!


From the desk of Abbey….

What an honor to be the one to write the maiden voyage greeting for our first electronic newsletter! Daddy (Bill) got this all set up and here is our trial issue. If you know of anyone else who would enjoy receiving the newsletters, please let us know.

I read something I absolutely agree with,
“If you’re interested in ‘balancing’ work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead, make your work more pleasurable.”

It reminds me of another phrase I’ve heard that goes something like,

“Don’t do what you love, love what you do!” 

Loving what you do is a bit of a discipline sometimes because we all wind up in those jobs and projects where very little “love” is involved, and yet, something good always comes from that. We only have to decide to see the good and focus on that! 
On that note of loving what we do and making sure we are enjoying our work, I want to give a heartfelt “Thank You!” to some very special customers. These are customers for which we have just recently finished projects. In each of these projects we have exceeded the timeline we thought we could meet. 

When everything is going great and all seems “right” with the world, sometimes it is easy to show a little more patience, be more forgiving, etc. But in the heat of the moment when things do not seem so perfect, to take that time and show extra patience, appreciation, understanding and to have faith that we are doing our best, it is to that we say “thank you,” “thank you,” “Thank you!”  You are such a boost to us, you make us want to try harder and do even better with each project! You are an inspiration and you make our work pleasurable!

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are just around the corner and I want to wish all you mothers and fathers a wonderful day of celebration! We would not be where we are today if it were not for our parents. I am extremely blessed with mine, as they have helped make me who I am today. They started me with a foundation stronger than they had and then gave me a hand up to stand on their shoulders. I pray that the foundation I am laying will be even stronger so that others are able to build on it and give others a hand up as well!

In closing, I would like to leave you with a quote which speaks to our foundation and that of our country.

“… I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors…; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and institutions for learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great. The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law as well as the surest pledge of freedom….” -Alexis de Tocqueville (circa 1931)

A lot has changed since the 1800s, but the foundation of this country will never change. Let us not forget where we came from and how we got to where we are today. May we always strive to be better and do better than all of those who came before us so that their work and sacrifices will not be in vain.

God Bless America! 


One of the finishing exterior touches on a home is the window treatment, particularly the shutters. There are many choices for you to consider. A new window treatment can even freshen the look of an existing home.

First consider the type of shutter you could select. if you just want to shade the window from the bright South Carolina sun and you want a beach sort of look, maybe you should consider Bahama (or sometimes called Bermuda) shutters. 

Bahama shutters are hinged at the top. They can be opened and closed quickly (in case of a storm, for example). These shutters will provide shade from the bright sun and, if they are sturdily built, protection from some flying debris during a storm. Usually, these shutters are louvered as shown here. This helps keep the shutters light and yet provides shade and wind protection.

A more common shutter in our area is one that hinges on either side of a window (sometimes on one side only). Typically, a window shutter covers half of the window so two are needed for full coverage. Sometimes on a smaller window, only one shutter (the full width of the window) will be used.

These are traditional shutters. They hinge on the sides of the window. If you look closely, you can see the pintle (or pin) hinges. (The gudgeon is the loop that sits on the pintle.) The shutters will close, but they will not protect the windows because they are too narrow. The shutters are held open by shutter dogs at the bottom of the shutters.

Although shutters were originally used for storm protection, codes now make it difficult to build a shutter that is strong enough to pass the building code impact tests, that will still look good and work well. Typically if a wooden shutter passes for hurricane protection it has to have a sheet of fiberglass attached to the back of the shutter. In many homes, hurricane protection is provided by impact rated windows and that leaves only aesthetics for the shutters.

Today, it is common to have wide windows (or two or more windows close together) as in the home in the photo above. If you wanted shutters to cover the windows you would have basically three choices: Bahama shutters, a single wide shutter on each side or bifold (hinged) shutters. Wide and bifold shutters are not too common because they do tend to sag over time. Again, for the most part, today’s shutters only serve to improve the visual appearance of your home today.

The bifold shutter is a shutter that is hinged so that it when it is unfolded it is twice as wide as its folded width. This shutter can be used if there is not enough room for the width of the shutter (due to a nearby wall, window, door or roof). This adds a bit to the complexity, but it does not look extra wide when it is folded and open. Except for the double thickness, it appears to be a normal shutter. We have used these as hurricane protection (with a fiberglass backing) on one home.

Once you decide if you want shutters that are hinged on the side(s) of the window, then you need to decide how you want it built: louvered, raised panel and board and batten are common choices.

These are louvered shutters. With quality shutters, the individual louvers are installed between the stiles (vertical side boards). Sometimes a horizontal solid board is added between the top and bottom boards to give the shutter more stability. This center board helps keep the side stiles straight.

This is a raised panel shutter. The center portion, rather than being louvers, is a solid panel that is raised in the center. Kitchen cabinets often used raised panels on their doors. These shutters may have one, two or three raised panels vertically. Typically, the taller the shutter, the more panels. Raised panel shutters are probably the most common shutters in our area.

Raised panel shutters can be made of vinyl (these are very inexpensive and look it), PVC (which weathers well) and wood. The wood ones may be stained. Any material may be painted.

Board and batten shutters are just vertical boards tied together with horizontal (and sometimes a diagonal) boards. These shutters can be synthetic or wood (or even aluminum). Board and batten shutters have a rustic look, but they can add character to your home’s exterior.

Once you have decided on the shutter style, material and finish, you need to consider the hardware you want. In some cases, shutters are just fastened to your house and serve purely for aesthetic purposes.

If you do decide you want operational shutters, you will need to pick the style of the hardware and the material. Hinges and dogs (hold backs) come in a number of different sizes and shapes. Depending on the height and weight of your shutters, you may want to use three or four hinges on each side rather than just two.

Stainless steel hardware is more expensive than mild steel, but it will not rust. Stainless hardware does not generally have the wrought iron look of mild steel hardware and that might be important to you. Perhaps you might want a bit of rust on your hardware to give your home a more rustic look. But keep in mind that over time, as rust continues, it will be more difficult to operate the shutters.

You will also need to decide the style of fasteners you want. You could choose a simple latch (like a large screen door latch), a slide bolt or maybe no latching mechanism — if you don’t intend to close the shutters. The latching hardware can be mounted on either the inside or outside of the shutters when they are closed. Where they are positioned depends on how the shutter is constructed and how you intend to latch them when you close them. If you have second story windows it is nice to be able to close and latch them from inside your house.

Do you need help batting around ideas? Call us (843 846 2500). We will be glad to discuss shutters with you in detail (or anything else concerning your home for that matter). No cost and no obligation, of course. Call us. We can help!

Next month (June) we will be passing along some ideas and tips for preparing for the 2020 hurricane season.

Although there are few hurricanes actually in June, the official season is June 1 through November 30. The most active months are August, September (the most active month) and October. AccuWeather’s 2020 forecast (aka wild guess) predicts an above average number of storms this year. We can help you prepare. Call us.

Copyright ©2020
Willis Sinclair, Inc., All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
Willis Sinclair Homes 24 Gabriel Rd Lodge, SC 29082
843 846 2500


April 2020

Willis Sinclair Homes

The Lowcountry’s Premier Custom Home Builder”

Introducing Edith Rose Ponds. Edith (2 hours old in this photo) is Willis & Debby’s 8th child and Bill & Kandy’s 35th grandchild.

24 Gabriel Road

Lodge, South Carolina 29082



843 846 2500

April 2020

Number 74

From the desk

of Willis…

Happy Spring! We hope everyone made it safely through the last month of winter and are enjoying dryer and more pleasant weather.

By the time you read this we will be several weeks into the COVID-19 virus outbreak. As of this writing we still aren’t sure what the full effect will be on us. We are cautiously optimistic that this will pass without too much damage done to us or our customers. We pray that all of you make it through in good health.

The bigger news of the past month for us was the birth of Edith Rose, our 8th child and 4th girl! Baby and Mom are both doing great and are in good health! For some eight children is a lot but for Debby and me it just seems normal. I was one of ten and Debby was one of eight. When we were first married we were honestly a bit lonely. Now we have a house full of joy, and we love it!

We are well into our 2020 business year and future prospects are still looking good for us. This past year was our busiest yet and with that came some production challenges. Abbey and I found ourselves stretched thin at times with all we were having to do. We know that some of our customers experienced this as some of our projects stretched out further than we had planned. We are anticipating a similar work load this year and that has led us to make some changes in order to keep up.

The biggest change is that we will utilize Mandy (one of Abbey’s sisters) as a full-time receptionist. Mandy will answer our business line (843-846-2500) and will direct calls and requests to the appropriate person or people. This will free up Abbey and me to be more hands-on with our jobs so that they run more efficiently. Mandy will take care of tasks such as scheduling a technician for repairs, scheduling our workers for small projects, and communicating with customers.

Mandy has already taken over most of the house-checking activities and she will continue to do that. She will now also be the first point of contact for customers and the quickest way to get in touch with us. Abbey and I are often busy in meetings and are unable to respond quickly to calls and messages. Mandy will alleviate this problem for us. Our goal is to be able to more quickly respond to service requests while also decreasing the completion time of our larger projects.

We are excited about this change and are very optimistic that this will allow us to perform better in all areas of our work. As was talked about last month, we want to continually do better than we ever have before. Our ultimate goal is to have 100% satisfied customers and we will continue to work hard towards that end.

Best Regards, 


What you see should not be all you get

When you look at a new home, addition or remodel, people tend to immediately judge the quality of the job by how it looks. That seems to make sense, does it not?

Framing is critical, but not seen in the finished project.

The fit and finish of a project might give you an idea about the quality of the job, but there are several things to keep in mind.

One is that a builder might decide to cut corners on your project. Obviously, he won’t want to do it where it can be detected. You would quickly notice ill fitting interior trim or sloppy tile in your shower, but how would you know if your builder cut corners with hurricane tie down straps – until we have a hurricane and then it is a little too late. Granted, your home is inspected by government officials during the construction, but that does not guarantee all was done well.

Keep in mind, too, that builders use different subs for different parts of the job. The person who does the interior trim might be excellent, but the person who does the framing might be near the other end of the spectrum. Judging the entire project’s quality by what you can see might be comforting, but inaccurate.

Another place a builder can cut corners is a small exterior trim detail not often seen called flashing. Flashing refers to thin pieces of material (typically metal or a wide flexible adhesive backed tape) that prevents water from entering structures at joints or penetrations.

Pipes that go through a roof are flashed usually with a “boot” made of metal or rubber or a combination of each. The rubber can (and will) fail in our hot South Carolina sunshine so it needs to be checked periodically.

Chimneys typically have metal (often aluminum) flashing to prevent water from entering the structure where the chimney and roof join.

Flashing around doors or windows is typically metal and, if it was installed properly, will last the life of the building. There are a number of ways to install the flashing improperly, unfortunately.

Correctly installed window (and door) flashing prevents water from entering the structure.

Note the drawing. If the siding touches the flashing over a window or if the flashing is not bent correctly, water can soak into the siding or back into the house. If the siding is pieced, water can go into the joint if the overlap is small. If the flashing does not go up the wall behind the siding sufficiently, water can again penetrate.

Usually in our area, house wrap and flashing tape will be done correctly because it is inspected and it seems to be one thing the inspectors check carefully. Metal flashing over the windows, doors and other penetrations is another story.

Some flashing can be seen, but unlike trim that is meant to be seen, flashing is often very subtle and sometimes disguised.

Even decks that are attached to a house need to be flashed to prevent water (rain) from getting between the house and deck attachments.

Note that if the flashing fails (due to incorrect installation or defective materials), often, the failure will go undetected for years until serious water damage begins to show. By that time, it is a serious problem. Poor flashing can result in rotted structural members, rotted trim materials, mold or mildew or other issues.

So how do you insure your home or addition is flashed properly? You could study flashing techniques and procedures and visit your construction project daily or you could engage a competent, careful contractor – a contractor who will not disappear after he receives his final payment, a contractor who cares about your home’s quality and his reputation and a contractor who understands details about flashing. You need a contractor who will be on your project site daily, not occasionally. (Typically windows are flashed and then covered with siding by the same trim crew so the time frame for checking window flashing may be rather short.)

You also need a builder who will use the proper flashing. There are a number of generic flashings available at building supply houses that work – sort of. Your builder should have custom flashing fabricated specifically for your project. Often a project will require three or four (or more) different types of flashing. Each house is different and there is no “one size fits all” flashing. In some cases preformed flashing will work. In most cases it is less expensive and a chance for a builder to cut corners just a bit.

We at Willis Sinclair take pride in our work. We care about the quality of the homes we build and remodel. We understand the function of flashing and will make sure it is done properly so your home will last for generations.

If you want to make sure your new home, remodel or addition is done properly, call us. We can help.

Willis Sinclair Homes

The Lowcountry’s Professional Builder!

Call Us

Office: 843 846 2500

Willis: 843 599 9056

Abbey: 843 599 2302



March 2020

Willis Sinclair Homes

The home builder that strives to exceed your (not our) expectations.”

Abbey has a new (to us) company truck. It is a 2010 F-150. Watch for her. Our shop is in the background.

24 Gabriel Road

Lodge, South Carolina 29082




843 846 2500

March 2020

Number 73

From the desk

of Bill …

This month, I deviated from our normal subject matter (home building) and wrote about a concept that I find very interesting: types of games. Normally, games would not interest me that much. I don’t follow sports or racing or other team games much. In high school (in the early 60s), I was the school photographer, so I followed the football and basketball teams around and shot photos of them, but once I got to college (and did not know any of the players personally), I lost interest.

I recently read a book (The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek) that got me thinking about games again. I have written about them in this month’s newsletter.

We are making some changes here at Willis Sinclair. I am sort of retired from active duty. I still write the newsletter, help with pricing and do various other support activities.

Mandy is now working on Brays two or three days a week doing house checks, various other tasks and running errands.

Jessy is continuing to help Abbey with the book work.

Abbey and Willis are on Brays everyday supervising projects, ordering materials and handling customer interfaces along with many other tasks.

Henry and Jerry (two of Willis’ boys and my grandsons) are starting to work occasionally on jobs. Since they are still in home school, they don’t have too much time to work, yet.

We now have a couple of new (to us) company trucks. Willis has a silver 2010 F-150 and Abbey has a red 2010 F-150. As you may notice, our “new” company trucks aren’t all that “new.” We try to keep our overhead low so we are able to give our clients superior quality at a reasonable cost.

For the past ten years or so, we have used my company cell phone for the official office number. Soon, I’ll be getting a new number and Mandy will serve as our main contact at the familiar 843-846-2500 number. When you call that number, you’ll soon get Mandy instead of me. Won’t that be a nice surprise?

We are also putting some internal policies in place to improve our service and response times for our clients. We are working to build a company where my grands and great-grands (when they arrive) can work and continue serving our clients.

When I graduated from high school and again from college, I watched my former colleagues quit trying to learn and improve. They seemed to put a lock on their text books and threw away the key. It was sort of like the old ditty:

No more pencils,

No more books,

No more teacher’s dirty looks.

The problem with that mindset is, of course, it is impossible to just sit still. You are either moving forward and growing or falling behind. When I graduated, I made up my mind to continually learn and try to improve. I am thankful that Willis and my girls also have that mindset. We keep up with new materials and processes. We adapt the proven, useful ones and ignore the others.

Although I don’t go to classes at the moment, I do take continuing education online courses (for maintaining my [Florida] Professional Engineering License). I also read books and other publications to stay on top of things. So should you.

Games …

Most of us like to watch games – maybe races, sports or even politics. For the most part games like these are well defined.

There are fixed rules and a way to determine a winner and loser. Sometimes, the rules change, but there is common agreement when they do. For example, when I was in high school, there was no 3 point free throw in basketball and touching the rim was a foul. Today, those rules have changed for the game of basketball.

Most sports have a way to determine a winner and loser (occasionally a sport will allow a tie): the highest score, the fastest time, the most weight lifted and so forth.

Football is a finite game. It has fixed rules to play, fixed rules to win and two teams.

A couple of authors, Simon Sinek and James Carse, refer to this sort of game as a finite game. In finite games, two teams play against each other. One wins and one loses (usually). They play by the rules.

Now, here is where games get interesting: if there are finite games, it follows there must be infinite games. Sinek and Carse conclude there are indeed infinite games. But what exactly is an infinite game?

Infinite games have no (or few) rules, no winner and no loser. Players come and go as time progresses. As it turns out, our lives are filled with infinite games.

The Cold War is an example of an infinite game. Basically, it had two players: the United States and the Soviet Union. There were few rules (except maybe “don’t drop nuclear bombs or fight each other directly, but use proxies like Korea or Vietnam). We had spies; they had spies. We fought proxy wars to test weapons. This went on until the Soviet Union collapsed and dropped out of the infinite game. We did not defeat them; they quit.

Business competitors should play infinite games. Competitors come and go, but one business does not “win” by defeating all of the competitors because there will always be more competitors.

In life what happens when a person or entity tries to use a finite game mindset in an infinite game? This is where it gets very interesting.

The Vietnam War is an example of a “finite-infinite” game. We were in it with a finite mindset: winning (even though no one seemed to be able to define what “win” meant). The Soviets were in it to drag things out. First we were fighting North Vietnam and the Viet Cong, then in Cambodia, then in Laos and so forth. We risked multi-million-dollar fighter jets and airmen to destroy a bamboo bridge that could be rebuilt over night. We could not bomb their cities or harbors because we might damage some of our “allies’” ships selling arms to North Vietnam. The rules seemed to keep changing (as they do in an infinite game) until the United States simply gave up and quit the game. We were not defeated. We quit.

Often you see finite players in business. Businesses that compete with each other (trying to under cut or bad mouth each other or such) and other businesses that are simply trying to improve and offer better value. Finite type businesses will not survive.

Only two companies – AT&T and GE – were on Forbes’ top 50 companies in 1917 and on the list in 2017. One (AT&T) has been broken up; the other (GE) is not doing well. No others on the list survived the 100 years.

You can recognize a company with a finite mindset in the business world. One of the most telling characteristics is they attack their competitors thinking they are playing a finite game with a winner and loser. They think if they can just “defeat” a competitor, they will win. The thing is if a company “defeats” a competitor, there will always be more competitors. It is a never ending game that cannot be “won.”

Whenever you are around a builder (or other company) that spends time trashing the competition, you can be sure that unless they change their mindset, their future is in serious doubt just as 48 of the top 50 companies in 1917.

We, at Willis Sinclair, are playing an infinite game in this world of infinite games. Frankly, I don’t even know who the other builders in the area are and it does not really matter to me. Some of the names might be familiar, but I don’t know much about them. There is only one competitor we really care about: us – yesterday. We are not competing against others, but against ourselves: striving to constantly improve and better serve our clients. It is our goal to be an excellent builder and to win your unreserved recommendation. Willis Sinclair is striving to improve so we can better serve you.

The only time we are really interested in what a competitor is doing is if they are doing something very well (and worth adopting). We don’t care where ideas for our improvements originate. If they are good, we will incorporate them. We simply want to continually get better and better.

For example, when we price a home, our price depends on our best estimates, not who else is bidding or what we think it will take to win the job (finite game mindsets). The cost is the cost. We won’t cut corners or play the change order game to win a job. We know we cannot get all of the work and that is not our goal. Our goal is to be in the infinite game of building for the long haul by being absolutely the best builder in the area. We are not perfect, but we are doing our best to move in that direction.

We appreciate very much any comments and criticism of our services. The way we get better is to improve our weak areas. Sometimes, we don’t see them because they are blind spots for us.

The reason Japanese manufacturers went from being a joke when I was a boy to being some of the best producers in the world was the Kaizen method: continuous small improvements over yesterday. That is what we are doing: working hard to continually improve our services and earn your trust and confidence.

If you need some work done, a home remodeled or built, call us. We will always work to exceed your expectations!

Willis Sinclair Homes

The Lowcountry’s Professional Builder!

Call Us

Willis: 843 599 9056

Abbey: 843 599 2302

Bill: 843 846 2500



February 2020

Willis Sinclair Homes

The Lowcountry’s Premier Custom Home Builder”

Bill & Kandy had a fun time posing for their portrait at Biltmore last December!

24 Gabriel Road

Lodge, South Carolina 29082



843 846 2500

February 2020

Number 72

From the desk

of Abbey …

Hello everyone!

Before we know it pollen will be here and you will be scheduling a house washing and window cleaning. Remember to call sooner rather than later because in the Spring and Autumn those washing companies book up rather quickly!

After your home is washed you should walk around and make sure everything held up okay and is in good shape for the Summer months, when everything takes a beating. Make sure your paint is in good shape, that there are no areas where caulk may need to be replaced. Often washing a home will expose some areas of concern that should be dealt with right away to prevent further damage. It is a good idea to ask your power washing company to inform you of any problems they see.

You will want to make sure there were no puddles around any windows and doors inside. If there were water leaks it is a potential sign there may be some air leaks that could lead to humidity issues in the summer months.

Keep in mind that the summer is a nice time to get smaller projects off your list. Although the scheduling of a project depends on the availability of your contractor, keep in mind that sometimes scheduling the projects to be done during a time when you are away is so that any inconveniences you may experience – be it early arrival times, delayed arrivals, loud tools, dust, dumpster in your driveway, parking inconvenience, etc. – all of those ‘joys’ are missed and you only return to find your project completed!

It is important to be alert and always on the lookout for ways to keep your home up to date so that when and if you decide to sell you don’t have a lot of work to do to get it ready. Some things to think about that can be fun and not overly involved are below:

  • update existing cabinets with new hardware

  • upgrade your countertops and replace old plumbing fixtures

  • revamp your landscaping or plant a tree

  • paint your windows a different color

  • have a room, or a piece of furniture painted a lighter/brighter color

  • paint your pantry or closet a color that brings you joy every time you open the door

  • have your garage, closet, kitchen, pantry, etc. organized so things are easy to find

  • replace carpet or put down new flooring

The options really are endless! And if you need any ideas or suggestions we are here to help! Happy day to you all!


Insulation is a material that slows the flow of energy. Most commonly, the energy that concerns homeowners is heat and sound.

Thermal Insulation

If the temperature outside is high and you want your home comfortable, you want to slow the heat flow from outside of your home to inside. The more you can slow the heat flow, the less your air conditioner has to work (and the lower your power bill).

Fiberglass insulation can be a good choice in the walls if it is installed properly.

Thermal insulation is rated with an “R” rating. The higher the number, the higher the resistance to heat flow (the better the insulation). There are basically two types of insulation available from which to choose: foam and fiberglass.


Fiberglass insulation is relatively inexpensive and provides good insulation if (big IF) it is installed properly. Often exterior walls have obstacles such as electrical outlets, wires or pipes in them. If the insulation is smashed behind the obstacles, its R rating will be decreased. The insulation has to fit and it also needs to be attached to the studs properly so it does not sag over time. With care, fiberglass insulation works well in vertical exterior walls.

Fiberglass and foam insulation resist heat flow because they trap tiny air pockets. It the material is smashed, air pockets are minimized and the R rating drops dramatically. The air pockets are what makes fiberglass (which is fibers of glass – hence the name) a good insulator, yet glass itself is a poor insulator.


Insulating ceilings (with any sort of insulation) is probably not a good idea. A much better idea is to foam between the rafters and thus include your attic in (sort of) conditioned space. If you have any HVAC equipment it will be much more efficient because with insulation in the rafters, attics will be only a few degrees warmer than your home. If the insulation is between the ceiling joists, the attic will get very hot during the summer.

Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation is sprayed into the stud/rafter bays and then expands to fill the bay. It fills any areas behind wires or pipes. It also seals the wall from any air infiltration that may happen around openings (outdoor) electrical outlets or hose bibs.

Spray in foam insulation fills any voids and provides an excellent thermal barrier.

Spray foam insulates the same way as fiberglass: by trapping very small pockets of air. There are two types of spray foam insulation: open cell and closed cell. Open cell insulation is a bit less expensive than closed cell and offers less insulation per inch of thickness. Open cell has the small cells of air basically interconnected, so it is easier to cut or probe. Closed cell has individual cells that are not interconnected, thus closed. It has a much harder surface. It is also impervious to water or moisture, so it is often used in crawlspaces or under floors.

Sound isolation can be provided by fiberglass insulation or by “blue jean” insulation.

Open cell spray in foam insulation costs about three times as much as fiberglass, but it will result in energy cost savings year after year. Since insulation costs are relatively low (compared to other home building expenses), the cost impact of using spray in foam does not affect the bottom line that much.

In Memory ….

Back in 2006, we started our first house on Brays Island (as Ponds & Sons). It was a large house that took a over a year to complete. The homeowner was a businessman who worked in upper management at Exxon. Norm Schuld was a kind, but firm client. We got to know him and later Dana, his wife. Over the years, we have had enjoyable visits in their homes in North Carolina and on Brays.

On January 5, Norm passed from this world.

Thank you God for Norm. We miss him. God bless you, Dana. We love you.

Sound Insulation

Sound insulation is another type of insulation that is often used to minimize sounds between rooms. Typically, it is used to isolate bathrooms and bedrooms. Fiberglass can be used, but “blue jean” materials seem to work better (and cost more). The “blue jean” insulation is made of fabric (typically blue jeans, hence the name) that is processed to make fire proof bats.

If you are thinking about building a home or even an addition and want to bounce some ideas off us, don’t hesitate. We will be glad to sit down with you and answer any questions or discuss the trade offs you will be facing when you build or remodel.

Call us. We can help. No cost or obligation, of course.

Willis Sinclair Homes

The Lowcountry’s Professional Builder!

Call Us

Willis: 843 599 9056

Abbey: 843 599 2302

Bill: 843 846 2500



January 2020

Willis Sinclair Homes

The Lowcountry’s Premier Custom Home Builder”

This five foot long gingerbread house is on display at Biltmore, the largest single family residence in America. It seems it would be more fun to demo (eat) the gingerbread house than build it.

24 Gabriel Road

Lodge, South Carolina 29082



843 599 9056

January 2020

Number 71

From the desk

of Willis…

Happy New Year! We hope that everyone enjoyed time with their families over the past few weeks and made it safely through the holidays!

The year 2019 was another good year for us and we are looking forward to good things in the year 2020. Some of you may not know it but we still perform all of our work right on Brays Island. With the exception of one home we built on the river right outside of Brays Island we have been working exclusively on Brays since 2007. That’s 13 years now that we have enjoyed working in this beautiful place! We don’t exclude the possibility that we will expand outside of Brays in the future, but for now we are committed to providing the best home building and home stewardship services that we can, right where we are.

Working on Brays has its unique challenges as well as it’s many benefits. We have learned a lot by working for some of the most successful people, literally, from around the world. Our customers have all helped us in one way or another to build and improve our business and services. Having come from such a wide variety of backgrounds, each of our customers has something different to offer in the way of opinions, preferences and past experiences. Past experiences usually drive future expectations, so we have learned to do different things in different ways that we would not have otherwise if we were working for a less varied demographic.

The various backgrounds of our customers is also one of the challenges of working on Brays. Often we will be discussing with a customer how something “should be done” and we find that their preference varies greatly from those of other customers. What one person would see as the “right” way to do something might be completely unacceptable to another. We welcome this diversity though and enjoy stepping up to the challenge of meeting all of these varying needs. We listen, seek to understand and then implement our customer’s ideas in the best way that we can. This keeps us flexible and in the process we usually learn something new!

We consider the various challenges we face in work to actually be one of our greatest benefits. We are continually challenged to grow our skills and improve our services. This leads to our better ability to serve an ever-increasing number of customers. We are so very thankful for all of our many customers and look forward to helping all of you with any of your needs in this new year. Should you ever need help with anything at all, please feel free to call on us. Also, if you have suggestions for improvements to our services or business, we are all ears!

Best Regards, 


Flooring Materials


Wood is the most common material we use in homes we build. There are so many different choices with wood floors that we seldom lay the same type of floor twice.

Species & Type

Pine and oak are the most common species we use, but we have also used black walnut, hickory, Brazilian cherry, bamboo and even tigerwood among others. A hardwood mix of reclaimed ash, beech, chestnut and oak is also a popular option. Heart pine is very common here in the Lowcountry, but is getting more and more difficult to obtain. Black Walnut is dark wood that makes a beautiful, but relatively soft, floor. Walnut is the accent wood used in the octagonal pattern in the photo in the next column.

This entrance foyer (and the entire house) has mixed hardwood flooring made of reclaimed lumber.

In addition to species the age of the wood (new or reclaimed) is also an option. Do you want your floors to look rustic or perfect? Some people love the character of wood that is hundreds of years old while others prefer the cleaner look of new wood.


The pattern on this floor was created by using different species of wood.

The size of the boards is the next option that needs to be chosen for floors. Wider is more expensive (per square foot) than narrow boards just as longer boards are more expensive than shorter ones. Random lengths and widths are easier to supply, thus less expensive.


After deciding on a species, age and size, you need to consider the different finishes available. Wood floors can be stained or left clear. They can be finished with a shiny, satin or even matte finish. They can be oiled or coated with polyurethane or varnish of some sort.

Pre-finished flooring is also available in many species, dimensions and prices. This is something to ponder particularly if you are remodeling. It prevents having to sand the flooring which will leave dust in your home. Flooring sanders have good vacuums they use when they are sanding floors, but none of them are good enough to completely contain the dust.

This beautiful floor is narrow oak with a number of throw rugs on it.

Wood floors are fairly durable, but can be scratched by claws on pet’s feet or just normal foot traffic. Different finishes have pros and cons as it relates to scratching so be sure to do your homework before deciding on a finish.


Here the flooring sub was making samples of different stains so the home owner could choose.

Tile is another popular flooring type, and is typically used in areas where floors may get wet or see a lot of traffic. Tile is usually scratch resistant and water will not harm it like it does wood flooring. Tile prices vary widely depending on the material chosen.

One of the newer trends is tile that looks like wood planks. They are much more durable than wood, but if you drop a plate on a tile floor, you will need a dust pan to pick up the pieces.


Carpet is sometimes selected for flooring in bedrooms. It provides a warm, soft floor for bare feet. Hard floors (wood, tile and others) tend to be cold and some find them uncomfortable to walk on without shoes.

Carpet tends to get wear marks in it where there is a heavy traffic flow. It also collects dust and dirt. When an old carpet is removed, there is typically a very significant amount of dirt under it that has filtered through the carpet.


Stone is used where a natural material is desired that is more durable than wood. It is available in many shapes, sizes and materials. It is used much in the same way as tile but it often requires more care and maintenance than tile.


Brick floors are usually used as an accent floor inside of a house. They are mostly used in damp areas such as laundry rooms or mud rooms. They are also used as flooring for entrance foyers. Many different colors, sizes, shapes and surfaces of brick are available along with dozens of colors of mortar.


This is a floor electrical outlet in a stained concrete floor.

Stained concrete is another type of flooring we have used. It looks nice in casual areas. One home we built has a stained concrete floor in an area that was modeled (roughly) after an African hunting camp building.

There are many things to consider when thinking about flooring. The look is important as is the durability and the cost.

If you need help deciding or just want to bounce some ideas around, call us: we can help. We will be happy to share our home building experiences with you. No cost or obligation, of course.

Willis Sinclair Homes

A builder striving for excellence!

Call Us

Willis: 843 599 9056

Abbey: 843 599 2302

Bill: 843 846 2500



December 2019

Willis Sinclair Homes

The Lowcountry’s Premier Custom Home Builder”

The birthday boy (Bill) was 73 in November.

24 Gabriel Road

Lodge, South Carolina 29082



From all of us,

A very politically incorrect

Merry Christmas


Happy New Year!

843 846 2500

December 2019

Number 70

From the desk

of Bill …

I have been reading Start with Why by Simon Sinek. In it, he discusses an interesting concept he labels the Golden Circle.

This can be applied to individuals as well as companies.

The “What” is easy to determine for everyone. Everyone and every company knows what they do. We, at Willis Sinclair, build, remodel, repair homes and do whatever we can to help homeowners. While there are many contractors who do some of the things we do, there are few that do everything we do. That is not what really sets us apart, however.

Sinek’s Golden Circle

The “How” we do it is also important. We provide exceptional workmanship and service by carefully monitoring our subs and employees. We treat all people with genuine care and concern. We pay quickly and do not take advantage of anyone. We endeavor to not just meet but always exceed our customer’s expectations. We are constantly looking for more ways to better serve our customers. Our “How” is always changing and improving but it would truly be meaningless without a “why”.

The “Why” is the part many often do not consider in a company (or in themselves). “Making a profit” is not a “Why” although it is desirable. “Making a profit” is a “What”.

The “Why” is basically your (or your company’s) motive for the “What” you do. It is determined or set by the visionary or founder in the company – Willis in our case. This is what really sets us apart from other builders. Willis’ “Why” is twofold. First, he wants to build a business that supports his immediate family as well as the families of as many others as possible. Second, he wants to provide a needed and valuable service to others.

Willis is building a company for his children and (future) grandchildren. As a builder, he knows any company has to have a good foundation (a “Why”) in order to survive and thrive. If the “Why” is not there, then the company will soon lose it’s way and may not survive. Without a good “Why”, why would anyone want to work and stay there in the long run?

Sinek contrasts Samuel Pierpoint Langley and the Wright Brothers. Around 1900, a number of people were trying to develop a flying machine. Langley, secretary of the Smithsonian, had been an assistant in the Harvard College Observatory and a professor of mathematics at the U. S. Naval Academy. He had a lot of funding (over $50,000), some of the brightest minds (including Andrew Carnegie and Alexander Graham Bell), college trained engineers, great PR (the New York Times literally followed him around) helping him. Langley had a goal (“What’), but not a clear sense of “Why”. He craved attention and fame.

The Wrights had only money from their bicycle shop, no high level connections, no one on their team with a college education, but they had a “Why”: They imagined the benefits to everyone if they could build a flying machine. They were concerned about serving others through their work, not about their fame.

When Langley heard the Wrights had beat him, he quit – further proof he had no “Why”.

We have a “Why” and that makes us different from many other builders. Those without a clear “Why” will come and go. We will be here. Call us – let us serve your needs.

Roofing Materials

Roofing is one of the most important components of a home. No matter how strong the foundation or sturdy the framing, if the roof leaks, major problems will follow.


A good roof begins with strong roof sheathing. Building code typically requires rafter spacing of not more than 24”. We space our rafters 16” on center – 50% more rafters than required. It is true with wider spacing, rafters have to be larger, but it is also true the roof sheathing (covering material over the rafters – typically OSB or plywood) has a tendency to sag between rafters as the spacing increases.

Roof sheathing is required to be at least ½” OSB. We use ⅝ plywood which is 25% thicker than required. We also use plywood, not OSB. Plywood is more expensive, but it hold roofing fasterners better. Sometimes, when a nail is driven into OSB (to attach shingles, for example), the back of the OSB will chip and the nail will not hold well.


Once the roof has sheathing (typically OSB or plywood) on it, it is covered with a water resistant or water proof material. 15 pound felt (tar paper) is the minimum required. It weighs 15 pounds per 100 square feet. An upgrade is 30 pound felt which is obviously twice the thickness of 15 pound felt.

Both weights of tar paper are water resistant, not water proof, so it is important to cover the sheathing with tar paper and then the final roofing material as quickly as possible.

Ice and Water” shield is a further upgrade. It is really rolled roofing and is waterproof. It can stand up to weather for weeks. “Ice and Water” shield is heavy – maybe three times the thickness of 30 pound felt. It also has an adhesive (alternately known as, “Peel and Stick”). The adhesive means there are far fewer nail holes in the underlayment. “Ice and Water” can be either smooth (for use under metal roofing) or with granules (for under shingles).

We use “Ice and Water” underlayment because it is the best choice and one we would use on our personal homes.

Roofing Materials

Once the underlayment is down, the next step is covering it with the final roofing material. There are several common choices here as well as some not so common choices.

Architectural shingles are probably the most cost effective choice. They typically last 20-25 years here in the southern sun. Shingles are available in a number of colors.

This home we built has architectural shingles on the roof.

Metal roofs are the other common choice of roofing material. Metal roofs are usually steel, aluminum, or copper and sometimes zinc. Copper is probably the best (but most expensive) choice for metal roofs. There are some copper roofs that are well over 100 years old.

Aluminum roofs last a long time and are immune to salt spray that sometimes comes from salt marshes. Aluminum has the disadvantage of expanding and contracting more than steel as the outside temperature and sun load changes. Aluminum roofing is available in many colors including natural.

This guest house we built has standing seam steel roofing.

Steel roofing is probably the most common metal roofing material. There are three common gauges (thicknesses) used: 29 gauge, 26 gauge and 24 gauge. The smaller the number, the thicker the steel. 24 gauge is about 60% thicker than 29 gauge (0.0276” vs 0.0172”). In the hot sun, the thicker steel keeps its shape better than the ripple and rip-prone 29 gauge. We use only 24 or 26 gauge steel when we install steel roofs.

Steel roofing also comes in many shapes. Standing seam is the most popular steel roofing material we use. Fasteners to hold standing seam roofing are mounted below the steel, so leaks around mounting screws are very unlikely. The standing seam panels are typically custom rolled on site, so the widths can be adjusted to your preference (within reason).

Corrugated steel (or aluminum) is also available. This is the roofing that looks like the inner piece of corrugated cardboard. Fasteners on it go through the roofing, so if (when) the gaskets on the screws fail or if the roofing moves (from thermal expansion) enough, leaks may develop.

The roof on this home we built has two different materials: architectural shingles and copper standing seam roofing.

There are other, less popular roofing materials such as tile or slate, but they are much more expensive than steel or shingles. Real slate and tile is very heavy, so in addition to the material cost, roofs must be built stronger to support the added weight.

Simulated (plastic) slate looks good initially (from a distance), but some brands do not hold up well in the sun. A high-quality simulated slate can lost 50 years but that longevity will be reflected in the price.

Questions? Call us. We can help.

Willis Sinclair Homes

The Lowcountry’s Builder with a “Why”!

Call Us

Willis: 843 599 9056

Abbey: 843 599 2302

Bill: 843 846 2500



November 2019

Willis Sinclair Homes

The Lowcountry’s Premier Custom Home Builder”

Willis & Debby are expecting their 8th child (Bill & Kandy’s 35 grandchild) in March!

24 Gabriel Road

Lodge, South Carolina 29082



May you have a very

Happy Thanksgiving!

843 599 9056

November 2019

Number 69

From the desk

of Abbey …

If you own property on Brays Island you must love the South – I know I do! One of the things you have to be aware of in this paradise is our almost, year-round humidity! This past summer we encountered several problems caused by high humidity that in turn led to an environment perfect for mold/mildew. Around fireplaces, on high or vaulted ceilings and around bathroom exhaust vents was where most of the problems showed up. Some of the causes were obvious and quick to fix while others were more of a challenge and will still require close monitoring to make sure we have fixed the real issue.

Here are a couple of things that you might find helpful in preventing this problem next summer!

  • Periodically run your exhaust fans to help remove any humidity that will inevitably rise to the highest point in the room.

  • Check your exhaust vent flappers outside to make sure they have not lost any flappers. The sun can break down the plastic quickly here so they may need to be replaced as often as every couple of years.

  • Depending on where your exhaust ducts are – under your house or through your attic – there is a possibility that they may have become disconnected or torn which would then allow the attic or crawl space air to enter the duct work.

  • I recommend keeping your thermostats set between 75-78 degrees, depending on the age and build of your house. For instance, newer, better insulated homes will hold a temperature of 78 degrees for longer periods of time so it would be better to choose 75 degrees to ensure the air handler will run often enough to remove any humidity. Older homes are not as well sealed and the air handlers will run frequently enough at 78 degrees to remove moisture.

  • Leave fans in high ceilings running to keep air circulating so that it can all be cooled and conditioned.

These few tips might not cure a serious problem but hopefully they can prevent minor issues for you!

Thanksgiving is coming right up and it is my favorite holiday! I hope we will all be surrounded by those we love and delicious food! My mom recently shared a quote that I thought was perfect for this time of year.

Let our lives be full of both





A kitchen is often the most expensive room in a home and it is often the setting for conversations. For those reasons, you want to get your kitchen right.

Obviously, you need appliances, but you also need cabinets. With appliances your choices are rather limited: range, microwave, refrigerator, dishwasher, maybe disposal, maybe freezer and maybe hot water dispenser. That is a number of things to choose, but compared to the other key element, cabinets, it is simple.

Pull out spice racks are available.

The choices for cabinets is almost endless. There are three basic types of cabinets by size. Base cabinets sit on the floor. They are typically 36” tall (to the top of the counter top) and 24” deep. The lengths typically start at 12” and increase in 3” increments.

Types of base cabinets include cabinets with doors, doors with a drawer at the top, drawer banks and even lazy Susan corner cabinets. You can have cabinets with pull out shelves to make reaching items easier. Pull out trash can holders are also available. If you want a work area, you can even get a cabinet with a knee hole in it. Pretty much, if you can imagine it, you can get a cabinet. Decorative end panels (they look like doors) are available.

Wall cabinets mount (obviously) on the wall above the base cabinet. Typically, they are 12” deep and mounted about 18” above the counter top. Widths again start about 12” and increase by 3” increments. The height of wall cabinets varies. You may want the wall cabinets to reach the ceiling or put two rows – one over the other – of wall cabinets that reach the ceiling. You may want a soffit (built down area at the ceiling roughly the size of the wall cabinet) in your kitchen. The wall cabinets can be trimmed with crown molding and end panels

Sometimes, you may want a deeper and shorter wall cabinet, for example over a refrigerator. Those are available also.

Pantry cabinets are tall cabinets that are typically 24” deep. They usually have drawers and shelves rather than just drawers.

Once you pretty much settle on the type of cabinets you want, then the choices explode. What color do you want? What molding shape? What style of door and drawer? Do you want accents or not? What style hardware do you want? You can even get stainless steel cabinets (usually for outdoor kitchens).

Probably, it would be good to get a good (GOOD) cabinet designer involved. It is definitely a bad idea to have a not-so-good designer. Cabinets are expensive and make the kitchen. A poor design is also expensive and will disappoint you. Trust me on this. A good designer will create an amazing kitchen for you.

Counter tops

Once the cabinets are settled, you will need to also consider what sort of tops you want on them. Again, there are many choices here in materials, colors, textures, edges and splashes.

Typically, a counter top is about 1¼” thick. You can have a back splash (a short – typically 4” – piece of counter top material) perpendicular to the top where the top touches a wall. The splash is sealed to the top, so spills don’t touch the wall.

You can also have splashes made of tile or other materials. We have installed splashes made of stainless steel, wood, brick and tile behind ranges. One splash even has an inset fossil of an ancient fish.

Some counter tops are being designed with aprons (basically a splash in the front going down over the cabinet for several inches).

As far as materials go, solid surfaces (Corian is the trade name of a popular solid surface) are popular for utility rooms, laundry rooms and even some kitchens. Solid surface materials are available in many different patterns, colors and even shapes. One advantage of solid surfaces is they are a bit forgiving if you drop a glass on them.

A block of granite at the quarry is about 5′ tall.

Granite counter tops are very popular. It is a natural stone that typically comes from Brazil. It is cut in huge blocks usually with explosives. Then it is sawn into slabs – a long process that takes about an hour per foot. Natural stones include marble and others.

American granite is relatively homogeneous so it is not often used for counter tops where patterns are usually selected.

This beautiful sink cutout follows the sink contour.

In addition to solid surfaces and natural stone, there are many other types from which to choose: composites (such as Caesarstone or Cambria), poured concrete, epoxy with shell or glass embedded (made a few miles from us in Yemmasse, SC), wood butcher block or other materials. What is your favorite material?

If you need help deciding on new cabinets and/or counter tops, call us. We can help. No obligation or charge, naturally.

Willis Sinclair Homes

The Lowcountry’s Professional Builder!

Call Us

Willis: 843 599 9056

Abbey: 843 599 2302

Bill: 843 846 2500



October 2019

Willis Sinclair Homes

The Lowcountry’s Premier Custom Home Builder”

Bill & Ingrid Sophia Burdick (Ingrid is 8 days old in photo. Bill is a lot older.) She is Bill & Kandy’s 34th grandchild and their son and his wife’s (Bill & Liz) 11th child. She was born on September 5, 1 day before Bill & Kandy’s 51st anniversary,

24 Gabriel Road

Lodge, South Carolina 29082



843 846 2500

October 2019

Number 68

From the desk

of Bill …

In September, Kandy and I made a trip to our son’s home near Springfield, Missouri. He and his wife had just had their 11th child (our 34th grandchild).

We visited with them on their 32 acre farm in the Ozarks for a couple of days and then spent a couple of days in Springfield as an anniversary trip. (We have tried to get in a trip around our anniversary every year just to reconnect and relax. Sometimes it is a couple of days and sometimes, a couple of weeks.)

When I was trying to figure out where to stay in Springfield, I ran across a place named the “Mansion at Elfindale.” It was a bed and (no) breakfast (they have breakfast only on Saturday and Sunday). How could I pass on staying at any “mansion”? I was really sold when I realized the prices were very reasonable.

The place was amazing. It was built in 1888. The limestone exterior was built of stone quarried on the mansion’s (then) 100 acres. The owner, John O’Day, brought 50 stonemasons over from Germany to quarry the limestone and build the home. The quarry is now a lake on the property.

Over the years, most of the property was sold and a Catholic school was built next to it. When the school closed, it was sold to several Iranians where it was a safe house for the Shah of Iran (remember him?) Then a local church purchased it and now operates the mansion as a bed and breakfast.

Today, it is the largest bed and breakfast in Missouri. The house is simply huge. Most of the bedroom doors are pocket doors – huge pocket doors – about 5 feet wide and 8 feet tall. They are about 3 inches thick. The halls are probably 20 feet wide. It has three stories plus a tower room and a basement.

There are 14 rooms or suites in it. Each has its own bath. One has access to the tower room. One has a balcony. The room where we stayed had a custom (for the original owner) made 6 foot long claw foot tub. When the home was being converted to a bed and breakfast, Brad Pitt’s father wall papered one of the rooms. (He and his wife are members of the church that owns the Mansion today. Brad Pitt’s mother is very active at the local St. Jude’s children’s hospital.)

Homes that are well built will last. The Mansion is over 130 years old and still looks amazing. Over the years, it has had improvements and remodels, but the structure is sound.

After our two night stay in Springfield, we returned to our son’s home for another couple of days. We visited, worked on their vehicles and had a lot of fun.

It is good to visit family and it is good to be home. We are en route home as I am writing this.

Landscape and Hardscape

It may seem a bit strange for us to discuss hardscape and landscape tasks since we at Willis Sinclair usually don’t provide those services. They are necessary items for our clients, so it seems good to write a few words about them.

First, what is the difference between landscape and hardscape? Landscape has to do with plants – living items – in your yard. Hardscape refers (usually) to “hard” – not living – items such as walls, drives, benches, planters and walkways.

Some areas, such as where we work, require a certain amount of landscaping (trees and shrubs) to provide screening from public areas. The intent is to keep this area looking “natural” and not like a typical subdivision which it most certainly is not.

Some lots have a head start with landscaping just because of the existing trees and shrubs, others do not.

This home we just finished has several hardscape elements: brick walks, brick retaining walls, brick borders and a gravel drive. Little landscaping has been done yet.

Typically, a landscape architect will design the yard or can assist you in your selections. There are a number of things to consider when you are planning your trees and shrubs. You want plants that are native, but you also will probably want plants that deer do not like to eat. We have seen deer really cause problems with plants (by eating them down to the ground).

One solution to the deer “problem” is to fence your property with fencing that is difficult to see – perhaps electric fence. While an electric fence will shock deer, it does not seriously hurt them. A fence will also mean a gate of some sort to allow entry. The gate must be high enough to discourage the deer from jumping it.

You can have your landscaper spray a “deer away” solution on your plants, but it does not last too long – particularly during rainy weather. It also has a not-so-pleasant smell for humans.

This landscaping crew is building a rain garden. This is now required if too much of the lot is covered with buildings. A rain garden collects water and allows it to soak in rather than just run off the property.

When you are selecting plants and shrubs, be sure to keep in mind that they will (hopefully) grow and mature. A landscape architect should be able to help with this. When we visited Biltmore a few years ago, they discussed how Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., the landscape architect who designed the extensive gardens, was able to visualize how they would look when the plants were mature (dozens of years after it was built).

This garage has a tabby apron with a brick border. The drive is gravel. It also has a lot of autumn leaves on it.

You will need some ground cover to keep weeds from growing and to prevent erosion. There are a number of ways you can achieve this. Pine straw (actually pine needles that have fallen off trees) is popular. It works well, but must be refreshed from time to time.

Sod is also a good ground cover. Here the disadvantages are obvious: it must be watered (so irrigation is needed) and it must be cut. The result, however is a beautiful yard.

Other ground cover that can be used is stone or larger river rock, decks and other hardscape items.

When water impervious materials are used, sometimes a rain garden is required. This is simply a small recessed area to collect runoff water that allows it to soak into the earth (rather than just run off). There is a special government storm water group that determines the size of the rain garden that is required.

Hardscape includes your drive, garage apron, walks, planters, retaining walls, benches and such. Here in the Lowcountry, Tabby concrete is very popular. Tabby concrete is simply concrete with oyster shells embedded into the top of it. There are various size shell chips that can be used depending on the owner’s taste. While tabby looks very nice, it can be a challenge if you like to walk barefooted. It is also a bit more effort to clean than slate or a smooth concrete. Dirt can get in the small recesses of the shells and a broom does not work too well.

Walkways can be wood, gravel with a steel border (to keep the gravel from spreading), brick or tabby with our without a brick border.

Often when you think of brick walks, you think rectangular and square. They can have nice curves although, it requires more work to cut and lay the bricks in nice curves. This is a brick walk we built (before landscaping).

When you are designing your landscaping and hardscaping, the choices are almost endless. Call us, we can help. We can tell you what many others have done. We can help connect you with a landscape architect. You can bounce ideas off us. No cost or obligation, of course.

Willis Sinclair Homes

The Lowcountry’s Professional Builder!

Call Us

Willis: 843 599 9056

Abbey: 843 599 2302

Bill: 843 846 2500