10 Mistakes to Avoid When Building a New Home
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10 Mistakes to Avoid When Building a New Home

You’re going to build your dream home and you’ve thought it all through – or so you’ve thought. You know exactly what you need and want to have in your home, but have you thought about what you don’t want and what you don’t need? Have you really thought the whole thing through? You have given much thought and consideration to what will work for you, but have you taken the time to think about what won’t work?

Poor planning and budgets that are too small can lead way to some wayward, inconvenient and disastrous mistakes. When you plan on building a new home, you must look at the home from many angles. You must consider your current and future lifestyles. You need to take family planning into consideration – Will your family be expanding? Or will your children be leaving the nest?  Do you entertain often and host overnight guests regularly? Take your time and do your research both online and in person. Be sure to take the time to meet with professionals in the industry. Poor design choices can make your home not only uncomfortable, but downright unhealthy. Architects, engineers and builders are all trained to help you make effective decisions. They will help guide you as to where you can save a few dollars and where you absolutely should not cut corners. If you aren’t building but are selling your home, look at these Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling your Home.

1. Pay attention to your HVAC system.

Poor planning here can lead to issues with moisture and terrible mold growth. This can lend itself to great health concerns. Furthermore, careful attention should be given to the size of your units. Models that are too small will be underperforming and won’t cool and heat your home efficiently. You’ll come to regret this when your home is too cool in the wintertime and not cool enough during the hot summer months. Conversely those that are too large will utilize too much energy.

2. Poor Space Planning

Unless you have plans to build a very large home, space planning and design is crucial. Ample storage is necessary, but pay attention to where you place your storage space. Does the master bedroom really need an oversized walk-in closet when the space could potentially be added to your bedroom or master bath? Pay attention to where you place your closets. There should be one in each bedroom and in a main hallway. But too many and the storage space takes away from the living space. Do you want a closet in the foyer? If you live in a cooler climate where coats are worn at least half of the year, this would be wise, especially if you entertain in your home and the front entrance is the main point of entry. If you have no use for a coat closet, don’t build one. Do you plan on adding a mudroom? If so there should be a closet there or space enough to add cubbies or some other similar storage area. If you clearly need more space, consider buying a larger home. First, see our 10 Things Nobody Tells you About Buying a Home.

3. Poor overall planning

When designing your own home you should take your lifestyle and habits into consideration. How long do you plan on staying in this home? Will you need to accommodate safety features for new or young children? Or might you need to think of your needs later in life as you reach retirement age and beyond? Think ahead, long term, to see where you will be and what you will need from your home.

4. Poorly lit homes

Light fixtures and outlets should be plentiful. As should windows. Windows should be present in every room and as large as possible. Natural light, when possible, should be the main source of light. Think about adding skylights as well.

5. Under-utilized rooms

The addition of a playroom, game room or multipurpose room sounds enticing, but only plan to build a room that will actually get used. What good is a wasted home gym where the treadmill is used to hold clothes from last season? Often an unused room becomes a dumping ground to place those things that never get used. If you plan on adding a spare room, make sure that it is a room that can transition well from one type to the next. A sewing room may never get used, but a sewing room or office that also doubles as a guest room could indeed get used often.

6. Placement of the laundry room

This is a very personal decision. I’ve had laundry rooms in the basement, and off the mud room far away from all the bedrooms. Neither were ideal. Placement of the laundry room, or washer and dryer, should be relatively close to the bedrooms. I love an upstairs laundry room but many do not.

7. Placement of the bedroom

The bedroom needs to be as far away from the noise and traffic as possible. The master bedroom should not be near or above the garage if members of your family are likely to be coming and going while you are asleep or resting. It would be advisable to keep the master bedroom away from the central living areas as well. If your home is to be on one level, the master bedroom should ideally be at the far end of the house, the end furthest away from the garage. The master bedroom, ideally, should not share a wall with the central living area.

8. Placement of the kitchen.

I had two homes where the kitchen was nowhere near the main point of entry. When it came time to bring in groceries, one had to walk through the house in order to deposit the groceries into the kitchen. I absolutely hated its location. The kitchen should be placed, preferably, near a garage or back entrance, as well as near the dining and living areas. The kitchen tends to get a lot of through traffic and it would therefore be best to divert the foot traffic from constantly traipsing through the main living areas. For more kitchen mistakes to avoid see our Top 10 Mistakes you Don’t Want to Make in your Kitchen Design.

9. Placement of the garage

It is preferable to the garage on the main level, near a mud room and kitchen. My garage often feels like Grand Central Station with people constantly coming and going and coming into the house with dirty sports attire, heavy backpacks, bags of groceries, and other large objects. I prefer the dirt and chaos to be limited to the kitchen and mudroom areas.

10. Letting someone tell you what YOU need!

You best know your family and your family’s lifestyle and needs. Professionals can make suggestions but they cannot tell you what you do and don’t need. You and only you know what is best for you and your family. What have I not touched upon that is important to you in the overall design of your home?

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2 comments

  • I agree with all of this! However with #10 I feel like you’re shutting down getting a professional opinion.

    Getting a professional opinion about your home is important, it’s not really telling you what to do but it’s them advising you, their years of experience really should be taken into account here!

  • These are all great tips, but #1 was especially interesting to me! I didn’t realize that poor planning with HVAC could lead to moisture and mold! Thank you for the great information!