As you know, we are going to be building our dream home. It’s also our retirement home. We are not, however, following the usual “guidelines” for a retirement home, mostly because it’s going to be bigger than any home we’ve ever lived in. Most people downsize. We’re going the other way. But as you look at the property, you can understand why. It’s a big piece of land, it’s actually more of a “compound” at this point since the buildings are so spread out. Most of our family and friends won’t be living nearby, and when people visit they’ll be staying over. And we wanted to prepare for that. We also like to have a yearly Bocce Party. And that includes many, many family members and friends. So, believe it or not, we also wanted to prepare for that. Plus on holidays we’ll have company that will stay over. There’s been a lot of planning, and designing, and changing of plans so far, and we haven’t even started on the house yet!
I saw an interesting article a while ago on freshome.com. Have you checked out their site yet? It’s an amazing site for anyone interested in building, designing or renovating. It talked about mistakes people make when building a house. We all spend a lot of time figuring out what we want and need, but do we look at it from the other angle? What we really don’t need? Of course budget usually leads the way, the money dictates not only the size of the house, but how upgraded it can be. So planning for what you need AND what you don’t need is very important. Here are some examples:
1. Don’t over build or under build your HVAC system.
You could wind up with moisture and mold growth! Also, if your system is too small it won’t perform properly and your house will be too cold in the winter, and too warm in the summer. On the other hand, if your system is too large, you will utilize too much energy and waste money when you don’t need to.
2. Poor Space Planning and Overall Planning
The design and space planning of a house is very, very important. You need to look at how you really live. We all need storage space, so you want to have enough, but you don’t want to build in so much that you take away floor space that could be better utilized as living space. Will you primarily come in the back door? Maybe that’s where the coat closets should be, instead of at the front door. Also, you need to take your lifestyle and habits into consideration. Will you need safety features as you’re getting older. Will you have grandchildren often in the house? Do you need safety features in place for that? How about stairs, bathrooms? Will you have guests often? Placement of bathrooms becomes very important when you think about it this way.
3. Poor lighting
There should be plenty of light fixtures and outlets. And also plenty of windows! Natural light should be the main source of light, but having a well-lit home, especially as we age, is also extremely important.
4. Under utilized rooms
Having a game room or a home-theater room sounds like a fun idea. But how often will you use it? If you are buying a home that has a game room or a theater room already - and we see these often on House Hunters on HGTV – that’s one thing. But when you are building a home, especially a retirement home, every square foot counts. And paying $150 to $200 a square foot brings you to the reality that these rooms would be used a few times a year and might not be worth what they cost. Now maybe for some of you, it will be worth it. But that’s what you have to decide ahead a time. I was thinking I’d want an exercise room in our new home. But the reality is with all the other spaces that I really wanted – a large pantry, a mudroom, a laundry room, an office for John and a separate one for me, and a craft room – the exercise room just became one room too many.
5. Placement of your Laundry Room, the Master Bedroom, the Kitchen and the Garage.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but in every house I’ve lived in these rooms were not strategically placed. I’ve never had a “real” laundry room, and I usually have had to carry laundry up and down several sets of stairs to the basement. I’m in a split-level right now, so it’s three sets of stairs!
Our bedroom – in the many homes we’ve lived in – has usually been upstairs like ours is right now. It is also just above the garage, so it is not only frequently noisy if the garage is opened, but it is
somewhat very cold. In our new home, of course, the master will be on the main floor, but we want to place it as far away from the noise and traffic as possible.
The kitchen/garage placement is extremely important. These days I’ve mostly seen it placed correctly, the kitchen is off the mudroom and/or off the garage. That’s how our new one will be. But yet, there have been places we’ve lived where the kitchen was not near the garage, and carrying groceries in was
not all that convenient a real pain.
These are just a few ideas to think about when you are planning to build your dream home. And while it’s very important to discuss all these issues with the professionals you hire as your “team” – it is more important for you to decide what YOU need and don’t need.