The path to a Better Design
Things that help make a good design into a great design!
Here are some thoughts on the little things that will add real value to any house design, making it more useful and way more enjoyable.
Add a sunroom to the house that looks out onto the best view from the house. This could add panoramic splendour to the enjoyment of your living experience.
- Add outlet in master toilet closet for a night light.
- Outlets inside vanity cabinets (upper and lower) in the bathroom for dryer etc.
- Include heated towels racks.
- Don’t caulk the bottom of your toilet to the tile which could hide leaks.
- Make use of the pony wall in a bathroom (if there is one) by turning it into storage.
- Run a large conduit under the driveway for future wiring or plumbing needs.
- Prewire speakers both indoor and outdoor.
- Ensure you have hose outlets and power on all 4 sides of your house, and on top of any raised areas.
- Hot/cold outdoor water is good for washing pets.
- Motion sensor pre-wire for selected exterior lights.
- Keypad entry on the garage door (Keypad entry on the front door is great as well).
- Gas line to grill.
- Outlets in the kitchen pantry for charging, or for items that may end up living there.
- With wide islands, put cabinets on both sides. While they are not easy to get to, they are good for storing seldomly used items.
- Include a built-in paper towel holder.
- Custom storage organization in kitchen drawers.
- Warming drawer in the dining room.
- Pantry entrance near both kitchen and garage.
- Custom shelves and a place to plug in appliances in the pantry.
- Outlets above cabinets for Christmas lighting or mood lighting.
- Set up for both gas and electric appliances. (Now required by code)
- Pantry door on a swivel in the corner unit.
- Pantry light on a motion sensor.
- Copper tubing for your ice maker from the fridge to the supply.
- Drawer or below the counter microwave.
- Knife drawer.
- Pull-out garbage/recycling/laundry (for dirty dish towels/napkins/bibs!).
- Paper towel holder in drawer slot.
- Drawers for all lower cabinets (more efficient use of space).
- Two soap pumps at the sink (one for hand soap, one for dish soap).
- An easy-access place to store frequently used appliances.
- A place to hang hand towels & aprons.
Electrical & Plumbing
- Prewire security system & cameras.
- Run wire and prepare the roof for future solar.
- Separate 20A circuit with outlets at waist height in the garage to plugin tools.
- Separate 20A circuit for TV and A/V equipment.
- Pre-wiring for music and speakers, inside and outside.
- iPad controllers in the walls to control whole house music systems.
- Pre-wire for a generator to essential areas.
- Include a 220V to the garage (tools, future electric car etc).
- Measure the location of anything under the slab, and various utilities out in the yard and embed markers in the top surface of the concrete to identify the locations.
- Include a drain in the garage to get rid of excess water from vehicles after rain and snow.
- Light switch to the attic in the hallway (and remember lights in the attic in general).
- Solar tubes in areas that don’t get natural sunlight.
- In cabinet lights and outside lights on timers.
- Check all remotes for ceiling fans prior to construction completion.
- Eave pot lights to light the perimeter of the house. It is a great look, is dramatic, and very helpful for security.
- 3-way switches are helpful assisting in controlling lights from different approaches to rooms.
- Master switch from the master bedroom that controls all exterior lights.
- 4 plug outlets near the bed in the master. Some manufacturers now provide outlets with built-in USB charging ports.
- A light switch at the head of your bed so you can turn out the light once you are in bed.
- Outlets under eaves for holiday lights, with a switch inside to turn on and off.
- Enough storage for holiday decorations.
- Seasonal closet with hangers for wreaths, and space for storage boxes.
- Outlets for holiday lights: over cabinets, in the stairway, in porch ceiling, and under eaves.
Heating, Cooling, and Vacuums
- The thermostat should not be located near an entrance. The difference between the indoor temperature, and the outdoor temperature may send your system for a loop when the door is open.
- Central Vac with floor-level vac pans, particularly in the kitchen. Have the VAC exhaust to the exterior. Cuts down on the dust that gets past the filter and reduces the noise inside the house.
- Plan where furnace vents will go instead of letting the builder decide. In particular, try not to vent into a driveway or to a sidewalk.
- HEPA filtration for allergy sufferers.
- Fresh air in new builds is assured because of the requirement for a Heat Recovery Vent (HRV). This device cleverly exhausts air from the house, while replenishing it with outside air. As the new air comes in it is heated by the outgoing air in a heat exchanger. You might consider adding this to your home during renovations.
Overall space saving ideas
- Wall niches for fire extinguishers. Fire extinguishers are a great but ugly-looking idea. Having them in wall niches at least makes them not intrude into the room and ensures that they are not accidentally bumped into.
- Where possible, pocket doors. This concept saves loads of space because you don’t have to arrange furniture to miss the door swing.
Privacy, quiet enjoyment, and security
- Add soundproofing where needed.
- A phone by the door leading into the garage for calls when you are getting in or out of the car.
- An inside button to open and close your garage door. 3-way switch to control the lighting in the garage.
- Additional support during framing on the top side of windows for curtains. Code now requires additional framing to support grab bars in washrooms even if you don’t plan to have grab bars.
- Ensure builders don’t “box” off spaces, where storage or shelving could go.
- Plan an elevator shaft in case you want to install one later, in the meantime, it will serve as storage closets. If not an elevator, then a wider than normal stairway for a chairlift. (Aging in Place)
- Plan a specific place for your dog or cat food.
- A place for the cat litter box with a vent to the outside.
- A place for dogs to be bathed with water-resistant flooring (it will be wet, believe me.)
- A place for dog crates.
- Exhaust fan in the laundry room for litter box if you decide to keep it there, and just to get rid of excess humidity from the washer and dryer. The laundry room is not really a good place for a litter box because it is good practice to leave the washing machine door open when not in use to prevent mould. The cat may decide to use that space instead of the litter box.
Closet & Organization
- Put outlets in several closets.
- Make sure your closets have enough space for both double-hung rods, and singles to accommodate long clothes.
- Include a full-size broom cupboard in the pantry or laundry room to hide all the cleaning items away from sight. The closest might be vertically separated so that one side is for tall items, brooms and the like, and shelving on the other side for cleaning products and smaller items.
- Add more closet/linen space than you think you’ll need. Way more. I have yet to see a builder’s house that has anywhere enough space for bedding and towels.
- Include cubbies in the mudroom with an outlet in some of them.
- Add a motion sensor to pantry and closet lights and of course a light in every closet.