This is blog post 3/3 on designing and building a new custom home – click [here] for part 1 and [here] for part 2 to read on about what you should consider.

When you start the process of building a custom home, the sheer number of decisions and factors you must consider can get overwhelming in a hurry. The whole idea of building a new house is to get exactly what you want but trying to balance all the different options available can get difficult and stressful.

R. L. Rider Remodeling wants the custom home process to be enjoyable and exciting, not stressful! That starts with asking the right questions from the start which is what this checklist is about. If you live in the East Lansing, Okemos, Lansing, DeWitt, or surrounding areas we can help you directly. If not, no problem, feel free to print this list and use it as a guide as you start planning your dream home and searching for a local contractor that can best help you.

For the third and final portion of this series on designing your custom home we will go room-by-room with an overview of what you need to be thinking about during the preconstruction process.

Kitchen & Dining Area

  • What kind of layout would you like for your kitchen e.g. galley-style, central island, etc.?
  • Would you like an island in your kitchen? What purposes would it serve?
  • How much cabinet storage do you need? Any special kinds of drawers or organization?
  • What appliances do you like to have? Any special ones besides the standards?
  • Do you need a separate chest freezer or second refrigerator for storing meat or extra food?
  • Would you like a 2nd kitchen, sometimes called a “messy” or prep kitchen apart from the main one?
  • Do you like to have the dining room attached to the kitchen, or separated with a wall?
  • How many people do you normally prepare food for? Would you ever need additional seating?
  • Is your kitchen primarily a prep space or do you like to make it entertaining/social too?
  • Do you need more than one sink? How do you prefer your prep/storage space is organized?
  • What kind of food storage do you need? Do you like a separate walk-in pantry?
  • Would you like a formal bar with drinks and storage?
  • Would you like a formal buffet and/or serving area?

Common Spaces (Living Room, Great Room, Den, Hallways, Storage Closets, etc.)

  • How many separate living spaces would you like to have?
  • What activities primarily happen in those spaces? Is one more dedicated to TV and one to hobbies?
  • How much seating, and of what type, needs to fit in each space to make it useful to your family?
  • Would you like a fireplace in any of the common areas? Would it be wood or gas?
  • Do any of the living spaces need an audio-visual (A/V) system with speakers, subwoofer, etc.?
  • Do your hallways need spaces or alcoves for decorations or artwork?
  • How many storage closets do you need? Where do you prefer to have them?
  • Would you like any skylights or large windows for natural lighting?
  • Do you want a centralized vacuum system or any other specialty cleaning solutions?

Bedrooms & Closets

  • How many bedrooms do you need, both for primary residents and guests?
  • Are there any master suite beds that are larger than a standard bedroom? How many?
  • Will any of the rooms have an oversized bed or be used as a nursery?
  • Does each bedroom need a closet for clothes/storage? Are any closets walk-in?
  • What kind of storage do you prefer in each closet? Do you have lots of items that need to be hung up or is a lot of it smaller items that could benefit from a shelving system?
  • Do any of the closets need specialized storage/benches e.g. in a nice walk-in closet?
  • Do you want a centralized linen closet that stores bedding for all the rooms?
  • Will a place for safe storage of jewelry or other personal items be required like a safe or lockbox?


  • How many bathrooms do you need?
  • Which bathrooms are full (shower/bath, sink, toilet) and which are half (just sink and toilet)?
  • Do you prefer flat mirrors or medicine cabinets with some storage?
  • Will the master bathroom(s) have any special fixtures like an oversized bathtub, sauna, etc.?
  • How many sinks in each bathroom? What size vanities?
  • What kind of storage do you like e.g. linen closet, vanity cabinets, “toilet toppers,” etc.?
  • Do you want a bathtub, shower, or combination? Do you want high-end or standard acrylic?
  • Will any of the bathrooms be shared “Jack-and-Jill” style with multiple doors?
  • Will any of the bathrooms have in-floor heating, bidets, or other high-end finishes?

Basement/Laundry/Utility Area

  • Will your house have a basement or just a crawlspace?
  • Do you want your basement finished completely, just a section, or left bare?
  • For what purpose will your basement be used primarily? How about in the future?
  • Will the basement be a separate suite entirely with secondary kitchen, bath, etc.?
  • Do you have a preference on where your laundry area is located, now or in the future?
  • Would you need more than one laundry area?
  • Besides a washer and dryer, do you like additional storage, a folding area, sink, drying rack or other items in each laundry area?
  • Where would you prefer your utility head-ends (water heater, electrical panels, furnace, etc.) to be located? Is there a dedicated room?

“Bonus” Rooms

  • This is your custom home – choose whatever rooms are important to you! Some ideas are:
  • Home office, study, or library and reading room
  • Gaming room and/or home theater
  • Dedicated hobby room for crafts, sewing, woodwork, etc.
  • “Safe” room or “panic” room that provides a secure space in the event of an intruder
  • Personal gym with full suite of workout equipment and industrial flooring
  • Indoor/outdoor space such as a California room or sunroom

These questions are a good place to start your custom home planning process. This is part 3 of 3, to read on to part 1 click [here] and for part 2 click [here].