Ready for One More Farmhouse Plan?

sara1977October 9, 2013

Hi all,

I'm new to posting, but have been reading for a while, and value all the feedback you provide!

We're embarking on a somewhat crazy adventure, and are building two new homes on a 2-acre lot in a small suburb in northern California. We had the opportunity to buy a pancake-flat lot surrounded by other homes that was the last remaining hold-out from days past when our community was much more rural. We're inheriting a chicken coop, lots of fruit trees, nut trees and raspberry bushes. We feel incredibly fortunate to be able to buy so much space in an area where quarter-acre lots are very much the norm. To make the purchase more affordable, we're building House #1 on the front corner of the lot, will live in it for two years, and then sell, after building House #2 on the back of the lot. A shared driveway/ cul de sac will service both homes.

Our goal with House #1 is to make it extremely palatable to buyers of all stripes... while still honoring the farm/ rural heritage. Our town is known for its excellent schools, attracts mostly young families, and homes come with big price tags. We will likely sell this home for about $1.3-1.5M, depending on how the market does in the next few years.

In the meantime, our family will be living there... we have three kids (7,5 and 3), entertain and host extremely frequently, and have lots of overnight guests. My husband works from home at least twice a week, and I'm home every day wrangling kids, cooking meals, hosting playdates, etc.

We would love your feedback on this plan, which is about to be submitted to our town for approval!

One more note about this plan: This house will front a "scenic corridor," a somewhat busy (but still 2-lane) road, so our architect opted to situate the house sideways, so the garage windows face the road, and the front porch faces the front side yard. The rear yard will be at the rear of the property. Hope that makes sense!

We already know we'd like to incorporate a pantry in the kitchen behind the current mudroom/ entry. The door will likely be to the right of the fridge in the kitchen, eliminating one of the corners in that room.

Here's the front elevation and the first and second floors:

Second Floor:

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It's a lovely house, but your children will be quite far from you. By the time you build this house and live in it a couple of years, your kids would be older and then this house would make a lot more sense to me.

I'm not sure that this is the house that will appeal to buyers of all stripes. Many parents of young children would not want to be quite so far away from their children, and since everything is so spread out, it's not very good plan for a an older couple or a family where one member might have physical or mental disabilities.

Furthermore, although the house seems large enough, there is no second family room/gameroom/tv room for older kids and teens, and by the time you have teenagers, you will realize what a must-have that room is. Perhaps you could reconfigure the roof and the bedroom arrangements so your future buyer could add on another room.

I would question whether or not this house will appeal to as wide a demographic as you would like. I would definitely not buy this house with young children nor would I buy it with teens. And even if one planned on using the second bedroom downstairs as a nursery, there would be no place for a home office.

Otherwise, I'm sure it's going to be a lovely home on a fantastic piece of land!

This post was edited by bird_lover6 on Wed, Oct 9, 13 at 15:25

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 3:09PM
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I really like it! A very nice plan and very livable, for people with older children. The flex bedroom will make a nice nursery though, if there is a younger child.

I'd only make two changes...move the island prep sink a little closer to the fridge (to give you more prep space) and put a game room over the garage. The bonus space will make up for no basement.

Best of luck with your long term plans! Sounds like a great idea :)

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 3:24PM
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The design is a good one, which thoughtfully integrates interior and exterior into one cohesive design (something that is very rare in the postings here--often the plan is the only consideration given).

When considering priorities for the design of a custom home, your own family's priorities should be considered first, and only after that should you consider resale. If this design works for your family it's a good design.

Everyone's taste and family preferences is highly personal, so the plan may not be for everyone. No plan is. That said, if the location is good and the plan works for your family, it should meet the needs of others when you may decide to sell.

Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 3:29PM
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Looking at the roof and the footprint ... you have designed an expensive house to frame. Every change of direction requires special reinforcing ...

Ever look at a real farmhouse? They are square or rectangular with maybe a shed-roofed kitchen off the back, not this hodgepodge of corners and niches.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 3:43PM
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Thanks for the feedback so far!!

Birdlover, I really appreciate your input on the kid bedrooms and master. My husband loves this arrangement (kids as far away as possible! Ha!), but I am wondering how it will work logistically in the middle of the night. We may put our then 4-year-old in the downstairs bedroom next to the master, and use the upstairs bedroom with its own bath as a home office and guest room.

Lavendar Lass, Using the attic space above the garage as a bonus/ play room will likely happen, which is why we created a door/closet leading into that space. If we can afford it, I think it makes sense to incorporate it! We are almost exactly at 3,000 sq feet, which is right at my husband's comfort level, though. The bonus room might be something we finish out before putting on the market three years from now.

Virgil, thanks for the compliments! We have a fabulous architect with an outstanding reputation locally. I love the way he incorporated windows on at least two walls in every room. I also love all of his niches and built-in nooks.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 3:52PM
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Just a quick thought. When we had an 18 month old and a newborn, we looked at an acreage that we really liked. It had so much on our wishlist andssolo much more. It was also within our budget and preferred search area. We did not buy it because the son had built his home behind this property and so had a shared driveway. We absolutely did not want to buy 5acres and not be able to step inside to check on dinner because we had to watch the driveway all the time. Beings that it is hard to get your money out of a home the first few years, and that it costs more to build than buy, be sure to consider some of the problems buyers may have with your property.

Aside from that, I really like the plan. The walking past the Master Bath and closets to get to the bedroom doesn't even bother me. I think the balcony behind the mudroom is a waste, and the additional mudroom door for it is a waste of the wall space there. I would have that door go through the garage instead.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 4:19PM
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Well, I think the middle of the night is going to be awful, but that's me.

Just to let you know that my kids have been upstairs since the last child was a toddler, so I don't object to children being upstairs. It's just that your bedroom is very far from the staircase, and without a monitor, you and your children will be quite isolated from one another. I don't think I'd want to be that isolated from my kids even when they were older, but, again, that's me. :) And probably quite a few others parents, as well. :) Just thought you'd want to consider that for resale, if you really think you will sell this house within a couple of years!

Good luck. Your location and lot seem just heavenly to me. :)

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 4:36PM
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I think this home will also be great for people, who don't want a lot of main floor bedrooms, but like to have grown children/grandchildren visit. Maybe include some of the universal access features mentioned in the other make the home more marketable, when sold.

You have the main floor master suite and a flexible second bedroom. So, just basic things...such as rocker light switches, lever door handles, room around the toilet (at least in master) for handicap access and wider doorways and wider aisles in kitchen. If there's sufficient space, later changes can be made, if needed. This will really appeal to a wider group of people, IMHO.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 4:47PM
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For me the master bath seems like a bath down the hall.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 4:49PM
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I like how you've fit together a lot of good sized rooms! Your property sounds lovely.

On the plan as drawn there looks like a "pinch point" on your front porch near the entry. You might just make sure there's enough room so that guests parking in your driveway don't go up the porch and then get stuck before getting to the front door.

How wide will your stair be? Maybe give that some thought, before finalizing the plans. We also will have a switchback stair and a fortuitous change got us some extra width. Now that it is framed I am very glad for those additional inches! (Think moving furniture)

Finishing out a bonus room over the garage for the kids sounds like a great idea.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 5:09PM
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Archie, it does feel a little like that, but I love the payoff when you enter the room, with the ability to have windows on three walls!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 5:10PM
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Oaktown, I hadn't even paid attention to that corner on the front porch! Thank you! It may make sense to simply move the entry up so it's flush with the dining room.

Birdlover, you have me breaking out the graph paper to figure out whether repositioning the staircase closer to the master (in the place of the laundry room) makes sense! I like that I could have the laundry closer to the kitchen and mud room, and maybe add a laundry chute from upstairs (one of my wants that didn't happen with this plan!). So far I can't figure out a bedroom arrangement that allows for game room access over the garage, though.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 5:16PM
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It's a little more money, but if you swap the laundry and main could put a second staircase from the mudroom area up to the bonus room (over the garage). This would make it easier to use it as a media room, office or guest suite. Leave it unfinished attic space for now, but accessible (past the parents in the kitchen) for later on.

I don't have kids, but I don't think I'd want access from the bonus room, without going past you. They'll be teenagers soon enough and drums, music, watching movies, etc. might be better to access off the kitchen (where you'll be during the day) than back by the flexible space/bedroom. Also, kids sleeping areas not open to the bonus room, might be a good idea, too.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 6:13PM
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Oh I think your title is great! So many farmhouses being built this year. It's always been a favorite of mine.

What a great plan you have for the land. I know how hard it is to find it up here too (we are also in NoCal), so the fact that you have a lot you can subdivide sounds wonderful.

Things I love: How the master is kind of tucked away from the street (and downstairs, which is at the top of so must have lists), the master bath layout seems very comfortable to me (great counter space!), the flex room downstairs is great, the eat in kitchen seems fun and fitting for the style, the butlers pantry (sigh, I always love them), the great porches front and back, the size of the kids rooms, and that you fit in so many nice spaces in 3000 sf! It's essentially a 5 bedroom house, so that will increase it's appeal I think, for people either working from home, living with grandparents, or with large families. You'll never make everyone happy, but this plan would make alot of people happy.

Do you have a side/street elevation yet? That will be the primary view of the home from the street right? I'd love to see that.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 7:37PM
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Here's the street elevation. Do you think we should ask to have a dormer added above the garage?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 9:24PM
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Oh that's actually quite nice. Are there details in the eaves? It's hard to see that. But as for a shed dormer... I am very partial to shed dormers... so that would appeal to me as a potential buyer very much. Go for it!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 10:15PM
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For a five bedroom house, I find the great room to be on the small side. The size of the room itself is not too bad, but there are many pathways through it that will make it seem smaller. The way the furniture is shown, only those seated on the two seater couch will be able to see the tv. I suggest trying to layout your actual furniture in the room and envision how you intend to use the room.

The mudroom also appears very small for a five bedroom. And is no entry closet needed in northern California?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 10:21PM
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We will be adjusting the mushroom slightly and adding a pantry behind it to be accessed from the kitchen (eliminating the exterior door there).

There is an entry closet underneath the stairs ... Definitely need it here!

Thanks for the thoughts on the great room. It's one of the areas we shrunk when we were trying to eliminate square footage. I will try to drop in some actual furniture there tonight!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 11:10PM
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Lovely, well thought out home. Just my style.

I would want a pantry in the kitchen, a bigger laundry room, mud room, great room, master closet, and a deeper front porch.

Not a whole lot bigger. Just a little will really make this house terrific.

How many sq ft is it as is? I know you don't want to increase it too much.

Lots of things I love about this house.

Complements to your architect. Very nice home.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 12:21AM
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I would not worry about the size of the great room, imo. For a 3000 sf house in NorCal, its great. 18 x 22 is an awesome size for even a big family around here. You fit so much into that house I'm afraid to show my husband, because I told him it couldn't be done!

I think I've looked at every home on the market in the price range you mentioned in our area and none of them even had a mud room. 3000 sf was a luxury. And 4 bedrooms with an office/flex space? Oh my goodness, there would have been 5 bids in 24 hours. All cash offers.

I'm with Lavender Lass on the kids being able to circumvent you in the middle of the night as they get older. But if your plan is to build something else in a few years, it won't be as much of a concern. Personally I'd like to be closer the the kids (every parent and kid is different), but so many people want a downstairs master these days... so for resale I'd pick what you have here and get a monitor.

Great house!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 12:27AM
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I have kids you get than yours (three) and am never up in the middle of the night so I'm not sure I understand that argument!! Lovely house makes me want to live in it!!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 12:49AM
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Younger *

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 12:50AM
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Ok, 3000 sq ft. Missed that somehow. Yes, I agree with redhead. Amazing amount of of great space in 3000 sq ft. 18x22 is a great sized room for this sized house. Do you have the rear elevation?

I'm jealous. We hired our architect over a month ago, and I haven't seen anything from him yet. Your guy/gal looks like a good one.

Looking forward to seeing the finished product.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 9:57AM
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If Virgil is still here (or anyone else that knows the answer) this a hand drawn plan?

It clearly does not look computer generated.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 1:33PM
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Our architect's hand drawn sketches looked very similar (including sketches done on trace, at the site right in front of me!). A remarkable skill.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 2:49PM
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It's hand-drawn :) He will put it in CAD when the plans are approved by our town and he needs to generate construction drawings.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 2:51PM
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Nice design from an architect who understands how to manage the design process.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 3:37PM
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Another thing I noticed about this house that I like is that if someone is at the front door, they really can't see into the great room that well.

The hall provides a lot of privacy to the master bedroom from the living area and a barrier from noise if someone is sleeping early or late. Really, it's quite clever.

I'm not crazy about the master tub in the front of the house, but love the bathroom overall.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 7:04PM
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Am I the only one who thinks the family entry is a bit crazy? Which way are you going to have your family enter your house--through the butler's pantry and formal dining or through the crowded area between lots of chairs and stools in the kitchen?

I think that family eating area needs to be one or the other--island bar OR eatin kitchen... OR ideally, get another few feet in there. There just isn't room for that to be a main walking path (which, it should be given the placement of the lower stairs).

Otherwise, it is a cute rambling house (expensive to build, yes, but cute)

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 9:50PM
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Love many things....
One thing that I could see benefiting many families with kids would be to add a small 1/2 bath to the right of the mudroom. I'm thinking it might fit perfectly in that porch area between the garage and butlers pantry. Otherwise kids and adults alike will have to track all the way through the house to use a sink or bathroom.

Good luck on a beautiful plan!!!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 10:20PM
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Mommyto4boys--I definitely agree about the bathroom.

Kirkhall--I would have a garage entry and outside entry into the mud room. This is one of my favorite houses posted here. Why do you think it would be expensive to build a house like this or similar to this?

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 9:37AM
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I like lots of things about this plan! I think it is great that the closet and master bath are separate from the actual bedroom. The toilet seems a little far from the bed for getting up in the middle of the night, but I don't see an easy fix for that.

Regarding the pinch point at the entry - what if you pulled the entry out more, rather than pushing it back in, and turned the door 90 degrees to face the street? Then move the porch stairs near the garage down enough to line up with the entry door rather than the dining room. I'm imagining that guests will park in front of the garage doors and then try to find the entry, and if that is the case this would make a lot more sense for people trying to find your front door. If people will park along the driveway right of way area, the original door direction makes more sense.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 10:57AM
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Kirkhall, the family entry was a concern of mine as well. This is why I had the architect add the bench seat to the family table. I plan to get island stools without seat backs that can tuck under the island countertop completely. That leaves a four foot "hallway" between the table chairs and the island. Not perfect, but hopefully livable! The "desk area" in the kitchen will likely not be there, either... It will be just a counter height charging station/ mail drop etc... Eliminating one more chair in that area.

I am so thankful for all the wonderful, constructive feedback so far! I have many great points to raise with my architect now:

Front porch entry point
Adding dormer window above garage facing street
Eliminating mud room exterior door and adding pantry with access from kitchen
Maybe adding a powder room in mudroom

Thank you!! Keep the feedback coming!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 12:09PM
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Very nice. The only problem I have is the small laundry in the middle of the house. I would get rid of the covered porch and make a big laundry/mud room. It will help with the noise and mess being tucked away. Also, for resale this would be a plus for someone with dogs. Lastly, for me laundry is a chore like doing dishes. Making this change means you could have a window in the laundry which is so nice. You could make the current laundry a closet which would be great for the kids' games or holiday decorations since it's so close to the family room.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 9:52AM
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