10 Things You Wish You Had Thought About for Your New Home

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It Never Fails!

You are about to move into to your dream home. You have been anticipating this for months and months. You have gone to watch the progress of the construction of your new home almost daily. You have been planning your furniture placement, buying new items, and fantasizing about soaking in your new master bath corner whirlpool tub.

The day comes and you move into your new home. You want to share your joy and pride with family and friends so you have planned a cookout on the new deck of your new home next Saturday evening. Just as everyone starts to arrive you notice it… the evening sun is shining on your deck and what should be an enjoyable cookout turns into an evening in direct sun, and 80 degrees feels like 100 degrees and no one is enjoying themselves. Then it hits you. You wish you had thought about it or someone would have told you, decks that face the west or southwest in the evening just aren’t fun to be on for those late day cookouts.

Related:  THE CONSTRUCTION LABOR SHORTAGES DIRECT IMPACT ON HOME BUYERS

This is just one of many items that home buyers building on their own land learn after the fact. There are many things that home buyers wish someone would have told them when they were designing their new home or positioning it on their land. Here are ten things (in no particular order) you should think about before you start to build.

10 Things

#1 Ceiling fans – Ceiling fans are heavy, requiring extra support, and should have their own dedicated switch. This is easy to do and costs are minimal when designing your home. They cost a lot to install after you move in. Key locations include all bedrooms and main living areas. They save energy and should be used before you turn on the A/C.

#2 Universal DesignUniversal Design is a design concept for building a home that works for all ages, not just seniors. Elongated and elevated toilets, wider hallways and doorways, higher vanity heights, better lighting, etc. are great things to include to make a home easier to live in without an institutional look. Most of these items can be done at little or no cost when designing a home but can cost 10’s of thousands of dollars to add later. Visiting parents/grandparents, children, you after an accident… everyone can benefit from designing some of these items into a home now.

#3 Access for Furniture – Beds, hutches, dressers, etc. All of these items are large and don’t navigate small doorways or tight turns well. Think ahead about how you will get large pieces to the rooms they will reside. Insure there are no obstacles to them to be placed there. Otherwise, you risk damage to your home and the furniture itself!

# 4 Radiant Floor Heating – This is just one of those things that is nice to have and you don’t know how nice it is until you have it! You don’t have to use the full liquid-filled underfloor radiant systems that can be more expensive. Simple low voltage electric mats that install easily under tile can offer amazing comfort in kitchens and bathrooms. We typically judge how hot or cold we feel by how our feet feel. Keep your feet warm and you will be warm by installing radiant floor heating in strategic areas of your new home.

#5 Taller Ceiling Heights – A room’s size shouldn’t just be determined by square feet. It should also be measured in cubic feet. High ceilings just make rooms feel bigger. Making your first-floor ceiling 9 feet high can have a large impact on how you feel in your home. It is also impossible to change later. Explore different homes with different ceiling heights and styles and make your own judgment about its impact on you and then design your new home accordingly.

#6 Location of Heating and Cooling System Equipment – This is one afterthought that can impact you both inside and outside of your home. Make sure your large return for your HVAC system isn’t right where you watch TV. Otherwise, you will be turning up the volume every time the furnace or A/C kicks on. Outside compressors can be loud. Having them located right outside of a bedroom window or by a deck or patio can be irritating. Work with the HVAC subcontractor to plan placement of his equipment around your home design.

#7 Pocket Doors – Pocket doors are the wonder door for conserving indoor space. Some people just like the way they look, but they also serve a very functional purpose. They eliminate door swings which can use up precious space in bathrooms and impact furniture placement in bedrooms. Keep in mind that their use can interfere with electrical switch placement in rooms. Planned properly, they can solve many issues when designing functionality into your new home.

#8 House Position – Weather and other outdoor factors can impact both the inside and outside of your home. Think about the sun, wind, and rain when planning outdoor spaces, house position, and window and door placement for your home. If you live in a location with no porch and the wind predominantly comes from the west, then think about the wind-driven rain coming through your front door when it opens. Overhangs are a great way to minimize sun coming into your home. Do your research. Just don’t position your home towards the view or towards the street by default.

#9 Storage spaces – The old adage, “You can never have too much storage space” is very true. Many times a floor plan will offer the opportunity to have small closets or storage areas created with minimal cost and impact on your home plan. Cleaning item closets, pantries, and other closets can be handy to have in your home. In a two story home it takes time to run downstairs for cleaning supplies and a broom every time you need them upstairs. Include these spaces now to avoid frustration later.

#10 An Extra Stash of Cash – Building a custom home is an undertaking. For some, the bumps along way are minimal and the impact is barely noticed. For others, they hit obstacles with their land, wells are deeper than expected, unexpected fees, etc. can impact their budget. Avoid putting every last penny in your home up front. If possible, a small reserve can go a long way to minimize stress when you hit your bump in the road. Using modular construction can reduce, or even eliminate, the amount of change orders usually encountered in traditional custom home construction.

About the Author
Ken Semler

Ken Semler

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Hi, I am Ken Semler the founder of Express Modular. I am passionate about this industry, our company, and the products we provide. Modern modular construction provides the ability to deliver healthy, safe, and energy efficient living spaces. Express Modular is a licensed builder/contractor in almost every state. I believe that modular homes provide the best way to deliver virtually unlimited design flexibility at the greatest value.

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Comments 11

  1. Three mistakes this house builder made:
    1. It has cathedral ceilings and the lights are on the highest beams making changing bulbs a real problem requiring an extra tall ladder.
    2. closet in study goes under the stairs requiring crawling on all fours to reach – under stairs cabinets would have been better.
    3. owners decided not to put gutters on house perhaps because of tile roof and curb appeal – that means that getting into a car in front of the house you have to walk through a literal waterfall when it rains.

    1. Ken Semler Post
      Author

      Morgan,
      There are lots of lessons learned from building a home. I think I will do a Part 2 and maybe a Part 3 to this blog post in the future. There are so many little things that can add up to big things when building a home. I really belief it takes a home buyer building their third home until they really understand what is important to them and include it in their design. Thanks for providing your lessons learned! Helpful hints like this may reduce it to only having to build two homes to get it all included.
      Thanks for the insights!
      Ken

  2. Jasmine Waring
    1. Ken Semler Post
      Author
  3. # 4 Radiant Floor Heating sounds good. We a planning on building in the UP of Michigan and warm feet will be a nice thing to have. We are still 3 years off from building, but it’s nice to pick up stuff like this along the way.

    1. Ken Semler Post
      Author
  4. Does your company build barns and outbuildings? I also dislike when there are not enough vents in certain rooms. I don’t know why most builders like to place the vents/returns at the edge of the walls? You’re right when you say that there is never enough storage. I have noticed that the new homes, most anyway, do not have coat closets close to the entry door, and coat racks in the “mud” room. Those are the two places that need closets and coat racks. Thanks for the info, it was really helpful! Please send more, maybe once a week?

    1. Ken Semler Post
      Author

      Abbie,
      We don’t built barns or outbuildings. However, we focus on custom built homes. Just so you know, most builders place the vents under or near doors and windows because that is were the most air leackage occurs. they can place registers in the floor or as a wall hugger unit that is mounted on the floor against the wall. It takes more time and effort to place them in the wall. There are always options! Glad you enjoyed the post!
      Ken

  5. How much does it typically cost to dig out and prepare a basement for home placement versus crawl space? If we decide against a basement is the crawl space typically high enough to actually get underneath the home to do whatever needs to be done. We have had bad experiences with crawl spaces.

    1. Ken Semler Post
      Author

      Sara,
      It is very different for cost in different parts of the country. In areas were basements are typically standard, the only reason not to have them is if there is a high water table, rock, or budget limitations. A basement will typically a little more than double the cost of a true crawlspace. However, this typically 1/3 or 1/4 the cost of first floor sqft pricing. A great place for storage or to finish off later.

      If a crawlspace is sufficient, then you can create a 3′ tall crawlspace and even condition it. May people pour a thin slab of concrete in the crawlspace to make it easier to use for storage and to do maintenance and access plumbing and mechanical systems.

      Hope this helps!
      Ken

  6. Danny Dixon

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