Go small or go home??
Hello, all! I have been reading and reading the posts on this forum and learning so much! Thank you all for sharing your expertise and experience. I have a dilemma I am hoping you can help me explore.
My husband and I, along with our two boys, are building a a new home in the Caribbean. We have been through one hurricane in our current home, which is four feet above sea level, and had a huge mess on our hands. We initially thought we would like to build a sacrificial floor into the new house by raising it on pilings, which would put the garage, storage, a guest room and a large open-air, shaded "rec room" under the main accommodations. This would mean protection from flooding and would also create some much-needed outdoor shade for our boys to play in, plus give us ample storage. All good things! The cost to do this is not horrendous and might in the end cost less than the fill we would need to raise a house without this "basement" space.
But there is a catch. In order to avoid huge government fees, we have to keep the external measurements of the house and all covered spaces under 5000 square feet. This seems like a lot, but would include the entire washout floor including the garage and open air space as well as upper balcony spaces -- essentially anything with a roof. What we have left is a main floor of around 1400 square feet of conditioned space (external measurements, so a little less, in fact). The main level would include the master, great room (kitchen, dining, living) and a small "away" room. There would be a large covered balcony on that floor as well. Two small children's bedrooms and a small study loft would be located upstairs. The space allocated to the great room is currently 700 square feet or 35 x 20 external feet, and the master suite has 370 external feet.
These spaces are MUCH smaller than the average where we live. Most people build massive houses here with little thought for cooling costs or general cost to the environment, and it is our hope to create something a little different. However, I am worried we will be building something we can't sell if we ever need to.
The other option would be to do a single story with attic bedrooms and a covered outdoor cabana space, which would be more "normal" here and would give us slightly larger room sizes, say 40 x 20 for the great room and 400 square feet for the master suite. These are large enough spaces but actually on the small side here.
Can anyone see a way to make the expected "master suite" work in a space of 370 square feet? I can certainly see how creative space planning would work to enlarge the feel of the great room -- having a dining space outside, for example, and only the kitchen and living inside -- but the master is a little scary. I don't want to end up with so little storage we're tripping over our things.
Any experience, insight, reaction, sample floor plans, thoughts or anything else very much appreciated! Do I trust our original instincts (not to mention our architect, who is a master of the vernacular here and is encouraging us towards the raised option despite the smaller spaces)? Or is this little voice in my head that keeps saying, "Too small, too small!" right?