Did you know that a single garden gnome can knock $500 off your home’s value? You’re probably not thinking of moving on too soon if you own your home as opposed to renting, but things change, and one day you may find that the accumulated design and décor choices you made decades ago are costing you thousands or tens of thousands. A little thought into your home building about what future home buyers might think and feel when you are building a custom home in Alberta or renovating can pay off big in the long-term.

So what are some common design mistakes with home building?

Bigger isn’t always better

The McMansion trend is over. Sacrificing quality for size could leave you with a home that’s too expensive for first-time buyers but that lacks the luxury features needed to attract high-end buyers. Are you more likely to sell a home with a Jacuzzi or an empty ‘crafts room’ that you’ve never used? A smaller home concentrated with elegant, luxurious features and modern appliances is going to sell in any economic climate.

Think like a town planner

Like like a city, your home has a traffic flow: at ‘rush hour’ you need to get up, wash, make breakfast and get out of the door. Add kids into the mix and you’re looking at a morning of domestic pile-ups and fender-benders unless you’ve thought about the house’s flow. Don’t just think about people, but movable objects: planning on starting a family? Where will your baby’s stroller be stored and how are you going to get it to the door? Want to lose a few pounds by cycling to work? Is your bike going to be in the house or the garage, and what are the pros and cons of both? If you need a new couch will you be able to get it through the door?

Build for who you’re going to be

A young family with one child might be able to get away with a two-bedroom home for now, but fifty percent of all pregnancies are unplanned, so unless you’re very careful you may need more space. Adding an extra upstairs room that you can use as an office or gym now but convert into a bedroom later means that you don’t have to move house should the unexpected happen. Older home buyers might want to consider that their mobility will diminish as they get older: three storeys might look good now, but they’ll be a mass of stairlifts and ramps if one of you breaks a hip.

Ignoring ceilings

These are an underutilized place to add character and, if done right, value. Interesting lighting features are an obvious value add, but consider sconces, recessed lighting and wooden trims that create an elegant look. Adding small secondary lights away from a central feature like a chandelier will diffuse the lighting in the room and prevent shadows that will hide your other decorating ideas. Don’t always assume that a ceiling has to be white: though it’s rare for a ceiling to be darker than the walls, a lighter shade of the wall colour creates a lower contrast palette that can bring out other details.

Build for the Canadian climate

If you look through home design magazines and blogs you’re likely to be looking at homes built for climates that don’t reach -40oC in mid-winter. Big bay windows might let the light in, but they also let the heat out, leading to increased upfront costs for bigger boilers and long-term costs for heating. Think of a traditional log or timber home- it’s been the preferred way to build homes in cold climates around the world for centuries—for good reason.

Don’t assume you’ll upgrade later, assume you’ll upgrade much  later

You may be tempted to create a bare-bones, no-frills house now and add some pizzaz at a later date. The problem is, life will get in the way once you’ve moved in and those upgrades may never get done. It’s better to put off building a home for a little while and get the home you want rather than go all-in now and get a home that’s just about acceptable.

However, a home is a long-term investment and things change, so leave some space for upgrades. Maybe you’re going to need to add an extra bedroom or a back porch. Maybe when your children leave home you’ll start entertaining more and will need more space.

The two key points here: think about the little details and think on a long time horizon when building a home. Before you start drafting plans for your dream home, imagine yourself in the shoes of a home buyer in 2037: what will they be seeing when a real-estate agent walks them through your home?  Need help with your plan? Contact HR2 Construction to request your free estimate and we’ll give you our expert advice.

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