Advice needed: how to add on to a Dutch Colonial Revival?

aliciaandbillyJanuary 20, 2014

This is the first time I've posted in this forum, so please forgive me if this is not the appropriate place to pose my question.

My husband and I have been living in our home for 4 years now, always with the understanding that for it to be a long-term home we would want to add on a master bathroom. While we're not quite to the point of being able to take on such a project, I'm realizing that many other decisions we'd like to make now are contingent upon if and how we accomplish that goal. Therefore, I've decided to we need to come up with a "master plan". We're hoping to speak with an architect soon, but first I was curious to get some opinions from the Gardenweb community on what you would do.

We live in a very densely populated 1920's subdivision of single homes, most of which no longer conform with current zoning regulations, our home included. As such, any addition that we do cannot expand the footprint of the house from side to side without a variance (which I doubt we'd be granted), but rather must go forward or back. Our backyard is already pretty small (our whole lot is only 60'W x 120'L), so we'd rather build up on the existing footprint or build towards the front of the house.

I've attached a couple of pictures of the exterior, as well as a rough sketch of the 1st and 2nd floor floor-plans and survey of the property.

The house is a 1925 Dutch Colonial Revival, originally 3 bdrm, 1 bath, with a 1/2 bath plopped into the sunroom during the 80's by an elderly previous owner. In terms of a master plan, I'm trying to figure out the best way to add a master bath and more closet space for the master bedroom and potentially relocate the 1st floor 1/2 bath.

The three options I'm toying with are:

1. Add a second floor onto the sunroom where the sleeping porch is, leaving the 1/2 bath in the sunroom. You see this all the time with Dutch Colonial Revivals, although I have yet to see a design that doesn't scream ADDITION!!!!

2. Push out the front of the house left of the living room windows, mimicking the gambrel roof facing towards the street. This may allow for the 1/2 bath to be tucked away in the sunroom and allow more master bath/closet space upstairs. However, this would block a lot of the living room's natural light and may be too narrow of a space to obtain the right proportions?

3. Using the same idea as #2, push out on the right side of the house, possibly gaining an entrance to a master bath from the existing master closet door, and use the enlarged 1st floor hallway to accommodate a 1/2 bath. This resolves the light issue, but would be even narrower than #2.

Has anyone had experience adding on to a Dutch Colonial Revival or seen something similar that you liked? Any thoughts or insights on the above ideas or other solutions? My husband (who has tolerated more than his fair share of me talking about this) thanks you in advance for providing him with some well-deserved peace and quiet.

Here is a link that might be useful: Floor-Plans et al

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Just an opinion from a long time home owner / engineer:

Looking at your home, I don't see an economical way to addon. Also the sun porch may not have the necessary foundation to support a second story.

I would guess that master bath would be over $50k.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 1:49PM
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Hi Geoffrey.

Thanks for the insight. The sunroom had ongoing water damage for probably a decade or more, so we were planning on almost if not completely rebuilding the sunroom in order to add a 2nd floor. We realize it's a very expensive undertaking, but it's still cheaper than us moving to a larger house in our neighborhood (we bought a foreclosure in 2009 in a great school district).

Economics aside, do you think a 2nd floor on the sunroom would be the best option?

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 2:05PM
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Could you convert the front bedroom into a dressing/closet/bath area, since the plumbing could be next to the existing bathroom, and build a bedroom over the sunroom? Granted, it wouldn't be huge, but it would need space for only the bed and night stands.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 4:23PM
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If you start changing the roof line that would be a major expense.

To me the problem is that the foundation size is only 900 sq/ft - it doesn't give you a lot of options.

The half bath in the sunporch seems really strange - they are usually near the kitchen.

Looking at your home layout - there doesn't seem to be any other option but to put the bathroom over the sunporch.

I understand you got a good deal and it's a good school district - but to me the house has little possibilites.

I still think it's uneconomical compared to buying a different house.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 4:32PM
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Unless you live in an area with very high property values, I don't see proceeding with the restrictions that the property has and coming up with something too usable. The house already has the usual maxed out gabled bumpouts for the second floor. And the only way to get the square footage that you want (and access to it) is to go straight back and sacrifice second floor space to a hallway and a stair that's to current codes. That means basically losing one of those bedrooms to build another bedroom. That's not really a net gain. And is likely to cost well upwards of 100K for a zero sum game.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 4:56PM
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bpathome - Interesting idea. We had been thinking of the bathroom over the sunroom because of the plumbing in the 1/2 bath below. Not sure I'd be up for that small of a bedroom...for whatever reason I'm totally fine with a small master bath though! Ha ha.

geoffry_b & live_wire_oak - we live in Westchester County north of NYC, so yes, property values are VERY high. we'd probably have to increase our mortgage by $250K-$300K for a home that was larger than ours in our neighborhood, but i definitely appreciate your insight.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 5:33PM
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I have another suggestion, but it means remodeling the entire upstairs, almost.

I'd take your current bathroom as your master bathroom by expanding it into the closet area. The Master would be the lower left bedroom.

I'd take the closet area and 3' of space from what is probably currently the master to create a new hall bathroom to serve the now 2 side bedrooms.

You could do a reach in along the new master wall for the upper left bedroom (you'd end up with a bedroom of 10x11 with a 2' reach in closet. You'd have access to a sun deck still off the master. And, you'd probably want to build a master closet over the sun porch...

Alternatively, if the chimney isn't useful or has surpassed its useful life, I'd take it down, and expand the master over the sunporch area and add the bathroom as mentioned above, sharing the plumbing from the current bathroom.

You also want to make sure your house can legally have another bathroom (ie, toilet) without a major upgrade to the sewer lines.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 8:42PM
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kirkhall - what a brilliant idea!! talk about not being able to see the forest for the trees! the lower left room with the sunporch is our master, so it wouldn't mean any switch in that regard. and would make the two other bedrooms the same size. this is a great alternative if building over the sunroom just isn't an option. i just wish i had posted this before we renovated those two bedrooms!!!! ha ha.

one question though (because i'm hesistant to lose an entire wall in the bedroom we'd be shrinking to a reach in closet). if we were to put the closets for the two upper bedrooms back to back on the exterior wall of the house, would 6'x6' be enough room for a small bathroom with a tub? i was thinking the tub could be placed along the wall with the closets, leaving a 6' x 3 1/2'-ish space for toilet and sink. is that just too small? would we have to give up both closets for those bedrooms for a total bathroom footprint of 9'x6'? the tub in our current bathroom is about 30" from back wall to apron front.

This post was edited by aliciaandbilly on Thu, Jan 23, 14 at 10:25

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 10:21AM
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Oh - and the chimney is still in use, so unless we rebuilt it with a smaller footprint (definitely not worth it), we can't count on using that space.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 10:23AM
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I think 6x6 would be tough. Standard "small" with those 3 elements are 5x7.

Let me think these spaces a bit more (but really, redecorating 2 bedrooms will be less expensive than upgrading and adding on all the way to the foundation including roof tye-ins...)

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 5:06PM
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I think I need to see what you are describing drawn out.

(But, really a reach in closet of 10 feet long will hold more than your walk-ins, most likely. You shouldn't consider it a down grade).

It might work, but I am not sure how you go from 6x6 to tub and still have a 3.5 x6 and vanity space.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 5:13PM
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I'll mock up the floor plan this weekend to give you a visual of what I meant. I figured a 6' x 6' bathroom with a tub would be too tiny but I was really hoping to avoid further reducing the 13' x 10' bedrooms further. And while I'm sure we'd appreciate the additional closet space the reach-ins would provide, I'm not sure the extra storage outweighs the reduction in usable wall space.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 9:27AM
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Continuing with the idea that we remodel/reconfigure the upstairs instead of adding on, I mocked-up the 2nd floor with a new hallway bath where the closets used to be per kirkhall's recommendation. Instead of making it 6' wide, I only did 5' so that there'd still be room to put the bed facing south in the upper left bedroom and run the closet on that wall instead of the lower wall of that room. I did this because the door (which was missing on the prior floorplan) opens onto that wall and would mean setting back the closet by a couple of feet and visually blocking the entrance to the room.

Curious to get everyone's take on this. The master bedroom closet actually shrunk a bit length-wise, but is now more accessible on a whole as a walk-through to the former hallway bath / new master-bath.

And while I'm not crazy about having the toilet and sink plumbing running on the exterior wall, but hopefully it won't be too problematic if we're gutting the room with the opportunity to insulate the heck out of that wall.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 11:41AM
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I think that works well. The closets are smaller, so you have to decide if that will be okay for you, but I do think you can maximize space a little more than you have demonstrated even here, with regards to closets.

You have a lot of "empty space" in the bathroom floor (with the patterned floor here, you can see that even easier). And you have an unused corner in the bathroom.

*You could, make your closet wider (same length as what is drawn for the hall linen closet).
*You could slide the doors to the closet and bathroom 'up' so that you can fit another set of rods or shallow drawers or shelves along this "bottom" wall in the closet area (essentially, getting use out of both sides.) I cannot tell how "deep" that master closet is, but if more than 2 feet it will be just wasted space again.

More later. Need to go.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 12:43PM
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If it were possible, I would redo and expand the sunroom, so it stretches from the front to the back of the house. Then, I'd add on an upstairs for the master bedroom expansion.

Since you already have that addition, would you need a variance to continue it to the back of the house? You could keep it a sunroom, or possibly have study off the living room and sunroom (with french doors) off the dining room. And a nice access to the still intact back yard! Just an idea :)

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 2:19PM
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Hi lavendar_lass. Thank you so much for the recommendation and apologies for the delayed response. That is a great idea and one we'll definitely keep in mind as we move forward with this project. I think expanding the sunroom as you suggested would make it a lot easier to minimize the visual oddity of a 2nd floor, but it may make the use of our send garage bay impossible, since the right side of the garage is behind the sunroom, reaching into the backyard. All of the 2nd floor additions that I've seen in the area that I really like extend the full length of the house, which I hadn't realized until you made that recommendation. I also think we could avoid the setback variance with that route.

Thank you all for the great ideas! It has given us some wonderful talking points to discuss with an architect or contractor in the (hopefully) near future.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 9:26AM
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