for a new home? It’s not all about square footage,
counter tops and closet size.
changing. You’ve got homework to do. Decisions to
make. Some will affect your pocketbook for years. Others
will improve your quality of life the day you move in.
… well, it’ll just make your pooch less smelly.
a quick tour of cutting-edge amenities now offered at
some Central Valley, Calif., new-home communities:
years, builders would slap an awning on the back of the
house and call it a patio. Now, homes frequently come
with a modern and stylish upgrade called the California
indoor-outdoor space with a ceiling and just one or two
walls. It can be used as a second dining room, outdoor
kitchen or even a living room with couches and flat
screen TV. It may have a ceiling fan, fireplace and tile
or polished concrete floor.
and foothills home builders say they are responding to
young buyers arriving from the Bay Area who are looking
for an outdoorsy lifestyle at home.
on the level of extravagance, a California Room may add
$7,000 to $20,000 to the home price.
homes that don’t have California Rooms instead come
with a disappearing back wall made of accordion-style
bi-fold doors that fold aside, opening your Great Room
to the backyard.
huge style points,” recent Folsom homebuyer Ian
Cornell said. “It looks great and when you are
relaxing, I anticipate that feeling of open space and
connecting to outdoors.”
boomers, some now in their early 70s, want homes they
can stay in as physical limitations set in. Home
builders call it “aging in place.”
three-story brownstones in Sacramento’s Crocker
Village include elevators as an option. So do new
developments in Davis and East Sacramento.
Mike Paris of BlackPine Communities estimates the
elevator adds $25,000 to $35,000 to the price of the
house, depending on how many “stops” it has. But you
don’t have to buy the elevator yet. The spaces on each
floor also serve as closets, pantries and storage rooms.
gives the buyer the peace of mind that they can
age-in-place without incurring the cost when they may
not need the elevator at that time,” Paris said.
young homeowners have kids. More have dogs, though. And
many of us consider our dogs full-fledged family
the indoor doggy shower, with tiled walls and hot and
cold faucets, often located in the laundry room. Anthem
United Homes is about to put some in its Lathrop
subdivision. “It’s about three feet wide, two feet
above the ground. A special faucet to wash at your
waist. It’s like a half tub,” said Matt Gustus of
builders are adding doggy drawers in the kitchen of new
homes: Slide open the bottom cabinet drawer, and it
holds your pet’s eating dish and water bowl. Slide it
back in and it’s out of sight. No tripping or
accidentally kicking the water bowl.
solar is like getting braces. The row of panels on the
roof isn’t pretty, but it could pay off with a smile
in the long run.
California Energy Commission will require most new homes
to have solar starting in 2020. But some home builders
are including solar now as standard equipment.
you get one? It may require some calculations, based in
part on how long you plan to live in this house.
Energy Commission estimates solar could add $10,000 to
the cost of a new home, but the panels could cut average
monthly utility bills by $80.
‘Tesla’ in the garage
buy a home with a solar rooftop, should you order a
solar-energy storage battery for your garage too?
expert Bob Raymer of the state Building Industry
Association says it may be a smart move as utility
companies increase rates during new “time of day”
electricity pricing. The Sacramento Municipal Utility
District, for instance, soon will begin charging more
for energy customers between 5 and 8 p.m. PG&E will
are going to be a lot of homeowners with sticker
shock,” Raymer said.
battery in the garage will allow homeowners to minimize
evening utility bills by storing their own daytime solar
energy, then tapping into it in the evening.
batteries aren’t cheap, though, costing anywhere from
$4,000 to $15,000. Tesla is among the makers. Some in
the industry say prices will come down if you wait a few
efficiency is about more than rooftop solar. The real
bang for your buck may involve a new approach to attic
insulation. Raymer of the BIA suggests buyers ask their
builder if the attic can include energy-saving
insulation techniques now that will be required in 2020.
It involves adding R19 insulation in the attic’s
ceiling rafters, basically along the underside of the
keep attic temperatures far closer to room temperatures
in the house below, which will cool air conditioning
ducts that run through the attic, making it easier for
them to do their job of delivering cool air through the
Cooking with gas? Nope
energy efficiency is a fast-changing realm. A pioneering
company, De Young Builders in Fresno, is constructing
some of the first “zero net energy” homes in the
cooks, though, going no-carbon means stove top cooking
without gas. That’s going to be a tough sell for some
traditionalists. De Young and other builders hope to
make it easier by offering electricity-based induction
stove tops as an alternative.
Homes officials say more buyers are multi-generational
families who want to live under one roof, but want some
distance from each other. So the company’s begun
building in-law apartments that are embedded in the main
home, with a front door of their own, but with another
door to the main house.
them Next Gen homes. The apartments have kitchenettes, a
living room, bathroom, bedroom, washer and dryer and
sometimes their own patio. Grandparents can live there.
Or boomerang 20-somethings back from college. Or special
needs adult children who can benefit from some
homeowner can rent the space out to a tenant for extra
income, but that may be a little close for comfort. The
main house and embedded unit share the same utilities.
Plus, you can sometimes hear noise on the other side of
Foiling porch thieves
are techier than ever. Doorbells now double as cameras
and loudspeakers. You can see who’s at your front door
via a smart phone app while sitting in your office miles
away. If it’s someone selling a product, you can
pretend you are home, politely saying no thanks. If
it’s a delivery service, you can, if you choose, code
them into the house, so they don’t have to leave the
box on the porch.
thermostats: You can set the temperature via smartphone
app before you get home. Or, some thermostats watch and
learn your rhythms, and adjust the temperature on their
Homes has introduced “Wi-Fi certified” homes that
put an end to an annoying modern issue — reception
dead zones. Their system even extends to the backyard.
An Amazon rep comes to your house when you move in to
help you program your system, which includes Amazon’s