Do you like any of these floorplans

jockewingNovember 20, 2012

This is a choice of three floor plans being offered by a builder in my area that I am interested in. I like a lot of things about them, but the kitchens all have a lot to be desired, in my opinion. They do not allow for any changes to the actual floorplan unfortunately, and only offer a few limited finish choices. I am not too keen on that, but I really don't know if I could do any better to find this much house (plus the land) with 10 foot ceilings throughout, crown molding, recessed lighting, brick on all 4 sides, tankless water heater, etc. Ideally, I'd love to build a house totally custom exactly the way I want it, but I have my doubts I could compete with the prices of a high volume builder.

The first is called the Matisse and is the least expensive. I actually like some things about it more than the others. However, the kitchen only has 3 full size upper cabinets! It just looks strange to me. I think it could be improved if you could add a wall where the exposed peninsula countertop is in order to add more cabinets, and also to allow for easier arrangement of furniture in living room:

The second is the Dubois. It is about $10K more. I like it a bit better than the Matisse, but I don't know if I care for the kitchen at all. I don't care for the diagonal island. Is it too "open"?

The final is the Gabriel. Seems like this one has a lot of wasted space and it doesn't seem to have a pantry, which is a big negative.

Any opinions on these plans? Do you think they make sense?

If someone can help me to directly post the photos, I'd greatly appreciate it. I have a photobucket account, but I cant login to it for some reason.

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I'm not sure of the order, but these are the 3 from your flicker acct:

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 1:12AM
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The kitchen layout and bathroom locations are awful in the last one (as pictured above, whatever it is called). If you can make no modifications, this one is out, imo. It is too crowded in the stove area. And, I think it would be weird to send your guests through your kitchen or a bedroom to get to a bathroom.

The top 2 are very similar and each has their merits in the kitchen... I think it is weird that you walk into the foyer right into the study wall...but that could be okay. Do you have kids? It would be a very long walk from their bedroom to your bedroom in plan 2 above.

I guess that means I like the simplicity and functionality of #1 best. It is too bad the fridge is so far from the dining area/at the back of the kitchen, but it is okay. I think you will like the openness of the sink half wall--the downside here is really where will you keep your dishes. I am thinking it will have to be in the cabinets to the left of the sink (far from the dining area, but at least in proximity to the sink). But, as I do now, I think you will like being able to do dishes and still interact with the people in the FR in the evenings.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 1:20AM
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I like plan #1 best except that I would rather close off the dining more for an office and I agree with putting a wall up in the kitchen instead of having it open to the l/r. I would also like to switch the sink with stove and put a window above the sink on the outside wall.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 1:43AM
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I agree that the last one (as posted by kirkhall) would be out for me, in addition to the awkward guest bathroom placement, I wouldn't like having the Master Bedroom up next to the kitchen unless I lived alone. I can hear the pots banging early on Saturday morning now!

I think both of the other plans are decent. Choosing between them, I'd lean toward the 2nd one for me, but I could completely understand someone making the other choice.

What I like about the second plan:
I am a private person, and so I greatly prefer the idea that if I open my front door, the person on the other side can't see into the bulk of the house. I prefer it for kids selling door-to-door, those folks pushing cable packages, evangelists, and most of all the shady people we've had come by once or twice. I also think the flow for welcoming guests is really nice-- you open the door, they step into a relatively quiet space, you put their coats in the closet around the corner, and then go into the larger social space after you've had a chance to say hello.

I also like the private study, and the fact that the master bedroom doesn't share walls with any of the public spaces. But the kitchen is definitely on the small side, and I think having to walk past the master bedroom to get to the back patio could be awkward, unless you plan for that to be private area, and to have your outdoor social area to the side of the house? But those are nitpicky things, IMO.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 8:35AM
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I would pick plan #2. (Sorry, I haven't read other responses so something might be redundant.)

When I built a home like this, we were able to get a few changes done because those change orders were part of our original contract. We just picked a few items that were important to us and made them part of the deal. Are you working with a realtor who, in turn, works with this builder? If so, ask the realtor if this is an option for you.

I like in plan #3 that the master closet opens to the laundry. However, that is heavily overshadowed by the powder room being past the kitchen and in the mud room. That is really poor placement, so I wouldn't consider that plan.

I love the great room layout of plan #2 since it's just a big rectangle. That gives you more flexibility in what furniture you can use in that space. What I don't like about this plan is that the hallway bathroom's shower/tub shares a wall with the master (noisy) and that there is some weird, wasted space in the master to the right of the tub. I would want that space made into another closet that either opens to the study (useful for storage) or to the master. RE: a pantry in this plan... I think you could make something work in the mudroom and laundry room area. You can add shelves to the walls and get creative in utilizing that space better.

I don't like that plan #1 has a formal dining space that is far from the kitchen and smaller than the kitchenette area. That space would probably rarely get used (as a dining space) because it's inconvenient and redundant. (Maybe you could wall it in and use as a study?) With bar seating in the small living room, I don't think that space would fit much furniture. I also don't like that this plan's master shares a wall with the hall bathroom (again, noisy) and then shares a wall with the living room (noisier.)

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 10:59AM
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Generally, I like the suggestion to get a kitchen sink on an outside wall for light/windows... However, in the plan 1 that I posted, I would not switch the location of the sink/stove as is suggested by another above. Doing so would put the stove in the walking path--a very dangerous thing to do.

If you have the option to do any switcheroos in the plan, I'd consider moving all the appliances--Stove to where the fridge is, Fridge to where stove was or if you plan to put a wall up, then where the sink is.

And, sink to wherever you have left (either window wall, or in peninsula as drawn).

The island is also a pain as drawn, because if you draw you triangle in the kitchen, you will see it sits right in the leg of the sink/stove path--you'll always be going around it.

In this way, Kitchen 2 is way better than Kitchen 1. But, the bedroom locations are a deal breaker for me in plan 2 (I have smaller kids though).

Is this development more likely to be young families or retirees? Are you building for yourself as a young family or retiree?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 11:30AM
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I don't have any kids--the house would just be for me in the forseeable future. I am kind of leery of this homebuilder though because they really won't let you do substitutions of any kind. When I asked if I could at least choose my own paint colors, I was told no. I asked if we could run the wood continuously throughout the connected kitchen/living room and I was told no. I honestly don't care for a lot of the finish choices they offer. I am just wondering if there is any way I can get this much house for the price they are offering (around 220K, which doesn't sound like much, but we are in S. Louisiana in the suburbs of New Orleans).

I really would love to build completely custom, or at least semi-custom with more choices, but just don't know if that would be affordable for me. I wonder if I just shouldn't bite on the first plan and then over time change the finished I don't like / add a wall to the kitchen if I end up not liking it. But then I think to buy a brand new house with the thought of changing finishes already? And I just can't understand the lack of kitchen space in these plans. The first plan has a grand total of 3! upper cabinets! Seems almost unbelievable to me. My little 1350 sq foot house I have now has more upper cabs.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 2:46PM
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Well, you could definitely have more upper cabinets if you didn't have a corner pantry...

But, it really seems as though you aren't in enough control of the build to even make minor adjustments (paint!), then these bigger things aren't going to be possible at all.

You might take the cost to build this one plus a reasonable cost to do all the remodeling/redecorating that you'll see needing in this plan, and see where that nets you. You might find custom (or at least semi-custom) won't be that much more.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 3:16PM
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Well to be fair, they do offer about 12 different colors, but let's face it, people who are here on Gardenweb usually have very specific ideas of the paint colors they like and want. I don't see what the big deal is if I know exactly what colors I want. I would even be willing to buy the paint myself. But this is a big homebuilder with several subdivisions across a couple of states going at once, and I guess they like to keep the machine as "monkeywrench free" as possible. The countertop choices are granite, but it is cheap granite that is very very thinly cut and I don't even care for granite. There is only one cabinet style choice with a couple different stain colors. I noticed in one of their homes in progress they were spraying on the stain. Does that sound normal? They felt kind of bumpy to the touch, like they weren't finished all that well. Let's face it, the finishes aren't top quality at this price point, but I can't really afford much more. At least it is more spacious than my current home, has a garage(!), and real water from pipes instead of well water/septic tank. It is also in a much nicer area than my current house. I just wonder if I got all my furniture and things in the house I wouldn't notice the finishes that much anymore and could slowly change them over time. Or would it be better to wait it out for something I like even more and keep paying down on my current house so I'll have more money to play with? And will these amazing interest rates still be so low in a year or so?

Of course I start looking at the point when there are only 2 lots left and I have to make a decision fast (if I'm not too late already)

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 3:26PM
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Looking at only floor plans, without looking or thinking about the exterior forms and shapes ad the interior volumes and views is a one-dimensional exercise.

Floor plans, interior volumes and exterior massing/character are inseperable. Each depends on the other and good design always is a blend of them all.

The reason so many houses are so bland on the exterior and interior is an over-focus on two dimensional plans with little or no thought to what may happen if one "pushes" here or "pulls" there in order to have a visually interesting dwelling.

I suggest you take all of these comments, review them, store them in a notebook and then start considering the remaining elements for a well designed house--exterior massing/character and interior spaces/flow.

Good luck with your project!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 3:33PM
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Virgil, I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments. For some reason in my area, every new home is built in this faux French country style. I guess it looks OK, but I hate the cheap stucco facades, with the little circular "life preserver" details they throw below roof peaks. At least this builder is putting brick on all four sides save around the front door, where it is stucco. That said if I had my choice, I would love to build a home to mimic the style of a New Orleans bungalow, Creole cottage, or shotgun house in a modern idiom. Those types of homes are so much more interesting looking. I don't understand why only the very high end stuff around here has any interest. Does it really cost that much more?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 5:04PM
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Jockewing, you make a good point. The cost for good design doesn't have to be really very different from a "standard-repeatable plan" house which is loaded up with lots of bland, but large rooms, questionable details, a patch-work quilt of exterior materials and an indifferent exterior.

The real difference is a custom designed , one-of-a-kind home designed for a specific family, site and climate vs. a stock, repeatable plan, designed for no one in particular, to be built anywhere, regardless of location and climate.

This is the primary reason some houses look individual and specific and others look anonymous and anywhere.

A major challenge for many folks is avoiding "falling in love" with builder's cliches in floor plans: a huge island in a kitchen that interrupts the kitchen work "triangle"; a family room and a living room, when just one, properly designed, will do; huge double master bedroom walkin closets and a humongeous soaking tub; 3-car garages; a 4-5 bedroom house for a couple with no children; etc.

Just a thought...not trying for a design war!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 6:22PM
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Sophie Wheeler

I think all three are pretty dreadful. Especially the garages sticking out of the front and inadequate proportions. Who thinks a 6' porch is even usable?

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 12:09AM
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Well the lots are only 70' wide so there isn't really room to put the garages to the side. I prefer them like this so at least the garage door doesn't take up the whole front of the facade.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 12:39AM
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Must you do one of these three plans? I certainly understand compromise for finances, but the inability to change ANYTHING is offensive. You might as well buy a recently-built existing house. Maybe your market is different, but here existing houses a few years old are almost certainly available for less than new construction, even by fascist, er, strict, tract home builders.

To me, the premium we pay for new construction is largely for intangibles, such as the ability to choose the details and layout of hour house and to have a certain satisfaction in having made these choices. If you love this neighborhood and are willing to give those up to get there, or if this is really that great of a deal even compared to new construction, go for it. (I pick Number 2.) But otherwise...

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 7:27AM
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I don't really like any of these. I don't like that the only way in from the garage is through the kitchen, also the laundry is so far from the bedrooms in two and the other has other issues I don't particularly care for. For example the bath and how to get to it. I do like the location of it from a being outside standpoint, but not for having guests.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 9:51AM
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It's the very rare area of the country right now where building is as cheap as buying existing. With the indicated choices, I can see why these houses would be though. I don't perceive much of a deal here with all of the compromises that would be have to be made with all of the builder grade choices.

You can do so much better stylewise by looking at buying something already built. And probably price wise as well.

And, it's not so much the front load garage that's so unattractive about these plans. At least to me. It's the fact that placing those front load garages in front of the house makes the whole house look like an afterthought to the temple of the automobile. You can do a front load garage pulled back from the front plane of the house and it's a much much better look. That's not the only issue with these plans though. There are plenty of other issues with them that would make me pass them by. They just aren't great designs. They are mediocre to bad designs.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 10:52AM
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