First Time Post - Feedback on Floor Plan for Timber Frame

Brad MaltzJanuary 21, 2012

Hi Everyone, I have lurked for years but now it looks like we will be building our house we have wanted. My wife and I are not experts when it comes to house designs but we learn quickly. W ehave put together this first pass in a floor plan. We know we will be doing Timber Frame/Post and Beam using SIPS. So the open feel is what we want.

My 2 items for feedback are the fireplace in the family room, should it be a corner one as designed with the TV on the flat wall or should we do a fireplace flat on the wall with the TV built-in to the F/P.

Also we have the laundry on the outher side of the house and are trying to move it closer to the bedrooms but we are having trouble figuring it out.

Side notes, we have 1 very young daughter and a few animals so we need to room for her to grow and the animals to spread out.

Thanks for any help. Also any general feedback is welcome.


Here is a link that might be useful: My House Plans

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Alex House

Hi Brad,

What struck me from looking at your plans was the open aircraft hanger esthetic of your entry and family room. I am also designing my home (100+ hours on the software and counting) and I too am aiming for an open feel in the LR/DR/Ki core but what I have done is placed all sorts of furniture into my plan so that I can get a sense of how day to day living will unfold with respect to traffic flow and how we use the rooms.

In terms of construction, those open spans are going to impose some loading hassles even with P&B construction.

I also noticed that you make extensive use of halls. To me halls are wasted space and should be minimized whenever possible. I see that you have a small hallway within your master bedroom. The effect is like having to tunnel through the master bath and the two closets in order to break through into the main cavern (bedroom) where if you placed your entrace in the mastersuite in the bedroom itself, then some portion of the hall could be removed. If you pushed the entry way deeper into the house and pulled the mastersuite forward, then you could keep the entry into the mastersuite coming in from entry hall. By my rough count your mastersuite has 66 square feet of halls and your masterbath has a 60 square foot corridor. Long and narrow means that the transit space is only useful for the facility immediate in front of the corridor whereas taking that transit space and putting it into a center space allows all the facilities to share the same space, thereby giving a more open feeling while simultaneously being able to reduce the size of the common transit space.

The same thinking applies to the hall at the other end of the house - take the mudroom and instead of having it at the end of the hall, place it on the side opposite the laundry/bath. How do you plan on using 120 SF of mudroom, which is nearly the size of the bedrooms on the 2nd floor?

As for the fireplace, will it be for show or, in the theme of the P&B esthetic, will it be functional for heating the home? If the latter, then placing the fireplace on an outside wall insures that the heat doesn't migrate well through the home. If heating is a primary or secondary consideration, then placing the fireplace in the junction of the FR/DR/Ki creates the most efficient effect. Secondly, you get to kill two birds with one stone - a fireplace, on it's own foundation, can also be used to reduce beam length for your spans. A masonry heater would do wonders. Even if the fireplace is more for architectural effect, centralizing it rather than isolating it would be more effective, though the whole TV above the fireplace strategy might not work. If the TV above the fireplace look is the key factor driving placement, then I'd go with a fireplace against the flat wall, away from the outside wall, for that places the TV square into the room and makes it easy for all to watch, like a theater effect - the stage is always in the middle of the theater, not off to the corner.

As for the laundry room, why not move it up to the hanger space (kidding) that separates the two bedrooms on the second floor?

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 10:46PM
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Welcome, BradinMass!

My observations:

I would consider changing the swing of the front door. As it is drawn, when the door is opened, the guest will be "tunneled" thru the doorway, because of the swing of the door and the stair positioning.

I would not have a door from the secondary bedroom in to the bathroom. Instead, I would use that space for a small closet for towels and toiletries and extend the vanity.

FP/TV issue: For me, I consider both the TV and the FP to be focal points. So, if you separate them, that leaves the awkward question of how to position the furniture. If they are in very close proximity, the question can be eliminated. So, my vote is for the TV to be hung over the FP.

I would consider a prep sink in the refrig side of the island.

I assume you've already noticed, but in case you haven't, the light over the dining table isn't centered. Be sure it's placed correctly to avoid someone hitting their head! :)

The master bath/closet area looks awkward to me as well. I'd keep playing around with it.

How is the garage connecting to the mudroom? Having 3 entries in to it seems a little overkill. I'd rather have more cubby/locker space.

Moving the laundry closer to the clothes would be great. Do you hope to have more children? If not, you might be able to get away with putting the W/D in the master wing. But I would still plumb the room you have drawn as a laundry for future resale value.

I see you have stairs drawn in front of the window/side lite of the door. Will this be a "false" window or something?

Do you have an exterior elevation inspiration pic?

Great plan!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 11:41PM
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Will a large piece of furniture or a boxspring go into the master bedroom with the L hallway? Personally, I wouldn't like the feeling of entering that area, then going into this maze-like hallway.

In the upstairs bedrooms - the one on the right I would make the closet larger. Walk-ins are great (have some shelves and/or drawers inside). I'd try to make more closet in the other bedroom as well.

In the half bath off the kitchen, I would put the sink so it is shown when door is open instead of commode. Also, are you in a climate with cold winter temps? Usually, plumbing is not put on outside walls unless it can't be helped. Even here in the South, we don't recommend it.

Wouldn't do three doors into the mudroom (why?), as this wastes space inside the room, is more expensive (exterior doors, hardware, etc) and doors/windows can be sources for heat loss, etc.

What is the large space/niche in the kitchen (below pantry, on drawing)? At first I thought it was an elevator, but that makes no sense on the other floor(s).

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 8:34AM
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I'm sure you've done enough initial investigation to understand that you will be paying a pretty big premium for this type of construction? You could buy existing for less than half of what this will cost to build.

On to the critique.

Way too many halls. That's a terribly inefficient and expensive use of space. Your closets are all awkward. Closets and baths should be used as sound buffers between public spaces and bedrooms, and you are wasting windows on them and making them next to the exterior rather than interior spaces. A two floor family room will be echoey, loud, hard to heat and cool, and the space is shaped on the awkward side to be able to have good traffic patterns through it. It's too big to have the furniture on the walls, but not really big enough to have the negative space needed around the furniture in the middle look. It's also too long and does not need that bumpout. That adds nothing to any usability of the room. The whole balcony/greatroom thing needs a total overhall. And you need to explore how you are going to HVAC this amount of cubic feet efficiently and comfortably. Your location will have a lot to do with your choices for that.

Why do you have what looks like 3 pantries indicated? That's also wasted space. A single smaller well organized pantry can do the job just fine. Your aisles are too small around the seating area and that will be a pinch point that blocks all access into the kitchen. And why do you need that much seating in a kitchen when the DR is right there only steps away? Other people have already commented on the space wasting awkwardly conceived "wing" of the mudroom, laundry, and half bath, but I'll just say I concur with their comments.

You might explore a Cape Cod style for inspiration rather than a full second story that has so much wasted space. A Cape is basically a story and a half house. You can still get some soaring ceilings if you proportion your space better than you've done here, but it will take that wasted space of the balcony and convert it into usable bedroom space instead. You will lose about 6' of the upstairs perimeter spacing (Can do wainscot high built in storage to get some use back.), but with grabbing the balcony space to make up for it, your bedrooms will be larger than they are now. And you will get architecturally interesting ceiling lines in the bedroom and the ceiling of the greatroom. It would be an interesting match with timber frame construction.

It's not too bad for a first draft. It still has 137 more drafts to go though. You should be working with an architect who is experienced with timberframe and SIPS, which isn't that easy to find. Self sketches are fine for general ideas, but this a bit more complex house than your usual sticks and trusses and getting someone on board who understands the requirements from the beginning is essential. Not to mention the structural engineer from the timber framing contractor that you will be using.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 10:40AM
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Brad Maltz

Thanks everyone for all of your feedback. I have been working on this plan for awhile. Some background on this.

We love the cathedral timber frame style that is why we are doing the large family room and open first floor area. From a heating perspective we are investigating Radiant and Warmboard vs Forced Hot Air. We will be using High R Value SIPS so we know heating costs wont be as bad as stick frame.

As for cost we are doing owner/builder with my Father in law helping on finish carpentry. Also we are working with 3 TF companies to see who has the best design ideas and packages. So far the designers we are dealing with are very good and have some great ideas. I just need to take these plans to a certain point and they will modify them based on experience and feedback.

Some of your comments about hallways were spot on. We werent sure how to work that and gain the master suite feel we are going for. We didnt want the master bedroom door in the main living area but that gave us the awkward hallway. I have modified the plans also to show some of the comments included as well as some designers feedback.

Up in the loft area we are building a built-in/bookcase/office area. This is not a work office more a reading area and studying area for my daughter.

As for the Fireplace, we agree, the center one is much better and have already modified that.

One of my requirements is a pizza oven :) so that is that weird item in the kitchen behind the pantry. It needs an external wall for support, thats why its on the corner of the external wall.

As for the small pantry vs large one, we have a freezer we want in the large pantry. Also the small one will end up being a builtin for all the wifes dishes, and buffet type items. That will leave the dining room more open.

The mudroom has 3 doors for the front, garage and back yard areas. I have shown the garage in the updated layout.

I also have shrunk the family and master slightly.

Well I do appreciate all of the great feedback. If anyone has any more comments bring it on :) I am working on this in my sleep, at work etc...

Here are the updated pics: Modified Home Plans

Here is a link that might be useful: Modified Plans

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 10:27PM
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I think you have at least 2 more door swings to reverse:
1. The front mudroom door. As it is, you walk into a tunnel (again). Flip it so you see the cubbies as you open the door, not the wall.
2. The upstairs bath--reverse it so you see the vanities and mirror, rather than the wall (again).
(3. the door to the deck from the hall across from the pantry). I think it should open in, not out--but you may have a reason for it to open out onto the deck).

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 12:29AM
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Upstairs left bedroom closet: why is it divided? And, you need to put the door in the "right" closet in the center (if you keep 2 closets). As is, the closet is too narrow to walk from one end to the other within the closet. You might also instead consider a triple panel sliding closet door system.

Right bedroom: Why does the closet end where it does? What will go in the little space between closet end and bathroom linen closet? I think I would square that off, probably with a triple slider closet door, again.

There is wasted space in the upstairs bathroom between door and linen closet. What is the purpose of the jog?

One more thing about the deck door: if you keep it swinging outward, I would consider swinging it opposite direction. I realize if it were wide open, it would block the window a bit, but I think it still should open without the tunneling effect, in the other direction.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 12:36AM
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Alex House


You sound like my doppelganger. I too am implementing many of the design criteria that you're specifying, such as a 3 door mudroom - garage, backyard, and into the kitchem (mudroom works as a airlock-heatlock) and I am also building a pizza oven, and I am also putting in radiant heat, etc.

As for your pizza oven, why not go whole hog - this family has a pizza/bread oven, a cooktop, a heated bench, and a fireplace that heats a 3 floor home, those 8,000 bricks store a lot of heat:

If you're at the design phase with regards to hydronic heating you may want to consider just beefing up your floor a tad and then pouring a 1 1/2 inch concrete base. I looked at warmboard and the price really set me back. It's the best compromise when you can't do it with a thin concrete base - the aluminum strips show more hot/cold variation than does concrete, there is less thermal mass so you're having to pump more frequently in order to maintain uniform temperatures, etc. Right now, before the digging and building has started, the price for dimensional lumber joists needed to beef up your floor to take another 15 psf dead load from the concrete is peanuts.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 3:23AM
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My husband and I are also building a post and beam home, only with cedar logs. I thought that our main floorplan may help as we have our master bedroom entering from the great room but at an angle.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 4:14PM
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Hi BradinMass,

Would you mind posting an elevation of this plan?

We are also in the process of designing a timber frame home, with high r-value SIPS. It actually shares a lot of similarities to your plan, but I think is a bit smaller (and we won't finish the basement right away). Anyway, I'm not sure what the form/mass/outside of your house looks like, and I'm curious to know.

Our mudroom will be SIPS only, no timber. I assume you'll do the same, or are you planning to use timber in the pantry/powder/mudroom section?

Also, I'm not getting a lot of love for the open to above part, but I really think that displaying the structure is part of the appeal of a timber frame.

I like the changes you made with the modified plan. I'd love to see pictures when you build!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 9:05PM
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I read your original post and I'm sorry that people were so critical of your loft. I agree with you about displaying the structure. It isn't just about the "wow" factor, it is part of the open concept that you can achieve with a timber frame home.

FWIW, I've posted my main floor plan above. Here's my loft level plan. We are also including a walk-out basement level.

Our plans have been engineered and we are set to break ground in 2 months. So excited!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 9:45PM
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Brad Maltz

Wow thanks everyone for good questions and feedback.

I fixed the door swings thanks for that.

The split closets on the left bedroom are meant to be a storage room and then the closet for the room. In my latest draft my wife and I opened the right closet to make a nook with a window out back. Less closet space upstairs but we have a ton in the basement.

As for the bedroom on the right we want to do a built-in bookcase where the gap is between closets.

All I can say is WOW :) The feeling we are going for is more of the rock arch over the range and then the pizza oven next to it faced in the same rock so as to extend the look. We are using thin sliced stone for the walls to save money.

Thank you for that idea but we still need to think about the door changes for the MBR. Still not sure what will work for us. The new layout is simpler and uses the space better but we arent sure how to shift it. Still taking ideas.

I dont have any good elevations just yet BUT here is a sample I got from one TF company we asked for a estimate from. Modified Home Plans

It is close to what we want except wtill working on the front proch roof line. Overall though it is the correct feeling.

We are doing SIPs except the roof in the walkway we are doing stick built. And the garage will be 100% stick.
As for the open areas, thats the point of doing Timber :) at least for us. We love that open yet homey feel of the timber frame with trusses.

We will build in the fall/winter this year if all comes together :)

Thanks again everyone!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 10:04PM
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very nice. I'm jealous you are so close to breaking ground:)

Both your master suite and BradinMass's modified master suite are better than the first layout, which I didn't like.

I think the loft criticism has merit, just less so with a timber frame. Probably not enough to talk me out of it:)

I like the master suites on the first floor, with the laundry in the mudroom section in both plans. (We gave that up to have home office space on the first floor). Unfortunately, I also don't see a way to move it closer to the master bedroom.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 10:09PM
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BradinMass: I do think that you should angle your MB entrance away from the great room for privacy. IMHO, I would also try to eliminate some hallways. You could use the hallway square footage to allow for a nicer entrance to the MB. I'm not an expert at this though, we used a designer for our plans.

Am.E: We have a laundry chute from the loft level to the laundry room. I do agree with the above poster that you will probably want more room for laundry. And, do you want the really dirty items from outside carried through the house to your laundry area upstairs? Just a thought...

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 11:12PM
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@Brad- Been looking at your plan some more. That extra long connector from your garage to your kitchen has really got me thinking. What if you made the laundry and mud room one big room? I would use glass paned doors to replace two of your windows. This would free up lots of space and decrease the heat loss factor....and save lots of money. You could probably even decrease the length of the room, if you wanted.

For the Master bedroom entry: You could do a small "entry" hallway to create a visual transition from the great room to your bedroom. I looked for a picture to show you as an example, but was unable to find one. Basically, it would be a little wider than your door and about the same depth (squared up with your closet wall). It would have a pretty arched opening and some wall sconces or shelves or art work. If I find an example to post here, I will.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 11:44PM
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Brad Maltz

Hi Everyone, Thank you again for all of the great feedback. I have updated the plans and am getting MUCH closer to being done. I was wondering if you had a few minutes if you could take one last look at these.

Some questions I am still working on are:
Entrance to Master Bedroom, is it designed for maximum privacy but flexibility?
Second floor is the study worth it to be closed off, or leave it open as an alcove?
Basement layout, general feedback.

My fireplace will be 2-sided for Dining room and Living Area
The empty 2 rooms on the basement are workshop and storage

Brad House Plans

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 9:54PM
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Hi again, Brad! I think it looks great now! The only thing I would still change, is taking the door on top part of the mudroom plan and move it down to replace one of the windows by the laundry- you'd get more storage in the mudroom this way. But I'm a storage lover, so....

Hope someone else chimes in!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 9:21PM
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Have you considered moving either the front or back mudroom door to go through the garage first. This gives you access to the garage without opening the vehicle door and will give you more usable space in the mudroom.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 7:46AM
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