Pocket doors are great for any area where a door will be open most of the time. They also work well in tight spaces, and they don’t take up wall space. I like them so much that I have them in all my rooms.
In some room applications like dens, home offices, libraries, or media rooms, I always recommend 3’ wide doors for ease of entrance, and ease of moving furniture in and out. 2’8 and 3’ doors are also nice in bedrooms for the same reason. 3’ doors should always be used in retirement homes.
STAIRS AND HALLWAYS
A lot of builders put in fairly narrow stairs or hallways, sometimes as narrow as 3’. When I design a home I always put in wider hallways, and wider stairs. I recommend a min of 3’-8” hallway and stair width which makes for better traffic flow and moving furniture easier. If I design a more expensive home I may recommend even wider halls or stairs.
GAS, OR ELECTRIC VERSES WOOD FIREPLACES
Let’s face it, nothing beats a real wood burning fireplace. That said, they are really expensive. They also can overheat a room very quickly. A wood burning fireplace needs a fairly large room, and an outside storage space for all the wood.
A gas or electric fireplace, is a lot less than money than a wood fireplace. With gas you must have an outside storage tank, but it gives you the look and the warmth of a wood fireplace. A gas fireplace can also overheat a small or medium size room.
In the last few years electric fireplaces have really come a long way as far as looking like a real fire. there is no storage tank or wood storage needed. We installed an electric linear fireplace in our new home. (most come with an electric heater) A linear fireplace, gas or electric is longer and not as high as a wood burning fireplace. They are usually between 16 and 20 inches high, and 3 to 8 feet long. Ours is 16″ x 5 feet. This offers a great advantage because if you place the television over a linear fireplace it will be a lot lower on the wall than it would be over a typical wood burning fireplace.
If you do decide to go with a gas fireplace I recommend you also use gas as your primary fuel source, since in my opinion it makes absolutely no sense to have two fuel sources on the premises.
FIREPLACE WOOD STORAGE
If you choose to have a wood fireplace you must remember– never store wood in the basement. Even seasoned wood has water in it, and storing wood in the basement releases moisture into the home. Moisture is bad inside the home.
I do not recommend oil heating systems today. Put in oil heat and you’ll be relying on foreign oil sources for you heating. It’s that simple.
I have had propane heat for over 10 years with no problems. It is clean, (my furnace has never had to be cleaned). It’s safe, and it is a good dollar value.
The new “on demand” propane furnaces are small and compact, and require no hot water tank storage. They also require no chimney (a savings of at least $2,000), and can be located in the cellar or the garage.
In spite of what I said above, if you plan on using oil heat, I would recommend that you install two oil tanks instead of one. The added cost is about $350, but the advantage is that you can fill two tanks when the price of oil is down in the summer, or early fall.
Heat pumps have come a long way. Depending on the home room arrangement a heat pump system may be the choice for you. (It was for us in our new home) Heat pumps not only offer heating, but they cool in the summer as well. If you do decide to go with heat pumps you should also install small sections off electric baseboard in the bedrooms and main living areas. Heat pumps are suppose work to about 15 below, but if it’s colder than that the baseboard backup would probably be more efficient.
Most people are completely unaware of the very real dangers of Radon gases. To make matters worse, Maine is one of the worst states in the country as far as radon concentration. If you are building a new home, be sure to install a passive radon system in the basement. The cost of doing this during construction is so minor, that not doing it, would be a big mistake. The cost of having it done after the house is finished is ten to twenty times higher that it would be to have it done in the first place. Not all builders are aware of how to install a radon mitigation system, so be cautious in this matter. It should be a separate system and not part of the drainage system, which most people think. (Check with us if you have any questions.) (All of our plans include radon piping.)
FRESH AIR EXCHANGER
If you have allergies, or if you are building an upscale home, consider having a fresh air system installed. The worst air that we breathe throughout the year is the air inside our own homes in the winter. A fresh air exchanger brings in fresh outside air and removes the stale interior air, thus making your home much more comfortable. These units are not inexpensive, but are, in my opinion, well worth the money. They will cost between $ 2,000 and $3,500 depending on the size of your home.
If you are building a home that you expect to live in for a while, the extra price for “high density” insulation could be a good investment. It produces a higher “R” value and doesn’t cost that much more. It should also pay for itself very quickly in fuel savings. Personally I like the products from NU-WOOL. Even if you sell sooner than you expected, better insulation is a great selling point.
Most homes today are built using manufactured roof trusses. They are quick to install and are a better product than conventional framing. Usually they don’t add any cost to the job. One of the nicest advantages of trusses is that if you can have cathedral ceilings in just about any room that you wish, and the cost of doing this is quite affordable.
There is no reason today to use copper piping. I personally recommend the “pex” brand plastic piping for everything from domestic hot and cold water to piping for the baseboards. In my opinion this is the best system going. A manifold is installed in the basement and from the manifold an individual line is run to each plumbing fixture. This eliminates all fittings and potential leak areas. A special compression fitting is used on each end. Using this plastic pipe instead of copper saves the plumber countless hours of time and gives you a much better product. It also self protects in case of freezing since it will expand instead of cracking open like copper does.
DECKS VERSES PATIOS
Most people think of decks off the kitchen for outdoor usage in the warmer months, but patios should also be considered. Patios may be a little more work initially, but require a lot less maintenance down the road. Patios are basically bricks or cement stones or blocks laid on top of a sand base. Patios are also something that the average homeowner can do in a few weekends, where decks require a certain amount of carpentry skills.
With the rising energy costs and no end in sight, if I was building a new home today, the two things that I would install without question are solar electric panels and solar hot water panels. If you plan on being in your home for awhile, even though these will add cost you your new home, with the tax incentives, and a short “pay back” time, these become a good “common sense” investment in my opinion.
Coming as soon as I have time (Security in and around your home.)
As I said at the beginning, if you have any suggestions and or ideas that you think should be added to these notes. Please don’t hesitate to send them to me for my consideration for the next time we update them.
If you have bought a home plan from us, we really appreciate seeing pictures of our designs (interior and exterior) after the home is finished and the landscaping is done.