When building a home it is important to look towards the future. A well constructed home should last several lifetimes, and it can be passed down to your grand children. Unless you plan to sell the home, consider what your life will be like twenty, forty and sixty years from now, as well as what you need now. While none of us have a crystal ball, we can make some assumptions based on current trends.
There are certain things that make a home not only more valuable but also more of a pleasure to live in. No one wants to live in a home that is creaking, squeaking and settling when it is only four years old. No one wants to crawl under the house and start replacing pipes in less than ten years either. It can also be discouraging when your utility bills rival your house payments in monthly expenditure. When we think of the future, we suddenly become more practical. Though model homes can be quite bewitching with their lovely gourmet kitchens and exciting bath fixtures, I urge you to look deeper and consider what is actually important.
• Low Maintenance
• Energy Efficiency
• Convenient Floor Plan
• Efficient use of Space
• Plenty of Storage
• Affordable on a 15 Year Fixed Mortgage
• Suitable for Sustainable Living
Though a big house at first seems to be a luxury, it is expensive to heat and cool, and can be difficult to maintain. The perfect home size is between 750 and 2000 square feet, even for luxury homes. Building a small, durable, energy efficient home makes more sense than building a large sprawling home in today’s economy. Large homes are no longer popular, marketable or practical.
One of the most excitingly durable materials is insulated concrete with 5 to 6 inches of insulation sandwiched between an exterior and interior layer of concrete. Insulated concrete can give you lasting durability with virtually no maintenance. At first glance, insulated concrete panels can seem expensive, but when you consider that they include an interior and exterior wall, insulation with a good R-value and will last at least 250 years with absolutely no maintenance, it is obvious that you will actually save money using insulated concrete.
Good floor plans do not waste space. Large foyers and elaborate stairways are out of vogue, and instead people are doing with less airspace as well as floor space inside their homes. Kitchens should have a good work triangle with at least a 30 inch cabinet on either side of the sink, on either side of the stove and one beside the refrigerator. A walk in pantry can also be a very good idea for food storage. Even though you are trying to save space, do not scrimp on closets and storage cabinets. Keep your home uncluttered with sufficient storage.
In 2009 it was discovered that synthetic drywall made in China was dangerous. Then in 2010 it was discovered that all synthetic drywall is a health hazard and a fire hazard. Test a single panel of your drywall before it is installed. Rip off the paper and pour carbonated water on it. Smell it to see if it smells of sulfur. If it smells of sulfur make your builder return it. Use only natural, genuine gypsum drywall.
Though PVC tends to be an industry standard, galvanized pipe holds up much better and even PEX pipe is more durable and easier to install and replace. Copper has certain health benefits and lasts very well. PVC just isn’t durable over the long haul and it is really a pain to replace. If you are going to attempt to do the job yourself I highly recommend PEX pipe. If you are hiring a plumber, go with Galvanized or Copper pipe.
I recommend copper sinks for durability. They, like a concrete house, will last for hundreds of years and after those hundreds of years, will be even more beautiful than the day you installed them. They are also easy to care for and stay naturally clean and germ free. Allow them to patina and only wipe them with a soft cloth. If you plan to spend a lifetime in your home Copper sinks are the way to go.
This little known device is perfect for water conservation and is much cleaner than a traditional toilet. It requires no plumbing, but does require a quick flash of electricity to do its waterless “flush.” It could also save you from needing a septic system in a rural or remote area. It will drastically cut your water bill in the city as well. Best of all, incinerator toilets practically eliminate water pollution.
Money spent on good insulation is never wasted. Build with either insulated concrete or two by six studs. Fill your walls with either polyurethane sheets or spray foam insulation 5 or 6 inches thick. Use Radiant Barrier attic insulation to help keep your home cool in the summer. Purchase energy star appliances and tankless hot water heating.
Construction is the perfect time to set up your solar electricity system. By wiring your solar from the beginning it can be incorporated into the design, rather than having to retrofit later. Add enough solar panels to power your entire home, so that you can either go off the grid or get a check from the electric company each month. Keeping your utilities small or non existent is the key to budgeting with a mortgage.
Most people are very disappointed when, after making payments for about ten years, they discover that they only have a few thousand dollars in equity on their home. 30 year mortgages were invented by banks to keep the home buyer in debt. It works a lot like making the minimum payment on your credit card. Most people can save over $100K on interest with a 15 year mortgage.
While hardwood floors are a bit more expensive than carpets, they can be well worth it over the long term because carpets must be replaced every five or ten years. A hardwood floor is forever, though it is possible that you may have to refinish it if it gets damaged. With care a hardwood floor can last hundreds of years. Hardwood floors also add durability to your home. Stone tile is also a good investment for the same reason. Stone flooring is everlasting while vinyl floor covering lasts only a little longer than carpet.
There are many items that make a home cost more. Decide which if any of these items are important to you. Do not pay for things you do not want or need.
• Bay Windows
• Hot Tubs
• Swimming Pools
• Arched Windows
• Elaborate Stairways
• Security Systems
Building a home should be for life. While many people built less than durable homes during the previous decades and paid far to much for them, we can now learn from their mistakes. We should now understand that building a small, sensible and durable home is far more important than building a home that just looks good. For more tips for building a house, download our free 98 page book and read our many articles on this site.