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Old 01-24-2016, 02:25 PM   #21
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T
Never allowing a fridge to be placed next to a wall. Seriously, how are you supposed to open the door all the way to take out drawers and things to properly clean?
Unless it's a side-by-side model, most refrigerators allow the door hinges to be mounted on either side. When I was a service technician at Sears (40+ years ago) if you'd just bought a new refrigerator they would do that for free.

Look for a little plastic button on the refrigerator door on the opposite side of the door handle. That's where the handle will attach if the hinges are moved. IIRC it was about a 30-minute job.
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Old 01-24-2016, 02:59 PM   #22
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I have in floor heat in my basement and master bath. The first winter I kept it fairly toasty in the basement, then I get a $700 propane bill for 3 weeks and cut it back so that it just takes the chill off the floor. The master bath one is nice. I lay my ski clothes on it as well as my next day clothes so they are toasty. Also the cats spend much of the day there. The only other drawback besides the cost is that they didn't insulate the pipes well, and my cold water line warms up, both wasting energy and making me run water for a minute if I want a cold drink. If I had to do it again, I'd probably do electric in my bathroom, though I haven't researched that.
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Old 01-24-2016, 03:20 PM   #23
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From what I've read, for soundproofing you really want to get some special drywall hangers made for this. While doubling up drywall helps, you really want to isolate the sound. The special hangers decouple the drywall from the wall, which avoids the sound just being coupled through the wall. For example, hold a wood dowel against the bone behind your ear, touch it to something that is making noise - it couples the sound - you want to de-couple it.

Resilient Sound Clip FAQ


-ERD50
Yes, going with the special drywall hangers is more effective, but as far as bang for the buck, just making the changes I outlined makes a huge difference and during initial construction, hardly costs anything. I learned a few things in my 25 year career as an NVH engineer.
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Old 01-24-2016, 03:25 PM   #24
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I have in floor heat in my basement and master bath. The first winter I kept it fairly toasty in the basement, then I get a $700 propane bill for 3 weeks and cut it back so that it just takes the chill off the floor. The master bath one is nice. I lay my ski clothes on it as well as my next day clothes so they are toasty. Also the cats spend much of the day there. The only other drawback besides the cost is that they didn't insulate the pipes well, and my cold water line warms up, both wasting energy and making me run water for a minute if I want a cold drink. If I had to do it again, I'd probably do electric in my bathroom, though I haven't researched that.
This works well for baths or other tiled conditions:

Nuheat - Floor Heating & Freeze Protection
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Old 01-24-2016, 03:27 PM   #25
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In our kitchen remodel design, a dead space over the stove hood was going to be enclosed to look like the cabinets. We had it opened up with beadboard at ghe back and now it's an open shelf where we keep a couple of pieces of crockery we very occasionally use. Looks pretty and is handy enough.

We also had an awkward and little-used closet at the back door removed and a cubby with a storage bench, hooks, shelves, and bins built in. We use that several times a day.

+1 on the outdoor electrical outlets--we are up to four now and what a convenience over the 100 feet of extension cord we had used for things like Christmas lighting.

And plus 100 on counterspace--we tripled ours, including a peninsula eating area with barstools. We use it all, every day.
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Old 01-24-2016, 03:36 PM   #26
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Speaking about soundproofing, I just came back from Home Depot and saw there that they had a special double drywall called QuietRock. It has 3 layers of two 1/2" outer gypsum boards sandwiching a fibrous layer in the middle. Just looked on the Web, and they say that the middle layer is a special "viscoelastic polymer".

It sounds good (pun not intended), and the only drawback is the cost. Its price is $50 for a sheet, while regular gypsum is $10.
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Old 01-24-2016, 03:48 PM   #27
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Speaking about soundproofing, I just came back from Home Depot and saw there that they had a special double drywall called QuietRock. It has 3 layers of two 1/2" outer gypsum boards sandwiching a fibrous layer in the middle. Just looked on the Web, and they say that the middle layer is a special "viscoelastic polymer".

It sounds good (pun not intended), and the only drawback is the cost. Its price is $50 for a sheet, while regular gypsum is $10.
No doubt it is better, but as I mentioned, just using an inch or more thick of drywall makes a night and day difference and you don't need any special skills to install it. It is important that parallel walls have a different thickness of drywall to acoustically decouple them.

I used to stay at a little mom and pop motel when visiting relatives and I mentioned to the owner that the walls were transparent, but that he could fix it quite cheaply by thickening the drywall between rooms. The next time I visited he thanked me profusely and indeed the rooms were a lot quieter. It works.
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Old 01-24-2016, 05:34 PM   #28
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Thanks guys for all the good ideas. It's obvious that those in different parts of the country have different needs in housing.

We're in the process of buying a foreclosure for substantially less than the market value of the house--5,000 square feet with 5 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms. Our biggest concern in retirement is having the ability to live on one floor.

We're just so thankful that luxury housing can still be bought relatively inexpensively in the South, and that our total cost of living's under control. We'll be putting our present house on the market in the next couple of months, and hopefully it'll sell promptly.

Sheer square footage often makes up for many design flaws. I honestly don't know what to do with a 35' x 47' man cave/television room downstairs. But it's nice to know we have room for live in help--if needed as we get older.
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Old 01-24-2016, 05:45 PM   #29
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I put an AC duplex outlet under the eaves located at each corner of the house for Christmas lights. One side of the duplex is switched from a common switch and the other is hot all the time. In the hot one, I put in motion sensing lights. Nothing can sneak up on our house now and it's easy to add the Christmas light power.
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Old 01-24-2016, 05:58 PM   #30
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In our recent remodel:


1. Drawer in kitchen island with usb and power ports so we can put various devices out of sight while charging.
2. Walk in showers with no doors, no steps.
3. Whole house audio.
4. Wine and beverage coolers.
5. 500 gal buried propane tank.
6. Separate HVAC and water heater for guest casita.
7. Low voltage led lighting.
8. Touchless flush toilets.
9. Outdoor shower.
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Old 01-24-2016, 06:09 PM   #31
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What are your best house design wants or tips? They can be big things or little tweaks that make a difference. ...
We were limited to a ~980 sf footprint because we are only 20' from the water so we did a number of things due to space and also in anticipation of aging in place.

Obviously, all doorways are wheelchair accessible. We also used mostly pocket doors to save space and lever handles for all swing doors.

We have an island in our kitchen, but it is not anchored to the floor. The bottom is all felt pads so DW and I can move it around as needed and if we are hosting a party we can move it off to the side as a buffet.

We built a ~4' long elevated platform over the end of the stairway going down to the walkout basement and used that space for the woodstove hearth. Not only did this take advantage of space that would have gone to waste but it also elevated the woodstove opening about 18" which makes it easier to load and tend the fire.

The other handy thing we did was to add Rev-A-Shelfs to all our kitchen cabinets which is handy and makes our cabinet space more efficient.

We used spray foam insulation (we live in a cold area). We used 2x4 framing and then put 3/4" thick strapping horizontally on the outside of the framing at the top, bottom and every 2' and then attached the sheathing on the outside of the strapping. When we did the foam, it oozed between the sheathing and the backside of the studs which reduced thermal bridging and made the walls much sturdier.

One thing we didn't do which I wish we did (and may add) is bathroom fans. The guy who did our whole house ventilation system put intakes in each bathroom and indicated that with those we did not need bathroom fans. Well, he was wrong. Even with the system on high it just can't keep up exhausting the moisture when we take a shower.
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Old 01-24-2016, 06:13 PM   #32
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I would love to have in-floor heat. Do any of you have that? Does it decrease cost by making rooms feel warmer?
We have radiant heat in our finished walk-out basement. I like it. It does take a while to come up to temp to heat a big ol' concrete slab but it is nice and toasty on the feet once it is up to temp. Also, there are no registers to get in the way when deciding where to place furniture in the room.

We considered radiant heat for our main floor (the floor above the walk-out) but decided not to due to cost. While the hot water baseboard heats fine we do lose a little space and need to think about not blocking the heaters when placing furniture.
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Old 01-24-2016, 06:21 PM   #33
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For many years I have had a practice of going to bed on the early side (10 pm) and getting up early. It helps with avoiding traffic as I drive out of town which I do often. This could be a problem when there were visitors in the house who stay up late, watch TV, shower, handle dishes, or do other activities causing noise. My current house is laid out in a way that the master bedroom is pretty isolated from the other rooms where guests might be. I was just a happy accident but if I ever build a house it will be very deliberately designed that way.
While we could not isolate the master bedroom from our great room due to space limitations, our solution was a pair of headsets that can be used by people watching TV in the great room while someone is trying to sleep in the master bedroom. Enhances marital bliss.
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Old 01-24-2016, 06:28 PM   #34
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...gas line to outdoor gas grill instead of propane tanks...
I thought of this... unfortunately it was after the house was done... the first time my grill ran out of propane I realized that while we were putting in black pipe for the water heater, clothes dryer and cookstove that I could have relatively easily run a line to the corner of the house/deck where I have my grill.

However, fortunately I don't go through a lot of propane for outdoor grilling and I can move the grill to in front of my master bedroom sliding glass door and grill in my slippers during the winter.
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Old 01-24-2016, 06:32 PM   #35
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Overhangs to optimize letting the winter sun in, and the high summer sun out (I've found that some architects just don't consider this). Of course, some of these depend on your climate, but these features are nice for the midwest here.

-ERD50
This is a good one and it also allow windows to remain open when it is raining.
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Old 01-24-2016, 06:32 PM   #36
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If I was to build I would have a detached studio apt that would be connected to the front of the house by walls that would create a large enclosed front patio/entry. I could use this for guests instead of a guest room and later for a live in nurse or myself if my daughter and her family would like live in the home rent free.

Cheers!
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Old 01-24-2016, 06:49 PM   #37
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One other thing we did that is a bit unique is we use a propane on-demand tankless hot water heater for space heating.... no boiler. It has worked well for us and was a lot less expensive. I realize that I will likely need to replace the hot water heater more often (had to replace the heat exchanger after 4 years) because it is working harder but the unit costs less than 25% of what a boiler would have cost.
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Old 01-24-2016, 10:13 PM   #38
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Boiler fed infloor heat can be a joy when done correctly. The costs vs warm air ducted is 2 -3 times higher in most cases.

@ ERD50, your experience is not common when systems are programmed correctly, namely in a floor condition, water temps should be no higher that 100 deg F. That translates into a floor that is perceived as not "warm" but just "not cold". That temp also leaves the boiler well into the condensing temp range, which is the best use of the fuel btus.

Radiant panels can also be placed in the walls or ceiling, but they still get run a low temps.
Yes, my experience was on a single unit (installed in the late 60's). What you say makes sense, they should have had the water temperature lower, and/or it wasn't designed properly, and they needed it that high to reach the comfort zone for the air above.

So hopefully, modern installations take this into consideration, and the 'hot feet' problem is the (old) exception.

-ERD50
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Old 01-25-2016, 08:52 AM   #39
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Right by the side door from the driveway into the kitchen, at which I bring in groceries, he erected a permanent outdoor metal table. This table is about 2.5'x3.5' and it is is unbelievably sturdy. I think it is anchored to the foundation of the house maybe. Anyway, I think a sumo wrestler could do handstands on it and it wouldn't even budge. I can put my groceries on it while I climb the one step and get the door open. The table also has a sturdy rail that I can hang on to as I navigate that step, so that I don't fall (very important to me since I am getting older and falls are an issue).

Now who would have thought of that? I never heard of such a thing. It is one of my favorite features about this house, and I didn't even notice it until after I moved in.
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That's nice - I think of this every time I grill, I need a little table at the back door, so I can set things down and open the door. I need to get that done!
I took a couple of photos of it this morning, so that you can see the table and maybe get some ideas (or not). Anyway, here it is. Honestly I think this table is a huge bonus for me. When I first moved in, I tripped on that step while carrying a full laundry basket. Consequently I had a very bad fall, which is the reason for the yellow duct tape along the edge of the step. Now, I always put things down on the table and hang on before traversing that step. Growing older is the pits and it seems to me that you are not terribly old yet. Still, taking such precautions BEFORE accidents happen, instead of after, usually works out best. Wish I had!
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Old 01-25-2016, 09:31 AM   #40
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That's a great table! And handrail, too! Very clever. And so is the yellow tape.

I have a long church pew on the front porch by the door, and that's where lots of stuff gets dumped on my way in, unless it makes it to the bench just inside the door. But I still have to get up 20 feet of stairs to make it to the porch, ugh!
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