Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Construction - It's all in the details...

Building a home or doing any kind of renovation is extremely stressful. There are tons of details to think about and when the contractor/ builder is peppering you with a multitude of questions everyday, you can quickly become overwhelmed. I suggest that if you are doing construction, it would behoove you to hire a designer to help handle these decisions.

I thought I would share a few tips for those planning your own project.


You will spend hours with your electrician, builder and architect discussing the lighting plan. Do not take these meetings lightly. While they can be quite exhausting, your lighting plan is one of the most important aspects of your home.

(1) Make sure there are dimmers on EVERY single light switch in the home. You may not think you need them everywhere but you will be happy in the end that you have them.

(2) Use screwless light switch plates. They can be a tad pricier but they are much sleeker looking with no visible hardware. My favorite are the Claro by Lutron.

(3) It is easiest to do recessed lighting in most rooms as it is the most efficient source of light. However, as stated in a previous post of mine, if you can avoid recessed lights by doing a pendant fixture in the ceiling and other forms of light such as table lamps and sconces, you can definitely add more mood to the space. 

When installing recessed lights, for a more updated look, be sure to use 4 inch cans rather than the old school six inch ones. In addition, try to use the halogen ones as well. If your home is very modern, stainless steel trims and or/ square trims are very cool.

(4) If you are able to hire a designer while you are doing construction, it is great if he or she can provide a furniture plan that depicts whether you are going to have table lamps in the middle of the room. Maybe you are going to have a console behind your sofa or side tables where you would like to place table lamps. You can have the electrician put outlets in the floor to accommodate for the electricity. You don't want unsightly cords snaking across the floors.

via delight by design


This is a small tip, but one of my favorite. Have the builder put all of your outlets and telephone jacks in the baseboard moldings. Most contractors tend to place them about six inches above the baseboard. Installing them inside the molding makes it less obvious and doesn't disrupt the flow of the wall.


If you are going to want a sound system in your home, have it installed when all of the walls are open. If you cannot afford to install systems in every room, at the very least, have the AV company put the wires in the wall so you are set up for the future.

Air Conditioning...

The more zones, the better. This way, for example, if you enjoy cooler temperatures in your room, but prefer to keep the children's rooms warmer, you are able to accommodate everyone.


Be sure the finish on your hardware is uniform throughout the home, including doorknobs, hinges even down to your doorbell. There are so many beautiful options and no matter what, hardware is going to cost you more than you think. However, don't be afraid to look for less expensive options online. If you are concerned with what a particular item may look like in person, order a few different ones and then decide which you like best.

It is also important to have privacy locks on all bathrooms and if possible most bedrooms. If you have young children you might choose to forgo locks on their doors.


I wrote a post a while back on kitchens - Check it out here...

My last tip and a regret of mine...

Radiant Heat...

When I was gutting my home, a friend of mine highly recommended we put radiant heat in the bathroom floors. Luckily, it was already in the master bathroom.  However, as you could imagine, the construction costs were increasing rapidly and we chose to forgo the radiant heat in the other bathrooms due to our budget constraints. This was a big mistake. We should have cut back somewhere else and put radiant heat in the kids bathrooms at the least. It is definitely worth the extra money.


  1. Melanie, I totally agree about having a Lutron dimmer switches in every room. I have used them for all fixed lights in all my apts in NYC since 2000. For all my plug-in lamps I use a remote control lighting system called X-10. The link is below. Every light in my room turns on and off or dims at the touch of a button. And the system is not that expensive at all. Check it out!

  2. That fantastic Jamie! Thanks so much for adding that tip!

  3. All such useful tips! I love the idea of putting outlets in the floor and baseboards. Where were you when we were renovating? Obsessed with radiant heat btw...we have it in over half of the rooms in our house. Agree with dimmer switches too- lighting should set a mood and you can't do that with just one option. Keep those great tips coming~

  4. Modern range of Glass Touch and Remote Light switches available in 1,2,3 gangs, Black and White.

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