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Thread: The building a new home thread

  1. #1
    Kicked to the curb San Juan Sun's Avatar
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    Default The building a new home thread

    My wife and I are going to be moving to our hometown in the next 18 months. We have our choice of lots on some property a little ways out of town. Once we pick it out, we'll get it surveyed, deeded, and then we'll be ready to go.

    My brother in law is a contractor, and will be building it for us. It'll (hopefully) be the home I die in, so I want to get it right the first time. I have several things that I'd really like to do:

    - master bedroom/kitchen/office/ultility room all on main floor
    - in ground heating, maybe solar if feasable
    - a basketball court (maybe underground)

    Any suggestions on where to start, what to avoid, things you wished you knew before you built?

  2. #2
    sweet triple TripletDaddy's Avatar
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    Radiant heating is awesome. Big fan of that.

    What about a sweet media room/home theater? Any interest in that?
    Fitter. Happier. More Productive.


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    Kicked to the curb San Juan Sun's Avatar
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    Yes, there WILL be a theater room. With a nice HD projector and a 100 inch screen. I told my wife that this is non-negotiable.

    Probably will only have one other TV in the house though.

  4. #4

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    Cool (and wacky, in some cases) features that I've seen in some of the custom homes designed by the company I once worked for:

    - 10-foot ceilings on all floors; you'd be surprised how enjoyable a basement space is when it has 10-foot ceilings. Doesn't feel like a basement at all.

    - Radiant heated deck and driveway; no need to shovel the snow off; flick a switch and it melts away

    - Bidets in all bathrooms

    - twisting slippery slide from loft upstairs to family room on main floor

    - dumb waiter

    Those are all fun and luxurious, but the two things I think most people get wrong when building a house are:

    1) they fail to get the kitchen/great room area right. That is the most used space in the house, but people often get so wrapped up in the mudroom, office, media room, laundry room, workout room, etc. that they eat away at the space designated for the kitchen/great room. It's the heart of the house, and it is much more important to get that right than to include all the tangential ideas;

    2) they fail to include adequate storage. Make sure your pantries and bedroom closets are good sized. Make sure you have adequate closetry in the halls and kitchen (broom closet, vacuum closet, etc.). Make sure your garage is big enough to fit your lawnmower and other tools comfortably.

    People can add all the bells and whistles they want, but rarely does someone complain about a house where they have a huge kitchen/great room area and plenty of storage.
    Prepare to put mustard on those words, for you will soon be consuming them, along with this slice of humble pie that comes direct from the oven of shame set at gas mark “egg on your face”! -- Moss

    There are three rules that I live by: never get less than twelve hours sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese. --Coach Finstock

  5. #5

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    how many square feet will that be? Are you planning on building two stories?
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  6. #6

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    When (if) I ever build my own house it will have:

    1) A library

    2) A secret passage/room

  7. #7
    Soul Plumber wuapinmon's Avatar
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    Servants' quarters!
    "Yeah, but never trust a Ph.D who has an MBA as well. The PhD symbolizes intelligence and discipline. The MBA symbolizes lust for power." -- Katy Lied

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by wuapinmon View Post
    Servants' quarters!
    my first thought was something along the lines of saving enough money to pay someone to clean it every week.
    Dio perdona tante cose per un’opera di misericordia
    God forgives many things for an act of mercy
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    Knock it off. This board has enough problems without a dose of middle-age lechery.

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    sweet triple TripletDaddy's Avatar
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    One house I looked at recently had a great kitchen...it was awesome. Huge, nice layout, etc. What made it extra awesome was this really cool twisty staircase that went directly from the kitchen to the upstairs. It sounds weird but was actually a really nice custom touch.
    Fitter. Happier. More Productive.


  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by kccougar View Post
    2) A secret passage/room
    I forgot about that one. One of the Parade of Homes houses in Farmington about 7 years ago had a secret passage that went from the basement to the main level and up to the upstairs level, all in the same passage.
    Prepare to put mustard on those words, for you will soon be consuming them, along with this slice of humble pie that comes direct from the oven of shame set at gas mark “egg on your face”! -- Moss

    There are three rules that I live by: never get less than twelve hours sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese. --Coach Finstock

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Donuthole View Post
    I forgot about that one. One of the Parade of Homes houses in Farmington about 7 years ago had a secret passage that went from the basement to the main level and up to the upstairs level, all in the same passage.
    i think these mystical pathways are called stairs
    Te Occidere Possunt Sed Te Edere Non Possunt Nefas Est.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by camleish View Post
    i think these mystical pathways are called stairs
    Yes, and when the stairs are hidden behind a wall with hidden entrances they are called secret passages.
    Prepare to put mustard on those words, for you will soon be consuming them, along with this slice of humble pie that comes direct from the oven of shame set at gas mark “egg on your face”! -- Moss

    There are three rules that I live by: never get less than twelve hours sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese. --Coach Finstock

  13. #13
    Time to camp HuskyFreeNorthwest's Avatar
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    Master bathroom urinal. That has been the greatest argument I ever won. Though I do wonder how awesome a fireman pole from upstairs to downstairs would have been.
    Get confident, stupid
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    sweet triple TripletDaddy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HuskyFreeNorthwest View Post
    Master bathroom urinal. That has been the greatest argument I ever won. Though I do wonder how awesome a fireman pole from upstairs to downstairs would have been.
    you have a urinal in your bathroom? i could actually be convinced that it is a good idea. Where do you buy the urinal cakes? Do they sell them individually?

    I assume you are talking about a traditional urinal and not the trough kind?
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    Time to camp HuskyFreeNorthwest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TripletDaddy View Post
    you have a urinal in your bathroom? i could actually be convinced that it is a good idea. Where do you buy the urinal cakes? Do they sell them individually?

    I assume you are talking about a traditional urinal and not the trough kind?
    It is just a traditional style, trough would have been awesome though. I'll post a picture when I get home today.
    Get confident, stupid
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  16. #16

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    I agree with D-hole on the kitchen and storage. I kick myself every day for not adding a 3rd car garage.
    *Banned*

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    sweet triple TripletDaddy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cougjunkie View Post
    I agree with D-hole on the kitchen and storage. I kick myself every day for not adding a 3rd car garage.
    speaking of this, I learned something new (for me, anyway).

    The builders I spoke with yesterday said that not adding the extra space in the garage is usually a huge mistake because the additional cost for a 3-car or even 4-car is extremely nominal....even as cheap as an extra 5K or so (assuming you are cool with the added land usage).

    Also, why are basements so much cheaper to build out? The builders were saying that basements can be finished for approx $25-30 a square foot. Why is this?
    Fitter. Happier. More Productive.


  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by TripletDaddy View Post
    speaking of this, I learned something new (for me, anyway).

    The builders I spoke with yesterday said that not adding the extra space in the garage is usually a huge mistake because the additional cost for a 3-car or even 4-car is extremely nominal....even as cheap as an extra 5K or so (assuming you are cool with the added land usage).

    Also, why are basements so much cheaper to build out? The builders were saying that basements can be finished for approx $25-30 a square foot. Why is this?
    Basements are cheaper because you don't have to finish the exterior, and they require less lumber for framing. Those advantages go away to some extent if it's a walk out basement.

    EDIT: Also, there is generally very little cabinetry, plumbing, carpentry in most basements. And those are the items that really impact the cost per sq ft.
    Prepare to put mustard on those words, for you will soon be consuming them, along with this slice of humble pie that comes direct from the oven of shame set at gas mark “egg on your face”! -- Moss

    There are three rules that I live by: never get less than twelve hours sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese. --Coach Finstock

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by TripletDaddy View Post
    speaking of this, I learned something new (for me, anyway).

    The builders I spoke with yesterday said that not adding the extra space in the garage is usually a huge mistake because the additional cost for a 3-car or even 4-car is extremely nominal....even as cheap as an extra 5K or so (assuming you are cool with the added land usage).

    Also, why are basements so much cheaper to build out? The builders were saying that basements can be finished for approx $25-30 a square foot. Why is this?
    I think because they are already dug out, wired, plumbed and sometimes even framed. The hardest parts are done already.
    *Banned*

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    אלוף NorthwestUteFan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Juan Sun View Post

    My brother in law is a contractor, and will be building it for us.
    First and foremost, I will NEVER do business with family or friends.

    For your media room, if you are going to use a projection TV be sure to use a room without a single window.

    GOOD sized closets in the bathrooms. Most homes (my own especially) have far too little storage space in the bathroom. A small linen closet in the hallway is also useful.

    As stated above having a GOOD flow from kitchen/dining/family room is far more important than most other things. An impressive entry way and a formal dining room are often wasted space, which could be better used as a 'gathering spot' within the house.

    I am renovating the kids' hallway bathroom and put in tile with radiant heat. ABSOLUTELY love it so far! I will put radiant heat in every tile floor from this point forward.

    A finished, walkup attic space is preferable to vaulted ceilings on the 2nd floor.

    Wood and/or tile in every room on the main floor. This is more important if dog and/or kids track mud through the house on a daily basis.

    If you have a relatively high water table it MAY be worth looking into a geothermal heat pump system. They are very expensive, but may qualify for tax incentives, and once installed cost very little to heat or cool the house.

    Make a punchlist of incomplete or improperly finished items within the house. Be certain these items will ACTUALLY be fixed after closing, or else DO NOT CLOSE ON THE HOUSE!!! I learned this one the hard way. We even held back ~$7k so they would put the final coat on the wood floor and installed the grass, and it STILL took over 10 months until they got it all complete. Had I simply delayed closing by a week or so until these items were finished, I would have eliminated a significant hassle from the whole process.

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Donuthole View Post
    Basements are cheaper because you don't have to finish the exterior, and they require less lumber for framing. Those advantages go away to some extent if it's a walk out basement.

    EDIT: Also, there is generally very little cabinetry, plumbing, carpentry in most basements. And those are the items that really impact the cost per sq ft.
    Yup. When we built we examined the cost of putting a bonus room above the garage compared to finishing the basement. For a roughly 500 square foot bonus room, the cost was about the same to finish roughly 1,500 square feet in the basement. We ended up doing neither, though are considering doing the basement now. It is because like DDD and CJ have said, a lot of the work is already done. You don't have the extra cost of roofing, exterior, etc. and the Basement doesn't have any exterior brick/stucco costs.

    A few things we did:
    *Big garage. 3rd car plus added depth. Should be able to add a work shop area towards the back and still have enough room for a 3rd car/boat/trailer easily.
    *Higher Master ceiling. My wife and I are both tallish, so the extra space is a bonus.
    *Framed exit out of the Master Bath. Eventually when we put a hot-tub in a back nook in our yard, we've already got it framed for a door. This won't happen for another 10 years at least likely, but we're already there
    *House wired with Ethernet jacks in every room

    One thing I wish we would have done was a walkout basement. We have a pool table that, unfortunately, we can't get into our basement because the hallway is too tight. So it is sitting in our garage at the moment, not getting used and taking up space. If we had a walkout basement, we'd be able to move it down there easily.

  22. #22

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    I wish I had advice for you, but really you should talk to my wife. We finished building a little over a year ago and are completely happy with it, but she took care of all of the details. I will say that it would be really hard to do it from a distance (aren't you a resident?). I bet she spent 10-20 hours a week talking to the contractor and subs. Is it possible to rent for a year so you can be there during the process? We used a really good interior designer who saved us far more money in rookie mistakes that we would have made than she cost us--I wouldn't skimp here. I also wouldn't use family members. We had our house all bid out, contractor selected, when my cousin approached us and said that he could really use the work. He was a good builder and had done some really nice custom homes for the Parade in St George, so against my better judgment, I decided to help him out. Even though I think we are happier than most with the final product, there are just always little hiccups that come along the way (and potentially big hiccups), and resolving these just becomes more awkward and difficult when it's friends or family.

    Also...please don't try to come up with plans yourself. Pay for a good set of plans. It's painfully obvious (and will be for the life of the home) when people try to save some money here.
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    Major disappointment The_Tick's Avatar
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    My next house will have a 3 car garage with a wash basin in the garage. Laundry room will be out there also.

    My master bedroom/bathroom will be the next main focus.

    Kitchen will be third.

    Media room 4th.

    I could give two shits about the rest of it.

  24. #24
    Major disappointment The_Tick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Tick View Post
    My next house will have a 3 car garage with a wash basin in the garage. Laundry room will be out there also.

    My master bedroom/bathroom will be the next main focus.

    Kitchen will be third.

    Media room 4th.

    I could give two shits about the rest of it.
    In regards to the 3 car garage...the 3rd car slot will also have a roll up back door on the backside to the back yard. I have seen this a bunch and believe it to be kick ass.

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    Living in the Past ... FMCoug's Avatar
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    There has been some great advice here so I am only going to add one thing. Don't forget the invisible stuff. The engineering if you will. When we built our home, our upgrades were much more weighted towards insulation, 2x6 vs. 2x4 construction, efficient HVAC system, the foundation, etc. Only then did we do things like hardwood floors, etc.

  26. #26
    Where's Wallace? Surfah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FMCoug View Post
    There has been some great advice here so I am only going to add one thing. Don't forget the invisible stuff. The engineering if you will. When we built our home, our upgrades were much more weighted towards insulation, 2x6 vs. 2x4 construction, efficient HVAC system, the foundation, etc. Only then did we do things like hardwood floors, etc.
    I absolutely agree with this.
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  27. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by FMCoug View Post
    There has been some great advice here so I am only going to add one thing. Don't forget the invisible stuff. The engineering if you will. When we built our home, our upgrades were much more weighted towards insulation, 2x6 vs. 2x4 construction, efficient HVAC system, the foundation, etc. Only then did we do things like hardwood floors, etc.
    Very true. You can always go back and add cosmetics later. I remember one couple who built a custom home and money was not a concern. The woman had a ton of ideas about designs, etc. All the husband cared about was that he didn't want the main and upper floors to feel suspended. So they spent an extra $15-20k and put upgraded floor joists at 8" on-center (instead of the usual 12 to 20 required, depending on the span).
    Prepare to put mustard on those words, for you will soon be consuming them, along with this slice of humble pie that comes direct from the oven of shame set at gas mark “egg on your face”! -- Moss

    There are three rules that I live by: never get less than twelve hours sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese. --Coach Finstock

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    אלוף NorthwestUteFan's Avatar
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    I also installed speaker wires for a full surround system in 3 different rooms. In two of the rooms I set it up for two possible entertainment systems locations.

    Installing stereo wires prior to drywall install takes a few hours or less per room. Installing them after the drywall is installed will be a major undertaking.

    Put a good layer of insulation between each floor. This is for sound damping more than anything else.

    My inlaws have a laundry chute starting in their bathroom and terminating in a cabinet in the laundry room above the washing machine. This is very simple to install and is a wonderful thing to have!

    An 'appliance garage' corner cabinet in the kitchen. In fact, be sure to have much more counter space in the kitchen than you think you will need. For some reason I always need far more than I have.

    If you get a gas fireplace insert for a backup heat source, be sure it will work when the power is out. Some of the autostart fireplaces won't work without electricity. Another option is to get a wood or pellet stove.

  29. #29
    Living in the Past ... FMCoug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthwestUteFan View Post
    Put a good layer of insulation between each floor. This is for sound damping more than anything else.
    Great suggestion. Also, if you're doing a home theater, insulate all the walls, not just the exterior ones for the same reason. You can of course go far beyond that when it comes to soundproofing but that is something cheap and easy to do.

  30. #30
    Living in the Past ... FMCoug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donuthole View Post
    Very true. You can always go back and add cosmetics later. I remember one couple who built a custom home and money was not a concern. The woman had a ton of ideas about designs, etc. All the husband cared about was that he didn't want the main and upper floors to feel suspended. So they spent an extra $15-20k and put upgraded floor joists at 8" on-center (instead of the usual 12 to 20 required, depending on the span).
    The other thing I would say about cosmetics is choose the stuff that's hard to add first. Go with upgraded fixtures (cabinets, plumbing, etc.) before floor coverings for example.

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