Floor Plans...where to go next?

2fs2nsAugust 1, 2012

So we've been on the hunt for a floor plan for about 8 months and we still haven't really found one that is exactly what we're looking for. Looking for a 3 bedroom, with a guest suite or a larger 4th bed for my inlaws to live in down the road. We can't afford to too too large, around 2500 sq ft livable, 3500 total under roof.

This Don Gardner Carinthia is pretty close, we're considering finishing out the screened in porch in the upper left and making that the in-law's space. (adding w/i closet and a bathroom.

Another idea would be to increase the size of the bedroom right below the screened in porch, incorporate the neighboring bathroom into that room, and then convert the bath between the other bed and study into a jack/jill setup. We'd still finish out the rest of the screened in porch, and make that our study room. We would also be using the E-Space in the kitchen as a pantry/powder room.

If we wanted to make some of these changes, would we have to buy the plans, and bring them to an architect to modify?

Is there some software out there that makes this process of cutting/chopping easier? I have autocad that I use for work stuff, but I'm no drafting genius by any means....

Little background info... This is our first house to really build ourselves, we've recently purchase 5 acres in north texas to build on. It's flat, with a couple creek/drainage areas and a small pond.

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FYI, I've seen requests for family/lifestyle info.

We're a young family, two young girls (3 & 7). My in-laws plan on moving into our house when they get to the age they don't feel comfortable in their own house. That's still probably 10 years down the road or so.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 9:50AM
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Most architects, I assume, would not modify someone else's work. I believe it can be copyright infringement. They can draw inspiration from the layout. Some plan sites have a license to modify plans they sell.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 12:47PM
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If you're going to build a slightly modified Don Gardner plan, then you should definitely purchase a license to use the plan along with a right to modify it. Otherwise you would be committing copyright infringement. And, while you probably would not get caught, it's simply not right to steal someone else's intellectual property. And if you were caught and sued, the penalty's can be HUGE.

Don Gardner offers plan modification services. I'm not associated with the company (or with any other online plan company) and I don't know how their plan modification services work nor what they cost. But, if I liked a Don Gardner home (or any other online plan wanted to build it with just a few modifications, I'd start by talking to whoever owns the plans about having them do the modifications I wanted. Do include in your discussion whether they will certify that the final design you would license will meet your local building codes or whether you will still have to take it to a local architect for code verification. If the latter, you'll want to take the cost of a local architect's services into account. It might be cheaper to have a local architect make the modifications as well as ensuring that local codes are met. But please don't just take an image of the online plan to a local architect or house designer and ask them to draw up a plan "like this but with these changes." You would be asking the architect/designer to conspire with you to infringe copyright. GET A LICENSE and make sure Don Gardner knows you intend to have a local architect make some modifications and is in agreement with your doing do. Any local architect worth his salt would insist on seeing that you have a license from Don Gardner anyway before he/she would be willing to touch the modification project.

As for the modifications you've suggested, I would NOT increase the size of the bedroom right below the screened in porch, incorporate the neighboring bathroom into that room, and then convert the bath between the other bed and study into a jack/jill setup. If I'm understanding you correctly, that would leave the in-laws bedroom without access to a bathroom.

The first idea sounds more workable to me. In fact, if you wanted to, you could build the house pretty much as designed and wait to convert the screened porch into a bedroom until closer to the time the in-laws are ready to move in with you.

Much can happen in 10 years. You could wind up divorced (KNOCK WOOD), one or both in-laws could pass away suddenly, you could have another child and need the extra bedroom for your own baby. If nothing else, within 10 years your older daughter will be just about ready to go off to college. As she reaches her upper teens, she might prefer to move her bedroom up to the bonus room area giving you other options for your in-laws rather than converting the screened porch. So, while it is good to think about what kind of house you will need in ten years, don't make modifications that are unsuitable for the way you live NOW just because they MIGHT become suitable ten years down the road.

In your situation, what I would probably do is flip the back bathroom so that it could be accessed via the screened porch. This would also make it much handier for use as a pool bath NOW or for the girls to use when they're playing in the back yard. (I assume the "spa" is a hot tub or small pool.) A bath opening off of the screened porch would also be a reasonable location for guests to use as a powder room. Later on, if/when your inlaws are closer to being ready to move in with you, you could enclose the screened porch to make them a bedroom and the bath would already be in place. So the remodel costs would be minimal.

BTW, I'd probably forego the fireplace and grill on the screened porch in favor of a Mexican chiminea and a free-standing barbeque pit out on the patio. Let's face it, we really don't use fireplaces all that often in Texas anyway so why spend the money for an extra one? If you're thinking you'll someday want to convert the porch to a bedroom someday, you would just have to have the fireplace and grill removed to make room for a reasonably sized walk-in closet.

For now, I'd let the two girls have the two side bedrooms and share the front bathroom... which I would leave as a hall bath. I'd leave the study alone to serve as a study and computer area and occasional guest room.

Then, although you didn't ask about this, I'd move my laundry room to the E-space. I personally really really really dislike having a "pass thru" laundry on the way to/from the garage. As your girls get older there will be times when you will pick them and their friends up from school or an activity and bring them back to your house to study or play for awhile. When I was a teenager I was always mortified when that happened and my friends had to step over/around the family's dirty laundry that Mom was in the midst of sorting when she left to pick us up. UGH! I remember one time there were dirty bloomers on the floor when the boy I was sweet on came home with me to work on a project. I thought I would absolutely die.

The dining room of this plan is rather small for a full sized table and chairs. If you ever plan to put the extra leaves in your table and seat more than 6 people for dinner, the dining room definitely needs to be bigger.

If you're willing to add another approximately 100 sq feet to the plan, you could pull the master bedroom and garage over by 2 feet to do something like this...

I also can't say that I'm enamored with the kitchen plan as drawn. I would want the refrigerator closer to the nook area because it will get accessed during meals a lot. I would also NOT want the stove to be right next to the aisleway to the fridge. IMHO, for safety's sake a stove should never be located next to a commonly used aisleway. It should be tucked into a spot where anyone who is not actually cooking has no real need to ever pass directly in front of the stove. I didn't make any modifications on the kitchen tho but would suggest that you run the kitchen of this or any plan you're considering by the folks over on the kitchen's forum. Some of them are really good at suggesting changes that will make a kitchen much more user friendly.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 3:13PM
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The Carinthia by Don Garndner has a modified version already on the dongardner.com website. It is called The Peyton, plan number W-1289. It doesn't do a thing about your in-law room issues, but I think it is better in several ways, notably a single dining area, pantry, relocation of mudroom and laundry, check it out and see what you think....

Here is a link that might be useful: Don Gardner Peyton plan, modified from Carinthia

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 8:52PM
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I worried endlessly about making room for my Mom in our new addition. I would have LOVED to have had when she aged into the need. She passed away over a year ago with very short notice. So, from my experience I would not custom build for this but I would ask the builder to do the footers, and any necessary utilities to be available for finishing later.

I love the hallway bookcase area for the kids. I don't think I like the bathroom only accessible from the patio. I would find a way to allow the 2nd kids room to use it without going outside.

I would also do a full wall not a half wall between the kitchen dining and e-space as I think it would be a cluttered visual.

I have noticed in the Don Garndner plans the MB is a hike from the bed. I would like this to be closer if it were me and the daily use areas-closet/tub/shower to be at the far end.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 11:34PM
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