Architect Floorplan

h5homeFebruary 1, 2013

We actually hired an architect! This was huge for us because we are on a VERY limited budget and it obviously cut into it, but after reading all the horror stories and reviews of designs posters did themselves, we knew it was something we had to do. Please keep in mind this is just the first draft. I'd love for everyone to critique and give feedback.

Some background info that might be helpful:

-Family of five, including 3 young children
-5 acre lot (Approx 200'x1100')
-House will face north and be approx 235' back on lot.
-Midwestern climate
-Due to the lot size (and husband's hobbies) we must have a 4 car garage.
-We know that the covered porches will decrease light. We have them now, use them almost daily, and absolutely love them. It is a must have as far as we are concerned.

Revisions we plan on making include:

-Make "home office" into pantry and incorporate a desk into the kitchen area
-Change the powder room door opening to the foyer
-Make the master bathroom toilet room smaller and child's closet bigger
-Increase main ceilings to 9' instead of 8'

Specific concerns include:

-The powder room/laundry/mud hallway. Functionally I think it will work very well for us, however I'm not sure how I feel about it. I don't like the idea of having to open the front door or go into bathroom/laundry if I want to see out of the front. I'm also concerned that the area will be extra dark. The architect has squeezed as much square footage as possible with our budget, so we can't really add any square footage.

Thanks everyone!

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    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 4:35PM
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I like it! The thing that pops into mind is that the door to the powder room is visible from the living room. Consider flipping it horizontally so the door is a few feet further down the hall, and/or decreasing the width of the opening from the hallway into the great room.

Make sure you'd rather have a little room for the computer rather than a walk-in pantry. You could switch them, putting a desk where the pantry is. We are having a desk in our kitchen, with the intent to keep an eye on the kids when they're on the computer. You might have a different need for the desk, but something to think about depending on your lifestyle.

Regarding the hall being dark--you could always put solatubes in, so there is some light from above. It looks like you have sidelights, so that helps. I've been concerned about this in our house, but I've looked around at other houses and noticed a lot of dark hallways that I never noticed to be an issue before. You could put a frosted glass door into the laundry room to let some of the light in from the window?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 4:45PM
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I like it. I think s/he did a nice job making efficient use of space. My main suggestion is to add a few windows.

I would put 2 windows in each of the kids rooms with space in between for a queen bed. They will grow up before you know it.

Do you plan on putting a hutch or sideboard on the west wall of the dining room? If not I would add windows. Since the kitchen is internal, as much light as you can get in the dining room, the better.

Can you add transom type windows in your WIC. I love having natural light in the closet.

I would make sure the hall is 4' wide.

Also, I'm not sure what you are planning for flooring but I would want tile for my mudroom hall including laundry room and powder room. There's no good spot to stop the tile. Maybe consider putting a door between the foyer and mudroom hall?

The spacing of the columns on the front porch in relation to the windows would bother me.

Are you planning on a solid front door? The only way around it would be to sacrafice the closet in the foyer and add bigger sidelites. But I would want that closet for the vacuum etc. maybe the best solution would be to have a 1/2 lite door.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 5:22PM
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It's an effective plan and an attractive elevation. If you really are concerned about seeing out the front from the kitchen and the "darkeness" of the kitchen, you could do the following without much impact on square footage:

--Relocate all of the powder, laundry, mud spaces by moving them into a vertical configuration between the garage and stair;
--Relocate the kitchen and dining into the vacated space, with the results that the kitchen would be on the exterior wall looking out the front of the house and the dining room wall would be formed by an extension of the living room wall (hope that makes sense).

Some circulation issues would have to be resolved in this relocation. Where do the stairs go?

I'd suggest the living-dining windows be oriented south for passive solar gain in the winter. Summer sun can easily be screened by roof overhang and pergolas designed for the sun angles at you latitude. Much better performance than a large overhanging roofed porch.

Good luck with your project!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 5:31PM
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I'm so happy to hear this kind of feedback! I was a little afraid the powder room/laundry/mudroom on the front of the house with a long hallway was too odd and it would get tore apart. People are brutal sometimes :)

We were already changing the door location in the powder room and the computer room into a pantry. We were tossing around the idea of extra windows in the kids rooms. Love the idea of a window in the closet!

I mentioned the relation between the columns and windows. I think I might mention it again.

Solatubes are an idea for the hallway. Does anyone know how much they usually run? I checked on their website and of course no prices. I hate calling to inquire about a product only to realize it is WAY out of your budget. I don't know anyone around here that has them.

Thanks for all the great feedback! Keep it coming!!!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 5:52PM
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I like your plan! FWIW, we're building in Minnesota and our builder is charging us $400 for a solatube-- that's for the fixture and installation.

I like Virgil's thoughts about moving the utility spaces on the front of the plan to the garage wall and then moving the kitchen forward. As things stand, where will your drier vent be?

What's upstairs? Or are those basement stairs?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 9:20PM
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Is it the best use of corner space to have the master closet there?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 9:34PM
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I like it! It reminds me a bit of my floorplan! I would second adding windows to the bedrooms and for the bedroom with one window maybe make that window bigger?

I am also curious what is upstairs.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 9:52PM
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The stairs go to a full unfinished basement. We plan on finishing the basement at a later date.

I also thought about having the master closet in the corner, although I'm not sure how you could swap it without changing the bedroom "wing" configuration. I really love how the rooms are on the same side of the house, but the master still has some privacy.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 2:16AM
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You WILL see the toilet from the GR. I might consider swapping walls there--toilet/sink on the foyer wall with the door nearer the laundry. You won't get line of sight from the living spaces to the toilet this way. (You *might* have more noise on the foyer wall, but you can just plan to insulate that. It won't be that much extra noise, if any. Just something to be aware of.)

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 12:03PM
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Kirkhall, we were thinking about making the door to the powder room open into the foyer instead of the hallway. Regarding the possible extra noise in the foyer - is there a reason we should be concerned that I am not thinking of? We don't normally hang out in the foyer.

Zone4newby, I never thought about the dryer vent will be! Just another reason I am so grateful for all the feedback. The solatube price seems reasonable. Are you happy with them?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 1:07PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Overall, not too bad. The laundry mud area already mentioned could use revision. I would also try to flip the master suite area and have the bath and closet be the buffer to the family room area. That would give you windows in the bedroom with more light and air.

The kitchen also just needs tweaking, most notably, switching the pantry and fridge locations and offsetting the sink if it's to be the only sink. I'd personally try for a separate cleanup sink located between the fridge and pantry and a prep sink on the island in order to get the most prep room.

If you are on 5 acres, I wouldn't try to accommodate a 4 car garage as part of the house build. Do a 2 car garage, and then do a separate 2-5 car hobby garage/shop. If you have a noisy air compressor and air tools for the auto hobbies, you will appreciate the separation of space for the two functions. You'll also appreciate not having your home parking cluttered up with the flotsam that is generated by projects. You can always look at connecting the structures with a breezeway or sunroom type space if you prefer to have a weather free path to the structure. If you took off half of the current garage configuration, you could move that covered porch to that location at the rear, accessed from the dining room. That would give you more light for the main home, as well as a nice little spot for a focal "courtyard" type patio garden right outside the great room. Then the hobby garage could be connected to the covered porch.

This post was edited by hollysprings on Sat, Feb 2, 13 at 13:30

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 1:27PM
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Since most dryers are to the right of washing machines, just do a mirror image of the current laundry room. There will be a few turns in the venting but it will be a very short run so you should be okay.

As far as the WIC, I think it's fine where it is. It is a matter of personal preference. I love as many windows as possible in the living areas but in bedrooms, it just adds to the cost of window treatments and limits furniture placement. I would put a triple window on the south wall of the master bedroom. We have 10' of French doors and it feels very bright in there.

The only other thing- how long is that wall with the master bed? Is it by enough to fit a king size bed? You will need at least 16' to make that happen. If it's less then I would reconfigure the bath so the the door to the bath is on the north wall.

I know you have already said that you like the covered porch and are willing to have your living room dark. We love a large covered porch and we are in the Midwest as well. We use it 7 months out of the year and its one of our favorite spaces. We put our covered porch behind the garage. You can easily do that and put the door from the dining room on the opposite wall. We have an uncovered patio where your recurrent patio is located. Just food for thought. Your family room is going to be really dark- not only bc of the covered porch but that porch is pretty deep and there are bumps outs on either side.

It's a cold day in the Midwest but the sun is streaming into our family room and it feels really nice.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 1:43PM
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We haven't broken ground yet (still working through underwriting) so the solotube is only on paper at the moment.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 2:01PM
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Overall, I like it!

- I would definitely make the little nook room into a walk-in pantry. You can have a little office nook in the corner of your bedroom, in the corner of the great room, even in the laundry room across from your machines . . . but that space is a nice-sized pantry. You have only an average amount of cabinet space, and I think you'll need the pantry space.

- I would make the current (small) pantry closet into a desk. This'd give you a spot for a printer, a storage place for bills, and space for a recharging center. Since the world is moving away from desktop computers and towards tablets, office space -- unless you work from home -- is becoming less of a need.

- I'd choose a door directly from the master bedroom to the porch. I'd make it a glass doors (for light) with blinds between the panes (for privacy).

- I personally don't like dual sinks, especially in cases like this where they're crammed into a modest-sized vanity. You'll have NO drawer space. Ask yourself how often two people will want to use the sinks together vs. how much bathroom stuff your three kids will want to store. Same thing for you and your spouse.

- I agree with those who say that wasting a corner on a closet is a questionable choice . . . but your bedroom wing is laid out so nicely (same-sized rooms for the children, bathrooms are ample but not over-done, privacy and proximity) that I don't think I could bring myself to change the bedroom layout. And it's not like you're short on window space in the master.

- The toilet/great room proximity is a concern. Two possibilities: 1) Do away with the powder room; the secondary bath is accessible from the hallway -- you can do without it. 2) Flip-flop the powder room /laundry room. Yes, this puts the laundry room in a bit of an odd position, but guests won't notice when the door is closed. They will notice the bathroom's location.
- I like someone else's suggestion to use frosted glass on the laundry room door. I'd do the same on the powder room and mud room. I'd rather have that filtered light than solar-tubes, which may leak and become a problem in the future.

- No biggie on the "dark family room". I have one of those right now, and I don't find it to be the issue that some people on this board do. If you begin to question yourself on this topic, you could cut the covered porch in half (it is large!) and make the rest of that space into a patio/deck. It'd be an attractive two-stage backyard area that way.

- The question about the dryer vent is a good one. If it'll vent under the porch, fine. On the other hand, if it'll vent into the front bushes, you'll have lint in your front bushes.

- I find the exterior elevation drawing a bit "blah", but I don't know what to do about it.

- Your storage space looks good.

PPS7 -- love the pix of that master bedroom.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 4:42PM
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It would help to know some dimensions of the house and rooms; the plan is too small to see any of that information.

A graphic scale might be the easiest way to do that. Draw a 10 ft line somewhere on the plan and mark off each foot of length.

What is the gross area of the house? what is the garage? It seems a bit tight for 4 cars.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 4:48PM
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PPS7, Love your room! And a wall of natural light is fabulous! We were told that we could fit a king bed with a nightstand on each side. I'll double checking the dimensions. Moving the covered porch to let light in is an idea. I'll have to talk to the architect about that one. I know he was trying to keep the roofline as simple as possible to help with our budget.

Mrs Pete, It didn't occur to me that that dual sinks equal no drawers. I might have to think about that one. All I know is that five people huddled into our current bath is way too cramped(6'6" x 5 and it has a jet tub, yes you read that right and no we didn't put the tub in).

I know the covered porch is large. Our current covered porch is even bigger and I love every inch of it. We plan on having a patio (uncovered) off of it. Good thing my husband is in the concrete business!

I'm pretty sure I prefer my bushes lint-free. :)

Renovator, It is 2204 sq ft with stairs. The garage is 21'8" x 36'8" and will really only hold one, maybe two cars. The rest will store a couple atv's, off-road buggy, tractor, tools, and outdoor toys/bikes. I'll have to get my husband to draw the line. He's good at scale. I am challenged to say the least. He's puting new tile down in our current house, so not sure when that will happen. The great room is 16'x17'2", kitchen 14'2"x11'10", dining 12'x14'5", kids' room all 11'1"x11'1", master 13'6"x14'.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 5:24PM
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RNmomof2 zone 5

I have a few questions for you and then perhaps a few suggestions as well. What sex children and what are the gaps in ages? What is the planned flooring in the hallway/entry area?

Here's my thoughts--We did a divided bathroom when we built our house and I do not think that my girls (2 1/2 yrs apart) have ever been in it together and they are now in college! Perhaps we could get feedback from others if their kids actually allow a sibling in the BR with them. I would suggest just one sink in the kids bath. That leaves room for the coveted drawers as well as room for hairdryers, curling irons, etc.

As previously suggested, could the half bath be done away with? I completely understand wanting a bathroom near the outside but the kids bath is only a few steps away. If this area has a hard floor covering, I would do away with the 1/2 bath and save some $$. This would allow just the laundry and perhaps a "locker" area along the front of the house. This would let you have a bigger entry area with room for a chest to the right of the door. It also would move the windows out from behind the columns. The leftover area could be coat, shoes, book bag dump area tucked in the corner.

I also wondered about moving the door to the garage down towards the stairs and reversing the hinge on it. When opened it would cover the stairs preventing any potential accidents there. Moving the door also gives the closet area more space.

The garage does fit nicely across the end of the house. Would you be taxed at a different rate for an out building versus 4 car garage? Building this at a later time may not be an option or save much.

Just a few more things to think about!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 7:19PM
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The size of the garage eliminates views and light from one entire side of the house. That's an architectural design challenge of the first order. That plus the limited floor area makes a designer think in terms of apartment standards rather than private residence home standards; for instance, it forces the kitchen to have no windows.

I think I this house could be great but it would involve increasing the floor area by 300 s.f.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 10:30AM
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*I agree with modifying the mud/laundry/pwdr rooms to be adjacent to the garage with the kitchen/dining moved toward the front.
*I'm questioning the size of the garage. I know having a big garage is against most people on this board, however, living in the midwest, on acreage, you need that garage space. I've seen your list of things in your garage, and mine is similar but our garage is WAY TOO SMALL at 36x26. Will the 21 feet deep cut it? I'm not sure how small your vehicles are but a pickup will never fit in there or even and SUV unless you don't have anything in front of the vehicle and never walk around it.
*I'm all for 2 sinks everywhere. My kids share a bath, boy and girl. They are older now, and still share sink time.
*I would definitely add transom windows at least to the master closet, if not switch up the closet with the bath.
Please keep us updated on your choices!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 5:11PM
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I'm sorry, but cars and trucks aren't that large that they require an aircraft hangar for parking. For example, a Dodge 2500 crew cab truck is 6'-6.9"W X 19.3" long X 6'-1.3" H. The issue isn't cars and trucks. The issue is all of the other stuff that some folks can't or won't organize! Trucks can easily fit in a 10' X 20" parking stall at the mall--just go look!

If one wants to have the building expense, plus the 30-year mortgage expense to house snow mobiles and the like, that's their personal choice. A much less expensive alternative, however, may be to use a storage facility for the 10 years or so when these "toys" are likely to be used.

If one wants to build ther own personal storage facility on their residential property, that's their personal choice. But why call it a garage and have it dominate the appearance of their house? Buy and build a metal storage facility out back where it won't be visible and detract from the house.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 6:16PM
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Rnmomof2 - I checked into it and I can still have 3 drawers with 2 sinks! In our house it is common for multiple people use the sink at one time when getting ready. Part of the reason I wanted a half bath off the great room is so it won't drive me nuts that it is dirty every time I have to use it. This way I won't use it! And yes, I do plan on teaching them to clean up, but 3 year old boys are more mess than clean. :)

Currently we aren't planning on having a door at the top of the stairs. If we move the garage door and someone is standing at the top of the stairs there is a potential that they could get pushed down the stairs or hit in the face. Eeek!

I'm not sure of the taxes with building a detached garage later. I'm afraid it will never get done...or I will go nuts before it does. :)

Renovator8 - Most homes in our area have a garage (be it 2, 3, or 4 car) taking up the entire side of the house, so I guess we don't really notice the lack of light from one side.

I would LOVE to add 300 more feet, however a line has to be drawn somewhere and the budget won't allow it.

Back2nd - YAY! Someone who gets the need/want of a huge garage! My SUV should be fine. It is just over 16' and I doubt anything will be in front of it, so it should fit fine. My husband's truck is over 21' (full size, crew cab, long bed)and will never go in the garage.

Virgilcarter - While I agree that some folks don't organize their garage, that is not always the case. For some it is a matter of hobbies. In addition to one car in the garage, there will be an off-road vehicle that my husband enjoys tinkering with on a very regular basis. There will also be a tractor to cut the acreage along with 4 wheelers that will take daily trips to the garden on the back of our 1100'deep lot. While everyone may not enjoy these things, and it may not look like a model home from the outside, it isn't just a bunch of "stuff". Our outdoor hobbies require a large garage for storage unlike the computers, tablets, gaming systems, etc that others may spend the majority of their free time on. To each their own, I guess.

Storage units around here run around $90/month for a 10x15 unit. That would be over $21k to rent two units over 10 years. But that isn't my issue with it. My husband and kids can work in the garage for 30 minutes at a time if they wish. The kids are learning valuable lessons and creating strong relationships while helping their dad tinker. This wouldn't happen as often if they had to drive somewhere to do it.

I also believe that the architect did a good job making sure it is disguised nicely when looking at the front of the house, not allowing it to dominate the appearance. Seeing a large metal storage facility would very much detract from the serene views out my back windows.

I guess that just proves the beauty of designing a custom home that suits one's individual needs, whatever they may be.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 3:32PM
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I don't see how a 19.3 ft long truck easily fits in a 20 ft garage. You won't be able to move around it to get to the driver's side. If you have a hitch on it, you'll never get your garage door closed.

You kind of proved the point, VC.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 4:47PM
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K, I don't believe I said a 19.3' truck fits in a 20' garage. I said lots of them fit daily in 10' X 20' parking stalls at the shopping malls and Walmart parking lots. Go take a look!

For a garage, I'd start with a depth of 24' minimum.

Mowers, tractors, jet skis, trail bikes and the like can easily fit into a storage structure attached to and matching the garage, without making the garage into 4 or more stalls.

The problem with 3-4-5 stall garages is two-fold:
--The overall bulk of the space and enclosing roof dwarfs the rest of the house since there is no other space in the house as nearly as large;
--The garage doors are larger than any other single element in the elevation of the house, making the garage doors the most visible element in the elevation.

Combine the bulk and roof mass of the garage with the large doors and one has a house-buster! One should take whatever steps possible to avoid this and return the house, proper, to its proper role.

The charm of older houses, that so many folks find appealing, is due, in large measure, to the lack of a garage (of any size) visible from the front of the house. Part of the charm and appeal of these houses is their scale--it's a scale defined by porches, individual windows, entry doors, shutters and the like--all items of similar, human scale and harmonious with each other.

Of course, if one doesn't care about any of this, then the impact of a huge, house-busting garage is irrelevant! Everyone has their own values.

For example, when I was practicing architecture in the Bay Area, one of our clients was a wonderful fellow who was a military vehicle collector in Woodside. We designed a large, multi-bay garage with a large capacity overhead crane that could travel the length of the garage and lift the turrets from tanks (and other heavy gear) for repair and restoration. This takes working in the garage on one's toys to a new, and higher level. Suffice to say, the garage was not attached to his house, not visible by visitors to his house and it did not compete with, nor overwhelm his house.

Just a few thoughts!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 10:37AM
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