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Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Drew
Date: September 30, 2008 06:43PM
We may have an opportunity to build our own house. Of course, much of the design depends on the lot and our budget. However, since we have a chance to build our own, I would like to add some small things for convenience or livability. For example, a house my brother used to live in had a chute from upstairs to the basement to dump dirty laundry into so that it landed next to the washer. Or, other houses I've seen have had the laundry room on the second floor, near the bedrooms, rather than the first floor or basement.

Anyway, what kinds of features have you seen that you think would be great to have in a house? If you were building, what would you be sure to include?
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Will Collier
Date: September 30, 2008 06:52PM
I'd wire everything I could get to with CAT-6, and pre-wire the living room for surround speakers.

What? I'm an engineer...
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: GuyGene
Date: September 30, 2008 07:01PM
If you live in hot climate don't build two story. Neighbor did and regrets it now, even with separate a/c for upstairs. Also, don't trust your own design! Whew, I have seen some real messes with people who designed their own house. Looks good on paper but terrible to actually live in.

Otherwise, do your research and know that it will cost at least a third more than you think and will take maybe three times as long as you think; if you really build it yourself.



That old man - he don't think like no old man...
Now I wouldn't want to be within 400 - 500 yards of one of them nuclear bombs when it goes off! WW1 Vet Old Man
"He's pinned under an outcropping of rock. Lucky for him, the rock kept the dirt from burying him alive."
If idiots could fly, this place would be an airport. And I'd be a TSA agent.
A bonified member of The Mystic Knights of The Sea, George P. Stevens, President. Andy Brown, Treasurer, Algonquin J. Calhoun, Legal Consultant.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Spock
Date: September 30, 2008 07:21PM
Double the insulation.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Michael
Date: September 30, 2008 07:30PM
I'd look at icynene insulation. It looks like a really good idea, but I've never looked carefully at it. I'd put in really good low e windows, a double oven and slide out drawers on all the kitchen cabinets. I'd put empty pvc pipe at several places in the house between all floors from attic to crawlspace/basement to allow easy additional wiring. I'd also run capped pvc under all driveways and walkways to allow wire and water to be changed or added easily. I'd make all the doors wide enough for a wheelchair and put blocking at handrail height around the public areas of the house. If you retire there it might be useful; if you sell it, it will be a selling point. I'd also put blocking around the tub and toilet for the same reason. If you have a basement, I'd add some capped drain lines to any place that you might possibly want a sink--I wish I had put one at the basement entrance to wash up before coming in the house. It's dirt cheap to do up front and seriously expensive to do later. If you use siding, I'd use the new pvc trim so that it won't rot.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: space-time
Date: September 30, 2008 07:32PM
talking about houses... what are they made off? I was driving today with a German and he asked me why houses here in the US are made of wood. He said in Germany the houses are made of stone (I guess he meant concrete or bricks).


I didn't know what to say, I guessed it must be cheaper to build a house from wood than from bricks or concrete.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Racer X
Date: September 30, 2008 07:38PM
trapdoor and large crawl space for the dead hookers.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: mattkime
Date: September 30, 2008 07:42PM
don't think of it as a home but a LAIR



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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Drew
Date: September 30, 2008 07:48PM
Quote
Michael
and slide out drawers on all the kitchen cabinets.

What do you mean by slide out drawers in the cabinets?

Edit: Nevermind, Google is my friend.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/30/2008 07:49PM by Drew.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Black Landlord
Date: September 30, 2008 07:54PM
I would love to have heated workspace with roll-in storage.
My dream house would be the former on the ground level with living space above.
Also do what you can to de-emphasize the garage from the street view-- lots of new construction looks like luxury accommodations for cars, with a bit of people space thrown in as an afterthought. Forward-facing garage entrances are going to look dated very soon. And not a quaint 1920s kind of dated, but a "what the hell were they thinking" dated.



[www.papanicholas.com] coffee smiley
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Dakota
Date: September 30, 2008 08:02PM
We have second floor laundry and it is great. What is not so great is that our basement got flooded and floor was not graded properly to channel water to the sump. Insulate the garage. Interior insulation is great for soundproofing unless you want to hear kids playing video games downstairs. Whole house fan perhaps? Ethernet jack in every room?
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: deckeda
Date: September 30, 2008 08:03PM
My folks had a laundry chute in their last house. Trouble was, it seemed made from common rectangular HVAC ductwork, a little narrow. Whenever you'd put a "real" pile of clothes down it they'd get stuck and you'd have to creatively push brooms and such down it. So just make sure it's a decent size.

Speaking of HVAC, unless you actively choose it, the builder will put the cheapest crap in there they can to keep costs down. In a few years you could be ripping it all out. Spend the extra today to get good, efficient stuff and also enhances comfort beyond simple temperature setpoints.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: deckeda
Date: September 30, 2008 08:11PM
Quote
Dakota
... Whole house fan perhaps? ...

Most new houses are moving away from these because they are better insulated and so don't benefit from them as much as older houses do, thereby making the drawbacks more noticeable.

Regarding insulation, you want significant attic insulation. This helps in both summer and winter. You want the attic sealed very well from the top floor so that when the AC is on, the air returns don't suck in hot air from the attic and allow hot air to escape into the attic in winter. Adequately vent the attic so that the summer heat doesn't prematurely cook your roofing shingles, etc.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: September 30, 2008 08:17PM
I'd build with the following rooted firmly in mind;

Hydronic heat built into the slab. You can cap off the tubes if you decide NOT to use them, but you can't add them later if you decide "Oh, hey, a heated slab under the house would be nice!".

Ground Source Geothermal heat pump. Digging the ground heat exchanger tubes in is a big expense, but again, hell of a lot harder to add LATER!

Solar collectors for the hydronic system and household water use.
Augment with a traditional water heater or boiler... or better yet, On-Demand water head specifically designed to work well with a solar collector system.


Insulate the heck out of walls, exterior AND interior. Insulate the heck out of the attic. Easy to do on building, hard and expensive to crack all the walls open later.

I'd go with pre-wired ethernet, phone, cable jacks, speaker wire, and fiber optic (cause you never know what you might need in a few years), in structured wiring cables to a PLANNED central wiring location with room for an equipment rack.



Personally, I'd also go with a 25 or 50 yard underground shooting range... but that's probably getting a bit personality specific :-)


Appliances can all be added later with ease...
Stuff that goes in the walls, slab, attics, etc can't. Focus on getting that stuff right!



Paul F.
-----
A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 5 BC - 65 AD
----
Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.

--

--

--
Eureka, CA
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Racer X
Date: September 30, 2008 08:22PM
I'd do the shooting range as well. You can always stuff it with dead hookers. Diagonal across your property should give you the longest range.

Have active venting for the shooting range to keep lead contamination down, but so that you can close it off when the corpses get a little "ripe"



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/30/2008 08:22PM by Racer X.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: September 30, 2008 08:27PM
Nah... You need a lime pit for the corpses...
Under the pool house to the chlorine smell masks any untoward odors in summer... until the lime pit does it's work and dissolves all but the bones (which get buried.. or burned...)

Why have 'em sitting in the shooting range, getting in the way?



Paul F.
-----
A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 5 BC - 65 AD
----
Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.

--

--

--
Eureka, CA
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: mattkime
Date: September 30, 2008 08:27PM
more seriously, when my parents built their house they found it surprisingly cheap to make the basements a few feet deeper. the added height is wonderful for my dad's workshop.



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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: September 30, 2008 08:29PM
On that note;
If you're thinkng basement workshop... have a RAMP and EXTERIOR DOOR access, or build on a slope so you have ground level access!
Some tools and projects need to be rolled in, and getting a ton and a half of metal lathe down a set of stairs is a damn unpleasant (and dangerous) job.

Oh, and if you're thinking heavy-duty workshop; wire for three phase power and include a VFD (converts single phase power to 3-phase) on the OUTSIDE of the shop... rotary converters are a bit noisey...



Paul F.
-----
A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 5 BC - 65 AD
----
Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.

--

--

--
Eureka, CA
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Racer X
Date: September 30, 2008 08:30PM
90 degree ball valves for the emergency shut offs on your plumbing. Make sure the house's main shut off is easy to get to as well.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: macphanatic
Date: September 30, 2008 08:34PM
Things that I would consider if I were building a house would be:

1. Radiant heat - much more efficient than forced hot air.
2. Zoned HVAC - again more efficient.
3. Steel frame - there are several companies that offer framing packages. You pick the exterior look and they can modify the interior layout to suit your needs. Steel is fire, bug, and mold resistant. Plus getting a framing kit will speed up the framing process considerably and improve overall quality. Steel framing also gives you a lot of flexibility with regards to window and exterior door placement as most of the studs are not load bearing (typically, you have a few load bearing columns).
4. Consider 6 or 8 inch thick walls with lots of insulation.
5. Buy good insulated windows and doors.
6. Consider solar supplemented water heating.
7. Run low voltage plastic flex conduit throughout the home. While Cat 6 will carry you for the next few years, what will you do when fiber or other technology is the latest thing to have.
8. Consider providing some type of outdoor connection for speakers, phone, cable, etc.
9. Consider a floor drain for any laundry room not in the basement.
10. Provide underslab piping for a Radon system (in case it's needed later).
11. Consider prewiring windows and doors for security contacts if you might consider installing a system in the future.
12. Consider installing fire sprinklers throughout the house. If you're concerned about aesthetics, there are many sprinkler heads that a less obtrusive than those in commercial properties.
13. You may need to install hardwired smoke detectors (local code issue).
14. Avoid the use of PVC drain pipe, particularly for second floor plumbing and drops to the basement. Nothing worse than hearing someone use the facilities above a dining room.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: September 30, 2008 08:43PM
yes, heated slab! roll-in basement door! tons o' insulation! high floor to ceiling height (I mean like 12 foot high)! high basement floor to ceiling height! tile floors and wood floors sprinkled liberally throughout (but integrated well).

man, I live in a 19th century Victorian (nothing too special) but all this has me wanting to design my own house. I've always wanted to do that - I've got a lot of architect genes.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Bill in NC
Date: September 30, 2008 08:44PM
HVAC - don't know what you call it, but a system that can bring fresh air in from the outside easily

in our hot climate, be nice to pipe cooler air in at night - simply opening windows and running the fan on our spec system does not result in any meaningful air exchange

build for the climate - for ours you'd have overhangs that would block direct summer sun into windows but allow winter sun.

In some things I trade simplicity & fewer parts for efficiency - e.g. I use a tanked natural gas-fired heater instead of tankless because it is cheaper to install and service, and has fewer things to break.

similarly I'll commit sacrilege and recommend an air-source heat pump for hot climates instead of geothermal (much more expensive, more things to break, and the latter's advantage seems to be for cold climates)

Oh, and whatever electrical upgrade you need (20A instead of 15A circuit?) to get more outlets per room than the minimum (I'd like at least 50% more in my spec house)
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: vicrock
Date: September 30, 2008 08:48PM
Another vote for radiant floor heat - we have it an love it.
Central vacuum cleaner - easy to install in new construction
Raised dishwasher - we saw this in a Home Depot when we were in the planning stage - it has to be plumbed separately, but is great - the "junk drawer" in under it and it is just high enough so you don't have to stoop to load it.
36" doors - if you plan on "aging in place", having doors that make access easy for a walker or wheelchair are a must - again easy to do in new construction - a bear to retrofit.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: wurm
Date: September 30, 2008 08:49PM
Jeez, all these great ideas almost make me wish I were building a house, too.




Almost.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: September 30, 2008 09:06PM
My mom did this, and it was an incredibly good idea. She built it handicapped accessible. Wide hallways, wood floors, high ceilings, gentle ramps instead of steps to the 1st level of the house. Handicapped accessible bathroom. Well, my brother is handicapped and my mom still (god love her) cares for him. But it's a brilliant idea. We're none of us getting any younger, and the wider hallways means that you can have your arms around TWO hookers as you maneuver into the house to rest up from all the booze.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Todd's keyboard
Date: September 30, 2008 09:09PM
A nook. (probably off of the kitchen for Sunday-morning breakfasts and a paper)

I've loved places that have a nook. Spend quite a bit of time in our current nook.

Todd's cosy keyboard

You and yours may find it beneficial to look through a copy of Christopher Alexander's book, "A Pattern Language."

[www.amazon.com]
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: fromish
Date: September 30, 2008 09:11PM
These are great suggestions, but for design check out the book A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander. It is a kind of dictionary of structural ideas from the history of houses that have worked well with hundreds of entries. For example, he mentions the charm and utility of window seats with illustration and explanation, the importance of having light enter a room from two sides, etc.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: fromish
Date: September 30, 2008 09:12PM
Hey, Todd's keyboard-two minds, one thought!
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Grateful11
Date: September 30, 2008 09:19PM
An LP or Natural Gas stand-by/back-up generator.
6" exterior walls.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: lafinfil
Date: September 30, 2008 09:33PM
Much on my list has already been covered - radiant heat, extra deep basement (10') with an exterior bulkhead,
extra attention to insulation, HVAC (including air exchange) and a 10 car garage / workshop.
I would also add a metal seam roof -it will outlive you and only add a few grand to the price.

Here's a couple other things I would do. take a look at a good book about designing a house for handicap accessibility.
A great deal of it can be included and it's not even noticeable - wider doors and hallways. walk in showers
with no curbs, minimizing stairs etc... It will only increase the value down the line.

I know someone that built a three level house and they designed it with oversized stacking closets
on the three floors that is actually an elevator shaft in case they want to add one later. Cost nothing but
the foresight to design it in at the time.

The one thing that I see in a lot of houses that people design themselves is a lot of wasted space and in
this day and age the cost in heating and maintenance is not going down. A good designer can help you
figure out how you really live and will use the space.

Regardless of the size of house you build you should check out "The Not So Big House"
A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live
by Sarah Susanka [store.taunton.com]

There are a lot of BIG house that lack livability IMHO - they lack any level of coziness, lack proper storage
and sadly lack the small details that make the house feel cozy and livable.

If you enjoy the outdoors then take those outdoor living areas into consideration too.
My main gripe with my house is that the patio area is one the flat back side of the house
and doesn't tie into the inside so I tend to use it less than if it was an area off the kitchen
or other central area of the house.



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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Racer X
Date: September 30, 2008 09:36PM
any garage should be extra wide, and extra deep, so any crap you store won't prevent you from getting a vehicle in it. Room for cabinets/shelving and/or a work bench of some sort. tell the wife it is a potting bench for her......
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: blooz
Date: September 30, 2008 09:57PM
Wet bar.



And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.
—Friedrich Nietzsche
Western Massachusetts
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: September 30, 2008 10:18PM
A friend swears by A Pattern Language.

Also, just brainstorming:

Use the old round metal for ducts, not the accordion flex kind.

Put in overhead shelves like in an airplane in some of the rooms.

Put a dam and drain under any appliance that can leak. Put marbles in the area to find the lowest spot.

Make indoor flower beds with aluminum lining than have drains to the outside.

Put the washer and dryer next to the bathroom.

Make room for a 6' or corner whirlpool tub.

Make a grate out of some cool kind of wood outside and inside the main doors for dirt to fall into. Put a removable pan under it.

Put in wood floors and nail them tight in the summer when they have expanded to their limit.

Build shelves within some of the interior walls for VHS tapes, CDs, cassettes, paperbacks, etc.

Build soffits in one or more rooms that can be used for storage.

Build a poor-man's safe room out of 2 x 8s or other large massive lumber. Use it for storage, otherwise.

Measure your canned goods and boxes to make your pantry shelves the optimum heights.

Make sure you can easily replace plumbing in the kitchen and bathrooms.

Put your commodes on a pad of cool looking wood so the floors can be replaced without having to account for the commode.

Use exotic wood, stone, marble, granite, etc. in small areas where the area is not that great and the absolute cost won't be that great.

See if you can possibly run the HVAC ducts inside the heated area for efficiency. Incorporate them into seating areas or benches or storage or faux beams.

Make sure your HVAC return ducts are adequate.

Get a Frank Loyd Wright books for some inspiration.

If you like music, make sure the acoustics in the music room are good.

Make your own office-type parallel filing cabinets out of plywood.

Make a small vault out of big lumber and metal with the same idea as the safe room - solidly built with a built-in lock, for jewelry, medicine, papers, etc.

From the get-go, figure out a plan for storage in corners of the kitchen and maybe bathroom - lazy Susans or something similar.

Get anal with your design of the garage, utility room and basement so you can keep stuff there instead of cluttering the house.

Figure that the basement will flood one day and guard against storing anything in there that moisture will hurt - ever.

Make it to code for handicap accessibility from the start.

Make sure all doors will allow bringing in and out couches, refrigerators, freezers, etc.

Build breaker box area with the intention of having to use it. Not cramped, well-lit, etc. Make sub-boxes in other area, like basement, etc.

Grade the yard so maybe you don't have to use gutters.

Anticipate seeling it someday, so make sure you put in land lines for the phone, etc.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: StarGlazer
Date: September 30, 2008 11:04PM
Perhaps a dumb waiter for laundry instead of a laundry chute. Wouldn't have to carry the clothes back up the stairs.

Perhaps an elevator, especially if three story. Would increase handicap access and be nice as you age. (I'm not kidding. Had a friend include one (at least the shaft) in his three story for his mother-in-law.)

I also second "A Pattern Language" by Christopher Alexander. An amazing book.

(Now let the jokes begin ...)
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: DaviDC.
Date: September 30, 2008 11:11PM
I'd have a LARGE walk-in closet in the master bedroom with a washer & dryer & a counter top across one wall & shelves on the rest. That way I'd never have to schlep clothes again.



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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Mike Johnson
Date: September 30, 2008 11:35PM
I'd want a dedicated closet to hold a server or two, and a router, and the cable/dsl modem or whatever -- all that stuff that really doesn't have to be sitting out. And I'd plan how to deliver video and audio all around the house, and run cable for it.

Now that I have the Remote software for the iPod touch, I wish I had speakers in every room of my house. And a way to turn them on and off, of course.

I'd try to have nothing but my teevee and maybe a DVD player sitting out -- I'd want to use a universal remote to control all the (hidden) gear.

Like macphanatic, I'd run cat6, and do it in conduit that could be used later to pull fiber.

I'd make sure my teevee/stereo gear had its own electrical circuit.

I'd make sure my breaker box had room for expansion.

I would put more money into insulation than in fancy windows. For the price you'd pay to upgrade a window to triple pane krypton-filled, you could probably upgrade all the insulation in the walls, and have a much higher overall R-value.

I would want some sound-muffling materials used in the master bedroom and the bathrooms -- at the very least, heavier drywall and solid doors. But then I'd put in networked smoke alarms too.

I'd put convenience outlets every 45 or 50 feet along the eaves, for Christmas lights.

I'd put the laundry on the second floor but I'd want all the specialty gadgets used to prevent flooding -- valves that only open when the washing machine is running and that shut when a floor sensor gets wet. And yeah, it should have a floor drain and be sitting in a pan.

I'd try to have bath/shower plumbing easily accessible via panels, so you could just go around the other side to make a repair, instead of busting out tiles.

I'd want recycling and food scrap collection areas planned into the kitchen. Cardboard recycling in particular takes up far more room in our kitchen than the daily dose of garbage.

I wouldn't design my kitchen based on the old work triangle. I'd think more about designing areas for different tasks -- food prep, washing dishes, setting the table, getting snacks or breakfast.

I wouldn't want my kitchen to be open to the rest of the house! Open floor plans are lovely, but food odors and aerosolized grease, not so much.

I'd design a place for pet food and water bowls and the kitty litter box.

I'd want a built-in space to hold a good-sized safe.

Others have pointed out the need to make it handicapped accessible with wider hallways and doors, and putting some thought into stairs and the like. I wouldn't go all the way to making it ADA compliant, but I'd make sure that it wouldn't be much work to make it fully accessible to a person in a wheelchair.

I would use prefinished hardwood floors, and prefinished or prepainted siding outside, if I was using siding.

And I'd want a front porch.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/30/2008 11:39PM by Mike Johnson.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: October 01, 2008 12:13AM
My Dad designed his house so it didn't face a cardinal direction, so the sun didn't shine directly in a window, plus he designed the front and back porch overhangs to help with that, also.

Also, see if you can make sure visitors naturally go to the front door. Most houses I see are arranged where the parking spot leads toy naturally to the backdoor/carport.

And, consider how far you have to carry groceries from the car to the kitchen counter.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: artie67
Date: October 01, 2008 12:47AM
Has anybody mentioned dual glazed windows? A must for insulation of cold/heat and also sound. As I have remodel many kitchens, clients are always enjoy full-extension deep drawers. Never put pull-outs behind two doors as you will gouge the back of the doors. Possible exceptions are for "aesthetic" reasons or if necessary behind a single door.Check out LED lighting as it is coming down in price. It will eventually replace all the "can lighting" fixtures. Skylights that open and have shades built in. If more than one story or long runs, put in recycle hot water pump to save water. As for "dumbwaiters" they were great to send our tool bags up to the 4th floor Venice, Ca. job we did last year. Insulate everything!
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: davester
Date: October 01, 2008 12:49AM
My primary item is something I retrofitted my present house with...radiant hydronic heat (mentioned by several others). It really is the cat's meow. Total comfort! Just say no to forced air. I'd definitely try to set it up so that it could at least be partly heated by solar hot water panels, and definitely solar for the hot water system. Make sure to include space for a GFX heat exchanger (see their website) in the design...a very cheap way to save a huge amount of energy. If you live somewhere that needs AC, have the house designed to minimize heat gain (proper eave and window configuration, roof materials, attic venting/radiant barrier/insulation (get an expert to show you how). In Sacramento, CA (blazing hot), they've designed some houses that are quite pleasant without use of AC.

I'd also think about setting up the piping for a graywater system (of course it depends on where you live whether this makes sense at all). I'd also make sure that the architect is experienced with passive solar design and orients walls/windows to take advantage of the sun.

As someone else mentioned, make sure that the inside space has great access to the outside space. It's especially good if you can walk out of the house into the patio/yard from two different directions.

Design the plumbing with many small diameter runs so that you minimize the wait for hot water (and cost to heat all that pipe). Don't let a regular plumber do it...he'll avoid such a fussy design.



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/01/2008 12:52AM by davester.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Dick Moore
Date: October 01, 2008 01:45AM
Pressure balancing faucets for the showers -- they are only a few dollars more and they completely eliminate being frozen or scalded when someone somewhere in the house flushes or starts the washer, etc.

If you're building a crawl space instead of basement, make it a good four feet or more deep -- I recommend at least 6'. Right off, the HVAC guys and the plumbers will love you for it, and later, you'll love yourself for it too. Make the garage bigger, period.



What it is, man, a low-down and funky feelin'
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: macphanatic
Date: October 01, 2008 07:05AM
Metal seam roofing is a great idea, as long as you're not in a high wind area. If you are, you will need a competent designer and installer to ensure that the panels stay put.

Forgot to mention a whole-house surge protector. If you're in an area with frequent lightning storms, you may want to consider a lightning arrest system.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: JoeBob
Date: October 01, 2008 08:18AM
Lot of great ideas.

I would add a radiant barrier to the roof, will cut the heat load through the roof tremendously.
A tornado room for my area, and that can either be used for a regular (no window) room, or a "safe room" as mentioned earlier.

I have a friend in the Bay area that installed the whole house wiring to "future proof" as well as he could, and he hasn't regretted it yet.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Plumbking
Date: October 01, 2008 09:28AM
Hot water return loop system.

Pot filler above the stove.

Rough in for gas and electrical (220V) at dryer and stove.

Hot and cold hose bibs (mixing valve) for outside to wash the dog or car.

Gas to outside BBQ.

Outlets for wall hung TV (elec. HDMI, coax)
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: dk62
Date: October 01, 2008 09:34AM
Geothermal heat pump. Lots of other great ideas here, but that would be the one I would definitely use if i were building.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: dmann
Date: October 01, 2008 09:56AM
Definitely put the washer and dryer near the living space- not tucked away in a basement somewhere. Chute or no chute, it just doesn't make sense.

Big walk in steam shower. A jacuzzi tub is nice, but most people shower every day. Also nice in the bathroom, a heated towel bar.

Ramps instead of stairs where possible- makes it easy for loading in all kinds of things from furniture to a big load of groceries to a baby in a stroller.

Radient floor heat- wish I had it.

Pull out shelves in all kitchen cabinets. Most of my base cabinets are deep, wide drawers and the rest have pull outs. No more stacks of stuff and things getting lost in the back.

Plugmold in the kitchen

If you are going to be doing a small workstation in the kitchen, my friends built in a "charging station". Cell phones, PDAs, iPods, cameras and the like all get recharged there. It has a dedicated, built in power strip and has a door so no one needs to see that mess of wires and bases. Brilliant, IMHO.

Walk in pantry. Another of my friends painted a HUGE rectangle of chalkboard paint on the wall in her walk in pantry. That becomes the grocery list (ideally, when someone takes the last of something from the pantry, they write it down on the chalkboard). She or her husband snap a pic of it on their phones before they head out to the grocery.

A sunroom, sliding doors and big bay windows if possible. IMHO, the more access to the outdoors, the better.

DM
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Will Collier
Date: October 01, 2008 11:10AM
Quote
mrbigstuff
yes, heated slab!

I'm guessing this is a northern-latitudes thing? I've never lived anywhere much north of Atlanta, and never heard of heating the slab before.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: davester
Date: October 01, 2008 11:52AM
Quote
Will Collier
Quote
mrbigstuff
yes, heated slab!

I'm guessing this is a northern-latitudes thing? I've never lived anywhere much north of Atlanta, and never heard of heating the slab before.

Not really, unless you live so far south that you don't need heat at all. Retrofitting floor heating is very difficult and expensive. Putting it in when you're building the house is dirt cheap.



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: billb
Date: October 01, 2008 11:58AM
I've had the laundry upstairs near the bedrooms, in the kitchen and in the basement and no way would I have the washer nor dryer in a living space ever again.
I have a porch converted to a laundry room and that works fine for me.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: 3d
Date: October 01, 2008 11:59AM
If it was my house, i would put in a huge giant skylight. As big as practically possible. I love natural light. How cool would it be to look up and see the stars from inside your house.
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Re: Building a house - what special features would you add?
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: October 01, 2008 12:31PM
I don't know much about the efficiencies of doing it, but you can also COOL your slab using a geothermal heat pump... so you're COOLING your house with it.

Put the tubes in the slab... that part is cheap.
Decide what to do with 'em later, if anything.



Paul F.
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A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 5 BC - 65 AD
----
Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.

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Eureka, CA
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