1 2 3 4 5
ProDarwin
ProDarwin UltraDork
8/21/14 1:34 p.m.

Interesting what things people ask for.

My list:

  • Closets that are larger than normal

  • Wired Ethernet cables all over the damn place. Anywhere a TV, Computer, or Desk may end up. Terminate them all in one space/server room.

  • HVAC that is as separated as possible from room to room. No use cooling/heating the whole house if you aren't using it. I have never ever seen a central HVAC system where the warmest room wasn't several degrees hotter than the coolest. That sucks for sleeping, sucks for energy efficiency and also just sucks.

  • Solar hot water

  • A shower hot-water recovery system. Stupid cheap, simple, and effective.

  • What ever insulation is required... go with more/better.

  • Window overhangs setup for your geographic location to have optimal sunlight coming in in winter, and not coming in in summer

  • Lots of wire for exterior lighting/security system.

  • Light the E36 M3 out of the garage from the beginning. Put outlets on ceiling for drop lights at several strategic locations. Put each bay on a different circuit. Put a very low-draw lighting system with switches by the door - nice to provide enough light to walk in and get something/pass through the garage without turning on 1200watts of T8 fluorescent light

Most of those don't cover how I would build my house (to require absolute minimum maintenance or repair for the remainder of its life), but they do cover some of the nice-to-haves I wish I had in my house.

bgkast
bgkast GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/21/14 1:36 p.m.

Hot/cold water hose bib in the garage. My house has this and it makes winter car washes and cleaning engines much nicer.

My house actually has several of the mentioned features, maybe the previous owners who built it were smarter than I thought. Their finishing skills left something to be desired though.

oldopelguy
oldopelguy SuperDork
8/21/14 2:08 p.m.

Not just a cat6 to every room, but a pair of them so that both a computer and tv/blueray/printer can hook up too. And while you're there, run a couple of coax and a phone line too. Cat6 will also work for thermostats, and some now use internet connections as well.

From the same box in the basement also run a coax and cat6 to anywhere you might want a camera later. Lastly, don't forget a conduit to a box on the outside of the house from that spot where all the cable go so the phone/cable/internet guys have one place to go and no excuse for drilling random holes in your house.

When next I build the overhead pot lights in every room will all be wired independently of the rest of the wiring in the house and to their own box. That box will be powered off a battery charged with a solar panel.

And my wife uses her under cabinet lights in the kitchen every single day, no exceptions.

Basil Exposition
Basil Exposition Dork
8/21/14 2:32 p.m.
GameboyRMH wrote:
tuna55 wrote:
ryanty22 wrote:
stanger_missle wrote: Central vacuum system
Never seen one that worked right for very long at all
"Hey, this is to convenient! Instead of bringing a small appliance with you where you need to clean, you can lug 35 pounds worth of hose and wands and crap! It's so nice, in fact, that you still have to plug it into a nearby outlet to power the brush! This way you have TWO tethers to work around! And the long coil of hose stores so EASILY once you wrestle it into a roll and hang it on something in a closet which is now dedicated to the task!" And still my parents love them.
I used to live in a house with this. It never gave trouble but I think it was only used once or twice, ever, for these reasons.

+2 on that. We had one in a previous house that was already installed-- except for the hugely expensive central machine and all the hoses. Wife recognized the above issues as well as the fact that the outlets would always be in the wrong place (Murphy's Law). Never used it.

Frankly, I think it is one of those things that is designed more to impress people than actually work well.

Type Q
Type Q Dork
8/21/14 3:03 p.m.
Curmudgeon wrote: Something simple that pays off big later: lay some PVC pipe under the driveway, walkways etc. That way if you need to later run landscape light wiring, pipe for a sprinkler etc it's already there. My dad did this, amazing how many times it was used later on.

To expand on this, one the better ideas I have run into recently is to run large empty conduit from a central location to all rooms in the house. Then use that to run your cat6, speaker wire, and other non-power wiring. This makes it much faster and easier to change things later. For example, if you want to upgrade later when cat6 is obsolete, its easy to snake something else.

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon MegaDork
8/21/14 3:10 p.m.

Come to think of it, my dad had a house built in the 1960's with a central vacuum system. I need to ask my mom how she liked it, I was a bit too young...

mtn
mtn UltimaDork
8/21/14 3:25 p.m.
Basil Exposition wrote: Frankly, I think it is one of those things that is designed more to impress people than actually work well.

I saw one that didn't actually have any tubes, but what looked like air vents on walls. Then you'd sweep up everything into the vents, and you don't actually have to do anything else. That made sense to me.

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy GRM+ Memberand UberDork
8/21/14 4:15 p.m.

Run a power conduit under the ground while everything is torn up from building to a place where someday you may want to put a detached shed, with a breaker box in the house (maybe back porch). It should only cost a few extra bucks, and if you ever decide to build an outbuilding you already have power running to it and won't have to tear up your lawn after the fact.

Just mark the far end of it really well.

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy GRM+ Memberand UberDork
8/21/14 4:17 p.m.

Oh. Another thing, try to get somebody to set up the air filter area for your HVAC with space for two filters. That way, you can run one of the cheap ones in front to catch all of the big crap and run a HEPA type filter behind it without clogging up the thing in a week.

Fobroader
Fobroader Reader
8/21/14 4:32 p.m.

12' foot ceilings everywhere, dedicated 15A plugs and a 220V plug in the garage, drain in the garage, water taps in the front and back of the house, water tap in garage, a dedicated box in the back of the house to hook up hot tub and a drain for the hot tub, a mud room with tiles a few feet up the wall with a small shower area to clean up the dog and a center drain in the room, triple garage where the 3rd garage is taller to allow a hoist and has another garage door in the back to park project cars in yard.....there are so many things that I would add to a house I was building that wouldn't cost too much to add on in the building process but cost an arm and a leg after.

Josh
Josh SuperDork
8/21/14 4:59 p.m.

As much insulation as you can afford, and blower door testing to make sure the builders aren't cutting corners on air sealing. I'm sure there are other fancy upgrades that are nice to have, but these are the things that are almost impossible to fix for a reasonable cost once the building is built, and most typical new home purchasers cost themselves thousands and thousands over time by not even having these things on their checklist. And I'm pretty sure fuel ain't getting cheaper over the course of your mortgage.

ryanty22
ryanty22 Dork
8/21/14 5:11 p.m.
Josh wrote: As much insulation as you can afford, and blower door testing to make sure the builders aren't cutting corners on air sealing. I'm sure there are other fancy upgrades that are nice to have, but these are the things that are almost impossible to fix for a reasonable cost once the building is built, and most typical new home purchasers cost themselves thousands and thousands over time by not even having these things on their checklist. And I'm pretty sure fuel ain't getting cheaper over the course of your mortgage.

Mark this one down as a must do. Nothing worse than moving into a house thats not true. It sucks ass

stanger_missle
stanger_missle GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
8/21/14 7:44 p.m.
Basil Exposition wrote:
GameboyRMH wrote:
tuna55 wrote:
ryanty22 wrote:
stanger_missle wrote: Central vacuum system
Never seen one that worked right for very long at all
"Hey, this is to convenient! Instead of bringing a small appliance with you where you need to clean, you can lug 35 pounds worth of hose and wands and crap! It's so nice, in fact, that you still have to plug it into a nearby outlet to power the brush! This way you have TWO tethers to work around! And the long coil of hose stores so EASILY once you wrestle it into a roll and hang it on something in a closet which is now dedicated to the task!" And still my parents love them.
I used to live in a house with this. It never gave trouble but I think it was only used once or twice, ever, for these reasons.
+2 on that. We had one in a previous house that was already installed-- except for the hugely expensive central machine and all the hoses. Wife recognized the above issues as well as the fact that the outlets would always be in the wrong place (Murphy's Law). Never used it. Frankly, I think it is one of those things that is designed more to impress people than actually work well.

I admit that I have never owned a house with a central vac. I've had some family friends that had them and one friend was an installer. I guess it's something I covet but never experienced

Also, for the bathroom, get comfort height toilets. Your legs will thank you when sitting on the throne for an extended period of time.

OHSCrifle
OHSCrifle GRM+ Memberand Reader
8/21/14 9:39 p.m.
ryanty22 wrote:
Josh wrote: As much insulation as you can afford, and blower door testing to make sure the builders aren't cutting corners on air sealing. I'm sure there are other fancy upgrades that are nice to have, but these are the things that are almost impossible to fix for a reasonable cost once the building is built, and most typical new home purchasers cost themselves thousands and thousands over time by not even having these things on their checklist. And I'm pretty sure fuel ain't getting cheaper over the course of your mortgage.
Mark this one down as a must do. Nothing worse than moving into a house thats not true. It sucks ass

I will 3rd the quotes above

And...

1) don't run ANY ducts in the attic unless the attic is insulated on the roof slope - to put it another way... place all HVAC inside your insulation.. and NEVER punch holes in your R38 insulation with R6 ductwork. (With necessary apologies to your old school HVAC contractor relative. Hopefully he isn't determined to waste your money in that way, like so many in the South have done for a long time).

2) don't use can lights in cathedral ceilings

3) run all your downspouts to a cistern and use that free water for irrigation

4) walk around the house before insulation and look for daylight leaks in your exterior walls.

5) a walk up attic

6) deciduous trees on the south and west side

Kramer
Kramer Dork
8/21/14 10:05 p.m.

Most has been said, but I'll reiterate: Floor drain in the garage, with proper slope. 28x28 garage. Steel I beam in the garage for lifting stuff.

Put a motion sensor light in your garage, with the switch up high so it doesn't get turned off. You'll never enter a dark garage again.

Basil Exposition
Basil Exposition Dork
8/21/14 10:31 p.m.
stanger_missle wrote:
Basil Exposition wrote:
GameboyRMH wrote:
tuna55 wrote:
ryanty22 wrote:
stanger_missle wrote: Central vacuum system
Never seen one that worked right for very long at all
"Hey, this is to convenient! Instead of bringing a small appliance with you where you need to clean, you can lug 35 pounds worth of hose and wands and crap! It's so nice, in fact, that you still have to plug it into a nearby outlet to power the brush! This way you have TWO tethers to work around! And the long coil of hose stores so EASILY once you wrestle it into a roll and hang it on something in a closet which is now dedicated to the task!" And still my parents love them.
I used to live in a house with this. It never gave trouble but I think it was only used once or twice, ever, for these reasons.
+2 on that. We had one in a previous house that was already installed-- except for the hugely expensive central machine and all the hoses. Wife recognized the above issues as well as the fact that the outlets would always be in the wrong place (Murphy's Law). Never used it. Frankly, I think it is one of those things that is designed more to impress people than actually work well.
I admit that I have never owned a house with a central vac. I've had some family friends that had them and one friend was an installer. I guess it's something I covet but never experienced Also, for the bathroom, get comfort height toilets. Your legs will thank you when sitting on the throne for an extended period of time.

My wife insisted on these. I hate them. I have short legs and the seat tends to cut off my circulation. So YMMV on those...

Klayfish
Klayfish SuperDork
8/22/14 6:53 a.m.

Thanks all. The meeting with the builder went well. Lots of good stuff, we're just waiting for pricing. There are limitations, as it's a sub-division "cookie cutter" type, so it's a pre-designed floor plan. But we still have a good amount of flexibility for things we want, especially with stuff like wiring, insulation, etc... We're focusing our upgrade money on the kitchen, master bath, deck/patio, and electrical/insulation/behind the walls stuff.

As for trees, I know it's odd, not that I hate trees in general, I just don't want them on my property. I don't want to deal with leaves, falling branches, roots creating huge humps in the lawn. So any trees we have will be dwarfs. Besides, our house backs up to a forrest with some seriously tall trees. If I need extra sun protection, we'll tint the windows.

One challenge I need to work through is the lift in the garage. The builder said the posts may interfere with the track structure for the garage door. So I need to make sure it's placed where it won't...and the garage door will have to be closed if I have a car more than a few feet in the air, otherwise it'll bump the open garage door. No way to raise the garage ceiling beyond it's current 10' height. One thought we had was to look into a roll up (barrel) type garage door...as long as the HOA will allow it.

Woody
Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/22/14 7:35 a.m.

I designed and built my own house, and I learned a lot from the process.

If you're doing the design yourself, pay particular attention to doors and door swings. My master bedroom door needs to be closed to walk into the master bathroom. D'oh! I also have two doors who's strikers strike each other when they are fully opened.

Since you're in Pennsylvania, I'd assume that you are going to have a basement. Rather than accessing the basement from the backyard through a Bilco door, I put an actual door and stairway from my garage to the basement. It stole four feet from the center bay of my three car garage (blasphemy!) but it was totally worth it. I use it a dozen times a day. It does a better job of keeping heat in the basement, and spiders out. Plus, the backyard is free of the unsightly and poorly secured Bilco.

Install a ridge vent and gable end vents.

Rather than a pull down attic staircase, I put another door and a full staircase. It added maybe three hundred dollars (net) to the project. Again, I use it all the time. Put a plywood floor down in the attic (use something thicker than 1/2") before the house gets sheetrocked.

OSB sucks. Use real plywood everywhere.

Skylights leak and rob you of your heating dollars. Avoid them.

I despise pocket doors, but there is one place where I wish I had one now. It's easy to remove an unwanted pocket door, but hard to add one.

Here's the big one:

I have a 26'x36' three car garage with a room above. The floor joists/garage ceiling is the only place where I used engineered beams. This allowed me to avoid having lally columns between the bays of the garage. I can't stress enough how much of a difference this makes in terms of usable garage space. When you have a column, you tend to pile stuff near them and it gets crowded in a hurry. Without them, I can get four cars in my three car garage for the winter.

Klayfish
Klayfish SuperDork
8/22/14 7:51 a.m.

I wish I could do some of my own designing (though I'm useless for building, besides painting and hanging ceiling fans), but we're in a subdivision. Pre-designed floor plan, not a ton of major structural changes can be made. Our basement is going to be a walkout, so we're good there. We have a front facing two car garage, no options to change it. Changes allowed are minor structural, electrical, insulation, design, etc...

And I'm now in ATL, the home of CL finds.

dcteague
dcteague New Reader
8/22/14 7:58 a.m.

I'd 2nd the comment about running Cat6 everywhere - and think about Coax. Regardless of the use of wireless, there is always a lack reception or other factors that make having hard-wire preferred particularly for high-speed/download requirements of movies.

Not sure what your ground water situation is, but I'd make sure you grade the property around the house away from the foundation, and make sure that any major appliances in the basement are on concrete pads (such as boilers, etc.). Also make sure all the gutters are routed underground somewhere well away from the house - those little spouts that drain next to the foundation are useless.

Radiant flooring is also awesome - we just did this in our bathrooms and kitchen. If you do this, make sure you get the thermostat probe in the floor and not just an ambient probe, as they're harder to regulate this way.

Are they building you a shed for tools/tractor off the house? Not sure if you have one but its best not to store this in the garage. If you're in a cold climate - think about where you'll put firewood/whatever it is you'll burn in winter (if anything). A sheltered storage location is best.

I also wish we had our driveway contractor place a drain between our driveway and road - there's always a puddle at the end of our driveway when it rains.

If you're using pavers anywhere, make sure they use a good quality underlayment before the stone to stabilize things - there's a new military grade item on the market that they use to create bridges over mud. There are also new polymer based sand materials to fill paver gaps that solidify and stay flexible preventing weed growth through the cracks. It isn't full-proof, but it helps dramatically.

If you do anything with a deck or patio that requires railings, think about using a stainless wire based rail system - its great for retaining any view you might have of your yard. Another option is to make the drop from the patio/porch to the ground no more than a single step so you can avoid railings altogether - in which case you could consider a paver based patio/porch and get rid of the maintenance of wood type products.

One thing that is often overlooked is lighting - particularly the kitchen. Make sure you have plenty of lighting - work lighting and accent lighting. We also had various lights installed in our halls and dining area that are operated at the wall outlets and connect to overhead spot lights (small directional lights), for pictures and cabinets. Having the switches by the outlets hides a cluster of light switches that are used infrequently.

z31maniac
z31maniac UltimaDork
8/22/14 8:47 a.m.
stanger_missle wrote: Also, for the bathroom, get comfort height toilets. Your legs will thank you when sitting on the throne for an extended period of time.

I won't go into much detail, but tall toilets are terrible for you.

With tall toilets, you are actively working against the muscle that keeps you from soiling yourself.

Advan046
Advan046 Dork
8/22/14 4:09 p.m.

You know one thing I always want to have in my newly built house (if I ever do build one) would be:

Conduit to pull new cables into any room from any room. In industrial facilities we have galvanized or plastic pipe within which we have our network and power cables. If you need to add another computer or PLC or light fixture you just pull more wire. This might not be practical for a home but I think it would work great.

Why?

  • Because at one point everyone wanted phone lines in every room of the house
  • Then they wanted Coax cable in every room
  • Then they wanted Cat5 cable in every room
  • Then they wanted HDMI in every room
  • Then they wanted wireless repeaters so they wanted outlets high near the ceiling in every room

So pulling cable in conduit would mean I could introduce the new Mega Optical-Super High 1 Transmission cables everywhere without breaking walls.

Advan046
Advan046 Dork
8/22/14 4:11 p.m.
z31maniac wrote:
stanger_missle wrote: Also, for the bathroom, get comfort height toilets. Your legs will thank you when sitting on the throne for an extended period of time.
I won't go into much detail, but tall toilets are terrible for you. With tall toilets, you are actively working against the muscle that keeps you from soiling yourself.

Under 5ft 4in tall? Then AVOID comfort height. NO point sitting with feet dangling.

Over 5ft4? Then maybe comfort height works.

All depends on your leg to torso ratio.

Basil Exposition
Basil Exposition Dork
8/22/14 4:27 p.m.
Klayfish wrote: One challenge I need to work through is the lift in the garage. The builder said the posts may interfere with the track structure for the garage door. So I need to make sure it's placed where it won't...and the garage door will have to be closed if I have a car more than a few feet in the air, otherwise it'll bump the open garage door. No way to raise the garage ceiling beyond it's current 10' height. One thought we had was to look into a roll up (barrel) type garage door...as long as the HOA will allow it.

What lift are you considering? I think it was a 2 post? If so, there are a couple of shorter two post options out there including the MaxJax and the Triumph 7000. A taller one doesn't do you any good with that ceiling height, anyway.

You should be looking at a high-lift garage door where the tracks run up to and along the ceiling. If you use a Liftmaster 8500 opener, then there shouldn't be any interference with the lift posts. With the MaxJax, there wouldn't be any post interference with just a regular height door.

I've got 10' ceilings, which have been plenty high for a mid-size SUV on the MaxJax, though you can't stand under it, of course, you have to scoot on a rolling stool. The lift is not under any doors, though I've also put in a high-lift door with a Liftmaster on one of my bays for a future four poster.

HiTempguy
HiTempguy UberDork
8/22/14 5:01 p.m.
Type Q wrote: To expand on this, one the better ideas I have run into recently is to run large empty conduit from a central location to all rooms in the house. Then use that to run your cat6, speaker wire, and other non-power wiring. This makes it much faster and easier to change things later. For example, if you want to upgrade later when cat6 is obsolete, its easy to snake something else.

I never have actually thought of this and I've built quite a few houses before. Never occured to me!

z31maniac wrote: I won't go into much detail, but tall toilets are terrible for you. With tall toilets, you are actively working against the muscle that keeps you from soiling yourself.

I've never met a person yet who can comfortably use tall toilets. These just became a thing and they are stupid as E36 M3!

1 2 3 4 5
Our Preferred Partners
C07j8z48knTmMofJRxjgazDoEmiEyrJTX6LqP2qO0bh37A5GYvxo6WueNdDyjt8g