It has been almost a year since ellied started this thread. It was so helpful with many wonderful ideas shared by generous forum members! I hope no one minds if we give it another run.
After six months in the new house, my list has changed a bit. I really like the central vac - it is just so clean and quiet and handy to use.
I didn't think I'd use the whole house audio system, but it has become a favorite feature. I can pipe music to every room - including the back patio. We're also able to listen to TV sporting events even when we have to make a run to the kitchen or bathroom.
I'm also glad we added the backup furnace to our forced A/C system. It has come in handy on those in between spring/fall days when it is warm during the day and cold at night and the radiant floor can't quite catch up to keep things comfy.
Hands down, something I would not want to do without is our screened-in back porch. We have meals out there, sit and talk, watch the kids jump on the trampoline. A back porch is a MUST... something that you will never regret having, but may always regret not having!!!
I agree with teach, although ours isn't actually screened-in just yet. But we are out there every day. We sit out there in the a.m. watching for the school bus, I like to sit out there and read. We sit there and watch the kids play in the yard. Dh likes to sit out there and listen to baseball on the radio. We like to sit there once in awhile after the kiddos are in bed and have a few drinks. It's my favorite thing about our new house.
Couldn't live without:
-Scene setter lighting -- don't have to go around turning on/off lights. The best is at night one button by the bed turns them all off
-Subzero fridge -- things stay fresh for weeks!
-Whole house audio -- can listen to my ipod, XM radio, etc. while cleaning or while by the pool w/ outside speakers
-Insta-hot water dispenser
-Advantium speed cook microwave
-Big! master closet
-Covered lanai -- great for relaxing and enjoying nature. Ours isn't screened but we don't have a big skeeter problem.
-Jamb switches in all closets so we have immediate light when opening
We worked on the design of this home for almost 6 yrs., so the wish we had done list is small:
-Laundry tub in garage. Would be great for cleaning up after gardening.
-Designed the lanai for a better outdoor kitchen area
-Basement stairs without a 45 degree turn at the bottom. Makes moving in furniture there more difficult.
I'm still in the planning phases for my custom home, but here are some ideas I have:
+ Bench to sit on in master shower
+ Motorized retractable screens on patio/loggia
+ Pre-wire house for audio in most rooms (probably not bedrooms except master)
+ Have an island in master closet for folding clothes or laying them out
+ 3-way mirror in master closet
+ Noise proof walls for master bedroom/bathroom and powder room
Would love to hear more of other people's ideas too! I figured this would be a very long thread.
I think the things that I am going to love more than anything else are my................
Built in mud hall cubbies
Playroom on main floor!!!!!!
Front loading washer/dryer with counter on top for clothes folding.
Built in dirty laundry bins
Already wish I would have made the living room a few feet wider, it would have made alot of difference. Right now that is all I can think of.
I haven't moved in yet, but I know i'm going to miss haveing a 5 or even 6 burner range. NEXT house! ;o)
Been in one year now....how time flies when you're having fun!!!
Things we did just right.....
*found the perfect lot...everything else is gravy
*Our wood flooring
*Our porch...like others we use it constantly (relaxing with a glass of wine, dinner every night or entertaining).
*Central vac....love it
*A large laundry....love it
*lots of windows....lots of light/ I don't feel like I'm in a coffin anymore
*built-in laundry bins....I had 3 made into the cabinets for whites, colored and towels. They keep my laundry nice looking all the time (and DH even USES them!!!)
Things I would do different....
*make our 2 guest bathrooms wider
*make my dining-nook at least 4 feet wider (we didn't/don't want a diningroom but can only seat a table for 6 in the nook).
*pay more attention to location of electrical light switches
*put a window in the masterbath. Our closet and dual sink area get hot because of a 7' x 9' glass block shower on the east facing wall. We put a small window in the shower but it's south facing and not much use.
Having lived in my new home for eight months, there is a lot I love and a lot I would do differently. We built in a development off standard house plans.
Things I wouldn't change:
* the morning room extension off the back of the kitchen. Tons of light!
* Moving the window from the laundry room to the second floor master bathroom. I don't need the window in the laundry area and it would now block the hooks we use for hanging up coats. The window in the bathroom is wonderful, though.
* Upgrading the tile in the front hall. They gave us two ugly choices -- white or yellow -- and we upgraded to a slate porcelain tile that I love.
* NOT upgrading to wood floors. I still hate the carpets, but the builder was going to charge us $18/square foot for very basic, narrow plank oak flooring. We've gotten estimates on the same space for considerably less money and nicer wood.
* NOT getting the builder to put in central AC. We had it done two months after we moved in and saved over $3000.
* YES to the kitchen upgrade. Everyone around here, if you look at homes for sale, has the same honey oak cabinets with laminate counters. We upgraded to spice maple with engineered quartz counters, and it was a real bargain when I ran the numbers. It's beautiful and doesn't look like everyone else's kitchen.
There are really only four things that I would have done differently:
* Extended garage. We only have two cars, but the garage is tight with both cars in it (and we are not going to be the people whose garage is so full of "stuff" we can't get the cars in!). I would have added a storage area or even a "third car" extension" for bicycles and the lawn mower and that kind of stuff.
* Basement wash sink. However, the basement is plumbed for another bathroom so I don't think adding one will be a real problem.
* More outlets in the basement. Again, we'll have to add that in ourselves.
* I would have paid more attention to possible appliance upgrades, such as whether to put in a gas line for a gas range instead of electric, and upgrading the dishwasher, which is a piece of utter crap. But we'll do that ourselves in a couple years.
Two dishwashers and two laundry rooms are a necessity along with a 36" all fridge and freezer drawers. Mud room/back halls are never big enough when you have kids and animals. Whirlpool tubs and open floor plans are the biggest scams in the building industry right now. Decks are a waste of money but heated floors and heated outside entry stoops are well worth having. Closet organizers made by a reputable cabinet company (not California Closet cheap stuff) make life way easier. Falling for the "tuscan" look is really wrong....most americans have never been to Italy and don't understand what a joke we are with our tuscan homes.
rothane.......18 bucks a SF for wood floors???????????? WOW!! That's 3x what it cost here for oak, 3 layers of finish.
Ah, thanks, I've been waiting for one of these now that we've actually moved in and I have opinions!
Mostly drawers in kitchen. Love my tupperware in drawers. No longer attacking me every time I open the door.
Blanco Silgranit sink. This thing is indestructible and I never would have known about it if not for this site.
Kitchen island. I was adamant about not having an island because I thought they were trendy but broke down and added one. It's so convenient. Always a place to put stuff. Great work space. Nice eating space for the two of us.
My husband's eco-friendly design. Our house is basically a berm home with our entire main living floor underground on two sides. Our air conditioner barely ever runs. The house is so quiet and comfortable. I can only imagine heating will be just as easy and economical. The money we're saving makes me very happy.
Cork floors. Our living space is on slab. The cork is soft, comfortable, quiet and beautiful. I can't speak to it's wear but so far I just love the choice.
Our mudroom is too small and we wasted space by putting a shower in there when we added the slop sink to the garage that could have served as the dog wash the shower was intended for.
Our sunken living room. While it looks cool, it makes cleaning harder and I think in hindsight I'd prefer all one even level. Would have been cheaper too since doing the concrete for multi-level was expensive.
Dirt. We live in the country. I live with constant dirt.
The placement of our Master BR. We're right next to the living room and while we really couldn't plan the house any other way, I don't love the noise invasion. I'll probably get used to it.
We planned this house for years and it came out almost exactly the way we wanted it. The things I love I really love and the things I don't aren't unbearable. In general our house is perfect.
Can't live without:
- Central vac. Even though I use it rarely, when I do I LOFF IT! I have a housekeeper weekly, she LOFFS it too. I did just use it to clean up half a box of spilled Cheerios. Special mention to the vacpan we added to the clutter room. That's where most of the dog hair, hay and mud live- great for quick clean ups.
-the Clutter room. I think it's one of the two things we get the most compliments on when people see the house. It's a wing on the house that contains the clutter room- a large laundry room with many cabinets, a work desk ( computer/home office) a laundry sink, a second fridge, a work bench. It's pretty large. It leads to the kitchen through a dutch door. The same wing contains a half bath and the mud room. The mud room has entries from the side porch, the back porch and the garage. The clutter room also has an entry to the front porch. When people walk in you can see their minds working.... they feel like they are walking into the kitchen but something's not "right" - with the washer dryer etc. Then it hits them it's not a kitchen!
- porches- large and deep. We use them every day.
- IPE on the porches
- Hardiplank. Love the look.
-Large bedrooms. After seeing some parade homes recently, I was stunned at how small secondary bedrooms are... happy we made larger rooms a priority.
-3 car garage.
-washer and dryer in master closet
- washer and dryer in basement with elevated dog tub
-geothermal. We look like geniuses. I will be reminding myself this winter when I am making larger house payments that I would have been spending that "difference" on heating oil in our old house. That's probably our biggest "can't live without".
Regrets are few....
- should have added a window or something to the long expanse that is the outside garage wall. It may be perfect place to incorporate a screened porch someday- we can add a door to the garage.
-kitchen cabinets. I like them. I really do but wish I would have been a little more open-minded and really looked. I usually went with my first instinct and didn't look back. Everyone loves our kitchen though- me included but wish I would have taken a little more time.
-not really a regret as we LOVE our wood floors but we do have some echoing issues. Wood floors and the fact we have a staircase that is open from the basement to the second floor - a belltower staircase it's called. I know it will be a lot better once I get all the area rugs/furniture in place but I just haven't done it all yet. In the meantime when the kids run and play and scream and particularly SLAM DOORS, I could lose my mind... well what's left of it. We have really heavy doors now so slamming is just really fun.
-other regret although I don't see anyway we could have known this.. although the HVAC guys should have..... Our master is warm. We get the morning sun. I think our ducts are too small and poorly placed. In fact it's on my list of things to check into. I am probably going to buy plantation shutters for the east window to see if it helps. I am an "anti window treatment" type so I hate to do it...
Over all we are very happy with 99% of our decisions.
Wonderful ideas! I'll add an outdoor spigot to the balcony for cleaning and watering plants. Didn't have that in last house and getting the hose to the 2nd floor balcony for cleaning the floor and windows reguired 2 people, the pole tree trimmer, and luck!
ponydoc, I'm an anti-window treatment person too. And, like kats, I can't have too many windows or too much light! I saw a neat solution in a home we considered purchasing. Cup hooks were placed inside the window frame at three levels. A swath of nice fabric with a dowel at each end, could be placed to cover top half, bottom half, entire window, OR completely removed. I loved the idea!
petchia, nice suggestion for 3 way mirror in closet!
These were in the house we built in 2001, and will repeat in the new one.
Central vac . . . If I couldn't have one in the new house, I wasn't going to move. Period.
Pots & Pans drawers in the kitchen instead of base cabinet doors -- no more lying on the floor rooting around in cabinets.
Lots and lots of light. The old (pre 2001) house felt like a cave to me and certainly contributed to winter depression. The 2001 house had great windows, and so does the new one.
Soaking tub with decking around it for candles, wine glasses, decorative things -- loved it! Walk-in shower with rainhead -- loved it, too!
Stair step lighting -- especially nice to leave on at night when guests are in residence.
Under cabinet lighting. The pre-2001 house didn't have it and I whined and tried to compensate for years.
Bottom freezer fridge. The apartment we're in while building has a top freezer and at least ten times a day I remember why I hated that setup.
Things I'm planning on loving in the new house: a separate place to watch TV. The previous house had a balcony over the family room which meant that sound went everywhere. The only really quiet place I could read while DH watched TV was the bedroom. Won't happen in this house!!
Two dishwashers and two laundry rooms are a "necessity"? Surely you jest....
*My slate-colored granite composite kitchen sink. I love it. It shows absolutely nothing, is indestructible, doesn't scratch.
*Instant hot water dispenser at the sink. We had it at the last house, and love it. Great for hot tea, hot chocolate, etc.
*The bidet - I was skeptical, having never used one. DH talked me into it, and, well, don't knock it till you've tried it ;-) (Our little country log cabin builder thought we were really weird, though.)
I've got to second the bidet. Previously, my only experience with one had been in a hotel room in Europe some-twenty-odd years ago. The concept just kinda seemed to make sense, though. It took a little time to wrap my mind around actually having (and utilizing) one. Once I figured out it is essentially just a short sink the this-is-really-weird factor dissipated and now I'd definitely miss having one.
gibby: it may depend on the size of your home but i've found two laundry rooms pretty common where we are. our main laundry for clothing and "upstairs" linens will be upstairs, nearest to the bedrooms while i'll keep a pair of stackables in the mudroom for the "downstairs" linens from the guest room, kitchen and downstairs bathrooms. also: a lot of clothes enter the mud room that i'd rather not have my kids wearing through the house to get to the upstairs laundry. my cousin recently renovated her downstairs to include a second laundry. so, no jesting here!
Well, with the recent twists and turns in the stock market, our retirement seems to have faded into the far future, so it may be a while before we build a house. However, after the last kitchen renovation, I'm completely, 100% sold on my induction cooktop.
I am building soon but we had just renovated the kitchen and bath and my "couldn't live without" list includes
Separate hand held sprayer in shower (no need to shut off main shower)
Thermostatic shower valve - holds constant temp - set it once and leave it.
Full extension/soft close drawers (and lots of em) in the kitchen.
kateskouros - not saying two dishwashers and two laundry rooms aren't nice things for some people to have, just saying not a "necessity" - in my opinion.
Things we couldn't live without (or things that one or the other refused to compromise on!):
- large walk-in closet behind the future salt water aquarium
- study adjacent to the master bedroom with a double pocket doors
- sun room/dining room - 26'x11' on the back of the house with large windows overlooking the bayou - room can be rearranged during holidays to accommodate long dining table.
- induction cooktop (since we didn't have gas service)
- dishwasher/sink looking into the living room
- the combined shower light/vent fan switch with fan on a timer shut-off
- covered stairs from the exterior (our house is elevated - many elevated houses around here do not have a roof section over the stairs)
- ICF construction - both for energy efficiency and for hurricane strength
- 10' ceilings
- 8' solid wood doors
Things we wished we had added:
- 6" framing for the wall with the double pocket doors so that we could have added a light switch.
- somewhere to place the towel rods in the master bath. Oops!
- Coat closet in the entry - in retrospect we could have easily added this during the framing stage. But at least there is space for a nice armoire which will act as the closet.
- solatube split between an upstairs closet and bathroom
- impact resistant doors/windows/solatubes
- elevator (our two large dogs (12 and 16) may not get to move into the house since they are both having problems with stairs - there are 17 to get to the main floor.)
Things that we think we will love once we move in, but that technically we could live without:
- large game room upstairs
- the framing mistake that added a doorway where there wasn't one - this gave us the idea to rearrange the overly large bathroom and add a kithenette
- bead board ceiling in the sun room (this has turned into quite a project)
- dumbwaiter with 3 stops - parking area (below house), pantry/laundry room, and upstairs kitchenette
- antique stained glass windows that we will use as transoms over doors
- changing the ceiling of one of the secondary bedrooms to a cathedral(?) ceiling (sloped ceiling to a 9' flat ceiling in the middle) This was done during the framing stage.
We're still in the building process and, having lived without electricity and indoor plumbing during the early years of my life, I can't say that there is anything other than a roof and four walls that I "can't live without" but, in the spirit of the question, things we added that I am REALLY looking forward to enjoying:
- The three-level home elevator which makes my entire two story home fully wheel-chair accessible including the attic storage space!
- 2nd floor laundry room. Tired of carry dirty laundry thru the living room and kitchen to get to the laundry room!
- Screened porch/walkway between the garage and house. The porch is almost totally shaded by the house and the garage AND is situated to catch the prevailing breezes so it is a cool oasis from the central Texas heat.
- Breakfast nook off the kitchen with built-in booth seating. Realized that whenever DH and I go out to eat we always choose a booth over a table so figured we might as well have one in our home!
- A half bath directly accessible from outdoors.
- Windows that are designed so you can clean them without getting up on a ladder outdoors!
- Huge wrap around porch with an old-fashioned porch swing. Fell in love with porches and porch swings at various B&Bs where we've stayed and simply HAD to have my own.
Wish I had added:
- Plumbing to the unfinished room over the garage. Eventually this will be DH's "man cave" (pool table/big screen TV etc.) but if we had added plumbing, it could also have served as a spare bedroom when we have lots of company around the holidays. Or it could have been more easily turned into a studio apartment by some future owner.
And my wish list grows!!
carterinms, your bead board ceiling is beautiful. It will be worth the wait---however long it takes. Your sun room sounds amazing. Please post a photo when you have time.
bevangel, I know you research everything thoroughly. If you check back in, would you please share the type and manufacturer of the elevator that you love?
emmachas, I chose the LEV counterweighted elevator by Thyssen Krupp. Counterweighted elevators are more energy efficient than hydraulic models and don't need a machine room. The LEV requires only a very shallow pit (6" I think) so it was easier to design my slab foundation that if I had chosen one that needed a deeper pit.
We chose the largest cab size (40" x 54") and a taller cab height (88" instead of standard 84") plus upgraded the cab options to raised panel walls, 4 lights on the ceiling, brushed brass handrails instead of wood, etc. Cost for the upgraded model (installed) was $28K. Bare bones for the model was about $22K. I suspect you can get the smaller (36" x 36" cab) without the upgrades for around $20K.
Note that it is less expensive to put an elevator in while you are building than to retrofit one later. The extra retrofitting cost comes from having to remodel the house to find a spot for the elevator. But you can design your home with a place for a future elevator and use the shaft as stacked closet space until you're ready to install the elevator.
Also, if you or anyone in your family has mobility issues and can get your doctor to sign a presciption for an elevator, you don't have to pay the sales tax on the elevator which can save you several thousand dollars.
Here is a link that might be useful: Thyssen Krupp
bevangle, you're always so generous with your sharing! Thanks for the Thyssen Krupp info and advice. Our plans were to build 'elevator ready' but now considering adding with the build.
Designed and had built my home 13 years ago...I didn't have the foresight to prewire all rooms for audio/tech. Now wireless will be my savior.
I loved reading this thread! We're in the planning stages, so this was timely! One thing my neighbor has that I love is a pocket screen door on the front of the house. I like to have the front door open for fresh air sometimes, but don't like the look of screen doors. Theirs is hidden in the door frame until they want to use it, then just slide it out. Neat!
Haven't moved into our new house yet -- so I don't know for sure if this is something we could live without but I asked to have a spigot installed outside for hot water so you don't have to run into the house for a bucket of hot water when you want to wash the car, rinse off your hands, etc.
This thread is great. We are about 90% finished with our plans for a entire house remodel. We are not allowed to tear down and start over, so we are gutting the entire structure.
Your elevator advice is great, thanks. We were planning to make our house elevator ready and install later, but seeing your post has made us reconsider.
Surprised no one has mentioned, but even in SoCal, I love my Warm Floors in the bathroom under the travertine - could be my favorite thing! During the winter, I wanted to lie down on my bathroom floor.
Glad I held out for an outside spiral staircase to the upstairs deck,
two-sided office desk,
undercounter micro drawer,
trash compactor (everyone tried to talk me out of that & said they were passe'),
fixed & handheld shower (overhead shower was a bit of a waste...),
doggie door hidden under kitchen desk - people think she's magic when she appears :),
pull-out shelves for printers, etc in office & grommets for wires & got rid of most of the clutter,
LOVE the light system & setting up scenes - esp. our 'night track' button that saves me turning on & off 6 banks of lights just to get down to the kitchen at night,
my daughter's 'all-off' button that blinks until she turns all the lights off @ night
Bain-Ultra air bath - no more gross jacuzzi jets shooting out gunk!
Wish I had closet lights that come on when doors are opened,
had organized the pantry lay-out a little better,
figured out drawers/pull-outs for wrapping paper better,
looked more closely at cabinet depths - can't fit a whole lot in,
perhaps put an elevator in - was $10K in the beginning & just heard a woman is paying $70K to retrofit her house for one. I need the exercise now, but who knows what the future will hold...
not a whole lot more than that though - we thought it out pretty throughly.
STUPIDEST purchase ever - the Aquatics laundry air sink - basically a jacuzzi for my underwear that you can't even use soap in as it bubbles over & makes a mess. You can do a better job swishing your hand around in the sink a couple of times. Whatever possessed me to get this, I don't know...
One of my favorite threads!!! Keep em coming.
Brendamc, which bain ultra air tub do you love?