What about your new build makes your life easier; what doesn't ?

sidney4October 31, 2009

I've really learned alot from the threads about things people have done in their new homes that they would never want to be without. This is a variation on that theme.

Would all of you who have been through the building process and are now enjoying the fruits of your labor tell me what about your new home makes your life easier. It would also be helpful if you could share decisions that ended up being high maintenance features. I want my house to look nice and be comfortable but I also want it to simplify my life. We have already decided to leave much of our wooded lot au natural...no more spending our weekends mowing an over sized yard.I've added vac pans after hearing rave reviews from posters here. I rearranged our plan to save steps from the garage to the kitchen when bringing in groceries. Are there other things I should be considering?

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Where are you building? Condsiderations for a home in deep snow country and and home in the deep South, for example, are quite a bit different.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 11:44AM
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We're building in the Midwest....hot summers AND snowy cold winters!

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 12:54PM
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Central vacuum with Hide A Hose makes life so much easier and our home so much cleaner! The Hide A Hose is indispensable!

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 12:55PM
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a couple things come to mind - and we're also in the midwest...

windows: I love our Marvin windows that very easily pop down for cleaning the outside glass from the inside! also between the glass grills so that it's an easier wipe down.

fireplace: having just started using ours (gas start, wood burning) we wish we would have built an exterior ash trap door (don't know that I'm using the right lingo). this would have made it MUCH nicer for cleaning up all the ashes - but obviously not an issue if you have gas only

mudroom: lots of built-in cabs and cubbies for everything, big enough space to allow everyone to get in at the same time and sitting areas to put on/off shoes/boots, easy porcelain tile that I don't have to worry about tracking in all the leaves, mud, water, snow.

bathrooms: only one of our bathrooms has a glass door - much easier for cleaning!!

exterior hose hookups: I was unfortunately talked out of putting a water spiggot in a spot that now REALLY wish would be there - would have made watering this summer a ton better instead of having to have a 75 or 100ft hose (which is heavy and cumbersome).

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 2:05PM
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Some good tips so far. Thanks.

Mairin, how big is your mudroom? Also, I'm adding extra outdoor spigots to my list.I should have thought of that one, myself. My current house has to have the worst placement ever for watering outdoor plants.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 2:34PM
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bathrooms: only one of our bathrooms has a glass door - much easier for cleaning!!

The mind boggles. Just what is it that is getting on the bathroom door that needs cleaning, and how do your guests feel about the view?

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 2:51PM
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We love our new house. Been living here one year exactly.
Life is much easier with the laundry room on the main level. In the old house it was in the basement.
I love my windows that tip in for cleaning. Before we had old wooden ones that had individual panes (and they were a pain) and old heavy storm windows you had to put up and down to clean the outsides.
It is handy having outlets on both porches and I love, love, love my island in the kitchen.

What makes life harder is no fence for the dogs but DH and DS are working on that as I type so it won't be long.
Also my wood look laminate floor that I wanted so badly. It is dark color and you can see every footprint and speck of dust or crumb that lands on it.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 3:58PM
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a foundation with rebar will make it easier to not worry about my house falling down.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 7:39PM
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I second the central vac with Hide-A-House - love it. Also, mudroom with cubbies has been fantastic. I also love having a large laundry room where I can leave out an ironing board, hampers with laundry etc. and hide it behind a closed door.

I also really like having a covered front porch. We chose it mainly for the aesthetic appeal but it's proved very usable. Also really like having an oversized garage.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 10:14PM
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We live in Wisconsin, and some things that make our life easier:

Prefinished fiber cement siding--we had natural cedar at our old house and had to put the clear wood finish on it every 3 or 4 years.

Clad Anderson 400 windows--no more painting the trim.

Cement driveway--we had blacktop at our old house and had to seal it every year.

Walk in closets for every bedroom and a walk-in pantry--adequate storage reduces clutter and makes it easier to keep the house clean.

Full basement--we had a partial basement at our old house and were short of storage.

Built in ironing board in the master bedroom closet.

Full extension glides on kitchen drawers, supersusan in corner cabinet and appliance garage.

Light colored kitchen counters.

Open floor plan.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 10:43PM
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A single story house with an open plan. Two bedrooms and a full bath, linen closet, hall closet on one side of the house with the open living room- kitchen- dining room in the middle. Laundry, pantry, door to garage, half bath , and master suite on the other side of the house. This is perfect for the two of us and when we have guests they have their own private part of the house and we have ours!! Front and back porches and lots of spigots and outlets.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2009 at 1:15AM
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My house plan sounds similar, but not the same, as twotogo's house and I like it for the same reason..:)

Single story. The other things are in the kitchen...wall oven, no more bending to get things in/out of the oven. Drawers..lots of drawers. Walk in pantry.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2009 at 3:03AM
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sidney: our mudroom is approximately 8'x9', with a little 'hallway/arm' that leads to our side porch. the main space has lockers (4) with a drawer, 2 high cabs and space for shoes underneath for each locker. then we have a corner shelving unit as well as a sink base and upper cab. I also really like having the sink in there - I've found it very handy for cleaning off dirty kids feet and hands!!

another thing that comes to mind is having fiberglass doors and garage doors - no need to stain every year like wood and you don't have to worry about warping/splitting with our midwest weather!

creek side: LOL! sorry for my unclear sentences! Only one of our showers has a glass door. we keep the squeegie in there for wiping down water/soap after use. We have a doorless walk-in shower in the master and I love not having the door. the other full bath we just use a shower curtain (this makes bathing the little ones easier than the glass, too).

    Bookmark   November 1, 2009 at 8:33AM
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We haven't built yet, but on this house, there are no outdoor electrical outlets. This makes decorating at Christmas etc... difficult, have to run chords out the garage, which is better than the last house, had to run them out the front window! Also, we paid to have a back yard spigot added to this house. It had two, but both on the same side of the house, 5 feet apart, infront of our fenceline. Definately want one on front and back.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2009 at 1:23PM
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If you have an upstairs porch or balcony, you'll want a spigot there too. Hoisting the hose up for cleaning requires a tree pole trimmer and really good balance!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2009 at 10:06AM
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We also left our lot natural. It looks great out every window! (and I have more time to look out windows...I may sell my mower).

We put a lot into energy efficiency which has lowered our operating costs considerably (every month less than $100 for heat last winter - in Duluth MN)with geothermal heat, very efficient windows ( H-Windows), tight exterior construction, and good insulation.

I love the induction cooktop, hardwood floors, and cedar deck (unfinished).

We also installed some wiring and blanks in the ceiling for speakers in the living room. These are used a lot.

Put in more electrical outlets, and spigots outside than you think you'll need (we didn't). You might want to consider wiring for future outdoor lighting now before the house is done.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2009 at 6:46PM
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Jeff - just wondering, is that $100 for *heat only* or your entire electric bill? What is your rate (generation and delivery) or usage?

We have 2700 sf Colonial in NW CT (zone 6) with a Climatemaster 4 ton GSHP, we're on "budget plan" which means we pay the same amount every month no matter what (we pay difference or get rebate at end of the year), the past 2 years we've averaged $300/mo at 18 cents/kWh. We use about 37 kWh/day in non-heating season (electric dryer and 7 loads a week), but have hit 77 kWh/day during Feb when resistive heat has to run. Haven't turned on breakers for heat strips yet, usually do that around Thanksgiving.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2009 at 10:43PM
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I had lights put in cach closet so they come on when the door is opened and off when closed. I love this feature; no more hunting in a dark closet. Used T5 slim flourescest light fixtures.

I also have drawers on all the bottom kitchen cabinets. Makes those dark recesses in the back go away.

Did in floor hot water heat which I love. No more drafty forced air.

Put a shower valve that controls a hose spigot inside the garage so we can wash the car on the outside concrete pad in the winter.

Full extension glides on the kitchen drawers and the soft close on the drawers and the cabinet doors.

We are at 5000 ft in northern Wyoming so we did tripple pane casement windows and 2x6 walls with foam insulation on the exteriior wall. I would do double hung windows if I had to do it again becasue the flies like to roost between the inside screen and the window pane. Have at least R50 in the ceiling that's blown in fiberglass. The new stuff that doesn't itch.

I also agree with putting plenty of outside spigots and outside electrical plugs. Wish I had more.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 12:21PM
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One of our porch lights is 15' above the landing. I bought a sealed LED light (CREE?) that cost quite a bit, but hopefully will never need to be changed.

We installed timer switches (from Westside Wholesale) in the bathrooms so that the fan turns on when you turn on the shower light. Toggling the switch to the middle position turns the light and fan off, the bottom position turns the light off but lets the fan run for 20 minutes (you set the timer when you install the switch).

I don't have many things that make my life harder - I suppose once we move the kids to their upstairs bedrooms that will be a pain, but we couldn't afford to build the house as one story. Building the house 15' above grade makes my life harder, but keeps me in better shape, and in the long run will be easier since it (knock on wood) will never flood.

I sure hope the dumbwaiter makes my life easier, if DH ever finishes the doors and hooks it up!

A no brainer - my dishwasher makes my life easier. I hated that we couldn't fit one in the FEMA mobile home.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 12:51PM
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Our geothermal compressor is on a seperate service. It is interruptable (by the power company at times of high demand). Our standard rate is .08 per KW. On the interruptable circuit we pay .04 per KW. Our non-heating electric bill is pretty constant (about 1100 KW per month). The electricity used by the geothermal compressor is, as you would expect, practically zero in the summer (which is when most of the interruptions occur), and highest in the cold winter months.

We have a seven-ton, horizontal closed loop system from Econar and have been in the house since last December.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 6:20PM
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Thanks for the info Jeff. There's a big difference b/t 4 cents kWh and 18 cents! I wish we could get a better rate for our heat (we did just switch suppliers so should save 2 cents on generation starting this month). Your non-heating usage is just about the same as ours (don't know if you have an electric dryer, etc.). If I'm figuring correctly, your heat is running $100/.04 = 2500 kWh/month in the worst month? Our would be 77-37 = 40 kWh/day x let's say 30 days = 1200 so we're half your usage? How big are your heat strips (has nothing to do with your pump being 7 tons vs our 4 tons)? Of course, your outdoor temps, heated sf, and t-stat settings could be a lot different from ours. Do you program your t-stat or leave it at a constant setting?

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 6:54PM
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drains in garage floor and hot/cold water in garage to wash the winter sludge down

mud room/drop zone area with plenty of shoe cubbies, coat/backpack hooks, 2 closets and a cabinet with counter top for all the misc. clutter that comes in the house and a pda organizer for cell phones

laundry room on 2nd floor (all bedrooms are upstairs)

3/4 door off spare bedroom closet into a large attic storage space (also the location of the 2nd floor furnace)

storage area in garage

lightd stairs on staircase

    Bookmark   November 6, 2009 at 3:34PM
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(sorry about calling you Anita)

We don't have any heat strips (plenum heat). We sized the geothermal system to give 100% of our heating needs. In order to qualify for the half-priced interruptable power, we needed a backup heater, so we put in a 100000 BTU tankless gas water heater that can heat the heating water. I never ran it last year, (it was only put in in April). This year, I'm going to run it for a day a month so it doesn't corrode.

We use in-floor hydronic heat downstairs (studio, two bedrooms) and forced air upstairs. We just turn down the thermostat upstairs when we go to bed.


    Bookmark   November 6, 2009 at 6:56PM
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I want to add site finished qs oak floor in the kitchen to my list. I had tile at my old house and standing on wood is much easier on the legs and back than tile. Also,no clear glass chandelier in the foyer--we had a two story foyer in our old house with a chandelier that had clear glass and showed the dust so it had to be cleaned often and I just about killed myself everytime I cleaned it.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2009 at 5:06PM
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I remembered one more thing. Photo sensor outside lights on a timer. They go on at dusk and go off at midnight.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 10:49PM
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