воскресенье, 6 ноября 2016 г.

5 Things I Wish We Did Differently in the New House

5 Things I Wish We Did Differently in the New House

5 Things I Wish We Did Differently in the New House

I always tell Aaron that if we ever move, I want a 3-car garage! We have so many strollers, bikes, scooters, wagons, etc. I’d love to be able to park both of our cars in the garage and have space for all of the extra “stuff.”

I’m telling you… LIFE. CHANGER.

Good list. We didn’t build this house, but it has skylights and I love it. It is always so bright and cheery! There are 2 in the family room and 1 in the master bathroom.

Ooh, skylight would be any easy addition (and I love the light it produces)! That might be perfect in our closet!

A solar tube is another great option! We used to have 3 in my old house- they were great!

I would only put solar tubes in closets!! The UV rays from a skylight (or a window) can and will damage clothing that sits on hangers/shelves that are exposed day after day.

NOOOOOO! DON’T DO IT. My Mom had one in her new house, and the light from the skylight faded a bunch of her expensive clothes. Mostly on the shoulders, She was heartbroken! Better off with better lighting that you can turn on and off!

The house we bought has a huge skylight in our master and it makes me crazy! If love one in the living room, but I like my bedroom dark when I sleep.

I am totally filing this in our new-house file, so that I can reference it and use these in the plans for our build….right after I watch Pretty Woman.

Hah! I just watched it the other night so it’s fresh in my head :)

Your closet is to die for! If I had that much space in my closet, I wouldn’t have to store clothes all over the house :) Question: You mentioned your laminated countertop. We’re getting ready to replace ours and I’ve decided to get laminate again. Do you mind telling me what kind of countertop you used? Thanks!

HA! Our last house had ZERO closet space. We had to pack away for the seasons and it was annoying! So in this house it feels weird to have everything in one place.

Our countertops are Belmonte Granite from Formica. We upgraded to the Etchings finish (not glossy, but some little imperfections in the surface to make it seem like granite or stone). I love the color because it goes with both gray and beige!

I actually wrote a similar blog post a while back – things I would do differently when I build this house again – maybe we just need a do-over?

As much as I researched and made spreadsheets and wish lists and battled for the most important things, I feel like my list grows a little bit every now and then.

How funny – we are happy with some of the same things – floors (we did all hardwoods and it was expen$ive, but they make me happy every time I look at them!)

I wanted to do laminate counters and my husband insisted on granite. I’m quoting Julia too – big mistake, HUGE.

We did extra lighting and outlets, but still should have done a lot more – definitely would do things differently next time.

I removed the laundry tub so I could have more space in the master closet and I regret not having the laundry tub – I have nowhere to wash the doggage – I have to get in our big spa tub with them – good times! I do not know where I would put the laundry tub, because I do not want to give up the space in our closet, but I want a magical laundry tub which doesn’t take space upstairs. Thanks. :)

And the cabinets/counter thing? I totally get you! I can’t even tell you how much of my life has been spent lamenting the builder’s decision to short change us with that weird missing piece. In the model homes there was an extra room – a morning room – so there was no way to realize how the cabinets were coming up short because there was no wall where we have a wall.

I’ll quit now, but only because this is your blog, not mine. :)

WOW, our list are very similar!! House twins, haha! Glad to know I’m not crazy and alone ;)

Just giving my two cents — we remodeled our house and we used granite squares and got the same look and function as a solid piece ie: being able to handle hot dishes and pots for WAY less money.

Smart solution Suzanne!

What are some questions or things that I can ask to prevent this same experience. My boyfriend and I are looking at building a house

We bought a home this summer after seeing it once – it was the ONLY house my husband saw. We were so concerned about location and knew that our choices in our small town were going to be very limited that we couldn’t be picky. It had two toilets and a dishwasher and enough bedrooms for our family of five. That was all that mattered to me. (We had been working for our rent as caretakers of a campground for six years and were desperate to get our lives back.) In hindsight it probably wasn’t such a wise move since we NEVER want to go through the process of moving again. It feels very strange to think that we will live in this house for the next 40-50 years! BUT we LOVE it! The couple who built it in the 70’s put so much thought into every room that we feel like we won the lottery!

There is so much storage (a workshop under the two car garage that I use to store keepsakes, seasonal items, our kayak, our canoe, & our lawn mower.) that we won’t even use it all!

Some day I would love to upgrade the bathroom to a tub/shower instead of just a tub and extend the hardwood floor into the living room so when we have company we can set up long tables and seat 25. Right now our dining room only seats 8 comfortably.

Bah humbug! Downsize folks! I, too, would love a window in my (dark) little bathroom but my kids shared rooms until one got her own house; my siblings & I shared; heavens! my parents grew up 2-3 to a bed! We’ve not only turned out decently, none of us has a mortgage and those who retired are buying smaller for CASH!

Luckily my husband and I worked incredibly hard to get where we are in life. We both were without jobs 5 years ago when the recession hit but we worked incredibly hard to overcome that obstacle. I worked two jobs, my husband went back to school while working side jobs, and now we can enjoy life how WE want to enjoy it! This house was in investment. We have plans to sell this home next year and make a large profit, then we’ll buy a smaller home closer to the city. But who cares?! To each their own. If we can afford this home with plenty in savings and 401K funds, what’s the big deal?!

You are absolutely right; there’s no big deal. To each their own. I just know of too many people who invest all they have in a “dream” home, end up with a nightmare debt and sometimes lose it all.

There have been times we couldn’t pay the bills, couldn’t afford activities for our kids, couldn’t find affordable housing: that’s why I never want to risk my security again. We are starting over (again) but our goal this time is the good life, not the perfect house.

Good for you for not apologizing for building a house the size that YOU want and can afford ! My husband is building our dream home with his own two hands and plenty of help from family and friends and i found this post so helpful when wondering whether i was making the best decisions on finishes. At the house the other night i commented on how lucky we are. My husband immediately reminded me that we arent “lucky” ……we worked incredibly hard for this……i went to school for years and years and have a lucrative career and he left a low-paying job that made him unhappy to start his own business (that has thrived and grown over the past five years). You enjoy your house that you worked hard to obtain and dont let others make you feel guilty! Xo

Pocket doors, there were so many places that we could have used the space better if we had installed pocket doors. Mud Room, Master Bath, Master Closet, Mud Room Closet.

YES, pocket doors!!

I have pocket doors in there places. They were installed by the previous owners to make the the more space for their wheel chair bound son. While they offer more space, I hate them. They come off the track, get left open just a little and catch things. You can’t repair them without cutting into your wall. I would never choose to have pocket doors. This has been my experience living with them. If I never had that opportunity I might have looked at them as a good space saving solution. I certainly didn’t see them as a negative when we bought the house.

I put the 3\u2032 wide French doors to my sunroom on a barn door sliding rail. I gained back all the space I would have lost if those doors had been on a standard hinge. the barn door idea would work great anywhere in the house where pocket doors are used.

Live pocket doors and I agree, their function is excellent. I love want to try barn doors next time but with antiqued french New Orleans style. We have the builder small living room/sitting room. We use it as a home office. Doors on a track would give privacy and personality.

I had a friend who helped build his house and he was smart enough to install outdoor outlets under the eaves for Christmas lights. He is always so happy to hang the lights every year, it takes no time, and it looks really nice. I’m sure it’s much safer than the extension cords wrapped in tape to keep them dry that drape my house!

We did the same thing!! Very convenient.

I live in CA and I LOVE my house! This is the second house my DH and I built together. Yes, I hammered nails, pulled wires, learned how to plumb, taught the DH how to lay tile, painted, pretty much the whole house built but he and I and a few friends helping out. We designed it ourselves too. 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 3 car oversize garage, ginormous gourmet kitchen, open floor plan, Nana doors to open the living room completely up to the back porch, lots of storage and huge closets, walk in no door or curtain master shower, huge jetted master tub. This is my dream home. I would be fine dying here. :)

Now, a few years ago, before the market tanked, we designed another house almost identical to this one. It had another bedroom, a game room, and a jack and Jill bathroom. Then the market crashed so plans got put on hold. We still have the plans and if we ever find an acre to buy nearby, we will consider building it.

Very cool Tiffany! Love the DIY aspect. Makes any dream home feel more special!

I love that you did everything on your own. Hubby and I are planning to start building in the next six months but have struggled to find our dream floor plan. Yours sounds like it is exactly what we are looking for! Any chance that you could share a drawing so we can take a look and possibly show it to our builder to make our dream house a reality?

You can see the floorplan here:


Good luck to you!!

Any way i could see your dream home house plans???????

Here is the floorplan:


We are currently building a townhouse. My husband and I (50 and 38 yrs old) and our 3 kids (16,14 and 7) decided we were tired of living in a big house in a small town far from jobs and nightlife, so we opted for location over space. We are thrilled that we never have to buy a lawnmower again! But I digress… we found the smallest/cheapest plan we could find, so we could live with a small mortgage. I went to the design center with a 10k budget for upgrades and they nearly fell off their chairs laughing. Here in Utah, the average budget is 20-30k :) I opted for upgraded white cabinets w/ 42\u2033 uppers in the kitchen, raised the height of the vanity in the master bath, upgraded vinyl floors that look like wood (since we couldn’t afford the real thing) and upgraded pad and carpet. We added additional recessed lighting in the living room, master bedroom and kitchen. Everything else we kept base grade. We stayed within our budget and even negotiated a larger kitchen island with a drywall surround rather than plain cupboard backs for FREE.

Great job Jennifer! We focused on cabinets too and did vinyl flooring. I figure we can always update down the road!

Be thankful there is no window in the closet. We had one and it faded the exposed sleeves to all my clothes as they hung.

We also put it laminate countertops (Marble look) and get TONS of compliments and they have better wear than granite.

Aah, didn’t really think about the faded clothing. I wonder if there’s a tint you can put on the window to help? And laminate countertops are still my favorite!

Oh, I never thought about that! Will have to look into a curtain or something…

What color did you paint the exterior of your house in the above picture.


It’s siding. Color is called Tuscan Clay.

Our downstairs bath. Love having it, but the location is bad bad bad. First of all, it needs to be next to the back door. The back door is basically our only door-the only people to use the front door are the UPS man and me when I don’t feel like walking around. So kids are in and out of the back door, and have to walk through the laundry room and across the breakfast nook-tracking as they go. I sweep 10 times a day I swear. Also, when you are, um, sitting there, you can look to your right and look directly down the living room and out the front door. We live in the country, but I’m petrified that I’ll forget to shut the door and that UPS man will show up. At night is even worse-you can’t see if anyone is on the porch!

Also, we have odd corners. Our house is a farmhouse style, and we enlarged some of the rooms, but for some reason we didn’t square off the foundation, so we end up with these odd corners.

We built our final home, 5 years ago.


1) Blown-in insulation: we have saved a fortune on electricity.

2) Tankless-Water heater (gas) is so awesome.

3) Laundry sink- adore

4) No carpet, except in master closet

5) Laundry shoot in master bedroom

6) pocket doors

7) Fireplace


1)Not enough plug-ins, especially where a Christmas tree is placed

2)Too much recessed lights

3)Hard to reach air exchange

4)hard to reach smoke detectors

5) Two-story back porch (beautiful) but recessed light are super difficult to change

Hope this helps

Ooh, I wanted the tankless water heater but it was a little out of our price range. Great pros and cons list!

I had five original pocket doors in my last house that was built in

The fifties, we lived in that house for twenty years and had zero

Problems with any of them…. I absolutely loved them and were

A huge reason we bought the house, thinking it would be good

To close off rooms from out three dogs… And they actually were

Great for that!

Not sure if it’s the quality of the doors you have or what, that

You don’t like them.

I had pocket doors in my last house and loved them. However, my husband was leery of putting them in our new construction home because of the horror stories. Therefore, I have went with “barn doors” in a couple of key areas to save space, money and my sweet husband from worrying about what “might” happen. I am using 1 Large barn door in my sons room to close off his closet and his bathroom & it will add some character to an otherwise long wall. That being said, I am still planning on using a pocket doors on our 1/2 bath & 2 in my daughter’s bedroom suite.

New homes never seem to have an overhead light. So we added overhead light boxes to each bedroom. That way we could have a light switch at each door so you could turn on your light as you walk in. We installed ceiling fans with light kits with a remote. We also added a recessed light in each shower. I had a shower that was so dark I couldn’t see when I shaved my legs.

Yes! I disagree about the window in the closet though – the sun will fade your clothing on the side that hangs out. To spiffy it up, I’d double hang, put the dresser in there, shelves for shoes, a chair, make it a dressing room, maybe an accent wall color; I kind of have a closet obsession. :) How about a chandelier?

Things I wish we did –

1. The laundry tub is the BIGGEST thing I miss.

2. An extra living space over the garage – there’s only a small opening, so we can’t even really store stuff. Waste of space by not making the ceiling just a few feet higher, and adding stairs.

3. Spigot at the back of the house – yeppers, only 1 in front and 1 in the garage.

4. A screened in porch/sleeping porch – I need a covered place to sleep in the summer without the fear of bees, mosquitoes, critters, etc.

5. Instead of a craft room, I’d do a formal living room where we could entertain, and a family room that could be closed off from the rest of the house, so I could hide all my crap. The craft room is not the TV room (it’s in the basement, and we have a handicapped family member), so it would work better for us to have a larger multi-task room.

6. Landscaping – yeah, we still don’t have any. In fact, that’s how I give people directions: “We’re the house with no landscaping.” Someday …

Things we did right –

1. I made an entire floor plan of the basement JUST for the electrical, phone (fax) and cable TV outlets. Our electrician looked at me like I was nuts.

2. Pocket doors – 5 of them – put them everywhere you can. Such space savers!

3. 3rd garage – it’s really the workshop, and we added a wall heater and air conditioner to make it 4 season. But we can push tables and saws against the wall and park a 3rd car in the winter if we have a guest. As if people visit us in winter.

4. A separate vanity space – in my bathroom, I have a room between my bedroom and the bathroom, separated by pocket doors, with a sink and a vanity space just for me. That way, Someone can be showering, shaving, doing whatever while I brush my teeth, dry my hair, put on fragrance, or just stare at my pores for hours. It’s my favorite place in the house and I love it.

5. French doors on my office – they’re pretty and I love them.

6. French doors on my closet – they’re pretty and I love them.

7. Vinyl flooring that looks like hardwood – Oh. My. Gosh. I have gotten more compliments on my floors, and I have to tell people they’re not hardwood! Best part – you can MOP them. Or someone can, preferably not me.

It’s still a work in progress, as all homes are. But of course, now I’m looking into Tiny Homes …

Thanks for the blog – love it!

Oh, I forgot one thing – the house is handicapped accessible, which was built this way before the person in our home became handicapped. We built it that way as our retirement home, anticipating that we would need grab bars in the bathroom, wider doorways, wheelchair ramp on the back deck – just a few extras that hardly added to the cost, but certainly came in handy much sooner than we thought we might need them. It’s not fully accessible, but enough for us. AND it’s fantastic when elderly relatives come to visit.

I am in the ground breaking stage of building my “small” retirement home. I absolutely love love love the tiny home movement, but I do need for it to be handicap accessible. I did my own floor plan and I too have outlets and 3 way switches and ceiling lights everywhere. My lot is in town so I am close to everything and don’t have to worry about driving after dark, esp in the winter when it gets dark about 5 p.m. I am using pocket doors on my bedroom and the bathroom/laundry room. The kitchen/dining/living room is one big open space with an L shaped kitchen so it will be wheelchair accessible. The house is really an Amish hi-loft barn! with an 8 foot overhang/ covered front porch…It is being built at the factory right now and will be assembled in panels on my site in 1 day! then we will finish the inside. The upstairs will be 2 bedrooms..one for my christmas storage and the other as a guest room for my youngest daughter and her new baby right now and then just for the grandkids to sleep in. This new baby makes 11 grandkids. The MB is on the ground floor. My natural gas furnace will be under the steps. I am also going with a large gas tankless hot water tank. I am not buying any upper cabinets..just open shelves. My goal here is downsizing to the bare minimum, being able to have a swing set in the yard for the grandkids and no board telling me what color my Christmas lights have to be etc. That is why I didn’t want to do a townhouse or condo or apartment. My house is 20×28 with 502 finished sq feet on the main floor. Plenty large enough for what I am needing. I am sooo excited to get the show on the road and get moved in! I too am going with laminate counter tops, I am also going with a vinyl tile flooring that looks like old rustic hardwood floors…I have dark flooring where I am at now and it makes the entire house look dark so the new flooring is really light. I bought an antique oak serving cart off craigslist for $60 and that is going to be the bathroom vanity with an old galvanized bucket for the sink…so rustic. Yes, old cabin in the woods and rustic is my theme lol

When we had our house built the builder painted the whole inside with flat paint. I had three children 8, 10, and 2. I wish I would have known how hard it is to clean flat paint especially in the kids bathroom and in the kitchen. So, very soon after we moved in we had to paint. Also we had french doors put in, but only once side opened. Next time I would get doors where both sides opened up. This makes it easier when moving furniture also. We put in skylights in the bathroom and living room because of the lack of windows in these two rooms. This is great, the only down fall is when it storms the tv has to be turned up because of the noise the rain makes on the skylight. Also I would put in a gas fireplace in the master bathroom. They come in handy during a power outage, and helps on the electric bill.

We put too many windows in! So many that I don’t have enough wall space to hang art. And, there’s a lot of windows cleaning to be done. Some are so high that they have never been cleaned since we moved in almost 13 years ago!

Our plan called for pocket doors but my husband changed mind because of horror stories. There is one room in particular that we could definitely use the extra space they would have provided. I am very limited with furniture placement.

I let the builder talk me out of things. So I guess my advice is stick to your guns!

I did have outlets placed directly under each window so that I could plug in a candle without using extension cords. Also we have closets on each side of our open foyer and there are switches inside the closet to turn the outlets on/off (outlets under hard-to access windows) again for Christmas lights. The open foyer is a regret though–the closets space is nice but there are ledges above them that are very high and difficult to access and style.

I would make sure the pipe for the oil tank is on the driveway side. We’ve had a TON of snow this winter and I have to shovel a path across the entire front yard and around a corner so that oil can be delivered.

My laundry room (with tub!) is on the 2nd floor–LOVE that I don’t have to haul baskets up and down stairs.

Wish I knew that there were small holes that needed to be poked through and “opened up” for the window grilles to “sit in” for my double hung windows. Broke many before I found out.

Set up electrical panel in basement for generator use. We did this a year after a bad ice storm had us without power for nearly 2 weeks!

Walk out basement with double doors makes it so easy to bring seasonal stuff in and out.

We put electrical outlet recessed into the floor in our great room. It’s under where we have our sofa so we are able to have lamps on end tables and console table that sits behind it.

My husband and I are tall so our counters are a little higher than normal. Turns out our children are tall too–so that is great!

We wired-in speakers in several rooms and outside too. Control box and stereo components are inside a cabinet.

So glad we have a DEEP kitchen sink (double). Our sprayer is part of the faucet and I didn’t do the built-in soap dispenser in counter either–no regrets.

I too have one of those awkward empty spaces where a cabinet should be. I found a little cart with baskets that fits perfectly so I’ve made peace with it. One of my must-haves was a pantry and I absolute LOVE it. Literally ALL of our food is in it–4 pull out drawers and two shelves with cabinet doors. Our kitchen designer was really into drawers so we have a lot of them–I think they are better than cabinets. One big one for all the Tupperware, two for the pots and pans, large shallow one beside stove–all my spices are in it.

Our master bath has a walk-in shower in a corner (step over a small ledge) and it has no door or curtain-I don’t miss having either.


If you don’t mind, What are the dimensions of your walkin shower?

We are planning a remodel, and would love a door-less, curtain-less shower!


We are in the planning stages of building a new home. There is a lot of awesome information here! One thing I plan on doing is putting electrical outlets in the floor of my living room, so that I am not locked in to placing the furniture and lamps against the walls. I am also going to shoot for a central vacuum system and tankless water heaters.

Hello Erin,

My hubby and I wear many hats and we have been flipping houses for several years now. This last one was over 6,000 sq ft and took almost 2 darn years to complete! We had other projects going at the same time. ANYWAY, fast forward to now…we liked the house so much we moved into it! But, Since it wasn’t to be MY house I left most of the decisions to the guys…BIG mistake!! It was supposed to go up for sale, so…yeah. Now I am coming across an ENDLESS list of things I want to change, without the budget to make the changes. So let me just give your readers some of the things they should definitely consider before they make changes or build anything.

Don’t let men make decisions on placement of important things like your kitchen or bathroom layout, closet dimensions or placement, and yes, even where the electrical outlets will go. You would think that is all common sense. But it is FEMALE common sense. They lack this gene. I love that my kitchen has a soaring slant ceiling and is full of windows. And yes it is huge and has a large island. But the kitchen sink is 11 ft from the refrigerator and a WHOPPING 18 ft from the stove. 18 FEET! I know, right? That’s a long way to go with a full pot of boiling spaghetti water. What if my kids were still little? Yikes!

They did expand the master bedroom and made it nice and big. But the master bath is tiny! They did my idea of the cool glass block walk in shower with no door, but then they shoved the SINGLE sink right against it so you almost have to stand off center to wash your hands. Yeah…see where I’m going here?

The only possible placement for furniture in the livingroom, which is half hardwood half carpet is away from walls. Where there are no outlets for lamps…. and the only sliding door to the wonderful big covered rear deck is…through the livingroom…the carpeted part. I look forward to carrying food and drinks to my guests on the wonderful deck (whom I can’t even SEE from the kitchen) across the livingroom carpet…

So ladies, the lesson here is very simple. YOU design it and WATCH them build it or they will change it because they don’t understand the reasons for it. I am of course speaking about DIYers. And if you doubt your own abilities to lay something out correctly, think about how you will use the room. What will you be doing. What would make sense to you….

You are right, Teri , about WATCH the guys build because I had to explain why a window behind my china cabinet was not a good idea so they had to remove it. Unfortunately after the framing stage, I wasn’t able to see what was going on inside and certain things I had in my plans were not there because of the guys not understanding my reasoning behind it

One thing to remember-get everything in writing!

We’re in the process of building, and a posted a short list of my own on my blog recently. There are many thing I wish we could have done but that weren’t in the budget. We’ll see what I regret once we move in, but one thing I know I won’t regret is the sunroom we added on.

People ask me all the time why they should hire an architect. An architect is your advocate, they help you understand how a house will serve your needs. The issues presented in this article could have been prevented by talking with an architect. An architect foresees growth and adaptation and plans for it. For example, an extra outlet in the basement for a future workbench. The ideas an architect presents will help a house become a home, your home. We are here to help.

I wish we could have had French doors into our master bedroom. I wish we could have designed a hutch type thing into our kitchen cabinets. I’m so happy we upgraded and added wood shelving in our closets. We had a dresser tip over and thankfully not hurt anyone but we’re paranoid of them now in the kids’ rooms. I also LOVE that we had the builder insert a tube in the wall where each TV hookup is. That way we can hang our TV’s on the wall and run the cords through the tube and down to the outlet. It cost almost nothing and looks so clean with no cords showing. I couldn’t live without my garden tub. We have vinyl floors and laminate counter tops and love both. Also love the extended porch with can lighting.

Here are a few ideas that I haven’t seen in the comments that I think are useful.

My home was built in 1974 but it has some great features that if I every build again, I will include.

1. The closets all have automatic lights in them that come on whenever the doors are opened. They work just like the light in the refrigerator. This might not be great if you have children but I love them.

2. There are spotlights outside all around the house. I tend to be a night owl and have used them many times to do yard work after dark when it cools down.

3.. There are switches in the master bedroom to the main outside spotlights. This is a great security feature if you ever hear something outside at night.

In the last house I had built, our contractor recommended that the fuse box be put in the garage rather than the basement. His advise proved correct when we had a flood in the basement and I didn’t have to wade through the water and risk electrocution to turn off the power.

In a friend’s home, The overhead lights in the bedrooms have two way switches with one switch at the door and the other next to the bed. You can turn the light on as you come in the bedroom and when you are ready to jump in bed, you can turn the light off from the bed.

I hope these will be of use to someone.

We have designed and had built two of our homes. Our first did not have enough storage; we fixed that issue in this house. We have a separate hall going to two bedrooms and a bath; the hall is lined with cabinets to the ceiling; lower half drawers and uppers are stepped back cabinets with doors. We also have exterior light switches, near the front door, but also in the master bedroom. We have plenty of windows, with one in the closet and we widened the walk in so it’s roomy for one to walk in and not bump into clothes. The window allows for ventilation when needed. We mixed our windows: some are double hung, some casement and some fixed. I did not pursue my original inclination to put heated floors in the tiled master bathroom; the cost is not that much and just install them in the areas of walking and standing. Next time it will be done. We have a multifunctional laundry room that stores the dogs kennel under the stairway niche, and we bumped a little extra from the sitting room wall to include a space for our elliptical that looks out of double french doors that open onto a back porch. This is where the doggie is taken to the back yard to do her business, out of the way. When we have company, she is in her kennel in the laundry. We have six inch baseboards throughout with the outlets in the baseboard so cards don’t have to snake up the wall. Place them where they make sense; in the bedroom, they are placed within the bedwall so cords don’t snake up the wall behind open nightstands but are hidden by the bed. We have a two car garage, with an attached space for a workshop, but if someone wants to turn it into a 3 car garage in the future, it is easy enough to transform one wall into a garage door. We also have a 3 wall sitting/tv room open to the gallery hall that we planned for someone’s future needs and can be walled off (framing is in place for this) and a door installed for a 4th bedroom or nursery. Always make a long, long wish list when building and consider how regretful you will be if something was not done. It will pay in the long run to take the time to evaluate all the wishes. Even if you can plan for a future upgrade, it will be beneficial in the long run.

I was cleaning up my bookmarks and came across your comments just after mine and these are some great ideas. If I ever build again, I will definitely incorporate some of them, especially the placement of outlets.


Do you have a desk in your kitchen? When my brother and his wife remodeled their kitchen, they were planning to put their refrigerator at the end of the counter. Unfortunately, the countertops were already made when they realized it would not work for traffic flow. So they had the carpenters build a desk there, as a desk is lower than counters and it looks and works great!

A Solotube in our windowless bathroom is as good as a window.

We didn’t move into a new house, but the house had been flipped so a lot of stuff was brand new (kitchens, floors, paint).

We ordered all new window treatments (wood blinds) for the whole house which I love but the bedrooms that face East get that morning sunlight. Not good for those that like to sleep in on some days. I wish we had ordered “room darkening” coverings for those.

We too need more outlets in our shop in the garage. Big expensive cost for electrician to do that.

I wish this house had more windows in the living/dining area. The big trees shade it. Our old house I could look out the window from sitting on the couch. Now I have to stand up and look out. It’s a trade-off, less privacy for more light. One can work around that with window treatments.

I wanted a gas stove. The stove was new but it was electric, glass top. We did get the electrician to wire in the gas line one this one dies. Also, we don’t have an exhaust system in the kitchen. A fan yes, but I don’t see what good that really does. Still thankful though for what we have.

Hi, I just want to sincerely thank all of you that contributed so much valuable information! We are planning in building in the next couple of years and this info is as good as gold! Thank you!!

I have 2 favorite splurges in our newly built home. One is the custom built-in cubbies in the mudroom (a MUST with 5 kids!) My second splurge was externally mounting the motor for our kitchen range hood exhaust fan. I can’t tell you how much the noise of 5 kids running around plus the exhaust fan running on high used to drive me batty in our old house. The 5 kids running around still drive me batty, but prepping dinner is made that much nicer with an almost silent range hood. Love, love, love it!

We built our last house and are currently building again. Completely agree on the windows. Make them as big as your engineer and your budget will allow. The other thing we did that I’m so glad is to have as little carpet as possible. Carpet gets so gross so fast! And if you are willing to put in the labor, laminate flooring or even wood is cheaper than carpet. Especially put hard surfaces on your hallways and stairs. I only put carpet in my kids bedrooms. The house stays looking nice for so much longer!

We bought, didn’t build the house we are in now, which was built in 1986. There are things we love and things we hate and can’t wait to change. The sunlight a I thought we would love, but they actually don’t bring much light in because of placement on roof versus movement of sun, plus they take up a huge amount of attic space. Jack and Jill bathroom with hall access just means less space in bathroom and bedrooms. what we love is the full size cabinet pantry next to our counter. You may can build/buy something like this to replace your wire shelving unit. The two way switches in our master bedroom, formal dining room, living room, hallway and kitchen. Central vac system. Flood lights on every corner of the house with the switches in a broom closet right outside the master. Separate vanities in the master bath, separate closets in the master. Hot water heater in the garage. Water spigots on all sides of the house and electrical outlets along the front and side and tons inside.

As a real estate broker, I had a little insight on where to spend my money: location, lot, energy efficient upgrades items that will save money over the years, safety and security features, and items that would be expensive to retro fit.

Although I double the number of electrical outlets, I should have tripled them, with three on each wall, as opposed to two. I wish I had paid closer attention to the placement of the additional outside hose bibs. Outside living space sxtends the enjoyment of the home, so I should have b budgeted for a covered patio.

Upgrades that have been well worth the investment:.double ovens, sprinkler system, upgraded countertops, oversized garage with workbench, Porte cochere, and additional closet rods and shelving.

We built our house 15 years ago. I wish PINTEREST had been around then!!! It would have definitely helped me. Since you said you wished you had a window in your closet, I will tell you it’s not a great idea. My son’s closet has a window and parts of clothing get faded by the sunlight. We have a “computer room” that is rarely used because back then we had a desktop computer. We put in a gas fireplace and wish we would have put in wood-burning fireplace. I wish our laundry room was bigger and also wish I had a utility sink and I wish I had one of those neat dog washing stations I see on PINTEREST!! A few more windows and recessed lights too!! I “designed” our house from parts of different plans and I wish we would have sat down with someone and made changes that would have used space better instead of the builder just going with my original plan.

We put in a basement, okay love the storage, but can’t believe how much noise we hear from the furnace(basement) in our bedroom almost right above it. Love our laminate countertops. I had to put the door to the basement in the garage to accommodate the utility sink in the laundry room for my farm hands to come in and wash up, couldn’t live without that. We put in Andersen windows, we had Andersen replacements in the old house and I wish I had them.

We built our home about 7 years ago after making the mistake of moving into a much older home right after we got married and hated everything about it. We LOVE the home we built together! A few little things I would recommend in building a new house. 1. Upstairs AND downstairs washer and dryers…a must have! 2. A big mud room off the garage. 3. lots and lots of extra windows! 4. ask the builder to install that weird plug outlet for a refrigerator in your garage and basement….even if you don’t have a fridge there now…you might one day. 5. Lots of spotlights in each outside corner of your house to light up your yard during night parties or unwanted late night intruders. 6. extra outlets near your vanity! Now they make outlets that are actually INSIDE the pull-out drawers…cool! 7. Have the builder do an ‘extra pour’ or whatever it’s called to give your home an extra 2 feet in your basement. If you ever refinish your basement you’ll be so glad you have high ceilings! 8. extra spicket on the opposite side of your house. 9. Have your deck installers leave you extra railings…..you can make a swing gate out of it that matches the rest of the railing. 10. Wire your house for cable in every room and really THINK about where you might need outlets one day…..Think about where your furniture is going and have outlets put IN YOUR FLOOR if you think you may need lamp light but don’t want to walk over cords your whole life!. 11. Get outlets in your kitchen island…..comes in handy when you have baking parties. 12. a chandelier over my tub! I had to have the builder just ‘wire’ for an outlet….I don’t think it was ‘code’ to actually install the chandelier but it looks beautiful! Ok…..and a few things we did without and are GLAD that we did not get…1. jets in my huge bathtub….didn’t need them…they get grimy and gross and I love my bath without them. 2. cooktop on our kitchen island….we love our island all big and without the cooktop in it. 3. you don’t need a sink in your butler pantry….you will use the counterspace much more than you will ever need an extra sink. That’s it! Hope it helps someone somewhere :O)

I wish we’d put an outlet in our master closet. Ours is so big our vacuum doesn’t reach all the way to the back. One in the pantry would have been good, too, for electric can openers and such.

I’m glad we splurged on the spiral staircase. It was hand-built on site, and is truly a piece or art. I tried to cheap out and not put crown molding in my daughter’s room, but my builder insisted since it is a suite. At the end of the day, it cost $200, and looks great. Could we have added it later? Yea. But in reality, we never would have gotten around to it.

We saved by really shopping tile prices and going neutral. I bought it from a discount surplus store, but the contractor said to call him if I ever broke one because he wanted to congratulate me. I found some herringbone accent pieces for over the stove on ebay. Still neutral, but if I ever grown tired of it, it won’t cost a fortune to replace that little bit. Same with lighting. We bought some pieces at Home Depot, used spray paint, ordered online–we spent where we needed to, but didn’t feel obligated to. Just because it was a 5,000 custom home didn’t mean the price tag had to match that.

We have been in our new house just shy of a year and half. Things I’m glad we upgraded- 1.) man door from the garage to the backyard. We lost that wall for full storage, but hope to get some ceiling racks to help that. 2.) I did splurge on quartz countertops. But had that not been an option, I would have gladly done laminate because I did NOT like the granite options our builder had. 3.) extra wiring- here in WA state, A/C is not necessary (although it’s getting hotter each summer) but we had our master and our living room wired to add ceiling fans after the fact-(did NOT like the builder grade options) as well as the plug for a solo freezer in the garage- should we be so inclined- it’s there if need it. We actually just added extra outlets to the utility closet and mudroom so that’s good. :D

We found some of the builder upgrade options like flooring to be very limiting and we really balked at their supposed hard wood options. We eventually want hardwoods, but our builder didn’t offer true hardwoods (they had a “wood” product”) so we went with a high quality plank style laminate version and we LOVE it. I can totally see us doing true hardwood down the road and probably less than the builder could offer for their version of hardwood floors. It looks gorgeous, easy to clean and with a dog – no nail damage.

One thing- related to flooring- since we didn’t go with true hardwood- our stairs are carpeted. I HATE that. We have hard floors downstairs and carpet upstairs and the stairs? OMG! The cats apparently think it’s their personal scratching post. *GRRRR**** I can’t wait until we can replace that with hard surface. But our floors are wearing really well and not sure how to transition that without using real wood? ugh.

My peninsula- SOOOOOO glad I went with counter height.- so much for space. My kitchen is not huge, but it’s just right.

I also would have had another bank of drawers put in instead of cabinets.

Our plan included a small mudroom off the garage and I love this, but we chose not to have the built ins. This allowed me to have a cute little painted bench with cubbies and table. more my style than the cubbies and hooks. (which were very nice but not me).

I do wish we would have splurged on the built-ins in our master. They had it set up with recessed niches for a bank of drawers and shelves but I felt it wasn’t us. It wasn’t, but I’m still struggling to address those design challenges.

I honestly wish we’d had a 3 car garage option, my garage is a 2 car sardine can and absolutely ridiculous. But we didn’t have a garage before so I can’t complain, but any subsequent house we will have a larger one… for sure!

As for our bathroom. I think I was just so in love with the split vanity sinks, the fact we have a separate shower and tub and linen closet that it clouded my choices. I wish we had upgraded the tub to a larger one because it’s a stumpy garden tub. I hate my tile choices. I was aiming for neutral and it does look nice, but it’s builder grade quality and it’s obvious.

I love my kitchen. We upgraded to subway tiles which is so laughable because those are the cheapest tiles out there. lol

My one other regret is that we don’t use a land line so it didn’t occur to us to NOT have them install the outlet where they did. (it was on the plan… DOH!) but had I been more aware? I would have placed it somewhere more inconspicuous. Meh…

My hint for new house builders … take pictures or video tape every interior wall BEFORE they put up the drywall. I can’t stress how helpful this is down the road when hanging pictures, shelves and doing remodeling.

Also, with every ceiling fixture, insisted the add ceiling fan bracing. The cost is nearly nothing but makes a huge difference down the road if you decide to upgrade your fixture. Even if you hate ceiling fans, heavier light fixtures benefit from the extra bracing.

Lastly, make sure every – EVERY – single plumbing line has a shut off valve. I know in some areas this seems like a no-brainer but in some areas of the country zoning / building codes don’t require them and not having them is a pain.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all this advice. We were not expecting to build but we moved to a hugely up and coming area where building on land is currently cheaper than buying a crappy manufactured home on an acre. Because it’s unexpected, I haven’t had time to imagine how I would want things in my dream (but budget) home. You all have sold me on a sink in a mudroom as we are avid gardeners and want animals! I have made a list of 22 things to consider or do from all your suggestions!

i would love a 3 car garage! Right now all we have is a little about 25 sq ft sliver to put all of our other things. We have no room to put all of our bikes, balls, or anything! I also have a lot of things the kids have done over the years on the side walls and we’re always hitting it with our car doors! That would be so helpful!

I’m still in the planning stages of our new home build. These suggestions are extremely helpful and I thank you. A few suggestions that you may also enjoy. Raise the height of your dishwasher so you don’t have to bend over everyday to load and unload it. Also raise the height of both your washer and dryer (front load) by 18 inches for ease of use. Add jets to your laundry room sink for washing delicate items. We’ll be in a warm part of the country so we’re adding an outdoor shower and downstairs laundry/mudroom to handle beach towels and such. We’re also doing a stained and sealed concrete floor in the lower level for easy cleaning from sandy feet. Thanks again for the great ideas.

I wish we put extra outlets outside for Christmas lights.

Our Texas dream home on five acres has 26 ceiling fans and 2,000 sq ft of covered porch. Builders didn’t like giving us a bid because of the “wasted” money going into porches (and because we did a lot of the work ourselves). But, we practically live outside because of those porches and fans! Inside, the great room makes the house feel enormous. The three bedrooms downstairs have their own doors to the outside and their own bathrooms (as does the upstairs bedroom), yet we still need an extra powder room (wish list). Our master closet backs up to laundry room with a pocket door in between. Saves so much time and work. Vinyl planking on floors is wonderful and looks like hardwood if you buy the more expensive kind. Quartz countertops beat laminate and granite. Windows all wind out instead of lift – except for the one with a doggie door. Doors are all glass with blinds inside the double panes. All locks are keyless. We started getting calls for football bookings so we turned it into a bed and breakfast and just had our first wedding. The extra money helps with upgrades to the property. Visit our website (http://countrystarbedandbreakfast.com/) or like us on FB to see details of our Texas dream. Hope our research for our house helps others to live the good life!

What also is very nice to have are outlets at every windowsill to plug in christmas lights…

I most definitely would invest in more storage/closet space. I would have also made an extra closed off space in the basement not the seller before additional storage space for the children’s items as well.

I enjoyed this article very much. One thing I would not ever have is tile any place. I detest grout! I like vinyl in bathrooms and prefabricated showers and bathtubs.

i love this list. We are planning to build in the future and have been contemplating vinyl floors and this makes it easier to decide, as well as laminate counters.

I also have a huge closet, and am looking into putting a window in it because it feels like a dungeon.

I LOVE our walkin pantry. When we build I will be building a big pantry again and make sure to have good shelving.

I love our slide out oversized drawers in our kitchen. Also, I had a custom built island and had them put hidden wheels on it. Makes it easy to clean around it and we can move it out of the way if need be.

I let our seller talk us into a wide entry “cause that’s where people gather on the way in or out”. Nice but it took so much room away from other spaces. NOT HAPPY. I absolutely HATE seeing trash cans around. We had a hidden trash drawer added in the kitchen. No where to dry mops in the winter, too hard getting Christmas decorations down from the attic, want a doggie door. More upstairs windows. Sigh.

Not a bad list but, two things…….vinyl plank flooring instead of just plain vinyl. The individual pieces look so much more like wood floors and not any more expensive. And second, quartz counters……reason is that solid surface counters can have an integrated sink. This gives you no edge, no place for gunk to settle and an integrated sink with vinyl does have a glue edge and can over time cause problems!!! And last, frosted glass front doors. We bought a small farm house and had one cabinet in what is considered a small kitchen, so we need every bit of cabinet space. Krylon has a spray in white frosted and it was both easy and cheap. Also,with such a large closet in your master bedroom why not have a cabinet installed in construction phase. We did in our old house and it made a HUGE difference.

I would have a bigger utility room with a door so that I can close it and no one would see the dirty clothes. I would also have a walk in pantry. We have the cabinet one but it is just not big enough to house the appliances that are not used every day. Also, a three car garage instead of two and dark grout on the tile floors.

#1 We had them brace the ceiling lights in the living room, family room, and bedrooms for ceiling fans. Love it!

#2 My husband talked me out of getting central air because he wanted to put in a heat pump… never happened! Should have done it!

#3 Put in a full basement under the house with inside and outside access. This makes it a lot easier to get big things in the basement.

#4 I have a friend that put in her own carpet and linoleum save them a lot of money on the house and they were able to get better products right off the bat without wasting money. We went with the top of the line that the manufacturer had and we had to have the carpet stretched twice in 10 years.

#5 In our laundry room we have what’s called a fireman it is a fire hose with a main shutoff valve that reaches clear to the kitchen. Haven’t had to use it thank heavens!

After building several homes, this is my list.

Pocket doors.

Dark grout.

Med./light wood floors-not dark wood.

Cabinets that go to ceiling-do not leave a space.

Always a main or second (or both) floor laundry.

Gas/Electric fireplace over wood, if not a heat source – Can turn on with a switch and no mess.

Built-Ins-As many as you can. Bookcases, window seats, china cabinets, drawers, medicine cabinets, etc.- so much storage without the use of furniture. A lot less expensive when building.

I’m the same way, always thinking how I could have added something to improve my home. 1st) The master bath has a built in vanity. Adding electrical outlets underneath or, my favorite, in the adjacent drawer or cabinet would be ideal.

2nd) 8 have a huge closet as well. Having more electrical in there would allow for a dressing table or ironing something quickly.

And last, Wood on the stairs. With wear and tear well have to replace the area or have them cleaned yearly. With cleaning cost of $12-15 each stair, It doesn’t cost much more to install wood or wood laminate.

Windows in closets aren’t a luxury in my opinion. It adds light but more important, you can open it up and air it out! Closets get so stuffy! Blinds are a must for me to protect from sun and for privacy but they are easily opened for great light. Skylights, over time collect leaves and dirt and get so yucky…I would never have one. My biggest upgrade was hydronic heat and I will never build again without it. We LOVE it!

An easy and cheap upgrade, is to have a water faucet in the garage. We have a laundry tub with running water in the garage. It’s so nice when gardening, or for washing your hands after working on the car. What I really wish that we had added (About $100) is a floor drain in the garage. Living in MN, this would help with the snow runoff from the cars, and since we already have a faucet in the garage, we could wash our cars in the garage even when the weather wasn’t perfect.

I agree with all but the window in the closet. We had one in our last house and the clothes closest to the window were faded over the years.

Outlets in the walk-in closets, pantry, mudroom, and landing to the basement.


#1 ISLAND WITH COOKTOP: It takes up all the room on the island and when you’re cooking anyone who comes in the room has a chance of getting burned. My daughter was 4ft away in the doorway when bacon popped and burnt her.Stoves need to be against a wall.

#2 FAKE WOOD LAMINATE FLOORING: Scratches so easily and there’s no way to repair!

#3 LINOLEUM FLOORING: Again scratches and tears all the while looking cheap.

#4 NOT ENOUGH UPPER CABINETS: We have a large kitchen with tons of lower cabinets and 2 uppers. Unless you invest in the cabinet organizers, it’s ridiculous using them, especially if you store food in them. Try squatting for a long time while you search for something…ugh.

#5 COVERED PORCH: One of the best things ever-just don’t scrimp! 4\u2032 out from the house is not wide enough! Furniture is pushed against wall with little room to walk around and rain can splatter everything.

#6 LAMINATE COUNTER TOPS: No matter what nice ones you get-they will always look/be cheap. They scratch/burn/chip easily. Go with engineered stone or quartz. And definitely stay away from anything that requires grout in between.


#1 TRASH CAN HIDDEN INSIDE CABINET: OMG I love this so much! Go big and get the motorized slide out with hands-free operation.

#2 GARBAGE DISPOSAL: If you have your trash in your cabinet, you definitely don’t want to put smelly food in there. I love my disposal more than I ever thought I would.

#3 ROOMS ALL HAVE THEIR OWN OUTSIDE DOOR & LIGHT: Each room has their own door and porch light with switch inside. Love this.

#4 SHUT OFF VALVES ON EVERY FIXTURE: You do not want to have to shut off the water to the entire house because one faucet is leaking and you have to repair.

#5 TV IN THE KITCHEN: Man, I did not realize how nice this would be…whether I don’t want to miss a show, watch a cooking show, listen to the news while I cook, or even just listen to music on it…it’s so nice. We have ours on a swing out and swivel tv mount.

#6 NO STEPS: One tiny step to get in/out and that’s it. Everything is all on one level.

#7 DRIVEWAY BY THE KITCHEN: Easy to drive up and unload those groceries. I have a garage, but rarely, actually, come to think of it, I have never parked in it. We had two garages and converted one to a family room. I live in the south, so no worries about snow. I use mine for a workshop/storage and for the riding mower. *Would love to have a shed just for the riding mower/push mower and other lawn tools/equipment.

#8 SEAT IN THE SHOWER STALL: Ok, I don’t sit in it, I could, but having a place to prop my leg while I shave-priceless.

#9 DRAWERS: Lots of drawers & different sizes in the kitchen…I really love this. Make sure they are full pull-out or your constantly trying to reach stuff in the back!

I hate the white tile we have in the kitchen, eating area and laundry room. It’s so hard to keep clean. I also dislike our crank out windows since we have a lot of wind and they can not be opened on windy days. I love our 9 foot basement ceilings, extra bathroom and kitchenette in the basement. We turned our basement into a family room and I love it. My husband wishes we would have extended the foundation under the front porch so we have had a tornado shelter.

instead of the metal shelf in the kitchen consider doing a full length double door pantry cabinet. It would finish off the space and they’re not too expensive.

My future in-law just did that, and she LOVES the storage space, hers is next to her fridge, and she uses it for food storage, and has pull out shelving, and then up high cabinets with slots for baking sheets.

In her old house they put in a baker’s rack to fill that space, and it was really handy, because it dressed up the space a bit, and she could put her flowers and plants on it without worrying about dogs knocking over the plant stands she had.

Don’t feel bad about not having a window in the closet. Think of all the UV rays that would be fading your clothes. As for the weird wall in the kitchen…can you add a full height cabinet there for the stuff on your shelf? Then you don’t have to worry about continuing the counter. We didn’t build this house, so we just have to deal with poor choices made by someone else.

Biggest mistake ever was not having them extend the headers over the windows and sliding doors. You need the stability for a heavy duty drapery rod. It is much better than using wall anchors into drywall :(

If you have florescent lights in your closet upgrade to the “daylight” or “kitchen” bulbs for them. HUGE difference for $10

We are having our dream house built. Hope to be in within the next month. Here is my list of the must haves:

1. Coat closets, one in the entranceway for guests and one by the garage for family. (last house didn’t have a coat closet and we live in Alaska, definitely need a closet.

2. Lights in all closets. makes it so much easier to see.

3. Pantry in the kitchen

4. Laundry room – hate laundry in the garage or basement

5. Ceiling fan boxes in each bedroom and great room

6. Extra outlets

7. Generator ready

8. 200 amp service

9. RV outlet

10. Outlets in eaves with inside switch for Christmas lights

11. Sink in garage

12 Unfinished attic &bonus room with steps up to them for lots of storage.

13. Covered porches ( we will have 2 at 6ft x 26 ft each.

14. Oversized garage, big enough to put a full sized truck, car and storage.

15. Had to have a great room

We had downsized to a house that was less than 1,000 sq ft. I loved my house and it was perfect for just 2 of us. But way too small for family gatherings. Our new house will be 1,568 square feet without the attic & bonus room. Big enough for kids and grandkids but small enough the we can be comfortable in when it is just the two of us.

Forgot we also insisted on security lights on all corners of the house and my husband had them put the switch in the master bedroom. Until I read above that other did the same I thought this was strange. And we ran speaker wires before they dry walled for surround sound,

I know I’m late tot the party but recently saw this. I have to say solar tubes are the way to go to brighten up a space. I live in the SW and the heat from Windows can be brutal. With tubes you get all the lit and none of the heat. As for outlets, I grew up in a house my dad built. Every wall over 8\u2032 had 2 outlets on it and in some instances one was a 4 plug outlet. He even built in a lower cabinet that had a sliding shelf in it with an outlet behind it. My mom kept her big electric roaster there. She would cook the Christmas turkey and keep it out of the way while the house was filled with relatives.

Just a thought about the large closet and you are concerned about putting a dresser I. There as it may “tip” over… We just used a small angle iron and screwed it to the wall. No tipping over! I agree with the solar tubes k. The south especially… You get the light and the UV rays are kept out. Mush better than a skylight, too much heat enters in the southern states.

I can’t say enough about the laundry tub in the laundry/mud room or in the garage… I could not have a home without one!

We built in 2012 with a determination NOT to get carried away by upgrades seducing us from the showroom. After all, why pay intetest on a $200 faucet for the life of our mortgage when you can get the basic one and later slap down $200 cash for the same faucet. Or better yet, get it on sale or secondhand.

We did, however, end up with a few upgrades and I’m very happy with them.

Upgrade #1 An extra egress window in the basement. This is very hard to retrofit and now we can legally have a basement bedroom someday.

Upgrade #2 Plumbing in for a basement bathroom. If you think you might want a bathroom there someday, it is worth it. Same reason as #1.

Upgrade #3 Nine foot ceilings. Standard height was 8 foot. Nine foot looks better with our open floor plan.


Trim around doors and windows. Just looks better. We would’nt be able to do it on our own.

Upgrade #5

Add an outside faucet.



DIY garage door opener. Pain to install for my semi-handy husband. Leave it to professionals.


Not hiring a professional painter. We moved in with a three month old baby. What were we thinking? Four years and one more kid later, most of the walls are still white.

#3 Choosing the cheapest carpeting. A splurge would have been worth it to make the home more comfy and cozy.

A third car garage. Glass back splash tile. Hardwood floors. No window above my bedroom bed wall. A real opening bathroom window. Separate the bathroom from the closet. NO VAULTED CEILINGS!

What kind of vinyl flooring is that? Looks great!

Here is a link to the vinyl flooring:


I want a mudroom for all the “junk”, coats, shoes, pet food/litter, etc. Also I want all of our clothes I. A giant laundry room-Duggar style, that way I don’t traipse around the house gathering dirty laundry and then dropping off clean laundry. With a bathroom to change in. What a time and mess saver!

For that bare spot in your kitchen you can always put an antique hutch with a counter area the same hight as your counter. Or you could bill a tall glass door and door sides into that place.

My husband and I built a custom home 23 years ago. Now we are at the age to downsizing. Our next home may not be custom so my list is things that I will miss.

1. I had all the windows in the front of the house wired for Christmas lights. All I have to do is flip a switch we had installed in the coat closet.

2. I will miss my Central Vacuum system. It is a expensive item but I don’t have dust flying every where from a push vacuum. The suction is just as strong now as it ever was.

3..I will miss many of our custom trims and large rooms.

We are currently building our house. We are building on a few acres and picked the smallest floorplan the builder had. It had a little back porch on the diagonal so we straightened it up for more living space. Also, there was a space in the original design to add about 70sqft more, so we did. House now totals 1300sqft 3 bedroom, 2 bath.My goal was to try and eliminate as much wasted space as possible in the floor plan. I can function without a walk in closet and giant master bath so I made these smaller. The living room, dining area, kitchen flow as one big space.

We Upgraded the whole one story house to have 9ft ceilings. Got laminate wood flooring (had it in previous house for 11 years and it never scratched), Added lots of windows, outlets, exterior lighting. Added a kitchen island in the L shaped kitchen. Carpet only in the kids bedrooms. Quartz countertops (builders standard), Shuffling the extra square footage, space saving got me a mud room off the kitchen. It is big enough for mud room space, washer, dryer, laundry sink and the other wall big enough for a huge pantry cabinet. Door leads to backyard and other door leads to garage.

I want white cabinets and it’s an upgrade! So be it. I keep flip flopping over back patio…it’s $$$ so we may just pour the cement for a patio slab and come back later to cover some of it.

I downgraded the exterior of the house from brick to Hardi and used the $3000 elsewhere. I also downgraded the front porch columns to cedar and opted for cedar shutters. I eliminated above toilet cabinets because I hate them. I can find something cute. That saved me money to put towards a pocket door into the mudroom and add square footage onto the kitchen island. Those islands get pricey.

It took us 11 years from first thoughts and designs to move in day on our ideal dream home. We wouldn’t change much now that we have been in it 7 years. During the design time, we went to EVERY Parade of Homes in our county. We only went to the high end homes because that’s the best ideas. Here are a few things we did in our home that are awesome:

1. Doorways are extra wide. We did double doors when ever possible, like into the game room and master bedroom. It opens up the space and just makes it easier to move around. Pocket doors for closets, pantry and small bathrooms save space and make it clean looking. Walkways (hallways)are 5 ft wide instead of 3 feet.

2 Laundry room downstairs is 1/3 laundry, 1/3 office, 1/3 craft area. Designed with cabinets and counters for each area. And I have a deep sink with jets! Perfect for handwashables, but also helps with craft mess.

3. Pantry is awesome. I didn’t want a lot of upper cabinets in the kitchen, I’m kinda short. The lower cabinets are organized and I used several Drawers instead of the usual cabinets. I prefer getting the dishes and bowls out of drawers that are easier to get to.

4. I told the builder to put in “whatever the legal limit allows” for electrical outlets in the kitchen and bathrooms. Turns out that’s an outlet every 20 inches. Covers blend into the granite so they don’t stand out but man do they get used.

5. Island in the kitchen is just area. No sink, no cook top. There is an electrical outlet under each corner in case we want the crockpot, blender, panini maker, etc set on the island. Especially for entertaining.

6. Spend the $ for moldings around doors, windows, and ceilings. It makes a huge difference.

7. Our front door is 4X8 feet, and very heavy. We added hinges (total of 6) so the door swings easily and smoothly.

8. Peg board on the walls in the garage. Easy to organize and store tools, supplies, etc.

9. All of our windows are double pained with argon gas between. This does two things, dividers are between the glass making them really easy to clean. The windows are so well insulated that our electric bill is ridiculously low. The doors are also double pained, gas filled, and the mini blinds are between the glass. We can close them completely, tilt them open, or raise the blinds making the doors completely clear.

10 Prewire every room for phone, tv, internet. Its easier and cheaper than rewiring or retro fit later. Take pictures of the walls during construction to show where wiring and plumbling are located in case you have a problem later.

11 Dimmers on lights save energy

12 TV room window has a battery operated black out shade which makes it awesome for movies, no glare

13 Water faucets all around the house. Electrical outlets outside on porches, near parking areas etc. If you want to wash and vacuum your car, it’s all right there

14 Ice machines are one of the greatest things ever put into a kitchen. Mine is in the pantry next to the extra fridge.

15 Lights to showcase art or pictures on your walls

16 electrical outlets by the hearth and above the mantle of the fireplace. A switch to turn them on

17 Renai tankless hot water heaters. They run on propane. endless hot water anytime you want it.

18 look into your state and federal energy saving rebates. Our state pretty much paid for the tankless hot water heaters, because they’re not electric. Also found rebates on our windows and doors.

Bigger doors! Just an extra inch makes it so much easier to move furniture in and out.

This post and all of the comments are a great resource!

I want to add that we have a window in our master closet, and have not had any problems with clothing fading. Our window faces north, and I wonder if that may have something to do with it. It also faces the street, so I keep the blinds closed. It still lets in light, but obviously not as much as if they were open.

I would think that the top portion of the built-in closet is quite bare .the top can be made useful by adding shelves or some storage space .

Liked your ideas .Well done

Add electrical outlets on both sides of your front door so if you want to decorate your front porch or the outside of your house you do not have electrical cords running all across the place . We did this to our first house & forgot about it when we were building this one .

Be glad you did not add window in master closet. We have 3 high windows and recently discovered that some seasonal clothing hanging on top rack has faded. We did not think of having special glass put in those windows, and builder did not mention either.

Forgo the soaker tub in the master, I never use it and it’s a pain to clean, add a second sink in kids bathroom… did not expect to have twin girls after my first girl was born (I was preggers with first baby when we were building) Now 10 years later I sooo wish we had that extra sink…. 3 girls one sink… no bueno :(

I’m glad that I upgraded my kitchen cabinets to the dark wood and have them go all the way to the ceiling. The other upgrade I’m glad I did is having vinyl flooring in my entire great room and all the hallways. It’s more to mop, but easier to keep clean overall and looks better than having random places with vinyl and others with carpet.

I do wish I’d gotten double windows in a few of the bedrooms and a covered patio.

We are getting ready to build for the second time, the first with 4 kids, now with NO kids, and I’m so excited to do it! I love all the tips, and especially the countertop ideas. I do not want the cost or care of granite.

I regretted not having a fire scape from our bedroom and an interior door to the baseman. Our options were a fireplace or a staircase to the basement. I am glad I opted for the fireplace since it gives me ‘survival’ peace of mind in case of emergency but I regret not telling the contractor to build an enclosed balcony and staircase from our master bedroom to the basement. When the wind blows hard I fear a tornado or when I fear some intrude may enter our house, I wish I have access to the basement.

I am glad that I got a fireplace, a big soaking tub and skylights in the bathrooms.

Make sure you follow me on Instagram and Pinterest for a sneak peek into my recent projects!

As I’m cranking out projects in the new house, I’m often reminded about things I would have changed when we built it. There’s really not much, just some little things that make me say “oh, why didn’t I think of that sooner!”.

So here’s the Top 5 Things I Wish

We Did Differently in the New House.

1. More Windows.

I’m sure that’s a complaint of a lot of people. I’m a HUGE fan of natural light though. I love a super bright house. When my friends come over they complain that my house is too bright. Not even kidding.

But there’s some spaces that could really use just a little more natural light. First off is our guest bedroom. Yeah, not a huge deal since it’s not used on a daily basis, but there’s only one single window in that room and we back to trees. Just making that single into a double window would have been a huge difference.

I also would have added a window in our laundry room. Seriously that would have been about $350. And when you’re talking about a house mortgage that’s like an extra dollar a month.

And the last place is our master closet. OK, our closet is massive. I know… it’s not normal. It’s actually bigger than our daughter’s old bedroom in the last house. So can you imagine a room that size with only a little dinky ceiling light in there? Yeah, big mistake. Huge. (catch that reference?) Plus I think a window would have dressed up this bland space. Although it’s not like I really need to have a fancy closet…

2. Laundry Tub.

Right now we have nothing in our laundry room but our washer and dryer, not even shelving or cabinets yet. But the one thing I yearn for is a laundry tub. Not for pre-treating stains or anything like that. Mostly just to have a place to wash out my paint brushes. As you know I love to paint: furniture, the walls, crafts… so a designated place to wash out my brushes would have been ideal. And my kitchen sink would thank me.

3. More Outlets in the Basement.

Right now we only have one outlet in the basement and it’s near our sump pump. Since I built a basement workshop for all of my tools, I have extension cords running across the floor (don’t worry, the tools aren’t plugged in all the time with the kiddo). But if I want to use the treadmill I have to unplug one extension cord for another and move things around. Hmm… now that I think about it this part of the problem doesn’t happen quite that often. Guess I need to hop on the treadmill more.

4. Add Another Water Spigot.

This wouldn’t be a huge deal except our sun room extends off the back of the house. This makes it nearly impossible to get our hose to stretch to cover the entire backyard. Eventually we will get a sprinkler system, but that’s so far down my list. I mean like not even on our radar right now. But maybe I could get more into gardening if I could actually water the plants? Eh, probably not.

5. Added an Extra Cabinet on that Weird Kitchen Wall.

Yeah I know I keep harping on this but it would have been so much easier if I had the builder add a cabinet in this bare spot. Cabinets are so expensive and a pain to replace to redo down the road. Plus the countertop would have been extended to cover that area for barely any extra cost. I did add a $67 metal shelving unit for now, but this space is still haunting my dreams.

So what are some things that we’re glad we cheaped out on?

1. Vinyl flooring.

I get compliments all the time on them. And they’re super easy to clean.

2. Laminate countertops.

Granite is quite expensive and laminate has tons of options these days.

3. Lighting.

We can always upgrade as we go and I love finding deals (like our $100 Costco crystal chandelier or our kitchen pendants that are really foyer lights).

And things we’re happy we upgraded?

1. Three car garage.

Tons of storage. Enough said.

2. Designer ceilings.

You can’t really add a vault down the road so easily. Glad we did that to our sun room upfront.

3. Cabinets.

We didn’t spend a lot on upgrading the cabinets, but it made a huge difference. Glass fronts at the butler’s pantry was $50 a door, quite a steal if you ask me. Extra drawers in the bathrooms provides tons of organization. And we upgraded to 42 inch tall kitchen cabinets with crown molding. Definitely a lot more storage there!

OK, spill the beans.

What would you do differently in your home?

And what upgrades do you love or hate?

Original article and pictures take http://howtonestforless.com/2014/09/23/5-things-wish-differently-new-house/ site

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