Request for feedback - new home plan

s_dipityApril 7, 2013

I am planning to get a new house constructed and have a drawn a floor plan myself. I will appreciate feedback about this plan. I do plan to consult an architect but will really like to know if there are any glaring mistakes with this plan. May be it is not even feasible.


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The house is too spreaded out.
I like houses with a 'u' concept but in this case you need to restrain it somewhat and make it more cohesive

You need an architect. I am pretty sure he/she will take your vision and make it work.

If you want to have fun and play some more before contacting your architect, then I suggest:
-Make the garage part of the front area, maybe placing it next to the kitchen (on the left).
-Make the 'u' less deep, that will also shorten the hallway.
-Center the entry/foyer
-Reconfigure the bathrooms so you have easier access to the pool. Also, flip the master closet for a better circulation.

There are many other things to suggest but there is no need to talk about them now. Fix the macro issues, first.

Here is a link that might be useful: Inspiration

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 9:42PM
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Looks like you are planning a fun house!

Here's a link to a house that recently was on a Dwell magazine home tour. Maybe you can get some more ideas. (Go to "Floor Plan -- After")

Here is a link that might be useful: U-shaped house

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 11:13PM
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I must agree with nafnaf: I understand that you're going for a courtyard house feel, but you have nothing but exterior here, which will necessitate miles of roof and excessive hallways. This is not an economically feasible design, and -- even if it were -- you'd not like everything being so far from, well, everything else.

I suggest you google courtyard house plans (or similar) and get a feel for what'll work. Seeing what other people have done is always a good starting place -- then you can put your own stamp on it.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 9:11AM
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One more comment: This pool courtyard makes me think of a hotel in which I once stayed. The pool courtyard was so pretty, so inviting, my girls and I couldn't wait to settle in and spend an afternoon lounging and swimming. The reality was, however, that this set-up gave NO breeze whatsoever, and being surrounded by brick and concrete we sweltered in the heat.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 9:13AM
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Thanks for the great feedback. Very useful suggestions. I never thought of NO breeze MrsPete. Good point. A few things that are very important to us:

1. Most probably this is the house that we will retire in and I wanted to keep it single storey considering things that come with old age. We are in our early 40s now. I know it will cost more now but just trying to be far-sighted.

2. My another plan is to design the house in such a way that we should be able to PARTLY rent it out if needed once we are empty nesters. That is the reason to have a second kitchen in the right zone.

Please do share ideas and thoughts. I will make some changes and come back.


    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 9:26AM
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MrsPete, do you think the NO Breeze will be an issue for any courtyard plan or do you see any work-around it.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 9:31AM
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I have made some changes in view of the suggestions. Please take a look and let me know what you think. Did I make it worse?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 2:11PM
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I don't think this plan is feasible. This kind of exercise is useful to get ideas about what you want, but small tweaks here and there will not make this a reasonable house.

Rather than focusing on specific problems, here are some larger questions:

-Do you really want a second kitchen? Do you really want to have a house where you plan to rent out a section of it, and it is pretty useless unless/until you do so? Do you really want other people/young kids/college students living under your same roof? Do you really want to worry about finding renters, damage deposits, late rent, theft, etc.? I'm a lawyer and have had to sue many tenants to evict them after they stop paying rent. The landlord looses his or her shirt every time, not just with my costs but with lost rent and the costs to fix the space that is typically left in very poor shape (and this occurs in nice neighborhoods, too).

-Do you really want such a massively inefficient structure? This isn't just a one-time cost--your house will cost as much to heat and cool as two or three houses of the same square footage. Overall, you can count on tremendous additional costs for construction and heating/cooling (depending on where you live). At the same time, despite all this additional cost (and maintenance), you wind up with absurdly long walks from one wing to another unless you want to go outside, not to mention zero privacy in any of the rooms.

I think a better decision is to have a conventional house with a smaller footprint, that will save so much money in construction and HVAC that you will never need to worry about renting out part of your house to complete strangers. You could easily have a wing on the house so the pool is flanked on 2 sides, and reduce your exterior exposure by a third or more.

I hate to be such a downer, but on the bright side: this really has given you a taste of what you're interested in, and you can take what you've learned now to an architect and get a better product faster.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 3:54PM
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Thanks CamG for your comments. I did consider the points that you mentioned before drawing this plan. I am convinced that I need the master bedroom on the main level. I do not want to go looking for a new house in my old age. That being the first requirement, even if I decide to go with a typical build-up rather than build-out plan, I only have 2 bed room to build on the 2nd floor. I am not sure how much cost saving it will be. Also, I do not even plan having everything in the the kitchen right away. Only plan for it just in case. I am not sure if the U-Shaped plan is the issue here or Single-Storey or both. Please share your thoughts, so I can revise my plan accordingly. I appreciate your time and help.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 6:03PM
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I don't think I was clear. The master on the main floor is not the problem. The issue with the high cost is the massive amount of exterior walls and the three sections that barely touch. In essence, you're heating and cooling three separate houses because they only share a few feet of walls. I think inherent in this shape is master not having privacy because its windows face the courtyard, but that is minor.

The kitchen will cost a lot even if you don't put a lot in. Either you have a kitchen with plumbing, electrical, appliances, fixtures and cabinets or you have a useless room. Even if cost isn't an issue, it takes of valuable space. And as I said, you need to really evaluate whether you want tenants in your house. Unless you have been a landlord for years before, I don't think you know what you're getting into. Plus, if you need a tenant to pay the mortgage, you're certainly building too expensive of a house.

I think you should search house plans with the master bedroom on the first floor. Most floor plan websites will have that option when you search.

Again, I don't think this is an issue of revising your floor plan. You don't have a floorplan so much as a visual wish list (to steal a phrase from an expert on this forum). Even I, a decidedly non expert, can identify so many issues that it isn't worth working on. You need to start fresh, and if you are going to use an architect anyway, there is no reason to try to design your own house. Use this time to look at plans and get a feel for what you want.

In case you are still not convinced: I somewhat went the route you are starting with my previous plan (abandoned for reasons unrelated to the plan). I spent a year looking at dozens of plans a day, then spent months working on plans. My first 5 were beyond abysmal The only thing good about my next several were aspects I stole verbatim from other plans. Eventually, with massive amounts of help from people on this forum, and incredible amounts of time invested, I think I came up with a pretty good and unique plan, with a few aspects I genuinely came up with on my own. But even then I had to spend months working with a drafter to put that plan into real blueprints, and then I ran into issues finding a builder, which eventually caused me to abandon it when we became completely burned out and had to fire the only builder to return a reasonable price on that plan. Apparently you have the funds (and good sense) to see an architect, neither of which I had. Skip trying to become a home designer yourself and leave it to the pros. Spend this time instead learning about what you want and need, so you can be better prepared to help the pro design a good house for you.

Again, sorry to be such a downer, but that's better than ignoring this and letting you spend more time on a plan that really isn't going anywhere. You needn't be down over this; you should be excited about the really neat house in your future. This isn't it,...

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 8:05PM
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An architect can give you good advice . . . what is appealing to you about a U-shaped house? Sometimes a U-shaped house can afford greater privacy if your neighbors are close. Is there a tree or other focal point around which you would like to center your house design? Are you looking for an area protected from wind (sounds like this is not the case). Are you trying to maximize light/shade? True, a spread-out house plan can be more expensive but it might be worth it to you to have light from opposite sides in many rooms. A good architect can take your desires and translate them into a fantastic plan, whether it ends up as a box, a U, an L, a T, an H . . . or whatever letter of the alphabet.

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Ideabook re U-shaped houses

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 9:51PM
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Okay, I did a sketch -- not a detailed, well-thought out drawing, but just a sketch. It's still a highly inefficient house, and I don't really care for it, but it's better than the original. I did find it interesting.

- It's more compact /less exterior; thus, it's much more affordable. It'll also be "cheaper to keep".
- It gives you a nice, open floorplan on one side . . . and the living room as a more private, quiet area.
- It has fewer hallways, though the rooms ARE the hallways. The lack of "flow" is one of the big problems in this U-shaped concept.
- If -- in the future -- you want to rent out a portion of the house, you could make the entry a "common hallway" and having locking doors to the two sides of the house. I would not build a kitchenonette at this point (it'd be expensive, and years from now it'd need updating before you could rent it), but it could be added at some point in the future, IF you decided to go this direction. I'd keep the living room nice and large so that you'd have space to install these items along one wall.
- On the subject of the living room, it occurs to me that it'd be better to have the entrance to the living room closer to the courtyard; that'd give you a straight-shot to the bedroom hallway.
- The plumbing is a bit more compact than the original plan, which saves molney.
- With the U being less deep, you would get more breeze in that area.

- You lost access from the master bedroom and one bedroom to the courtyard, but that was always going to happen -- you can't have a house this size with all exterior walls.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 10:05AM
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Thanks CamG for your advice.

Oaktown, I am not married to the U-shaped idea. Basically I am trying to come up with a plan that meets the following requirements:

1. Single floor living.
2. Minimize separation of rooms and make all come together as one enclosed space.
3. Have a house that blends with the outside and facilitates outdoor living. More rooms connected with - patio, pool, garden etc.
4. Should allow to entertain a lot of people for parties and get togethers. Outdoors and/or indoors.
5. May be able to partly rent out the place.

Thanks MrsPete for taking out the time to draw the sketch. I used your plan and added specifics to it. The living & dining area and the master bedroom will have high Ceilings to provide more open feeling and have variety in elevation. May be this is more feasible.

I will appreciate if the members could post their comments and suggestion.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 11:14AM
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Take a look at these plans for some ideas. Some of these (the ones I am linking to) courtyard homes have been built and shown in our local parade of homes.

The designs are nice and from what I understand they are easily cooled. The electric bills are not crazy high either.

I am in Florida and these plans work well here.

If you are thinking of renting later, the casitas can be expanded to be small studio apartments.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 4:07PM
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Where do you plan to do laundry?

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 5:24PM
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OK, Here is a plan that I think should really work. I will appreciate if the members could share their opinions.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 8:36PM
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All traffic coming in from the garage has to go through the middle of the kitchen. Is the cook okay with that?

I don't care for the layout of the hall bathroom. When the door is open, you look directly at the toilet.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 9:36PM
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How do you plan to have access to the pool if you have guests? Have them walk through your bedrooms or a long walk around. The last one seems disconnected from outdoor entertaining areas.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 10:27PM
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Sophie Wheeler

That is a house for a single person who never entertains and doesn't really go outside. Is there a reason you're trying for the knife blade with a nose look to the house? Is the lot long and narrow? It's very unattractive from the street to look at something like that.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 12:34AM
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hollysprings I am not sure why you would say that this house is not designed for entertaining. In fact it is exactly the opposite. The entire house is designed around the patio area. Notice the open floor plan with access to Patio to allow for get togethers indoors and outdoors. The print out shows the house in a vertical format. However, the foyer/entrance is towards the right side which will face the road.

Lyfia, good though. I will move the pool next to the patio behind the Owner Bedroom to make it more accessible for the guests as well.

dekeoboe, thanks for your suggestions.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 8:44AM
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I'm late and you're already moving away from a U or courtyard house. I love them, though, so will toss in my thought. A patio can be too enclosed, not just because of blocking breezes (biggie) but also too isolative. And I say that as someone who definitely requires privacy.

I also love detached garages because I hate what attached ones cost a home, and they also present an opportunity to create a covered breezeway porch or pergola-covered patio between, even to frame views in and out.

So, while you're still musing, I want to toss in the idea of an L shape, or roughly L shape, with a detached garage positioned on another side to create a semi-enclosed area. This way the enclosed area gets the breezes, privacy, and a view out. It also could be a bit larger and/or better shaped, that is, not determined totally in size and shape by the exigencies of room layout. (I suspect that first one you posted would not live well--too long, narrow, and closed in.)

It's also very nice to see a one-story planned. Yes, they are more expensive--particularly because they tend to require more land, not just construction cost; most typical subdivision lots with zoning restrictions are waaay too small. Because of that single-story houses are becoming a luxury style. They're already starting to be seen as more desirable for remodels, and it won't be long before people who automatically look for two stories now wish they could afford one.

BTW, don't get too happy with a specific plan if you haven't purchased your land yet. Making the best of its features will change everything.

Enjoy your planning.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 6:48PM
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Holy cow, it got worse.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 1:02PM
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Rosie, I am a huge fan of detached garages specially because I think a lot of times attached garages overpower the entire look of the house. But I have put that idea to rest for now. I might bring it up with the architect. You are absolutely right, the land will play a significant role in choosing a plan. We have not decided on a lot yet. Just researching some ideas for now. Hopefully, I will be able to come up something feasible. With the help of everybody here, I plan to go to the architect with a reasonably detailed plan, so I don't have to pay too much for his/her time.

MrsPete, I am sure I'll get there with everybody's help here.

Here is a new and improved idea for comments and suggestions.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 3:35PM
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You will actually pay MORE with a plan than if you let the architect do the job from scratch. DIY plans are mostly good at letting you think through room relationships, but they don't do anything to "help" an architect. They hinder free thought and make the whole process take longer.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 5:43PM
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LiveWireOak, I don't understand the logic behind your statement. How would it not help the architect if the client knows what he wants? I know from my personal experience in web designing that it made our life so much easier and saved everybody so much time when the client came with exact specifics. It is always so much back and forth with the people who dont know what they want.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 6:13PM
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We ended up with a u/H shaped house. Here is a link to the plan. It is quite bit bigger, but it may give you some ideas in terms of flow. Summerfield used to frequent the forum quite a bit and helped a great deal with my layout. W are 4 weeks from being complete, and so far I have no regrets with the plan. Good luck! It is wise to spend the time in the planning stage because it is so much harder to change things later. The floorplan stage is where my husband and I really got on the same page in regards to what we both wanted in the house.

Here is a link that might be useful: My floor plan

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 9:36PM
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The plan you're looking for is a modernized/enlarged 1950s/60s-era rambler. I recommend looking in a few places:

Sunset Western Ranch Houses - definitive guide to western ramblers, by Cliff May (who had many U-shaped houses)

There is also a very different second edition of this book that is also worth owning. Look into Cliff May books and plans as well, as well as books on Eichler homes (if you like mid-century modern - a lot of these homes have central courtyards) and maybe William Wurster.

Home Planners (1960s-70s-80s era books) can be readily found for 3-4$ on amazon second hand. These stock plans can typically be modernized. There are several books of one-level plans and some U-shaped ones.

This type of house isn't the most efficient but depending on where you are you may not care. They are abundant in California and offer the most expansive, luxurious lifestyle - the feeling of a sprawling house all on one level.

This post was edited by caben on Tue, Apr 23, 13 at 22:27

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 10:16PM
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Thanks everyone for very helpful suggestions and advice. With the help of all the recommendations and ideas, I think I have been able to come up with a feasible plan that meets my requirements. Please take a look and share your feedback. I will greatly appreciate it.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 2:18PM
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Just trying to bump up the thread to get some feedback on the latest plan.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 7:37PM
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