First Time - Looking for advise in TN

tad0422December 12, 2013

Hello! Been lurking in this forum for awhile and I though I would finally get involved. I am looking for some awesome advise from you guys!

First we plan to build a home that we want to live 20 - 30 years in (we are 26). We will probably start building in 1 - 2 years. We have found a plan that we love here.

We would want to make some small changes to it like change the wet bar to a small half bath, change the kitchen island layout a bit, move the front door from the side to the main front of the house. The biggest addition per say would be to have an unfinished basement for later expansion. We are looking for land between 1 - 2 acres in middle TN.

Our budget will be around 300k for land+building. We will probably have to have a GC since I am not comfortable enough with doing it myself. So my main question is does my budget and ideas meet my expectations or am I way off? I hope to hear back from people in the middle TN area (around Nashville) who could give me more regional answer but input is always appreciated!


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Tad, I have no idea how much land costs, and how luxurious or basic you think you will build, but since you posted the floor plan, I will comment on it even if you didn't ask. :)

That family room and flex room are going to be VERY dark, and is not designed to take advantage of breezes if windows were open.

Furthermore, you have the square footage of two living areas, but it will live like one living area. You have a second room there, but it will be useless as a place to read in peace while someone watches tv, or entertain guests while the other partner enjoys his own space to watch tv or read, and it will be a disaster as two living spaces if you have children who want to entertain friends (read "noisy")

I had friends with a somewhat similar design (sun room behind fireplace), but since the sun room had windows on three sides, it did let a bit of light into the living room. However, it was still useless as a "second" room. It lived as one big room with a fireplace in the middle.

And while I think it's fine not to have a formal dining room, the dining area you do have is very small. I would work on enlarging that a bit, if possible.

I do love the private covered porch attached to the master, and I think the bedroom wing is nice. The combined mud/laundry room is also nice. Although it's not large, the w/d are out of the traffic area, and I think it's a good use of space.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 11:35AM
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Thanks for the input!

We expect the land to be between 30 - 50k with all city hookups. As for the floor plan, we plan to use the flex space as a formal dining room for my wife's antique family table and the bonus space for a office/library with a pull out couch.

We will probably go around medium with our finishes. I know that isn't clear but we are trying to keep cost low without skipping too much on quality.

We also thought the dining space in the kitchen was small and would want that enlarged. I see your point about light and thought skylights might help. My wife wants a covered porch because she has a small medical issues with biting insects.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 12:58PM
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What if you flip the main living area? Do you really need the garage in back? I'd rather have views out that way and access to the screened porch from the main living area and the bedroom.

What about something like this? Then when you have people visit, they can see your wife's pretty table, as soon as they come in the front door. Also makes a nice entry space and gives you a little more privacy for your family areas :)

Oh, and make sure your dishwasher is scooted over just a bit, so you can open it without hitting your leg. Corner sinks are great, as long as the dishwasher is placed correctly! From Kitchen plans

This post was edited by lavender_lass on Fri, Dec 13, 13 at 17:45

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 4:25PM
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My mom just started having issues (a few years ago) with yellow jackets, so I understand your wife's concerns. I've been trying to convince my mom to screen in her front porch, so have you considered screening both porches?

Not only would that minimize bugs, it might keep less from getting into the house. You could also access the deck, through the screened porch, rather than off the living room. You could always have the grilling porch off to the side, where it would be easy to reach from the mud room. Maybe something like this? :) From Kitchen plans

This post was edited by lavender_lass on Sat, Dec 14, 13 at 14:06

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 2:02PM
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I like bungalows. Okay, that was neither here nor there . . . on to some constructive advice.

- Everything I would've said, BirdLover6 already said: Light in the main living areas, etc.

- L-Lass is always wonderful, and her flip-flop is perfect. I like the smaller flex-area being kind of a large entry. In this house, I can imagine a seating area and a little bit of privacy ('cause people aren't entering /leaving your house constantly), and it gives you your larger family room to the back of the house.

- The island looked "odd" to me in the original floorplan, but it seems to fit in perfectly in the new plan.

- The single thing that grabbed me right away in the first plan, however, was the under-sized dining area. L-Lass has fixed it. I'm not sure a bay-bump is right for this house; I might consider more of a square-bump . . . oh, and to stay true to character in a bungalow, go with an L-shaped banquette. But the location and size of the newly-placed dining area is dead-on.

- I don't know anyone who doesn't need more storage. I'd do away with the half-bath (and its expense) and have a good-sized closet in the mudroom. I'd have the closet extend under those large stairs (the half-height storage would be good for holiday items that you don't access often). The secondary bathroom is in an ideal spot to be both private and convenient, and I don't see a need for a half bath.

- OR this space would be an ideal pantry, something you don't have now.

- With the half-bath gone, you could have your drop-zone in the mud room, and that would contain the clutter of bookbags and shoes in the mud room.

- OR, with the expanded mud room, that drop-zone area could become a lovely glass-doored, floor-to-ceiling china cabinet. That would suit my needs quite well! Or it could be a china closet, with a closed door.

- I'm not so crazy about the master bath. First, I hate the two piddly-sized vanities/sinks. I'd go with one comfortable-sized vanity and one simple sink, though this would require moving the bathroom door.

- The big problem, though, is the two tiny closets. You have double sinks and double bathing areas . . . but nowhere to store anything. Triangle shaped closets like this will hold practically nothing. I'd give up the separate shower, move the tub-shower over to the window side . . . and carve out a nice-sized, rectangular walk-in closet where you now have one closet /the walk-in shower. You're not planning to be elderly in this house, so you'll have no trouble stepping into a tub-shower. While a separate shower is a nicety, adequate storage would be my priority.

- Another master closet option: Bring the back corner of the master bedroom back so that the back corner of the house is square . . . and add a walk-in closet to the right of the master entryway.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 8:33PM
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Beth Parsons

I'm in Murfreesboro, TN and IMO you should have no problem getting this built today for $300k or less with 'better' finishes and materials. In 1 -2 years that may not be the case with rising material costs, land prices and interest rates, tho.

If you use a 'national' builder or a local with a lot of overhead (staff, offices, etc.) you can expect to pay more than if you go with a GC who works alone and only has to pay himself. We built last year on a cost + fixed fee contract and ended up paying somewhere around 8% of the total cost to the GC.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 1:56PM
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Thanks for the info! We are still exploring all areas but we are looking more seriously at Hendersonville. From my research I think we can get what we want in our budget.

We are in an interesting position right now. We bought a home 2 years ago in East Nashville. Well that has become the super hot area and prices are going up stupid high. So we thought we would cash out on it soon and move out to get a bigger house for a little more money. Plus we want to start a family soon and East Nashville isn't the best place.

Thank you for everyone's input! Would love to hear from more people/recommendations in Middle TN/Nashville.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 11:25AM
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Tad- What do you think of the flip...and does your wife like the porches?

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 12:39PM
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I am also in the Murfreesboro area and we bought 12 acres just outside and will be starting our build this winter. Since you are 1-2 years you will have time to make adjustments to the plan. I was dead set on a particular plan until I met with an architect friend who gave me great advice on how things should flow making a plan more practical. I went through numerous adaptations so the good news you have a good amount of time to really live in the plan in your head.

As far as building I would agree that 300k should not be a problem. The question is the land. 1-2 acres in Hendersonville will likely be more than 50k. You need to be careful not to have your land makeup a large percentage of the overall project. Cost to build will likely be around 100-115 not counting land in that area. I am contracting my own house and completing a decent chunk of finishing work and will be well under 100.

I would think about finding a zoned bedroom layout. I would not want my kids bedrooms right outside of my bedroom.

I also agree that the family room should not be right off the main entry. A room like a formal dining is a better fit to have off the front entrance.

I lost count of the number of changes I made from the original, but it is definitely worth it in the end to have a well thought out plan that works for your family. GL with the build.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 1:08PM
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We have been going back and forth on that idea but I think we are going to stick with the original floor plan (i.e. family room in the front). We may move the fireplace a bit more to increase the family room and decrease the formal dining space a bit.

But here are two things that are vexing me a bit. One is a basement option, we want to have a unfinished basement that we can complete down the road. In the floor plan they have the basement door in the garage going under the stairs. We are not sure how we feel about this.

Also the idea of light. Would sky lights in the family room help? What are the general ideas of this? We love lots of nature light.


Yeah it seems like some areas are going for that much but I need to research it more. Unfortunately I am not very handy so I doubt I will be any of the finish work.

I would love to have the kids bedrooms as far as possible but my wife wants them close to the master so compromise I guess.

Thanks for the input!

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 2:21PM
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I live in Hendersonville, great place. I grew up here. I am not excited by your plan, although I have no good reason why. I feel like it is to square and crampy, I prefer more rectangular houses, with the garage separated out slightly, to allow for better arrangement of the kitchen and living spaces. The bedroom wing is fine, and I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old, and their bedrooms are about 8' from ours (we live in an older ranch style house) and I can't tell you how wonderful it is being right there beside them when they wake up at night. So that part of your plan is nice, although when they are teenagers, might be nice if you also had some second floor or basement space for them.

If you are dead set on building, then please disregard my next bit of advice, but have you thought about buying a nice, small ranch house back in the Indian Lake Elementary peninsula? Big yards, most are around an acre, 1600-2000ish square foot houses, surrounded by lake, one of the top elementary schools in the state.

We have an acre, and about 1700 square foot house built in 1964. We have remodeled/renovated everything and it is a brand new house with a great layout for having small children. We have a great covered porch, could easily be screened in, lake views, not much traffic, half a mile from the school and its playgrounds. It works well for us, although by no means is it a beautiful, brand new house.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 3:16PM
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