Saturday, April 28, 2012

Time to re-visit some ideas

We have been "home" for about 3 months now.  We are still disgustingly happy with our home.  There have been bumps along the way, but with some patience and time it comes together.

I really enjoy keeping up with the folks who are starting, looking to start, or in the middle of building.  I think we can all work to make the blogs about more then just the "look at my drywall" pics.  We have been posting ideas, thoughts, disappointments, misunderstandings, etc...  This is great.  When I first started this process, all I could mostly find was the "look at the cabinet" blogs.  We all have great ideas, some we acted on, some we didn't.  I think it's great if we can keep these alive for the next family to act on.

I want to re-visit a some of these as you would have to dig way back in my blog history to find these.  I will also add in some I have heard from others.

-Getting an island?  Add an outlet to both sided of it.  We got the standard one outlet and found a second one on the opposite side would be great for laptop charging cable, phone chargers, etc...
-Add a tube running from the attic to the basement.  I ran a 3/4" flexible smurf tube.  This allowed me to run an attic antenna to the basement.  My neighbors have a satellite dish on the roof with the coax strapped to the siding all the way down.  The tube would have saved them this.
-Running rear speakers?  I put in a low voltage electrical box in the family room on the TV wall with some smurf tube punching into the basement.  I put another on the opposite wall.  When I moved in, I just ran my speaker wire down to the basement, strapped it across and back up into the family room.  Perfect!
-TV over the fireplace?  Don't pay for Guardians pre-wire (it was quoted $500 for us).  Just run a PVC pipe from the side to where you want it above the fireplace.  When you install it, run a string and tape it off.  That way, after move in, you just tie the string off to the cables and pull.  Don't forget to get Ryan to put in an outlet.
-Hate stacking pots and pans?  check out the pull out shelves from Rev-a-Shelf.  We bought one from Lowes.  Easily the best damn thing in my kitchen.  I actually show it off to visitors.
-Under cabinet lighting?  Don't pay Ryan's obscene cost.  Just buy the puck kit for $30-ish and install yourself.  They come with a toggle switch you can opt to install.  Mount it behind the front edge of a cabinet and run them in line.  Then run the power cord up between two cabinets, drill a hole in the top of the one over the micro.  Cut the end off and hook up a 90degree plug.  Then just plug it in to the micro outlet and you're good to go.
Note-if you pay for a switched outlet to be put in a cabinet, you can have a wall switch and skip the toggle.
-Have a dog or plan to get one?  Put a 1" PVC pipe down below the driveway when they pour concrete.  I have one so that I can run a underground dog fence through it and not deal with a concrete saw.  Consider the size of pipe.  Running a sprinkler line through would work too.  Depending on your layout, running one under the walkway would be smart too.
-Mount a TV on the wall in a room?  Screw in some chunks of 2x6 between some studs.
-Second floor laundry?  Get the dryer exhaust vent put high enough to hook up AFTER you have pushed the dryer in place.  Trust me on this one.
-Second floor laundry part II, screw some chucks of 2x6 or 2x8 between the joists under the washer.  We have dealt with the "high speed shakes"and finally minimized it by removing the pedestal, adding anti-vibe feet and pushing pieces of those foam pool tubes between the washer and wall/dryer
-CONSIDER LIGHT SWITCH PLACEMENT.  I like the idea of the garage coach lights operated from front door.  Many have chosen to get the garage interior light switched INSIDE house.  Some even prefer the basement light switch at the top of the stairs.
-Hose bibs.  You get two at the plumbers discretion.  I advise you hammer your PM for specific locations desired.  I would also consider getting a third or fourth as well.  You have four sides of your house with grass all around.  Seems getting four hose bibs would have been brilliant.
-plan to put a laundry tub in the garage.  But one could have considered paying for the plumbing outlets and drain roughed in.
-I have heard of some getting a drain in the garage.  Seems like a good idea

I am drawing a blank.  I am sure I have more.  What do you have?  What have I missed?


  1. Super helpful. I'm new to this process but do have a few to add:

    - Overall, if you want something different than what RH is offering ASK. They are not custom-built houses, but non-standard changes do happen on things big and small. Sometimes RH says no and often it may cost you a few extra $$ but it does happen. (This goes for flooring and guardian too)
    - On the kitchen island, depending on your model, you may be able to move the island over and extend the countertop to give your family additional seating in the kitchen. Costs a little extra, but definitely something I wanted.
    - On the lighting, in addition to what the switches control - also think about furniture placement, etc. Don't let RH put a morning room switch in the middle of a wall where you may later want to put a large china cabinet.

    Looking forward to reading everyone else's ideas and tips too!

  2. I have a good one! Seriously consider the placement of your fireplace. If you put it on the back wall, it will jut out and take up patio space.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Good ones Sgt.Rich, WJ, and CMM!

    Sgt.Rich you left off your extra 2' concrete on either side of the driveway. I thought this was awesome!

    I was thinking last night that it might be good to have an open Wiki page for all the things people have thought of and that are spread out on all the blog posts. Wondered what you all thought about that?

    1. damn, you are right. That extra 2' of driveway on both sides is HUGE. That little extra is something my wife and I constantly remark on. It makes getting in and out of a vehicle without stepping in grass possible.

  5. A couple of goodies we threw in

    - 6" higher master closet shelf run to help make space for a 2nd lower course of shelving

    - 20' wide driveway

    - outlet in garage, inside of master closet (for ironing) & laundry room (we almost got just a single receptacle for the washer only, couldnt even put in a carbon detector if we hadnt spoken up)

    - watch the placement of your exterior outlets which are left up to the electricians, just like the hose bibs

    - ravenna builders we got an experts recommendation on how to install your own central vac after closing, its only mildly complex but completely doable for $1k if youre handy.

    1. I am interested in understanding more about the central vac install. Is that something you will post about on your blog?

    2. Ill put something together to make it clear Ill have to take a bunch of pics to have it make sense. First step will be the kitchen kick plate for us.


  7. Sounds like great advice...Thanks

  8. My fiance is an electrician and asked our PM about running a 2inch peice of PVC from basement to the attic so he could do future flood lights, soffit cans and soffit outlets.... Our PM pretty much said no way! How were you able to do all of this electrical work, was it when your home was completed?

  9. Adding a pipe (rigid or flexible) between the attic and basement is not new. A friend who built a Ryan home 6 years ago explained the idea to me. It seems it has everything to do with your specific PM. I don't know why they get their panties in a bunch except for one thing. A big goal for PM's is to pass code inspections. If you install a pipe but don't cap it, it's a code violation.
    So try explaining to him exactly what you want to do, how you will do it, talk about making sure you will ensure code is not violated, and then provide evidence that "all the kids are doing it".
    good luck

  10. Thanks for the summary list! All great ideas!

  11. All good suggestions.. and before I started the build process I read many blogs. I came away with the belief that we could get some minor changes done in the process to make it 'ours'. Unfortunately, our PM, whilst amazing, was straight by the book. We could not even get the toilet roll holders stopped from being installed since we did not want them.

    I work in networking and would have wired the entire house with data cabling for free but was not allowed. Had to pay someone a bucket load of money to run a cable.

    The end result is that every request was a no.. reading many blogs I see that some are able to get changes done and some get a no to everything. Probably the biggest disappointment was that we wanted to install a dog door in the wall.. seeing the area with no dryway, no siding and knowing I could fit this in 10 minutes and knowing I could not was disappointing. We have to wait for closing and then cut into the drywall and siding.

    I would urge anyone starting this process to ask the PM if any changes can be done.. if you are able to do anything yourself.. are you able to add a few more nails to the floor, can you pay to get proper topsoil added before the sod etc.. if the answer is a firm no way to anything, I would reconsider if building is worth it.

  12. All good information. I have been reading through your entire process and am learning some things. I don't know that I'll do a blog though. I have signed a contract and still finalizing things. i've kept good notes and hoping the PM will be amenable to doing some of these things on the side. The costs are mounting and I just don't want to raise it any higher.

    Thanks so much for an informative and useful blog