I need ideas of what not to forget when building a new home.

8 years ago
Any tips on things you wish you would have thought about in advance of building your dream home.

Comments (26)

  • Barbara Dunstan
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago
    Where do I start!!!.....great proactive question.
    #1. I have made the consious decision to have wheelchair access into and around my home and this entails a ramp for entry, a stepless shower in the bathroom and a invalid size toilet
    and also have the light switches lowered just a little to acomodate wheelchair access.
    I've concluded that a person doesn't have to be old to be incapacitated even temporarilly and wheelchai access works for everyone including aged grandparents or even pram access etc...
    #2. No overhead kitchen cupboards if you are too short to make use of them like me at 5'
    #3. Draws instead of cupboards in the kitchen also, to prevent having to get down on your hand and knees to search out items in the back of a cupboard.
    # 4.Make sure kitchen bench heights suit you, eg: if you are real tall or real short an an appliance cupbord to keep cluter to a minimum.
    #5. A few night lights in the passage to light up the way to a bathroom or toilet for visitors or children.
    #6. Plenty of veranda's around the home for shade.
    #7. Spend time picking your lighting and include lovely pendant lights over the dining table or bedside tables ect...
    #8. Ceiling fans in all bedrooms and living area to be able to use them first before you use the air con.
    #9. Allow for access into the home for large items of furniture, so perhaps double front doors or even bedroom access from the outside for bedding etc...
    Good luck.
  • myperfectadvice
    7 years ago
    Under floor heating
    High ceilings
    Evaprotive and A/C Unit systems
    Same colour and style bathrooms
    Same size bedrooms
    Walk in robes for each bedroom
    As many ensuites as possible
    Drawers instead of cupboards in kitchen
    Bulk head in kitchen
    Large kitchen. lots of bench space and storage
    Laundry entry from kitchen
    Scullery in kitchen
    Alll silver appliences
    New furniture, bedding and decor
    Plenty of windows
    Glass french doors
    Tiles right the way through Inc, bedrooms (so easy to clean and keep clean)
    Don't forget, mirrors, canvas artworks, pendents in kitchen, LED down lights all the way through, mirror sliding closet doors, floor lamps, floor rugs, throws, cushions.
    STORAGE AREAS is the main prob.
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  • Barbara Dunstan
    7 years ago
    Absolutely 100% good advice.
    We are building our own home with the exception of the things we're not permitted to do and we have no budget at all because we have not borrowed any money to build our home.
    We are farmers, work hard during our income earning months and then we work out how much money we require to get to the next stage and if there's enough to in fact do that and
    if there isn't, then we wait another year!!!
    I know this is probably impossible for the average person but we are lucky to have a little relocatable home to live in until our home is finally complete and we dont have children living with us so it's just the two of us.
    Our home will be about 30sq with an indoor pool and the outside of the home will be limestone, so it will be beautiful when complete.
  • n247080
    7 years ago
    Barbara, I'm with you. That's how I did upgrades on my home too. I just made sure I had an extra stash set aside for the unexpected so when the contractor came back ant told me he would be over budget to fix some of the unexpected rot issues he uncovered, I had the money and knew I was still in budget. That way I could immediately say, yes, fix that professionally first before continuing. If something can go wrong, it does. In the end I had the side deck removed at the same time the front deck was being done to save on hauling expenses. and fix the rot that was destined to be hidden on this deck too. (installed by the prior owner who had no clue what he was doing) Then life got away from me and I'm only now, 2 years later, decided on how I want the replacement deck to look and what the coordinating finishing touches to the front deck will be. Construction is not as exact a science as one would think!
  • Barbara Dunstan
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago
    Yes, ha-ha, we too have a cash stash but as hubby and I are building entirely ourselves and from new, we don't have any unexpected surprises.
    I love aquariums for example and so from the foundations point, we put in an extra two concrete stumps and extra bearers to carry the expected tonne of water in an 8' tank.
    Meanwhile, I had a 5' tank in our little home with a pet murray cod, our third, and for whatever reason, he died and all of a sudden I had an epiphany and said, no more fish, so the area planned for the tank will simple become all storage rather than some storage and the extra support under the floor doesn't matter diddly squat but at least we prepared for it.
    Can't believe I've decided against it but I think a few more years on my age has given me a bit more time to think of what's important and it's no longer the tank.
    I have however still got a large fish pond, so I'm not over fish just over it in my house!!
    This extra storage has meant I no longer need any other linen closets in the home so that has streamlined my passage way.
    You are so right that even in the best layed plans, things can still evolve no matter how much time and effort is put into it.
    I can't wait till the house is finished, as I'm loosing sooo much sleep going to bed at night and constantly running through all the ideas of draws, doors, shelves etc...etc...ha-ha
  • auntiebuzzybee
    7 years ago
    First of all, congratulations! Secondly, Good Luck!

    1. Make sure you have enough spigots around the perimeter of the house including upper level for cleaning windows, plants, outdoor furniture and additionally make sue one aevery patio area downstairs and driveway for cars.

    2. if you are having house plumbed for gas, go ahead and have gas plumbed for an outdoor gas grill.

    3. a wide opening walk in shower in at least the master. Build bench for seating in shower, grade so that it drains forward toward center of shower and drain.

    4. a bedroom downstairs

    5. Make sure tile setters mortar and grout is not washed down drains. There is too much chance for partially blocking the drains forever and then never quite know why the things won't hardly drain

    6. I would rather have 48" upper cabs to the ceiling that at least I don't have to dust above. At least, it is covered storage. Hopefully, you can use a small two step stool yu are ab;e to use. I just did not want to have to decorate there, lighting up the tops or painting , cobwebs or dusting ....its personal preference. I live with both so, ((((shrug)))

    7. I really like the "solatubes" to magnify and reflect and amplify outside light coming through small opening in roof. Less noisy than skylight, better sucess with no leaks though all things need skillful installation. The light into the room is wonderful. I have one in a windowless laundry room and one in the stairwell. It is so bright, I reach to switch the light off but its all the light from "solatube"

    8. People assume, as have I that all exhaust go to the outside. They do not. Some have been vented to the attic which can build mildew from the moisture in the insulation and I do not think my kitchen fan vents anywhere. Sure couldn't prove it by me! Hate that thing!!!

    I'll be back. Thinking as I stretch and do.
  • auntiebuzzybee
    7 years ago
    Try to plan your ac/heat vents where they will not be obstructed by furniture such as a nightstand

    Windows are quite expensive and I do not know the style of your house but if possible, I recommend casement or awning windows that allows for using a crank instead of having to reach over furniture to use or having to hang on it with all your body weight to close it ; P
    Personally, I would steer clear of trendy things but ultimately it is your home so make it what you want. I would accessorize and furnish with trends but think in terms of dust and money so that you don't date your house before t's even finished.

    Things don't have to be unusual to be beautiful. Practical is GORGEOUS to me!
  • deadnotsleeping
    7 years ago
    We're building right now so I'm not sure yet what I've forgotten to include. :)

    But I did want to comment about taking out a loan for more than your construction budget. Maybe that was possible years ago, but it doesn't happen now. In our mid-sized city there are only two banks that do construction to permanent loans. We have credit in the 800s, money in the bank, and my husband has a high income job and I cannot begin to tell you the hoops we had to jump through for our loan. And the loan is for the exact amount originally planned and not a penny more. Anything beyond that is on us. And the bank pored over our financials with a fine tooth comb. We shared a beach house with family last summer and their personal check to us a week before closing on our land made the bank's head spin.

    Definitely plan for unexpected costs, but also plan to pay them out of pocket.
  • auntiebuzzybee
    7 years ago
    Make sure your large return for your HVAC isn't right there where the televison is.Every time that kicks on, you gotta turn up the volume of the TV! Sheesh!

    A mudroom would be a dream. If you would have room for a shower stall there with handle held shower so that you can drip dry wet rain coats, handwashed laundry and bathe the family dog or dirty gardener, Add some additional shelving or cupboards for a butlers pantry where you can store large cooking pots or your stash of surplus BOGO groceries. This room would be indispensible. Don't forget some great animal art in there.

    Make sure all rooms have enough electrical outlets for people to charge up all their gadgets. Some folks suggest raising these outlets higher on the wall for ease of access.

    Put pocket doors where ever you can. Think pocket doors. Its amazing how much space you will have not having swinging doors in the way.

    IMO, I would not have "built=in" microwave and other such appliances. These things break and then your replacement is limited to the size hole you now have in the cabinetry.. Instead, add a drop down extension of your cabinety to use the microwave but that keeps it off the counterspace. Also consider an appliance garage to hide away all those ugly but useful gadgets. I personally would rather spend $ on extra electrical or tile or driveway or sprinklers before I would spend a boatload of money on fancy smanshy appliances. They will be breaking and replacing every 5 years, maybe 8, no matter what. I'd put my money into a screened porch or unseen things like speakers throughout or soundproofing NOW during construction. That's just me.
  • summery
    7 years ago
    Great discussion! Nothing to add, but following closely as we'll be building this summer.
  • Barbara Dunstan
    7 years ago
    I have a clean freak friend with a mud room that protested her family were still going to be told they had to shower in the old bungalow before they would be allowed to use it, I just laughed and laughed but this friend was serious!!!
    As for you comments about not having built-in's, I sort of agree with you, if you specifically create the built-in to suit the items you have at present but what I've done with my fridge, dishwasher and microwave areas, is allowed a space large enough to accomodate the largest size even though I'm not actually purchasing the largest appliance but having said that, my fridge is already huge at almost 1mt wide so I don't think there's a much wider one available anyway.
    Agree 100% about appliance garages, I don't get this "on display" for the cake mixer and coffee machine etc...I do keep my appliances clean but they are old and I wouldn't display them in a pink fit.
  • troysmommy
    7 years ago
    Storage for cleaning items. We're currently in our 4th home. We were transferred flew in and had 1 week to find a house. Picked the best of a bad lot. I HATE that I have to go downstairs to get a broom or vacuum. Give me a nice old fashioned broom closet please. Also ensure that the linen closet is of adequate size. The other thing I dislike about this house is that I can not see the street from the main floor. It has a garage in the front of the house, and the entrance is tucked beside it.
    All that being said I'm comfortable and happy here, not looking to move again any time soon, I've modified my lifestyle to fit this home.
  • Barbara Dunstan
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago
    My daughter built a two storey house and has no closet of any description at all, even though she wasn't pushed for space and has a perfect spot beside the stairway to have put one in, absolute madness!!
    I asked her where she planned to put her vacuum, not to mention broom etc... when she had visitors, to which she replied that her vac, a Dyson, was pretty enough to leave out on display, cheeky bugger!!!
    I am currently building and have a huge closet going in, as I think you simply can't have too much storage, so I feel for you not to have a closet upstairs.
  • arlissb
    6 years ago

    What I miss are hardwood floors and storage storage and more storage.

    Seems obvious but ensure that your home will live the way you do, as well as how anyone else would live. My builder put the light switches in illogical order, and one is so far in from the passage through that I must lean inward several feet to reach the light-switches. Similarly when I downsized I planned where my furniture would fit but in practice there are wall registers/returns whatever those things are called that cannot be covered as well as need to leave the aforementioned weirdly placed ligh-tswitches uncovered. I also went for many nice windows for light but realized after I moved in that my art collection now can only work in limited spots. Check the sun patterns. After living in a double brick home with trees that made it too dark to grow much, I went to many windows only to find that one direction has so much sun it literally burns the plants I had planned to locate there. A fish tank for example would be out of the question. Heck if I were building a home I would make it U shaped for an aboritem (sp?).

    I also foolishly accepted limited kitchen cabinetry because at the time I was eating a raw food diet, but now I regret that.

    If you have pets plan where their food bowls will go and especially any literboxes or you may be stepping over them in a path or bathroom. Don't settle for smaller than large capacity washer dryer (for bedding and so forth). My kitchen had a big hole for the refrigerator but it turned out not to be large enough for the one I wanted since it would have needed more space to open where the wall was. Deep drawers in kitchens are handy for many things. And ensure lots of handy storage (or room for storeage furniture) in the bathrooms. A fullbath and BR downstairs are essential in case you ever sprain your ankle (or worse, in old age).

    Also consider wind patterns (or if necessary plan trees to accomodate them) as in:

    Even though I am not in a hurricane area or have much extreme weather, the unblocked wind path to my patio has now blown down several of the installed high quality surround panels twice and they were sunk in concrete. It even sailed two of them across the yard into the neighbor's yard, just from a wind stronger than I knew we even ever have here since you can seldom ever fly a kite even.
    This has happened twice now, so I am debating whether to remove the other panels or what to do. I also find that a deck is sometimes handier than a large patio, and so I may add one at some point.

    Consider typical rug sizes if you have hardwood floors, (my DR was a few inches off for rug sizes), views from the rooms, and not to be insulting, but check easements carefully.

    Check for cell towers or other electrical things within at least 5 miles of your location, or be bombarded with emf.

    Also travel to any proposed location at rush travel times to be sure it is convenient to get to it easily without big waits. And if you have a walk in closet be sure there is some extra space instead of just a passageway.
    Double check everything. Believe it or not I was given a driveway that literally did not allow my car to enter my new two car garage either forward or backward (the apron or whatever that concrete thing by the garage door is called, would scrape the bottom of the car with the driveway slope I was given), and only then did I learn that the county didn't care and there is no regulation in my state that says that a driveway needs to allow you to access your two car garage. (and with a small pizza shaped yard there are no other driveway options. If you have a small lot be sure there is adequate parking. (I now must park the car in front of my home and be sure it does not go into the drainage ditch, or cover up the neighbor's drive in the back or the mailbox access to the front, and there are also days when I need to have a recyclebin or garbage dumpster parked up there. If they sling it a little bit off it prevents mailbox access or my neighbor's driveway access. (their house wasn't there when I bought this so it became clear only later) And that drainage ditch in the front is a nuisance for grasscutting, etc. Plan ahead to simplify your life in any way you can because over time or with age, you might wish you had : )

    Definitely get an inspector involved. I counted on my county making the builder remedy things,, only to learn that they are either not very smart or in the hands or the builders. (for ex. they told the builder to add some sort of tubes to the end of the gutters and the builder had literally put them so that they drained steeply Uphill instead of down! and they approved the plan that did not allow access to the garage due to the short steep drive, when it was all unnecessary had they put the garage at the level of the house and built it up, rather than allowing him to sink the garage several feet below the house. (based on my complaint he claimed he added several inches of concrete to the house next door, but said mine could not be fixed due to the garage door! That's the kind of garbage I got from my supposed builder. I am telling you buyer BEWARE is good advice.

    Be sure you have your survey stakes in place if you buy without a loan so you know where your yard starts and stops. And if anything is lumpy in the yard have it either leveled or at least smoothed out. And consider in ground sprinklers from the start, and possibly outdoor electrical sockets (like on the porch or patio area) for appliances, lights, whatever. Well, I hope I haven't insulted your intelligence. I had always made wise purchases before I got a new construction house too fast to try to get my son into a safer school. And after all that the supposedly nationally acclaimed blue ribbon school turned out to be unsafe and so inadequate that we had to spring for a private situation. Meanwhile my home has decreased in value.

    Oh and spring for a front door you like and an entryways and if possibly all pathways that are reasonable. Plan easy access when carrying groceries or large items, you will after all need to get things like beds refrigerators, etc. into your home.
    Oh and if possible you may wish to plan for a freezer convenient to your kitchen, or even better a second refrigerator maybe back in a laundry room you enter from the garage or whatever, is really really handy for overflow or less used but maybe large items especially if you are entertaining or want to take advantage of quantity discounts.

  • arlissb
    6 years ago

    just thought of this. if you style is casual, I saw something I totally loved at my friends house in the Outer Banks. She had a tiled and somehow but I forgot how, enclosed (it felt very open, so maybe it had a lot of glass windows?) big room across the home behind a small porch I believe but like a transitional entry room with more than one door leading to different parts of the home (LR vs. kitchen area I think) This room was fabulous and very practical as sort of a mudroom (and had a few items there for her cat) but more attractive since any items put there (shoes in the example of our meeting) were overshadowed by the very attractive and homey feel of it due to the attractive clay color I think but very attractive tile, a few large plants etc. That is not what the style of my home is at all but it had a wonderful homey feel and kept items that are in transit (maybe there was some equivalent of coat storage there, a place to put things down as they entered the home, etc. and there was a wonderful organic stove of some type in the living room. Home was not large but felt very luxurious due to these touches, nice water views from the dining area and a spacious spa like bathroom on the back behind the master BR. Simple but well planned out home with very special touches. That front porch room was such a nice surprise I would love to have one but cannot. The whole home was an interesting combination of relaxed casual and special luxurious and was unlike any I had seen before. (I may not have recalled it accurately but it has been years and I still recall how special and comforting it was. I know people with huge homes with just about every amenity that are comfortable and luxurious and so a thrill to be in, but even with great hospitality they do not live as easily as that other home. I think there was also some other sort of porch on the back, screened in or something that allowed for wonderful nature watching--not just the water, but the bird building a nest in a bush there etc. Just a very alive home.

  • summery
    6 years ago
    As you get into your plans, document every little detail discussed with your architect, designer, builder, etc. Try and follow up with emails documenting these details.

    Allow yourself time, don't be rushed into making any decisions.

    Measure twice, cut once!

    Expect to be on-site at least once a day if you can.

    Expect your contractor to have the ability to take photos with his/her phone, and text them to you instantly. No excuses whatsoever for poor or slow communication nowadays.
  • Barbara Dunstan
    6 years ago


    Oh my gosh, what a disaster it sounds you have but you seem to have been able to make necessary changes to still be able to live there.

    I suspect you will need to get another qualified builder, someone with a fantastic reputation, to help you fix some of the things, especially the garage for example and the plumbing can be looked at by the builder also but he may suggest a good plumber who could solve this for you.

    I'm sure something can be achieved and I'm also darn sure it will cost but if this is home for a "long" time or "forever" then you really need to make things more comefortable so that you can LOVE your home not constsntly see it's faults!!

    More importantly, if you choose to sell, you will need to make the home more appealing to the next buyer, so fixing some of the problems you are now facing is a must I feel, unless you decide to accept a much lower sale price just to get out!!

    I mentioned in another thread some time ago, about how some people put too much trust into the builder and worst of all, don't really have much of a clue of sizes and measurements. I mean this as no insult to you personally but it happens regularly, that people simply don't check room measurements and window locations or as you stated, light switches for example, then they are surprised that the sofa won't fit or the bedrooms are to small etc...!!

    Lets look at some of your problems that I do believe can be fixed at a cost for sure but not necessarily out of reach:

    The offending wall returns, if not load bearing, can be removed and at the same time the light switches can be relocated if it's absolutely necessary and the plaster is fixed, painted and voila!!

    Windows can be removed, plaster fixed and again voila, you can hang some more artwork!!

    The windows you do want to put plants in front of can have a light filtering sunshade blind, so you can still see through it but it limits the harsh suns rays.

    The kitchen would need an expert to see if more storage could be achieved. You may not realize just how this could be done but someone in the know, might be able to suggest storage in a spot you had no idea was possible. The fridge hole, might be able to have either both or one wall removed to accomodate a larger size but again an expert could look at this whilst trying to solve your storage problems.

    The patio dilemma could be solved by either planting trees or plants to help buffer the wind, or perhaps have a brick wall built, the sort of large brick that has intentional holes in it, so that it can stop and disperse most of the strong wind.

    Rooms that don't accomodate a standard rug would be hard to find in real life, so I wouldn't be overly concerned that you did something wrong there but if you want a particular sized rug, you can get a carpet place to make it a specific size and the problem can be easily solved.

    Hubby and I are building completely ourselves and I personally drew up the plan, so I was well aware of dimensions and regularly had a tape measure in my pocket when visiting friends to check the size of a room they had that I liked. I taught myself to draw to scale, so I would draw in furniture I owned or wanted to buy to be sure it would fit and if it didn't I would decide if I had to steal some area from another room, like moving a wall etc...

    I have no hole for the fridge, just a spot, so I can have any size but with all the necessary appliances in the kitchen especially, I looked up their maximum size and stayed with these dimensions in the plan, can't really go wrong then.

    We have allowed for invalid access into the home by way of a ramp and double entry doors to allow for all the large furniture like the lounge, bed, fridge etc...

    At the end of the day, you need to decide what you want to do I guess, fix the problems and stay, or fix the problems and leave or simply leave or simply stay but there are solutions!!

    Good luck,


  • arlissb
    6 years ago

    I'm sure, (though you haven't seen this place and how many limits are on it like only two walls in a very tiny kitchen and no cabinet big enough for a silverware drawer --it looked wide enough from the outside only the drawer was a teeny one!)

    I just don't like the lot enough to deal with it, and where I live "as is" sales are no longer flying. So it has been a huge mistake. I had thought I could buy it to get our son to a safer school and then turn it over when he graduated in a few years since it was new construction. I will never again trust a building inspector again. And when I had them come out for some problems afterward they said things that were not even logical (like that a wire on top of the attic unit was causing a noise I heard up there, even though I had just told them that of course the noise did not happen the night before they came out so clearly that was not the cause of it!) There are other problems I have not mentioned. BRs too close to the street are too noisy when the recycle truck comes at 5:30 am, etc. Luckily my friend's husband used to be a contractor and will likely help me when I get out from under the out of town eldercare enough to deal with it. Unfortunately I was dealing with selling our old house and a rental house when I should have been focusing on my own! Live and learn. I don't rule anything out. So thanks for the ideas!

  • jbrenna8
    6 years ago
    We are finishing up building our first custom home together and here are a few things we would pay attention to if there is a "next time":

    Separate fan switches in all baths
    Built in nooks in tile showers
    Make sure there are plenty of Windows (our master bath change to a walk through shower blocked the only window in the bath)
    Consider adding higher, small windows
    Bathroom cabinetry with electric outlet insidefor electric toothbrush charging, etc
    Know what the "finish" is for interior walls (smooth, signature?)
    Crown molding
    Placement of all outlets and cable (wall mounted TV's, floor outlets)
    Outdoor electric/water

    These are just a few.
  • ivyrocks
    6 years ago
    If it's your dream house you have to consider staying there forever.
    This means first floor master, pull out drawers in kitchen cabinets, French door with handles - not push type patio doors, wide corridors and doorways just in case you might need them. I would also put in bathroom handles that don't look "handicapped" but could be used to grab just in case. Long faucets that don't break your back as you lean over cleaning.
    Wood floors are easier to navigate than carpets if using wheelchair and look lovely. I truly believe it's possible to create a beautiful home that you can age in gracefully and it's so much easier to do when you're building from scratch.. For instance, Wood floors are easier to use with a wheelchair than carpets and are lovely. Plenty of outlets as we become more dependent on electronics.
    You're so fortunate to be able to design and build your dream house. Best of luck!
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  • Moxiemom
    6 years ago
    One tiny detail is outside faucets. They put the darn things so low you scratch your face off in the bushes trying to turn the water off and on. Trying to connect the hose to the faucet would be easier if it was only a foot or two higher. After they poured the concrete for our driveway I could no longer fit a bucket under the spigot. The same with the one on our brick patio. Any outside masonry work done once the house is completed will, in essence, make the faucet closer to the ground.

    In our prior house the concrete in the garage was ever so slightly lower than the driveway. When we had a downpour water gushed into the garage. Likewise the drain inside the garage needs to be lower than the rest of the floor so water drains into it, preventing puddles of water from forming every time you hose off the floor.
  • Barbara Dunstan
    6 years ago


    Although at a cost, a plumber could put an extension onto the outside faucets, it's not particularly difficult, he would cut the pipe and put in a joiner and if it's copper as it often is, he will need to use a flaring tool but as far as I know it is quite doeable.

    The only way you could solve your garage dilema is to have tiles or similar placed on the floor thus creating a new height around the drain but that would be somewhat costly.

  • Moxiemom
    6 years ago

    Thanks Barbara. I may check into the faucet extender! Definitely will live with the garage floor issues, but if I ever build again, I'll add that to my checklist!

  • spindle22
    2 years ago

    Great thread.