When building your forever home you need to make sure it's future-proofed for your family and the changing technological and demographic landscape.
Key exterior house plan features that can save you time and energy.
Integrate a Package Lock-Box:
This is a must have in the modern world of home delivery. There's now a wide variety of manufacturers of package lockers that we can help hide in the entryway of your house plan.
Automatic Irrigation System:
Budget for irrigation during the build since it will be much easier to install before planting grass.
Electric Outlets Under Soffits:
Perfect for effortless holiday lighting installs. Wire these to a timer switch in your garage or mechanical room.
Pre-Install in common areas with a cable back to your media closet.
It can be easy to overspend here when budgets are tight but it is cheap to hard-pipe a gas line and conduit for power during the construction phase to accommodate a simple future grill station. Skip the refrigerator, burners and cabinetry. They will be more maintenance than they're worth.
Recessed Electric Shades:
These can be scheduled to wake you up at your chosen time, or to slide on down to block the harsh afternoon sun saving energy costs and time.
Door Lock Controls:
Electronic lock systems are the most underrated aspect of home automation. Nothing is better than being able to quickly check an app to ensure that your house is fully locked. This also comes in handy for creating temporary unlock codes for contractors, cleaners and dog-sitters.
Security System & Cameras:
Install a high quality Alarm system and conduit for security camera wiring. It will be much cheaper to do this during the build than to retrofit even if you don't install the system right away.
Pre-Install in common areas with a cable back to your media closet.
Locate this near your planned TV location. Add an in-wall media cable (HDMI) chase for that super clean look.
Automated wi-fi connected thermostats can be significant energy savers by predictively adjusting your HVAC to match the weather forecast.
These sound great but often end up being one of homeowners' biggest regrets. Time spent troubleshooting and paying contractors to fix system bugs can be overwhelming compared to just manually flipping switches.
Wi-Fi Connected Smoke Detectors:
Expensive and often cause more trouble than they add in value.
Instant Hot & Cold Water Dispenser:
A huge time saver and a nice luxury (carbonated options available as well). Skip the refrigerator water cooler and get a dedicated separate unit installed that will be easier to service.
This is a must have for larger families or people who like to entertain. Modern dishwashers can wash just about everything in the kitchen but just don't have the capacity to fit a ton of dishes and cookware at the same time. Dedicate one to cookware and utensils and the other to dishes and glasses.
Another luxury dishwashing options is to install a full commercial dishwashing unit that can wash and dry racks of anything in your kitchen in less than a minute. These units are efficient and surprisingly affordable but tend to be unsightly so we recommend that clients who want to go this route by modifying your home plan to build a scullery room off of the kitchen similar to a pantry that can house the dishwashing equipment and supplies.
Trash-Compactor & Recycling-Compactor:
These units had their day in the 90s but they're now seeing a resurgence. We are inundated with packaging materials and recycling. Eliminate the hassle of taking out the trash daily with this easy solution.
Wall Mounted Faucets:
Architectural look. Easy cleaning.
Upgrade your standard 24" counters to 30" depth for more luxurious working room.
Integrate a small capacity combination washer/dryer unit under-counter in your kitchen or pantry for kitchen towels and table linens.
Two ovens is better than one for entertaining. Make sure one is a steam-oven for clean, versatile restaurant quality cooking. Wall ovens can be a pricey addition but a 48"-60" deal oven range can be an affordable but still luxurious compromise.
Air quality is one of the most underrated aspects of a home. Cooking indoors can be one of the biggest sources of pollution. We can help you specify and install a properly sized hood with baffle filters and a proper interconnected make-up air source to keep pressure balanced.
Integrated Butcher Block:
Build in a special section of counter with a thick butcher block. Make sure it's right next or above the trash drawer. We like to set these down 4-6" from the normal counter height for a more comfortable chopping height.
Cabinetry Cost Saving Tips:
Fully custom cabinetry can be nice but also prohibitively expensive. We design all of our kitchens to utilize common, modularly sized cabinetry to keep costs low. We do however, recommend a mix and match approach to customization:
Prioritize large drawers over shelving.
Do not cheap out on hardware. Get the highest quality, heavy duty, soft-close drawer slides on the market.
Get built in utensil dividers and spice tiers made for drawers.
Most specialty cabinets re overrated. Avoid pigeon-holed spice cabinets, lazy-susans and slide out butcher blocks.
Yes it's nice to not have to carry carry a pot of water to the stove but for the average cost of $500 and the risk of flooding your stove if you accidentally leave it on you might want to consider reinvesting that money elsewhere.
Counter Mounted Soap Dispenser:
Yes it's a nice clean look but what isn't clean is getting on your back to crawl under the sink to refill the reservoir. Get yourself a nice cheap refillable pump dispenser instead.
Heated Towel Racks:
Nothing is better than a hot towel after a shower. These come in both hydronic (water) forms and resistive (electric) forms. The electric ones are cheaper and easier to install.
Radiant Heated Flooring:
No need to explain how great these are in a cold climate. Similarly these come in two forms, electric and hydronic.
Wall Mounted Faucets:
Architectural look. Easy cleaning.
Separate from main bathroom for privacy and usability. We design all of our plan primary bathrooms this way. Don't forget to add power for device charging and maybe a bidet.
Nothin better than seeing yourself get out of the shower!
Shower Steam Generator:
Clear the sinuses and soothe the senses during the most luxurious shower experience.
Zero-Threshold showers cannot be retrofitted easily, however they can be easily accommodated during the design phase.
You don't have to be European to enjoy this kind of clean!
Dual Shower Heads:
It Sounds romantic and nice but rarely ever gets used. The resultant massive walk-in shower can get drafty and lonely. Consider two separate showers instead if capacity is a key concern.
Space can be at a premium on some smaller building lots. Like to do work on your car? Nothing is more luxurious than having your own lift for oil changes and tire rotations.
Power Disconnect for Electric Car Charging:
You may not have an electric car today but in the coming decades they will be the only now cars sold. It's much cheaper to run a conduit from your panel during construction.
Insulated Garage & Garage Door:
Traditional garage doors are huge energy drains in cold climates. Upgrade to an insulated door and work more comfortably in your garage in any season.
Garage Climate Control:
Depending on climate, add an infrared heater strip or a mini-split heat pump unit to control your garage on it's own thermostat. Schedule the HVAC to save energy. Nothing is more luxurious than getting into a pre-warmed car an a freezing day.
Ventilated Trash Closet:
We can help you design a corner trash closet with an automated ventilation fan to isolate smalls and reduce pests.
Refrigerator / Freezer Nook:
Like a beer fridge or a meat freezer? We can design the perfect nook for it to sit in your garage or workshop.
As we move towards more clean energy standards, the future of home appliances, HVAC and vehicles will be electric powered. Many homeowners are now installing 400A panels to accommodate the future load.
Geothermal Heat Pump:
These units have gotten significantly better, more affordable and modular since their inception. The future of environmentally friendly HVAC will be geothermal. With a variety of form factors these can be integrated into any system, radiant floors, forced air, radiators and mini splits. They do need some land in order to install the loops so this is perfect for your farm house build!
Residential fire sprinkler systems can be integrated into a new build for $1-2/SF on average but can be very expensive to retrofit. It's difficult to comprehend the risk of rare events like fires but there's a reason why they're required in commercial construction - they simply save lives and property damage.
Whole House Surge Protection:
Another hard to comprehend rare risk is power surges destroying your expensive electronics. Get the whole house covered so you can sleep well at night.
Sewer Backflow Valves:
Nothing is worse than a poorly designed city sewer or septic system backing up into your new house. Build this into the outflow of your sanitary system and never worry about it.
Whole House Water Treatment:
Whether it's well water or city water it's hard to know exactly what is in your water source unless you filter it as it comes in. Integrate a water treatment system into your mechanical room to protect your family from lead and other harmful chemicals.
All water containing appliances should have drip pans that have drains integrated to avoid the damage that can be caused by a leak.
There are other options for more effectively being environmentally friendly such as investing in green building materials and energy efficiency. Yes it's nice to have a green power source that's off the grid but the reality is that the technology moves faster than you can reinstall and large commercial installations have significant economies of scale over your small home system. In addition, roof based systems can cause leaks and add significant costs to roofing work. Instead opt for an interconnected generator or backup battery.
Central Vacuum Systems:
It's no more difficult to haul around a modern upright vacuum then it is to wrangle the long suction tubes of central vacuum systems.
Everything runs on Wi-Fi which will only continue to get better. Carefully plan where your cable will come in and where you want to have your modem placed. In large houses it is worth running hard wires from your modem to a couple of extra mesh wireless access ports to ensure you have robust coverage.
Hot Water Recirculation Pumps:
It's great to get hot water right at the source as soon as you turn on the faucet but these can be massively wasteful. Instead:
If using one centralized boiler system: utilize a manifold and properly sized pipes to get water as soon as possible to the furthest rooms. For example a 1.5GPM faucet 25ft away from a boiler would take 6 seconds to get hot with a 3/8" pipe and 23 seconds to get hot with a 3/4" pipe.
Another option is to utilize properly sized instant hot water boilers at the point of use. We can help you designate proper space for these in your home design.
Aging in Place:
We all love the look of multi-story home plans but they can be a challenge for mobility. One option is to simple build a ranch home. Every year new technologies allow for more and more people to age in place and save on long term care costs. By 2030 it is estimated that assisted living and nursing homes will cost $5800 and $11,900 per month respectively.
A great addition for aging in place but can be extremely costly to retrofit. Plan ahead and reserve a shaft space for it even if you don't install it on Day 1.
Doorway widths, maximum ramp slopes, countertop heights and fixture clearances are all important details to pay attention to when planning your home. We help help design and specify your house to meet these long term needs without sacrificing short term usability or costs.
Can can help design your house with robotics in mind. These cleaning units cannot get into certain tight areas and need an unobtrusive place to dock and charge.
We all want to feel like we live in Downton Abbey (did they even have a dumbwaiter?) but it's just more practical to design your home to minimize the need to move food around. We can help you design your garage to be near to your pantry and your dining room and outdoor entertaining spaces are always designed to be right next to the kitchen.
We design all of our homes to have laundry as close to the bathrooms and bedrooms as possible. No need to put your laundry in the basement with modern machines and soundproofing technologies.
Other things to consider when design your dream house:
Dedicated Spaces for Artwork:
Custom niches designed for your most prized artwork with integrated power for attractive picture lighting.
Integrated Gun Safe:
This is a must have if you are a gun owner. Place it in your primary walk-in closet or bedroom for peace of mind.
Key rooms like bedrooms, mechanical rooms or theatre rooms can be isolated from vibrations using a combination of acoustical technologies. We've had clients design thunderstorm rooms for pets as well!
Luxurious in-bedroom short countertops with a refrigerator drawer, a small sink and a space to make your morning coffee before venturing out to face the world. Enjoy your morning coffee while you look out over the water in your waterfront home.
Wall mounted automated water dispensers are a must-have time saver that your pets will appreciate as much as your do. Another luxury is a dog wash integrated into your mud room. These can be built in and custom tiled or bought out as modular steel units.
Whether you're planning on having one at some point or will be hosting one as a grand parent it's great to integrate a changing nook into a convenient space that has drawer cabinets for diaper and wipe storage as well as a hand sink for cleanup and an integrated ventilated trash compartment.