Wednesday, February 20, 2013

It's that time of year to review hints and tips when building

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 sides 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 microwave 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.
Update-dog fence installers can just as easily use a concrete saw and caulk at a joint.  But if I ever run a water line....the pipe is there for me. 
-Mount a TV on the wall in a room?  Screw in some chunks of 2x6 between some studs pre-drywall.  Makes screwing brackets in a breeze not having to find a stud.
-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.
NOTE: I don't know if this will help or not, but it can't hurt can it?
-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
-HUGE TIP....Work a deal with the concrete guys to push the width of the driveway to the edges of the garage (approx. and additional 2' on each side).  We paid $300 on the side to the concrete guys to do this.  I cannot explain how great that additional 2' on each side is.  

more ideas added from comments in the past.
 - 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.
- 6" higher master closet shelf run to help make space for a 2nd lower course of shelving 

If you have more, add them in comments.

Good luck and remember two things:
1. It never hurts to ask
2. Persistence wears down resistance.


  1. Good ideas! I did ask about the joists in the laundry but I couldnt get the extra outlet on the island. :-( I got a few switches changed out and extra outlets thrown in the garage though.
    I disnt think to ask about hose bibs! I hope its not too late!
    Great infor though! Thanks so much for the summary updates. Any others you can think of are greatly appreciated! Joiful17.blogspot

  2. Another thought,
    seriously consider adding recessed lighting to any room you cannot access from above. By this I mean, I can relatively easily get recessed lighting added to my Master Bedroom because I have access to the attic. BUT, if you did not get recessed lights in the Family Room, Living room, etc... you are stuck. Go buy a lamp and be learn to be happy with it.
    We had 4 can lights added to the family room as well as the can light package for the kitchen. I am truly glad we did as the family room would be dark otherwise. One ceiling fan light is not enough for larger rooms.

    1. I wish I would have thought of that. We go to drywall tmrw and the electrical is already finished. I would definitely have atleast put them by the fireplace.

    2. don't be afraid to ask. The purpose of "pre-drywall" is to make any needed changes BEFORE drywall goes up. Running four can lights and a switch shouldn't take more then a few hours. Say please a lot, and promise great survey scores. PM's respond to that.

  3. We are looking and considering going with Ryan Homes, did you by chance use a VA Loan? And if you did, did you have any issues with that.

    1. We did use VA through NVR. We had no problems. Keep in mind though, this was our second attempt with Ryan, the first dying off because NVR seemed to have their head up their arse. So the second time around (about a year later), I went in with the warning if they screw with me, I'm out....again. So we got a lady who aimed to please.

    2. We just did a VA loan and it was painless with the exception of NVR adding in a two week cushion for the appraisal. The appraiser did his thing on time, but NVR wouldn't change our closing date. NVR settlement services ended up hooking us up with closing two days sooner, but we could have closed much sooner if NVR mortgage had tried harder.

  4. For your dining room, if you get the tray ceiling and want the lighting package do this instead. Just add a switched outlet instead and buy some led rope lights (~$15 per set, may need 2) at a big box store. It'll save you a few hundred dollars.

  5. Be wary of adding speakers in the ceiling. We added speakers in the ceiling in the Family Room. While they sound great, our Family Room is located directly below our Master Bedroom. The sound from those speakers can clearly be heard in our bedroom. Also, we went with the Guardian package for pre-wire over the fireplace. I never paid attention to how many HDMI cables that came with the standard package. When I went to mount my TV, I realized that they only included one HDMI cable. For what they charged for that feature, multiple HDMI cables should be included. When I looked back at their price list, I could not believe the price for additional HDMI cables! But another thing to consider is the viewing angle for a TV over the fireplace. The angle is a bit steep as compared to mounting your tv against a flat wall. A couple of our neighbors mounted their tvs against a flat wall, and the angle is much better for viewing vs. over the fireplace.

    I also considered adding an extra outlet to the island, but 6 months into it it's not something I regret not doing.

    1. I agree with the Guardian thing, and over the fireplace, what a rip off!! There must be 8 wires, and you get to use ONE.

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  7. Great comments. Sgt. Rich would you please send me a message from my profile? I am also from Cincinnati and would love to hear any suggestions you have about lessons learned in your building process. I am in the beginning stages of having my home built and am trying in vain to make this a mistake free no regrets experience. I also have a blog an would appreciate any comments should that be easier.

  8. RE: HUGE TIP....Work a deal with the concrete guys to push the width of the driveway to the edges of the garage (approx. and additional 2' on each side). We paid $300 on the side to the concrete guys to do this. I cannot explain how great that additional 2' on each side is.

    My PM said; "The extra concrete you will have to do after you close. My plot plan is drawn up for a 16 foot driveway and that what it is permitted for. Also our vendors are not permitted to get paid or do any additional work that is not on the contract to build your home."

    How do you get around that? Not looking good.

  9. Sgt. Rich Ryan homes response...

    Good news. Just got approval to adjust the driveway. Price to widen the drive to 20’would be $1,150. Let us know and we can generate the change order and send it to you to sign.

    Any advice?

    1. also,
      you can email directly at if you have specific questions or looking for quicker answers.

  10. J-
    While it sucks your PM won't "play ball", at least they are giving you the option. I would take it. $1,150 on a 30 year mortgage is approx. $5 a month. I would gladly pay an additional $5 a month for the extra 4'. As a side note, contacting the concrete company and finding out how much they would do it AFTER you move in might give you a better understanding of the deal overall.

  11. Thanks I added your email in there...although the Sales Rep is starting to get kinda pissy about the requests since I should have known exactly what I wanted before the pre construction meeting.

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  13. My husband and I just bought a new home. We just finished up our design center process, although our builder isn't Ryan your tips will come in handy over the next few weeks !

    Thanks so much !

    1. Good luck.
      I would like to think a good tip is a good tip regardless of who and how you build a house.

  14. Just wanted to let you know we took advantage of several of your tips! Thank you so much for compiling!