Home build/design/architecture questions

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Bob Reynolds

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Thanks @bud16415 that's helpful to know!

@Bob Reynolds that's really helpful too, especially the point about fixing problems on paper before driving a single nail or pouring a single drop of concrete. But I do think you over-state the case for future-proofing. I hope there will always be people who push back against "smart appliances", for example -- I sure as heck would never bring a toaster or fridge into my house that requires a bluetooth or wifi connection, and plan to instill that wisdom in my kids. Also, the future adapts to what's available from the past sometimes too: we didn't have to get a fiber optic line laid in just to get internet, it comes through the same coaxial connections that in days gone by provided my parent's generation with television. To me, simplicity and cost are always higher considerations than keeping up with the Joneses. I'd rather have a house that's a pleasure for me to live in and maintain than one I'm sure the gadget-freaks of the 2060s are going to scramble for.
In all reality, it's impossible to "future proof" a home. But you do have to plan to be able to adapt when necessary.

In the late 1990's and well into the 2000's, the conventional belief was that internet service would come from the phone company. No one thought the cable company would be the one to provide, much less dominate, high speed internet service.

Home builders back then installed Cat 5 wiring in homes running from the managed system portal to each room in the house. That would have been the perfect solution if the phone company had been able to deliver reliable high speed internet.

As you know today, most internet is provided by the cable company. Wireless internet is predominate throughout homes so you don't even need wires anymore.

Many people don't even have those kind of phones that you actually plug into an RJ11 jack because smartphones have taken over. We didn't even have smartphones prior to 2007.

At one time, there was a problem with the phone companies running out of numbers because of all of the fax machines and pagers. That's not a problem anymore as the phone company became a declining business and could not retain customers. The phone company used to publish a great big phone book with all of the listed phone numbers and yellow pages in the back that generated incredible advertising profits for the phone company. Back then everyone got the phone book. Today, most people don't even use a phone book. When was the last time you picked one up and actually looked up a phone number?

Today, the cable companies are having problems retaining customers as people cut the cord because technology makes it possible to receiving programming in many different ways.

Technology will continue to change and we will change with it. That comes with the good and the bad.
 

zannej

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Some very good points. Bob, I completely agree with the making the changes on "paper" although, I think nowadays you can do it in a layout program like Sketchup so you can see it in 3D and it lets you do a sort of perspective of a person walking through it.

When we renovated our kitchen in the 80s, my dad sketched it out on paper because it was before computers had software for it. Our Apple II E computer only had DOS and 3kb of RAM. He did however, put down tape on the floor to mark where things were going to see how it would feel. He had a bit of a dispute with Mom. He wanted to keep the fridge over near the pantry but for some reason she wanted it closer to the living room instead. I think because it was closer for bringing in groceries through the front door. Years later she regretted it and now claims it was his idea to switch it up, but I remember the conversations they had so I know it was her idea. LOL.

For future-proofing, I think adding in backing braces for shower walls to later add grab bars is a good idea.

I wonder if it's possible to add a slope/ramp for a garage so the garage can be on the same level as the house if it's on top of a crawlspace. Probably more practical to have a larger garage and some steps though. If I could have a garage, I would want it oversized to have room to get things in and out of vehicles, have some tool chests and other stuff nearby, etc.

Wish I could have a basement here, but water levels are too high. The soil type is another thing to consider. Will it make it difficult to dig a basement? If you want a septic tank or water well, how difficult would it be to dig them out and can a septic tank go deep enough without hitting waterline? They almost hit water when digging for my new septic tank.

Another thing Bob mentioned that I completely agree with is when they design layouts but don't think about furniture. It's one of my pet peeves. I see it so often where there isn't enough room for the couch.

One pet peeve in my home is not enough electrical outlets. I think by code they need to be every 12 feet now, but there are only a few scattered throughout my house. Only 2 of them total in my bedroom (on opposite walls). My parents room only had 2 outlets as well-- one behind the bed and another next to it. Living room was a newer part so it has 4 outlets but only 2 work.

So, having a large enough circuit box with room for upgrades is a good idea.
 

Bob Reynolds

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Another thing that I push during renovations are electrical outlets and switches. I always ask where they plug in their vacuum cleaner. Then I point out how much easier it would be if there was an outlet here, here and there. When you express it in those terms, the homeowner will see the benefits of having those extra outlets.

I do the same thing with switches. I want switches where they naturally should be. I don't want to have to walk through a dark room to turn on the lights.
 

bud16415

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Bob hit one of my big points in this post. I have seen so many homes wired in the craziest manner. Mostly high dollar homes as well.



I remember one huge home where the kitchen had 12 ceiling cans all on one switch. They would get up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water and they would fumble in the dark rather than light up the whole neighborhood. To make matters worse the switch was on the wrong end of the room.



We have family members that just bought a fancy new home and there was no forethought in switch location. To make matters worth they did all rocker switches and half of them were upside down. That I could fix for them.



One thing I do that I don’t see anyplace else is if I’m doing a ceiling fan with a light below it I use a double switch that takes up one spot. The upper switch is the fan the lower the light. It becomes easy to intuitively understand the placement. Same way with if you have several rows of lights just place the switches in the same way the rows are.



I really hate this trend for pre-wiring above a fireplace with those big recessed boxes. But I understand people like TVs up in the air like that. For me it is a distraction from the look of a fireplace. If it were my house I would rather pre-wire it and don’t connect the wires and just map where they are behind the drywall if I ever decide I need a TV up there.



I also like the idea of an outlet here and there put in with a switch at switch height for sweepers and such. Nothing worse than looking for an outlet behind an end table to plug in the sweeper.



Where we live central air isn’t a necessity but a lot of people use window units for a couple months in the summer. I picked the window I wanted to use in the living room and the bedrooms and put a dedicated outlet right below the window. Normally the outlets are off to the sides of windows. It makes it nice and neat and I like having loads like that separated out.

These changes cost a few bucks during construction and cost 100s after.
 

BuzzLOL

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Hot water heating used to be called The Cadillac of Heating Systems... but makes it hard to add central air later... forced air heating makes it simple... a quiet central air system is nice because the house just seems to naturally magically be comfortably cool without the racket, look, dripping water, or drafts of window air conditioners.
I just stopped using TV's and now use these projectors and you can have any picture size you want, 40" - 300". The unit is about the size of a small VCR and can be on floor, a table, atop a cabinet, or from ceiling and costs about $220 ordered direct from China for a nice one. 40,000 hour bulb life. I show it on a light colored or white wall. Currently have mine set at a 200" picture size, 14' wide by 8' high. Had it at 160" at first, but then realized I had a better spot for it. Great for watching Ohio State football games. I run the sound through the home stereo+ receiver which is 5.1 and several large (now used as surround) speaker systems that I picked up in 1971 in Vietnam. (has built in speakers, also, with decent sound and volume, but I wanted sound coming mainly from in front of us) It picks up WiFi, internet, youtube, etc., etc. from the Cable Router. For $17, got and added a wireless keyboard and mouse kit from Walmart. I use a digital TV box and rabbit ears to pick up and drive it with about 40 local digital TV channels. Can also be used as a computer and/or gaming monitor. A search for Free Movies on Youtube will bring up more good movies than you can watch in 10 lifetimes! And watch on your own schedule.
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Eddie_T

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My baths are around 60 ft from the water heater. By running water into a bucket I find that hot water is near to the faucets when about 2 gal is in the bucket. The pipe is probably 70 ft and holding 1.6 gallons so with purging and warming the pipe around 3 gal.

I ran ¾" CPVC for hot water, I prolly should have used ½" and cut pipe volume to 0.7 gal but I was thinking head loss at the time.
 
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Sparky617

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Bob notes "At one time, there was a problem with the phone companies running out of numbers because of all of the fax machines and pagers. That's not a problem anymore as the phone company became a declining business and could not retain customers."

There are more phone numbers than ever the reason we're not running out of phone numbers is now there is a giant data base that all the phone companies connect to in order to determine who provides the service to that number. It started with 800 numbers and moved to cell phones and home phone numbers. Before this local number portability wasn't possible because the phone system only looked at the NPA (area code) and NXX (exchange) or six digit look-up. And the call would be routed to the correct "exchange" or cell phone provider. An exchange would cover all the phone numbers in the range from 0000-9999 in the NXX. Now the originating provider does a quick look up to the data base and determines who provides the service to the called number and routes it appropriately. This is what allows you to "port" your number from one cellphone or landline provider to another. Earlier with 800 services 800-Holiday for Holiday Inns was tied to AT&T, if they wanted to move carriers they had to change the number. When they rolled out 10 digit look up for 800 numbers it even allowed customers to have multiple providers for the same phone number in the rare instance of an outage in the long distance network. I've been in the industry for nearly 40 years and the changes in the telecom industry over these 40 years have been amazing.

Both CATV and Telcos can use the inside COAX to deliver internet throughout the house. MOCA (multimedia over Coax) is the technology that goes from the cable or optical unit to the router. As speeds have increased with fiber to the home (Verizon FiOS, Google, AT&T Digital) they are running the fiber to an inside unit now and using wifi to distribute the signal around the house. Though sometime in larger homes WAP repeaters are needed for signal strength. As we move towards 5G cell providers will be able to provide a viable alternative to fiber or CATV internet connections for home internet service. Cable TV packages will likely become a thing of the past in the next 5 years as more people cut the cord and go over the top selecting packages that meet their needs.
 

billshack

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As Plumber , yes we cluster plumbing fixture together. Bath rooms one on top of each other . I remember pricing a home for an architect that had all the plumbing thought the house. he asked why so much , Because the piping is three times longer and three time the labour. He asked to cluster the fixtures it cut the cost in half.
 

zannej

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I just re-read Bud's comment about double switches for ceiling fans. I really like that idea. I wish my house had that because I would love to be able to turn my fan on separately from the light without having to pull the chain (as the mechanisms sometimes wear out or the chains break). It would be especially nice for ones that use remote controls & the remote got lost.

My bathrooms came with old vent/light/heaters that had 3 switches in a single wall plate. I want to replace them with a single gang triple rocker switch & superglue raised colored dots near each one (clear for vent/fan, white for light, and red for heat-- if words are not printed on the wall plate).

I just had total brain freeze.
 

Flyover

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As Plumber , yes we cluster plumbing fixture together. Bath rooms one on top of each other . I remember pricing a home for an architect that had all the plumbing thought the house. he asked why so much , Because the piping is three times longer and three time the labour. He asked to cluster the fixtures it cut the cost in half.
I imagine pex reduces labor cost some (just bend it where it needs to go, no measuring/cutting/gluing up PVC or soldering copper etc.). Am I imagining right?
 

zannej

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PEX in coils is a b**** to straighten, but is not so bad to bend if you have something to bend it through (I use cheap gray pvc conduit). It takes time to do the fittings. While the push-fit ones are usually considered faster, the pex is supposed to be measured & marked to make sure the fitting is on right. For the crimp/cinch fittings it requires special tools that are not cheap & putting on rings-- have to make sure those are lined up properly as well. A good plumber can eyeball it, but some may need to measure. There are plastic fittings that have stubs to indicate where the metal rings should go though. The fittings part is what takes time. Also, plumbers can charge by the hour even if something only takes them 5 minutes. The local plumbers where I live will charge by tasks completed as if each one took a full hour.
 

bud16415

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By how much? (As a percentage, say.)
The tools you will need to cut and crimp PEX will be under $50.



The stainless steel rings are what I like and the same crimping tool works on all size of rings.



I prefer to do a manifold and home runs to each device when possible and in doing that nothing in the structure except PEX tubing. All connections are outside of structure.



I don’t know the factors on cost, but can give you my example as a DIYer with no training. I made a list of what I needed to do a two story house. Kitchen, two baths one up one down, one kitchen with dishwasher and wet fridge, first floor laundry, three outside locations, water heater. I started at the water main entering the house and replaced all the supply plumbing in the house with the help of a 86 year old guy and did it all over a two day weekend. That included a couple trips back for parts I forgot to get. It is as simple to do as anything. I also made my manifold with every run having a H/C ball valve and in the case of outdoor locations I combined the H/C just past the manifold so if I want hot outside I can go to the basement and select it or a mixed H/C.



The crimping is easy to do and I have never had a leak. The first couple I did I put a sharpie dot 3/16 from the end of the tube to locate the ring, but after that it was easy to eyeball. Once they are crimped you can still turn the fitting without a leak. This is very handy.

The only negative I have heard is that mice will chew thru it. We get mice once in a while but I have never seen any chewing on the PEX.
 

zannej

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I'm glad you mentioned the manifolds. I got some plastic PEX manifolds (although I couldn't find them in all the sizes I wanted) because they were less expensive than brass & they hold up better to hard water than brass. We still need to install them though. Have to pick a time when my friend is available to work on it with me again. It's easier than having to keep splicing separate fittings on to a PEX line. I think I got some manifolds with about 3 or 4 outlets. I got colored tape to mark hot & cold manifolds (since the plastic ones are black).

I'm hoping the mice will leave the PEX alone.
 
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