View Full Version : Building a house

Okie Boarder
01-03-2015, 01:55 PM
We're most likely going to build on a piece of property. I started the thread about living in the country, but thought a house build thread might be good. Seems like there may be one person in the middle of a build and at least one other planning it.

For our build, we're thinking country/rustic/farmhouse style blending, with an open floor plan and a moderate size/price. Some things being considered...

concrete floors

metal roof

jack & jill bath or teen suites

2 car garage, oversized with extra room to one side for workspace.

small concrete drive with gravel drive the remainder

large front porch and back patio

blend of electric and gas (propane) appliances

wood stove as primary heat source

tankless water heaters

electric heat pump

Thoughts and ideas or experience with any of these items?

michael hunter
01-03-2015, 04:37 PM
We have moved three times since 1976 we built 2 out of three . The best advice I can give you is to plan everything and stick to the plan and budget. As my brother said for every action there is a reaction, every change you make will cost you . We moved a basement wall to gain more space at the stairs it caused the dining room above the garage next to and the roof to all be reconfigured . That basement wall cost thousands in the end.
As for your list
1-Concrete floors are cold and limit the type of finished flooring can be applied
2-Metal roofs cost more but last longer it you like the look go with it.
3-J&J bath or suites I would go with suites always a plus to have a private bath .
4-2 Car garage go as big and as deep as you can 4 car with two 16 'x 8' doors would be my choice unless you are going to have an out building
5- Put in a large concrete apron at the garage door so you can wash cars and work on a flat surface you can always blacktop or concrete the drive later.
6-Front and back porches are great make sure they are covered so you can enjoy having the windows open even in the rain.
7-Check with your utility providers to see witch will be the most economical cost . If you have frequent power outages gas would be better.
8-Wood stove would be great with a gas backup.
9- tank less water heater more expensive to buy up front but will save in the long run.
10- heat pumps are only efficient to about 30 degrees below that they have electric heating elements that are expensive to run.

I would also add a walkout basement with a garage door if possible . I have my workshop and the wife's sewing shop in the basement we can both work all day without adding any heating or cooling costs.
Check into a outdoor wood burning boiler it has all the benefits of a wood burner without all the mess inside the house. Also check into Styrofoam and concrete construction very energy efficient sound and wind proof.

Okie Boarder
01-03-2015, 05:03 PM
Concrete floors would be the finished floor, with what we are planning. Thanks for all the other ideas and suggestions...we can get up to -10 or so, max, so think the heat pump might be fine.

01-03-2015, 07:55 PM
Heat pumps are only efficient down to around 40 degrees, I have two of them on my home now and I really dislike them as the air flow is cool to the touch compared to gas, good thing is we also have the dual fuel so can have gas heat as well.
Tankless water heaters are awesome if you have gas or propane but I would suggest to go with a larger one than you think is necessary as you will find they rate them by gallons per minute they can deliver and how many fixtures it will supply, electric tankless heaters tend to not have the water volume that you are used to with tank type water heaters.
We did heat strips in the bath room floors and is really nice in the winter.

Oh and the garage can never be big enough...lol

Good luck on your build...

Okie Boarder
01-04-2015, 10:13 AM
Some other thoughts/ideas...

j-bar or bar in the kitchen with upper (eating area) and lower counters; lower counter all butcher block

wood counter tops in bathrooms

LED lighting throughout

Some images that capture some of the ideas...

Gravel drive with some concrete in front of the garage


Concrete floors...



Wood bathroom counters


Okie Boarder
01-04-2015, 10:14 AM
Eating bar with butcher block


Farmhouse type of porch


Farmhouse/DIY type fixture ideas...


Okie Boarder
01-04-2015, 10:21 AM
So, one of the builders we're working with suggests the small electric units in multiple locations in the house...any experience with those?

Okie Boarder
01-04-2015, 10:27 AM
Wood stove with rock platform...


michael hunter
01-04-2015, 11:29 AM
If you are going with concrete floors why not incorporate the heating system in the floor ? There is nothing cleaner and more comfortable than hot water heat. only catch is you will need to also put in an air conditioning system.

Okie Boarder
01-04-2015, 12:20 PM
I wasn't planning to heat the floors, but it may be something to consider.

01-04-2015, 01:06 PM
It gets pretty dang cold here where we live. When we put down tile floor in the main part of the house, we had a heating element added ... it's very nice. The floor is still COOL, because this is just intended to keep the floor warm - not heat the room, but I have friends that have the hot-water radiant heat (pipes thru the floor) and they have some of the most comfortable homes I have ever spent time in.

But - as someone else pointed out, where you live - to have AC, you would still have to have the ducts put in a for the cool air. I would definitely check out the radiant
heat - especially if you plan to have the concrete flooring - which can just "feel cold".

I like your other ideas. Is this a retirement home? Do you really want stairs if you plan to grow old in this house?

Can you separate the master bedroom/bathroom from the other bedrooms so that you have your "own space"?

Where you planning to put laundry facilities? They should be on the floor where the most bedrooms are - you don't want
to cart laundry up/down stairs. We put in a second laundry room in the basement where 4 teenager girls lived who ALWAYS
complained about "nothing clean to wear" - gave them their own washer/dryer and said "I don't want to hear about clean clothes
again" ...

Just some things to think about.

Okie Boarder
01-04-2015, 04:12 PM
We're hoping this will be our empty nest / retirement home. The front elevation would be a little different since the one I posted is more on a raised foundation (crawl space) and it has a two story look or design to it. We'll go with a slab foundation and single story, so we can stay away from the stairs. We do intend to have a split plan to keep the master and the other rooms separate. We're hoping the laundry can be at the entry from the garage and we can make it large enough to be a laundry and mud room in the same area.

Thanks for the thoughts...all good stuff!

01-05-2015, 10:54 AM
I just bought 40 acres and want to build a new house in the next two years. I built the house we are in 7 years ago nice house on a acre lot.
here is what we plan on changing and what we feel is must haves or keeps.

1. We have a large laundry/Mud room off the garage but the bedroom are at the other end of the house. wife hates dragging laundry though the house. we are planning a laundry room by the bedrooms. add bathroom in the mud room so I do not have to run through the house to use it.

2. wife love to cook got to have a big kitchen. We have a good workable kitchen we got two sinks but according to the wife I put the garbage disposal in the wrong sink.

3. Love our walk out basement cheap addition space. (Plus taxes are cheaper our tax assessor does not pay much attention to finished basements) If you do a basement make sure the contractor uses the 9' tall forms instead of 8' forms. Makes it a lot nicer.

4. we went with a oversize three car garage (though 28' was deep enough but next one will be 32')

5. No 8' wide garage doors all atleast 10' if not 16' wide.

6. Wife love our central vacuum system (she bitched about it before we moved in). We have a lot of hardwood and tile floors. we only have one floor dust pan port (where you just sweep with the broom into). I would put one in any room with a hard surface floor (wood tile or concrete)

7. heat register into the garage that can be open and closed when need.

9. We have a heat pump set up with gas back up. I think this works good on our house. (but our next house I want to be in for a long time and there is a big lake behind it so I am thinking geo thermal system with lake loops.)

10. Insulate all bathroom walls for sound. (our floor plan master bath and the second bath next to the living room wall.) My wife filling up the 6' whirlpool tube drives me nuts when I am trying to watch TV.

11. We are not happy with our 6' sliding door to the deck seams to leak a lot of air if it is not locked. We plan on looking at these a lot closer.

12. We love our covered deck.

Okie Boarder
01-05-2015, 12:35 PM
Good thoughts, thanks.

01-06-2015, 01:08 PM
I had my house built in 2001. Go with as big of garage as you can. it's really inexpensive relative to adding storage later. I wish I had taller garage ceilings! (or a lower garage floor).

I had my whole house wired for Ethernet. And 2 home runs of coax for cable to all the rooms. I also put in a LOT of extra electrical. Quad outlets in the kitchen and bathrooms. More outlets in the garage. I put in electrical outlets under the eves for Christmas Lights.

I like canned lights in the bedroom, kitchen and family room. The ones in the bedroom and family room can be dimmed for movies. I have lighted switches for the stairway and garage. I have an auto switch that turns on and off my porch lights per a schedule.

I have a ceiling fan in the master and that's great. Gas fireplace in the family room. It would have been cool to have had a gas fireplace in the master bedroom.

Master bathroom has 2 sinks, walk in closet, and has an oversized shower with shower heads on both sides. My wife and I can take a shower at the same time if needed... It's cozy, but it's nice to not have to wait for her to finish to jump in. I put the shower heads at a level where we're not having to duck to get under them. The original plan had a single sink and a toilet room. We moved the toilet and used that space to make a huge L-shaped counter with 2 sinks. just bumped out a wall and took a little out of the bedroom entry for the toilet. Who needs a separate room for a toilet anyway? Good grief.

I have natural gas with A/C. Love it. I have a natural gas outlet on the back patio so I have my natural gas BBQ hooked up to a permanent supply--no propane tanks for me to refill ever!

I wish I would have done courtesy LED lights on the stairs.

We remodeled with quartz counters (better than granite) and an undermount composite sink. Love that. I wish we would have done less carpet and more hard surfaces.

I should have kicked out and got better door hardware. Mine is the base model stuff and ugly and it's always more expensive to upgrade than to do it right the first time.

We have our 3 bedrooms upstairs and also the laundry room is upstairs. It's awesome. The laundry room has a folding counter. When we entertain, there's really no reason for guests to have to go upstairs, so it keeps our privacy. Our master is huge relative to our overall house size and we love it.

We like the openness of how our kitchen, dining and family room flow into each other. I chose a floorplan that didn't have a separate dining room because it's wasted space for a degree of formality that we don't use.

We've really got a lot packed into 1,787 square feet. Sure I'd love a dedicated home theater room, but again, we pre-wired the master, guest bedroom (that used to be an office) and family room for 5.1 surround, so it works.

I did get the 3 car garage and don't regret it one bit. I have a garage door on the back side of the 3rd bay too, to give fantastic access to the back. I have a big pad of concrete that goes from the back slider to the back of the 3rd bay. It's nice. Oh, and a utility sink in the garage is a must. It would have been nice to have had one in the laundry room too, but we didn't end up doing that. In hindsight, we probably could have if we gave up a little of the folding counter landscape...

01-07-2015, 01:55 AM
I am a home builder by trade. First no how much money you plan on putting into the project. Decide what features in a home are most important to you and write them down. Start compiling a notebook of pictures from magazines or wherever of what you like. Pictures speak 1000 words when it comes time to get an estimate. Pick a house plan online it doesn't have to be your house plan just any house plan that may be close to what you're looking for. Contact no more than four builders that have good references in your area. It's best to stay away from family. Asked them for a quick quote approximate price per square foot. Have a meeting with each builder and discuss what you would like to achieve. What you're looking for is to find a builder that you can trust. You will be dealing with this man with your money for months. When you find a builder you like. Have him help you with the final building plans. You need to have a plan that not only fits your needs it also needs to fit the topography of the property. Once you get a quote that is in your budget do not make changes unless absolutely necessary if you do make sure to get a change order and a dollar amount. Changes especially in the early stages of construction have a way of getting very expensive. Remember you're building his house for you and your family, not your friends not your neighbors not your designer. Save your changes and your additions for the end of the project. Stay on budget.
:)Good luck

Okie Boarder
01-07-2015, 01:20 PM
I'm already considering the foam in the walls, but a subcontractor we work with for work told me about a friend that had the inside of the roof foamed, with no insulation in the ceiling. It was a retrofit job along with changing his ducting system from the floor (which was rotted out) to the attic. They foamed the underside of the roof, and removed the standard attic insulation. I'm not sure what they did as far as venting is concerned, but it sounded like it is working well. He mentioned that the attic temperature was in the 80 degree range on a 100 degree day, versus it being 120 on 100 degree day. Interesting thought and I could see how it might be a feasible idea.

Okie Boarder
01-07-2015, 01:30 PM

Good points and some of those items we are already doing. A couple items are definitely good advice we hadn't thought about. Right now we have two potential builders and may just choose between them. Since we are wanting to do land plus a house, in a rural area, it knocks out quite a few of the larger building companies in the area, since they just want to do developments. We have a friend that is an architect who we will work on the design with. We have a notebook started already with a handful of floor plans that each have certain elements we like and want. Our plan is to get a design we want, then discuss to figure out where it would fall budget wise. That's where we may have to change a few things so we can get the major design aspects that are most important, without going over our budget.

01-07-2015, 05:20 PM
Are you referring to structurally insulated panels or SIP panels. Our company has constructed over 50 of these homes. Sip construction is a fantastic way to build a home. The end product is kind of like living in a Styrofoam cooler. The finished product no one can tell it from the normal stick built construction. If it fits into your budget it's a fantastic way to go. There are about half a dozen sip panel companies to choose from. Some supply only the panels you cut them to fit. Others build the walls as a kit and construction goes very fast. My favorite company to use is intercept their located in Watertown South Dakota. Have your builder check them out. When you're thinking of going to a highly efficient home you need to weigh the cost against how long you're planning to live in this house. When it comes time to sell it you will not get your money back for the extra effort and money you spend on the insulation package. Appraisal companies do not take energy-efficient into account when supplying you with an appraisal on the second buyer. If you're going to live in the house long term comfort means a lot these houses really perform well. They're quiet strong and not drafty at all. Good luck stay on budget

01-07-2015, 05:28 PM
Foam is very effective. We don't have attic space but the builder used foam under the metal roof. He also used it behind the walls of our casita (apartment attached to the carport). I'm really surprised how little that 1 bed/1 bath w/kitchenette needs air or heat. The builder had foam sprayed everywhere he could.

Solar attic fans are also very effective but not very expensive.

Besides what was mentioned in the living in the country thread, another must have on our list was access to the laundry room from the master closet. We would have settled for a laundry shoot in the wall but the designer/builder managed to have full access from closet to laundry. There's also access from the hallway. Our previous house had the laundry access through the kitchen on the opposite end of the house from the bedrooms. Hated parading through the house with dirty clothes and back when clean.

Are there any solar rebates in your area? Our builder positioned the buildings so we could build that out in the future, no money for it now. Ever need a generator where you live?...we thought about pre-wiring the main electricity panel to allow for a generator to run the whole house (vs extension cords to the gennie) but decided we haven't needed one before so probably won't later.

Okie Boarder
01-08-2015, 12:20 PM
We have seen some plans with the laundry off the master closet...we like that idea and are hoping we can incorporate that into the design.

I think there are some solar rebates, as well as other "green" energy ideas. I think we will try to position ourselves to be able to do that in the future, as well. We do lose power here and there and a generator is something we're considering.

Okie Boarder
01-10-2015, 09:11 AM
Has anyone had experience with soapstone counters tops?

01-11-2015, 10:26 PM
Not with soapstone. My experience is with silestone, granite and my personal favorite.......Wood.
My house is completely off grid and the last house i built has solar. Check with your local electric company about tying into the grid. Our provider makes it so if the power goes out the solar doesn't turn on and cause a feedback that could possibly cause injury to the individual working on the line. It's all pretty stupid in my opinion, but something to check on.

01-16-2015, 12:56 PM
Hi guys,
During my travel in USA this summer, I really fall in love of your house building methods. They are big, I like the wood as main maetrial, they look great. Here in France, most of the houses are built solid in concrete cinderblocks, they are small, expensive, they look good but not as nice as wood construction.

Here is a link for my next house project. I love the easy construction, the perfect insulation, with no loss from floor/wall/top :


Okie Boarder
01-27-2015, 06:46 PM
After some discussion with the architect and starting the initial planning, we think we are going to settle in on something around 30' deep and 35' wide. We'll probably do 10-11' ceilings and 8-9' doors.

Some other thoughts that are floating around...

cedar siding (natural look) with brick or rock on bottom third.

actual reclaimed barn wood for baseboard and trim

8' tall solid wood (knotty alder, pine or similar) interior doors

walk in shower design with no door

01-29-2015, 04:11 PM
Shower with no door sounds good. You might add a 2nd shower head with separate controls if there's space for 2 people to be in it.

This is a suggestion we really like. Our bottom kitchen cabinets are all drawers...except under the sink. No squatting down and reaching into cabinets. The corners have swing out shelves too.

Okie Boarder
01-29-2015, 04:53 PM
Hmmm, interesting idea with the cabinets.

01-31-2015, 05:10 PM
Circuits to your bathroom vanities with photo eyes to the outside and run leds on the kick plates allowing the lights to come on when it's dark outside.

Okie Boarder
02-01-2015, 12:10 PM
That's an interesting idea....hmmm

Okie Boarder
02-01-2015, 12:11 PM
Another idea we think we're going to do is add a central "media" closet and run cat6 and coax to every room for future potential for A/V, security, and automation.

02-01-2015, 02:30 PM
Pre-wiring is a great idea although new technologies are removing much of the need. We had speaker locations pre-wired and ended up with Sonos wireless stereo equipment (love it but not cheap). No harm done and the cost of the wiring we're not using was minimal. With the closet though, you can hide most of the A/V equipment which is nice. Could also provide extra storage if you need it (wine, pantry over-flow, guns, etc).

Lots of exterior flood lights are also nice to have in the boonies.

Okie Boarder
02-01-2015, 03:16 PM
We plan to do at least 4 flood light sets on the corners of the house. We may do more depending on layout.

02-02-2015, 01:07 AM
Run multiple empty conduit from your main media location to your low voltage box. I also ran conduit from the box stubbed to the attic. I have already added 2 cat lines using the conduit. Make a yarn pompom and suck it through with a shop vac. Works great.

02-02-2015, 01:10 AM
Design your media center of enclosed to have excessive ventilation. Add a whole house surge protector to your main panel. I had my 60 inch plasma, the HDMI board on my receiver and plate amp in my sub blow due to a surge. I now have a whole house surge and individual out let protectors.

I did a while house renovation/addition to my house 4 years ago. Underestimated costs for me were dirt work, tile, tile prep material, trim, landscape. My budget was 120k and I add 900 square feet on top of a while house renovation. Pinterest would have been awesome during the prep.

Okie Boarder
02-02-2015, 10:31 AM
The conduit idea sounds intriguing and might be a smart move.

Okie Boarder
02-20-2015, 10:26 AM
Thanks all for the feedback and info. We've been working on a design with our architect for several weeks now and have it pretty nailed down. Hopefully, we'll be kicking this off soon. I'll probably do a thread to show the progress.

Okie Boarder
02-24-2015, 09:58 AM
For any of you using a wood stove, are you using room (house) air or did you set it up with the fresh air kit?

02-24-2015, 01:39 PM
House air. I don't recall the store where we bought even offering fresh air but I could be wrong.

Here's a somewhat long article de-bunking the principle: http://www.woodheat.org/the-outdoor-air-myth-exposed.html

Seems to be a much debated topic. Personally, I don't think houses are built so air-tight that using house air creates a problem. Our house is ICF and supposedly more air tight than a conventional build but we've had no problems getting the stove to run really hot and no noticeable drafts.

Disclaimer...this is only our first wood stove. (Vermont Castings Encore)