Custom home build must haves?


Getting the hang of it
Oct 15, 2016
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Wow, wish I knew half of this when we built our house 15 years ago. If I may also take liberty in going a little off topic but someone may come up with something of interest worth following up on.
There are some fantastic ideas here that I will investigate if we ever do another build or even have the roof replaced.
Ridge vents on roof do not work well, wish we had gone with the whirllybirds from years ago. Damn the asthetics.
2 runs of network cables to multiple spots.
Over the stove vent that vents to outside and not 6" above where the "vent" is located.
Not putting the clothes dryer in the middle of the house with a 25' exhaust vent, instead of locating on an outside wall.
Flooring in the attic.
Conduit to the outer edges of the property for future camera installs/future electric?
ADA compliant (or wider than standard) front and back doors. You'll appreciate it if a relative winds up in a wheelchair, and it makes getting furniture in and out easier.
Since we don't have natural gas lines, 30amp and 50amp generator hookups to the box. 50amp for a whole home, 30amp for a smaller portable if needed.
Each room on it's own circuit breaker. Not 3 outlets in this room, 1 in the hallway, and 1 light fixture on a circuit. I sure wish I had been more involved in the electrical planning of the house where things just made sense.
One thing that helped me the most, I took pictures during every stage of the build. A lot of pictures, of everything. I can't tell you how many times I've referred back to those pictures for network cable runs and camera placement, since I know what is behind soffits, siding, deck boards, and spaces you can't see now, but I know what was behind them as it was built.


Apr 8, 2020
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South Eastern MA
So how high tech do you want to go? Currently in the process of finishing up our house (started this process nearly 3 years ago now) and would be more than happy to answer any questions that you may have.

A lot has to do with where you are building and what the code requirements are. Some of the extras that we splurged on are as follows

-2x Cat 6 drops to every room / TV location.
-Our IT cabinet is in the basement. Ran Fiber up to the second floor to allow for secondary IT cabinet (vs running all the cat 6 down to the basement). Run a smurf tuber / conduit between basement and attic allows for us to run anything up that we need to.
-Depending on the size of the house, we did a electrical sub panel on the second floor which allows for easier expansion of electrical circuits if necessary (just hit the sub panel vs going all the way to the basement)
-Master on the first floor and nice wide doors (36"+). Wide enough for me to fit my rascal through when I am old and decrepit.
-Basement walls were poured to 9' tall. Standard is 7' 11" I believe. Was a a big cost adder but now my basement has 8' ceilings even with all the duct work running along and has plenty of room for finished space.
-Put steel beams in the basement to carry the span of the floor joists. Out of my entire basement (85' wide x 40' deep) I only have 4 steel posts and no lolly columns. This gave me a nice open area for the game room to go into.
-Depending on location I would recommend 2x6 construction. I know in New England everything wants to be 2x6 (if not deeper) for efficiency and energy consumption. I would have went 2x8 in the walls if I had a bit more money.
-If you are doing trusts for the roof I would go at least 2x6 construction to eliminate the possibility flexing / sagging. I went the tradition roof rafter root so I could have the open space in the attic. I went the 2x12 rafters to allow for the entire cavity to be able to be filled with the spray foam insulation for an R-55 rating (don't hold me to the rating as I can't remember the final value).
-Do NOT use the zip system for walls. Have heard horror stories on water seeping in through nail / screw holes. Could avoid that by wrapping the house but at that point just use normal plywood and save the money.
-Spray foam is good in moderation. We had the ceilings done, as we needed that to be able to get the R value in the cathedral ceilings and continued along the roof line above the attic that way the air handler for upstairs was enclosed in the thermal envelope of the house
-Spray foaming the entire house is not worth the cost not to mention you will run up with breathability issues of the house. A house that cannot breath is a breeding ground for mold and other air quality issues. The guys did my walls in open cell spray foam for the same price as the traditional fiberglass batt (because we had so many double studs it would have been to much time for them to put fiberglass in and they were already coming to do the foam) so I just rolled with it. As a result now though I am probably going to have to install an HRU that is constantly cycling in fresh air into my house.
- If you want to do smart home integration look at a Control4 system. Based on my research this is the most user friendly option out there. Trick is though you need a good rep to work with you that wont nickle and dime you for every little thing you need done (as an end user you need to go through the dealer for everything) My dealer is putting the stuff in but allowing me to do the programming myself and will be there as a backup if anything goes really wrong.
-Switch the exterior outlets on and off. That way christmas lights or anything else you would have setup would be able to be controlled from inside the house.
-Windows were the cheapest from Home Depot. We special ordered Anderson 400 series windows but were about 10k cheaper than the lumber yard that provided all the lumber for the house.
-Speaking of lumber yards, find a good one that has a good rep. I could text my rep and would have the material on the ground waiting for me the next day.
-Take a look at the work of any contractor you hire (especially the siding and trim guys). Any good siding company will have a crew that does the exterior trim only and another that will do the siding itself. Especially if you decide to go Azek trim or anything like it. Dont be afraid to put the aluminum trim on the facias up high to save money as you wont tell if it is Azek or not from the ground.
- Wide stair cases are really nice (we went 42" wide)
-We put a laundry room upstairs with the upstairs bedrooms so when the kids are old enough they can do their own laundry, not to mention I dont want to drag laundry up and down stairs.
-Garage go at minimum 9' Wide doors x 9' Tall. I have an 8' door and ended up clipping it with the roll over bar on my tractor as it was stuck lower, so now I have to replace that panel. Garage width I would go at least 26' wide (wider if you can). 26' Depth is a good number as it allows for a work bench behind the vehicles you put in the garage.

In the end it is thinking about everything that you want to do (or may want to do in the future) and trying to get as much of it in place. I would recommend finding a house with good bones and renovating before building new (this process has taken years off my life) as it is the most stressful and miserable project I have undertaken (and I work as an engineer with multi million dollar projects). I would also recommend waiting to start until probably the summer or fall of next year. Material pricing is absolutely outrageous right now (4x4x16 PT lumber right now is almost $80 a piece). I have a 30 x 22 out building I want to build but will be waiting for the material pricing to drop back down.

Good luck with the build and if you have any questions feel free to reach out. More than happy to go over what I just went through.


Pulling my weight
Sep 16, 2014
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Go with a bigger electrical panel than standard. Pain in the ass to deal with not enough spaces later.

240 60 AMP in garage for future EV station. I did this but only put in a 50 amp breaker, but the wire is 60 capable.

I'd even consider another 240 30 amp for garage heater, etc or a second EV station

generator hookup

Consider for garage door opener a side-winding one. But if you do that the plug needs to be near your garage door, not center ceiling.

Get a huge garage. Get a three car, or a 3.5 or a 4 or whatever, you can't have too much and the extra cost up front is pretty small--similar in fact to a similarly sized shed, yet with all the benefits of it being a garage. If you cannot go more than a 2 car extend it as much as you can, you'll never regret it. If house is block wall, don't cheap out and get minimum height. Your wife will want to dump money on the pretty stuff like counters and flooring but you can't put another garage bay in easily later.
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Getting comfortable
Apr 9, 2019
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other - Fla. and other areas are now limiting the tightness of construction of homes. That means, if your home does not breath (exchange fresh air) to a certain value, you must add fresh air from the outside.
You can duct that fresh air into your cooling system. This keeps the staleness, maybe some stagnant gases out of your home, and ensures an exchange from the outside.

- propane gas is the alternative to natural gas, tanks can be buried in the ground, providing fuel for a lot of appliances, heat and pool/spa heat, and emergency power generation.

- be wary of installing homers depot products into the construction of your home, you can get good prices by shopping the trades suppliers, and getting much better products.
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Old Timer

Getting comfortable
Jul 20, 2018
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I'm ok
- propane gas is the alternative to natural gas, tanks can be buried in the ground, providing fuel for a lot of appliances, heat and pool/spa heat, and emergency power generation.
Propane is a lot cheaper then electric! and you use your fireplace even when the power it off. Keep your house from freezing up.
We lost power for 6 days in a row so far this year. Ran fireplace and kept the house at 72 deg. Used a generator to keep living. Well worth the generator hookup and the propane fireplace!!


Known around here
Jul 18, 2016
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Propane is a lot cheaper then electric!
Not everywhere. With my propane and electric prices, propane is barely cheaper than electrical resistance heat, and heating with the heat pump is significantly cheaper than with propane. We have a propane insert and heat pump, and use the propane as the main heating source, even though more expensive, mainly because my wife doesn't like the air blowing out of the floor vents. The other reason for the propane insert is heat when the grid is down. We can survive even in winter off the propane insert and PV electric or small generator. Plus, the PV system is an almost whole-house UPS, keeping the cameras running when the grid is down.

Well worth the generator hookup and the propane fireplace!!
Totally agree!