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Building your own home - what do you wish you'd done differently?

(51 Posts)
ShyGirlie Sun 04-May-14 12:35:08

I'm currently in the very beginning stages of thinking about building my own home. Looking for good ideas, and tips or advice on things you wish you'd done differently.

Also, even if you didn't build, just tell me what you like or what you wish you could change about the house you bought!

No suggestion too silly or too small. I really don't know anything about planning a house and I'm just looking for mistakes to avoid and good ideas to include!

Thanks all thanks

ShyGirlie Sun 04-May-14 12:40:06

Just incase anyone's wondering, it's a 4 bedroom house I'm thinking of - either a storey and a half or two storey. Still welcome all advice though! Have got a site and planning permission should hopefully be ok.

magimedi Sun 04-May-14 13:27:12

If I was building my own home I would pay careful attention to a heating system. I'd love one that took into account the outside temperature & could 'zone' various areas of the house.

I would have a decent sized hallway if I could. Ours is long & narrow & I'd love to have a bit more room there when people come in.

A utility room is a 'must' for me.

I wouldn't go for all open plan. Nice for kitchen/diner, but I think it's lovely to have a separate sitting room that you can (hoopefully) keep looking reasonably nice for use more in the evenings.

I would also consider the garden very early on & get any trees & shrubs in asap - make sure the builders do not leave the garden area covered in rubble & very compacted. Get them to take of the top soil & pile it somewhere whilst the major work is going on.

I'd also consider asking Kevin round - I think he's gorgeous. grin

Purplehonesty Sun 04-May-14 14:14:24

Oh where to start...get a single company in to do everything. I managed mine and used seperate trades and it took forever and cost a fortune. Ours was a conversion and I got ripped off by most tradesmen i think!!

I would also have:
Installed underfloor heating and not rads
Had a back boiler on my fire to heat water as I have it on loads and it would have saved energy
Spent more money on a wood pellet boiler rather than oil as oil is so damned expensive
Had a bigger utility room as I'm always tripping over the dog beds to get out the door. Problem will be solved soon I fear as dog is 14...
Not used ikea for the kitchen as it arrived in about one million pieces in 4 deliveries and confused us all for about three weeks. Looks very nice tho!
Not had oak worktops are they are all stained and watermarked after 2 years. Very homely looking tho!
Budgeted more for the garden as it took ages to make it look decent. Would have been nice to have it 'done' professionally.
Had a normal staircase not oak and saved money. It's only a staircase!

Hmm I think that's it. Ours is a 4 bed barn conversion with open plan kitchen/lounge and high ceilings. I love it despite all I just said.
Oh and double your budget too! Maybe not so relevant for new build tho.
Hope it works out and you get everything you want

LondonGirl83 Sun 04-May-14 17:02:33

Think about storage carefully. A large utility room and dedicated linen cupboard, wide hallways, dual aspect windows are all things I'd change about my house but mine was a refurb not ground up build.

A games room would also be in my dream home somewhere smile

Sleepwhenidie Sun 04-May-14 17:09:55

If I went back and did our big renovation again the only things I would do differently would be

- follow the builders around with a spirit level making sure all floors and walls were completely flat, by the time we realised bits if our weren't (laying tes and splashbacks) it was too late and the bits which are uneven still bug the hell out of me. Nothing anyone visiting would notice but a major thing to put right afterwards.

- don't neglect outside planning, lighting etc, so much focus was put on the inside - if people run out of budget/time this is often left til last so make sure electrician at least leaves wiring for lights etc so it can easily be done afterwards if necessary.

- if possible use one firm to manage the build, otherwise there will inevitably be snagging at the end where one contractor shrugs their shoulders and points the finger of blame at another-you want the buck to stop in one place, no argument possible.

JingletsJangletsYellowBanglets Mon 05-May-14 12:23:06

Wide hallways. We have the narrowest of hallways in the UK. It makes the house feel much more spacious and you don't miss that meter as much as you think in your sitting / dining rooms.

Parietal Mon 05-May-14 12:53:41

oh, very exciting

i'd have electrical sockets in every wall of the bedrooms (our house has them all next to the door - no use). And definitely a separate hall with a big cupboard, and a utility room. we are all open-plan which I love, but I'm going to separate off the hall so I don't see the buggies / boots / mess from the rest of the room.

and good integration between the house & garden makes a big difference - big sliding doors or similar are really worth it.

ShyGirlie Mon 05-May-14 13:08:58

Great ideas so far, exactly what I was looking for. Thanks! Keep them coming!

Lioninthesun Mon 05-May-14 15:16:48

Just completed mine and am really pleased with it - large wide hallway, underfloor heating downstairs with zones, boot/utility room with space for 3 or 4 buggies and a low sink for muddy boots, downstairs loo and 'L' shaped open plan kitchen/living area with woodburner. Large patio area for DD to trike/bike on table and chairs, large porch for anything muddy, large cupboard under stairs, boiler and underfloor heating controls in double cupboard in d.stairs loo, built in window seat and cupboards/desk built in, two double french doors and skylights so very light and airy even on grey days, large kitchen with dining area and enough room for DD's toys and toy table to be separate from sofa/tv area. Upstairs is a bit boring as just a bathroom, 4 bedrooms and en-suite plus walk in wardrobe of my master room. I am really really chuffed with it! It took 2 years (with planning perms) and a lot of hard work project managing it but it is mine, ALL MINE!

Make sure you have space for boiler as my architect didn't think of these things at all. Builders laughed at the amount of storage I asked them to build in, but it is perfect for us. Think of where you want water in/out as you won't want pipes all over the place. Placement of outside tap is useful to consider as you will probably need a water but and composter to get it up to code.
Only issue the painter said was that if I wanted to switch all of the lights over to LED it would cost £500! so I carry on with halogens from Poundland grin

Keep some budget for a good cooker/appliances - people really comment on my Rangemaster and I use it daily so well worth the extra for the homely feel. I scrimped on the fridge/freezer though and wish I'd spent an extra £200 as I can't do as much budget food shopping due to lack of drawer space.

If I think of any more I will re-post.

ShyGirlie Mon 05-May-14 15:30:13

Sounds amazing lion! That's brilliant getting it done in 2 years, that's the sort of time frame I'm hoping for. Outline planning permission just being sent off at the mo. Will be managing it myself and bringing in trades people instead of hiring large contractor. Enjoy your new home! smile

Salazar Mon 05-May-14 15:45:53

The window in my daughters bedroom isn't big enough. It's always a little bit dark in there which frustrates me no end because it was such an easy mistake to correct sad

Lazybones12 Mon 05-May-14 16:02:03

Put in a Hoover system
Second the back boiler and underfloor heating
Had 2 open fires and changed to stoves - love them great heat
Pay big attention to your heating system. Zoning a good plan
Outside also important... You don't want a lovely house covered in dust daily because of outside
Ensuites.... I'd have them in every bedroom if I could
Sink in utility room
Room for play room if you have kids or plan too

Lioninthesun Mon 05-May-14 16:05:13

Be very careful if you are separating the trades as said previously - even under one roof we had slight delays for electrician and plumber which was frustrating but the firm was being paid in instalments so not worth their while to stall which helped. If you can reconsider that I would! You need people who have worked together ideally as one will say the other will want something completely different - builder won't consider plumbing who won't consider electrics and all will do what they can for an easy life!

rabbitrisen Mon 05-May-14 16:06:12

Wouldnt do anything differently actually.
We did out in an extra small window at the end and glad we did. We like light.
And we, well me, bore in mind the years of cleaning the place. So, just about my first question at every stage was, how easy is it to clean grin

To the person upthread who mentioned a wood stove.
I dont know, and dont have the answer, but I wouldnt mind betting that wood will be the next thing that gets expensive.

SteppingonLego Mon 05-May-14 16:14:41

Lots of good suggestions here. Agree with central vacuum system - love ours. Also loads of storage. Big hallway and utility do make a difference. Wood stove great and a lifesaver when heating broke down (a lot).

Biggest mistake we made was going for a fancy 'eco' heating system - over complicated/computerised and NEVER worked properly. Very expensive replacing it.

Apart from that minor niggles. Not all the electric sockets were quite where we eventually needed them so have had to move some. And we actually have too many windows downstairs. I'm all for plenty of light but we have virtually no wall space without a window! Difficult to find space for bookcases etc.

Only other thing was we built the house when we had one child and planned another later on so have three bedrooms upstairs - main one and two identical smaller ones for kids (no arguments about bedroom size I thought). Ended up having twins!

Purplehonesty Mon 05-May-14 22:20:49

Rabbit you might be right about wood. It was a pellet boiler I wanted, but couldn't afford the initial outlay.

What was the Eco system you had and replaced (poster above?)

Purplehonesty Mon 05-May-14 22:27:15

That was to Lego, sorry.

Op be careful about seperate trades unless you know exactly what you are doing. Do you know enough about foundations (depth, how much concrete to order) and planning regs (!) and what drainage system you need - where the drains need to be and what to orser for them. and how to find your water main? Do you know how deep your electric cables have to be buried and if they can be in the same trench as phone cables. Do you know how much insulation is required to pass building regs and where you want your boiler to be?
honestly not to put you off but you would think the tradesmen would know all this and sort it for you.... But oh no. Lots of head scratching and delays and redoing things as no one was really sure. Nightmare.
And that's without anything being built yet!

Lioninthesun Mon 05-May-14 22:38:09

Oh and the people who do B.regs do not all sing from the same hymn-sheet! We had a lady come out while the house was being built to check the roof beams - all OK'd.. as soon as house built guy came to sign it off and said it needed a whole new beam up there! Luckily didn't take too long to rectify but bit worrying!

Also you will find larger firms can get better discounts - we got half price insulation and loads of discounts for trade as our builders are well known locally and do loads of work for a large private school and so have a lot of purchase power. This was handy when my flooring (Kahrsso not cheap!) was delivered and half was one colour and half another! I got the lot returned to Sweden and replaced completely free and £600 off for fitting works that had been carried out with their wrong batch. I couldn't have had such a fast response on my own but they were worried about loosing big business. The builders will also be on the ball with the cheaper options - we had an insulation that is a lot cheaper and quite cutting edge so not very well known. He didn't want to share too much about it knows I go on MN probably but this was what saved hugely on our costs.

Just an idea of things I found useful having everything under one roof.

puckingfixies Mon 05-May-14 22:42:32

There's no such thing as too many sockets.
Lots of nice, big windows - you can't beat natural light and good quality curtains will make it cosy in winter.
If having an open fire or stove a back boiler is a no brainer and try to reduce the distance between boiler/airing cupboard/showers to minimise heat loss.

angelinterceptor Mon 05-May-14 22:42:58

Ooh great thread - we are in middle if planning process too.
It's exhausting even thinking about it all.

rabbitrisen Mon 05-May-14 22:45:40

There's no such thing as too many sockets.

ooh, I dont know pucking. My DH installed them everywhere he could think of it seems! I am pretty sure I have never even used some of them!

oldiebutnctoday Tue 06-May-14 14:45:36

Ooh what an interesting thread! Our planning permission has just gone in <bites fingernails> some of the things we have gone for are bay windows with window seats with storage inside! Large utility room plus sink outside back door underneath a porch style roof for cleaning boots animal feeders etc concrete floors with underfloor heating on all floors (hate creaky floorboards). A proper walk in coat and shoe cupboard. But my guilty pleasure is a laundry room upstairs, so I can have my ironing board and sewing machine out all the time (I think that makes me sound a bit old/sad) and if we can afford one after the build a small tv in there for me to watch whilst I iron! We're also hopefully having a roof/porch over part of the patio so that when it rains halfway thru a barbecue we can still stay outside (with jumpers obv this is England)! Good luck everyone grin

magimedi Tue 06-May-14 15:01:05

And look at the hot water run to the kitchen.

I am not in a self build & the house is about 15 years old. Due to the hot pipe run, the hot water takes ages to get to the kitchen sink. Very annoying as it takes seconds to the bathroom.

Lioninthesun Tue 06-May-14 15:04:25

Porch over patio is a great idea. I would love a pergola or similar but didn't budget for that so it will have to wait smile. I saw a place nearby that had what looked like stables along one far wall of the garden. Only one side had a door to be a shed and the rest was like an open barn, with the table/chairs set and big BBQ next to it. You could probably do that without planning now!

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