3 home features to plan BEFORE you start building

Building a new residence is an exciting project, filled with decisions about rooms, exterior elevations, and amenities. But while there are some features that may be less thrilling than the pool, porte cochere or show garage, these elements have a big impact on the enjoyment of your home.

Lighting is something we take for granted and underestimate its potential to transform a space. Without good lighting, the impact of all the other well-thought out details – flooring, sumptuous furnishings, beautiful wallcoverings – is lost.

The solution? Plan your lighting as part of the architectural design.

“The more detail you can confirm before embarking on a lighting scheme, the better the lighting will be, ” says an article on Freshome.com.

Why not wait until construction is complete? One big reason – you must have the compatible wiring available for your lighting fixtures. Tearing up a ceiling to add wiring later is an expensive and disruptive proposition. You also want to be sure that the builders include the right support and boxing for heavy fixtures, like chandeliers.

By integrating the lighting plan into the architectural design, the contractor can build the necessary infrastructure to make it a reality.

Interior designer Elle Cole, Founder and Creative Director of Elle Cole Interiors, explains the best approach, “Speaking for window treatments, it’s best to walk the project during framing/electrical phase with the General Contractor in the event you’re using hard-wired motorized shades or need additional blocking to support treatments.”

Acoustical issues are rarely a top of mind issue for those in the planning stages of a new residence, but they should be. In Sebastian Construction Group’s survey, 2018 State of High End Residential Architecture, acoustical consultants were part of the typical project team less than 13% of the time.

Noise in a home is an issue that is commonly overlooked, until post-construction conditions are so unpleasant that the owner is driven to find a solution – often at a cost ten to a hundred times what it would have been to address it in the design phase.

A New York Times article on soundproofing New York apartments agains city noise notes, “The solution is seldom as simple as adding insulation. Noise is insidious. No two room hums are exactly alike, and what silences one might make another worse.”

The article goes on to say, “Part of the difficulty in damping sound is that it moves in two ways. Both high- and low-pitched noises can be airborne, like a child’s incessant piano practice that comes through a wall. Low-pitched noise, like the grating sound of a chair scraping the floor above, tends to move as vibration through a structure’s framing. Sometimes it’s a combination of the two, like from a TV mounted on a common wall.”

Bottom line: calling in an acoustical expert to consult on the design of your residence before it’s built may add a few thousand dollars to the price tag, but it can potentially save tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in fixing noise issues post-construction (not to mention the loss of sleep, recreation and enjoyment of your home!)