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sue in el paso, TX0.001

We want to build a better house for less money. I'm a stay-at-home mom, but our youngest is almost in school. I'm taking this on as my next "job." I have previous professional experience as a manager and lots of budgeting and frugality experience as a "home manager" from these last years staying home. Plus, we have definite ideas of what we want for this next house and want to be in charge of the whole process.
Lisa in Onalaska, WI



Special Report 26: Owner-builders on desirable house features - Electronic Edition
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Author: Mark A. Smith
[This is the Special Report 26 in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. Our electronic products download immediately to your computer upon purchase.]

Here are the hot features owner-builders around the country recommend. You'll find the features that distinguish a custom home from a mere step-up house. Some of these features are a bargain that can add appreciably to your house value. Revised and updated with new reader tips, web links and comments.

Topics include:

  • Built-ins
  • Custom bedrooms
  • Kids' features
  • Computer and networking capabilities
  • Regionally-based features
  • Indoor air quality
  • Kitchen upgrades
  • Deluxe bathrooms

Excerpt from Report:

"...Q. What were special features in your house?

A. We used a new technology of a wooden basement floor, no concrete. Soil under. 18 inch crawl space. Use space as a plenum. Floor will be dry. You won?t feel any clamminess down there. Central vac, alarm system with video cameras on entrances, stress skin panels R-28. No builders wrap needed. Air to air heat exhanger system.

A. Whirlpool bath, island, two ovens and a microwave, master walk-in closet, utility room main floor, pantry is off kitchen, utility closet upstairs with shelving, appliance garage on countertop, under cabinet lighting, insulation. House was designed by Minnesotans. The insulation overhangs two feet all the way to the house. Soffit extends two feet out. Good attic air flow.

A. Wainscoting in four rooms, hard pine cabinets in study, stacked stone fireplace, raised panel white painted cabinets. Trellis ceiling in the kitchen, recessed lights, countertops of Corian and granite, heart pine stair case. I am a fisherman, and have my boat in a heated and A/C'd boathouse and office. Over the garage I have 1,500 extra bonus space. Garage is 44X32.

A. It had nice showers, big bedrooms.

A. Quiet location, deer and wild turkey come through. Easy to heat and cool, and to maintain. You have your own well and septic here.

A. Central vac. Manibloc plumbing, two furnaces, sinks in youth bedrooms, custom designed windows, upgraded appliances, stainless steel, wired for sound everywhere, with volume controls in each room, two water heaters

A. Central vac. $1,000 well spent. Fireplace insert. Hardwood floor on the majority of downstairs, pre-finished oak. Solid oak cabinets, painted. Bar that we eat at, no kitchen table, we have a dining room. The bar is 14 foot long. It seats eight. We dropped ours down to 30' height, to use just conventional chairs. All bedroom have walk in closet. Each has inside access to a bath. Master bedroom down, kids up, master bath has commode area separate, whirlpool and separate shower, double vanity. Two heating and cooling systems, two hot water heaters..."

Sample Reader Tip Excerpts:


Has anyone ever thought about installing a thick mil poly on the ceiling and walls after insulation but before sheetrock, for dust control purposes and improved vapor barrier? Some of my family have allergies and indoor dust is a big concern. Any opinions are welcome, thanx.
by Wayne in Fresno, CA

Wayne, you may want to consider doing that. Be cautious when installing around can lights and other sources of heat. However, you may want to consult with a porfessional insulation installer as well. Walls still need to breathe and in the unfortunate instance where you get some moisture in the walls, you want to make sure that the moisture can escape. Notice how most of the wall mold cases are newer construction? That’s because once moisture/water gets into the walls, it has no place to escape. Even though you want to keep all the dust in it’s place, make sure that moisture can escape. Hope this helps.
by Jason in Geneva, IL

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