Top 10 Things to Put in Your Next New Chicago Home

Builder Magazine Online listed their Top 10 items for builders to consider putting in their 2010 new homes.  Perhaps not surprisingly, many products on the ‘top 10 list’ are energy efficient / green building technology that is all the rage now in the industry.  They are justified as important if the real AND perceived value of these items give the customers something they want.  Whether they are luxury items, energy efficient or both.  Here is a list of the ten features (in order as they appeared on the list) in Builder Magazine:

  • Radiant-heated bathroom floors – There are alternatives to the expensive water heated tubes by substituting wire mesh options that are relatively cheap and easy to install.  Local buyers may appreciate not having their bare feet on ice cold ceramic tile in the Chicago winter.
  • Wood Butcher block counter tops – a great alternative to stone or laminate, it ages as you use it and they can be built with maple, birch and is relatively inexpensive for a wet bar or kitchen island.
  • Glass Mosaic Tiles – It’s not cheap but it attracts the younger buyer, great for backsplashes in kitchens and helps keep a room bright.
  • Dual Flush Toilets – For the eco-conscience and water conservationists out there, a must have for any green home in order to cut down on the amount of water used by a family (up to 6,000 gallons saved a year by a 4 person family) and is only $100 or so per unit more than a standard flush toilet.
  • Low-flow shower heads – Technology gives these shower heads the same pressure of a standard flow head but over the course of a 10 minute show can save 25 gallons of water.  If you can’t tell the difference, an absolute must for the 21st century home.
  • Tankless water heater – designed for instant heating rather than the traditional water heater that keeps lots of water hot regardless of need, on demand water heaters are energy savers and (not often thought of) a space-saver in your mechanical room that can be wall-mounted.  Downside?  A little pricey.
  • Water re-circulator – an alternative to the Tankless water heater, re-circulator pump installed in a base cabinet can give you instant hot water without wasting (or waiting) it down the drain.
  • Folding patio doors – Maybe not the best option for Chicago real estate as we rarely get much of a spring but a great alternative to sliding glass doors.  Also very pricey but if you love to open your house the outdoors, a great feature to wow guests.
  • Central vacuum system – tired of lugging around that old vacuum around the house, up the stairs and into the hall closet?  Try a pricing out central vacuum system that are not as expensive as you may think.
  • Excellent Insulation – Forget those old fiber glass kraft faced batts for the wall cavities.   Certainly not a flashy or exciting add to a new house, spray foam insulation is the only way to go if you’re seeking high performance in energy efficiency.  The cost is more than batts but the energy savings (when installed correctly) can earn your investment back relatively quickly.  Check out this article on spray foam open cell versus closed cell applications.