Floorplan Review

ebgiacJuly 31, 2012

Hello Everyone!! My hubby and I are making the big move from NYC to North Carolina in an attempt to recoup some years to our lifespan that we have lost living in NY for 10Y. I would like a review of our floorplan. As this is my first time posting, I thought I would start off with a little background info. I am 29 and hubby is 30 (will be 1 year older at time of our move). We do not have any children but hope to have them in quick succession (sounds terrible) once we get out of the city that never sleeps (I want four, he wants three). The design style we prefer tends to lean towards transitional to traditional. Entertaining is VERY important. And we want this home to be the home we live in for 10+ years.

OK, so now that the introductions are out of the way, here is my floorplan. I have been stalking this site for about 5 months now and I have seen the community point out some things that I would NEVER even think about. One thing that I do notice on my floorplan right off the bat is that the guest bath and guest bedroom are not connected... Can someone help me figure out how to fix this??

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Here is the second floor

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 4:41PM
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It looks like a long walk from the kitchen to the dining room. Imagine making multiple trips carrying serving dishes of food and then, oh darn it, I forgot the mustard.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 5:48PM
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This seems like a good start. There are several odd things about this plan. The bedrooms are oddly shaped and IMHO too small. The upstairs kids' bath is too narrow by the bathtub. As graywings mentioned, the dining room is a long walk from the kitchen. I think your garage should be deeper. There is a lot of wasted space in the "hall" and in the kitchen behind the island. A lot of your door swings are off. It looks like you are missing a bunch of windows in your bedrooms

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 6:20PM
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@graywings Do you think I should move the stairs to start in the foyer so a door can go on the top of the dining room... I just don't know how that would work with my inspiration photo of how I want my foyer to look... (pic below)

@gobruno I haven't finished putting in all the windows yet. One thing I should've mentioned... I am putting this together now and trying to get it to be the best I can make it and then I will let whichever design/build company I choose do the "professional grade" polishing (for less of a cost since they do not need to start from scratch).

I felt that the kitchen was too big... but how do I fix that since if I change the footprint, the master suite upstairs will suffer??

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 7:19PM
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I agree that it is a long walk to the dining room. What if you swapped the mudroom and the pantry, and then made a portion of the pantry a butlers pantry so you have a means of getting there from the kitchen without walking all the way around the staircase?

In the first floor guest room I would pull the wall out so that room is a rectangle with the wall the door is on
being even to the front of the closet.

Regarding the upstairs, I'm not sure about the upstairs layout. There seems to be a lot of open space and then small squished oddly configured rooms. I'm not sure how exactly, but I'm certain it could be configured to make much better use of the space overall.

Finally, do you have an inspiration photo for your front elevation? I'm having trouble picturing how the staggered front you have would look.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 7:22PM
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Congrats on a big move!

Now, where to begin with this floorplan...

Can you tell us about where you plan to build (type of lot/size of lot)? How will people/guests approach your house? Presently, if we are to assume you will have a single driveway, they will park in your driveway (good that you have your garage doors hidden), and have to walk around 3 jogs of house protuberance before they find your front door. From that side of the house (the right front), the front door will be very hard to see and that should not be the case. Now, if you plan to have guests come up your drive to many acres and the drive will be coming from a road off to the left of the picture here, then, what you have will work just fine... The front door will be seen as they approach the house. And, they could park in front or to the left. So, these types of details are important to know.

Maybe in cramped NYC, but no where else will a 4'1" wide bathroom suffice for clearances with code around the toilet. Besides that, there are numerous rooms without comfortable dimensions. I'll start with downstairs, work clockwise, then move up and do the same.

Guest room. Currently, I have a guest room that is 8.5' wide. I would recommend no narrower a dimension than 10' for any bedroom that you might put a Queen size bed in. And, you'll want the other dimension to be more than 10'. With that in mind, your guest room, as drawn with the jog (sensing a theme) is not sufficient space, especially in a house of this size, for a guest room with a queen bed. And, the closet is over-sized. (A WIC should be 6' wide to be a true walk in. A guest room does not need to have a large closet, if that is what it will actually be used for--most guests need more floor space or table space (for suitcases, etc) than they do hanging space).

Because the guest bath is also the floors only bath, it does not need to be connected to the guest suite (and probably should not be). However, having some privacy between the guest room and the bathroom doors would be wise (hallway).

Without details, I can't really comment on the great room, eat-in dining, kitchen (it is hard to see your kitchen layout).

How will you use your dining room? And, esp that little corner/nook that sticks into the mudroom? This seems odd to me.

And your foyer is huge (read wide) and seems like there is wasted space there.

Now, upstairs:
Personally, I am not a fan of floating staircases--but that may be just personal preference. You'll need to decide for yourself your preference. I sort of feel like they are poorly planned/space wise.

Again, upstairs you have major issues with that bathroom. To meet code, you must have 2 feet infront of the front edge of any toilet. In a 4' wide room, you are likely to have about 1.5 feet at max in front of the toilet (won't meet code). This is a problem for you in both the hall and master baths upstairs (it looks like you have a toilet/bidet in a narrow toilet room.) Good for you to make sure your toilet room doors are outswing, but that is where accolades end, unfortunately. The hall bathroom suffers for lack of vanity space and a door to the toilet room that will hit the vanity upon opening.

What is the purpose of the second office space upstairs?

Bedrooms are for the most part too narrow, especially if you are aiming to get 3-4 kids up there.

The left hand bedroom is the best sized and shaped bedroom of the 3 you have, but the closet is on the wrong wall. Generally, it would be best to run a closet on an interior wall so that you can have windows on 2 exterior walls. Flip the closet to the righthand wall.

The middle bedroom is too small and oddly shaped. Most codes require a bedroom to be a minimum of 100 sq feet to count as a bedroom. In your case, this room is about 15 sq ft too small. It would likely count as a den/office on appraisal (so now, you have 3 office spaces). Here, I'd recommend extending the top wall (door wall) to be even with the left bedroom's wall. Putting the closet up there, and having the windows available on 2 sides. You will lose your ability to go around the stairs in a circle, but I don't actually think that is very important.

The 3rd bedroom from the left--Too narrow and too oddly shaped. I would actually suggest changing the office into a bathroom, extending this bedroom to the stairs, put the closet along the stair wall, and enter the bedroom from the right wall that will be new and next to the stairs. Otherwise, you will end up with a sick kid in your bathroom because it is the closest one in the middle of the night. Additionally, a bedroom of this size would be able to more easily accommodate 2 kids.

Your Master--is a nice size, but overly large in the hall space between the closets and the closets themselves are plenty huge (wide). Is your hubby a shopper? Or, do you plan to use 1.5 of those closets? Here, I'd spare some of your closet space and contribute it to your bathroom for a rearrangement into a more square space.

I am thinking you have an open great room. Most people on this forum dislike and discourage these for both noise and heat control. Given that you plan to have 4 children and entertain a lot, the 1st reason should be plenty enough to think about enclosing that space and making it a big play room... The kids won't be able to sleep while you are partying downstairs (noise travels up), and you won't be able to keep them out of your hair (when they are older) if all their toys are downstairs and the only playspace is in separate bedrooms... A common area of toys for just the kids is a great thing to have.

Also, by enclosing that space, you can properly expand your hall bath upstairs, and even get a slightly larger laundry room (or craft room).

Hope this gives you lots to think about. You have a start with what you want, but I think you need to take some time to look at lots of plans to see what standard dimensions are for certain house areas--bedrooms and bathrooms not withstanding.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 7:22PM
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@gobruno Sorry for the double response... but how big do you think a child's bedroom should be? Coming from NYC, anything bigger than 8' x 8' seems huge ;-) I thought I was being generous.

For the door swings, I read some posts on here stating that bathroom doorswings should swing out just in case someone has a fall or accident inside of the bath. So that is why some swing in and some swing out.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 7:25PM
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ebgiac--you will find those answers in my (long) post. It is worth reading.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 7:43PM
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@kirkhall Wowzers! Thank you for taking the time to give such a detailed response.

As for our lot, we are looking at 1 to 2 acre lots. All of the subdivisions we have looked into require a side load garage. And yes, I am a fan of jogs ( I always just called them "in and outs")

The little space in the dining room is for a built in for china etc.

The office upstairs is there bc I am paranoid and wanted a space dedicated to more personal documents and was going to use the one downstairs as more of a library/sitting room.

As for your comments on the bedrooms (guest and kids) points taken... back to the drawing board) Although, as my husband's fam is from Italy, we expect long term guests (1 or 2 months at a time) so I wanted to give them a big closet. I will play with the dimensions of the bedrooms upstairs as I want to keep the kids in two bdrms as long as I can so the third can be used as a playroom until they start to outgrow sharing a room (far down the line)

As far as the the master closets, I was trying to be fair :-) But I too was worried about the size of the bath. I can fix this by pushing the bdrm so it overlaps the garage a bit. And shrinking the second closet.

For the open great room, that is a must for us.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 8:05PM
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@Laura12 Here is a pic of our inspiration elevation. Ours is just flipped.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 8:08PM
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In terms of bedroom size... I don't know if you are a fan of HGTV but Sarah Richardson once said the smallest adequate bedroom size is 12' x 14'. Anything smaller doesn't adequately fit the basics of a good bedroom - a queen sized bed (or two twin beds), a nightstand or two, a dresser and a chair.

My tip while drawing your house plans is to layout the furniture and put each bed, dresser, sofa, chairs, dining table, side table, etc in the plan. Figure out standard sizes of each piece of furniture that you would want (or measure existing peices that you plan on moving to the new house) in each room and lay out the room appropriately.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 12:06AM
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Hey fellow New Yorker. We moved down from Manhattan to GA. Still have a co-op there. Some thought son your plan.

Your foyer inspiration is giving me life right now. Gorgeous!
Other than that this plan needs a lot of tlc. I don't mean that disrespectfully. There is a Huge list of fixes, but the most obvious ones are:

That upstairs hall is outta control big. Like gracie mansion big. If your house was 10,000 sq ft then it would work. But as it stands it eats WAY too much sq footage.

The two story open family room with with 3-4 kids...negative. It would be noise central. PLEASE avoid doing it and make that space an upstairs den/ playroom.

My last point and I would say it to anyone. Don't waste time trying to "create" a house. Leave it to an expert. You will waste time, energy, plan cohesion...the list could go on. Either a stock plan OR an architect. I went with an architect who was fabulous and it has made my life all the better.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 12:30AM
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Kirkhall did a great job with some very constructive critiques. Right on the money and I would listen to the advice.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 12:39AM
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If you want your house and foyer to look like the ones on the pictures, you need:
Professional help
The preliminary help of Summerfield, Bevanagel or someone else in this forum - and then get the professional help.

There is a big gap between where you are at and where you want to be. If you are going to build a house that will be expensive, you can not cut on designing expenses. Doing otherwise will be a bad business or in other words, a very risky investment.
If you do not get help here, I could do something over the weekend.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 12:05PM
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ebgiac - I love the front elevation! Very nice, I was having difficulty picturing how that staggered front would look, but it is quite lovely.

Overall I agree with Kirkhall's advice, though I have a few additional comments.

- Personally, I also love large open family room/kitchen/dining room space, and my own house is being set up similarly. That said, there are a couple of key differences. First, ours is mostly single story with the kids room isolated so that we don't have to deal with the noise travelling up from the great room and second, we have a second play room in the bonus space above the garage. I would reconsider having a two story great room and see if instead you can just do high ceilings (even 10' would suffice) to make that space feel large and open, and then put a play room upstairs above the great room.

- Again, I'd swap the pantry and mudroom and make part of the pantry a butlers pantry to walk through from the kitchen. It is great to have a window (or door) in the mudroom, whereas in the pantry it is just space you can't put shelving!

- I'm also not a fan of the floating staircase, but that may be something an expert can help you with afterwards. One idea, if you move the staircase, move it next to the office, not the dining room. Then have the entrance to the office where the closet it now, and have the dining room open on both sides with perhaps an arch or beams (depending on your style to seperate the space some, but still have one large open room. This will allow light to fill the room from both sides and make the space feel even larger?

- Overall, the comments about bedroom, bath and hall sizes are all right on the money!

Finally, you mentioned "putting this together now and ... then I will let whichever design/build company I choose do the "professional grade" polishing (for less of a cost since they do not need to start from scratch)." In my experience you don't save that much by going in this direction. My designer knocked off %0.50 a square foot because we already had a rough plan laid out. Not really that signification. We spent months planning everything out before going to a planner, and it really helped us feel better about we wanted and needed, but it didn't save much money.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 2:25PM
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I agree with all of the suggestions above, and think that it may be easiest to start with a list of what you are looking for... be very specific. For example, approx square footage, number of bedrooms, open foyer, other spaces necessary, entering from garage to mudroom to kitchen with pantry accessible, number of eating areas, open/closed floor plan, areas for privacy (office, master, etc), then let us suggest a few floor plans to give you an idea where to start. I think that with what you are looking for, there are some commercially available plans that are similar and then can be tweaked (seriously if need be) and you will have a much better flow this way... and save some money. How much money you save with architect depends on what kind of architect and services you want. For example, we designed our own floor plan with lots of feedback from this forum (on multiple versions over a year) and serious help from Summerfield. Then I approached an architect I knew that charged per hour. It has worked well for us, but it has taken a while (6 months with architect) and we didin't make many changes from what we handed him.

I look forward to giving you feedback on future iterations since I am in your shoes fast forward 8 years or so and 3 kids. Definitely plan for a mudroom with lockers/cubbies, laundry near bedrooms, and a playroom that is generous in size. Train tables, dollhouses, dress up tables take up a lot of space. :)

We are building in NC, too, so I would love to know in what area you are looking! Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 9:19PM
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Sophie Wheeler

You need to actually list your priorities so that you yourself understand them. Right now, you've got pieces of a very expensive mansion sized custom build cobbled together with a cold water walkup and it totally doesn't work proportion-wise for any of it. You also have no knowledge of standard building codes, and it really shows. Scale is also a BIG problem here. For the house to match the million dollar foyer you've pictured, you're really talking double the square footage that you show. Which I kinda doubt that you really want pay for up front or continue to pay to heat and cool. And, you're not even 30 yet, so your careers will probably demand that you move several times over the years.

Be sure that the home you are planning fits this stage of your life better first of all. Then make it easy to plan an addition later if the multiple kids do come along. There is no need to initially have a 5500 square foot house when a 2500 will work just as well for where you are in your career and family planning. You may very well be transferred before the triplets come along. Or not. But, on a large acreage, it should be easy to plan for later adding a "children's wing" with a downstairs playroom and upstairs bedrooms.

The absolute best money you could spend here is on an architect. After you articulate your desires and goals a bit better.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 10:32AM
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@hollysprings I have listed my priorities for my home and do not view myself as a replacement for a professional architect. Please don't confuse my query for help on a floorplan as an invitation to comment on any other aspects of my life.

There is never a NEED to have a large custom home. This is about what I want and what I can pay for and both of those aspects are MINE. My career will allow me to pay for a home twice this size so please don't make assumptions on the stage of my career because of my age. That is all.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 1:39PM
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@momto3kiddos Thanks, I have a list I have compiled over the past 3 months. My plan was to have a general outline and than hand over the wishlist and the plan to the designer/builder.

Since I work for a trading desk, there are only a few choices for me in NC. I need to be close to Charlotte. We are very partial to the Lake Wylie area since my hubby really wants acreage and there just aren't many lots around the city center of that size. We've been down a few times already and its just beautiful.

@Laura12 Oh wow, only .5% off? Now, I don't know now if it is worth going through all the trouble of getting the rough plan done. (But its just so much fun playing around with the floorplan :-) I do like your ideas about the placement of the stairs and pantry/mudroom. I will try that out!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 1:52PM
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Congrats again. It sounds like you've had a lot of success in life in your 8 years since undergrad.

Now, are you going to need a nanny suite? I am asking in all seriousness. Just because you CAN now, doesn't mean you WILL in 10 years (and 4 kids later). (I am only 1 life stage ahead of you... my kids are 6 and 4).

One thing I thought about suggesting before, and will now, is that you go down to NC to the area you are interested in, and go to several open houses or march around with a realtor to houses for sale, that would be similar in size to what you are envisioning. This will give you a better idea about what proportions are appropriate for a house of X size (be that 4000sq ft or 10000sq ft). I think, at present, NYC proportions are not helping you here (as you admitted above thinking you had generous sized children's bedrooms).

And, given that you have the income, it would really be best to let a professional do it. I do agree though, floorplan planning is a lot of fun! But, do it using a floorplan that a professional starts for you and that you finish together as the many iterations/edits occur. It takes time.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 3:35PM
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ebgiac, did I say .5%? I meant to say that it took 50 cents a square foot off the design costs ($4.25 instead of $4.75), mainly because we wouldn't be running around in circles quite so much in the beginning and were able to get something very close after one meeting then just tweak the details. We made it from our first meeting with the designer to a final plan in about 6 weeks (though that plan still needs engineering, proper construction plans etc, that is just the final outline of the floor plan).

I do think it is a good idea to flush out ideas before going to a designer/archetict so that you can fully know what you want and don't want. Going through the process on here and listening to some very harsh critisim of my choices(large open floor plan, kitchen in the front of the house when our kids will be playing in the back, size of my bathroom, TV over my fireplace in the greatroom) all made me more comfortable with our decisions because I was truly forced to think about how we will live in the house.

I'm happy the pantry/mudroom and stair ideas help.

I'd also try to go to some open houses where you can see how it would look with high ceilings instead of the two story great room as I don't think you'll be happy with the noise it will create in the kids rooms.

Another alternative, have you considered a single story design? It wasn't something I thought about at all (at first) but in the end it ended up solving a lot of problems!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 6:33PM
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The proportions in your floor plan do not make sense. For example, the foyer, which is not a hardworking room, is larger than all but the master bedroom. And the pantry is larger than the office.

My suggestion has already been made by kirkhall - go to the area you are planning on building this house and tour some houses to get a better idea of room proportions. You don't even need a realtor, just go to some open houses on the weekend.

I would also suggest hiring an architect rather than a designer/draft person. But first, you might want to get the book Designing your Perfect House by William Hirsch. I found it to be really helpful with explaining the process you will go through with an architect as well as explaining what you can do to prepare for working with an architect.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 8:04PM
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Kirkhall you are really giving some good advice.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 9:43PM
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I had some fun jumping off of your original adjacencies and making the flow/room sizes more agreeable for the first floor. Congrats on the big move! As others have said, it will take many iterations and definitely employ the talents of an architect -- it will be money well spent.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 12:17AM
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Mvjc, that is a very nice plan. I could live there. So could thousands of others, which is probably why its footprint would fit so tidily on a typical subdivision lot. Why design for that when they haven't said they'll be purchasing one, though?

Ebgiac, I'm also not crazy about your current plan very much as a starting point, not because it's too eccentric, but the very opposite. It strikes me as yet another home crammed into a dollar-pinching rectangle footprint. If you can afford it, why not break out of the profit-margin box altogether, not just push little bits out here and there mainly to dress up the outside?

You're going to have land, I'm assuming. How about, for instance, a nice gracious L, with a detached garage placed to define a wonderful terrace within it? You could entertain there, read as you watch the children play and the birds migrate...or whatever. Maybe a U instead, an H, a Z, maybe something never seen in any alphabet?

As someone who lives in the South, I'm thinking you and your children would really like a nice screened porch too. Especially if it were deep enough to use for sleeping out on (without having to hustle inside when it rains). Warm Southern nights are truly magic, but protection is required to enjoy them.

Which brings up something that should have been my first thought--design for the climate first and then design for both your particular piece of land and your new lifestyle, including your new cultural and geographic realities. There's a BIG reason why New Englanders tend to find ceiling fans tacky but Southerners do not. Why generous roof overhangs don't particularly matter to people who keep their windows sealed and air conditioning running all day but are very desirable for those who like to let the breezes blow through. Why an 8x8 second bedroom can be an expensive treasure for NYers but for people where land is inexpensive...no. And so on times many considerations.

Hope you guys don't get so mad you don't come back. I'd enjoy seeing your home develop--including this plan you're working on now if you're in love with it. I like that custom in your case is likely to mean genuinely personalized and not just a little tweaking of a popular stock plan.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 6:57PM
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@mvjc Wow. That looks just awesome. I was fiddling around with mine to try to incorporate Laura12's ideas, and you got it!! I will show it to my husband... again, wow.

@rosie Yes, I will continue to post iterations of the plan :-)

The points you brought up about the shape of the house are really interesting bc the first thing my husband said to me when we decided to leave NYC is that he didn't want one of those "big american houses that everybody has" aka "McMansion". He is a little biased as well since he, being Italian, thinks all houses in America are cheap bc they are made with wood instead of stone.

I do want the house to be as "me" as possible. However, I never thought I would be able to explain what I wanted without visuals so I went searching for a plan online. After a few months of looking at thousands of stock plans I found that I could only find pictures on Houzz that got me really excited (but no plans). So I took my fav elevation and started imagining what the inside might look like and viola! My poor little plan with the big down south shell with the pitiful NYC rooms! Lol.

(I do have to shake away all the things I know about NYC real estate where $700 per square foot is considered an awesome deal. Slowly but surely :-)

Anywho, you give me lots more to think about. Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 10:50PM
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@kirkhall No, no nanny. Now if we had kids here in NY, yes definitely. My husband is hoping that the move will put a stop to my 14 hour days so a nanny won't be necessary.

The few times we went down to NC, we tried to go to some open houses, but they seem to be a dying trend. We had to make A LOT of appointments. When we go down again in Oct, I will be sure to ask about the dimensions of the rooms.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 11:01PM
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Ebgiac, measure the length of your standard steps before heading down again. I'm short, so 6 of mine across a room equal about 15 feet.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 10:18AM
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Or, get a laser tape measure (they are so fast and easy to use, but you'll have to check them in a bag if you are flying).

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 10:54AM
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Instead of open houses, perhaps you can find some builder spec homes. Or perhaps builder model homes where they have a number of their floor plans there for you to look through.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 7:14PM
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Instead of open houses, perhaps you can find some builder spec homes. Or perhaps builder model homes where they have a number of their floor plans there for you to look through.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 7:16PM
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You mentioned Lake Wylie. This is my neck of the woods (spoken like a southernern with the fast yankee accent-also from NY-upstate) Here are some areas on the lake: Rock Hill, Clover, Fort Mill, Tega Cay and of course Lake Wylie, SC. You are welcome to e-mail me if you have any questions on the area. Homes, both on and off the lake, range significantly. If children are in your future plans there are some schools with excellent reputations. Also, your commute time (meaning when you travel) will vary your travel time (Point A to B). I can suggest visiting Baxter in Fort Mill, SC and Riverwalk in Rock Hill, SC for builder spec display homes they usually have 4 at each location you can walk through if for nothing more than ideas. Both communities are on small lots but you might find a nice layout or ideas. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 10:57PM
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There is another thread regarding a plan that has a some similarities and kelhuck drew up a mock plan changing their pantry/mudroom area to exactly what I was suggesting, here is a picture of it in case it helps spur some ideas!

Regarding open houses/model homes, I highly recommend going to as many as possible, even if it involves making apts with a Realtor. Our move wasnt as drastic as from NYC to Charlotte, but the home we are building was a drastically different style from our current home, or any home we had ever even been in, and we wouldn't have ended up with a plan that was as thought out without visiting 50+ homes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to similar floor plan discussion

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 10:28AM
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