Building a New House

I made a lot of mistakes on my first house in South Dakota although I paid a really good price for it. I wanted to share with everyone a few thoughts on other things I learned from building my second house in Myrtle Beach.

Things I did right:

  • Put the kitchen in the middle of the house. This was one of the principal concepts of my house. The kitchen should be one of the biggest rooms in the house, and it should be placed in the center of the house. There is one minus is that because it is in the center it has three entries into it and the big loser is cabinet space. That said, I have plenty of cabinet and counter space for my needs.
  • Another key concept was three porches. It is really enjoyable to go outside during the day and hang and now with wireless internet it is even better. Plus I wired two of the porches for stereo sound. You have to think this through because you also have to figure out where the source of the sound will be. I connected them both to the stereo in the living room. One of the porches is screened and also has a ceiling fan. This porch is great when it is pouring rain outside, also on a hot summer evening. Also the porches have ample electric outlets do you can do virtually whatever you want.
  • Huge living room. I do not like the concept of the formal living room, but wanted to have a very nice living room with a big television/entertainment center as the center piece. I also wanted it to be open to the kitchen so one can watch television /listen to music while doing dishes. Another great thing that I did was to put surround sound speakers into the ceiling of the living room. They sound great and don’t take up any space. Note: surround sound now supports 8 speakers instead of 6 having two side speakers.
  • Master bedroom. I did a lot of good things here. I put the speakers in the ceiling for surround sound. It turned out great. I love surround sound because you don’t have to have the stereo up loud to get the full range of sound. Again, I put the rear speakers in the ceiling. The location of the bedroom is very important. In my case, I put it on the west side of the house so the sun does not enter into the room in the morning. It’s a big plus.
  • The loft. This is essentially a huge bonus room and it turned out perfect. It still has a lot of flexibility to turn it into whatever I want in the future. I am considering making it my office so the kid(s) can’t bother me when I’m working.
  • Gas fireplaces. They are awesome and just the right thing on a cold day without any of the mess of a log fireplace.
  • Solar Tubes. I put four of them in the loft and I wish that I put more. The reason is that they are really bright on a sunny day, and provide tons of light. More than regular light. They are inexpensive and make a nice touch.
  • Good fixtures. Don’t use anything that won’t wear well. No linoleum or formica. For all my counters I used a composite that is reasonably inexpensive but lasts well. My house is now 9 years old but everything has lasted really well unlike my house in South Dakota.
  • 10 foot ceilings. It was one of the first things that I identified and it definitely gives the downstairs a totally different feeling than a regular house because of the ceilings.

Things I wish I did differently.

  • I put the master bedroom too close to the kitchen. When I have visitors, the first place they go is the kitchen and sometimes they wake me up.
  • The cabling for entertainment center downstairs has proven to be tricky.
  • Thermostats – It is a big house and there are four heating/air conditioning systems. The thermostats work great but one is a little too complicated to use and sometimes I am scratching my head
  • Built ins in the closet – I think this is going to be a trend in the future. You can economically put in a built in dresser, mirrors etc all in the closet
  • I wish that I had wired all three porches for sound instead of just two and placed ceiling fans on all three porches.
  • I wired the house for Cat 5 but not in all rooms and not in all the right places. Now that we have wireless it is easier but still you should still think through where you want all the desks to be and PC’s and try to put a Cat 5 connection.
  • One of the big compromises that I made in the house was that I cut 2 feet off the width of the house which impacted the master bedroom and the master bathroom. I really regret pulling those square feet out.
  • I never use the formal dining room, and I wish that I had never put it in. If you are looking to save space, this is a great thing to knock out and perhaps a little more into the breakfast room where everyone ends up eating anyhow. Even now, both Solange and I eat at the bar and use neither dining room tables.
  • My parents room is huge but now well thought out. The reason is that the bed goes up against the windows too tight. I should have done the closets differently and I would have gotten a lot more livable space.
  • Made a little faux pas on the pool table. Make sure that you have plenty of space on all sides. It is playable but I wish that I had put another foot all around the pool table.
  • I think that we are going to see a new trend in the future. Built ins in the closet. Built in cabinets are cheap and then you can make all of the space in the bedroom living space. I wish that I had done that.
  • Outside irrigation. My yard has many dead spots and when it is dry (like now) it does not cover the lawn well. Make sure you check thoroughly their plan and also have some flexibility to change it in about a year.
  • I saved a bunch of money using something called hardy plank on the outside. It looks great and wears great. I only wish that I had put more brick on the front of the house to give it a little more imposing appearance when entering. The back of the house looks great.