New home design

SDMom2fourFebruary 8, 2013

Hello everyone, I was hoping that you could critique our plan if you have a moment. I am new to the site so if I am posting anything incorrectly, please let me know. My husband and I are building what could possibly be our forever home on a 4 acre rural lot in South Dakota. We have four kids age 2 -9. We are designing the home so that my father, who is in a wheelchair, can come to visit for extended periods. The acreage has existing shelterbelts surrounding it. We are orientating the house North/South with the garage doors facing the West. There are beautiful views to the North (our garden area) and to the South (large lawn, fire pit, fields) the main road going past the house is also to the South although there is not much traffic.
We want the house be very inviting, homey, modest - nothing extravagant. We are on a limited budget and that will be a huge factor. We really like an informal farmhouse style house. A covered porch will be on the west and south sides of the kitchen with the guest entrance into the DR.
The plan is missing the door to our MBR area. There will then be a pocket door to our actual bedroom. The numerous doors to the MBR are designed with the idea that when company comes we will be able to close the sliding door to our bedroom and the master bath will be able to be used for a second main floor bathroom.
The pantry in the kitchen is based off from one which I saw on houzz.
The mudroom is not huge but having the garage attached I figure that we could store in there the extra jackets, boots, etc.
The small nook in the hallway across from the kitchen is a phone/file cabinet area.
There will be a full basement under the house with two more bedrooms, bath, and large family room but depending on how the build goes we may not finish it off right away.
Please let me know if you see any changes that would help either in the flow of the house or ways to save some money . Thanks in advance.

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One other mistake I forgot to note is that there should be a pocket door at the top of the stairs. Also, the windows in the upper level bathroom and vanity areas are transom windows above the mirrors.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 10:51PM
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I am confused about which is the master bedroom (sorry).

The lower floor bedroom (guest room? master?) is nice, but I am concerned the hallway is not wide enough to easily get a wheelchair around the corner into your accessible bath. I see a 3' door on the closet at the end. Is the hall 3 6"?

The "laundry center" in that hall also doesn't look large enough--oh, but that isn't your laundry--that is in the mudroom. What is the laundry center?

Generally, I like split shared hall baths for multiple kids, but I am not "digging" the way the split is upstairs. Is there a reason not to just put the door on the toilet space and then open the rest of the room up some? I think I am disagreeing with the wall there dividing the 2 vanity areas. Otherwise

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 11:04PM
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The bathroom on the first floor - Please refer to the red line I provided.

The swing door is not a good idea as it impedes ease of opening - I would recommend a pocket door on the bathroom as well as the bedroom. I would also widen the closet to accomodate access from a wheelchair.

Make sure the shower is a roll-in and make sure you have a floor drain in the room. Make sure the sinks are for wheelchair access, they are typically higher.

The toilet should have grab bars accross the back and wall to the right for transfer. Make sure the shower has ample grab bars as well.

Bedrooms in a basement require egress window wells. Always think of worse case situations if people will be in below ground living.

Are there steps from the garage to the main floor? There should be a ramp with handrails on the wall as well as the right side for ease of taking a wheelchair from garage to main floor. There shold be a minimun of a 6" change in garage floor to main floor. This is International Residential Code, check me on that.

Put windows on both sides of a bed rather than in the middle of the room.

I have a red marked 2nd floor bath to add in the next reply.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 9:23PM
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2nd floor red line

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 9:24PM
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1st floor

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 9:25PM
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Concerning the hallway leading to the MBR on the main, the hallway is 4' inside dimensions. I believe that meets ADA requirements.

We will be leaving the MBR as our guest room for a few years while our kids are still small and my Dad is still around. We would love to have a second suite but just do not have the money for it.

The laundry room is the mudroom which is not ideal but once again, we are trying to make the best house we can on a budget. There is a laundry chute running from the vanity area upstairs to the main floor hall closet. The kids will just have to carry their own laundry up - life is tough sometimes. :)

We made a slight modification to the upstairs bathroom - would this be better? We have three girls and having the extra vanity space will free up the bathroom.

Thanks for your input kirkhall.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 9:28PM
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willmay, thanks for your input. I like your idea of the pockets on the bath and bedroom doors. We will still need a main door to the MBR area which is not shown on the plan, maybe that should be a pocket door as well.
The shower will be roll in and that is a good point about the grab bars. Do you know if the walls need to be reinforced in those areas where they will be installed? I will need to check on that.
The basement will have extra large egress windows in both of the bedrooms and in the family room. We had one put in our current home and it allows in so much light (and gives me peace of mind as well.)
I also really like how you widened the closet door. I think we may try to use two french doors vs bi-fold door if that would work.
We have had some serious debate over adding a second bathroom upstairs. Our plans keeps growing and I am afraid that we are exceeding the budget already. However, maybe adding that second sink to the vanity area would help without adding much to the cost.

Thanks for the help!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 10:11PM
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The upstairs bath arrangement does not look ideal. You should be able to get two full baths out of a 14x10 foot space (I'm estimating the 10). That would give you the upstairs suite you would like.

Or if you want a single, compartmented bath, you can use the space better. How about runing a two-sink vanity all the way down the right-hand wall, then having separate toilet and bath compartments down the right? That means four people could be using the space at any time.

If you stick with your original plan, don't bother putting a full vanity in the bath-toilet space -- the sink there should be just used for handwashing. Everyone's products, hair dryers, shaving goods, etc., should be in the first space, so the toilet-bath area isn't tied up while someone styles his/her hair or brushes teeth.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 10:39PM
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I have never commented here before, but was very excited to run across your plan as we are also planning an informal farmhouse style home. Your plan seems very well thought out and practical. I love the pantry, that will be much more accessible (IMO) than a walk-in pantry.

One of the things that I was concerned about, which perhaps you can't change at all, is the mudroom area. With four children, I'm just concerned it might feel like a traffic jam when everyone comes in at one time. Is there any way to bump out the north wall of the laundry/mud area a bit, which would shift the garage as well, so there is just a few feet more breathing room as you come in? Also, will there be a place for guests to drop off there coats, shoes, etc, as they come in the front entrance? You've probably thought through that, but thought I'd ask.

I truly love this plan, especially how it takes advantage of all of the views on your property. Well done!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 10:52AM
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What is a shelterbelt?

I'd put a pocket door blocking off the downstairs master bedroom suite from the living area -- this would give you a little hallway to the closet /bathroom. The door may stay open most of the time, but you'll have the ability to make it a whole private space, when it suits you.

I understand what you're saying about budget, but I think you need "more bathroom" upstairs. You're talking about five people sharing one toilet and one shower. I'd look at giving up the half bath downstairs (guests can use the master suite bathroom) before I'd agree to just one bath upstairs. Even just turning that linen closet into a second toilet would be an improvement. I grew up with five kids sharing one bathroom. We had schedules for who got a shower at night vs. morning, and we had a timer in the bathroom in the mornings. It was a constant source of squabbles for everyone.

Overall, I think it's a good, practical plan.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 2:09PM
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Some of the code and HC access advice on this thread is misleading or simply incorrect. The red marked plan is a wheelchair "trap".

A 6 ft turning radius for a wheelchair is a requirement for spaces open to the general public but is usually excessive for residential use. A simple "T" shaped turn around is legal for public buildings and is often better for residences.

Pocket doors should never be used for accessible routes.

A swinging door in a hallway must have adequate space to the latch side to allow a person in a wheelchair to operate it. The ADA requires 18" on the pull side and 12" on the push side. Typically this requires a hall with a door in the middle of it to be 4'-6" wide, therefore it is usually best to avoid such conditions.

The maximum height of an ADA HC lavatory is 34" AFF which is no higher than many residential lavs. What is more important is the clear space needed under it and adequate protection from the drain pipe.

The narrow shower could not be used by someone in a wheelchair so the roll in feature is not needed.

One window in each bedroom must be an "emergency escape and rescue opening". The required "egress" from the basement is only by doors, hallways and stairs, not windows. These code requirements are often muddled by window manufacturers using "egress" in a generic manner and an old typo in the IRC.

The IRC no longer requires a change in level or a curb at a garage to house door but a state addendum might require the old 4" step/curb. However, the garage floor must slope downward toward the garage door.

Many of the OP's here have few other resources for design advice and often accept what is offered here without question. We all need to be very sure our advice is appropriate for the application, complete and stated correctly.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 2:18PM
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Thanks so much for the nice comments and help. I made a few (very rough) changes to the design. I increased the mud room by about 18" towards the garage (north) and two foot to the west. I then added a wall to separate the laundry from the mud room.

I kept the pocket door to the bedroom (I don't think we will use this except for when we have company.) I did add the swinging door to the main level bedroom and kept the swinging door to the bathroom. My Dad navigates their old farmhouse with his scooter quite well but when he is at our house I assume he will be in a wheelchair. When in his chair he needs help to be pushed so we will more than likely be opening doors for him anyway.

I need to check on the size of my folk's current roll in shower. This shower is designed at 3' by 5 foot I believe. I think we will have a shower curtain so the opening is as large as possible. I wonder if having that curtain a way back from the shower would help? It is really important for Dad to be able to use the shower (with assistance.)

Mrs.Pete - The shelter belts are just tree lines surrounding the property. This is definitely prairie land and trees are hard to get established. We are just thrilled to find a property that had them already.

I rearranged the upstairs to make a Master suite. I still like the idea of the large vanity area for the girls. MrsPete I had to laugh about your bathroom schedule growing up. There were 6 girls in my family - I know what you are talking about. I rather like this redesign. Wondering what it will do to the budget.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 4:13PM
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There are several more efficient ways to layout the HC bathroom.

If a "T" shaped space 3 ft wide and 3 ft at each stem is created there is no reason for a 6 ft turn around circle. The center of a wheelchair's axle is not usually at the center of its largest overall dimension so it is very difficult to turn one in an even circle with a diameter much less than 70". The 6 ft turn circle is a convenient fiction. It usually takes some back and forth to turn a wheelchair it so it is often easier to use the "T" maneuver. This is true even on commercial projects.

An 18" wall space should be provided at the latch/pull side of the door so someone in a wheelchair could use the bathroom alone without having to call for help to get out.

There is no reason to make the door larger than 32"; a 36" door is more difficult to open and close for everyone involved. If offset "hospital" hinges are used the door can be 30". A standard wheelchair is about 26" wide and a motorized chair is about 24" wide and it is programmed to turn in a very small circle.

All doors on an accessible path should have lever hardware. Pocket doors are a challenge to open and close for people of all ages and capabilities. They should be designed to be rarely closed and never locked.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 5:32PM
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I have a few suggestions for you. Perhaps this is just me but I find pocket doors very inconvenient and not rarely used. We have 2 in our house and they hardly ever are closed. I believe they are more expensive than a regular door, don't provide as much sound isolation, and are more difficult to use. They also can mess up adjacent walls by not allowing for things to be anchored into those walls or electrical switches or outlets being placed there. Is the door at the top of the stairs necessary? Will code allow you not to have an outlet on that section of wall where the door recesses into?

In the hallway bathroom, the door should open into the toilet/shower area. Can't tell what is on that wall but you don't want someone flinging the door open into someone drying their hair. Plus, the door is out of the way when opened. I would eliminate the pocket door when doing this. I would probably put the tub in the kids BR and take some space from the vanity area and put the shower in the "master" one also.

I would suggest a tweak or two on the closets upstairs. I am a firm believer in you can never have too much closet space! I would take some area out of the large walk in closet and make a closet accessed from the hallway. One door could be used in the walk in closet, that still leaves a big closet. At the top of the stairs some room could be stolen from the end of the closet in the "master" to make another closet. That space at the back of reach-in closets is often a dumping ground for things never to be seen again anyway! In the corner bedroom, a small walk in closet could be made by combining the hall closet with the right hand closet. The other closet could be left there or it could be accessed from the hallway and used as linen storage. By giving this right corner bedroom a walk in closet, it somewhat equalizes the closet space between bedrooms. We don't want kids fighting because their sister has a bigger closet, do we?

I feel that a coat closet is still necessary on the main floor. I have a few ideas but an not sure about either of them. A closet could be put on the section of wall just to the left of the door. This closet could open towards the stairs or to either side. This might get in the way of the table or might provide a little privacy to make an "entry" area. A closet could also be attached to the bump out for the file cabinet. This would give a little wall space for furniture and close off the view to the living area a little bit. That could be good or bad depending on your viewpoint.

Hopefully you get something out of some of this.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 2:35PM
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Thanks Renovator8 for the help. I hadn't thought much about the door size but yes, Dad can get through the 32" door. It is a small thing that will definitively save us some money and hopefully work better.
I switched around the bathroom. Do you think an arrangement like this would work?

Oh and knopffarms had asked about the guest entrance and what we would do for coats and shoes. We are not certain about that problem although I have given it allot of consideration. Our initial plan had a nice foyer which we had to eliminate to decrease square footage. Right now I am envisioning a long bench under the front dining room window with room under it to slide shoes, etc. We currently have a front coat closet that we almost never use for guest's coats. They are often put on the MBR bed or such. If anyone has any other ideas I would love to hear them.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 3:57PM
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What is that "laundry" closet in the master hallway again? That is where I'd probably put "guest coats" and other storage--vacuum, etc.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 8:24PM
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I like the added space in the mudroom! As far as a coat closet, I'm not planning on one either for the same reason as you stated. I like the idea of a bench or window seat under the dining windows. You could also buy some unique coat hooks at an antique store and put them in the wall near the entrance, some that would be interesting to look at even without coats hanging on them. Not sure what your style is, but it could work.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 9:31PM
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