Can this floorplan be modified to fit?

girlguineapigJune 12, 2014

We want to build our own home, but are still looking for the perfect lot. I'm trying to figure out what lot size we need. We're open to (or even prefer!) building a two story home, but there are a lot of confusing rules with regards to building them in many of the neighborhoods we like, so we want to make sure we could build a one story home we like if two stories doesn't work out. In our area (in sunny California), the most common lot size and the minimum size we are considering is 6,000 s.f., which means you could build in a 48' wide x 60' deep area.

So I've been looking around for floor plans and this is the best one I could find (it's from a real estate agent's website, not a stock plan). It's not perfect, but it approximates what we want. It looks like it's 52' wide and 57' deep, 2,126 square feet. This would fit in and could even be expanded on a 7,000 s.f. lot (can build in 58' x 60' area).

The question is, could something like this be built on a 6,000 s.f. lot? Or should I just give up on 6,000 s.f. lots and wait for the perfect 7,000+ one? It's just that 6,000 s.f. lots are so much more common in my area. And of course, they are cheaper.

Some thoughts:
- We want 4 bedrooms, and I'm generally happy with the size of the ones in this plan. I would maybe make the master bedroom slightly bigger, like 14' x 13', and 10' x 13' secondary bedrooms would be better, but these I could live with. We really want all the bedrooms to be on one side of the house like they are here, though I wouldn't mind if one bedroom were on the other side (last bedroom would be a guestroom/office).
- Love the master bedroom in the back of the house with windows towards the backyard. Even better if I could have windows on two sides of the master, which is possible in this plan.
- Would change the master closet/bathroom situation so they are separate. I'd want the walk-in closet to be a bit bigger as well. We would love a water closet for the master bathroom as well, and would have a shower instead of a tub.
- Love dual sinks in bathroom #2, but don't love that it doesn't have windows. Maybe skylights would fix that problem? Or fitting the bathroom on the side somehow. Not a deal breaker though.
- I love the living room off to the side like this, and I love its size. Perfect for my grand piano.
- I could go without a separate formal dining room if the area in the 'breakfast room' was bigger.
- Slightly bigger kitchen would be great, but this one is not bad. I would prefer it to just be an L with an island instead of having the fridge on the other side like it is here.
- Garage should be at least 20' by 20'.

So what do you think? Can we buy a 6,000 s.f. lot, or should I just be patient and wait for a 7,000 s.f. one?

This post was edited by girlguineapig on Thu, Jun 12, 14 at 17:44

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First of all, you won't be building this plan. You need an actual plan and construction drawings to build a house. So you can take this diagram to an architect and talk about the things you like and the things you dislike and have the plan modified to fit your actual lot.

First find a lot you like - the neighborhood you like. Then worry about finding the house to fit your lot.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 7:28PM
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I'd choose another plan. I see so many negatives to this one:

- Both the family room and living room are nice areas -- good sized, fireplaces, good windows -- but you'd have to walk through the kitchen to access the family room. That's a very poor flow pattern.

- The kitchen contains one serious issue: The refrigerator is divided from the rest of the kitchen by the island -- but I like the general size and shape of the kitchen.

- At 6' wide, the breakfast room is too small for even the smallest table. You might be able to go with a U-shaped kitchen and have a bar /seating next to the window in that area -- but, if so, I'd remove that cabinetry that divides the kitchen and the family room.

- If you enjoy grilling, you'll have to walk around the breakfast room and through the family room while carrying plates of food. You could fix this problem by placing a set of doors in the breakfast room -- but you're already low on space in this area. Maybe a pass-through to the back yard would be more realistic.

- The foyer has no coat closet and no space for a hall table for guests to drop their keys, purses, sunglasses.

- The hallway to the bedrooms will be long, dark, and uninviting.

- Bedroom 3's door bumps against the closet door, which is not a huge deal, but you build so you avoid small aggravations like this.

- The hall bath vanity isn't large enough to support two sinks, and you'll have no storage in that minimal-sized bathroom. Not even enough space for a clothes hamper.

- The master bath is no better: You will have to stand in the tub to turn on the water, and it'll be super-difficult to clean.

- The master closet is poorly designed -- it's 5', and you'll need 24" for hanging clothes on one side . . . and you'll need the remaining 36" for walking space. This means you have 5' of storage space, and you're wasting the walking space. If you could make this closet 24" wider, you could have hanging space on both sides, doubling your storage space. OR you could split the closet into two reach-ins with a hallway to the bathroom in between.

- Have you ever used a patio on a U-shaped house? The U-area will usually be shaded by one side or the other, and it won't receive any breeze. This layout works in a house that's wide and has short "arms" -- but this house is deep and has long "arms".

I don't think this house has enough going for it to make it worth modifying. With so many house plans available, you can find a much better 4-bedroom in this size.

This post was edited by MrsPete on Thu, Jun 12, 14 at 19:44

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 7:40PM
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But can a similar floorplan with similar sized rooms fit in a 48' x 60' area? (6,000 SF lot) That's my real question...

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 7:52PM
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Sure, here are 23 plans with 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, two eating areas and two living areas that all fit into 48x60 -- it's easy to search this on other websites too; just use advanced search to put in your parameters:;highsqft=99999&gartype=2&lowbeds=4&highbeds=4&width=45&baths=2&depth=60&level=2&sortby=ASC&foun=&ppp=32&extwall=

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 8:02PM
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OP--My concern is that when I add up the numbers, I think that house above is even wider than you think it is (or the rooms are smaller). You have to remember walls have dimension/thickness. Outside walls too.

I would find a site like MrsPete has posted and see if you can find what you are looking for.

In a one story plan, the problem with deep plans gets to be about the roof. To cover that deep (and wide) of a structure, you end up with roof-heavy house. A 2 story, that is mitigated a bit because you can split up the spaces and actually have a smaller footprint (which you know).

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 8:13PM
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Mrs.Pete, all the plans you linked to are two stories. Like I said, there are a lot of rules for two story development so I want to make sure we could build what we want on one story.

Though maybe what I really need to do is figure out two story development here. What I understand is that for the front half of the lot, the side setbacks must total 15' for the second floor, and on the rear half of the lot the side setbacks must total 24'. That seems odd to me. And there's also an additional rear setback requirement. So basically on a 6,000 s.f. lot on the second story, you're limited to a 33 x 30 area for the front, and 24 x 25 area for the back. I don't know what to make of this and whether we could build a house we like with such restrictions (we would ideally like three bedrooms on the second floor and one on the first).

As for one story floor plans, I've found it extremely hard to find anything comparable to what I like. And I've looked at tons of websites! Narrow and deep floor plans are hard to find, and it seems all of the ones with nice size master closets and master baths have the master bedroom far away from all the other bedrooms which isn't what we want. Or if the bedrooms are all together, then it's a shallow plan that doesn't show me the potential of a deeper plan.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 8:47PM
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That said, I will try to look for single story floor plans again and see if I come up with something better....

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 8:48PM
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In my city, a large lot is 50x120. I was looking through stock plans while we hunted for a lot, and I found that there wasn't a whole lot out there for smaller spaces. The plan builders assume that if you're building your own house, you've got an acreage with effectively unlimited space to lay out your house. When you search on "small lots", they assume you're squeezing in between other houses, so you get something a hobbit would find cozy. Stock plans for mid sized houses seem to be rare.

Have you also looked into restrictions on setbacks and lot coverage in your area? We aren't allowed to cover more than 45% without special permission. And we have to be at least 6' from the sides and 15' back from the street. Rules like that will restrict your options even further.

If you're going to go to the trouble of building, you don't want to be limited to the few existing plans that fit your lot. Plus, once you take that one and "adjust" it, you won't have anything that resembles what is there now. I would start interviewing draftsmen and/or architects to find someone to draw up a plan for you.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 8:53PM
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Yes amberm145, it's so frustrating!

Yes, I've looked at the setback restrictions thoroughly. Like I said, on a 6,000 s.f. lot (60' x 100'), you can build on 48' x 60' of it. We are also restricted to 44% of the lot only, so 2,640 s.f. including the garage, but I can't imagine a plan that would actually take up more square footage than that considering all the setbacks, unless it was a perfect rectangular house, haha.

We would definitely hire an architect and everything when building. The question now is can we get a 6,000 s.f. lot, or do we really need 7,000? I feel silly talking to an architect before we buy a lot though...considering how hard it is to buy a house/lot around here (it's a total seller's market right now), I think they would feel I was wasting their time.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 8:59PM
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Are you doing an advanced search when you look for plans? Many websites, like that listed above, let you put in a maximum width and depth. That means you just need to know what the set backs are in the neighborhoods you are considering and you can search to see if they have any one story plans that will fit on the lot.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 9:03PM
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Yes, I have done advanced searches for 48' x 60' plans. There are not very many with four bedrooms at all, especially one story. And like I said, I can't find anything even close to what I like (master bedroom close to at least two other bedrooms) that also takes advantage of the deepness of the lot.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 9:06PM
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Even though I know I won't be using any of these exact plans, none of the plans that fit into 48' x 60' have really convinced us that something we would like would work. It seems like if the master bedroom has a nice bathroom/walk in closet, then it's always across the house from all the other bedrooms in narrow/deep one story plans.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 9:08PM
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girlguineapig, do you have the same user name on another forum? We are in the SF Bay Area, and we are doing a teardown/new build.

Here are some suggestions, based on our experience.

-Talk to one or more local builders about what you would like to build and ask them what kind of property you should buy in your preferred area (not just size but dimensions and lot characteristics). At the same time, you can ask for a guesstimate of the building cost range, so you will know how much to budget for the property. Consider it a pre-interview too. This was really one of the best things we did.

-Check listings for spec homes/relatively new homes on similar size lots in the areas where you are looking. Go to open houses, look at existing stock. The problem with internet house plans is that many were conceived for tract developers without those kinds of lot size restrictions. On the other hand, here there are one-story ranchers/Eichlers/etc. galore. If you can find something with a good floor plan on a 6000 sq ft lot, there's a good chance you can build something similar. (Or you just might want to buy it!) If you like any spec/newer homes, you also could ask who designed it/built it.

-Finally, would recommend that you don't get invested in a floor plan. Inventory is so low here that if you're set on building, get your property first. Figure out where you want to live. Don't wait for something to come on the market that will suit your dream plan. (Could an architect make a 2000 sq ft 4BR/2BA home fit on a 6000 sq ft lot? Probably but it might not look like the one you've shown.)

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 9:31PM
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Sophie Wheeler

No, you can't fit a square peg into a round hole. You need an architect to design the round peg. But first, you need to buy the round hole. Or a square hole. Or a triangle hole. You don't take a random peg and then go hole shopping.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 10:50PM
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Sorry, I read that as the lots were 48'x60'. My bad.

It's great advice to look at other in-fills in the area. Of course, in my case, the more I saw, the more I knew I needed to build my own. :P In my area, the in-fills built for resale are designed to look pretty but not be very functional. But it can help show you what's possible, and you can figure out what you like and what you want to avoid.

Talking to builders/architects before you have a lot is not a waste of their time. If they treat you like it is, you don't want to work with them when you've got your lot.

And yes, dekeoboe, when I searched, I tried specifying width and depth. Doing so would take an inventory of 3000 plans down to 4.

As for whether you need a 7k sq' lot depends on what you need in your house. Do you need a dining room? Do you need a separate family room and living room? Can you build a basement to give you more living space? Is that kitchen big enough for you?

If you are limited to 2300 sq' (excluding the garage) and need 4 bedrooms, you need to use your space carefully and not throw in spaces you'd never use just because someone who has a 6000sq' house says you "need" it. (Personally, I disagree that the bathroom shown here is too small for a double sink. A 5x8 bathroom is the most common configuration. It doesn't make sense that if you took the tub out of that configuration, you couldn't replace it with a sink. On the other hand, 5x8 bathrooms aren't intended to be used by 2 people at once, so I might make that extra storage. And if I was limited to that breakfast nook and also had a dining room, I would put in a cozy 2 sided banquet.)

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 12:09AM
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Yes, the search I did was all for two-story houses because you said in your first post that you were open to (even prefer) a two-story house.

The "odd rules" for second floors seem to be pushing the idea of a 1.5 story house. I'm thinking they want the neighborhood to have a smaller-house, old-fashioned look to it -- because 2 stories can be sprawling, while 1.5s almost always look more modest.

A 1.5 story house also lends itself to a master-down /other bedrooms up layout because you get the square footage of all the living spaces + the master on the first floor . . . and the remaining bedrooms take up less space on the upper floor.

However, I'm not clear on your bedroom thoughts: In one post you say ideally you'd have one down /three up, and in another post you say you want at least two bedrooms near the master.

Do basements work well in your area? Perhaps your ideal house is a 1.5 story with a basement to provide that second living area /family room. Three levels would easily meet your requirements.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 8:05AM
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MrsPete, around here the additional setbacks for second stories are a way of stating daylight plane restrictions (small parcels). Some places will write these restrictions by limiting the building envelope to, for example: 10' setback, go up 20' from grade and then at a 45 degree angle to the max building height of 30'. Or, setback is 5' and you can build a 26' tall house, but you can go 1' higher for every additional 5' you add to your setback, up to a max height of 34'. A few towns have design review on top of that "to help preserve neighborhood character."

In this area, basements in new construction are typically only in luxury homes. Most new construction is on slab. I think if girlguineapig is thinking of a basement to meet her space needs, she'd likely be better off just waiting for a larger property or adjusting her search area a bit.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 9:49AM
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MrsPete: In a two story house, I would want the master bedroom and two children's bedrooms upstairs, and the guest bedroom/office could either be upstairs or downstairs. In a single story, I would want the master bedroom and two children's bedrooms near each other, and the last bedroom could be anywhere. Basements are definitely out, as Oaktown explains.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 10:25AM
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I started looking for architects. There are so many! Hopefully one of them can help me figure things out.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 10:26AM
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girlguineapig, how old are your children? They grow up awfully fast, and you may not always want to be so close to them.

Our house has 3 bedrooms - 1 up, two down. When our twins were small, we used both bedrooms on the lower level, so we could be close to them. But by the time they were 4 or 5, we moved our bedroom upstairs. They rarely woke up in the night, but if they did, they could easily find us.

Our kids (now in college) often stay up later than we do, and we're glad our rooms aren't close to each other. They don't stay young and needy forever!

A couple of comments on the plan you showed - I know you aren't necessarily going to use it, but for you to consider for future plans:

The garage is almost too small to be useable, unless you have compact cars. Ours is 22 x 22, and that is cozy with a minivan, a Jeep, and storage along one wall.

The laundry room was as far from bedrooms as you can get. It's easier to walk across the room to put clothes in the dryer than to haul laundry across the house.

Good luck with your search!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 11:02AM
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girlguineapig, hope you can find a terrific architect to help you with this. It was my impression that if you are still in the "browsing" stage that builders are more willing to provide a free consult. Builders stand to make more $ than the architects; you will have to use a builder, don't necessarily have to have an architect. Many of the local "design-build" firms are really builders who have loose relationships with favorite architects; they don't actually have architects in-house. But, small sample size and all that --

You might find this blog piece interesting though it is a few years old and for an area with larger parcels.

Here is a link that might be useful: Article re new construction

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 12:21PM
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Can it be modified to fit? Yes. Would you be happy with the result? Questionable.

I feel your pain though. We committed to a 85' x 117' corner lot that we thought would be plenty big for a 2300-2400 sq ft house, but with offsets the buildable area was only 65' x 87' and all the plans we liked were 70' or wider.

I ended up taking a 75' wide plan and modifying it down to 65' wide. Our builder tweeked my design and made it work. So with only 4' to shave off you're in somewhat of a better position than I was, but if you want to make the garage two feet wider then you are up to 6' that you have to lose.

The only way I see making it work is losing either the dining room or the foyer. If you nixed the foyer you could move the entry doors to the living room, but either way you would have to take out a corresponding 6' of width in the family room/kitchen/breakfast area.

Perhaps the best option would be to eliminate the breakfast area since at 6' width it's of limited usefulness anyway. With the additional 2' you added to the garage and elimination of the breakfast area you will have an additional 2' of width to apportion between the kitchen and family room.

Overall, I like it. It obviously makes sacrifices in some areas (your master bath & closet are tiny) in order to have two living areas and four bedrooms, but if those are where your priorities lie, then it's a good plan.

I vote for waiting for a bigger lot, but I understand the limits on availability and having to balance cost of the land with everything else. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 5:54PM
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