Custom Home - Must Haves?

Blockcaver

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 9, 2012
Messages
1,441
Location
BC
Lots of great suggestions through the 4 pages of posts. We have many of them incorporated in our 4 year old build. Favorites for us:
-- Walk in cooler, installed in a 6'x8' concrete room under the front porch (where many suggest the gun vault). It has direct access down a 4 stairs out of the garage. We have shelves on one wall as well as 8 meat hooks that hang from I-bolts cast into the ceiling concrete. Cooling is via a ductless mini-split AC unit with a CoolBot controller.
--We like to be able to zone the house for AC, hence the use of 5 ductless mini-split AC units. Run the AC were we are, have it off in the unused areas.
--Gas fireplace that heats the great room.
--Lutron/Casita controls for much of our lighting. We can control the lights off our iPhones remotely, even from 100s of miles away. We programmed it to turn on the interior and exterior lights as we approach our house at night too.
--My wife loves her separate bidet, something she picked up in France as a foreign exchange student many years ago. It gets used multiple times per day.
--The laundry and mud room has a huge single tub sink 40" long and 24" wide. Like a double without the divider, and you can wash the Vizsla, ice chests, etc. It is right next to the washer/dryer. For meat cutting we put a heavy piece of 1/2" thick plexiglass cover the washer/dryer (sitting on white towels for a good background). We have good LED tube lighting over the meat cutting area. We package plus grind on the laundry counter 4' away from the cutting board.
--The freezer plugs are non-GFCI for maximum reliability. We set up for 4 freezers, but typically only run our two uprights and maybe one of the "traveling" chests...a 6 cf and/or 12 cf I frequently take on warm weather hunts.
--Walk in pantry off the kitchen covered with shelves is great and saves $ on cabinets.
--Medicine cabinet over bathroom sink(s) with 3 mirrors that open up to more mirrors and shelves....keeps the counter bare.
--Vaulted great room ceiling ending in a flat 8' wide ceiling section 17' high. Nice for the big mounts...moose, elk, bison plus the sheep and bear walls. The lower 10' walls are better for the deer and antelope. Comments around 3/4' ply walls for mount hanging should not apply to the big heads. I put 2x12s between the studs where I planned to hang the big heads, including the rams that are quite heavy.
--A heated indoor workshop/hobby room with 20' of counter space, vise, archery equipment, reloading equipment, optics, gunsafe etc directly off the garage. Great to grab a shogun to go shoot sporting clays and clean it when you get home.
--Storage for hunting and camping gear right off the garage. Treestands and blinds, clothes, sleeping bags, tents, cook gear etc.
--Hot water spigot in garage with a hot water rated hose to run outside. Pressure washer and air compressor have a nice spot.
--Garage bay and door tall enough (12') to accommodate the truck with the cabover camper with plenty of room around it.
--Insulated garage and doors with lots of windows and LED tube lighting.
--Shop building separate from house/garage for wood working, welding, tractor, quad, boat, canoe and 4 trailers ranging from one I tow with the ATV to an 8'x16' flat deck.

We missed a few things that we'd do over:
--Did not plan for a backup generator we are now considering. It will be expensive to retrofit now.
--Should have made the shop building one bay wider just because I have to jockey things around a bit to fit everything. Not a huge issue but another bay would have solved the issue.
--Should have had a few more outlets in the house and shop that we've added since the build. A 220 V outlet in the shop for the table saw would have been good. It is just OK running on 110v when you are ripping a big board.
 

Mt Al

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
725
Location
Montana
Reading this is costing me more and more! Love it.

For solar if you're into DIY check out the rarely updated builditsolar.com
I did the $2,000 system when it was called the $1,000 system. The current $2K includes some space heating, mine only heats well water before it goes into the water heater tank. Easily paid for itself in three years, fun to build and learn. Key is that I have a large South facing wall with no windows coupled with a crawl space right underneith, so hanging DIY hot water solar panels that drain into a crawl-space-located holding tank was easy.

Whole other area to consider is landscaping and upkeep. A sprinkler system makes life way better, but adding other zones to the system that end with a hose bib at the edges of your yard are awesome. You can hook up drip lines for hedges, fruit trees, shade trees. Can't speak for others, but regularly watered hedges and trees grow way faster than if I have to remember to drag the hose out, turn on and off.

Composting area. I wouldn't do this if it was a small lot. We have trees, vines, grass, horse crap, leaves, etc.. I put a composting pile behind a greenhouse out of the way and haphazardly pile cuttings, horse apples, leaves, etc. and just leave it, hose it down with water every now and again. It creates awesome compost that I dig out of the bottom for planting new trees, hedges, raspberries, etc.

One of the best non hunting threads ever!
 

Sleghammer

Junior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2020
Messages
21
Location
North Idaho
a lot to unpack here very good suggestions. i was thinking 26’ garage bays but i may need to reconsider. why WIC outlets?


In my master WIC, that's where I empty my pockets onto the built in shelving. That would include some electronic devices. An outlet would be nice for charging and storing all those things. I don't like the bedside table for this because my little kids will run off with my Inreach.
 

FatCampzWife

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 31, 2020
Messages
29
Location
The Plains
We were horse people, with kids & dogs, who spend lots of outside time getting dirty. We had a raised entry from the garage to our house, which led to a utilty sink and bathroom (heated). Saved a GOB of mud & dirt from being drug into the house.
 

The Ri Guy

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2017
Messages
251
Location
WA
Skylights are a must for me, almost never turn a light on in the summer months.
 

Painless

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2018
Messages
37
Location
TN
Havent read all of the pages yet but I would run a chase (4" pvc conduit) at every corner of the house so that if you want to add power it is simple to get from top to bottom of the house. Paint it lite colors as you will be repainting the damn thing.
 

Yellowknife

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2012
Messages
1,702
Location
Fairbanks, Alaska
An large percentage of these comments can be summed up as "bigger, taller, wider, more rooms!" Almost every person I knew that has built a custom house has suffered from this exact scope creep and the subsequent budget creep. Some could afford it more than others.

I'm looking at another house build right now myself and at least trying to go in the opposite direct. If we build again, we will focus on a more efficient space and try to drop the finished sq footage by 10% or more. We long ago nicknamed our current house "Basecamp", and use it as a launching pad for our many family outdoor activities. Extra space tends to collect clutter, mud, and kid detritus and takes time to keep clean and money to maintain. If there is a trail to be found, I don't want to be wasting my weekend on chores... and my wife is worse than me.

A mud room though... No getting away from that. Man, we own a lot of boots in this family.
 

Wolverine

Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2017
Messages
75
Location
Michigan
-someone mentioned putting your laundry room where the vent it close to an exterior wall - i'd say don't worry about the extra few bucks a longer vent costs and put the laundry room where its most convenient - ours is close to the bedrooms, which is where the majority of the dirty laundry is collected and clean laundry is headed.
Having the dryer closer to the outside termination has zero to do with cost of running the vent. It has to do with the the efficiency of the dryer and more importantly allowing to keep the vent pipe from filling with lint and becoming plugged or being fire Hazzard.
 

william schmaltz

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2017
Messages
356
Location
AK
If/when I build some things I like you could consider:
- I plan to have about half the # cupboards in my kitchen and instead have a huge walk in pantry. more open, less clutter.
- two ovens
- a stovetop that is actually large enough to fit two cast iron pot/pans side by side
- I'm a firm believer in one large living space and one TV for my family. Family time is limited to mainly evenings and weekends. I want to see my kids and don't want to send them away to another room for most of our limited time together.
- A very oversized office that doubles as trophy/workout room.

I go against the handful of people who say driveway facing south. In the winter when the sun rises and sets in the south, I like that my picture windows in the family room are facing south and gathering sun. Especially this time of year as we gain daylight, that afternoon sunshine really cheers me up. I could care less if my driveway is a little more icy. I guess that may be something based on geography. And maybe age.
 

go4thegusto

Senior Member
Joined
May 16, 2012
Messages
1,598
Location
Fargo ND
If/when I build some things I like you could consider:
- I plan to have about half the # cupboards in my kitchen and instead have a huge walk in pantry. more open, less clutter.
- two ovens
- a stovetop that is actually large enough to fit two cast iron pot/pans side by side
- I'm a firm believer in one large living space and one TV for my family. Family time is limited to mainly evenings and weekends. I want to see my kids and don't want to send them away to another room for most of our limited time together.
- A very oversized office that doubles as trophy/workout room.

I go against the handful of people who say driveway facing south. In the winter when the sun rises and sets in the south, I like that my picture windows in the family room are facing south and gathering sun. Especially this time of year as we gain daylight, that afternoon sunshine really cheers me up. I could care less if my driveway is a little more icy. I guess that may be something based on geography. And maybe age.
Everything he said..... Full stairway to attic above the garage, order attic room trusses. If cold climate then triple pane windows. we did foam walls and triple pane. House is warm and silent. Epoxy garage floor right away before moving in. Floor drains in garage under each stall. deep overhangs on soffit, don't let them cut cost and spec 1 foot. Go 3 feet.
 

Dust Rider

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 9, 2017
Messages
277
Location
Montana
spray insulation
wood stove
wired and gas on exterior for back up generator,
gas line For patio grill
full exterior 2” blue foam insulation around waterproofed foundation
cat 5e everywhere in house
cat 5/ POE wires for security system
hvac : ac and gas furnace
old school coaxial wires in walls for antenna chase when everything else quits,

Full basement 8‘ concrete walls. A whole extra level for house, equipment rooms, gun vault, storage, spare rooms, wood and water storage, mechanical room etc.

low maintenance fireproof exterior
snipers nest on roof
 

Sevens

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 14, 2020
Messages
101
Location
Dallas, TX
More closets or, better yet, a giant climate controlled storage space to put all those items you use once a year, like Christmas decorations.
 

Conrad101st

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2017
Messages
231
Location
Oklahoma
1. We have JBL ceiling speakers in most every room in the house and in the garage and the rear patio. Pure bliss to walk about with music going all day.

2. In the master shower, the builder added a three nozzle side shower with separate valve. So nice to luxuriate in there after a workout. Hit your knees, crotch and chest while the overhead rains down on you. It’s the bomb for getting soap out of the nasty bits.

3. Our wine cooler gets used often as we keep it stocked, but we rarely turn on the extra ice maker.

4. The built in sealed fireplaces are really nice as stated. We have one in our bedroom with a remote. It will sweat your ass out of there. We burn it when we watch the morning news and drink coffee.
 
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tdot

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2014
Messages
1,443
Location
BC
An large percentage of these comments can be summed up as "bigger, taller, wider, more rooms!" Almost every person I knew that has built a custom house has suffered from this exact scope creep and the subsequent budget creep. Some could afford it more than others.

I'm looking at another house build right now myself and at least trying to go in the opposite direct. If we build again, we will focus on a more efficient space and try to drop the finished sq footage by 10% or more. We long ago nicknamed our current house "Basecamp", and use it as a launching pad for our many family outdoor activities. Extra space tends to collect clutter, mud, and kid detritus and takes time to keep clean and money to maintain. If there is a trail to be found, I don't want to be wasting my weekend on chores... and my wife is worse than me.

A mud room though... No getting away from that. Man, we own a lot of boots in this family.

I was able to convince a client of this, smaller, higher quality. He is hands down the happiest client I've ever had. Its been in multiple magazines. I've got a ton of business from that build. He still lives in the place, 10 years later (he'd planned for 5) though for how much longer I dont know. Just found out yesterday he has a set of twins due. We planned for everything in that house. Just not twins.
 

drchesler

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2016
Messages
12
I agree with YellowKnife. For less than a 20% up charge, you can basically go net zero these days and if you plan to live there for the long haul, the efficiencies and accompanying comfort level of the home would be worth it to me.
 

Elcy

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2019
Messages
40
I didn't read all of the comments; someone may have already suggested an additional washer and dryer in the master closet, and timers/motion sensors in the seldom used rooms- bathrooms, closets etc... Keeps the kids and wife from forgetting to turn them off.
 

DudeBro

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2019
Messages
139
Location
Virginia
Here's the list I've been building since we bought our last house:
  • lots of storage - closets, attics, cabinets, garage, basement, crawl space
  • spray foam insulation (this virtually eliminates drafts)
  • high R value, double hung windows
  • properly designed HVAC system and ducting (there's a lot of engineering that should go into this using computational fluid dynamics)
  • solid wood core doors
  • solid hardwood floors (not engineered or laminate)
  • stamped concreate/dyed porch
  • deep and long garage (10' x 20' doesn't cut it for a stall); if you have a boat or RV, you want a tall door
  • front load garage (turning into a side load garage makes the driveway close to useless)
  • basement
  • hidden a/v rack (in a closet)
  • whole home stereo (I don't like alexa or other items with a live microphone tied to the internet)
  • screened in deck w/ an uncovered portion as well
  • high quality/highly padded carpet
  • lots of window (kitchens and sunlight sell)
  • house oriented to maximize sunlight in family room
  • for master bathroom - dual shower heads, rain shower head, and body jets
  • elongated toilets (pretty standard these days)
  • cat6 throughout
  • wired for security cameras, sensors, control panels
  • tankless water heater
  • heated master bathroom mirror
  • heated master bathroom floor
  • high ceilings (makes it feel bigger and brighter)
  • built in wine cooler and kegerator
  • large laundry room w/ utility sink
  • 2" conduit running from crawl space or basement to each floor and the attic (this will allow easier wiring runs for future modifications)
  • cast iron vertical sewer run between floors (helps eliminate the "swoosh" sound when someone flushes)
  • under cabinet, LED lighting
  • well lit bathrooms
  • high volume, quiet bathroom exhaust fans
  • well designed lawn irrigation
  • proper lawn grading (this begins w/ picking out a good lot, location on a parcel)
  • subsurface gutter drains (plan ahead for your downspouts and put 4-6" corrugated black pipe under where sidewalks and driveways will be poured; it costs a few bucks ahead of time and thousands after)
  • garage utility sink
  • large mudroom
  • hot and cold water in garage and outside
  • garage floor drain
  • water resistant drywall in garage (for washing cars and floor)
  • epoxy garage floor
  • overhead garage shelving
  • solar panels on roof
  • gas powered whole home generator
I will also do my damnedest to ensure I have a right to enter the property and structure at any time w/o notice to inspect the progress. You'll be amazed at the corners GCs and subs cut when nobody's looking - uninsulated corners, trash in the walls, trash in the grading that impacts runoff (imagine what a broken 4'x8' sheetrock does for runoff 6" below the surface of your lawn).
 
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