Dream Thread! (What do you wish you had now?)

Improv241April 12, 2011

So my wife and I are in an interesting situation. We are in our mid-20s and flipped a house in Richmond, VA (in the process of selling - shameless plug - contact me if you want a beautiful 2000+ sqft home in Chesterfield, VA).

NOW we're in the process of designing our next home. We have some time on our hands now, so we're trying to thinking of all the little things that we are afraid we will forget come final specs with our builder. My biggest concern is thinking about 5-10 years down the road for future add-ons/changes in our life (like kids).

We're planning to build on approximately 3-10 acres of land (well and septic needed) and a home about a 3000 sqft home.

Here is a list of things that I'm keeping track of so far (please feel free to dream big, the nuttier the idea, the better the chance it'll help me/someone else think of something):

-basement, obvious rough-in plumbing, up the electrical

-"Party Barn" - shop and office on the bottom, party on top (finished with bathroom), planning to run elec, plumbing, gas, to the approximate tie-in

-solid interior doors

-higher sound rating on 1st floor master bedroom walls....

-take advantage of geothermal heat pump tax credit

-plan surround sound (anyone have recommendations on conduit to make it easy to change later?)

-run elec, water, gas for future door patio

-i want at least one secret room with a secret door (i can dream)

-hdmi, ethernet, phone?, cable run throughout where appropriate (think kitchen/laundry/mudroom/bathrooms/etc as well)

-must have exhaust for wood cutting in shop (any other ideas for garage?)

I've been a lurker around here for a while, and look forward to contributing more! Thanks in advance for any input!

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What do I wish I had now? How about youth! Mid-20s sounds so distant. About the age of my former step grandchildren.

I'm a builder and our family of five, age nine and up (sixth is on his own at last) have lived in four custom homes. The only features I would change are: 1) main laundry on the second floor, utility laundry below-grade; 2) provision for future elevator. (Courtesy of a deteriorated knee from 600 lb. shrugs in the day...)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 11:13PM
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Thanks for the reminder about the utility below grade (we have the laundry on 2nd floor now).

Do you have any features you're especially proud of that you don't think many have thought about?

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 9:05AM
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Dream Big, huh?
-hot water recirculating pump
-radiant heat floor throughout
-extra thick walls that contain plumbing, like 2x8 to really insulate around DWV for sound
-resiliant channel for hanging ceiling drywall
-fire suppression system (your place sounds a little far away from a fire hydrant)
-We had Cat5e and HDMI ran from all the TV locations to remote areas and installed IR repeaters so that Cable/Sat TV boxes are completely hidden.
-whole house surge suppression
-heated benches in shower, we have a travertine bench made out of pool coping, very cold. There are some infloor heating rated for wet areas now that could eliminate that.
-Garage stalls that are 4 ft wider than you think they need to be, and enough space for utility cabinets to house all the random tools and such.
-whole house water filtration, and not just the paper filter, a real carbon filter.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 11:05AM
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Now that's what I'm talking about!

What do you mean by "resiliant channel for hanging ceiling drywall"?

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 11:24AM
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With the sound system, go beyond surround sound for 1 room and get a multi-zone, multi-input system. Ours is 5 zones (basement, backyard, FR, kitchen, DR) with several inputs (docking stations, TV, radio, DVD/Blue Ray.) And I'm sure there are much fancier ones. This kind of thing is way easier while the walls and ceilings are open, and it's great for parties.

Kids in your future? Mudroom -- the bigger the better. Believe me you'll fill it fast with sports equipment, shoes, backpacks, jackets, etc. Make it easily accessible from the backyard or side yard and have a sink in there.

Pets? Make the mudroom even bigger. :)

Powder room near the mudroom. Ideally, I'd love 2 on the main level: a 'fancy' powder room for adult guests, and an easy maintenance PR near the back door for kids and to use when coming in from doing yard work.

Exterior lighting: plan for landscape lighting, lighting the exterior of the house (uplighting and down lighting), outdoor outlets for holiday lights.

Worthy I'm with you on the 2 laundry rooms. We have our regular laundry in the 1st floor mudroom, and a basement laundry where we do our yuckier stuff (cleaning rags, mucky football uniforms, camping towels, etc.) And it's awesome when coming home from vacation to have multiple loads going at once.

Any upper floor interior rooms without windows? Check into SolaTubes. We have them in the kids' bathrooms and they really light up the space.

I love the secret room idea. Friends of ours used to have lofts in their secondary (kids') bedrooms that were accessible from within the rooms (via cool vertical ladders that could be pulled down or pushed up out of the way), and also from the 3rd floor hall. From the hall, you pulled open a swiveling bookcase to get into the loft. I always thought that was cool. (The lofts were over bathrooms connected to the bedrooms. The bathrooms were one story high on the second floor; the bedrooms had vaulted ceilings with the lofts at the highest, interior point on the 3rd floor. Hopefully this makes sense.)

If you have lots of land you will probably want a ride on mower / tractor kind of thing that you can attach a snow plow to. So make sure your garage is big enough. Or a separate storage shed for it.

Kitchen with lots of windows. Large all-refrigerator and all-freezer units. (Sounds like you might not be very close to a grocery store.)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 2:20PM
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Things I'm most happy I included in the under-construction house:
- Walk-in pantry w/ 2 doors- one right by garage and one in kitchen
- Whole house audio & lights on dimmers (everything controlled by iPads in permanent docks on walls)
- "Door jamb" activated lights in all closets and in pantry so they go on and off when doors open
- Ambiance lights (those in cabinets & built-ins) on timers so they'll come on and off automatically
- In cabinet plugs for appliances/charging station so no cords/clutter
- Mud room w/ built-in grooming tub for dogs and cubbies for people
- Deck off of master bedroom
- Ample closet space for guest closets, all bedroom closets & master closets
- Built-ins everywhere (inc. Conservatory w/ floor to ceiling book cases)
- Tons and tons of windows
- Instant hot water
- First floor master bedroom
- Heated floors
- High ceilings w/ skylights whenever possible
- Geothermal heating/cooling
- Washing machine/dryer in master bedroom & second full laundry room upstairs
- Multiple fireplaces (4 and wish we'd done more!)
- Cable hookup for waterproof outside television
- LCD TV mirror in master bathroom (such a cool feature!)
- Digital shower and tub systems
-Crown molding, tray ceilings, coffered ceilings, etc.
- Keyless entry (code-pad) activated back garage door

Things I wish we'd done:
- Steam shower (couldn't b/c of high sloped ceiling in master)
- Even bigger laundry room
- Guest and regular powder room on first floor
- Dedicated home library

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 3:09PM
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Niiice Chicagoans,

Great idea about over-sizing the mudroom. Especially considering my wife wants 4 kids! (maybe that'll change one day)

I'm planning to build in the concept of a secret room later down the road. Things I'll be considering is making sure plumbing, electrical, etc. don't interfere with any doorways/secrets down the road.

These are great ideas! Keep them coming! :)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 3:30PM
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Amazing! Tons of great ideas! Thanks

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 5:29PM
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I wish we had included more outdoor entertaining space and even more outdoor lighting options.
I wish our multi room sound system also included the 2nd floor so that I could listen to it when using the 2nd floor laundry or making beds etc. It is installed in all the first floor rooms plus the courtyard and in the porch by the pool.
I am most glad we installed a central vacuum with Hide A Hose. It makes the lightest possible work of a big chore!
I am glad that I designed my own kitchen and lighting plan. My kitchen works perfectly and one can't have too many lighting options in a kitchen.
In an ideal world I would like a larger garage with an additional storage area for mower etc. We do have a large shop above the garage that also has good storage.
I wish we had more electrical outlets around the exterior of the house.
Love the high efficiency 7 zoned A/C, would NOT compromise on that!
Love the Kinetico water softener with salt delivery service.
Love the salt water pool with in floor automatic cleaner.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 8:19PM
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Here's what we're planning for our new build (many based on past mistakes or doing without):

- mudroom
- Stacked washer and dryer in a closet in mudroom on first floor
- Main Laundry area on second floor too
- Pantry space in kitchen
- Stacked cabs in kitchen
- 12X12 library for quiet reading (let's be real - a place for me to hide from the chaos :-)
- Steam Shower
- We *want* radiant heat throughout but people keep saying this is going to be too pricey? I need to start a thread here about this because I don't know that I can go with forced hot air given my previous experiences.
- I want a humidity system and apparently need forced hot air? (see above)
- Stairway to attic instead of one of those pull-down ladders we have now.
- Dining Room! I know this is no longer common, but I host most holidays and several dinners throughout the year. I hate eating in or right off the kitchen where I can see the mess I made while cooking. I yearn for the holidays I had as a kid where we ate in a seperate dining room and saw none of that mess until we got up from the table after dessert!
- Kitchen somewhat open to family room so I can see what's going on.
- *Trying* to get two DWs but can't seem to make it fit
- All bedrooms on second floor. This may sound odd given how many homes are designed with first floor masters today, but we have had our bedroom on the first level and the kids on the second level since they were born and I can not stand having to go up and down the stairs to tend to them if they wake up in the middle of the night. I just did it with my two year old last night at 3:00 am... I know they'll get older, but I still don't like being on a diff level at night.
- Fireplace in Master
- Deck off Master
- pool
- outdoor shower
- placing our living room fireplace on an exterior wall then having an outdoor fireplace on the patio on the other side
- screened in porch
- circular driveway

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 9:47PM
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Ohhh...Hide a house is so cool. We are planning to rough-in a central vac system - but now...hide a hose looks promising!

Definitely over-doing the the exterior outlets (learned from current home).

I'm curious about water softeners...something I'm not too familiar with. We are going to be using well water...do people normally need water softeners whenever there is well water?

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 10:01PM
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Here's something cool that was posted on the kitchen forum: an under-counter vacuum called an Eye-Vac.

Here is a link that might be useful: Eye-Vac

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 10:22PM
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The Eye-Vac looks like a good idea for those who don't have a central vac and who want a vac pan type solution in their kitchen only as it can easily be installed retroactively. However if you are building new or opening the walls during a remodel then a whole house CV is the way to go IMO. Hide A Hose is the common sense solution to having to haul a reel of CV vacuum hose around your home. You can add vac pans too, in the kitchen or baths or mudroom or laundry if you wish. I have one in the kitchen. I think one in the master bath would have been useful too.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 11:38PM
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Resilient Channel is for sound blocking. Our floors are hardwood and tile everywhere, with 3/4 OSB underlayment and I-Joist structure. We insulated between the joists, and that stops most conversational noise, but footsteps are still loud. The Resilient Channel should help soften that noise.

Here's someplace where you can learn more:

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 9:25AM
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I'm definitely going to be adding some resilient channel in sound sensitive areas.

Thanks for the suggestion/info!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 4:06PM
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The only regret we have (or rather, I have) is not incorporating some sort of dumbwaiter in the house. I am CONSTANTLY hauling stuff up and down the stairs...and more importantly, putting things next to the stairs to be brought up the next time I head that way. Laundry, shoes, papers, seasonal clothes, files, toys, books, etc, etc, etc. Maybe a built in bookshelf at the base of the stairs would have helped store things during the interim period???

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 7:56PM
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I wish we had set aside ALOT of money for landscaping.
I'd have remote activated fireplaces in the library and master bedroom.

I love my heated floor in the master bath, and if maney were no object, i would have heated floors in the entire house.

Things I love:

whole house audio system that can be controlled on my iphone
LARGE mudroom
LARGE outdoor patio- both covered and uncovered.
Home library with floor to ceiling bookcases. My dream library is a two story room with spiral staircase and has a sliding ladder.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 9:42PM
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We are in the Richmond area as well. Which county are you looking for land to build on...Chesterfield, Powhatan, Goochland, Hanover? As far as well water in our area, few people have water softeners, but many of us have at least a filter system, if not more elaborate systems.
I know you are still in the dreaming/planning stage, but I would strongly recommend a trip to the courthouse (or online) to investigate any builder's you are interested in contracting with for your build. It is amazing how many of them are getting hit with BIG lawsuits from suppliers right now. Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 7:33AM
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What's fascinating is how many of these "dream" items I've had and wouldn't bother with any more. For example, a heated in-ground saltwater pool. The kids used it for two weeks before migrating back to the video games and computer screens.

Other ideas are great. But keep up with the latest methods and materials. For example, resilient channels are not very helpful in reducing sound transfer as one mistake in integrating them nullifies their effectiveness.

Now dumbwaiters--how politically incorrect can you get!--that's an old convenience I haven't seen in anything built past the 1920s. In the right house--for instance, a multi-level vertiginous townhouse--it sounds like a great idea!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 10:15AM
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Worthy - that's funny. My BIL and SIL wish they had put their in-ground, heated, salt water pool in years ago because it's the one thing that makes the kids toss their video games to the curb. I hope you guys are taking advantage of them *not* using it and enjoying it on your own!
After reading the dumbwaiter request it did make me realize one thing I forgot, which is a total indulgence: a small fridge in our bedroom. Sometimes I just don't want to go downstairs to the kitchen to get something to drink!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 6:42PM
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We're planning to build in either eastern powhatan or western chesterfield. You have any land you want to subdivide? :)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 9:30AM
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I keep thinking of more things:

I wish I had a dedicated and hidden space for charging electronics. We have a rule that our kids have to charge their phones in the kitchen overnight (believe me, you'd be amazed how late at night they get texts from their friends!) They plug in their phones and laptops at the kitchen island, and I feel like I'm always pushing cords out of the way to open drawers. I'd love a drawer with outlets on the inside, or a pantry shelf with outlets -- some place we could plug in, close the door (or drawer) and have the stuff out of sight. If you have a walk in pantry, I'd dedicate some space in there just for electronic gizmos.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 10:04AM
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Fantastic! Keep thinking of more!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 10:13AM
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Epiarch Designs

Res. Channels are also a growing thing of the past. I never spec them anymore. Instead there are great sound gyp products from Quietrock and Supress that replaces your normal 5/8" gyp and RC, and gives you STC ratings in the mid 50s. They also have special products for floors and sound deadening too. My experience the gyp product is CHEAPER then installing RC and 5/8" gyp. its about 50/50 that contractors install RC correctly anyway...Plus you can add another 1/2" to your ceiling height! :)

One of the biggest things on my list is kitchen design and layout. This is so important. Any gathering, friends or family, the kitchen is always the hub. Design it with that in mind. There are talkers, dirty dishes, food prep, food cooking/baking, and drinkers. I designed these 5 areas to all fit into the kitchen and not overlap each other. In other words, someone getting into the fridge for a cold one wont be in the way of someone stirring something on the stove, who wont be in the way of sometime washing dishes, who wont be in the way of someone washing vegetables.

"formal" living room and family/tv/media game room downstairs. Keep the formal one nice. Put a simple tv in there, fireplace, whatever. Downstairs design it with inwall surrounds or hookups, possibly a projection screen and ceiling projector instead of a tv, or both.

At least 1 bathtub (not in the master) in the house. Rest we prefer showers.

Design the house with duct space and HVAC/plumbing runs included so you are not getting closet space used up when the installers show up.

Finishes: plan flow and transition spots from different finishes (carpet, wood, tile, etc).
My plan for the mud room is to either pay resilient vinyl tile or full rolled sheet goods. Eliminates seams and grout joints that can get really dirty, and is super easy to clean up if its seamless. New vinyls look very nice.

3' doors. Do not let a builder talk you out of this! "typical" residential are narrower, but 3' doors is something that just makes it easier moving stuff in and out, carrying laundry baskets, and in the sad occurrence you might have a wheelchair, crutches, etc.

Along with that, 4' halls. Again, most are 3 or 3'6, but that added space here will again make it easier moving and other things. Plus passing by someone else in the hall is easier.

If your wish likes Christmas lights......plan for it. Will save your butt later! If you have front columns or something for example, place and outlet on each (facing the house) to easily hook up lights and not have extension cords everywhere to make it look messy.

Exterior hose bibs- at least one on the front and back, many people like one on each side.

May sound odd, but think about where your power and utilities are coming in at, on what side of the house. Also placement of condensing units (if you have them. geo you will not). Also placement of the electrical panel and centralized design of the panel as well as the hvac and plumbing to make your runs less, thus reducing cost and boosting efficiency of the units.

Dedicated kids place space...something you can send them and friends to to keep their stuff in one place. Opening shelving and organization within. Bonus rooms over garages work great for these.

and IMO MOST IMPORTANT, think FIRST about shell construction and energy/insulation, etc. TOO many threads pop up with people asking questions about insulation. Most cases the ideal construction method for efficiency is too late to do. Also look into alternative methods such as SIPs and ICF construction. I will definitely use ICF from footings to roof. Not only efficiency, but also strength, quietness, and 100% air sealed (only cracks are around windows/doors).

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 2:14PM
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beaglesdoitbetter - can I live in your new house when done? Wow! Sounds amazing.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 5:53PM
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We are building a new home as well, in Wisconsin. In design phases now. Also thikning of fall parade to get big discounts on products.
--11ft ceilings in GR, coffered
--12x12 office with barrel ceilings
--13x14 formal dining
--91/2 to 101/2 trey celing in MBR
--doorless shower in MBR
--foyer open up to 2nd floor
--a couple art niches in hallways
--stone fireplace in corner of GR...not center--built ins center for tv/shelves
--3.5ft wide stairs including from garage to basement for dragging stuff
--9ft ceilings in basement
--THINKING of splurging on hydronic infloor heat on main/basement floors- thoughts on this?
Love the radiant heat we have in classic radiators in current home
thanks for the great thread topic!!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 9:32PM
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Sure jillinnj - come on over ;)

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 10:05PM
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great question!
first i'd be sure the upstairs party room is really well built, for those inevitable hoedowns!
sometimes ya just gotta dance, you know?
plus make sure it's big enough for a wet bar kitchen, pool table with ping pong and slot car racing tops for it. around the perimeter of the top of the room set up the lionel trains you find at a great yard sale in a few years. or really cool cat shelves so they can prowl all over the place. if you have house cats check out the book 'cat house' in the barnes and nobles decorating section.

i have a secret room planned between the big corner fireplace and the adjoining 12x12 closet. facing the fireplace you see nice built-ins, a paneled section will get you into the secret room. the room will only be only 3 x12, but big enough to hide stuff!

also we have a 'clean room' between the back yard and mud room. it's 5x5 fully tiled with a big sink, drain in floor and hose bib near the floor.
we can rinse our boots, dogs, vegetables; hang dripping laundry before even stepping into the mudroom.

that's all for the moment...

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 7:54PM
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You mentioned you have a whole house audio system that you control from your iPhone.

What system did you go with? I have been searching for somethIng like that and would love to know what you used. My framer just got started today on the house so I guess I need to make my mind up pretty quick.

Thanks for any help you can give me.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 10:37PM
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We used the Sonos system.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 3:04PM
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If you celebrate Christmas, a big walk-in closet to store ornaments and other decorations on the same level as the Christmas tree would be wonderful. We have good storage space in in an attic space over the garage, but every year I dread taking the boxes downstairs to decorate, then taking them back upstairs for short-term storage, then taking them downstairs to undecorate, and then back upstairs until next year.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 12:08AM
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Excellent list of desirable features. I would like to design with these things in mind as well:

Minimizes property taxes ( I live in NJ :-( )

Minimizes energy consumption

In other words, all the features that help with the above two are desirable. For example, reducing conditioned space should help with taxes. Some of the ways to reduce conditioned space are

Move some storage to garage (larger garage, smaller pantry and mud room)
Wall closets instead of walk in closets.
Large porch area - enclosed or open that can act as living space when needed. A space heater can make enclosed porch usable in winter.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 3:13PM
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Here are links to some of the earlier threads . . .

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/build/msg0708180218905.html - unique/favorite features in your build....

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/build/msg051803107471.html - Things you couldn't live without or wish you had added

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/build/msg012331272427.html - What things did you find needed adjusting or changed?

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/build/msg052337148911.html - is there anything you wish you had done

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/build/msg1011400927581.html - What about your new build makes your life easier; what doesn't ?

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/build/msg0913570232282.html - Brands/Products That I'd Use Again

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/build/msg0321442732113.html - Share your best sites for deals on supplies!

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/build/msg0818041222629.html - To help others - Things I would do different and things i love!

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/build/msg021705141306.html - Things I wish I'd specified on my plans

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/build/msg0120301431285.html - It's been two years...what I've learned, would change, etc...

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/build/msg0901543214301.html - Biggest Mistakes?

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/build/msg0521381417863.html - Help!!! Have I forgotten anything?

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/build/msg122305046544.html - designing electrical in house

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/build/msg0316075322256.html - doing whole house audio

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 12:20AM
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Thanks for all the good ideas everyone!

And thank YOU angela12345 for posting all the links to other threads like this.

My man isn't going to like the added cost for all the new items on my wish list (& I'm sure I won't be able to get them all), but I just don't want us to have any major regrets. :)

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 10:34AM
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I will try not to repeat what others have said (skimmed most of thread)

pour lower level walls high - preferably open on three sides, so that you'll have room for HVAC and pipes but still have a decent ceiling height. Don't make it a basement (with low ceilngs).

Use quality materials and finishes in lower level, again so it's not a basement.

Sheetrock ceiling on lower level.

Generously sized verandas, porches or patios.

Wide doorways throughout house makes life easier. No narrow doorways or openings.

Wide hallways, no narrow tunnels. Line one side with bookcases.

Laundry room on both levels.

Large storage room, with HVAC.

Dog room with floor/walls that can be washed/drain easily. Exterior door.

Larger garage than what architects usually request - and not to store things. Wide enough so car doors can be opened without fear of hitting car next to it. No poles, please. Deep so that you can walk behind vehicles when doors are down.

We used the stucco look Hardi board in our garage. Painted. Can be hosed down. Also added the same door/window trim, as well as base and crown to the garage.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 3:13PM
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