Things I Wish We Had Done When We Built Our Home Building Tips Part 2

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Hello! If you missed Part 1 You can read it here. Okay, so on to part 2! I keep thinking of things to share and scribbling them down so we’ll see how long this goes.

The most important features that I would want in a house if I built again is still a mudroom, a pantry, and closets. I really think these spaces give things a home and allow the rest of the house to be uncluttered.

mudroom 320 sycamore

* Mudroom: a drop place for everyone – shoes, coats, hats, keys, backpacks, sports gear, snow gear. With the 7 of us I would probably have made ours bigger and put doors on the lockers to contain the clutter. You can also click here to see some of my favorite mudrooms.

* Pantry: I love pantries!  You can see more about ours here but the counter with plugs to put all of the small appliances, including the microwave is my #1 favorite thing so they don’t have to be out on the kitchen counter. Here are some more favorite pantries and also some from the Parade of Homes.

pantry 320 sycamore

* Closets & Storage – closets don’t have to be huge but think about placement:

- off of the front door for coats for guests/store off season coats

- where will you put cleaning items vacuums and brooms?

- where will toys be stored?

- what about extra blankets, pillows, sleeping bags?

- do you have a good spot for suitcases/luggage?

- I would have a linen closet for every bathroom, even if they are small! For towels, toilet tissue, soap, toothpaste, sunscreen, bug spray, medications, beach towels, etc.

linen closets in bathroom

* A storage room is so nice for holiday decorations, camping and outdoor gear, luggage, extra chairs and tables, etc.

And just some general building tips – I went back and added some more to wiring and electrical that we thought of as well.

* make sure your garage is deep enough if you want a work space and wide enough for 2 cars to open doors and with space to walk around and get babies out of carseats and unload groceries. We would have added another garage as well – they don’t cost that much more but by the time you have lawn equipment, bikes, tools, and teenage drivers they fill up quickly!

* make hallways and stairs wider than normal. We had friends suggest to go by ADA standards for wheelchairs which prepares for anything in the future and makes plenty of room for furniture moving.

christmas front porch

* Porches: I would have made our walkway and stairs wider. Also, you’ll want to make sure your porch is deep enough if you are putting rockers or other furniture. I love to have enough room to decorate for the seasons so I made ours bigger than normal. ;)

* Landscaping – this is a HUGE one. Make sure you know what (if anything) is included with your builder for landscaping. Sprinkler systems, trees, sod, bushes, curbing all cost A LOT and after you do some upgrades you may not have anything left if you have not budgeted for it in the beginning. More on landscaping here.

* water heaters – this was a number one thing people advised us to go bigger one and we have never regretted having two 50 gallon water heaters for our family of 7. With families visiting often, dishwasher and washing machine running constantly -- I don’t think we have ever run out?

* another top tip from friends was get the thickest padding you can for carpet! Even if the carpet isn’t the greatest the padding makes all the difference.

* if you have an attic, get the pull-down ladder for easy access.

* Wire now for features you may want in the future, or at least put the conduit to add it later. Think solar panels, hot tub, generators, surround sound or theater, lighting for backyard sports court, etc.

* automatic lights! Think about which lights you will want to come on automatically and work with your electrician to choose auto timers – probably Christmas lights and any front light fixtures and motion sensors are nice for security on back porches and entrances.

* make sure you know your builder’s warranties. You will be so ready to sign the papers and move in but take the time to double and triple check before you sign to make sure everything was finished the way you agreed to because it’s usually a pain to get them to come back after you have moved in! Check grout, baseboards, flooring, paint and make sure doors, windows, cabinets, and locks are working properly and don’t stick.

* sub-contractors will take the road of least resistance so make sure you communicate about EVERYTHING and bring pictures of what you want to leave with them so there is no confusion. Think direction of flooring and tile, grout and mortar spacing and color, crown moulding placement and style, directions you want doors to swing, outlet placement, cabinet handle placement, etc.

I would have gone with thinner grout lines on my kitchen backsplash but I never mentioned it so they just went with standard. I would have gone with white mortar on my brick but they went with gray because I didn’t discuss that with them. As with any relationship communication is everything.

* You will be amazed at how quickly upgrades add up. There will be things you don’t think about but decide would be good to upgrade now and all of a sudden you are at your budget limit. Here are some things we did ourselves to save some money: if you have laid flooring before, consider doing some yourself on the weekend. We also chose to not have them finish our garage (painting, baseboards, door moulding, etc.) I had them prime but not paint three bedrooms. This saved money and gave me time to figure out paint colors, decor, etc. We also choose to hydro seed our lawn instead of sod which saved thousands and we did most of our own landscaping.

I hope this helps! It sounds overwhelming but it’s actually kind of fun at the same time. I would love to hear if you would add anything or give any tips to home builders!


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