There are a lot of things to consider when building a custom home in Dallas — who to hire, the building materials you will use, eco-friendliness, the number and sizes of rooms, the amenities you want to include, and so on. But what is often overlooked is a design consideration that can mean all the difference when it comes to feeling comfortable and secure in your own home — privacy.
According to Realtor.com, 65% of owners say it is important to have a home that provides personal privacy. Yet 21% admit that they are not satisfied with their current home’s level of privacy. In other words, a significant number of people want, but cannot find, existing homes that meet their need for privacy.
Jeremy Burbank, the Vice-President at the Demand Institute, says, “The lack of privacy is more pronounced among younger households who live in cities and close-in suburbs.” That description certainly fits Dallas and some of the nearby communities.
Your home is supposed to be your sanctuary away from the world, where you can escape from the constant noise and hustle and bustle of a busy metro like Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington. You want to keep the outside world from intruding and spoiling your peace, and you want to know what happens in your home stays in your home.
But there is also a need for privacy within the home, so you can separate the public and private spaces. For example, when you have guests over, you do not want the entertaining areas to encroach on private areas like family bedrooms or your home office.
With that need in mind, let us take a closer look at some of the things you and your contractors can do to build your custom home with privacy in mind.
Location, Location, Location
It is an old adage because it is completely true.
In terms of privacy, peace, and quiet, where you build is just as important as how you build. For example, according to D Magazine, a Department of Transportation “noise map” found that the areas around Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Love Field, and the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base west of Fort Worth are the noisiest local neighborhoods.
Anyone unlucky enough to live nearby could potentially have to endure over 80 decibels every day, multiple times a day. To put that in perspective, that is roughly the equivalent of the noise produced by a garbage disposal. Neighborhoods near major highways are also to be avoided due to noise pollution. Busy traffic can produce up to 70 decibels, about the same as a vacuum cleaner.
To help you determine which DFW neighborhoods are most-affected by transportation noises, use this interactive map, created by the DOT.
But you have to consider more than just airports and highways, because sometimes, the trouble comes from the neighbors. For example, one neighborhood in West Oak Cliff generated 320 noise complaints in just one year.
Keep in mind that the noise level of your home can also be affected by proximity to construction, railways, schools, sporting events, entertainment venues, certain types of businesses, and, of course, your neighbors.
There is good news, however, if you are looking at building a custom home within Dallas city limits, because local officials are trying to crack down on excessive noise.
All this means that you have to choose your build site carefully, and may even need to consider smaller nearby suburban cities or even more rural areas.
After you have picked as quiet a location as possible, the next-best way to keep the noise level down in your home is to employ any or all of several different soundproofing options during construction:
- Acoustic Panels — These sound-deadening panels are installed on your interior walls, not under them, and come in different thicknesses. Just one inch is sufficient to stop the noise of a train.
- Floating Hardwood Floor — Sound penetration is reduced by the gap between the subfloor and the actual floor.
- Carpet, Rugs, and Padding — Reducing vibration lessens sound transference.
- Solid-Core or Insulated Doors — By installing solid-core wooden doors or doors with insulated foam cores on both the exterior and the interior, you will see a drastic reduction in noise.
- Window Upgrades — Did you know that windows are typically the biggest culprit in your home when it comes to noise transmission? Triple panes, gas fillings, foam insulating within the window frame, bulb seal seats for the glass, and even the caulking makes a world of difference. Also, the materials matter, because wooden, vinyl, and fiberglass windows conduct far less sound than windows made of aluminum.
- Wall Insulation — Spray foam insulation works best for dampening airborne noise, while fiberglass insulation is superior for impact noise.
Thinking Outside the Box
If privacy is one of your top priorities in your new custom home, you will definitely want to discuss this with your builder. There are sure to be house plans that satisfy your desire for privacy, although finding your ideal solution may mean looking at other-than traditional designs.
For example, one innovative idea may be to build your custom home with no ground-level windows facing the street. While you might expect that to lead to a darkened interior, you can compensate by adding a bank of extra-large windows in the back of the home. You could also increase the amount of natural light with the installation of a skylight, clerestory windows, or reflective solar tubing.
And that is just one option. If you can be creative, you will find multiple ways to increase the privacy level of your home, while still showcasing your sense of style.
Looking at the Layout
The floor plan of your home matters a great deal when it comes to privacy, from both guests and visitors and from other family members. While many of the noise-proofing measures reduce sound transference within the home, the right physical layout also helps prevent intrusions into private areas.
For example, family bedrooms or private offices should not be immediately adjacent to or accessible from public or entertaining areas like the living room. Instead, there should be some kind of buffer between the two. In a single-story home, this could be a guest bathroom or bedroom, while in a multi-level home, all the private family bedrooms could be placed upstairs.
Another way to promote privacy within your home is to have more bathrooms than bedrooms. If possible, each individual family bedroom should have a bathroom, and there should be an extra bathroom — or even a half-bath — for guests, near the public areas of the house.
Not only does this keep the personal area undisturbed, it also increases the resale value of your home.
Planning with Plants
Believe it or not, one of the best ways to protect your privacy at home is through strategic landscaping. In fact, you get the best of both worlds — privacy and natural beauty.
- Privacy Hedges — These are fast-growing evergreens that help seclude your property. Popular varieties include cherry laurel, box hedging, holly, and privet.
- Trees — Mature trees provide privacy, beauty, shade, and can form a natural fence boundary around your home. Consider species such as Thuja Green Giant Arborvitae, Willow, Leyland Cypress, Eastern White Pine, or Paper Birch.
- Climbers — Climbing vines can take your landscaping in a whole new direction as it covers fences and walls. And because many climbers are also flowering plants, they add a splash of color to your yard. Among the top choices are clematis, wisteria, trumpet vine, and climbing roses and hydrangeas.
Finish with Fencing and Walls
For the ultimate in outdoor privacy, it is hard to beat a quality fence or wall.
Most backyard privacy fences are 6 or 8 feet tall and are made of wood or vinyl. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Wooden fences — usually pine or red cedar — can be stained or painted any color, allowing you to create any look you can imagine. In the event of damage, you can purchase individual panels and pickets at any home improvement store, which means repairs are simple and inexpensive.
On the downside, wooden fences require regular maintenance. An untreated wooden fence quickly fades and becomes an eyesore. Without that protective treatment, the wood is also susceptible to warping and rot.
Vinyl fences are made to be virtually maintenance-free. They do not rot and they do not require seasonal treatment.
On the other hand, low-quality vinyl fences are subject to UV degradation. In extreme temperatures, they can warp or become brittle. Color options are limited, and they cannot be painted.
Although they are considerably more expensive than fencing, boundary walls made from brick or stone protect your privacy, provide security, and give your home a stately appearance. These walls are completely maintenance-free, resistant to the elements, and impervious to incidental damage.
Besides the price, the biggest drawback to stone and brick walls is the need for structural support limits their height. Taller fences might need to use a veneer, rather than the real thing.
The Bottom Line About Building for Privacy
As you can see, there is no one measure you can take to ensure your complete privacy in your custom home. It takes planning and coordination to employ several methods that complement each other, allowing you to enjoy peace and quiet, security, and privacy without sacrificing aesthetic appeal or function.
***Have questions or comments? Let us know below!***