10 Cool Things to Include When Building Your New Home
If you’ve watched a lot of “house-hunting” programs on television, you must know that prospective buyers look for a number of features in the homes: usually an open floor design with clear sight lines, a huge kitchen that connects to the living/entertainment space, all-season, screened-in porch, plush ensuites, mudrooms, and all the cool smart home-techy stuff.
Not all of us have the luxury of building homes from the ground up. Usually, we renovate, remodel, and add details that we love to the home.
But what if we were building our dream homes from start to finish? This provides the unique opportunity to include cool features that we may otherwise never find in a home listed for sale.
If you are ready to build your new home now, it’s time to think seriously about all the “must-haves” and the “wouldn’t this be a cool one” on your list. Imagining is over. The action phase is on as you move to the planning stage of the features that will make your life at home convenient, comfortable, relaxing – and most of all, exciting.
Let’s look at what’s trending in new builds and what TPC clients have included in their home builds that have been big hits.
1. Mud Room with a Pet Washing Station
A pet lover’s dream! Now, you don’t have to get your favorite furry friend into the tub or outdoors to get lathered, cleaned up, and rinsed thoroughly. A washing station – in the mudroom/laundry room or the garage is the answer – and this can be included in a new build/custom home or a renovation.
A pet washing station is one of the convenient features in the laundry room of a modern 1.5-story Farmhouse style home with 3,674 square feet of fully conditioned living space. (Plan #161-1155)
2. Jetted Laundry Sink
Not every piece of laundry goes directly into the washing machine. Sometimes there are delicate pieces of clothing or items with hard stains that need to be soaked. This is where the laundry sink comes in. Wouldn’t it be practical to have a laundry sink “that uses air jets to the water so you can achieve a deep clean on delicates without damaging them?” All you have to do is pop your clothes into the sink and let the air jets do the work, like a hot tub for your clothes.
The sink in this laundry room of this fabulous 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath Ranch is the perfect place for a jetted laundry sink. With 2744 square feet of space and an optional 1869 finished basement (which adds an additional 2 bedrooms and 2 baths), this home provides room to grow. Plan #161-1126
3. Double Kitchen Islands/Dual Workstations
The kitchen remains the hub/heart of the home where families congregate, cook together, and celebrate. If your family loves to cook and entertain – and if two or more family members are cooking at the same time, having two kitchen islands/workstations is one of the most efficient and attractive ways to add workspace in the area. What can be better than a pair of islands or dual workstations equipped with cooktops, two sinks, extra cupboards, and garbage/recycling cans?
There is no crowding or bumping into each other while prepping or cooking meals for the whole family when family members work on the double island in the kitchen of this two-story, four-bedroom Mountain lodge home. Plan #205-1021
4. Under-Cabinet Outlets
Talk about a bright idea! Imagine countertops without cords, outlets, and switches. Lighting and power outlets installed directly under cabinets make the kitchen workspace brighter, neater, clutter-free, and focus on a unique backsplash pattern. Under-cabinet lighting also adds ambiance to the space, makes your kitchen seem larger, and provides a connection with smart-home devices for energy savings.
The under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen of this beautiful French Country home provides warmth while the under-cabinet outlets help provide a clutter-free space. This 2854 square foot home offers 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a screened-in porch, and a home office. Plan #142-1209
5. Garage/Grocery Pantry Doors
This is one of the most practical items you can add to your home provided, of course, that your pantry and garage share a wall. When you get home from the grocery store or one of the big warehouse stores, you still need to lug all of your goodies into and through the house to the kitchen. This is where you unpack everything and put it all away in the pantry. But what if you had a fire-safe pass-through from the garage directly into the pantry? You could literally unload your groceries so much faster and right into the pantry - no more carrying a 40 pack of water through the house! To give you an idea of how much space the door takes up in your garage and pantry, it's roughly about half the size of a full door.
As you can see from the floor plan of this beautiful 2454-square-foot Ranch, the 3-car garage and pantry share a wall which would be a perfect spot to install the grocery door! And when you're done unloading all of those groceries, you can relax on the porch of this three-bedroom, 2.5-bath home. Plan #142-1242
6. Skylights for Stargazing
Why not? You can install skylights in kitchens and Great Rooms to create brighter spaces, or in the bedroom for star gazing to help you fall asleep. You can certainly stargaze from the porch – but isn’t it better to be in the warmth of your bed, all covered up safe and sound? Wide skylights can be positioned in the bedroom for the best stargazing views. Since skylights allow a lot of natural light to filter into the space, they are energy-efficient, cost-effective, and relaxing additions to the home.
Imagine relaxing in the Rec Room of this 5164 square foot Luxury home. With multiple skylights, you can get comfortable on the couch, grab a blanket, and wait for nightfall so that you can look up at the sky and watch all the stars. This home features 5 bedrooms, 3 full baths, 2 half baths, and a 3-car garage. Plan #161-1003
7. Outdoor Outlets
Do you ever wonder how much trouble your neighbors have when they adorn their front yards, roofs, and porches with Christmas lights? All those extension cords are enough to give you a headache. The advantage of today’s new builds is the option to install plenty of easy-access outdoor outlets that can be connected to switches inside the home – or added to a smart home automation system that can be controlled from a smartphone. And goodbye to the tangled extension cords.
8. Energy-Efficient Design
Not just a hot trend in new homes, it is also a conscious effort to build an environmentally-friendly home – and down the road save money on utility bills. Think about high-performance windows, appliances that have a high Energy Star rating, LED lighting, a well-sealed building envelope, and ample insulation. More importantly, get your home solar-ready by preparing the roof for solar panels, the required wiring, and the electrical panel circuit breakers for a solar electric system.
(For more on Energy-Efficient Homes and Zero-Energy Homes, check this link)
An energy-efficient home can come in all styles like this 3-bedroom Country Ranch plan. The large windows of this 2,066 square foot home let in lots of natural light while the partial hip roof is perfect for installing solar panels. Plan #141-1322
9. Smart Home Technology
With the rapid advances in technology, more homeowners are embracing the conveniences of smart homes and the accessibility of smart home devices. There are many gadgets today that are specifically designed to assist in mundane and wearying tasks.
Such as smart refrigerators, smart stoves, coffee makers, etc. are practical as well as fun. You can “command” these appliances to perform tasks. For example, on your way home from work, the gym, or grocery, you can instruct your oven to preheat to get it ready for the dish you have on the menu.
These can be controlled remotely and allow you to adjust the temperature in the home to your specifications. Auto shut-off and energy-efficient operations add up to savings.
Such asAlexa, Google, and Siri make a smart home run efficiently. They can turn on the music, turn off the radio/TV, give you directions, set a timer, and perform many other home functions. Keep up with your friends – and take a step forward with this smart home feature.
Wireless technology has changed home security, too – via smart alarm systems. How many times have you forgotten to turn off the stove, the TV or lock the door before running out for the grocery or work? With a smart security system, you can customize, monitor, and manage security systems from your smartphones.
An advanced method to light the home conserves energy and saves on utility bills. One of the best options – Smart LED bulbs that contain software and can connect to an app, a digital assistant, or another smart accessory. The LED bulbs allow you to automate your lights or control them remotely and eliminate the need for conventional wall switches.
Perhaps one of the coolest features that you can have in the new home is an accent/statement wall. Designers have installed them behind headboards, on entryways, kitchen walls, and bathrooms. There are a wide variety of choices – from unique wallpaper designs to hand-painted walls and geometric tiles. Go with what you fancy and what makes you happy.
The accent wall of this master bedroom is not only a lovely shade of blue but the designer also added texture to really make the wall pop. This beautiful Craftsman home offers 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, a 3-car garage, and over 3,100 square feet of living space. Plan #161-1151
Ready for that custom build? Stick to a budget but let your imagination run wild in designing an exciting and comfortable forever home.
Footnote: The lead images in this article are four of our newest plans. They are: A beautiful 2,768 square foot Modern Farmhouse plan with 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, and a 3-car garage (Plan #212-1008), A fabulous 1,954 square foot French-style plan with Craftsman influences with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a 2-car garage (Plan #193-1242), A lovely 2,096 square foot Transitional plan with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a 2-car garage (Plan #204-1031), and a wonderful 2,066 square foot Country Ranch plan with 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, and a 2-car garage (Plan #141-1322).