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Building the Retirement House
Old 11-04-2004, 02:22 PM   #1
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Building the Retirement House

My husband and I will soon begin building a house, one we plan to live in until carried out feet first. We've been through the process a couple of times before so are completely familiar with the trials and tribulations. We are both 48 with 2 boys ages 15 and 12(almost), so are thinking that they will be flying the coop in the next 3-6 years. We are building small, and low maintenance. My question is this: What is the best thing you have in your current house or had in a previous house? Or, if you could change or add anything to your home, what would it be? Can be appliance, room, floorplan, anything. We already have plans to make this home WC accessible with adaptability for changes that may be needed due to aging.

Thanks for the input.

Judy
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Re: Building the Retirement House
Old 11-04-2004, 02:29 PM   #2
 
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Re: Building the Retirement House

We just built a house 6 years ago. The best thing has been the Gas Remote control fireplaces. If you ever have had a wood fireplace, you'll know what a joy it is to have one of these low maint types.

Get Granite Counter tops - You'll never regret it.

Also spend extra time where you want electrical outlets. Concentrating on areas above cabinets (these can be used for accent lighting. Also pre-wire the house for stereo speakers, and cable - Put it everywhere! - Even where you tink you won't need it. Cheap before the house is built - expensive afterwards!

Example - String 2 sets of stereo wire across walls with jacks. Later on if you decide you have to run wires across the room it's already done! - Just plug into the jacks. I wish I had this now!
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Re: Building the Retirement House
Old 11-04-2004, 02:33 PM   #3
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Re: Building the Retirement House

My wife and I like the great room idea. Kitchen, Dining and Family room all in one. Kitchen flows to dining room, which flows to Family Room. No formals at all. Perhaps a study. Then as many Bedrooms as you need. 2 - 3 bathrooms depending on layout.

Where are you building and do you already have the land? How large a plot are you considering?

We would love to build but know nothing about how to go about it. We would love some input on this also.

SWR
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Re: Building the Retirement House
Old 11-04-2004, 03:08 PM   #4
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Re: Building the Retirement House

I second the gas fireplace, but suggest a blower also.

Pay attention to electrical outlets outside and in the garage. I have a dedicated plug for my freezer and would love another one on the same wall. I added a plug under the eves for my Xmas lights. Very handy.

Water faucets. Had I looked to see how my yard layout would function, I would have added another one in a more practical location.

I too have the 'all in one' room and love it. Except I had to buy a quieter dishwasher. Hard to hear the TV or have a chat over a noisy dishwasher.

Have fun.
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Re: Building the Retirement House
Old 11-04-2004, 03:23 PM   #5
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Re: Building the Retirement House

I guess the most important thing to me is the site. Don't compromise on site selection. I think the most important site attributes are:

1) A view that will capture your interest and give you a warm and fuzzy feeling. I like a view of the ocean, city lights, mountains and wild life. I spent a couple of years looking at places before I found a location that really struck me.

2) Privacy.

3) Close proximity to recreation, shopping, etc. Ideally walking distance to the places you like to visit frequently.

4) Enough room to do what you like to do. I need at least 1/2 acre to let the dogs run, give the kid room to play, and to provide enough space between us and the neighbors.

As far as the house goes, lots of storage, few or no stairs, and built to last (consider a timber frame, for example) with low maintenance (metal roof, for example). Don't sweat the stuff that can be easily changed down the road.
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Re: Building the Retirement House
Old 11-04-2004, 04:04 PM   #6
 
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Re: Building the Retirement House

Here's a few:

Switched outdoor outlets front and back for accent and deck lighting, holiday decorations etc. If you have RV visitors, dedicated breaker outlet at driveway.

Wiring for security system - you can install a cheap one youself later.

Outdoor faucets in front, back & garage.

Stubbed gas line for outdoor grill - near outside wall so you can extend just with copper.

Cold water softener bypass for drinking water and icemaker.

Two in-line main water shutoffs. Use only the interior one until you have a problem with it, then you can still shut off and repair/replace it.

Basement access from garage if practical.

Some kind of maintenance-free gutters.

Don't try to save mature trees affected by the lot grading - they're a lot more expensive to remove when they die a year or two later!

Have fun - I don't know if I would go through the hassles of building again or not...
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Re: Building the Retirement House
Old 11-04-2004, 05:20 PM   #7
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Re: Building the Retirement House

I'd make sure there are plenty of windows for light and fresh air. Don't forget the window(s) in the kitchen and the window in the bathroom! A built-in pantry cupboard in the kitchen would also be a big plus if you like to cook.
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Re: Building the Retirement House
Old 11-04-2004, 07:33 PM   #8
 
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Re: Building the Retirement House

Interesting thread for me in that we are faced with annexation by the nearby town of a huge woods behind our two acre lot and are thinking of selling and bolting. We went through the "building a cool house" routine 13 years ago and will now reap what we sowed as to contempo and highly personalized touches being, perhaps, not easily marketable. Our contractor was a bright Amish yuppie (no electric in his house but he could run numbers on a battery opeated calculator while talking to you and had a generator powered copying machine, etc, etc). My suggestion is to build for maximum energy efficiency. Google "Hubbert curve" if you need a rationale. You can never have enough electrical outlets, hose bibs, roof vents, laundry room square feet or closet space. I would replace the fireplace with a free standing wood burning stove (more efficient) and would shop for the best plumbing fixtures (thought we had good ones but they are detoriating too fast). Make sure your closets have lights that go on when you open the doors. For big closets, sky lights are very nice. Orient your house so that you have full advantage of morning sun. A greehouse window is a nice touch if you like to start plants in the spring or have cats that would like to sit in them. Leave a "rough area on the lot for birds and small wildlife and for your dog to root and poop so you are not constantly having to pick up after him or her. Be sure to make sure your contractor is intelligent about insualtion and vapor barrier issues. Install a high effiiciency furnace. Think ahead about track lighting, etc. to avoid dark areas where you do not want them.
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Re: Building the Retirement House
Old 11-04-2004, 09:10 PM   #9
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Re: Building the Retirement House

Run a structured wiring bundle to every room, running back to a closet somewhere. Two RG6, couple of phone lines, some network wire, etc...there are some bundles that include all of the above in one jacket.

That way you can do networking, cable, satellite, phone etc...you may not need as much of it today, but 5-10 years from now sofas will come with a network connection on the back of them.
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Re: Building the Retirement House
Old 11-04-2004, 10:03 PM   #10
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Re: Building the Retirement House

Quote:
5-10 years from now sofas will come with a network connection on the back of them.
5-10 years from now? The Microsoft Recliner was first rev'd in 2001.

Besides, all of these gizmos are and will be wireless. Cat5 is so last millenium
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Dilbert's Ultimate House ("DUH")
Old 11-04-2004, 11:27 PM   #11
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Dilbert's Ultimate House ("DUH")

Judy,

I don't know if you've taken the suggestion seriously yet, but you really need to read all the material that Scott Adams has researched for Dilbert's Ultimate House. Design & materials have come a long way in the last decade while his discussion is thought-provoking, entertaining, and full of creativity. Make sure you read the "Impractical Ideas" section for your next brainstorming session.

I think you'll especially like the design of the kid's bathroom.

http://www.unitedmedia.com/comics/dilbert/duh/
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Re: Building the Retirement House
Old 11-05-2004, 06:11 AM   #12
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Re: Building the Retirement House

Build all on one floor, or at least put the master bedroom on one floor so you can still live there when you can't get around as easily. Oh wait, I see you already said that. Oops.

We love our gas fireplace and our deck. The deck is partially covered which makes it more useful. We also have an open floorplan with kitchen, dining, and living areas. The finished basement is the "man zone" where my husband is allowed to make messes. A vaulted ceiling might add to the expense, but will make the house seem bigger. Our laundry area is on the main floor, off our kitchen, which makes it easy to throw a load in while doing other things. Also, wire the house for high speed interent and cable, as mentioned.
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Re: Building the Retirement House
Old 11-05-2004, 07:38 AM   #13
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Re: Building the Retirement House

As I read this thread it is as if you have visited our house! Our's is designed for aging in place. All but spare bedrooms and guest bath is on one floor.

Be sure that ALL the doorways are wide enough to accomodate a wheelchair. You or your guests may never use a wheelchair or walker but you will thank your lucky stars when you do need to move furniture.

Don't forget to specify a handicap toilet. I know that seems silly, but they are higher so it is easier to use when the knee joints reflect years of skiing and tennis.

Pay attention to your home's raincoat. Too many builders are taking shortcuts with flashings and siding underlayment. There are products out there today that behave like Gortex, they turn water yet breathe and are not Tyvek. Yes, they cost a little more but consider the cost of mold. Moisture is the root cause of the majority of house problems.

Lastly, don't take your builder's word that their design reflects your requirements. Even if you didn't have an Architect prepare your drawings, pay one by the hour to review yours. The fee you pay not only will assure that your requirements are in the contract, it may well save you many times over in home repairs.

We have been here 10 years and are at the 'replacing the hot water tank' stage. It is interesting to consider our options. They are more efficient than those in the past. Tankless versions are particularly efficient if you don't have more than two demands at the same time- and their warranty is longer.

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Re: Building the Retirement House
Old 11-05-2004, 10:13 AM   #14
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Re: Building the Retirement House

A lot of people seem to like fireplaces. I probably fire ours up about twice a year, but if you really want a fireplace, consider a Tulikivi:

http://tulikivi.com/

They're good looking and they can really keep the heat cranking for a long time.
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Re: Building the Retirement House
Old 11-05-2004, 03:38 PM   #15
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Re: Building the Retirement House

They replies are helpful and it's interesting to see the commonalities.

Quote:
Gas Remote control fireplaces
A definite. Had one in the last house (gas stove) and loved it. We are building straw bale again and even tho we had a conventional furnace in the previous house, we never used it, only the gas stove. Of course living in So AZ helps.

Quote:
Also pre-wire the house for stereo speakers, and cable
I remember walking into the prev house when wiring was done thinking Omigod, this will be like Green Acres, when I turn on the TV, the toaster will pop! But it wasn't. And I was sure glad DH insisted on all that extra wire when we went to sell.

Quote:
My wife and I like the great room idea.
Another fersure.

Quote:
Where are you building and do you already have the land?
Tucson, in a pedestrian oriented community with energy efficient houses, small lot but has amenities. We were on an acre outside of town before and for various reasons have decided that's not where we want to be, even tho we are 'hicks from the sticks'.

Quote:
building a cool house" routine 13 years ago and will now reap what we sowed as to contempo and highly personalized touches being, perhaps, not easily marketable.
We had a similar problem but did Ok. As my real estate agent kept telling me: There is someone out there who needs this house and there was! Hang in there!

Quote:
I don't know if you've taken the suggestion seriously yet
I did check it out and that's what bought this to mind-he does present some interesting ideas. I especially like the hose down bathroom. When you have boys there seems to be a defintite aiming problem. I have a kid who could hit the target in archery but there's something about aiming the attached biological weapon that just doesn't translate. Thank god for Clorox wipes!

Keep the ideas coming.

Judy
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Re: Building the Retirement House
Old 11-05-2004, 05:50 PM   #16
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Re: Building the Retirement House

Quote:
5-10 years from now? The Microsoft Recliner was first rev'd in 2001.

Besides, all of these gizmos are and will be wireless. Cat5 is so last millenium
I mean REGULAR couches!!

You know what...wireless just doesnt work for me a lot of the time, although I'm typing this from a desktop with a wireless card at the other end of the house.

In my old house, some dickhead had some kind of "range extender" or a juice can antenna or something like that on his wifi setup. I could pick up his, and only his, access point. Didnt seem to matter what channel I used, where I put my AP, nada. I'd only get a signal if I put my laptop right next to the AP. More than 3" away, either I didnt see my AP at all or I saw his (but unfortunately, couldnt use it)...so his signal was bleeding all over the place. I took my laptop and wireless card (with the cisco signal meter) and found his house...across the street and down three to the right, about 800' away. Left him a note to "cut it out". He didnt. I ended up using HOMEPNA stuff, which worked great by the way.

In my new house, I have a couple of weirdo wireless devices that just dont seem to work well when I have WEP enabled, so I just left the AP open, figuring that I get signal just about to the edge of my property...hence little worry about other people using it. Just looked at my access list a few minutes ago and I had two other people on it...mac address restriction list is now in place.

Lastly, we got a free baby monitor with my last amazon order. I plugged it in, turned it on, and on both channels I get someone elses baby monitor.

The builder of my current home was a moron. It has the master bed/bath on one end of the house and the other two beds on the other side. Neither of the secondary bedrooms has anything except electricity in it. No phone, no cable, no network. Sometime this winter I'm getting up in the attic and dropping a wire bundle into each of them and some network cabling into the other rooms.

Wired all the way for me, baby!
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Re: Building the Retirement House
Old 11-06-2004, 04:29 PM   #17
 
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Re: Building the Retirement House

Don't forget an attic fan. On a warm day, after the temps drop in the evening, it cools the whole house down. Never do another house without one.
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Don't wait for the house to heat up.
Old 11-06-2004, 10:54 PM   #18
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Don't wait for the house to heat up.

Our attics are cooled by solar-powered fans.

Each fan is about 12" diameter and the solar cell (on top of the integrated fan housing) is about 12"x24". Each fan sucks 800 cfm and cools our attics 20-25 degrees. Here's a typical model: http://www.sunrisesolar.net/prod.html

And of course they run whenever the sun is heating the attics...
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Re: Building the Retirement House
Old 11-07-2004, 08:07 AM   #19
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Re: Building the Retirement House

Hi Nords,

I've been considering these things for awhile now. They seem like they would help reduce my cooling bill. But here in scorching Arizona I have had terrible luck with solar panel reliability. There is also the problem that we get more dust storms than rain, so the panels get covered with dust and you have to constantly be cleaning them.

How long have you had yours? Any comments on performance?

Thanks.
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We've had the solar fans for 4+ years.
Old 11-07-2004, 08:36 AM   #20
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We've had the solar fans for 4+ years.

Sorry, minimal dust problems on our roof. We usually get an overnight shower; I might clean the panels once or twice a year but the dust doesn't accumulate.

The fans have truly been "install & forget". We had a plover wedge itself under the coaming once but we don't have any maintenance. DC motors are pretty simple machines and the bearings are sealed so there's no need for oiling. It looks like prices have really dropped, too; we paid over $500 each in 2000. They're probably showing up in Home Depot & Lowe's by now.

If you're in Arizona and not suffering from snowfall melting on your roof or ice dams in the gutters, take a look at radiant foil insulation. We added it to our attics and the back of our garage door this summer. It made a huge difference-- http://www.dulley.com/docs/f411.htm .

The next time we replace a roof we're putting it everywhere.
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