Creators Syndicate

Dear James: I am going to have a house built. There are so many items, products, details, etc. to keep track of that I am sure I will miss some. What is the best way to work with my builder to avoid problems? — Gary E.

Dear Gary: When you first sit down with your builder, it can seem overwhelming going through the details of what you want in each room of the house. There are literally hundred of small items that must be considered and selected to make the house your personal home.

If your builder is experienced, he/she should be able to advise you about the major items to consider and be able to present you with a list of choices. Like most people though, you probably already have seen things and design details in books or friend’s homes you would like to incorporate into your new home.

Your builder will be working from blueprints that will define the basic structure of your house. There should also be written specifications that describe materials and any special details you desire. Your builder should also include a completion schedule for the various stages of construction.

Even with the blueprints and written specifications, it would be a good idea to create a construction detail notebook with a section for each room of the house. This is something you should put together before the construction even begins and discuss it with your builder. A loose-leaf binder works well so pages can be added and removed easily.

Your notebook should include any photos or sketches of each wall detail, built-in shelving, wall hangings, etc. These things may not seem significant from a construction integrity standpoint, but they can often create problems in the final finishing stages. Leave your notebook at the building site for the subcontractors to look at as they work.

For example, you may choose a specific style and size of kitchen cabinets that you later find will interfere with some recessed lighting. You may want a large, heavy wall hanging in a certain location. If the carpenters know this, they can provide extra blocking lumber inside the wall to support the hanging.

Detailing the locations of a recessed item is critical during the early design phase. Without it, what invariably happens is you choose a location for a recessed fixture or shelves and there is an air return duct, electrical wiring or plumbing inside the wall. This can often be quite an expensive change to make when it is discovered.

While you are designing your home, here are several items you might want to discuss with your builder. Select wider doorways into bedrooms, the kitchen and the laundry room. This makes it easier to move large appliances and bedroom furniture into these rooms.

Consider using water pipes larger than standard plumbing codes require. This will not cost a significant amount more, but will reduce plumbing noises that can be annoying at night. If your area has a low-water-pressure situation, the large pipes can be beneficial.

Soundproofing considerations, which impact the actual wall design details, must be addressed before the construction begins. For the best soundproofing, consider using a staggered stud design or resilient channels under the drywall. These metal channels are slightly springy to block sound transmission between the rooms.

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