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Klayfish
Klayfish SuperDork
8/21/14 8:20 a.m.

We have a meeting with the builder today for our new construction home. So far they've only cleared the land and put the outline for where the basement will be. Fortunately (unfortunately??) this is not our first rodeo. This will be our 4th new house construction process. One of those previous 3 fell through when the builder went belly up, but we had gone through all the meetings before they did. So we've got a very strong idea of what we're doing and what we want. That said, it never hurts to recruit ideas just to make sure there isn't something we're overlooking. I'd rather think of it now than after the house is standing...

We're function over form people, so the upgrades are things that will make the house work better and get used, instead of things that will just make it look pretty. We want the house to look pretty, but that's mostly cosmetics which are easy to do later. Priority one is functionality.

For background, the house will be in a typical suburban subdivision. It will be 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath, 2 car garage. Those are fixed features, no changes to that possible.

If you were building a new house, what would you add/upgrade for functionality? We're got a whole laundry list, too long to post it all, but a few highlights....My FIL is a retired HVAC guy, so we've got that covered. Tankless hot water system (or some other functional upgrade) since we've got a family of 5. 220 line run to the garage for future EV use, plus making sure the garage can accomdate a 2 post lift (or even have it put in while the house is being built). Since we're in Hotlanta, extra attic fans and insulate the garage (one bedroom is above it), and ceiling fans everywhere. Upgraded electrical capacity, either 200 or 240 amp.

So throw some ideas you'd do.

Bobzilla
Bobzilla PowerDork
8/21/14 8:23 a.m.

Pre-wire surround sound speakers, prewire overhead lights in bedrooms, definitely do 240 somewhere (either for a hot tub, welder or decent air compressor) and get plenty of outlets in the garage/kitchen.

stanger_missle
stanger_missle GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
8/21/14 8:26 a.m.

Central vacuum system

z31maniac
z31maniac UltimaDork
8/21/14 8:28 a.m.

3 car garage.

trucke
trucke Reader
8/21/14 8:28 a.m.

Install solar tubes (sun tunnel, etc) if you have rooms with no exterior windows. Makes a huge difference in the winter. ie interior bathroom or walk-in closet.

Klayfish
Klayfish SuperDork
8/21/14 8:45 a.m.
Bobzilla wrote: Pre-wire surround sound speakers, prewire overhead lights in bedrooms, definitely do 240 somewhere (either for a hot tub, welder or decent air compressor) and get plenty of outlets in the garage/kitchen.

Yup, all those are already in the list. We're still debating the surround speakers, it'll depend on cost, but they're likely at least in some parts of the house. We're adding a bunch of overhead lights in several rooms. We've got a 240V line for the garage and one on the deck for a hot tub on the agenda (plus the concrete slab to put the hot tub on), and there will be many extra outlets...inside and out. I'm actually looking into having wiring put in under our yard (they drop sod) with several 110V outlets. I do a huge Xmas display and it would be awesome to tremendously reduce the number of extension cords I have running all over.

CGLockRacer
CGLockRacer GRM+ Memberand Dork
8/21/14 8:46 a.m.

Extra foot on the basement walls. If you finish the basement you'll have normal height ceilings. Lots of outlets in the garage. Outlets in the ceilings of the garage for lights. Extra height ceiling in the garage. Low clearance between garage door and ceiling (i believe there was a thread on this where someone did it in their existing garage). Paint/seal/polish the garage floor before doing any work on it.

bgkast
bgkast GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/21/14 8:50 a.m.

I would consider a residential fire sprinkler system. http://youtu.be/507gj_JWWSs

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
8/21/14 8:57 a.m.

My parent's house has a laundry chute from the upstairs that dumps into an enclosed hamper downstairs in the laundry room. It sounds like no big deal, but growing up the kids put their dirty clothes "in the chute" daily. We never had piles of dirty clothes laying around, no one ever had to schlep hampers down the stairs. I'd love to have one in my house. In fact, I think I might work on that!

Second, a secret room. I can't tell you how many people build from scratch and do not include a room with a secret entrance! Why?!?!? The kids will love it and it can be a man cave or just a conversation piece or a panic room or...well the possibilities are endless. And it's the one thing that you can't easily do unless you are building!

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/21/14 9:02 a.m.

Smart ideas so far, I'll specifically second the sunlight tubes.

I'm surprised nobody's recommended wiring up with cat6a cable yet though. Have them run from each room to somewhere that could make a decent server room (maybe a utility room in the basement) - you'll also want telecoms wiring from outside available here (and power of course). That cable will still be good when 10gig ethernet becomes affordable to mere mortals.

Edit: BTW, some places you might not think to run the cable where you should: Garage (for garage PC/optional server location), random places that are central in the house for wifi APs - including the attic which is a prime location for wifi or a server room, and maybe a network-connected solar power inverter.

dculberson
dculberson UberDork
8/21/14 9:07 a.m.

All the cool kids have a dumb waiter now.

4cylndrfury
4cylndrfury MegaDork
8/21/14 9:13 a.m.

We are about 5/8 of the way through our new house build (a build thread start to finish will be posted in about 2 1/2 months when we get the keys). We are essentially watertight, and insulation has begun inside.

BIg things we took into consideration regarding functionality:

  • Duel fuel heat - electric heat pump when you just need to warm the air, with LPG furnace as emergency heat. Electric is efficient heat to a point. But once the temps get down to freezing, LPG kicks in to add an extra punch. Electric is always there which is nice, but will get expensive by itself at about 36° and below. Propane can get ridiculous by the gallon in the winter, and become difficult to find. Buy it in the summer when its cheap and plentiful. Our home will have an electric oven, gas cooktop, gas water heater, and gas fireplace.

  • Oversize garage vs additional bay - It wasnt too costly to add a few extra feet to a standard 2 car in both directions, but got pretty pricey to add an entire additional bay. We were going to go with a 3 car at first, but the difference going from 2 to 2.5 car attached was literally 15% the cost of going 2 to 3 car. No brainer.

  • For your exterior outlets, make sure theyre switched inside. That way you dont have to go outdoors in your long johns to turn off inflatable Rudolph's blower.

  • A conduit from a low outlet box to a higher one for A/V cables. We plan to mount a flat screen on a wall in the living room, and have components in a media cabinet below it. I dont want cables all over. So besides the cable and electric outlet above the baseboard, I asked them to install an empty single gang outlet box beside them. They also ran electric up to the area behind where the tv will be mounted. I asked for a second empty box up there too. I used a 1.5" hole saw to pop holes in the bottom/top of the empty boxes, and zip tied some flexible PVC spa blower hose (available at the local big box) between the 2. The hose is smooth inside, so fishing cables through should be a snap. They make special wall plates for A/V cables. You can thank me later

  • I hate hate hate how the outlet that ends up behind the bed is always just out of arms reach to plug in a lamp or your phone charger. We put an outlet behind where each nightstand will go...cuz thats how ballers do

  • Put a rough in for a bathroom, and an Egress window in the basement. The egress window will meet code for a bedroom in the basement if you ever want to finish it out (at least thats how it works here in Ohio). The rough in is only going to cost a few bills, and will be nice if the bedroom ever happens. Put all your HVAC and plumbing etc on one side of the main beam so that when you finish the space on the other side, you dont have bulkheads and low ceilings to contend with, it will all stay over on the unfinished side.

  • We drew the design to have the laundry, kitchen, a full bath, and the Master bedroom all on one floor. The doorways into each room are at least 3' openings, as are the hallways. Both the front door and garage entry door are 3'6". What this means - if you ever need to move large things like appliances or big block crate motors into the house, that will be very easy. It also means that if you still live there in 50 years (like we hope to) and one of you is using a walker (or a digital cyborgenic prosthetic exoskeleton like I hope to have when my knees and back fail me) - maneuvering up and down stairs, or thru tight door and hallways wont be an issue. Single floor living with handicap access is a good thing.

Im sure theres more, but Im tired of writing now...

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/21/14 9:16 a.m.

Even better - cable conduits. Then you can run whatever wire is cool in 30 years when cat6a is just a joke. And yes, a server room.

I agree about the secret room. Even if it's just a clever entrance to a home theater or something.

For the garage floor, get it polished. So much better than any sort of covering. I'd also be tempted to build a little shed on the side of the garage for the air compressor. Don't forget that you'll want 240v for the compressor and the lifts in the garage as well as charging your flying car, so you'll need that capacity in your wiring.

oldtin
oldtin UberDork
8/21/14 9:18 a.m.

Water service to the garage and basement, under cabinet lighting, if you have a kitchen island, outlets on the ends, cable distribution throughout or empty conduit to wall plates - although the world is moving to more wireless. Oh, take photos or video of the bare studs/inner structure before the drywall goes up. Helps locate stuff later. Haven't looked into it for our 30 year old house, but what infrastructure does a house need for some automation?

Klayfish
Klayfish SuperDork
8/21/14 9:20 a.m.

Extra outlets in the garage ceiling...that's one I overlooked. We had a few in the walls, but ceiling is great. The garage door/ceiling is part of the lift in the garage discussion for sure.

The laundry room is on the second floor, where all the bedrooms are. Otherwise, we'd definitely do the chute. Though maybe we should run a conveyor belt, 'cause it seems our kids are too damn lazy to walk 20' to the laundry room.

Love the hidden room idea. Every inch of the main floor and upstairs is being used, so we'd only have room in the basement, which we're not finishing right now.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/21/14 9:26 a.m.
oldtin wrote: cable distribution throughout or empty conduit to wall plates - although the world is moving to more wireless.

The problem is that wireless will never be as quick as wired, and the need to move large amounts of data around is increasing much faster than wireless OR wired speeds...you can already get Internet connections that will turn bleeding-edge wireless gear into a horrible bottleneck.

RossD
RossD PowerDork
8/21/14 9:28 a.m.

Regarding the instantaneous hot water heater, consider the turn on flow rating along with the maximum flow rating and temperature rise. If the min is 0.5 gpm or so, then you might have a hard time getting warm water when you wash your hands at bathroom sink. You'll probably get hot water, but when you mix it with some cold water to get warm water, since you'll drop below the min and it wont fire anymore. A combination unit will solve that, small tank storage with instant capabilities. A combo water heater / boiler would be even better with radiant heat in the house, basement and garage. I'm not sure what's typical for Atlanta for heating though..

Also consider a heat recover ventilator.

Stealthtercel
Stealthtercel Dork
8/21/14 9:28 a.m.

Ask for the upgraded drywall that soundproofs. I'd put it everywhere, personally, but at the very least put it in/around your home office (if you have one.)

mtn
mtn UltimaDork
8/21/14 9:29 a.m.

In the past 6 years, I have lived in 12 different places for at least 3 weeks. I've come up with a lot of things on my "if I ever build a dream house" list that I would like--I'll just list them here even if they're redundant to what you've already done.

  • Master on the first floor
  • Laundry on the first floor
  • Open floor plan for downstairs for the kitchen, family room, and everyday dining room. Den/living room and dining room can be more enclosed.
  • Mud room
  • 2-3 car attached garage, 2-4 car detached garage
  • Mostly unfinished basement
  • Guitar room
  • TV area with a small hallway behind it for wires (I have full multi-component stereo systems)
  • COUNTER SPACE
  • Dual sinks in the bathroom
  • Room in garage for bikes, lawnmower, snowthrower

I'm sure I have more, but those are the things I wish I had right now.

mtn
mtn UltimaDork
8/21/14 9:42 a.m.

You mentioned you're leaving the basement unfinished... Great idea! Great place for kids to shoot bow and arrows, play hockey, throw a ball against the wall, etc. I love unfinished basements.

Klayfish
Klayfish SuperDork
8/21/14 9:46 a.m.
Keith Tanner wrote: For the garage floor, get it polished. So much better than any sort of covering.

What do you use in your shop?

FSP_ZX2
FSP_ZX2 Dork
8/21/14 9:46 a.m.

Get the BEST windows that you can. Cheap windows suck after a few years...

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
8/21/14 9:51 a.m.

counter space is huge.

Garage urinal?

HiTempguy
HiTempguy UberDork
8/21/14 9:55 a.m.
FSP_ZX2 wrote: Get the BEST windows that you can. Cheap windows suck after a few years...

Have to be careful with windows. If you aren't planning on living in the house for an extended period of time, just get decent windows. If you do plan on being there a while, spend more Benjamins.

RossD wrote: Regarding the instantaneous hot water heater, consider the turn on flow rating along with the maximum flow rating and temperature rise. If the min is 0.5 gpm or so, then you might have a hard time getting warm water when you wash your hands at bathroom sink. You'll probably get hot water, but when you mix it with some cold water to get warm water, since you'll drop below the min and it wont fire anymore.

I have never had this problem with any of the couple hundred instant on hot water units I've installed. Maybe if people are buying cheap/no-name/chinese ones. But Bosch and Ranai were fine last time I was doing it (which admittingly enough, was when they first came to market).

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/21/14 9:56 a.m.

PEX water tubing with one of those fancy manifolds so that you can shut off any circuit without having to shut off water to the whole house.

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