10 years ago
Building a custom home.... Any "must" haves/cool ideas you have come across? For example - Outlets on both sides of the front door, water faucets on the porch for plants, or make the flase panels on cabinates flip out for extra storeage?

Comments (472)

  • renataimagines
    7 years ago
    I'm in the beginning stages of building my dream home - just bought the land, still working out the design with the architect. My thought is to build with aging in place in mind. I have read through all of the comments. Took two days! The information is invaluable. Thanks everyone! And yes this is a proper use of houzz.
  • Maribeth
    7 years ago
    Same. Roof is going on. Windows just put in. We are 54 and 55 and that was our goal as well. Last move for us, we hope! Best of luck.
  • renataimagines
    7 years ago
    Thanks! I retired early too; just turned 56. I'm using my 83 yr old dad as my model. Watching him go through the aging process has given me a lot of insight as to what works and doesn't. For example, we will be installing dishwasher drawers on either side of the sink instead of a full size dishwasher. Its easier for him to pull the drawer open than bend over to load dishes. Best of luck to you too.
  • chubers
    7 years ago
    This is definitely the proper use of houzz! I'm building a house and this have given me so many great ideas I wouldn't have thought of otherwise.
  • PRO
    JKIRSTEN HOMES: custom home builder for Austin, TX
    7 years ago
    @Chubers - Great point!
  • margaret17
    7 years ago
    I'm pretty sure that bgfuqua was referring to a post that has since been removed from this thread that was, in fact, not the proper use of Houzz (which is why it was removed). This thread is absolutely the right use of Houzz. I read through it a few months ago and continue to monitor new posts for good ideas.
  • aredinger
    7 years ago
    Reading, building, and reading some more! We have owned our lot to build on for 5 years so my excel spreadsheet has expanded since then. These are great ideas to add, thank you. We just broke ground this past May. I have read every comment and here are a few items I do not believe have been listed - definitely family friendly with 3 little ones and maybe more to come!

    -Full screen doors not sliders kids always get them off track
    -Ask to keep any extra building supplies - you probably paid for them anyways - great for kid play areas or in case something gets broken...
    -Built-in flower planter boxes on the front porch railing
    -Handprints in the cement walkway
    -Up, down and all around lighting in all areas - general, task, accent

    -Halogen reading lights over all beds for nighttime stories
    -Built-in window seats or in those "unused space" areas that will be boxed in that open like cedar chests (can line with cedar too)

    -Behind door towel rack (hingeit)
    -Consider separate small linen and toiletry closets - never enough room
    -Timers and humidity detectors on kid's bathroom fans
    -Recessed medicine cabinets in all rooms with either mirror or cabinet matching front - can be recessed between studs on side walls

    -Valet pole in all closets to have the next day's clothes ready to go

    -Extra padding or high quality under carpets - kids sit on the floor a lot so you do too

    Great Room
    -Built-ins with lighting on any support poles/beams that need exposed if you are going for the open floor plan look so it looks like more of a piece of furniture than an obstructed view

    -Kid fun paint - chalkboard, magnetic, glow, dry-erase
    -Playroom with toy closet that converts to a sunroom

    -Drawer with built-in containers to house flour, sugar, etc
    -Keep all countertop cut-outs for cutting boards, coasters, whatever
    -Kid snack refrigerator drawer (Samsung - can be a beer drawer later on)
    -Lid maid lid holders (
    -Kitchen Nook with hinged seats for storage
    -Free-floating shelves above nook (ikea)
    -Routed drain channels in solid surface
    -Shelf for cookbooks/wine rack - end of island
    -Toe-kick drawers
    -Plan for where trash cans in all rooms will be stored

    -Ikea Octopus Laundry hanger
    -Retractable Clotheslines inside and outside where any wet clothes may gather
    -Polder Wall Mount Accordion Drying Rack
    -Dog/cat area with built-in bowls under folding table

    -Cork board for family calendar
    -Wall hanging folders each kid
    -Hook Nook
    -Mail slots
    -Full length mirror
    -Shoe cleaning mat
    -Stone tiles (quick dry)
    -Umbrella stand

    -Walkin above garage through external steel door
    -Can finish later if needed space

    -Parking guide
    -Utilatub low to ground for washing pets
    -Shop light
  • PRO
    Custom Home Planning Center
    7 years ago
    Get the overhangs out to at least 24" I go 36" on mine : protects the windows and sidewalls
    This is a shelter not a doll house
  • TanCalGal
    7 years ago
    I just bought a one burner induction cooktop to try and I would most certainly have an induction cooktop in a new kitchen for the ease of cleaning + hi & lo controls for heat.
  • Sandra
    7 years ago
    aredinger those are all wonderful ideas and I will incorporate many into my new home. Thank you.
  • bethd12345
    7 years ago
    My husband needs extra lighting, so I installed LED tape lighting with dimmer switches inside the edge of the cabinet that holds our spices and inside the pantry door. Will definitely include that when we build later this year.
  • Pam Dotson
    7 years ago
    Update from earlier post.... Someone asked about architectural shingles, just ask at you local store and you see they are more 3 dimensional and come with longer warranty.

    We did geothermal heating and cooling and after three full months I'm happy to say our savings has been $100-$150 per month. We only have electric no gas or propane. 1800 sf home with a 4 ton system. After federal and local electric company rebates our return on investment is between 6-7.5 years. We see after 1 year how that is looking.

    Thanks to all for these posts and love this site. Now working on basement and still searching for good ideas. We are on acreage and will doing knotty pine in basement.

    Just finished 100 year old beam for mantel in living room.....
  • melingram74
    7 years ago
    Custom built house
  • arhoadsfoust
    7 years ago
    This is the mother of all lists and has helped us tremendously in designing our new home. The only thing that i'll add to this is that it is important to not skimp on your low voltage wiring. Especially CAT-6 data. It is true that wireless is getting better and faster but it simply cannot compete with a solid, wired network. If you do any streaming (cordcutters?) this is a must and you should have at least two drops in every room you'll be spending time in. I have over 20 years in IT and consider wireless to be nothing more than a way to connect my phone and tablet to the web. Get a good structured wiring plan and be set for a long time!
  • B.P.
    6 years ago

    A few outlets near floor with led downward facing nightlights. Great for hallways especially. They come on automatically, use practically no energy whatsoever and they look great! I use one in every room (great in bathroom)!

  • chookchook2
    6 years ago

    You need money, and lots of it. You need a contingency fund.

  • mjoharen
    6 years ago

    Or adjust your dreams down to a lean-to.

  • mjoharen
    6 years ago

    On a more serious note, a wood burning pizza oven is on the list, hearing different views on inside or out. Depends on your locale and when tomatoes ripen. Finally, a trap door in the foyer to deposit guests who overly critique your new design, or show up with cheap wine.

  • Miriam Billiard
    6 years ago
    Wow. My husband and I are downsizing. We have just purchased a home that was bought in 1972 from it's original owner. Everything is original. Lots of green shag carpeting.
    Location is great, bones of home great. Looking at the cost to update not so great. This sight provided a lot to ponder and eventually place in the bid to potential contractors.Thank you to everyone who has contributed. Your experience and sharing is invaluable. Maybe I'll be able to sleep tonight.
  • Miriam Billiard
    6 years ago
    I meant built in 1972. Better get more detail oriented.
  • orangecamera
    6 years ago

    @azmyk, congratulations!

  • chookchook2
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Azmyk, the 70 s are the next big thing!

  • Sandra
    6 years ago

    I too am building a new home. There is so much great information here some of which is repetitive. Has anyone condensed it into a condensed list?

  • Lisa Boncosky
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I have seen comments regarding outlets for outdoor holiday lighting. My absolute favorite thing about my current home that I will repeat in the one we are about to build is to connect these outlets to an industrial timer in your basement. The timer has a light switch so it is only on in December, but all of our holiday lights turn on at 5pm, off at 11pm, on again at 5am and off at 8am, even when we travel for part of the holiday season.

  • foreverfarm11
    6 years ago

    Sandra - when I was building my home - I took all the info from here and other sites and built a list of which ones I wanted - this is a great source of ideals

  • Sandra
    6 years ago

    foreverfarm11 Why not post it? I'd love to see it.

  • Colin Kelly
    6 years ago
    I did added some great features in my home... In floor radiant heating in the bathroom and shower in the master, usb plugs by the bed in the master as well as zwave light dimming switches to control lights from bed and or my phone/tablet. A pot filler below knee height in the laundry room by the dog bowl for refilling pet water. Rinnai Tankless with a dedicated recirc line. Wired cat6 cable to each room for Internet. Floor drain in the laundry room for easy clean up from muddy shoes. Houzer farmhouse fire clay sink, new power brass fixtures. Electrical outlets on the roofline for Christmas lights. Auto pantry light with motion sensor. Speakers in the ceiling in bathroom and master as well as kitchen and dining room. Wired cable line and Internet for kitchen TV to hide chords. Led lights. Z wave light switches all over for control from your phone. We bought a ton of stuff from, they are redoing their website from what it looks like, but they have a ton of different stuff. Call the 800 # and ask, they are helpful.
  • Blondie Canada
    6 years ago

    here is the list I came up with - many items from this forum (so thank you). We are demolishing this month (mar 2016) so appreciate all the ideas.

    -Add some 2x6 stud at eye level between main vertical studs in some key areas
    of main rooms/halls to hang heavy artwork (eye level)
    -Add some horizontal studs In bathrooms for towel and toilet paper holders.
    -Add stud to floor of master closet for a small safe to be bolted
    -install wood blocking around windows to hang window treatments (so you don't
    need to find a stud and window coverings won't fall down).

    -small box/outlet capped with access to wiring and such (so don't need to
    damage drywall if need access)
    -run 3" schedule 40 "chase" between floors for future
    access (not sure what this means)
    -four plug outlets in all bedrooms (two on either side of bed positioning)
    -four plug outlets in main family room
    -"all off" house-wide light switch at front door, garage, outside
    master bedroom
    -Electrical plugs UNDER master sinks to keep electrical toothbrush if you don't
    want it on counter (keep finn from brushing the floors)
    -few outlets in halls and kids bathroom with LED downward facing nightlights
    -electrical outlet on fascia/roofline and next to front door for Christmas
    -zwave light switches (can control from phone)
    -With floor outlets they ran wire to the area we thought we wanted them (based on furniture plan) but wait to
    punch through the floor (until furniture placement finalized).
    -outlets/plugs with USB chargers in some main rooms and all bedrooms

    -water spigot on sides and back plugs on all four
    exterior sides of house
    -install 4" PVC under driveway for future wires or something that may need
    to cross.
    -allow eaves to downspout direclty into ground?
    -gray water recycling (using rain water and water from house for yard work etc)
    -backup generator in garage?
    -screen door on back door so can hear kids without bugs getting in
    -house number pre cast into the stone
    -actual old fashioned doorbell
    -base shower/faucet near garage - wash dirty shoes/boots
    -install a 220 line into garage if we go hybrid car
    -where is electric meter going to go on outside of house (esthetic)
    -pre wire roof for solar(much cheaper to do now than later)
    -heated driveway

    -step/stool hidden under toe kick in kitchen (for kids)
    -metal "pan" under dishwasher so if a leak then water comes out and
    doesn't rot the floorboard.
    -Tile under sinks potentially so no rot
    -commercial sized fridge (or extra freezer in basement somewhere)
    -sponge, storage in front of sink in kitchen. Kitchen towel rack under
    -pocket door for pantry so no wasted shelf space
    -a kick plate vacuum in kitchen and in kitchen nook
    -reverse osmosis under sink for drinking water

    -drop floor in showers so no "lip" required. Want glass door on
    shower this time for heat.
    -make stud cabinet area next to toilets for toilet paper/bowl cleaner
    -GFCI plug behind toilet in master in case future buyer wants toto toilet seat (not our personal thing)
    -seal showers with white grout so it doesn't stain
    -Bathroom drawer with plugs to store hairdryer and curling iron (no wrapped
    cord appliances everywhere)

    -use wall mounted lamps for bed side instead of lamps for side tables.
    Takes up too much room.
    -security alarms and all pads outside master bedroom (right out front of door).
    -second floor coiffured ceilings in rooms where possible

    --wire for sound main rooms/bedrooms - wireless speakers instead of
    wiring for sound in every room?
    -with radiant heat panels you get more wifi dead spots with WiFi - any
    ideas/solutions (additional Ethernet cables?)
    -smart house (cellular activation/use)

    -in drawer ironing board

    -document all house in photos and video - where plumbing and wires are before
    drywall goes up
    -auto sensor on kids bathrooms so light turns on (dimmed) to pee in night
    before they can reach plugs
    -closets: valet rod, jewellry drawer, pull down upper rods, chargers in top drawer
    -humidifier throughout home (steam humidier)
    -radiant heating in all floor
    -cast iron plumbing pipes from 2nd to 1st floor to reduce sound
    -Build out basement extension under backyard (extra sq ft while keeping two story above ground a smaller footprint for neighbourhood)

    -Golf simulator room

    -escavate under garage for movie room (best soundproofing spot).
    -Excavate under front porch for cold cellar/storage

  • margaret17
    6 years ago

    marciamacbain Great list! Thank you for posting!

  • Craig Bazinga
    6 years ago
    Electrical conduit that runs from attic straight to electrical panel through wall. In case you want to do any electrical upgrades in the future. Ie outdoor pot lights, bath room heat lamp etc
  • Rachael Berry
    5 years ago

    Our floor plan has 3 bedrooms upstairs and I only want 2, so I am going to enlarge 1 br and put a shelf in the bathroom that opens up to the 2nd room and make it a secret room for my 4 year old son. It will be his secret play room and no one will see it so it can be as messy as he wants.

  • Matthew Dickneite
    5 years ago

    I know I'm kinda late to the party on this post but here are a handful of things that I haven't saw in any of the other comments.

    1- outlets in the soffit w/1 switch to control them for Christmas lights.

    2- kids bedrooms have a single switched outlet behind tv (switch is in the master bedroom)

    3- plenty of outside outlets and faucets

    4- wiring for present or future auto backup generator.

    5- recessed outlets behind furniture (couches, night stands, tv, etc)

    6- prewire for cable/satellite on all walls possible if rooms will be able to be rearranged

    7- wire one room to one breaker to make it easier to label and find correct breakers when needed.

    8- prewire all bathrooms for future whirlpool tubs

    9- whole house fire alarm system instead of old school single room alarm

    10- water faucet near stove for cooking

    11- hidden walking pantry (open pantry cabinet doors and walk into an entire room)

    12- 9' ceilings vs 8' can make a small room feel large

    13- coffered or tray ceiling where possible

    14- separate switches to operate fan/light

    15- if you have a hallway, keep the walls clean of switches and place a hall light switch in each bedroom/bathroom using 3/4/5 way switches.

    16- recessed lights in soffit (you can change the color of the bulbs for different holidays)

    17- switched outlets above upper kitchen cabinets for decor or Christmas lights etc

    Sit down and think it through as you're in the planning stages. Think about the future. Storage, garage space, etc. Everything has a place and everything in its place.

  • jck910
    5 years ago

    very very old post

  • Debbie
    5 years ago is still spot-on...ppl are still finding this thread...I pass the thread link on to quite a few ppl that are sooo happy to read the ideas BEFORE they, old or not, invaluable info! Happy New Year,everyone!

  • Matthew Dickneite
    5 years ago

    On average I build one house every two years. I take notes and and add to them as I think of or come across new inexpensive luxuries that have appeal to them. I'm in the planning stages of the next house now. I found some awesome new ones by reading through this post. Can't wait.

  • mjoharen
    5 years ago

    That's really cool. I'm guessing the downstairs neighbors don't mind if you give them access now and then? And do they cover the insulation since it's technically on their side, or do you as owner/driller?

  • PRO
    Genuwine Cellars
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Good question MJoharen! The subterranean cellar is typically installed in a home where the landowner and home owner are one and they excavate into their own property. You can though in fact put them in with an open basement or lower level.

  • PRO
    Custom Home Planning Center
    4 years ago

    Sound channels are best choice for walls. be aware of how this may impact door and window jams

  • Kelly Lilley
    4 years ago
  • molakeguy
    4 years ago

    Use an 18' wide garage door instead of the standard 16' one. It makes parking/getting in and out of cars a lot easier. Widen the garage to 22-23' for proportionality.

    Also, be sure to widen any halls to 48-60" and stairways to 42-48." The house will feel much more spacious.

  • PRO
    Custom Home Planning Center
    4 years ago

    1/2 the cost to do 2 10' doors

  • arsavoy
    4 years ago

    Wow! Great info. Took me 3 days to read all comments and I have pages of notes from all your great responses. Thanks for making me think

  • wysmama
    4 years ago
    Such great ideas. Happy to have found this thread!
  • Mary Beth Sica
    4 years ago

    You guys are so awesome. We meet with the electrician to plan the wiring in 4 days!

  • PRO
    Custom Home Planning Center
    4 years ago

    Don't forget to ask about using low voltage lines for all you can lights. Saves big on wire as this only takes thin wires and cost 40% or less to operate. Another advantage is in case of power loss the lights can stay on for days with battery power. I just use my plug supply in my plug in car for the whole house.

  • evarenne
    4 years ago
    Secret doorway!
  • rpwoodard
    3 years ago
    Great ideas - I’ll use several in a Reno I’m planning!

    It was very difficult for me to read super long posts that are only 1 paragraph. I end up copying them & pasting into word processing program, so I can divide the posts into multiple paragraphs,
  • PRO
    Custom Home Planning Center
    3 years ago

    One of my current project is using a ceiling treatment that is good looking and inexpensive. When a ceiling is joist with I joist, (quite common since the early 90's) The bottom cord of the "I" joist can be stained and a 4 x 8 plywood any where from 1/4 to 3/4 of an inch can be cut into strips the with of the web to web measurement. These are added to the top of the bottom of the I joist and form a very attractive paneled ceiling the can allow you to keep access to the between space for future wiring or plumbing additions. I've done these with Mahogany stained bottom cords and 1/4 inch luan plwood

    , which with a light mix of Mahogany stain and Swedish oil finish gives a very warm ceiling. In the current basement build out I'm using 3/4" blond wood 4x8's and adding 1'' foam w/an acoustic channel on top for sound control. The bottom of the I joist will be stained black for an oriental look No nailing is required as the panels are kept in place by gravity.

  • PRO
    Custom Home Planning Center
    3 years ago

    often used ceiling treatment

  • juan27amar
    2 years ago

    if you have a two level home...put master and living room on second level with floor to ceiling windows.