Designing a house, apartment, or hotel room
These are some design rules that I've developed over the years after staying in various hotels/hostels, and living in various houses and apartments. The deficiencies are many, particularly in older places, but they still persist in new places.
- A blank wall should be considered a potential place to put shelving. Not all blank walls should have shelving, in some cases pictures, or a clock might be a better fit. However, it should be considered.
- Where there isn't shelving, consider putting hooks or similar, to make it easy to hang things.
- There should be plenty of power points, like at least four per room (excluding bathrooms and toilets, which probably only need one each, and should be covered), and more if it's a bigger room. Power points should have switches at the wall, for both safety, and to save electricity.
- On a similar note, it's not hard while doing this to put in at least one ethernet/phone jack in most rooms. You might have them all ending in the fuse box.
- Light switches should be inside the room where the light is, and near the entrance, and at a height easy to press. If there is more than one entrance, then there should be a light switch for each light, at each entrance.
- If there are multiple light switches together (or even just multiple switches) they should be labelled.
- Windows should have insect (fly) screens with mesh small enough to keep out mosquitoes.
- There should be plenty of bench space.
- There should be at least a couple of drawers suitable for cutlery.
- A double sink is a big plus.
- There should be enough room for at least two people to work in the kitchen at one time.
- Lights above the sink, above the stove, and above the main work space are important.
- Should have an exhaust fan, probably with a grease trap, over the stove.
The bathroom and toilet
- Should have shelving, a cupboard, and somewhere to put a cup and toothbrushes.
- And also a bench or chair of some description to place clothing.
- The toilet (if any) should have enough space so that a tall person (e.g. me) can sit comfortably, and the toilet paper should be easily reachable (more to the front of the toilet, rather than behind).
- A mirror should be above the sink, and a shaving mirror should also exist at the same location.
- A shaving mirror, or other small mirror, in the shower would also be good.
- It would be good if mirrors had some sort of anti-fog/condensation coating.
- The floor should be slightly sloped, and have a drain so that spilt water can easily go down it. The floor should not have carpet.
- Should have an exhaust fan.
- There should be grab bars around the room, especially in the shower and above the bath (as appropriate), fixtures (towel rail, etc.) should be strong enough to also be grab able in case of need.
- Things should not be positioned behind doors (e.g. towel rails, and light switches).
- There should be soap holders at both the sink, and the shower/bath tub.
Power, insulation, etc.
For a new building, especially for a house, a few solar panels will add little to the total cost (and will often be subsidised). They will add more to the value of the building, than the initial cost. The building then, should be designed to make it easy to add and remove solar panels and a solar hot water heater. As well, the building should be designed to passively cool in the summer, and make the best use of sunlight in the winter (where applicable).
Insulation should be used both for external facing surfaces, and windows should be double (or even triple) glazed. Insulation should also be used between certain internal walls (and ceilings if two or more stories), such as between bedrooms. Having internal insulation reduces sound carrying through the building, as well as making it easier to heat/cool.