Small, very efficient 3-bed cottage?

robo (z6a)September 5, 2013

Hi all!

I live in Canada. My husband and I are searching for a lakefront cottage but there's not a lot we like out there right now. We are considering building if it is within our budget.

I'd like to have a floor plan to take to a pre-fab company with which DH's family is affiliated. The company will take custom floor plans and none of their stock plans are geared to cottages, so I am on the hunt for small, efficient floor plans without a lot of bells and whistles. I'd like to keep the building budget to about $110/sf or less excluding sitework (which I have no idea if that's realistic but I know you guys probably can't say without knowing my area).

My ideals:

* 1 story
* kitchen/dining open to living
* 3 beds
* 2 baths
* living has good views of lake
* bonus if master is separated from other bedrooms (his parents will sometimes stay and like privacy)
* ability to add a screen porch (it gets freakin' buggy in Nova Scotia).
* ability to build on slab or crawl (if too sloped for slab)

The lot we would like to build on is only slightly sloped, faces South, and is a few acres.

This is the best plan I have come up with so far. It's about 30 x 40. Do you know of any other plans I might like to look at? Thanks for your help!

Affordable home CH32

This post was edited by robotropolis on Thu, Sep 5, 13 at 15:05

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It's small but simple and straightforward. It'll be inexpensive to build. The only suggestions I'd make:

- Compared to the size of the house, the entrance is rather large. If you could flip the house over, then make the front door between the living room /dining room area, the current entrance could become larger bathrooms and extra storage.

- In such a small space, I'd go with a more space-efficient rectangular table.

- I don't like the guest /secondary bedroom bath opening into such a public space. I'd have it open into the TV room. This'd make it more convenient for the secondary bedrooms, and it'd be more private.

- All three bedrooms could potentially have windows on both walls, which allows for wonderful cross-breezes. This would be pretty high on my list!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 6:51PM
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I agree with MrsPete, I'd flip the hall bathroom, so it opens into the TV area. Much better than visitors having to walk through the kitchen and entry, to use the bathroom...especially in the middle of the night.

Very nice plan, overall, but I would like to see it a bit wider (maybe 3' - 4'?) so that you have more room for the TV area, an extra foot or two in the master bath and a slightly larger master closet.

Another idea, make the master closet a walk in and add hooks to the entry, for coats, etc. Also, do you need a door into the laundry/utility room? If you add a bit of space, maybe an extra few feet in the laundry, for shelves/storage on that window wall...and access only from the entry. Maybe replace the door with a window?

Best of luck with your new cottage! It's adorable and even with no changes, very charming :)

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 7:19PM
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robo (z6a)

Hi ladies! Those are all awesome suggestions. I agree 2 feet of width on either side would probably add a lot of bang for the buck. In the kitchen it would mean full size appliances for example. In the master it could mean a full alcove tub. And the guest bedrooms would be able to accommodate double beds or single over double bunks.

Flipping the guest bathroom is a's so weird that they have it that way? Why go to the washroom in full sight of the dining room? And I don't know why they have that extra door in the utility room. For hanging laundry out? but the other door is so close. I love the idea of adding storage to utility, then that room could serve as a broom closet as well.

Finally I love the idea of adding extra windows. Even if they aren't huge they would make a huge difference. I was thinking of moving the woodstove to the top wall (outside wall) and putting a little window on either side of it, too. Why put the sofa back to the lake view? This way the sofa could back to the dining room and capture the lake view.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 9:08PM
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Hi robotropolis,

I am building a lakefront cottage too, in Quebec though. Ours will be small and modern, with a walk out basement (hill side location). Interesting plan. How many people will use the cottage, do you entertain frequently? Your living space seems small compared to bedrooms, closets and bathrooms. I would probably nix the tv room, maybe reduce to 1.5 baths and try to have more living space. Utility looks small, how are you heating the cottage?

I expect that building is cheaper in NS than in PQ or Ontario, but $110 seems low unless you're doing a lot of the work yourselves.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 9:58PM
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"master is separated from other bedrooms (his parents will sometimes stay and like privacy) "

So the in-laws will be in the rooms with the twin beds... separated... with no closet space, and a desk each?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 10:38PM
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robo (z6a)

Oh no, in the master! Ha ha! We'd get stuck with a double bed. It's a vacation home so no one would have their own room really. Or a desk. Except the inlaws get the prime accommodations.

Thanks for the feedback Sochi! I assume electric baseboard heat plus woodstove. Maybe even hot water on demand. I thought the building cost might be ambitiously low, especially since I know myself and wouldn't want the cheapest finishes (eg not sheet vinyl everywhere although builder basic cabs and laminate countertops would be fine).

This post was edited by robotropolis on Thu, Sep 5, 13 at 23:24

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 11:21PM
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I would think carefully about the location of the door to the guest bathroom. Do you want people tracking sand/mud through the entire house just to make a quick trip to the bathroom from the outside activities? Is there any way to reconfigure the bathroom & laundry room spaces to have 2 doors to the bathroom? - One from the TV room and one from the entryway.

Of course this does not answer the question you posed about other plans. There is a lot to like about this one as Mrs. Pete indicated.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 6:51AM
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Nice plan! Agree that I would make it a little bit wider so that at least one of the secondary bedrooms can have a queen bed and closet. The guest bathroom door placement depends. If you will be entertaining in this home. If not then open to tv room.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 8:56AM
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robo (z6a)

I think what I would do is tile not only the kitchen but the little hallway into the guest rooms and bathroom so tracking dirt wouldn't be as much of an issue.

I could also sacrifice the little tv room to make guest bedrooms bigger. I was looking at it as a little bonus guest space but is not totally necessary. The guest rooms need to hold at most a closet, bed, small dresser, and small bookcase/night table. They are not going to be fancy (think lots of wall hooks for wet bathing suits and towels).

Thanks for all your great ideas. I'm excited to go see these people! Going to view a cottage on Saturday and might convince dh to visit prefab people on way back.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 9:19AM
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robo (z6a)

Also thinking of getting rid of peninsula in kitchen so can move dining table over and give more breathing space to living room. I think that great room is only about 15 x 30 so space would be at a premium. Which is ok by me, but want the space to be flexible. Could maybe put 12" deep pantry cabs on back wall of kitchen for storage.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 9:24AM
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You ought to see if you can message forum member Worthy. He's a builder in Canada who posts here often. He's often said that even a basic box of a home can't be constructed for less than $150 a square )plus land) where he is. I don't know how his location compares to yours, but it's worth a shot to have his input.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 9:31AM
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robo (z6a)

I definitely live in a poor province, RE here is MUCH cheaper than worthy's neck of the woods (I'm assuming Toronto based on worthy's post). That said I agree it's still tight.

Lower end new builds in subdivisions come in around 130/sf plus tax, not including land but all else in. I'd like to hit the same mark but not too sure if I can. Prefab is no cheaper than stick built, I hear.

Based on snooping around, I am figuring $50K max for crawl foundation, septic, dug well (which neighbors have), driveway and permits. Which leaves me ABOUT $110/sf+tx for everything from the ground up for a 1400sf cottage.

But I am afraid I would need more like $135/sf based on the snooping around I've been doing. Which could mean just squeezing everything into 1100sf instead of 1400, which would be totally fine. An 1100 sf cottage is still 1100sf more than we have now!

This post was edited by robotropolis on Fri, Sep 6, 13 at 17:36

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 9:55AM
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With good design you can definitely build smaller and make it work. Our cottage will be about 1,000 sq feet on the ground floor, plus another few hundred in a walk-out.

Our site conditions are really pushing our budget up - lots of driveway, septic and building area to clear. It is eating up for more than I expected, so we're making a few cuts here and there but it is coming in at way more than I anticipated. But building costs here are nuts (near Ottawa).

We just found out today that our septic system will cost $5k less than anticipated, so some good news..

Good luck with your plan.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 9:57PM
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I agree that your area will be cheaper than Worthy's. Worthy builds in one of most expensive areas of Canada. Maybe Vancouver is pricier.

I agree with posters above who suggested make sure at least one of your guest rooms fits a queen bed comfortably. It is hard for a couple to sleep well in a double bed. Do you need a door from the utility and the main entrance? They are very close together. Will it be clear to guests which door to approach? Around here (Guelph, ON) electric heat is the most expensive form of heating. What about your area?


    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 9:25AM
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robo (z6a)

Hi all,

Thanks for all the help! We talked it over with DH's parents and are now thinking we will expand our budget and buy rather than build. If we do build, his parents will be involved so the words "small" and "efficient" will probably go out the window!

We went to look at the lot we liked and on further walk-through without a real estate agent it had big problems. Big, money-consuming problems! Story of my life.

Thanks again, I really appreciate your help. Will keep you posted especially if we do end up building.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 11:49AM
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This might be for the best! You can get a larger home that fits the entire family and later on, you may decide to build a smaller, more efficient cottage. If you do, you might consider a home that can be vacation and possible retirement home. For now, though...have fun in a bigger home! It will be a good least now is the time to buy in our area :)

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 12:59AM
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robo (z6a)

DH is now back to thinking about building...with a more realistic budget/sf and fewer sf! I will keep you all posted. Thanks so much for all the help and ideas so far.

This post was edited by robotropolis on Fri, Nov 1, 13 at 12:41

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 12:40PM
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robo (z6a)

Hi all, I was wondering if you saw any big red flags in the plan below that I should catch before I take this to my friendly neighborhood manufactured home builder?

1. Is it really weird to have stairs going down right next to the front door like that?

2. Do you think I'll hate having a dining table just floating out there in the middle of the room?

I've had a hard time finding suitable 3-bed plans in the "really small" category but I don't want to be that person who insists on weird things that basically ruin a house.

My husband really would like the master to face the lake (similar to a plan marti8a posted in another thread) and wants a full basement as opposed to crawl, so I had to squeeze some stairs in here.

Thanks to LL for her screen porch suggestion, which I have added here.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 8:02PM
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How on earth will you make those twin beds? Changing the linens will be tough too!

Seems like those steps will not be possible they way they are....

What will be in the basement? Can the washer and dryer be down there, leaving their space to be a pantry?

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 8:45PM
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robo (z6a)

Except in my master now, I've never had a bedroom that didn't have a bed in the corner. Is that unusual? Maybe I've lived in a lot of small homes! I never gave it a second thought.

Do you think the steps are too skinny and that's why they're unworkable?

I believe I'd rather have W/D up than pantry if possible. I really hate going down stairs with laundry baskets. But I could be convinced if necessary. Basement will be full, unfinished (idea being we can expand later and have all utilities and storage down there for now).

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 9:03PM
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Do you need a pantry? If not I would keep the w/d where it is. I don't like the pie cut steps. We have a staircase like that and I have fallen on it more than once.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 7:13AM
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robo (z6a)

To get rid of the pie cut and have a landing at the corner I would have to move the basement doorway flush with the coat closet doorway. Is that ok or super strange to have basement steps immediately off the front door? I would also have to have the basement door swing conflict wi front door swing because it can't in-swing over the steps.

Or get rid of basement door but then there are visually stairs going down immediately right by the front door. Is that weird? I've seen stairs going up right by the door but I couldn't find an example of down.

This post was edited by robotropolis on Mon, Nov 4, 13 at 7:25

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 7:20AM
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I would check building code for the basement stairs. Think about how often you will be opening the basement door and going down the stairs.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 7:47AM
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I like Marti's version, with a few small tweaks...and the screened porch! :) From Kitchen plans

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 11:59AM
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I did add a few feet for a little more space by the dining table. If you shrink the coat closet and pantry bit, there might be room for a little work table/island with stools :)

Also, flipped the basement stairs. I know you lose some of your storage, but that walk-in closet in the spare bedroom can store a lot...including a few linens. An armoire or dresser with hooks will hopefully be okay for the second guest room.

I'd put the screened porch off to the right, so it doesn't block your view...and it can double as a mudroom during bad weather! From Kitchen plans

One other question...if you're adding a basement, what is going down there? Could you add a guest room or two downstairs? Will there be a bathroom? That would really free up your space! Then, the little guest room wouldn't need a closet and could be small den/guest room...with more space for people who can climb stairs, down in the basement.

This post was edited by lavender_lass on Mon, Nov 4, 13 at 15:34

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 12:06PM
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robo (z6a)

Hi LL, I really like your plan. you didn't add much, maybe a foot. I like the idea of robbing from the bedrooms to make the living area bigger. And love the dining table banquette idea...LOVE it. I think this plan just feels better in terms of flow.

We THINK (depending on family discount) we would be right at budget for just one floor. Plan is leave basement unfinished but roughed in for bath with the idea that we could expand down there in future if needed.

Here's a plan that robs bedrooms and closet space :( BUT includes your banquette and gives all bedrooms a closet. I also put in a little peninsula to protect the stove area.

The bumps in bedrooms for the closets in below plan are ridiculous. On the other hand I did have similar before in my condo and kind of liked the entry alcove feel. Condo also gave me the idea to put a little linen alcove in the master.

This post was edited by robotropolis on Mon, Nov 4, 13 at 21:22

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 7:48PM
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I like it! The peninsula is a great idea and I'm glad you like the banquette :)

The closets are fine for a vacation home and the linen is perfect. Just what you need. The BBQ deck is also wonderful and gives you easy access into the kitchen, without going through the porch. I think this could be it! What does your DH think?

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 10:51PM
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robo (z6a)

DH thinks he likes the plan with the master on the right. He really likes the idea of the master being separated from guest bedrooms. He also really wants the screen porch on the front instead of side of cottage (which I disagree with because I don't want to block view from cottage).

I think the next step is to contact the builder, which we have to wait for DH's parents to come back from Florida for so it could be awhile. FIL just can't pass up golf in November!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 11:06AM
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Regarding the plan with the master on the right:

Any tv viewing late into the evening will be heard in that master bedroom. I would soundproof the wall, put a solid door, and get a white noise machine. :) And you might want to close off the guest wing of the house from the living room with a door for the same reason. Also, anyone in the living room won't see folks walking into the bathroom.
And since this is a vacation house, I would consider shrinking the master closet in order to enlarge the master bath if you think you won't need the closet space. A large bathroom just feels nicer even if you aren't fighting over the sink in the morning. Something a little more luxurious is nice for vacation. :)

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 12:22PM
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robo (z6a)

Bird_lover, I agree with you about the master! Not separated enough from the action.

Just becauser it's DH's fave doesn't mean it will get built that way.... If you know what I mean ;)

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 12:41PM
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Robo- Right now, I have that type of layout....bedrooms on each side of living area. The downside is you don't have corner windows in the living areas. You can get light from the front and back, but that's not the same as light on three sides.

If I leave the bedroom door open (as it is now) then I get some light from that side of the house. If I was designing my own home, I would definitely want light on two or three sides...even if it meant a little less privacy for the bedroom. Although careful placement of closets and bathrooms can still give you some privacy...and not having the doors to close to one another :)

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 2:10PM
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