Austin New Construction Best Practices: Protecting Your Home from Damage and Assisting with Maintenance

Building a new home is an exciting journey, filled with decisions that will affect the comfort, safety, and longevity of your residence. Among these decisions, choosing the right construction practices to protect your home from damage and facilitate easy maintenance is paramount. Here, we delve into several upfront considerations to ensure your Austin new construction remains a source of joy rather than a cause for concern.

Water Damage Prevention: A Crucial Consideration

Water Shutoffs: Essential for Emergency Situations

Main-line Water Shutoff

In any home, the ability to quickly turn off the water supply can prevent minor leaks from becoming major disasters. Installing an easily accessible 1/4 turn ball valve as the main-line homeowner water shutoff is a must. This type of valve is preferable for its durability and ease of use, eliminating the need for prying open heavy covers or digging through mud.

Isolated Water Shutoffs

Equally important is the use of ¼ turn ball valves for isolated shutoffs at sinks and toilets. Older full-turn wheel-style valves, which contain rubber components, are susceptible to deterioration from chlorine and other chemicals in the water, leading to leaks and failures.

Highly Recommended: Water Monitoring Systems

Consider installing a main-line water monitor in your Austin new construction with automatic and remote shutoff capabilities. Leading products like FloLogic, The Leak Defense, Phyn, and AlertLabs offer advanced features that can tie into alarm systems, irrigation systems, and more, providing peace of mind and significantly reducing the risk of water damage.

Read More: Building a Truly Smart Home: Focusing on Health and Well-being

Drainage and Containment: Managing Leaks Effectively

Minimum Requirements: Drain Pans and Safety Switches

Installing drain pans under indoor water heaters and AC units is a basic yet effective measure. These pans should be in good condition, with unobstructed drains leading water away from your home. Additionally, equipping AC units with safety float switches can prevent overflow damage by automatically shutting off the system in case of leaks.

Highly Recommended: Built-in Drains and SinkMats

For added protection, consider having built-in drains under dishwashers and washing machines, and installing WeatherTech SinkMats under all sinks. These measures help contain leaks and prevent water from damaging your home’s structure and finishes.

Exterior Water Management: Keeping Water at Bay

Gutters and Grading: Essential for Rainwater Management

Properly sized gutters and correct landscape grading are fundamental to prevent water from pooling around your home’s foundation, which can lead to structural damage. Ensure gutters are cleaned regularly, especially if they drain underground, and that the landscape slopes away from your home to facilitate proper water runoff.

Highly Recommended: Awnings and Perimeter Solutions

Installing awnings over doors and windows can protect your home from water damage by preventing rainwater from directly hitting these vulnerable areas. Additionally, a perimeter of rock or crushed granite around your house can enhance drainage, deter pests, and provide wildfire protection.

Insulation and Freeze Protection: Safeguarding Against Cold

Minimum Requirement: Adequate Insulation

Given Austin’s exposure to freezing temperatures, relying on the minimum insulation standards is no longer sufficient. Homeowners and builders should consider surpassing these baseline requirements to ensure homes are better insulated against the cold. Enhancing your home’s insulation not only contributes to its resilience against freeze-related damage but also improves overall energy efficiency and comfort during the colder months.

Highly Recommended: Enclosed and Insulated Spaces

Plumbing and water-related systems that are exposed to the elements are particularly vulnerable during prolonged freezes. This includes backflow preventers (RPZs), pool equipment, wells, exterior hose bibs, and exterior tankless water heaters. To protect these critical components from freezing, they should be adequately insulated and equipped with a reliable heat source.

Read More: 15 Ways to Project Your Home From a Freeze

Mechanicals and Appliance Maintenance: Ensuring Accessibility and Protection

Minimum Requirements: Access and Protection

All major appliances and mechanical systems should be easily accessible for maintenance and repair. This includes having clear pathways to water heaters and HVAC systems, and ensuring outdoor units are protected from the elements.

Highly Recommended: Advanced Monitoring and Enclosures

Consider installing monitoring systems for HVAC units and wrapping exterior water lines with insulated covers. Building enclosures around outdoor appliances can also protect them from weather-related damage and extend their lifespan.

HVAC Systems & Water Heaters: Key Considerations

Minimum Requirements:

  • Accessibility: Water heaters and indoor furnace/air handlers should be accessible via closet doors, large scuttles, or attic ladders. In attics, ensure a solid pathway and adequate decking around these units for ease of service and repairs.
  • Outdoor Unit Maintenance: Outdoor air conditioners and heat pumps require ample space for cover removal and servicing. In Austin, Texas, the removal of humidity through a variable speed HVAC system or, for single or double stage systems, a dedicated dehumidifier is essential.
  • Protection for Exterior Tankless Water Heaters: These should be sealed from the inside of the wall or designed to allow water drainage away from the unit.

Highly Recommended:

  • Enhanced Maintenance Features: Consider installing a clear PVC P-trap with a built-in brush (EZTrap) for furnaces/air handlers and AlertLabs monitors on air conditioners/heat pumps for real-time monitoring.
  • Protection from the Elements: Cover outdoor HVAC units or house them in cabinets to shield from debris and weather. Additionally, routing HVAC condensate lines into the washing machine drain can prevent clogs.

Water Filtration and Softening: A Necessity in Austin

Minimum Requirements:

Regular appliance maintenance is key if no water filtration or softening system is present, particularly for appliances and faucets prone to calcium buildup.

Highly Recommended:

Installing a whole house water filtration and softening system will significantly reduce mineral buildup and protect your plumbing and appliances. A reverse osmosis system for at least one kitchen sink is also advisable for drinking water purity.

Read More: The Essential Role of Whole House Water Softeners and Filters in Austin, TX 

Electrical and Ventilation: Safety and Efficiency


  • Breaker Panels: Ensure all breaker panels are accurately labeled and legible, with clear indications for HVAC, condenser, furnace, and various household areas.

Dryer Exhaust Vents:

  • Code Compliance: Venting should meet code requirements, avoiding excessive length or turns.
  • Optimal Design: A ground-level exit for dryer vents minimizes lint buildup and facilitates easier cleaning. Ideally, place dryers against an exterior wall with a proper louvered cap for efficiency and safety.


When building a new home, incorporating these best practices can significantly reduce the risk of water damage and make maintenance tasks more manageable. By planning for water shutoffs, effective drainage, exterior water management, insulation, and mechanical maintenance, homeowners can enjoy peace of mind and a safer, more durable home. Taking these steps upfront will not only protect your investment but also enhance your living experience for years to come.