Small Building Mistakes That Can Cause Big Problems

outlets on a kitchen wall near a sink

Many people dream of building a home one day. It's easy to imagine the joys of picking everything, from the type of insulation to the paint colors on the walls. Imagine designing your own cabinetry, deciding how big your closets ought to be, opting for that super cool shower head. Most people don't forget about the important stuff a home has to have, like the number of bathrooms. But there are a lot of little things to think about, too. Here's how to avoid some common mistakes to avoid expensive updates later.

HVAC System

The HVAC system you use and the units you buy to maintain it are essential elements of your home's infrastructure. The size of the HVAC units is a big deal. If you get something that's too small, your space won't be heated and cooled properly. You'll end up being chilly in winter and hot in the summer.

But on the flip side, units that are too big will use far too much energy and lead to bigger utility bills. So you can't overcompensate by simply ordering a size up. Speak with an HVAC expect and make sure you get a unit that's just the right size for the home you have.

You also want to ensure that your utility room, where your furnace and water heater are located, is appropriately-sized. The room itself needs to be big enough for these systems.

Closet Space

Everyone wants a ton of closet space, right? Who hasn't dreamed of a custom walk-in closet with drawers for days? But when it comes to building, many people plan for their closets poorly. You need to think critically about where you need storage space and how much storage space you really need.

The fact is, no amount of closet space is ever really 'enough." Your entire home could be nothing but a closet, and you'd still wish you had more storage room. According to home experts, you're probably storing too much stuff, anyway.

Think about where you really need storage space and how much you really in, really really need. Do you need a closet near your home's entryway to store coats, boots, and other items? Where can you install shelves or cubbyholes, as opposed to closets? Remember that everywhere you put a closet, you're creating less actual living space. Plan your closets carefully and remind yourself that sometimes, you may be over-storing.

empty double closet in a room with a tall window looking out on trees


It's pretty much a law of the universe that there is never an outlet where you need one. Visit any home anywhere in the U.S., and you will most likely find at least one extension cord connecting some far-away electric appliance or device to a wall outlet that shouldn't be so far away.

When you're building your home, don't forget about wall outlets. Frankly, you want them pretty much everywhere. If you can get on one every wall, do it. You may think you won't need them. You will. While you're at it, be sure to have at least one outlet outside of your home somewhere.

This will reduce your stress levels a great deal regarding holiday decorating, outdoor entertaining, and simply having a nice afternoon on the porch. If you can, get an outlet in the front of your home and another in the back. This will solve many problems and make lots of fun activities possible.


The lighting in any space has a significant effect on your mood. When you walk into a dim space, you may automatically feel more ill-at-ease or suddenly feel as gloomy as your surroundings. You want your home to feel light and bright and totally well-lit, so don't forget about light fixtures and windows. You want them in every single room, if possible.

Use track lighting and wall scones to get plenty of lighting that won't intrude into interior spaces. Opt for under-cabinet lighting where needed, and don't rely completely on lamps to lit up your home. Most of them are designed not to put out very bright light, and when the bulbs burn out, you’re left with lots of sinister, shadowy corners.

Windows are just as important. Opt for bigger windows where you can and bring as much natural light into your home as you can get. This will make your spaces feel light and happy. Windows will literally brighten your mood, so don't forget about them. It can't possibly be overstated how important windows really are.


hands with gloves rolling out insulation in a construction frame on a floor

If you're going to splurge on your home budget, don't put that extra money into those gorgeous stone counters...even though you really want them. Don't upgrade to that standing shower with the body jets and digital light matter how cool that might be. Spend your bucks where it's going to make the biggest difference—insulation.

No, it's not as sexy as your neighbor's hot tub, and it's not as easy to show off as custom cabinets built with real oak, but it is an investment that will continue to pay for itself for decades. High-quality insulation will make it much easier for you to keep your home heated in winter and cooler in summer because you'll suffer a lot less energy loss.

Your HVAC system won't have to work as hard, which means you'll use less energy. That directly adds up to savings on your utility bills. Quality insulation greatly increases your home's resale value, so this will pay off in several ways throughout the future of your home.

When it comes to attic insulation, don't forget to use raised-heel trusses. This will provide the right amount of space for your insulation. Don't forget to insulate your entire home. That includes the attic and the basement. Arguably, these areas need to be insulated the most because so much energy loss can happen in these areas.

Pipes and ducts need insulation, too. Make sure ducts and pipes are properly sealed around the seams to prevent energy loss.

The Little Things

Most people focus on the big stuff when it comes to building a home. Where should the bedrooms be? Where do you want the kitchen? Should you get a pool? All this stuff matters, but you have to focus on the small stuff, too.

Don’t neglect all the little things and all the details that go into building a great home. It’s the small things that will pay off for you in the most significant ways as you grow into your home in the future.