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Home Maintenance and Construction

The following ideas can help you maintain your home. Many ideas only pertain to new construction. However, even if you already have a home, some of these ideas could still be implemented. Concerning your home or outbuildings, consider the following:

  • Make sure your drain gutters do not send water across a sidewalk or driveway that leads to your front door.
  • Shade windows with deciduous trees because they will have leaves in the summer and shade your window and in the winter, the leaves will be gone and light can get through.
  • A fluorescent light makes a good night light on or around stairs.
  • Outside, solar lights can easily light stairs.
  • Motion detectors probably keep some robbers away and they assist an unannounced guest make it to your door.
  • De-icing wires in the gutters can help prevent huge buildups that can rip the gutters right off. However, use care because they can overheat and cause fires if not used properly. If you plan to use them, be sure to wire for them and put a switch to them inside so you can easily turn them on and off on those cold winter days and nights.
  • Where you have an office or entertainment center, leave some conduit stubbed in the walls so you can keep up with technology as it changes in the future.
  • Put a drain in the basement floor so water can flow out naturally.
  • If you want to keep your house cooler in the summer, consider increasing the overhang so that it will shade your windows and walls more efficiently. This is an area where many builders have missed the boat. It does not cost that much more to have your overhang be three feet instead of one foot. Once it is built, there are no other recurring costs, only savings on your utility bills. This will also do a better job of keeping water away from the walls of the house, especially the basement walls.
  • A ceiling in the basement made of removable panels allows you to easily have access to wires and pipes in the future.
  • If you have a closet in the basement that is dedicated to hold Christmas presents at that time of the year, consider putting a locking door knob on it to help remind others not to enter.
  • If you have a multi-story home, consider designing closets one over the other so that someday, if needed, they could be converted to an elevator. This could make it possible to have anyone who is in a wheelchair have access to all floors of the home. Remember, elderly parents may come to live with you or an accident or illness may put a family member in a wheelchair. It also adds to the resale appeal of the home as others may have this situation.
  • If you like to bottle fruit, consider putting connections outside on the patio so you can have electric and/or gas appliances, water & sink and a phone. If you set up an outdoor canning patio, on those long hot summer canning days, all of the mess will be outside and your beautiful kitchen will remain beautiful much longer. Also, it makes it much easier to come inside to fix a meal and leave the canning mess and its associated heat outside while you eat. Consider that after you have spent the entire day heating those jars up so they will seal, they will likely take many hours to cool off. All of the heat from these jars will be outside and the inside of your house will not get heated up from them.
  • A mud room can be a great thing in a home. It is nothing more than a room with access to the outside that people will use as they come in with muddy feet. All of the coats and boots can be kept here and this will preserve the rest of the house. Also, if you are able to design a room that is closed off from the rest of the house, as an outside door is opened, it will not let heat from the house escape.
  • Do all that you can to obtain or create a map of all of the wiring in the house. This can be very valuable for when you need to shut off power to a circuit. Review it and make sure that no circuits are overloaded.
  • If you have the space and want a food storage room, put one in the basement. Consider having an island with rolling shelves so food can be stocked from one side and used from the other to provide for good rotation. Use bungee cords across the front of all of the shelves to hold jars and cans in place. Leave room for clean 30 gallon garbage cans and 5 gallon buckets to store foods in that would otherwise become the subsistence for critters.
  • Use Low-E widows to protect the inside of your home from the sun’s damaging rays. They make a huge difference.
  • Dual pane windows can really help to keep heat on the side of the glass that you desire (outside in summer and inside in winter).
  • If you have a staircase, consider splitting it so that it has a landing in the middle. This will minimize the distance that anyone, young or old or in-between may fall. By doing this the stairs will go half way down and then turn 180° and continue the rest of the way.
  • Design your windows so that you have windows that open to catch breezes and then make sure the breeze can flow through your home to cool it off naturally.
  • In areas where the utility company offers time of day electric rates, be sure to take advantage of them.
  • In the kitchen, every home needs to have a place to keep the trash can. Why not design a cupboard that is meant for just that purpose. In fact, you can even put a swinging door on it (engraving the word “Trash” is optional).
  • If you have room, install a drinking fountain and then watch the illnesses in your home decrease because people will not be sharing drinking cups. Also, it can provide cold water without opening the refrigerator door.
  • Install a water filtering system and be in control of how clean your water is. They come in all sizes. If you have a drinking fountain, be sure to get one that will provide enough pressure for it.
  • Install an outdoor drinking fountain so the kids don’t need to traipse into the house when they or their friends are thirsty.
  • If you needs lots of hot water, install 2 hot water tanks in series. Design room for it in your plans, even if you don’t add the second one now. Only turn on the second water heater when the need is there (like grandkids come to visit for a few days).
  • Consider putting in hookups for two washers and two dryers. It makes laundry day a snap. Also, you may learn that when your college kids come to visit, they always bring their dirty clothes.
  • Leave room for and plumb the house for a water softener. Install it as soon as you can because it can save the expensive plumbing fixture from corrosion. It also can save on your soap bill.
  • Plan ahead for ceiling fans. They need a strong box to hold them and if you want some special switching options, they may need 3 strand wire.
  • If you are going to have an intercom, be sure to run wires to all rooms that might ever have a speaker.
  • Be sure to write up instructions on how to winterize and un-winterize everything in your house and on your property so that you or others will not miss anything and have a costly bill.
  • Put electric socket covers where small children play or sleep so they will not be in danger. Even if your kids are gone, there may be small children who visit you someday.
  • Put child safety latches on cupboards that you do not want small children to get in to. Don’t forget the bathroom cabinets and work cabinets in the garage or storage room.
  • The wasted space underneath a staircase can be used as a child’s playhouse.
  • Plan ahead and put sockets outside that can supply power for your Christmas lights. Put a switch that controls these sockets inside for your convenience.
  • Put the garage on the west side of your home to absorb the hot afternoon sun. It will act as a buffer to protect your home from the heat.
  • Put windows that open in your garage to keep the heat from building up.
  • If you put spinning turbines on the roof to take air out of the attic to keep it cool, be sure to make sure that air can flow into the attic or the turbines will not spin. If they do not spin, they will not work.
  • If you have a basement, consider having a staircase and door that lead straight outside in case of fire or emergency.
  • Be sure to have special sockets located in strategic places so you can connect emergency lighting. This is especially important near the stairs.
  • Leave room to have fire extinguishers everywhere you want them.
  • Carbon Monoxide alarms usually need a receptacle and these should not be located where small children can play with them. These should really be placed high anyway, so consider getting the kind that are also smoke detectors.
  • Be sure to have lots of smoke detectors in your home. They can be wired together so that if ones goes off, it makes all of them sound their alarms. These save lives.
  • Design a snail-type wrap-around shower so you do not need a shower curtain or shower door.
  • Where rooms are cramped, consider opening them up with diagonal corners that borrow space from an adjacent room.



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