Things you thought of after your home was built

ingramairFebruary 27, 2014

I know a few of these topics have been covered but I am starting my own thread. any posts may be used on other sites asking the same question.
I have built a home and wouldn't you know it something is always missed. I wan't ideas that should of been thought of but was realized after the fact. from purchasing land to building the home to getting the home loan.
example! we live in the Northern states and built a very nice home with wrap around decks. taking shoes off on the deck is no problem and it has a roof over most of it. well as soon as winter hit guess what? we forgot about the snow and we have no decent room to take our shoes and coats off out of the blowing snow. another mistake! not verifying that the builders when they built the kitchen did not make the kitchen area perfectly square. of all the rooms the kitchen needs to be about perfect or everything needs to be shimmed or it just doesn't look correct. no matter how small please give me ideas for my next house that you wish you would of done differently, this will help all

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adding to my post already.. I was the general contractor on my home. getting the plumbers, HVAC,and electricians to show up as scheduled I learned quickly to play them against each other. call each one and tell them the other is coming tomorrow.They all want to be the first to use the wide open space and not work around each others installed work. they will all arrive the next day. Also we had near perfect credit when we applied for the construction loan and had already put $70K into the construction without a bank. all the contractors want half up front rest when complete or some variant. we had to do credit checks through all the vendors never taking out any credit. well with all the vendors doing reports and the bank doing a construction loan, when we rolled over to a normal mortgage our credit score had dropped so the bank changed to a higher interest rate. we switched banks instantly.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 6:07AM
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Well, we are only at framing on our first build and I already wish I had put in more windows. It was so hard for me to visual what the house would actually look like from a drawing on a piece of paper. As soon as I saw the walls up I knew I had missed a few places. Maybe everyone else does this already, but we didn't know there were plenty of affordable home design software choices that would help us see the house in 3D with a virtual walk-trhough. That dimension makes all the difference, and we are living with several things I missed that the 3D walk-through would have caught.
We will definitely know better next time.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 1:46PM
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My master spa bath is too low to be able to see our incredible view out of the windows while seated in the tub. Or are the windows too high???

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 3:12PM
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Ingramair, you shouldn't need to verify everything is square. There is no excuse for a builder not making sure things are square, and no general contractor can micromanage to make sure that the subs perform to specs.

You can guarantee that if you did have a general contractor, he would be pushing back on the framing contractors hard on something like this. It's going to increase costs all the way down the line. Your trim work could be nightmare if the walls aren't square.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 3:15PM
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One thing I would change is that I would have ordered a kitchen window that was sized so that the top of the window would align with the tops of my cabinets instead of aligning the top of my window with the rest of my windows.

My wife disagrees, so you never know.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 3:18PM
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I wish I had been brave enough to listen to the posters on gardenweb and get the induction cooktop. I went with a combo unit from bertazzoni thinking I'd have the best of both worlds, but find myself wishing I had more and larger induction hobs instead of the gas hobs.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 3:52PM
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LawPaw, I am not talking 3 inches or more like an old house just of all the rooms the kitchen is the most critical. square and walls perfectly parallel or the fridge fits just a tad tighter and theirs more lines that will show with cupboards. unless you check before drywall not much more can be done. its just something that needs to be verified next time I do this.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 3:09AM
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We're in the middle of building, so not too many things have surfaced yet, but I'm sure they will!

I built most of the windows with angled returns to minimize the effect of the the thick ICF walls. There wasn't enough room to do them on a few windows, though, and they look clunky by comparison. Should have found more room, somehow. Oh well- with curtains in place, no one will notice.

A little, tiny detail: We have 9' 6" ceilings, and the tops of all of the windows are 8'. Looks great, but the little buttons to release the screens are WAY up there, so you need to stand on a step stool to remove the screens. I don't know if putting them lower was an option, but it's too late now. I might experiment with moving them.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 7:46AM
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HUGE one for me?? I had to use pocket doors in a lot of spots because there wasn't room for a single swinging door to open (without making a toilet inaccessible, or a closet door inaccessible or one side of the bed inaccessible). Until I found on pintrest that I could convert a bifold door into a double swinging door, which because it's two mini doors, takes up WAY less space. Did this in the bedroom to the bathroom and LOVE it. Way nicer than a pocket door, very euro-modern feel and more solid feeling than a pocket door! Plus fullsize handles for ease of use. LOVE IT! Though lazy me is happy I'm skinny bc most of the time I only bother to open one door (which is 12" wide lol).

We did our own framing, and I wish I knew how friggen hard a 13:12 roof is to shingle. HELL. Also how expensive manlifts are, when you discover that's the ONLY way to frame your chimney 30' in the air, or the roof overhangs up there...

That you should NEVER let your mudders wash their tools in your sink...the sewer lines plug from the mud and in my case, you end up getting SOAKED in sewage when it backflows into your basement and you get a LOVELY bill for having some guy drill for 6 hours to clear the clog (of solid drywall mud).

FIBERGLASS BALCONIES! No idea, had played with tons of other options that leak. Two coats of fiberglass resin on a fiberglass matt, and BAM, leakproof balcony over living space. Even with the temperature fluctuations and snow. LOVE IT. Really damn expensive, but LOVE IT!

Access ports for HVAC dampers. Had a couple installed, and then when we were all finished the house, realized that a couple dampers needed to be closed bc those rooms got too hot (with the sun in the windows, the airflow, the doors, etc.). Ended up having to cut open the drywall and install them after. REALLY glad we knew where to cut!

How the hell do you change little xenon light bulbs 30' in the air in your livingroom??? Without ruining your floor with scaffolding??!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 12:31PM
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This one is more in the category of "close call," but the mention of pocket doors made me think of it. We have a set of double pocket doors into the tv room. It seemed like there was no good place to put the light switch because of the pockets. We were looking into complicated options that could be remotely controlled, then found out there are very "flat" boxes for places like that.

Wanted to mention it because I still read here that a big disadvantage of pocket doors is no place for adjacent switches.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 5:34PM
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Haven't done a new build, but did a big addition that included nearly a whole house reno. One thing that I wish I had known to check ahead of time is the placement of HVAC vents.

Two of the vents in our great room are directly under windows; if the drapes for those windows are closed, the air fills up behind the drapes rather than coming right out into the room.

There's a HVAC vent right over my side of the bed. I HATE it! The AC blows right on my face, so it's hard to sleep with the AC on in the summer. I'm sure that vent could have been placed elsewhere, but I didn't think about it.

Luckily those vent issues aren't horrible. A friend of mine bought a spec house, and there's a vent in the floor right in front of the kitchen sink. How stupid is that? Who wants to stand on a vent when you're working at the sink?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 5:56PM
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Mushcreek, that's interesting about the angled window returns on ICF walls. Do you have any photos of what they look like?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 10:06PM
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Here a couple pics. They aren't painted or trimmed yet. The first pic is the basement stairwell; the second is the kitchen. In the kitchen, I'm going to make panels for the window returns that match the cabinets.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 7:21AM
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The number one thing I can think of is, I wish I put in a lot more framing on the wall where the TV is going because we plan on wall mounting it. If I remembered to, I was going to sister/double the studs while the wall was open to make that go a lot easier. What I did remember to do at least was leave passages in the wall for the cables to run (the closet behind the tv is a server room). One out of two isn't bad I guess.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 7:35AM
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The number 1 mistake I made is so utterly stupid I feel bad admitting to it, but I'm going to in case it helps anyone else.

You may wish to consider how your house is oriented. Meaning, consider what rooms get that beautiful southern sun exposure.

If you aren't light sensitive, you may never even notice it. Unfortunately I am light sensitive, but didn't realize that in my last house because it had a beautiful southern orientation. So all my living spaces were flooded with light. My current house faces north. My main living room was so stinking dark this whole winter.

I love my floor plan, but it wasn't the best one for me given the orientation of the lot. :( Too late now.

This post was edited by patriceny on Fri, Mar 28, 14 at 12:52

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 9:11AM
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Chicagoans - Have you tried vent deflectors? You stick one on the vent and it changes the direction of the airflow.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vent deflectors

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 9:34AM
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Patrice--the house we built and have been living in for the past 9-10 yrs has a south back with large windows. I absolutely love the light. Our new home will have an East back. I have to admit I am more than a little worried.

Our lot is wide and somewhat shallow in comparison. so not much choice on orientation. The house will be wide and shallow. Hoping I don't mind losing the south light.

The biggest mistake I made in this house was the tiny laundry room that guests enter from the outside. The door is next to my side garage. I don't know why they don't come to the front door...but they don't.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 10:31AM
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Patrice- You bring up a good point, and one many never think of. Many don't even know what's wrong; just that the house doesn't feel right. I had the luxury of living (camping, actually) on our land for nearly a year before siting the house. Our mountain view is dead north, which would have made the back of the house cold and uninviting. I rotated the house about 45 degrees, so now we have nice morning sun in those rooms. Here in the deep south, you don't want too much sun, though!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 11:33AM
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I am light sensitive too. When we lived in Michigan, I struggled with SAD for years. Now that I'm in Florida, I am much better. :-) I will see how the natural lighting is once our house is finished and we live in it for awhile. If we need more natural light, we plan to add solatubes wherever needed. Have you looked into those? They get some pretty good reviews on GW.
Light does so much to affect mood for some people, and it might make a huge difference in the enjoyment of your home. ;-)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 11:06AM
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I am light sensitive too. When we lived in Michigan, I struggled with SAD for years. Now that I'm in Florida, I am much better. :-) I will see how the natural lighting is once our house is finished and we live in it for awhile. If we need more natural light, we plan to add solatubes wherever needed. Have you looked into those? They get some pretty good reviews on GW.
Light does so much to affect mood for some people, and it might make a huge difference in the enjoyment of your home. ;-)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 11:12AM
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SkyAngel - I was actually smart enough to put a Solatube in what would have been a very dark 2nd floor hallway. I love that thing - the amount of light it brings in is awesome. :)

I'm not sure whether retrofitting a solatube would work now in my living room though. What I miss isn't just the ambient light - it is more about the way light streams through southern windows - especially in winter. In New York. Which lasted for about 6 years this year. (ha-ha)

I learned some very valuable lessons with this build. The good news (such as it is) is that this likely isn't my forever house anyway. So I'm really hoping I can get it right the next time.

Live and learn. :)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 12:51PM
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BIG ONE that I've never seen:
-Pay a little extra for a quieter bathroom exhaust fan, especially in the powder room. Ours, and those in almost every house I see, is so loud that anyone would be embarrassed to use it, or leave it on afterwards.

-Framing in wall next to where desk is to hold up desk
-Having air returns and ducts in conditioned space (never asked about it)
-Make sure can lights are sealed or in conditioned space (climbing into attic this weekend to fix)
-Have gas fireplace box protrude into room, and put bookshelves next to it, rather than have it bump-out into the outside, where it is difficult to insulate.

Although we plan this to be our only house until our little ones are grown, my wife smiles at me when I discover problems and reminds me that this isn't our "forever" house (that's heaven, y'all). :)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 5:45PM
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I'd agree with the quieter fart fan (builder's technical term) in certain areas. For example the master bathroom water closet, absolutely 100% agreed. Likewise for additional full baths throughout the house.

A half bath though, I'm on the fence about that one. Some friends have a really quiet one and any and all noises from inside the bathroom are heard through the door. Feel free to do the math...

We're trying something different... a pretty quiet fan but also a solid core door, seal around the perimeter of the door and a small sweep underneath it. Hope it works.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 6:09AM
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Schicksal, I think the problem is, to put it bluntly (though not as bluntly as you did, hah), people only turn on the fan when they are going number 2. So the entire party knows who is going what in the bathroom. I suppose if you linked the fan and light, and had a moderately quiet fan, that may be the best (other than having a half bath that's sealed enough or far enough away from adjacent areas not be an issue anyway).

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 7:33AM
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I agree with orientation. We built on a high spot on our land, with a walkout basement, so one side of our house is 3 stories above where ground level used to be. If we'd oriented our house about 15 degrees differently, that side of the house would have lake views all winter, and the river views out the back would be much better.

When we were deciding how to orient the house, it was summer and with the heavy brush near the ground, we didn't realize either of these views were possible.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 10:24AM
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house orientation was and still is a huge problem. the front of my house is all glass, to the south is our best view overlooking the fields and hills. we made sure we didn't have to see a septic system out our windows but facing the south the sun is so bright you cant see the tv and even the remote wont work at times. plus the heat in the summer and even the early winter months gets pretty bad. the windows at the top are trapezoid style so blinds are about 4 grand. wish we would of put an overhang or something to deflect the light. don't want to block out the windows since the house style and view are perfect for the setting.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 3:22AM
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Orientation reminds me of another thing - windows that mitigate UV radiation. You don't notice it until you see that it's wrecked your drapes or faded the flooring,

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 5:41AM
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