Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Building for Dummies" Part Deux

One of my best buddies is out there maneuvering through the house planning pre-building stage right now. In some ways I envy her fresh start. But in other ways, I'm not so sure when I would choose to do this all again. In her honor and anyone else who's interested, here are a few more tips we picked up along the way.

1. Don't be too worried about matching wood stains. Seriously, don't do it. When we started out, I was really concerned about doing exactly this. The floors had to be the same color as the cabinets which were to be the same color as the windows, etc...all through different if. As soon as I let go of my obsession, it became apparent that slightly different wood tones actually added character and depth. Oh and by the way, white baseboards do work with dark wood doors.

2. Consider automatic lights in your closets. This is the best. It costs about $50 per closet and it makes a huge difference. Open up those doors and everything is well lit for your browsing pleasure. (If you can do it, try out-swing closet doors...we love them compared to sliders or bi-folds). And the same automatic light is worth considering in your garage as well. You'll be thankful when you've got your hands full of dirty building materials.

3. Get an "All Off" button. If you plan for any type of lighting control system, an "All Off" button at your beside is perfection. (Except when you forget that you have guests and you shut the house down on them...not that we would have done this...multiple times!) We also have a security button at our bedside for those scary evenings when Mr. Big isn't home. The only time that I used this, I later came to find out that these strange noises were coming from a random land crab scratching around in our second story gutter. I'm sure that the outdoor and indoor flashing lights kept me from his harm. :)

4. Don't forget your security system. It's simplest to meet with a security company to design your system as you are building, rather than retrofitting later. It may feel like one-thing-too-many at the planning stage, but you'll be pleased later.

5. Be picky about your grout color. Picking wall/floor/shower/whatever tiles is so exciting. If you're like me, you'll have visions about what it will look like finished. They put down most everything in our house in a light grey "bleh" color before we realized that grout comes in about eighteen hundred different colors. The areas where we matched the grout to the tile certainly seem more finished.

6. Visit your construction site regularly. We spent hours, days, what feels like a lifetime designing our house. And the actual guy reading the plans spent about two milliseconds interpreting our dreams. Things will inevitably get misinterpreted...and it's simplest to correct mistakes quickly. In the first 4 months, we probably visited 2-3 times a week. After that, we were on site daily. (Oh and on that note, be careful about giving your all your phone # to your contractor...I got pulled out of a few pretty important meetings only to deal with the placement of doorstops. Wow.)

7. Order your windows the day you break ground (or before). This was our major delay and it was painful to see the house s-i-t without any activity while we waited for windows. Unfortunately, our future neighbors across the canal are facing the same dilemma (and yes, they are using the same manufacturer). Not a lot can happen inside until those windows get in...and who are we kidding...the inside is where it's all at!

So how are those thoughts? Useful? Unimaginative? Basic? Are there other areas that would be helpful? We'll get some more thoughts posted, but honestly, you may not want to learn our lessons. :)

Miss you Mrs. E!


Todd said...

Great advice! Especially ordering windows. We always order windows, doors and major plumbing components the day we pull a building permit. Most of these items take 6 to 8 weeks and sometimes much longer. Without these critical items your schedule can come to a complete stop!!

Jenny said...

Hi Todd. You're so right about the plumbing equipment as well. I forgot about that! Thanks for the visit!

Corey said...

Good call about matching wood stains. Nothing worse than things that are close to matching, but don't quite get there.

I had this issue with bar stool matching my cabinets. The samples looked matching, but when the chairs arrived they didn't match. *sigh*

Heidi said...

Thank you Jenny. Your advice is SO helpful. Is it ok if we take a few days break during framing to come down and see you and Andy, and your beautiful house, which I'm sure will inspire some change orders?!