Most Common, and Some Not So Common, Customizations for Florida Homes
Building a new home can involve thousands of decisions. After all, people build homes because they want them to fit their preferences and their lifestyles. So while many people start with a standard home plan, It’s not unusual for these new-build homeowners to review or revise home plans and details for weeks prior to starting a build.
With so many big and small decisions to make, it’s easy get overwhelmed with information and choices. That’s why so many new build homeowners in Florida can overlook some of the popular, customized features and options available today. With this in mind, home builders agree that it’s important to set aside time upfront to think about what you really want (or don’t) want in your new build home. Think through all your options and make a list.
And then stick to that list. Because once the job gets started, even small changes to the job and specs can cost you real-time and money. But if you plan for upgrades, you will be able to get more features for less time. And there will be fewer delays.
Are you thinking about remodeling? Many of these customizations can also be part of a major remodel project. Take a look at our list of popular and luxury customizations for Florida homes, and let us know if we missed any!
Outdoor Home Customizations
Holiday Light Outlets in the Eaves of Your Home
Many Floridians love to decorate their homes with lights, but outside electrical outlets can make it tricky. You can make it easy to add holiday lights to your home by adding electrical outlets directly into your home’s eaves. Make sure you also include a light switch for these outlets so that you can turn your holiday lights on or off quickly. You may also want to add a built-in timer to make it foolproof.
An Outlet for a Hot tub
Maybe you don’t have a hot tub now, but if you are considering getting one in the future, or if you think you might sell your new home at some point, have your builder or electrician add a 220 outlet to the area most suited for a hot tub. Even if you never use it, it’s inexpensive, and it will make it easier to resell the home.
A Swimming Pool
Yep. It’s Florida, and we love swimming. So even if you just a little bit of space for a pool, it’s smart to add it as part of the new build. Including a pool installation as part of the build can save you thousands compared to adding it later. When you add a pool with your new build, you make it easier to install long-last support plumbing to fill and drain the pool, and you can hide things like filters and pool great in specially built storage units. Make sure you include fencing and netting around the entire area to keep kids, bugs, and critters out of the water.
A Pool Bathhouse
While cabanas and pool houses are nice, an increasingly popular option for Florida homes is the less expensive cabana bath. By turning a hallway bathroom into a pool bathroom (by adding an exterior and interior door) you have a water-friendly room for wet swimmers to enter the home, rinse off, and change before they enter the not-so-water-friendly living areas.
Gas Lines for a Fire pit or BBQ
Fire pits and gas grills are popular but running gas lines after the build can be tricky. So even if you don’t have the right grill or fire pit yet, if you know where you eventually want to place them, have the builder add the gas lines now. It will never be easier or cheaper.
Covered Front Porch Addon
After years of focusing on the backyard, more and more homeowners in Florida want the charm and hospitality that a front porch brings to their home. A covered front porch also provides shade and protects your front door any facing windows. The additional shade can also reduce cooling costs. Adding a shady spot that protects you and guest from sun and rain is a great way to add interest to the front of your home.
As we spend more and more time in our outdoor spaces, it makes perfect sense to add some of our favorite media features to our deck, pool, or lanai. Many outdoor areas now include speakers, flat-screen TVs, internet, and cable access. Even Google’s voice-activated devices like Alexa can be installed in outdoor spaces. But this is Florida, so make sure your tech is well-covered, protected from humidity and heat, and that you can seal it off from wind and rain when needed.
Smart Home Features
Any list we provide would be long and might be outdated by the time you read this. So, suffice it to say that new builds or significant remodels are the times to add smart home features like automatic security lights, smart refrigerators, security cameras, home alarm systems, camera doorbells, and remote access and keypad locks.
While you may have a gas grill you love, nothing beats the look and convenience of a built-in barbecue. You can hook it up to gas lines and never have to replace a canister again. Outdoor grills can be as big as you want. You can add charcoal features, a spit, a griddle, a frying vat, or a smoker. It’s also possible to add a faucet for running water, lighting, a canopy, and cabinets for storage.
The grill is just the beginning. Today’s outdoor kitchen have sinks, cabinets, fridges, even stoves, and ovens. Over-the-top upgrades include professional pizza ovens, garbage disposals, dishwashers, wet bars, recycling bins, and appliance cabinets. In Florida, it’s smart to keep your outdoor kitchen covered, and some prefer to build them in indoor/outdoor spaces that can be sealed off against the elements.
Yep, sometimes you need a place to keep all that extra STUFF, like blenders, cutting boards, salad bowls, water bottles, and snack food. An oversized, airtight pantry allows you to keep a set of essentials outside without worrying about water damage or critter invasions.
Home Garage and Mudroom Customizations
Extra Garage Bay
When it comes to garages, two car bays may not be enough. If you have room on the lot for an additional garage bay, add it with the new build. Everyone has more to store than they think, and in Florida, and extra bay can be great for boat storage.
More and more Floridians are embracing the RV lifestyle. Many towns in our area (including Cape Coral) have strict city ordinances that prohibit parking your RV on the street or in your driveway for long periods of time. With a little planning, you can add a super-sized RV garage to your new build without detracting from your homes curb appeal.
Exit Door out of the Garage
Think about what happens in your garage, and how you use the space. Adding a door on one or more sides of your garage can make it easier for homeowners to take the trash to the curb, walk your dog, add a dog door, or, if the door includes a window, let natural light into a dark space.
Maybe you’ve always wanted a real workshop for projects and tinkering. This is the time to add one. Use that third (or fourth) garage bay as your garage workspace. And if you’re going to work outside in Florida, make sure you include adequate task lighting, lots of ventilation, and plenty of outlets for power tools and cooling fans. Garage-sized screen doors are also available to keep the breezes flowing.
Side Load Garage
If you have space on your lot, you may want to move the garage entries away from the front of your house, to the side. Not only does this change the curb appeal, but it can also be a more convenient loading and unloading for some families.
Mudroom with Drop Zone
Where do people go when they come in from the garage or backyard? Do they need a place to put their shoes? Drop their book bags? Dry off? Today’s mudrooms can do more than collect mud. They can also be a great transition space that provides a “drop zone.” The best mudrooms feature multiple rooms or cubbies that allow you to sit, store shoes and coats, hang up leashes, store your golf clubs, or even change after a dip in the pool. In a twist on the pool bathroom, some homes have hallway baths that open into the mudroom and into the main house.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a purpose-built space for bathing and care for your pup? While you’re planning that dream mudroom, you may want to add a special area for washing or showering the dog(s). These dog cleaning stations can include half walls to catch splashes, or ramps to bring dogs up a comfortable height for the owner. Include a clip for a leash or harness in the bathing area, a bench for you to sit on, and an easy-to-use, hand-held shower head. And don’t forget to include a cabinet to stash all your doggie bathing supplies.
Home Kitchen Customizations
For several years, the super handy walk-in pantry has been considered a dated feature associated with home built before the Millennia. However, the spacious and practical walk-in pantry is making a big comeback as homeowners look for ways to add storage without adding acres of cabinets to the kitchen. With a walk-in pantry, homeowners who want clean, open kitchens can skip some of the top cabinets in favor of open shelving and other popular design choices.
The Butler’s Pantry
This is a riff on the walk-in pantry. But instead of hiding your pantry behind a door, this cabinet area is usually designed to work with the kitchen cabinets and is not hidden behind a door. Homeowners utilize a side of a small hallway or create a small entry hall and cover two walls with cabinets. Often a small sink is included.
Outlets in the Pantry
If you choose to have a walk-in pantry or a butler’s pantry, don’t forget to load up on extra outlets. Once you have some electrical outlets installed, these spacious pantry options can become home to things like bread makers or small shake makers. Some people turn butler pantries into coffee-making centers. Electrical outlets in walk-in pantries are also great places to recharge things like small vacuums.
Don’t underestimate the value of a small utility room off the kitchen or mudroom. Many Floridians find it useful to have a little room dedicated to storing cleaning supplies, paper towels, and cleaning equipment like vacuums, mops, ladders, and buckets. A well-placed utility room can be an excellent option for stowing some of your less glamorous possessions well out of sight.
Disposals in all Kitchen Sinks
Most of us remember to put a garbage disposal in one side of our sinks, but why not put one on both sides? Who wants to scoop slimy bits of food from one side to the other?
Oversized or Deep Kitchen Sinks
Double kitchen sinks are great, but not if they’re too shallow to accommodate your pots and pans. If your biggest pot or pan doesn’t fit comfortably into your kitchen sink, the sink is too small. It’s smart to increase the size of one side of your kitchen sink, so it’s easier to rinse out pots, clean sheet pans, or allow for other kinds of more significant projects. Or get deep double sinks or a farmhouse-style sink. If needed, install and smaller bar sink on your island for smaller tasks.
Custom Height Counters
If you are taller or shorter than average, you might find that the standard counter height is inconvenient or even uncomfortable. Shorter people reach too high, while taller people get sore backs from hunching over. While building custom-height cabinet throughout your kitchen might not be practical, it’s smart to create at least one island or workspace that is at the right height for you. If your partner is much shorter or taller and helps out in the kitchen. Consider created two custom-height workspaces. You’ll find you gravitate to your right-sized workspace for almost everything.
Wouldn’t it be great to take out the trash less often? What if you didn’t have to worry about trash dumpsters that are overflowing before trash day? With a trash compactor, you eliminate air and dead space within the trash bag, significantly reducing the volume of your trash, often by more than 50%. Some homes also use their compactor for recycling. Other homes have one compactor for waste and a second compactor just for recycled materials.
While a second dishwasher can feel like a real extravagance, if you’re a home that has lots of kids or guests, you may feel like your dishwasher is running 24 hours day. If you often find yourself looking for kitchen items and thinking, “oh, that’s in the dishwasher right now,” you may need a second dishwasher.
A Recycle Drawer
If you want to get better about recycling, make a place for it in your new home. Recycling drawers allow you to create spaces for recycled items. You may want to include more than one for even more convenience.
Eco- Friendly Faucets
All faucets are not created equal. When you choose flow-optimizer aerators, you will use much less water without losing anything in performance.
Kitchen Island with a Sink
While many homes are adding kitchen islands, not all of them are installing sinks on them. However, adding another water source makes all kinds of task easier. And having two sinks makes it much easier to accommodate two cooks in the kitchen.
Even safe, clean water can have a funky taste or unpleasant odor. For the purest water throughout your home, invest in a whole-home water purifier. If you can’t justify the expense, get a smaller purifying system for your kitchen sink(s) and ice maker to ensure your drinking and cooking water and ice is free of strange smells or tastes.
Many people skimp on under-counter lighting, but it can make a big difference in your comfort in the kitchen. As we age, our ability to see things in shadow diminishes greatly. So even young homeowners may find themselves longing for undercabinet lighting in a few years. If you have dark-colored or dark-marble countertops, your countertops will feel shadowy. You’ll find extra lighting, especially helpful. While you can add this kind of lighting post-construction, you’ll may find it difficult and expensive to run wires or to change batteries regularly.
Taller Upper Cabinets
Standard kitchen cabinets rarely reach the ceiling, but taller upper cabinets that reach all the way to the kitchen ceiling are now widely available. Even if you can’t reach your top shelves without a step stool, you’ll find that that extra storage space is an excellent spot for extra dishes, seldom used appliances, entertaining supplies, or even holiday ware. Tall upper cabinets also tend to make kitchens look taller and more spacious.
Don’t forget to include a space for a TV, speakers, Google Voice-Activate tech devices, charging stations, and your laptop
While new media is all the rage, cookbooks are still must-haves in the kitchen. Having a special place for cookbooks, recipe files, and a few other items is always a good idea. Books and shelves are also a great way to manage sound in the kitchen, reducing echos.
Home Bathroom Customizations
A Jetted Tub
There’s nothing like a long soak with some gentle bubbles to soothe your muscles and your mind. If you like a relaxing bath, invest in a jetted tub that’s deep enough and big enough for a long soak.
A Cable TV Outlet
Americans love their TVs, and new build bathrooms are making them a part of the building plan. Whether you plan to watch TV as you soak in the tub or you want the news on in the morning, think about where your TV can be located, and add cables and electrical outlets to accommodate them into your plans.
An Upgraded Shower
A hot shower is always a good thing, but now you can take a shower to the next level. Inspired by the spa-like showers in upscale resorts, manufacturers are offering homeowners options that make a home shower a totally indulgent experience. Not only can you choose from endless designs and finishes, but you can also choose from a wide variety of plumbing fixtures that provide rain showers, ceiling mount showers, massage jets, steam, low water pressure, lights, music, preselected temperatures, and more.
A Mirror TV
If you want the TV on as you get ready, nothing is more convenient than having a mirror TV installed. The screen reverts to a mirror when off, and since it’s behind glass, the water and steam in your bathroom won’t degrade the electronics.
A Toilet Room
In many new builds, a toilet is a room that is built within the bathroom to provide additional privacy and make it easier for two people to share the bathroom.
If you share a bathroom, make sure you plan to include two sinks. And don’t forget about adding a second sink in shared kids’ and guests’ bathrooms as well.
Heated Floors and Towel Racks
While Florida can get hot, tile floors and air conditioning mean that you can feel downright chilly coming out of the shower. Heated floors and heated towel racks help you provide heat at the right time in the right places.
High Tech Toilets
If you haven’t tried one yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. These premium toilets not only provide integrated bidet functions, but they can also air dry, put the seat down automatically, deodorize, provide a nightlight, and even offer remote flushing.
Many people find that it’s helpful to have three types of lighting for their bathroom sinks. These bulbs can simulate natural light, office lighting, and evening lighting. With a little planning, you can also create a spa-like atmosphere throughout your bathroom using everything from colored lights, toe kick lighting, lighting inside cabinets, and soft spotlights throughout the space.
Home Bedroom Customizations
Closets. Closets. Closets.
It’s hard to overestimate your need for closet space. Spacious closets allow you to give your clothes the room they need to stay pressed and wrinkle-free. Deep shelving keeps shoes looking newer, longer. Clever shelf space will enable you to store seldom-used vacation clothes out of the way. Some people like to add sitting space to help them dress. Others add premium features like jewelry cases, tie drawers, safes, islands, mirrors, dressing tables, and more. We’ve even had laundry rooms installed as part of the closets (after all, what could be more convenient?)
Windows in the Closet
While people love to spend time in their closets, few consider the need for a window. A little natural light and fresh air is a nice add-on to these sometimes vast spaces.
Skylight or Solatubes
Adding light from above can be a great idea, especially if you’re close to your neighbors, and not comfortable with open drapes. And it’s always lovely to be able to gaze at the moon from your bed.
A Master on the Main
Placing the master bedroom on the main floor eliminates the needs for stairs and ensures that you can live in your home much longer. It’s one of the most popular customizations for bedrooms in Florida.
Double Doors in the Master Entry
Double doors into the master suite ads luxury and a bit of drama to the master suite.
Vaulted Ceilings in the Master Suite
If you want to create a spacious, open feel, consider including high, vaulted ceilings to your master bedroom. Small rooms feel more substantial, and large rooms feel majestic if they have a vaulted ceiling.
Dual Master Suites
If you plan to host long-term guests, or if you’re going to share your home with your parents or your adult children, you may want to include two master suites for greater comfort and privacy.
A Separate Entry Master Suite
If you want to give your family or guests a private entrance, and an area that can be sealed off from the rest of the home, considering adding a private entrance for a second master suite.
Customizations For Home Living Spaces
A Nine Foot (or more) Ceiling Height
Nothing opens up space better than a high ceiling. Increasing the height of your ceilings throughout your home will make every part of your home feel larger and lighter. High ceilings can also be a great way to keep Florida home cooler, by drawing warm air up into unused ceiling space.
While many Floridians love to spend time outside, bugs and critters can be a real challenge. That’s why some homeowners opt for screens in all their outdoor living spaces. Whether it’s a backyard lanai or a balcony off a second-floor bedroom, with a little planning, screens can dramatically increase the time you, your family, and your guests want to spend out of doors.
Upgraded Trim and Moldings
The fit and finish of your home will make a big difference to its long-term value. Adding additional trim and molding during the new build phase is the most economical way to get a finely finished home.
Today’s homes can offer one or more spaces or rooms for home offices. Because so much of our work now happens at home, it makes perfect sense to set up desks, shelving, lighting, and outlets throughout the home. If you want privacy, it makes sense to close the office off with soundproof doors.
Three-way Light Switches
You may find open floorplan houses present some challenges when it comes to light switches. Consider installing three ways light switches or lights that can be turned off in two places. Think through your floor plan and how you may enter and exit rooms and hallways, and whether you may want two or more switches for lighting.
Maybe you don’t know what you’ll use it for, but if you have space for it, adding a bonus room leave room to grow as you move through life. To make it extra flexible, add a closet and lots of outlets.
Stairways can get dark quickly, even during the day. That’s why it’s smart to include windows or skylights into your stairway area.
Tech is always changing, so it’s hard to know what device will become the next big things. But watching movies in comfy chairs never goes out of style. Adding a viewing space where you and your guest can eat popcorn and watch movies is a popular customization for more and more Floridians.
Multi-Generation Family Floor Plans
You may be young or old when you build your new home, but your needs will inevitably change over the years. That’s why it’s smart to build homes that consider the needs of multiple generations.
Jack & Jill Bathrooms
Adding a bathroom to each bedroom can suck up space and money. That’s why Jack and Jill bathrooms are a popular customization. By adding a door to each side of the bathroom, it becomes a convenient option for both bedrooms.
Sometimes you want the privacy of a door, even if you don’t have the space. Pocket doors slide into the wall, removing the need for swing space. Even in big homes, pocket doors are handy solutions in bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other hard-working areas.
Whether you’re worried about home invasions or hurricanes, the addition of a safe room can create a safe space to live until help arrives. Safe rooms have lots of technical considerations, so work with an expert to help you think through all possible contingencies.
Solar energy is a popular option in the Sunshine State. Take advantage of our region’s natural abundance with solar panels that can provide some or all of the energy you home needs to run. Solar panels are especially practical solutions for areas that occasionally lose power during storms.
Home Customizations & Remodeling
If any of these home customizations peak your interest, be sure to plan for them in your new home build. If you already built a new home in SWFL recently or in years past, you can upgrade your current house to add some of these customizations; just be sure to work with a skilled and quality-focused home remodeling contractor.