will this work?

TammyTEFebruary 20, 2013

I took this basic plan and changed it to suit our needs better. I tried to keep the same exterior dimensions. The only exterior thing I knowingly changed was the garage size and I used some porch space for the eating area. I think the only other huge thing that is different is I moved the stair location to get different room sizes.

How can I tell if this will work without forking out a bunch of money for an engineer to look at it?

I'll add a pic of the 2nd level in the next post.


Here is a link that might be useful: Farmhouse

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Here's the 2nd level.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 5:52PM
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This will be a very bulky, ungainly house when viewed from the outside. Do you have elevations or perspectives of the house? As far as the interiors are concerned, the second floor is simply a waste of space--occupied rooms are too small and badly proportioned, the open space and attic spaces are humongeous. And then there's the first floor: where's the huge mud room with cubbies for a battalion.

You don't need an engineer. You need an architect. You can do much better than this. Keep looking.

Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 5:58PM
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I thought by not changing the exterior that the pics on the linked plan is what it would look like from the outside.

I know. I would like a bigger mudroom.

I don't need huge bedrooms. The smaller one will probably only have 1 child in it. I was just making sure there was more than one place a bed would fit. If there were two then it would be bunk beds. There would be at least 4 children in the larger bedroom but we could always use bunk beds if needed.

I am trying hard to keep costs low.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 6:04PM
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The place to keep your costs down is in the construction. A good professional design will help you achieve that.

Although everyone fancies themselves an architect (and author), it ain't necessarily so, says Porgy.

This will be a very bulky, ungainly house when viewed from the outside. Here's a pic. (Or a really good rendering.)

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 7:58PM
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My fear is that we will pay an architect hundreds/thousands of dollars. They will make a nice plan. We will take it to a builder and get a quote. The quote will be waaaay over budget.

Then what? Do we go back to architect? Will we then have to pay hundreds/thousands more?

I don't know how it all works. It honestly scares me to death. Can someone walk me through how to get through that process to achieve our goal?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 9:01PM
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The photo/rendering above is taken from probably the most appealing corner of the house, and cleverly taken from a much lower elevation that minimizes the bulky roofs. Imagine what the view will be from the opposite side of the house where the attic over the garage and master bedroom is located! Ask my friend Worthy what he thinks the budget will be to construct that elevated porch on two sides.

Have you talked with an architect or experienced residential designer? Usually the first meeting is free of charge, designed to become acquainted, discuss the program and budget and establish feasibility.

As far as meeting or missing one's construction budget, simply using a builder and stock plans may have as much or greater budget over-run risk since stock plans seldom account for site conditions, zoning and building code requirements, required site improvements, climatic and energy efficient design, and the eternal construction villan, unrealistic construction allowances that all too often are exceeded.

The best way to proceed is not to try to do everything yourself unless your experience and competency exceeds that of professional designers and experienced builders. What you need are some reliable and trusted professionals--an architect or designer and a builder--to help guide you through the process.

Finally, you may need some help and advice on budgeting. Your construction budget should include a minimum 10% contingency sum. Beyond your construction budget are expenses for design and construction documents, site acquisition, regulatory fees and permits, site improvements and landscaping, taxes, etc.

Good luck on your project.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 10:10PM
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Sophie Wheeler

To not go over budget, you must first start with a realistic budget. You need to look at existing homes in your area to see how much they go for. Then times that by around 1.5 to get the cost of a new custom home. Or just fall in love with one of the existing homes and save that .5 for the priviledge of having that new home smell.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 11:04PM
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Ask my friend Worthy what he thinks the budget will be to construct that elevated porch on two sides.

Perfect example! That is one expensive porch. Well-suited to Spiegel Grove. (See below.) Not so much to anyone on a tight budget. I figure at least ten piers to bearing soil and an equal number of columns on the porch at $160 and up for PVC and much more for wood, perhaps a week for three framers, then at least a week of aluminum work on the ceiling, unless you want wood to maintain "authenticity,". Then there are the masons to build the block piers and add the brick veneer. And on and on.

Front Verandah of Spiegel Grove, Freemont, Ohio, the home of US President Rutherford B. Hayes

This post was edited by worthy on Thu, Feb 21, 13 at 0:05

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 11:56PM
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Bridget Helm

Hi Tammy. We have 4 children and are in the planning phases of building too. Here's a few things I've learned so far from talking with 2 builders and 3 architects and one developer. First off, porches are expensive. Their suggestion was to have ONE covered porch at least 12 feet deep by 15-20 feet wide. This allows for a patio table. If it's not as deep as 12 feet, there might not be enough walking space around the table if you have a lot of guests.

In the neighborhood that we will be building in, there are families that paid 20,000 for their architects and some that paid 7,000. I've heard it's possible to get one for 5,000. I like the work of one of the 7,000 dollar architects. I've been in 3 of the homes he designed to be sure. So we are going with him. The more expensive architects drew up the more complicated, larger million dollar homes. We are trying to stay around 425K, so we can't have a large complicated home. we are trying to stay around 2300sf living with 4 bedrooms and one small playroom.

We are going with small bedrooms and a large den, and I MUST have a laundry room that is at least 8 x 11. the kids don't spend time in their rooms (no TVs allowed in the bedrooms), so they just need space to sleep and keep their clothes. The small playroom will be downstairs with their Wii etc in there.

so your plan is similar to ours, but our laundry room is bigger. (im assuming your's is the room that you immediately enter coming from garage) if so, you might want to make that bigger.

my laundry room now is only 6 feet wide, and I HATE it. It's waaaaay too small and cramped for all the laundry a fam of 6 creates.

what is the room directly to the right of the foyer? an office? maybe you should make that your laundry room. that would be awesome!

have you been in homes that have upstairs open to down? be sure that you like that. personally, i don't. the railings look busy and clutter up the den. but, that's just my opinion.

the main thing you need to do with your plan to cut costs is lose all of the porches except for one, or maybe 2 depending on your budget.

do try to find an architect to look over the plan once you've tweaked it to your liking. i was told that if you go to them with a floorplan they will charge less rather than if you went with a blank canvas. our builder thinks we can get the 7K architect for 5K since we have a floorplan already and since we are building a smaller home. ask your builder to recommend some architects that will work with you. I've heard people recommend draftsman to keep costs down too.

I feel it's necessary to have an architect or draftsman to make sure the exterior of the home turns out right. That's really important too.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 11:41AM
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TammyTE - I have no advice but we love porches, too. We ultimately had to meet with our contractor and talk about our plan. Costs are so regional that you can't get much help from the internet, sadly. But good luck!

bmh4796 - Do you have any photos of your plan?

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 12:08PM
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"...do try to find an architect to look over the plan once you've tweaked it to your liking. i was told that if you go to them with a floorplan they will charge less rather than if you went with a blank canvas. our builder thinks we can get the 7K architect for 5K since we have a floorplan already and since we are building a smaller home. ask your builder to recommend some architects that will work with you. I've heard people recommend draftsman to keep costs down too..."

Here we go again: think of architectural services by the pound, like salemi. "Just cut a pound's worth off the end, will you?"

If an owner has a 50% competent plan, should they get a 50% discount on professional services? What if they have a 95% competent plan? Note that a competent plan is not the same as a complete plan.

How about builders giving discounts for owners who develop their own plans? Or who buy stock plans from a house factory on the Internet? Why wouldn't builders give discounts for "complete" plans. Cities and counties might give discounts for plan checks and building permits for complete plans. The possible discounts simply boggle the mind.

It's amazing how many threads and comments on this forum keep reappearing with owners and prospective owners thinking they have more experience and competence to design a home than professionals who have been educated, trained, tested, licensed and active in their respective professions for many years.

Such a long learning curve lies ahead! Sigh!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 12:51PM
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Bridget Helm

virgil, no one is saying that we have MORE competence. i spoke with an architect who's been designing homes for 30 years. He designs private residences, libraries, office complexes, churches, parking garages etc. His work is beautiful and smart. He's one of the ones in town that charges 30-60K to design a home. His firm charges by the hour. So he said that if you come to us with a floorplan that works, then we will spend less time on it than a blank canvas. If a blank canvas, you may not like what we dream up, then the changes begin, then the time adds up. So this very experienced and talented architect who has won many awards suggested bringing in a floorplan. He says some are too awful to work with, but many are fine once he makes a few changes.

I suggested she find an architect or draftsman to look over her plans. if she's on a budget, there's nothing wrong with doing some of the planning herself. The professionals can take it from there. This way everyone wins. She saves a couple thousand dollars to use
. e, "real" windows/not the ones with grilles between the glass), landscaping, etc. But at the same time, she builds a house that is approved by an architect. Thus, her community isn't stuck with a house that doesn't make sense for years to come. Everyone is happy! That's the way I see it.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 1:12PM
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bmh4796, you miss my point. If you (or anyone) first go to an architect of choice who says to go ahead and develop your own plan and the architect will work with it, then that's a workable arrangement.

On the other hand, many people erroneously think that if they develop their own house plan and then go to an architect it will save them time and money. More often than not, this is not the case at all, since most folks have little experience and competence in designing a house and understanding the design consequences of function (floor plans) and aesthetics (elevations and interior spaces).

The all-too-common result of folks doing their own plan and then contacting an architect is that it takes more time and expense for the architect to show why the owner's plan is unworkable, and thereafter to start a competent design process with the owners.

Few people do their own medical diagnosis and ask a physician for medications or treatement based on their personal diagnosis. I can't imagine many architects encouraging owners to develop their own floor plans and then bringing them to the architect for the very same reason. Physicians and architects know full well that their experience and competency far outweighs that of a consumer.

Architects that encourage owners to develop their own plans are simply telling those owners that the architect really doesn't want to spend much time with them and are looking for the easy way out.

The best advice for prospective custom home owners is for them to develop a list of essential wants and desirable needs and thereafter find an experienced architect that want to work with them to collaboratively develop the appropriate design for their new home. Don't waste your time trying to develop some sort of floor plan before going to your architect. It will only be a waste of your time, and subsequently a waste of your architect's time and your money.

And don't worry about that an architect "may give you a design you don't like". That's why the process of working with an architect is a collaborative and iterative process. You get to participate, guide and approve what's designed.

Good luck on your project!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 9:04PM
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Bridget Helm

I see your point more clearly now. The sit down interview provides the architect with a great deal of knowledge that will help him or her to design a home tailored to each family. After this detailed interview, it is unlikely that the plan will be disliked.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 11:39PM
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VirgilCarter & BMH4796, I'm kind of in between your two opinions. It makes perfect sense to me that I sketch out what I want in a house -- I'm a very visual person, and that's the best way for me to communicate what I want in my house. It doesn't mean I expect an architect to say, "Wow, this is brilliant, I can't find a thing to change!" But it's a concise, easy-for-both parties method of letting the architect know what I like.

My husband and I are drawing plans together right now, and it's been a good exercise for us. Here's an example: When we talked about what we wanted, we both agreed that we want a small kitchen that's "just enough" for the items we use on a daily basis . . . and we want an adjacent BIG pantry that'll hold all the larger, occasionally-used items, food, and more. I thought were in complete agreement, but when I drew up a sketch, he said, "No, no, no, the pantry must be BIG." It was already almost as big as the kitchen, and I thought he'd reject it -- but, no, he wanted more. He took me into our laundry room with a yardstick, and in short order he convinced me that, indeed, the pantry we were both envisioning needed to be bigger. If we'd stuck to words instead of drawing up a preliminary house plan, we wouldn't have realized that we were in disagreement.

The sketches are a tool to help us make sure that he and I are on the same page. Once we move on to having an architect work on the plans, I'm sure that professional will question why we want a pantry that's as big as our kitchen, but my husband and I'll be able to say with confidence, "We've talked about it, measured it out, and this IS what we want." This is more efficient than discovering (in the architect's office, where we're spending money) that he and I weren't on the same page.

Of course, my husband has a bit of an advantage over me in that he studied architecture for two years (and worked as a draftsman) before he realized he's really an engineer.

Also, on the plans we're sketching and discussing, there are things that are PERFECT in my mind, things I'm not willing to change . . . and there are things about which I'm not too fussy. For example, I KNOW exactly what I want in my kitchen. Small L-shape with an island, sink windows overlooking the back yard, open to the adjacent great room. I've looked at cabinets, appliances, sizes; this fits our lifestyle . . . I'm firm on the kitchen. But the great room, I don't have strong feelings about that. I know I want it next to the kitchen, and I want windows/a door to the back yard, but beyond that the architect can design the great room.

I'm going to disagree somewhat on the medical diagnosis thing: We absolutely do our own initial diagnosis, then we move on to a professional when /if we deem it necessary. For example, if I wake up tomorrow feeling badly, I'm going to take stock of my symptoms and determine whether I think it's just a cold or whether I think it might be the beginnings of strep throat -- and I'll either treat the symptoms myself or go to the doctor, depending upon how severe my symptoms might be. To give another example, when I thought I was pregnant, I didn't bother going to my general practitioner; rather, I went straight to the OB/GYN. That was a preliminary diagnosis based upon the symptoms I had. I see sketching houseplans in the same light: We mere mortals begin by sketching out what we think we want, then we move on to have them polished up nicely into a workable plan.

I think the mistake is in assuming that a layman-drawn plan is 100% perfect.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 9:49AM
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Well I'm off to search our city to see if anyone uses an architect...... Most of the builders that I have worked with use a designer at the builder supply store to create a buildable plan.....where I live, we are VERY limited on lumber supply, plumbing, electrical, etc. The last plan I had sketched out and gave to the designer she butchered and it took us months to get it to what I wanted. I was set on certain room sizes at completion, bedrooms in particular and she continued to mess it up. I know I need 2x6 exterior walls and 2x4 interior, etc. I had that accounted for, she was just bad. Thanks for everyone's input and point of views. Hopefully I can find a good architect before our next build.....

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 12:44PM
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I tried searching for an architect. There is only one office in the next town over and they aren't taking residential jobs right now.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 12:47PM
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There are different strokes for different folks. Folks with strong, pre-conceived ideas about the design of their house will generally wind up with those ideas being built, regardless of the feasibility and quality of the ideas.

The value of an architect is using that person's education, training and experience in support of one's wants and needs, resulting in a creative and custom solution which meets functional requirements AND results in architecture. Architecture is about concepts and ideas. There's an old saying, "architecture is frozen music"!

Architecture is much more than simply assembling various rooms of various sizes next to one another based on someone's personal preference. If all one wants is rooms of a certain size, juxtaposed in a personal way, that's fine. Achieving this, however, can be accomplished by the high school drafting teacher or the lumber yard's drafter.

It won't be architecture, that's all. For some, shelter is sufficient. And that's OK.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 4:31PM
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Virgil-That makes sense. Honestly, if I had all the money in the world I would LOVE an architecturely beatiful home. But reality is that we have what we have. ;-)

I want a home that functions well as we are in it almost 24/7. I have lots of practical ideas in mind that I would like to have. Along with that we would like it to be structurely sound. Of course a home that is pleasing to our eyes as we drive up the driveway would be wonderful.

I found this plan that I love, but it's pretty big. There is another plan that I like pretty well but there are some pretty important things missing (storage/mudroom type stuff). The plan I love is 3422 sf and the other one is 3072. I wonder if there would be much of a cost difference between them since the smaller one has several dormers.

I'll link the one I love first.

Here is a link that might be useful: 99486

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 4:50PM
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Here's the one I like okay but is lacking in some things.

Here is a link that might be useful: 99425

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 4:51PM
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