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
- 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
- A fluorescent light makes a good night light on or
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Use Low-E widows to protect the inside of your home
from the sun’s damaging rays. They make a huge
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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