There are some features that all homeowners will agree make a house more functional and help its resale value. Here are some ideas you will want to consider if building a new home:

Ceiling Height

Minimum ceiling height should ideally be between nine and eleven feet, especially in a basement where piping and ductwork can dramatically lower the finished ceiling. It will cost more than the standard ceiling height of eight feet, but it will give the illusion of space and allow more freedom with the length of lighting fixtures and ceiling accents, such as tray ceilings or beams.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is essential to keep the cost of operating the home low: Monthly utilities can run as high as mortgage payments. Desired features include:

  • High-efficiency air conditioning.
  • Top-of-the-line insulation.
  • Double pane windows with Low-E glass.
  • Programmable thermostats.
  • Hot water on demand systems.
  • Air return systems.

Garage Size

A three-car garage is always beneficial for storage space: If there is no room to build one, try for an oversized two-car garage: 26 x 24 feet instead of 20 x 20 feet. This is key for storing lawn and garden equipment, snow removal equipment, kids’ outdoor toys, bikes, garbage, and recycling bins, and whatever other outdoor storage is needed. Once two cards are inside a typical size garage, there is little room for anything else.

Master Bath Plan and Design

A practical master bath should include two hand basins and a separate shower and tub, as this allows two people to function in the bathroom simultaneously. If space permits, a separate toilet also makes it easier for two to share a bathroom.

Walk in Closets Everywhere

If all the bedrooms could have walk-in closets, that would be a real asset, but since that is not always an option, the master bedroom should have a large one. The minimum size should be six feet by eight feet; again, to accommodate two people in there at the same time. A window in the closet is also beneficial for better lighting. A walk-in linen closet, walk-in pantry, walk-in front hall closet, and walk-in mudroom closet are also great to have.

Wired for Media

Having a house appropriately wired from the start is easier to do before the drywall goes up. Even the bathrooms should be wired for Internet, phone, satellite, cable, and surround sound. This is helpful if the function of a room is changed later on; for example, turning a bedroom into an office.

Window Size

Avoid tiny windows; they take away from the appeal of the exterior, and large windows allow more natural light and more daytime heating by sunlight, which is better for energy bills. You cannot change window size later on, so it is best to make the right choices at the building stage.

Interior and Exterior Lighting

It is crucial to understand lighting needs. In the kitchen, under-cabinet task lighting is important. Dimmer switches in all rooms, including bedrooms and bathrooms, are an added benefit. Proper outdoor lighting, including security and motion sensors, is also essential. It is important to think of the placement of wall sconces, pendant lights, chandeliers, recessed lights, and focal lights in advance of installing the electrical wiring.

Kitchen Islands

If the kitchen is large enough, an island is critical for additional storage and counter space. It is also an excellent spot to put a second sink, a dishwasher, a wine fridge, and casual seating.

Ceiling height, garage size, and master bath layout are just some of the key new home style design details that will keep a house practical and marketable for decades.


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