Building new house. What MUST I do?
Michael Schindler
August 31, 2013
Outlets everywhere? Run any special cables? I want to get this one right.

I don't get to pick brick or additions as it is spec house, but I get to pick everything inside.
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Lynne Mysliwiec
Don't worry - there are two thousand decisions you will have to make before breakfast. Building codes dictate that there are outlets every 6-10 feet, so if your builder is conforming to building codes, you'll get all the outlets you need.

Do consider what computer/cable TV outlets and telephones you need and in which rooms. Technology is destined to change, so they won't work for you forever, but in the short term you want to consider every place where there might be a TV or phone or computer.

Universally - outlet color, switch color, door style, hinge color, doorknob style, trim color.

If you're in a cold climate, ask about an outdoor temperature reset for your furnace -- this will save energy and heating costs.

Think about lighting & where you will want to adjust lighting levels with dimmers & make sure the dimmers will work with LED and compact fluorescent bulbs.

For the kitchen alone, you need to pick cabinets, floors, drawer pulls, door pulls, pendant fixture(s), appliances, interior appliance fittings, under cabinet lighting, faucet, sink, paper towel holder, window coverings, back splash. Wall color, ceiling color, trim color. Counter tops. You have to decide between wall ovens plus a cooktop versus a regular stove with oven. Do you want vanity appliances like wine fridges and ice makers and warming drawers (expensive!)? Stove hood? Microwave hood?

Bathrooms are the same: sink, faucet, toilet, wall tile, cabinets, door pulls, drawer pulls, flooring, shower door/curtain, towel bars, toilet paper holder, counter tops (multiply by the number of bathrooms), wall color, ceiling color, trim color. Window coverings. Shower head(s), special features like steam showers or Japanese special toilets that do everything but wipe your tushie. Light fixtures (sconces, recessed fixtures), exhaust fans.

Bedrooms are easier -- light fixtures, wall color, trim color, ceiling color, flooring, window coverings.

You need to pick a front door and lock set, color. House color, trim color, accent color, locations of hose bibs so you can water the grass. Deck color if there's a deck. Make sure the porch is big enough to stand on the porch AND open the door at the same time (I hate porches where you have to stand on the stairs to get enough swing for the door!). Roof color. To shutter or not to shutter. Porch railing style, deck railing style.

Staircases - bannister style and color. Wooden or painted risers. Wooden or painted treads.

and and and...for every room.
1 Like    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 7:35PM
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Lynne Mysliwiec
Oh yeah - make sure there's a whole house surge protector & if you have a dedicated office, make sure your computer is on a separate breaker so no one with a vacuum cleaner can pop your breaker.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by Michael Schindler    August 31, 2013 at 7:36PM
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Lynne Mysliwiec
Anybody else?
    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 5:38AM
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Michael Schindler
Thank you so much Lynne. I really appreciate your time and effort in that response.
    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 10:28AM
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Pako Coen
LOL - no problem. I've remodeled my entire house (well, just short of it - just finishing the kitchen), so have had to make all of those decisions. It's second nature by now. :D
    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 10:57AM
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If possible, try to incorporate as many Universal Design elements as possible into the house now. It is much cheaper to plan and build/install these elements from the beginning than to try to retrofit later.

Here is a mega-post with more information:
Please take from this whatever is helpful. Best wishes.

1.) Go to Houzz Ideabooks and enter "Universal Design" in the search box.
2.) Go to
3.) Go to Houzz Design Dilemma and enter "handicapped" in the search box.

Universal Design
2.) specializes in Universal Design

Handicap Access
1.) The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) site has specific measurements for wheelchair turning radius, angle of ramps, handrails, everything.
2.) ADA Ramps: ADA Code 4.8

1.) Consult with a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist. You can find one through the website.
2.) Go to Houzz Professionals and contact Brickwood Builders. They are Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists. (For you other Houzz Professionals who are CAPS, please add your name to this list!)
    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 11:53AM
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Pamela Danner
Here is a good rule of thumb when the contractor, the electrician and the plumber all ask you what do you need all of these circuits for you have enough electrical! :) seriously consider the following 1) lighting in all closets with wall switches on the exterior of the closet 2) any refrigerator, a/c, microwave, etc., washer/dryer should have a dedicated circuit 3) every bed should have an outlet behind it on a three way switch 1 switch when you walk into the room 1 switch by the night stand 4) same for sofas 3) desks and night stands should have an outlet higher on the wall low enough so you don't see it but high enough so you don't need to move furniture to plug in a cell phone charger or laptop 5) use plenty of recessed lighting consider what walls you want to wash as well (fireplaces, artwork) 6)if you have a two story foyer consider installing a chandelier motor to change the light bulbs 7) any room you may plan on putting in a ceiling fan should have two runs from the ceiling outlet, one to control the light and a second to control the fan 8) if you decorate for Christmas consider having an outlet in front of each window for Christmas lights and an outlet where you think you may place a Tree. 9) outlets on each side of the front door inside and out 10) outlets on each exterior wall of the house 11) if you are a fan of under cabinet lighting in kitchens make sure you have a circuit for that Regarding structure wiring don't worry about having a ton of phone lines run cat 5 from a location that you would likely have you phone or cable interface located to every tv and the kitchen and a home office 3) the old school if thought was to run a coax cable connection to every tv now think of running a coax or fiber cable to every place where you may have a settop box and running a double run of HDMI along with an outlet to where ever you may hang a tv 10) don't forget home theater unless you are ok with wireless surround sound speakers 11) make sure there is an outlet in the garage ceiling to plug in the garage door opener 12) also consider sufficient outlets in utility rooms for water softener, alarm system, sprinkler controller, etc.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by Michael Schindler    September 1, 2013 at 2:32PM
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Inspired Dwellings
The most important thing is to have a crystal clear idea of what you want, before you start the process. Any good contractor will help you decide what's crucial for your home, and will run you through the best solutions for you (as mentioned in above posts!)

Remember: cabling for any future additions now, will save you heaps of time and money in the long run.

Best of luck! :)
    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 12:49AM
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There had been similar discussions about this topic, do a search box under "discussion".
    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 5:51AM
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Hi Michael! Not sure if you are still working on the new house project, but we wanted to share a few ideas that are becoming increasingly more popular to homeowners, as technology advances. Check out our MyQ technology for your garage door opener option. Here is a link: Let us know if you have any questions!
    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 10:47AM
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