Help with Plan for Mother's Studio Apartment

touringFebruary 17, 2014

My 3 bedroom home has only 1 bathroom. I would like to increase the square footage of my mother's bedroom and make it a studio apartment. The studio would include a bathroom, kitchen and washer/washroom.
The side of the property with that bedroom is in a trapezium shape and so there is not too much space for expansion. In addition, there is the bathroom window on that side of the house which would be blocked if I "attach" to the house directly. Also the back-door step is in that direction so I have left a "walk-in" space of 5 ft. The red lines depict the existing house.

These irregularities will reduce the size of the studio. I have attached my proposed plan for the studio where the washer is in the bathroom. Perhaps the shower can be rotated and that would free up some space in the kitchen.

I would attach a similar plan with the washer in the kitchen in a follow-up message.

Grateful for your advice on the better solution or perhaps you may have a better one

This post was edited by touring on Mon, Feb 17, 14 at 22:41

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As promised, please see the plan with the washer in the kitchen. The appliances seem to be crowding each other but I have gained a pantry/cupboard outside the bathroom.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 10:38PM
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In the second picture, if that's the washer in the kitchen, what is next to the vanity in the bathroom (I don't think you have room to stand in front of the bathroom sink). Also, where's the bed?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 11:09PM
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If you think it will be possible your MIL will need to use a walker or wheelchair, you cannot do option 1--there isn't enough space between shower and toilet (not sure if there is even if a person was able bodied/to meet code). Option 2 is better in the bathroom, but you don't have the room to have another cabinet to the left of the sink. It just needs to be a sink only.

Or, what I'd do with an 8x5 bathroom is keep the orientation of the 2nd layout, put the toilet under the window, the shower along the LR wall, and the sink in the middle. Install the grab bars, as needed near the toilet. Make sure your shower is "roll in" for easy wheelchair use.

What will you do for your roof here, with the intention gap? I am not sure it is worth sparing the window (in the bathroom) of the main house for this awkward spacing...

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 11:45PM
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Thanks for your comments

Sihockeyfan: The bedroom is in the top left (red section). I intend to remove a window and replace it with the door leading into the addition. Because of the "space" I placed a cabinet next to the vanity.

Kirkhall: I will consider your suggested moves of the shower etc.
I would like to utilize that wasted 5' space but wanted natural light and air into the bathrooms.

Both of you showed preference for Option 2. Is there anyway that the laundry area could be out of the kitchen?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 5:46AM
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The sink for the bathroom in your 2nd drawing isn't accessible. Also, for someone who may be ederly, I would want the toilet by a wall so that a grab bar can be installed.

I wonder if you could use drawing 1 and move the toilet over to where the w/d is (have it longwise so when seated you would face toward the LR)[ this would give the ability to put at least one grab bar on the wall side under the window, which I would put as shown in your 2nd drawing], place the sink beside the toilet...this could allow for a 2nd grab bar if needed. Put the w/d in the alcove area where you show the shower in the 1st drawing. And then the shower could run the length of where the toilet and the sink were originally. I'm having a difficult time telling if clearances would be enough that way, but if not, you could keep the shower as you have it and just move the w/d to the area where the toilet was shown and that would open things up a bit more.

If your mom would be comfortable having a sofa and just one chair, I would consider doing a 9" or 12" deep storage wall on the 8'6" could serve as a pantry (if you can do the 12", it could hold some kitchen appliances, pots, pans, etc. as well as food).

If you don't want to give up your window in your current bathroom, I would consider checking to see about if you could move it closer to the existing kitchen - having it moved seems like it could open up a few more options for you in terms of how everything flows.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 6:15AM
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Will your MIL eat meals in this apartment? There is no where to sit and eat. I would forget a full sofa and use a loveseat. Maybe have two chairs that would could be used at a small table or just for sitting.

Does she actually have to cook in this apartment? Perhaps just a prep sink? And maybe just a mw/speekcooker instead of a range? Does she need a full sized refrigerator?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 11:04AM
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For such a small bathroom space, have you thought about doing a wet room? I've seen many of them in Europe and always thought they were an excellent use of space.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wet room

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 12:18PM
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I am still concerned with your rooflines in any of these options, with 5 feet of space between. What kind of roof do you have now? What kind will you have? Usually, there is a roof over hang. Additionally, you don't want to have all the water from the roofs directed to that 5' of space between 2 foundations--that is asking for trouble.

Why do you need fresh air in the bathroom? Could it use a new vent?

Would a skylight or sun tunnel do the trick if you like the light from the window?

As is, I just see some problems keeping that 5' of space for a window for a narrow bathroom and the tradeoffs don't make sense to me.

If you can use that 5', you have many more options for the laundry placement.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 2:10PM
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Thanks for your input

I would look again at the layout of the bathroom.

I have a dining table with collapsible sides (about 12 " x 36" when closed). This would be used as a side table when not in use.

Our building code specifies a bathroom must have a window hence the gap. Vents are only allowed for certain types of buildings (e.g. commercial). The roofing in that area will have guttering which would channel the run-off water away. Also the grounds there may have to be sloped to drain that area.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 6:10PM
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How much can you change right now? I'm wondering if the bathroom has to stay there or if it could move to one of the outer walls? Instead of having the door from the bedroom there, could you have that door move to the area of the proposed bathroom?

If you were willing to move the window to the existing bedroom, you can open the apartment area up another two feet or so and that would be of great benefit. Is the area that you show right now down by the range a door to get in? If so, could that door be nestled in that 5' wide gap area that you need to keep so your existing bathroom will remain to code. This gives you a different option as to how you configure the kitchen.

Also, true for us when we were doing a new home build about 7 years ago, neither our master nor our 2nd full bath had windows in the may want to just double check to be certain about codes in your area...not saying that it couldn't be that way for you, but if there are ways around that, it would make your addition a bit easier.

This post was edited by andreak100 on Tue, Feb 18, 14 at 18:38

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 6:24PM
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Huh. I've not heard of that code requirement in modern codes.

Good luck with your remodel.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 6:24PM
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This is still in the planning stage and therefore could change.

The image attached shows the existing bedroom. The door is a window that will be removed. What if I remove that entire wall of the bedroom? Would it allow for a better layout of the studio?

I have not thought of placing the bathroom elsewhere.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 7:08PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Hire a local architect. What you are suggesting is too convoluted to actually work. In addition, it will be expensive enough that you might be better of selling and looking for an existing property that is already set up with universal access in mind.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 7:13PM
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The local architect is to come this weekend. However, as advised on this forum, the owner should have an idea of what he/she wants to communicate to that person.

Suggestions given so far have been fruitful for they have made me revisit my "plan". I believe I am in a better position now than I was before. But do not stop here..... any other suggestions are welcomed.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 8:17PM
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Why does Mom need her own washer? Wouldn't it be more practical to share washer/dryer? Just a thought.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 10:59AM
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Just a thought with this (in reference to iread and some of the others who have suggested "downsizing" the functionality of this addition (no w/d, bare minimum kitchenette, etc.).

You don't know what the future might some point you or a future owner may want this to become a freestanding/income producing rental income (assuming that you are zoned to allow that), so if it were me, I would make this as much of a functional apartment as possible with the thought that someone that is not family might be interested in living there. I'm assuming that if you opted to make this into a rental unit at some point in the future, having a private entry, a w/d, and a functional kitchen would be postitive features.

Also, not to be overlooked is the opportunity to give your mom a sense of independence and privacy which can sometime be a difficult transition when a loved one comes to live with family members. Don't underestimate the psychological side of all of this. Also, I would try to give her as much input in the design as is reasonably possible. giving your mom her own sense of privacy and the opportunity to enjoy her own place as much as possible, but being able to interact when it is a positive for everyone.

Design it with the thoughts of it ultimately being a self-sufficient apartment with a private entrance, w/d, kitchen, and storage as much as you can. If it's financially possible, I would also consider doing separation of utilities, even if you are the one that is financially taking care of the bills, again with the idea of possibly making this an income unit at some point in the future. Easier to do these types of things now than at a later date.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 11:38AM
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Is there a reason why you must push the footage to the side and front rather than toward the side and back? For the same amount of slab and perimeter you could get a more efficient (rectangular or square without a notch cut out of the space) space pushing the back wall out say five feet and getting rid of that skinny front part of the space.

Well, actually, I can't tell which is the front of the existing house and which is the back. But what I mean is extending your mom's space where the sofa wall is out from the house line.

This post was edited by beautybutdebtfree on Thu, Feb 20, 14 at 8:19

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 8:15AM
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The architect confirmed that bathrooms must have outer windows. Also I cannot expand towards the upper wide section since that is within the road reserve.

Andreak100: Thanks for your suggestion of the grab bar and the repositioning of the toilet to the wall. I had been thinking about a roll-in shower on one end with a vanity cabinet at the other. However, with your suggestion I would look at obtaining a pedestal sink (which would free up more floor space) and alternative storage space. Perhaps I may utilize the cabinet/pantry outside of the bathroom more.

I am also looking at the possibility of moving the window closer to the kitchen. That would give me an additional 2' space in the bathroom but I would lose that space in the proposed kitchen.

MIL is still able to do things for herself. Although the project started with the idea of providing an additional bathroom, it developed into a studio to provide MIL with a sense of privacy. Also the proposed bedroom door could be closed and the new area used by out-of-town visitors.

Kirkhall: Thanks for raising the point of the water run-off. I will bring it the architect's attention for advise.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 10:56PM
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Are you telling me that all of your bathrooms MuST be on an outer wall ?

That is so nutz, I don't even know what to say. Are you guys certain it's not a venting requirement and the window is is just the easiest and cheapest route ?

You need to look at wall hung toilets for this small of a bathroom.

You also need a 24" wide range maximum, or do as suggested and get a speed oven and small drop in cooktop.

I'd also forget a washer and dryer. Get a 24" wide combo machine in which the washing machine is the dryer too.

That is a tough footprint to work with, especially with that window none sense.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 4:03PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Where are you located?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 9:08PM
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