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Old 07-16-2020, 08:53 AM
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Default New House Build...what would you include?



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My wife and I are anxiously awaiting the long term remote work direction from her company. As of now, I'm full remote for my job. We are cautiously optimistic that her company is going to follow suit to some degree. Assuming that happens and she can go full remote, we will be getting out of Illinois, and moving down to southern Missouri where we own property on a lake facing bluff. Lower population area, wooded, wells, septic and propane.

Now, where I need your input is what would you include in a home from having the opportunity for a clean slate build? Keep in mind I have a wife that is very agreeable to prepping, but I can't build a hardened bunker. House has to be functional...happy spouse, happy house.

So far, here is what I am intending:

1. Storm shelter/safe room. Concrete as the basement/foundation is poured with a steel vault door cast in as part of the pour for maximum strength. Tied in with a concrete pad "roof" that will likely be the front porch.
2. Hardwired security cameras - have this in my present home since I have an IT background with onsite and cloud storage. Monitor in the vault/safe room
3. Hard wire to drive way for entrance sensors - know when someone pulls into the drive.
4. Generator backup of critical circuits - propane
5. 1000 gal propane vs. 500
6. Cistern - this one is a potential. Living close to a lake, I'll have plenty of water access but would be nice to have it to the house already. We have a natural water run off on our property from the bluff above and could use the roof for water capture.

Those are a few I can think of off the top of my head. If you had a clean slate, what would be your must haves be? Again, with a balance of long term survival yet still functional for day-to-day life? Keep in mind budgetary constraints with the suggestions. Armor plating in the walls isn't happening

Thanks!
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Old 07-16-2020, 09:06 AM
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I would look at ICF for building construction.
I would go with oversized garage doors, especially in height.
I would pre-wire the whole house with Cat-6a or 7 cabling.
I would look at a floor plan that permitted a walk-in freezer.
I would have a "workshop" off of the garage.
I would have a hidden room with a reinforced door to act as a gun room.

If possible, owning land with higher elevation, build a cistern higher than your house and use gravity to feed water to your house. I would also have water lines running to sprinklers or nozzles throughout the property in case of forrest fires. i.e. turn a knob and gravity feed sprinklers or nozzles so a steady stream of water can soak your land/trees.
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Old 07-16-2020, 09:14 AM
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So far sounds like all great ideas!

Make sure when you wire with Cat 6 or 7 network cables, you put them everywhere. Don't forget to put them where you are going to put TVs. Also run dual coax to each TV location. If its not too expensive, I would run all wiring (low volt AND power wiring thru metal conduits. Reduce potential for fire, lightning damage and critter damage. Also minimum 12ga for all power. Don't use the lighter 14ga stuff, even on lighting circuits.

Since your house is located in a remote area, install a good electrical grounding system and consider lightning rods.
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Old 07-16-2020, 09:15 AM
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Revelation -

Thanks. You brought up a few items I had neglected to mention. Oversized doors is on the list (both height and width). CAT6A will be ran throughout the house as well. Intention is to hide the safe/gun room. Thanks for the others...hadn't thought about the forest fire aspect nor putting the cistern "upstream". I am leaning towards a steel roof vs. asphalt shingles from a fire protection standpoint.
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Old 07-16-2020, 09:17 AM
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BW -

Conduit is on the list but hadn't thought about metal, was leaning towards the pvc type. And yes, 12 gauge/20 amp everywhere. I don't subscribe to 14ga even though it's easier to work with.

Thank you!
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Old 07-16-2020, 09:22 AM
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I would also have the house pre-wired for solar, inverter, grid disconnect, batteries and a generator. Doing this while the house is being built will be far cheaper than after the fact.

The fire prevention is not just for your house. Also for the land that you own. If you can leverage gravity to distribute the water throughout your property to keep it wet, in the event of a forrest fire, you have a good chance of saving your property and thus your house. By leveraging gravity you wouldn't be reliant on a electricity to keep a pump running.
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Old 07-16-2020, 09:34 AM
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One thing Iíd consider about the propane tank is to install an underground tank. Advantages include better fire security and better performance in extreme cold weather, and the wife might appreciate not having to see it when she looks out the window.

Are you going to install a wood stove as an alternate heating and cooking resource?

You donít mention how large the property is or if you intend to grow or raise food sources. Even with a small property, a few well placed apple trees would likely do well for you.
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Old 07-16-2020, 09:34 AM
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Forced air powered roof vents and plenty of insulation

If you do a metal roof you can collect rain water from roof. If asphalt, the oil content will contaminate roof water.

I put an extra camera in my attic after a lightning strike burned my neighbors house down. If I hear a lightning strike close by now, I can instantly check the attic for smoke or fire. I can also listen to the equipment up there to hear if any fan bearings are going bad.

Where you place the house with respect to the pond can make a huge difference in heating and cooling requirements. Up North, putting the house on the North side of the pond will give you double solar gain in the winter when the sun is at a low southerly angle. Think about were the sun will be different times of year and whether you want a strong solar bounce off the lake or not.

Make the garage way bigger than you think you need. It is horrible to have a small garage. (as I have now).

Determine if you want the front door and back deck facing the rising sun or setting sun or neither.

I have competing theories on lightning protection. Consider that a well grounded lightning rod will protect people, but it will get hit about 1000 times more frquently than a house without one. (the cloud overhead will induce a huge electrical charge at the top of the lighting rod (Air terminal). Once you have a half million volts of potential at the tip of the lightning rod, it is damn sure going to get hit in a lighthing storm.

Lightning strikes have too much power to travel on any down wire you will provide, so it will superheat the air around the cable to plasma temps and create a corona tube of superconducting air, scorching your house parts that touch it, and also giving everything in the house a massive B field fluctuation. frying electrical components without the right shielding.

All power and signal wiring entering the house should have surge protection against power spikes. Otherwise you will be changing out power supplies and capacitors in the home routinely or even worse, replacing refrigerators and big TVs because a 50 cent component is fried.

Make sure to include bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans on your emergency generator circuit. (in fact, a whole house power backup would be ideal if you can handle the costs.
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Old 07-16-2020, 09:43 AM
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2000 or better for LP storage - you never know
Extra tick walls with extra insulation - costs less to heat
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Old 07-16-2020, 09:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alaskajohn View Post
One thing I’d consider about the propane tank is to install an underground tank. Advantages include better fire security and better performance in extreme cold weather, and the wife might appreciate not having to see it when she looks out the window.

Are you going to install a wood stove as an alternate heating and cooking resource?

You don’t mention how large the property is or if you intend to grow or raise food sources. Even with a small property, a few well placed apple trees would likely do well for you.
The tank will very likely be above ground, although a berm around it with shrubs to conceal it. We are pretty much right on bedrock so it would be costly to sync the tank into the ground.

Total land size is probably just over an acre. I would love to have some raised beds and perhaps a few trees, but deer down there are abundant so we need to make sure it's done in a way they can't do their own harvest . May look to have a small wood stove in the basement that could radiate up through the main level. Haven't thought about that a ton yet, but have some. Thank you!
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Old 07-16-2020, 09:47 AM
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2000 or better for LP storage - you never know
Extra tick walls with extra insulation - costs less to heat
I don't know I've seen a 2000 gallon tank. I'll have to look into it since I have enough room to conceal it. Can smaller tanks be daisy chained together?

I'm definitely going 2x6 exterior walls. Spray foam if not cost prohibitive.

Heating is much less of a concern down there as it's pretty temperate compared to Illinois. It can get cold, but it warms up much better during the day. I'm going to get a heat pump (in addition to a forced air furnace), since my MIL lives down there already and she uses hers a lot. The house will have a lot of windows though since we face the lake and we want to enjoy the view. As such, we will go with factory tinting on the windows to mitigate the western sun we will deal with. Thank you.
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Old 07-16-2020, 09:47 AM
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I lived in the mountains and wondered what people were thinking not considering the weather nor the sun as it changes its' path throughout the year.
building a front door that faces north and the snow stays making it a slip hazard throughout the winter or longer and roofs that terminate at doorways really dumb.
the location of the house needs to be thought out well especially concerning passive solar and wind options. even though you may not do it in the beginning if provided for in the initial build you have a better time adding it later.
There are several books out on building solar homes, things like the mudroom done right can heat the whole home. I knew a family with a good solar mudroom and it was so efficient they had almost no heating bill to speak of.
If you are going to do a well, plan for that too as part of the house if possible.
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Old 07-16-2020, 09:50 AM
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I lived in the mountains and wondered what people were thinking not considering the weather nor the sun as it changes its' path throughout the year.
building a front door that faces north and the snow stays making it a slip hazard throughout the winter or longer and roofs that terminate at doorways really dumb.
the location of the house needs to be thought out well especially concerning passive solar and wind options. even though you may not do it in the beginning if provided for in the initial build you have a better time adding it later.
There are several books out on building solar homes, things like the mudroom done right can heat the whole home. I knew a family with a good solar mudroom and it was so efficient they had almost no heating bill to speak of.
If you are going to do a well, plan for that too as part of the house if possible.
The layout of the house is somewhat pre-determined. It will face W/SW since that's where the lake is. That is good in the winter for passive heating but more to cool in the summer.

Definitely will need a well and that is factored in already. Thanks!
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Old 07-16-2020, 10:04 AM
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Well... y'all covered a lot of the security aspects. I'm going to talk about comfort and usability.

Wide doors everywhere for wheelchairs and moving and they just look better.

Wide halls to match the doors, for wheelchairs etc.

Walk in showers without sills.

Minimum 9' ceilings, for aesthetics but they do help some with cooling as the hot air has more room to go up.

European tilt/turn windows with screens. You can leave them open at the top during rain and nothing comes in. Swing them open for more air or for cleaning. So much easier...

Larger overhangs on the roof. Keep the sun out of the house.

Strategically placed windows so you can see your drive, front walk/porch, back porch etc.

Ceiling fans in every room.

Kitchen... make it big and then add more. Especially storage.

Mud Room

Extra large laundry room.

Walk in door from garage. I HATE having to open the big garage door just to get to my car. We don't use the front door since it is on the wrong side of the house from the garage/driveway.

Just stuff like that.
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Old 07-16-2020, 10:14 AM
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Someone might have mentioned it and I missed it but ... adding sprinklers to your house during construction adds just a few thousand extra to the cost. However, retrofitting sprinklers is usually in the ball park of 20K-30K thousand. Last I heard it was $5,000-$8,000 during construction.
That’s the one thing I would add to a house for sure. Oh and a second set of romex to run dedicated solar power
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Old 07-16-2020, 10:56 AM
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Indoor/outdoor kitchen - with an outdoor area large enough for canning and smoking.
Plan for the future or up the resale price, make at least the bathrooms, doors and hallways handicapped accessible.
If you have indoor/outdoor dogs - fenced (and topped - depending on your dogs) dedicated dog run. Easy to clean, no messing up the landscaping or garden, no bad smells near the doors. If you live in cold weather, add a heater. If you live in hot weather, add a misting system.
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Old 07-16-2020, 10:59 AM
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Have you checked to see how productive wells are in the area? If they aren't high producers, you may want to get a pressurized water system with a large holding tank. With the lake nearby, my guess is this would not be an issue, but something to check out.
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Old 07-16-2020, 11:02 AM
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Have you checked to see how productive wells are in the area? If they aren't high producers, you may want to get a pressurized water system with a large holding tank. With the lake nearby, my guess is this would not be an issue, but something to check out.
Should have no issue here. My MIL lives literally next door on her lots and has a well. 14 years and no problems to date. Oh, FWIW, I hit the MIL lottery and get along with her great. Truly a blessing!
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Old 07-16-2020, 11:09 AM
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All good ideas. Glad you're able to GTFO of Illinois.
Please do try to purchase your infrastructure needs with gear/materials NOT made in China.
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Old 07-16-2020, 11:09 AM
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Think about building the house to function without electric or running water. These are a bunch of my ideas, you may disagree with them and that is fine, I am just giving you my perspective.

Large overhangs to the south so the sun can heat up the walls. That makes it easier to cool in the summer if you have AC and makes it more comfortable in the summer if you don't have ac.

A lot of new homes are very well sealed and insulated which is supposed to be a good thing but when a house is sealed up tight the only way to keep the air inside fresh is to put in a powered air exchanger that require electric, if the electric goes out at a time of year that is too cold to open windows the air will become stale quite quickly.

I am not a fan of forced air heat. It requires something to burn and electric to move the air. They are also expensive to install with all the duct work needed to make them function. I would prefer ventless wall mount heaters or direct vent heaters that require no electric to run.

Put in lots of ventilation in the attic.

I am in the north where heating is far more important than cooling. So I would go with short ceilings. The higher the ceilings are the more area you have to heat and since heat rises most of what you are heating is wasted. If your main concern is cooling then tall ceilings are a better idea.

If you intend this to be your permanent home, plan for you becoming less mobile as you age. Build it in a way you don't need to go up or down a lot of stairs every day(no split level)

Put on real functioning shutters. We often get hailstorms her from the west and one of our windows takes a heavy beating. Every time bad weather is predicted I am out there trying to prop up sheets of steal in front of the window to protect it. Shutters or a large overhang would be a better solution.

Plan your window height on your location. I currently live in town and the windows in my building are about 4 1/2 feet above the floor. At first I hated how high they are but now I like the fact that due to their height anyone outside can only see my ceiling when they look in yet when I am standing I can see out them just fine. If I lived out of town I wouldn't want the windows so high so I could have a better view.

Don't have a connected garage. With my lifestyle the garage is where I do things that could easily start a fire(welding and grinding mostly) and where I use chemicals. If a fire starts and your garage is connected to the house you loose everything. If the garage and house are separated and one burns you don't loose everything.

Don't run any plumbing except outside spigots in outside walls. Freezing of lines in outside walls is a bad thing.

For any outside spigots put in the longest freeze proof spigot you can. Up here they often only put 6 inch ones which can freeze up on really cold years. Down south it is my understanding they usually don't put any type of freeze proof spigots and every 10 years or so they will get a cold winter and large numbers of spigots will freeze causing lots of damage.

Make as much of your plumbing accessible as possible. So if you ever need to do repairs you don't have to tear down Sheetrock to do it. Put water shutoffs on everything so if you ever have a leak you can shut of a single appliance rather than the entire home.

Make your house so your entire drain system drains by gravity to your septic/sewer. Pumps fail and failed pumps can lead to sewage flooded basements. Gravity doesn't fail.

If you put in a well have a plan to be able to pump it by hand if the electric is gone.

Build a solid storm shelter, ideal underground/in the basement. If it is underground make it large enough to be a food cellar. Wire it with a battery back up for lighting. That way if the power goes out when you are in there you aren't in the dark.

Go with a metal roof. I personally am a fan of pole barn steal roofs, many people consider that to look trashy but it is becoming quite a popular option around here as people realize how long lived it is with the new paints they have and how cheap it is compared to any other long lived roof.

Plan for flooding. Don't build in a flood plane. Slope the ground around the house away from the house to direct water away. Make sure the the first floor is well above grade so it will never get wet from outside. Put in good drainage. Rain gutters to keep a basement dry are a band-aid to a bunch of other mistakes that were made to allow water to collect near the house to begin with.

Avoid hallways. I have lived in homes that were poorly designed and had hallways that that took up the same square footage as two extra bedrooms and the space was useless for anything other than walking through.

Insulate well.

Build small and simple. The fancier and bigger you build the more you have to maintain, the more expensive it will be and more there is to go wrong. I have 5 kids and am planing to build a 2 bedroom home in the next couple years. The oldest 3 will probably be moved or moving out before it is finished so there is no need to build a home for a big family if that family won't be there and will eventually juts be the two of us.

Avoid debt. As recent events have shown, you and your wife could be laid off tomorrow through no fault of yours or your companies. In a case like that the smaller payment you have to make the better. Just because you can easily afford a large payment now doesn't mean you will always be able to afford a large payment, life can take unexpected turns. Also owing less tends to make it easier to sell the home if needed. The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
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