• Erin

10 Things You'll Be THANKFUL You Included In Your Home

When it comes to home building, nobody likes feeling any regret. I think part of the anxiety that comes along with building a new house is wanting to make sure that you get every single thing right, right from the beginning. There are so many decisions to make, so many options that you could choose from, and so many things you could splurge on! In our tech-savvy world, we’re surrounded by all of these amazing home ideas and it’s tough to figure out which are the best for you. That’s why I’ve come up with a list of the top 10 things that you’ll be thankful you included in your home. Let’s get started!


1. Hot Water Recirculating System

If you’ve ever stood outside of your shower waiting for the warm water to finally get to the faucet before you get in, then you can understand the value of a hot water recirculating system! Basically, it allows you to turn on the water in any area of your home and have hot water within moments. Especially for those of us with ranch-style homes that have more of a sprawling floor plan, this can be a game changer. Even the faucet on the far end of your house, the furthest away from the water heater, can have hot water right away! The way this works is by using a dedicated hot water pipe that runs from the furthest away faucet directly to the water heater. A pump at the water heater is what moves the water through the recirculation line. You’ll never have to waste time standing at the sink waiting for warm water again! Bonus: This will also save TONS of water that was otherwise wasted down the drain waiting for the temperature change.


First floor laundry room is a must!

2. First Floor Laundry

This might be one of our most common remodeling requests here at Sockness Builders. There are so many great reasons to move your laundry to the same level of your house as the bedrooms are. I mean let’s face it, laundry sucks, and anything you can do to make it less awful is a win, right? So often homeowners are living in homes with basement laundry rooms. If you plan to grow old in your home, getting this moved and eliminating the up and down of the stairs is a must. Not to mention, it’s a great feature to note when reselling your house too! In my ranch-style house, we love that our laundry room is on the main level and away from the common living spaces. We have ours right off of our mudroom. Another tip is to add a pocket door to your laundry room if you can. Take it from me, it’s so nice to be able to close the door and forget about the mounds of clothes that await you – just kidding (kind of). Really though, we like being able to close the pocket door if we have guests coming over, knowing that we don’t have to worry about cleaning up that area of the house.


3. Mudroom and Lockers

Especially if you have kids, a mudroom and/or lockers can be an amazing space in your home. For us, our mudroom is located just inside the door coming in from the garage. It’s perfect to have a landing zone for all of the backpacks, shoes, hats, coats, etc. that come home on a daily basis. It’s honestly been a room of our house that helps me stay organized and allows me to keep the other areas of the house more picked up, simply because we have somewhere to put the overflow. I love mudrooms that have a large closet for coats and shoes, and then also somewhere to easily hang backpacks for the kiddos. We have a simple entry bench with some hooks on it that works perfectly. Other great options are installing lockers that go a step further with cubbies, shelves, or even cell phone charging stations built right in. These can be custom built by your builder, or they could even be purchased to go with your cabinetry.

Mudroom with entry bench and hooks for backpacks

4. Walk-In Pantry

A walk-in pantry seems to be all the rage right now, and let me be the first to tell you – they are awesome. If you are building or remodeling and you can spare some square footage, you won’t regret adding this very useful space to your home. Ours is just around the corner

Walk-in pantry with sliding barn door

from our kitchen and it houses the majority of our food items, kitchen appliances, and just about anything else we don’t have a designated space for. It’s so perfect for the crock pot, the blender, or other bulky items that you would typically have to lug downstairs and then back up every time you want to use them. We have shelving throughout and it’s perfect for keeping snacks on the lower shelves that the kids can reach and help themselves to. A tip for your walk-in pantry would be not to forget outlets! We use the outlets in our pantry for the internet router, charging phones, and even keeping our computers plugged in and on the shelves. Some homeowners even opt to make their walk-in-pantry more of a “butler’s pantry” complete with a countertop, sink, coffee pot, etc. With the open concept living that is so popular right now, eliminating clutter from the kitchen can be achieved with this extra space.

Walk-in pantry storage

5. Exterior Outlets on a Switch

It might be true that you can never have enough outlets in and around your home – but don’t forget the exterior too! If you like to get in the holiday spirit with outdoor lighting and you put Christmas lights up on your home, strategically placing outlets under the eaves will be a lifesaver when it comes time to decorate. Also make sure to have plenty on your front porch if you plan to plug in any lighting, spooky or interactive Halloween décor, or anything else that would require power. Make sure to take this a step further and have a switch for these outlets inside. If you live somewhere like I do, the frozen tundra of Wisconsin, it’s so nice to be in the warm house and easily flip a switch to turn your holiday lights off at night instead of trudging out in the snow to unplug them.


6. Wi-Fi Thermostat and Wi-Fi Garage Door Openers

Controlling your home’s comfort settings from your cell phone isn’t just a thing of the future. These days, there are a lot of really neat options for Wi-fi thermostats, and honestly, they won’t break the bank either. We love our ecobee® thermostat because it’s so easy to adjust from anywhere with our cell phone. For example, you leave for a long weekend away and realize that you don’t actually need the heat in your home to be up so high while you’re gone but you forgot to turn it down… just pull out your phone and adjust it! The latest generation of the ecobee® even comes with Amazon Alexa built-in! So, you can ask your thermostat to turn the lights on for you or add milk to the grocery list! Crazy, right? You can also easily control your garage doors with your cell phone too. These days almost all new openers come wi-fi equipped. For us, the best part of this is getting a notification on your phone when the garage door opens or closes. We love the added sense of security this gives us, but honestly, it comes in the handiest when I think I probably forgot to close the garage door and I need to double-check.

ecobee thermostat

7. Desk Area or Command Center

I love the idea of making your home work for your lifestyle. It’s so important that you have a space for keeping you and your family on track during the weekly grind. I have no clue if there is actual research to support the idea that things about your home can make you happier… but from personal experience, being slightly more organized in and around the house certainly helps. If you’re designing a new home, think about how you can set it up in a way that will work for you. Where will you put the mail when you bring it in every day? Where will you keep your calendar for the week? Do you need a special spot for the kids to do their homework? We have two spots in our house that help with this. One is right in the kitchen – a designated counter area for things like the mail, charger cords, notes home from school, etc. Then we also have a spot in our mudroom that serves as our command center. It’s our big, monthly dry erase calendar. We update it as days fill up with events and it helps keep everyone on the same page. I’ve found that my kids love having the calendar because they like to know what exciting things are coming up too!


Kitchen counter space for mail, bills, chargers, etc.

Monthly calendar in the mudroom

8. Central Vacuum

If you have pets… or kids… a central vacuum might be just what you need. For anyone who doesn’t know what it is, it’s a vacuum system that is integrated into your house walls. There’s a vacuum system that’s located in either your basement or garage, and then small, covered ports throughout your home. Opening the ports create suction in the system, so

central vacuum system

when you want to vacuum, you just hook up the hose to one of the ports and it’s ready to use! The main reason why we love ours is because it’s so easy. You don’t have to lug around a heavy vacuum, you just grab the hose, connect to one of the ports, and clean away. Any dust or dirt cleaned up by the vacuum immediately goes down into the system in the basement, so for people with allergies it’s great because it doesn’t stir up the dust in the house. A tip for anyone considering a central vacuum is to make sure to place a port in your garage too! It’s a lifesaver for vacuuming out your vehicle anytime you want!


9. Gutter Guards

If you live in a wooded area, you’ll never regret adding some type of gutter guards to your home’s exterior. At Sockness Builders, we typically install LeafGuard® brand guards. They are basically a piece of rolled aluminum that go over the top of your gutters. The rolled shape allows water to get in, but keeps leaves and other debris out. They keep your gutters maintenance free, so there’s no more climbing up a ladder to your roof for the twice per year clean-out. Not only is this a huge time saver, but have you ever looked up the statistics for how often homeowners fall off of a ladder doing this exact thing? It’s a dangerous job! I don’t have trees near my home, so we didn’t need to install these at my house – but my advice to you is, do it if you can. Incorporate these into your new home budget, or put this on a list as a way to spruce up your existing house!


10. A Deep Garage

When we were building our house someone told us, “no matter how big you make the garage, you’ll always wish it were bigger!” I laughed at the time, but it’s TRUE! When you’re planning your home, really think about what all will be occupying space in your gage. Cars, boats, shelving, bikes, workshop, garbage cans, power-wheels, kids’ toys, etc. They are all big items and need a big space. There’s nothing worse than having a garage space so tight that you can barely open your vehicle doors when you’re parked inside. Give yourself room! Our house plan allowed us to have a deep area of the garage and I don’t know what we’d do without it!


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