Pullen Consulting, Inc.  Keith Pullen

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Pullen Consulting, Inc.

3662 W. Cromwell Dr.
Tucson, AZ  85741

(520) 579-1206


 

  • General Residential Building Contractor, 065756 B since August 1986
  • Plumbing/Solar Contractor 086750 C-37  since June 1990

Thinking about building a house someday?  Start making a list now of things you want and don't want in your new home even if you're just thinking about it.   The list will be useful whether you design the house yourself or have an architect do it for you. When the time comes to start drawing the house plans, you'll already have a check list.  You can start by making a list of the rooms you want: number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, laundry room, etc.  If you're on a tight budget, make a note on the list by items you could live without in case you have to cut back.

Here's a list I've made that you can get ideas from:

Plumbing:

  • Recirculating hot water system for instant hot water at each faucet. Including a one-hour timer in each bathroom to control the pump will help conserve energy.  

  • Insulate ALL hot water pipes, especially if using a recirculating system. We like to run the hot water pipes in the walls and ceiling for better insulation and run the cold water lines underground for cool tap water year round.

  • Use brass ball valves instead of gate valves where shutoff valves are required – water heater, main shutoff, etc.

  • Install air chambers at the end of all water lines to eliminate water hammer when valves are shut off.

  • Water softener. A 110 outlet and a drain should be near by – hard water to hose bibs

  • " nylon water line (not copper) from under kitchen sink to frig for ice maker

  • Install tubs 6 to 16" away from back wall to make room for a ledge behind the tub. This also gives you more room when using the tub for a shower.  An ordinary tub becomes a nice roomy shower.

  • Use cast iron tubs – Elgin or Kohler K-715, 5’-0" (K-515 master, 5’-6")

  • Moen lav faucets #4220 Approx. $112

  • Moen kitchen sink faucet #87130 Approx. $84

  • Delta tub & shower valves – anti scald #1548 $100 (for shower only #1524 $90). These are pressure balanced so the temperature doesn’t change when the pressure changes (as when a toilet is flushes somewhere in the house).

  • Offset tub spout from center of tub 8" so kids (or you) don’t bump their heads on it when they are sitting on that side of the tub.  There's no rule that says the spout has to be centered.

  • Install tub valves at shower height, approximately 40" above floor instead of down at normal tub valve height. Tubs are used for showers more than they are for tubs.

  • Cultured marble tub/shower enclosures instead of tile (Robison Marble)

  • One piece cultured marble sink/counter top in bathrooms

Solar: 

  • The most economical way to get solar (water or electric) is to include it in the mortgage when you buy a new home or when refinancing. The increase in the monthly mortgage payment is minimal, yet the monthly energy savings is immediate. Your net monthly savings starts the first month instead of having to wait 5-10 years to break even.

Cabinets:

  • 36" high counter tops in master bath.

  • Standard 32" counter tops in main bath.

  • Use drawers in bottom kitchen cabinets instead of cabinet doors as much as possible. Drawers are more space efficient.

  • If you have a broom cabinet make it at least 5 Ft. high. You don’t want end up with one that is 2 inches shorter than your brooms.

  • And you may want to have a shelf in the pantry with 14" clearance for the larger cereal boxes they have these days.

Electric/Mechanical:

  • Wall heaters in bathrooms (at least stub in 20 amp wire w/ switch at door for future installation) Model #Nutone 9819ND 1920 watts 120v. This comes in handy when a cold winter day blows in before you switch your heaters on. You can also save energy by setting your thermostat a little cooler in the winter and just warm up the bathroom for showers.

  • 80 CFM exhaust fans in bathrooms (50 CFM is standard and just make noise)  80-CFM fans are usually better quality, move more air and are quieter.  I've had the best luck with the Broan ultra silent series.

  • Digital thermostat for evap coolers. American Excelsior Co. Model 082-0222

  • Upducts to attic if using evap. Cooling. The product I've used in the past is Up-Dux, by Mission Manufacturing. PO Box 21465, Phoenix Arizona 85036. Home Depot carries them.

  • Aero single pad evap cooler (AeroCool not MasterCool) with 12 hr run out pumps to keep the water fresh. (MasterCool models require tools just to check the float level etc. Other brands have easy lift out panels.)

  • Barometric dampers at air handlers and coolers. So you won’t have to manually open and shut the damper when you switch between cooler and A/C or between Cooler and heat.

  • A note on evaporative coolers:  With today's highly insulated homes and high efficiency A/C units, it may not be worth the trouble to run an evaporative cooler.  Coolers are high maintenance appliances that only work well during the hot dry months.  The little you save during those months probably won't pay for the added maintenance costs. 

  • CATV and phone wires should terminate at a common point or in a "smartbox" – no loop drops

  • Use 4 pair Cat 5 or 6 unshielded twisted pair wire for phone lines. Cat 5 wire can also be used for computer networking and stereo speakers in addition to phone lines.

  • 5 pair minimum – phone line drop from phone company to house even if you're just planning on having one phone line. This is usually done for free if you let the Phone Company know before the ditch is covered. Standard drop is usually only 2 pair, you have to ask if you want more.

  • 110 outlet near water heater for recirculating and solar pumps.

  • 110 outlet under cabinet in master bath (and maybe in the main bath).  Plug in a switched power strip like the ones used for computes and mount it under the counter.  Then you can plug in your curling irons and curlers, etc. and keep them put away under the cabinet. The switch on the power strip turns it all on or off. 

  • Wire to mail box for light. Usually can be dropped in the electric or water service ditch for little extra expense.

  • Photocell circuit for front light and mail box light. We like to have all outside lights on a photo cell circuit so they will turn off during the day if you forget to turn them off, or while you're away.

  • Switched outlets with photocell at front of house for Christmas lights.

  • Photocell night-light circuit in kitchen, halls and bathrooms. Could also incorporate a UPS in the night-light circuit if power outages are common in your area. (Uninterruptible Power Supply)

  • Smoke detector or heat sensor in garage. Often, fires start in the garage and can go undetected until it's too late.

  • No floodlights. Use standard or fluorescent lights for a softer more even outside lighting. Floodlights are high wattage and expensive to run. Also, they create a bright spot with dark shadows. This makes it harder to see because your eyes adjust to the bright light and also makes it easier for someone to hide in the shadows.

  • Use 48" fluorescent lights wherever feasible for interior lighting.

  • Pre-wire for ceiling fans in all rooms even if you're not planning to install them now.

  • Stub for pool electric if a pool may be in your future. It’s much cheaper to run the line now if the electric panel is on the opposite side of the house.

  • Alarm pre-wire – include drop for dead bolt sensors. Dead bolt sensors will let you know if all the doors are locked when you set the alarm, not just if they are closed. Pre-wire usually only costs $200-$500 during construction. If you don’t pre-wire and decide to add an alarm later it could cost thousands more, or you will have to use wireless battery operated sensors.

General:

  • No windows on the west side of the house if possible. To avoid the hot west sun.

  • Blow in insulation instead of bats. Higher R-value per inch.

  • Blue Dow foam for stucco base. The blue foam is higher density than the cheaper white foam that is most commonly used and provides an additional layer of insulation around your home.

  • Overhangs over windows and doors, especially on the east, south and west.   Overhangs of about 2 feet on the south side will shade the windows in the summer and let the sun in in the winter.

  • Insulated metal doors for exterior doors are more energy efficient and more whether resistant.

  • Schlage locks and doorknobs or better. (Interior and exterior.) You can get cheaper knobs, but you'll end up replacing them in a few years.

  • RV parking?  If you may have an RV someday or may have guests stop by with their RV, you can easily and inexpensively stub out a sewer cleanout as well as water and electric hookups during new construction.

Posted August 29, 1999 - updated Nov 2009


 
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