is there anything you wish you had done

kimgillMay 5, 2010

Is there anything you wish you had put in your new home or you had thought to do before it was to late. Or what you wished you had done differently???????????????

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I wish I would have paid closer attention to the laundry room :( I guess in the floor plans it looked adequate but now that the house is finished, it is very small!! I guess it isn't a big deal there is only the two of us. I would love just a little more space!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 1:11AM
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Bigger mudroom. Bigger and better designed ensuite.

Better routing of hvac.

Overall though we're pretty pleased so far. Stay involved and keep on top
of details. It's tough for the GC to remember everything.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 1:48AM
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Our house is almost complete and for the most part I'm delighted with the way it has turned out.I do ,however, have a couple of things I would do differently. First, I would have paid way more attention to functionality in my kitchen. My KD designed a spectacular looking kitchen but it could be a lot more functional. If I had spent a little more time trying to visualize myself cooking, doing dishes, etc. in the kitchen instead of looking a pictures of kitchens in magazines, it would have turned out a lot different.

Also, I wish I had figured out earlier in the process that I could save a ton of money by ordering as much as possible online. I had read that advice over and over again on this forum but my builder recommended a list of suppliers that would give me a builder discount.I thought working through them would save me both time and money but I was wrong. There are some great sites out there that are great sources for lighting, faucets, etc. I ordered my kitchen sink online for over $300 less than the same model thru the local supplier giving me a "builders discount". Every little bit helps.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 7:27AM
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I wish I had made the laundry room a LOT bigger.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 9:21AM
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We've lived here for four months now. The house looks great and is highly functional, but we've found a few things.

The master bath tub is not easy to access. It's too deep. I don't think it will be usable when I'm old.

We had a chest of drawers built into the bathroom since we had extra room. It's great, but we wish we had placed it in another spot in the room. When all was said and done, there was no place to hang a towel rack. We only have hooks.

We would have added another full bath.

The kitchen cabinets are beautiful, but too shallow. The refrigerator sticks out beyond the edge of the cabinet. We would have used a different cabinet maker. We've have problems with several of the pullout features.

We would have rocked the fireplace to the ceiling. We have a 18.5 ft ceiling. The fireplace stops at the mantle and doesn't have the presence I think it needs. Actually, decorating the room might help. We're also considering just spending a couple more thousand and rocking on up.

Dh wishes he had gone with stained wood trim and doors in the main living areas. The white doors and trim we have look nice too.

Dh would now like a bay window in the dining area since he has seen it in the neighbors houses.

As far as working with the builder, we found that we wished that we had been more detailed in our contract about exactly what doors, fireplaces, windows, colors we wanted. We had customized our home using some elements of the builders home. We didn't necessarily want his color choices. For instance, his home was done in the taupe-brown family. I'm more of a yellow-brown person. He installed windows with a clay color metal. I might have gone with the white. The builder did not give us a choice on our shingle color. I arrived one day as the were being put up. His explanation was that this was basically the default color of the neighborhood. I would probably not have had any issue if he had stated that earlier. Other homes have used different colors of shingles, but all of the roof colors are pretty much a black/gray/blackish brown. My dh wanted a wood burning fireplace with a stove insert. The builder has only installed gas. We ended up with a restocking fee even after my dh specifically stated which fireplace we wanted and the wrong one got installed.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 10:37AM
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We have a guest bath that I wish I had designed differently. I would have had a large shower rather than yet another tub.

May I turn this question around though and say that the things I am really, really glad I did were the central vac with Hide A Hose, the extensive lighting plan especially in the kitchen, the careful planning of the kitchen to suit the way I cook, and the central vac with Hide A Hose. Did I mention the central vac with Hide A Hose? :-) Please, anyone whose walls are not yet closed up - consider a CV with HAH. Wonderful!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 12:38PM
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I would have used floor trusses between the basement and first floor instead of TJIs. We put a 9 ft ceiling in the basement (not finished yet, but will be in the future). The HVAC trunk line is bulkheaded in, but it is pretty large. It would have been nice to have it recessed within a floor truss in the basement ceiling. There would be no need for them on the second floor since that unit is in the attic.
Also, we didn't put a light switch to shut off the kitchen island lights when we're on the way out the door. We can shut of all the others, but have to walk back to shut off the island pendants when we're leaving.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 1:04PM
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We're not in yet, but so far, there a couple of minor things I would have done differerntly. I would have added more can lights. Now that the ceiling fixtures are in, we've realized that the fixtures alone are inadequate to light up some of the bigger rooms. I would have stuck to my guns on the white paint used for our cabinet color, but I'm learning to like the white we got. There is a closet door I wish I would have oriented differently. We also have 2 closets on a common wall that open to different rooms. I wish I had made one bigger and the other smaller. I wish I had placed my windows a little differently. I like to hang my currents really wide, and several of our windows go all the way to the very corner of a room so that I don't have a ton of space to hang drapes. All pretty minor, but I'm sure I'll find more later!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 3:17PM
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I have several things I wish I had done.

I wish I had roughed in for central vac. We are now retro-fitting.

I wish I had put electrical outlets on the stairs, or at least the landings.

I wish I had put another light switch for the kitchen pendants across the room.

I wish I had double checked the door order, because the door guy ordered them swinging the wrong way. He's a hometown guy, so we assumed it was right. Most of them wouldn't matter, except that the light switches are now on the wrong side. That does make a difference. Good thing it's only on closets in the guest room and my work room.

I wish I had also put a tub in the guest bath. This, however, we didn't know until we saw how the roofline affected that room. It's a dormer, and if I had it to do over, I would have put a tub in the dormer, under the window.

I wish I would have added a walk-in door to the basement garage (inside) right at the bottom of the stairs that go to the rec room. Instead it is around the corner, through the kitchenette.

I wish I would have put a water spigot on the deck.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my house, but those are little things that I wish I would have thought of.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 4:26PM
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I think I'm going to wish I had started building today instead of three years from now...

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 7:48PM
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all these list are giving me things to really think about when building my own home, thanks for the ideas

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 11:04PM
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Like Fish's comment, I'd have used Open Web Floor Trusses to accomodate plumbing and HVAC, and instead of a 10ft basement, I'd have poured 12ft, just to make sure that the HVAC is hidden. We used creative coffers to hide the HVAC, but it took 2 weeks and an entire box (4,000) of framing nails to do all the coffers.

Install plywood floor in attic during framing, it's too tight to get it up there now.

We made the laundry room bigger... and it's still not big enough.

I wouldn't have used real mahogany exterior doors. They just aren't sealing well and two have warped.

Make the footers bigger on a couple locations, even though they were spec'd by engineers.

I'd have colored and sealed the garage floor before we moved in.

I would've put foam board insulation on the exterior and done a dense pack cellulose insulation instead of the spray foam.

I would not get GE Appliances again... we even got Monogram, but they're not holding up well.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 9:41AM
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I would have converted my family room fireplace to a wood burning fireplace versus gas. Oh well...

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 9:49AM
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Bdpeck : why would you not have done foam insulation? Very interested as that is we were planning on foam in our 2x6 walls. Also, what did you do in the attic for insulation and do you still like that?


    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 10:09AM
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Also curious about the insulation Bdpeck -- we have just decided to use spray foam when we begin and it was a tough sell to DH because the return on investment seems questionable. However, our area (Davidson -- are you in Charlotte?) has propane, which might make it worthwhile as the propane is so highly variable.

I'd love to know if you have a recommendation for an insulation company as well. Sorry to hijack....

Love all of the great tips in this thread....

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 2:23PM
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My experience with foam insulation has been that it is more expensive and it doesnt offer that much of an increase in R value over blown in cellulose( which was less $$ ) Then if you ever need to acccess the walls for whatever reason... electric, plumbing water lines etc you dont have to dig through foam. I have also seen one foam job shrink a bit leaving cracks /spaces etc. A good insulation job will seal all the cracks, windows, doors etc with caulk and give you a good air infiltration package before the insulation anyway. Just my opinion!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 6:52PM
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bdpeck...Can I also ask which GE Monogram appliances you got for your kitchen. I've been considering the 48" dual fuel range which seems to get good reviews and could save some money over the similar Wolf...

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 10:18PM
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We're doing a bit of both, insulation-wise: 1/4" foam to seal for air then regular insulation on top of that. Our builder is getting certified in Energy-star building, and he's been learning a lot. This is what the builders in his group are doing right now (and meeting the requirements). Says it's more cost-effective that the whole cavity filled with foam.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 11:02AM
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mythreesonsnc - IMHO - no one should be using propane to heat a new house, even in our climate. Heat pump with either air source or ground source (geothermal). The federal government will pay for 30% of geothermal on new construction but will not pay a dime for extra insulation (or foam insulation). That really changes the payback since usually I think geo and foam are pretty close (and both are way too long as compared to gas).

Your cheapest option is air source heat pump or dual fuel. I only used $200 in NG this winter for 4000 sq feet - conventionally insulated. Even with propane, that shouldn't be too bad. That is with dual fuel - and a switchover temp of 35 degrees. With a normal winter, switch over at 30 degrees - that would probably be $100 in gas - so even propane wouldn't be too bad. How could foam ever pay for itself in that situation? Sure - electricity was another $500 - but even at $700 total for a brutal winter - foam is hard to justify. Don't get me started with a/c since the temp differences are even lower (hence the need for insulation is lower) and the total cost is lower.

Foam sellers blow a lot of smoke. Look at the dollars and do the math. There are far better options even with propane. With a dual fuel set up heat pump, you will never notice the cooler temp outputs from a heat pump.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 8:01AM
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The Foam doesn't make a higher R value, it seals the house to drafts better than "normal" construction. If you cover the sheathing with 1 inch foam boards and tape the seams (basically replace your housewrap with it), you'll create the same airtight effect as using a spray foam. Alternatively, you could use small foam cans around penetrations and caulk religiously to get the house tight. I wondered if I could've done a blower door test before insulation to find and close up leaks. I just think there are some more cost effective ways to make a house tight than with foam. I think I'd still do foam on the roof here in the south.

I have GE Monogram 36" Fridge, 36" Freezer, Dishwasher, Compactor, and Microwave. The Freezer makes some bad noises from time to time. The Compactor will be getting repaired for the second time this week. And the Mircowave is on it's 5th door, the stainless steel panels came off the others. It's held on with double sided tape!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 8:18AM
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I wish I had known there was such a thing as a lift for chandeliers, but better yet, I wish I had thought to eliminate it completely. It hangs in a two story stairway, but because the window is not centered in the stairwell, the light isn't centered on the window. In hindsight it would have been better to eliminate the chandelier and just put one more light in the upstairs hallway and a couple more recessed lights in the downstairs hallway. Oh well, too late for that now. Guess I'll just have to save my pennies and have a lift installed after the fact.

Totally Confused

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 4:22PM
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I would use wall-sconces to light my U-shaped stair well rather than recessed can lights. One of the cans is located in a nearly impossible spot to reach! It is nearly 20 ft above the stair and, because I have a railing at the top of the stair case where the ladder would need to lean, I'd have to turn it perpendicular to the stair treads which means one leg of the ladder would need to be just the right amount longer than the other leg. So, I tried to use one of those extension arm thing-a-ma-jigs yesterday to change a burned out bulb. Managed to drop and break two new bulbs! Will see if I can find a different/better extension arm this weekend but in hindsight I wish I'd gone ahead with the wall sconces I originally visualized.

Other than that, I'm pretty happy with the design of the house.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 7:38PM
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I wish I would have hired a different plumber. Mine is MIA alot.

Chandalier lift? I thought I thought of everything. Wish I would have known about that one. But with our landing and a 12 ft ladder, we can reach it. But what we paid for the ladder would have paid a big chuck of the manual lift.

My electrical was a bit of a "shock". I might have done without some of the 5 miles of wire. It ate up my swimming pool fund for this year.

Let's see what else. Nothing major. I am pretty darn happy. But we still have one more floor to go so I might find more things in the coming weeks.

Oh, my wine cooler that I wanted to use as a Coffee Creamer Frig in my Coffee Center in the kitchen didn't work out as I had planned. but oh well.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 9:30PM
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Thanks for all of the insulation info --- we are considering foam in the attic/ roof only. I remember reading a post by energyrater (I think) that foam can be overkill everywhere, that the roof is the most important place, if you are going to use foam. Bdpeck, sounds like you agree with the roof application.

Davidcary, thanks for the geothermal tips --- think I need to do some more research. I appreciate all of the responses to my hijack.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 7:57AM
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Energyrater also brought up that a closed cell on the roof would make it impossible to locate roof leaks... you might not even know you had one until it completely ate through a rafter. We decided that we'd live with that possibility. The initial roof installation didn't have leaks, we just have to do some inspecting after wind storms.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 7:51AM
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I would have added an entry to the basement from the garage.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 9:28AM
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Our plans had a storage room off the garage but it would have been up a couple of steps. We used this space instead and made our laundry room larger which was a good choice. However, I wish we would have used part of the area that is right in front of the basement stairs to put a small washroom that you could access from the garage.
We still would have had a great laundry room but that toilet and sink that you could use without running in the house would have been wonderful.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 12:28PM
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Seems I'm always finding things I would/should have done differently. This week I realized that, instead of having the plumber move the hose bib from the side of the house to the front, I should have had him leave the one on the side and ADD one on the front. It sure would have made watering the plants easier.

Totally Confused

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 8:36AM
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I wish---

I had made the laundry room bigger
Added a mud room
Deeper garage for storage
More closets!
Tile in foyer rather than hardwood
Hardwood- used a lower sheen to hide the scratches
Considered that putting a masterbedroom/bathroom over the garage would not be the best idea (cold)
High Ceiling in the master bath does not help the cold issue...

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 8:46PM
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I got many ideas from this post for my house, although there are always things I wish i had done different. But one thing I did and my contractor said they do not normally do this is I insulated all my garage walls. My kids play in there a lot during the winter and it feels better insulated.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 10:58AM
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I wish we had tripled the size of the laundry. I was coming from a house with the laundry area in a hallway and was thrilled to have a dedicated room in the new house. I have since decided that you can't go too large for a laundry!
Also, we probably would have added 1/3 to the size of the garage to accomodate more storage and shelving.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 2:03PM
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the bigger laundry room regret seems pretty popular, if you could do it again how big would you make it or what would you want in it? how big are your laundry rooms now?

    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 9:04AM
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Closed-cell spray foam insulation has about twice the R value as open-cell foam but it is usually more than twice as expensive.

Finding roof leaks that are not obvious from above is very difficult if the sheathing is not exposed to the attic space. If you use foam between the rafters it is still possible to use vent baffles and in any case it is best to cover the entire roof with Ice & Water Shield underlayment.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 10:08AM
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We are now building are 2nd house in 2 years.

The things to really examine are your future furniture placement, make sure it all can layout properly. Make sure you don't have too many windows that you can't put furniture in places. In one ofnthe 4 bedrooms in the previous build, we had too many windows, bed placement became difficult.

Same for electrical...envision how you will live as best you can and put outlets where you will need them. Think about where you will have desks, tables, etc.

Examine how doors open, and the view that is created from other rooms. For example, you don't really want to see the crapper from the dining table when the powdermroom door is open.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 9:41PM
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That is the one advantage you have in old houses that have the washer and dryer in the basement...a huge space for them to be in that doesn't eat away at finished square footage! But boy is it a hassle when you don't live in a ranch, phew.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 10:52PM
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