How can you ensure you are building smart when you’ve never built before?  By leveraging the wisdom of those who have gone before you.   

When building a new home, the most important component that will influence design is your family’s lifestyle. Personal preference and past experience can inform your decision-making regarding the biggest factors such as the style of home, number and location of bedrooms, bathrooms and others.

But what about the details? Are there options you didn’t even think to consider?

A good method to close your knowledge gap is experience. What did previous dream home builders think to include, or forget and wish they had?

We work with many homebuyers and builders and have compiled a list of items to consider. Most are low cost, low effort but high impact… provided you include them in the plans from day one. 


Intuitively, most of us understand the importance of windows and natural light and incorporate these into design. Yet despite being just as important, lighting is given a lot less attention.  


A few items to consider include:

  • Recessed or directional interior lighting consistent with the intended the use of each room
  • Lighting under cabinets or on stairwells for utility, safety and aesthetics
  • Magnetic door switches installed in closets so the light comes on when you open door
  • Recessed lights in exterior roof soffits for curb appeal, security and to build a welcoming and warm look 


Electrical work is inexpensive during the build phase of a home, making the added flexibility of forethought affordable to execute

  • Generally the more outlets the better. Do not rely on building code to define number and placement!
  • Consider floor outlets in an open floor plan home to keep lamp cords tidy
  • Add a charging station for electronic devices in a mudroom or kitchen, you can even wire one into the drawer of a media desk for extra convenience
  • Hardwire speakers and other technology where possible (surround sound system, intercoms, etc.)
  • Anywhere you might later add a television, add a cable and data jack for better streaming, especially bedrooms
  • Add a special external outlet connected to a switch for holiday lights  

Garage/ Exterior

Perhaps due to exhaustion in home design, few families focus the same level of effort they dedicated to their home on configuring their garage. Ensuring a smooth design here is also important

  • Install an in-floor drain for projects and Minnesota winters
  • Add a dog-washing tub to clean your pet prior to entering your home
  • Include a soft water line to an exterior spigot for washing your car

Utility Infrastructure

Accommodate your future self by running water, drain, gas or other utility lines to unfinished space where you anticipate a future need

  • Even if your wet bar didn’t make the final cut, plumbing it out in your basement now can make sense
  • Yard irrigation lines can be roughed in and fully installed later
  • A gas fireplace is much more palatable expense later when the gas line already exists


A few additional suggestions fall under best practices to at least consider for your new home:

  • A multi-zone HVAC system can cut utility costs and help the environment
  • Added insulation as soundproofing around media or guest rooms
  • Double-paned windows that flip in for easy cleaning
  • Built-ins like lockers by external doors, or as additional flexible storage elsewhere
  • Mud rooms serve as a transition point from outside and can organize entryways and hide away kids boots, coats and gear
  • A battery backup sump system can save you great expense and headaches later

Hop in the DeLorean

The important thing with any or all of these is to be forward-looking and consider your future. Try and approximate what your needs may look like three, five or 10 years from now.

Will your family grow? Will you be sending kids off to college? Getting kids back after college? Looking to finish unfinished space?

By building options into your new home now you can ensure it serves you well even as your family transitions in the future. At Zachary Adams and Associates we have helped many families in the west metro design, build and complete homes that meet their diverse needs. We’d love to be a resource to similarly help you. Contact us today to get started.



What did we miss? Share in the comment section the best feature of your home that might work for others, or alternatively, those features you wish you had but may have overlooked