It’s finally happening - you’ve secured a property or piece of land and now it’s time to build your own home. It’s easy for new home builders to get caught up in the excitement of it all or panic over keeping to the budget. With some careful planning and reading through our recommended must-haves, you’ll be well equipped and ready to make your dream home a reality.
By now you’ve most likely researched the plot and created a first or second draft of the building plan. The architect has helped with sketching out the rooms and hallways, and now you need to visualize how each room functions.
Fortunately, none of this needs to be overly technical or confusing. Below is a brief guide of the most popular features a modern home should have. We also break down what each is, how it functions, and whether it is worth installing in your home.
Built-in storage: To keep the house uncluttered, storage space is necessary. Built-in storage areas offer a sleeker, tidier solution than traditional free-standing cabinets and wardrobes. What’s better is that it can seamlessly blend into the wall or become a decorative feature. Make use of built-in storage all over the home, not just in the kitchen.
Open plan kitchen: This room has become the focal point of the modern home. Kitchens have become more prominent in homes and transformed into a place to entertain guests.
Design a kitchen that can accommodate more than just one cook, and can instead host a small group of people while simultaneously giving you ample preparation space. A large kitchen island can assist with both of these needs and can provide additional storage space.
Lighting: Although an abundance of lighting may not be noticeable by a potential future buyer, a lack of it certainly will. Think outside the box when it comes to lighting. If you plan on having walk-in closets of any size, it may be wise to install lights within them.
Understand the function of the room and how will it be used so you can use lights to highlight or draw attention to certain features.
Laundry room: Consider building the laundry on the same level as the bedrooms. This saves both time and effort in terms of moving clothes, duvets, and linen to the laundry downstairs. If this isn’t possible, consider a laundry chute.
Laundry chute: This is a vertical tunnel or passage in the wall by which laundry can be dropped into and carried down to the laundry room. The laundry chutes are sometimes found in each bedroom, or there is often one per floor.
It’s a quick way to throw individual dirty pieces of clothing or linen into a laundry basket without needing to walk all the way to the laundry room. Check with your local building inspector first about safety regulations.
Recycling chute: Green homes are a growing trend, and laundry chutes are now being converted to or adapted as recycling chutes. As the name suggests, this vertical passage allows for the quick disposal of recyclable materials from the kitchen into an exterior bin.
Things like egg cartons, cereal boxes, and plastic bottles (a leading cause of pollution) can be discarded into the recycling chute rather than dumped with the rest of the rubbish. This is an easy fix and one that allows you to contribute to saving the planet.
Hidden power outlets: Electrical outlets and cables are essential in a kitchen but can quickly cause clutter. Make these as inconspicuous as possible so as to not distract from your home’s aesthetics. Consider having the electrical outlets installed under the cabinets or shelves so that they are not visible from eye-level. Modern power outlet designs, like ones that pop out from the countertop, offer a good solution too.
Energy savers: Building an energy-efficient home reduces energy use, which in turns saves money. Orienting a window towards a certain direction can act as a passive energy saver. North-South facing rooms typically capture the most light during the summer and winter.
Consider installing continuous insulation which acts as a sealed layer in the exterior walls, keeping the heat in and minimizing moisture buildup. Choose an energy-efficient water heater or one that is solar powered.
Smart thermostats are another great addition, as they can automatically adjust the heating and cooling on your home to maximize energy efficiency.
Flexible floor plans: Designing a home that is dynamic enough to cater to a variety of different uses is a big plus. For instance, a bedroom that can easily be converted into a study or lounge offers the homeowner the flexibility to accommodate present and future needs. Creating spaces with sliding doors or movable partitions allow for a broader range of purposes.
Private outdoor spaces: Consider including a space where one can enjoy the benefits of the outdoors without compromising privacy, for instance a perfect location to bask under the sun without worrying about neighbors or passersby.
The location should capture as much daylight as possible, offer views of any natural features or landscapes, and be readily accessible and connected to the home.
Wider balconies and decks: In areas where summertime means being outside and entertaining family, this is a must. Think about the size of your family or friend groups and whether your deck or balcony will be able to fit everyone for a barbecue or Thanksgiving dinner. This area can also double as a space to cultivate vegetables or herbs, grow potted plants or practice yoga.
Outdoor fireplace: The larger balcony or deck space pairs well with an outdoor fireplace. Outdoor fireplaces are a great addition to any home in colder regions of the country, or perfect for a crisp, cool, autumn evening. Imagine snuggling up beside the flame, whilst staring up at the stars or listening to the distant sounds of trucks motoring along the highway.
Mudrooms: Essentially a small space that separates the main interior from the outside. This is where you can hang up snow-covered parkas or muddy boots before entering the house. It is usually connected to or situated off the kitchen or garage area. The room typically features a shower or tap as well as a drainage system in the floor.
Wash off surfboards, snowshoes, sports equipment, and umbrellas, before hanging them up on a rack or shelf. This is becoming a popular addition to most modern homes, and assists with improving the cleanliness of the home.
Extended garage space - In one study, property developers noted that home buyers preferred a garage that had additional space or an extended area built along with it. This allows not only the motor vehicle to be parked comfortably in the garage, but also enough place to store additional items, like a motorbike, bicycles, or equipment.
By extending the dimensions slightly on your building plan, you will benefit from this additional space and the garage can be used for more than just parking your car.
Replace the decorative drawer under the sink with one that stores sponges and scourers: This keeps the sink looking clean and uncluttered. Sponges and other cleaning tools are often unsightly or lack a permanent spot in the kitchen. With a small fold-out drawer under the sink, they are out of sight yet easily accessible.
Install power outlets in bathroom drawers: This allows you to quickly pull out an already plugged in hair straightener or hair dryer from the drawer and immediately use it without needing to first find an electrical point.
Consider a skylight: One of the best ways to let natural light into your home is through a skylight. Although an expensive feature to add, skylights offer benefits that often make it worthwhile—provided you can maintain it.
Not only are skylights beautiful, but they also allow light to seep into rooms at the center of the floor plan that would otherwise be dark. Enjoy watching the snow fall onto the glass during winter, while maximizing the amount of light entering into room.
Think through what is important to you or your family’s needs before building a new home. How often do you plan to host guests, will you have any pets, and what type of hobbies or activities will you engage in? Be smart about what you want from your new home and build accordingly.
The above is a guide based on the most popular attributes and features new homeowners consider when building. Spend time researching online, speak to architects and designers, and learn the region’s climate and regulations. Happy home building!
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