Downsizing...Help Us Pick a Floor Plan

ILoveCookieJuly 11, 2013


I've been lurking here for quite a while. Husband and I just put our house on the market. We realized after living in it for a few years that it's too big for the two of us. We want to have a smaller home, 1800-2000 sqft, 2-3 bedrooms, 1.5-2.5 baths, with a finished basement for "noisy" entertainment.

We found a great green builder, who specializes in building prefab, net-zero houses. We actually went to see several houses they've built. The quality is excellent. We are pretty sure if we ever build, we will use this builder.

Among the stock floor plans this builder has, we think three of them might work for us...

Classic Tall Cape (2 Bedrooms, 2.5 Baths)
- Two story, 2056 sqft, livable area: 1592 sqft
- Timber frame exposed
- Separate study on 1st floor
- Laundry nook on 2nd level
- The mechanic stuff will be in the basement

Classic Tall Cape (3 Bedrooms, 2.5 Baths)
- Two story, 2056 sqft, livable area: 1792 sqft
- Two full dormers
- Timber frame exposed
- Laundry nook on 1st floor
- The mechanic stuff will be in the basement

Swedish Farmhouse (3 Bedrooms, 2.5 baths)
- Two story, 1783 sqft, livable area: 1536 sqft
- Kitchen with pantry
- Laundry nook on 1st floor
- The mechanic stuff will be in the basement

These plans are customizable to certain degree, for example, basement could be added, garage could be detached with a connecting way to the main house, the floor plan can be flipped or mirrored, rooms can be added or removed, etc, but the foundation cannot be enlarged by a foot or two without incurring extra architect/engineering cost.

We are thinking of creating a large living space in the basement, so the entertainment stuff (TV, Wii, Rock Band, other games) and husband's hobbies can be contained in the basement. Then the 1st floor will be mainly for cooking, eating, doing work/homework, reading, relaxing. The 2nd floor will be mainly for sleeping.

Here is what we think of the pros and cons of each plan.

We have no particular feelings for dormers..they seem to disrupt the clean roof line, but they also seem to bring in more daylight, and provide more livable space. If there's no dormer, we don't know if the bedrooms will feel too crowded, kind of like living in an attic.

Separate Study
Husband and I sometimes need to get work done from home. So while we want to use the official family room for reading and relaxing, we think it may not be quiet enough for us to focus on work, due to the open living design.

MIL suggests that we could use the 3rd bedroom as a study. I don't particularly like doing that, because I want to have built-ins for the study (i.e. built in desk tops with storage cabinets above and/or underneath). Once the built-ins are in place, I think the room cannot be easily converted back to a bedroom... even if it can be easily done, where will we move the study?

Two vs. Three bedrooms -- We've decided to have 3 bedrooms. :)
Currently we have a king-size bed and a queen-size bed to fill up 2 bedrooms. We don't plan to have a dedicated guest bedroom, and we may have 0-2 kids in the future (2 is more likely than 0).

If we turn out to have one girl and one boy, 2 bedrooms may not suffice.. My instinct tells me it may not be a problem, because in the old days, people had so many kids with so little space.. But I don't know exactly how they managed it. What do you think?

We think 2 bedrooms might be OK, but 3 bedrooms might help the resale value...Not that we want to sell it, but life has uncertainties, so we need to plan for it somewhat.

Square Footage
Somehow we feel that if we do need to sell the house, a 2056 sqft house is more likely to attract buyers than a 1783 sqft house. 1783 sqft just sounds much smaller, even if the livable space is about the same as the 2056 sqft one.

Timber Frame
Husband doesn't care whether or not there are any exposed timbers, but I really like timber frame houses. The Classic Tall Cape plans have just enough exposed posts and beams for me to enjoy them, while the Swedish Farmhouse doesn't have any.

By looking at the listed starting prices, the Classic Tall Capes ones are $41K~$66K more expensive. It's quite a bit of money.. but I really want to have some timbers in the structure. Do you think it's worth it? Should I re-evaluate the priorities?

Thanks a lot for reading!

This post was edited by ILoveCookie on Sat, Jul 13, 13 at 16:33

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I like the Swedish plan best myself. Seems to fit your needs best, except for office space. But only that first plan has dedicated office space and it's too small for 2 people, IMO.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 12:37PM
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Thanks marti!

In the Swedish plan, there is no study, so one of the bedrooms will probably have to be converted to a study.

Also, I think once we add the basement, the front closet in the Swedish plan will probably be gone, and that space will be used as staircase leading to the basement. So there won't be a front closet or mud room. I don't know if that's ideal.

For the study in the Cape 2-beroom plan, I was thinking of some arrangement like this. It may feel too crowded in real life, but I have no idea! Our current home office is about 14' x 14' with a partners' desk, and it feels spacious.

This post was edited by ILoveCookie on Thu, Jul 11, 13 at 14:11

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 1:19PM
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My gut says that the three bed cape cod is the best fit. You could move the laundry to the basement or even a stacked w/d on the second floor outside the bathroom.
That would allow you to have a small study on the main floor and 3 bedrooms.

You might even be able to add a corner pantry in the kitchen or at least have a reach in pantry on one wall.

Although 30k is a lot over the course of a mortgage it isnt that much.

3 bedrooms is always better for potential resale.
I too love timber framed houses and much prefer the exterior with the porch on the cape cod over the swedish house exterior.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 10:47PM
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Thank you sdegraff!

I like your idea of moving washer/dryer to the basement or 2nd floor. I think either way will work.

Where would you add the pantry in the kitchen? I think the storage room in the Cape plan will probably become a staircase leading to the basement. Also, there are windows on every wall, so I am not sure where to add more storage, except maybe some built-in cabinets and drawers along the walls in the dining area (under the windows).

This post was edited by ILoveCookie on Fri, Jul 12, 13 at 0:13

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 12:12AM
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Bridget Helm

just from looking at the exterior elevations, i like the 2nd house the most.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 1:35AM
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I'd eliminate the first plan: Unless you were SURE you'd never have any children and would never want to sell the house, the lack of a third bedroom would eventually become a liability.

Between the other two, I like the second plan best.

It's a good size for two people, and if you have children then the basement will make it good size for four. It'd be years 'til you'd need the basement, so you could leave it undone for now. I like that all the rooms are corners, so you can have plenty of windows. I'm afraid storage space will be an issue -- no pantry, and the bedroom closets are only of moderate size.

Are you set on this builder? These plans are very simple, and they're very economical to build -- straight lines, compact plumbing, which are all positives -- but the prices look very high. Perhaps I'm spoiled because I live in the land o' low prices, but to my eye this looks to be a starter home at a custom home price. It looks like you're paying for champagne but getting beer. I understand that "green" is one of their draws, but isn't that a traditional hot water heater in the laundry room? I thought those were one of the "out" things. Of course prices are very regional, but I guess my advice is, Look around and compare before you accept this builder.

What's the price difference for $30,000?

$30,000 borrowed at 3% for 30 years (assuming no PMI and ignoring taxes) will cost you $125.48/month . . . a total repayment of $45,533.xx.

The same amount borrowed for 15 years will cost you $207.17/month . . . a total repayment of $37, 281.47.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 10:39AM
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MrsPete, thank you for your reply!

I think at this point, the first plan (2-bedroom Cape) is out, because we may have kids, and there's a chance we will need to sell the house.

Regarding the lack of storage, I was thinking of adding a lot of built-ins:

- Add an entire wall of bookshelves in the family room.
- Add some cabinets and drawers in the dining area.
- Add cabinets in the laundry room (the laundry room might be changed to a study, but it will have built-in cabinets either way).
- Change reach-in bedroom closets to built-in drawers/cabinets to maximize storage space.
- If we use sliding doors in the bedrooms/closets, instead of swinging doors, we might have a little more space to work with.

Is this wishful thinking? Will the rooms be too small, too crowded once these built-ins are in place? We also have no idea how much the built-ins will cost.

We feel that this builder is a good choice, but we are not committed to them yet. We don't question their skills and the quality.. it's mainly a question of affordability. They've been building million-dollar custom timber-frame houses for forty years, and only recently added energy efficient, affordable, but still high quality homes to their portfolio.

The water heater we saw during the house tour is the round, traditional type. I think they didn't do the tankless one, mainly because the house is already so efficient that they didn't need to bring in the gas line for heating, and consequently, no gas for a tankless water heater. It could also be because the payback period of the tankless water heater is quite long, so to many people, it's not worth the cost.

I agree that their pricing is high compared to similar-sized houses on the market (probably around $200/sqft vs. $140/sqft). I think that's probably because of two reasons -- they are not a tract-builder, and they don't cut corners and use state-of-the art materials and technology. For example, one thing they told us is that for windows, they only use triple-pane ones, and they mainly use Marvin and Loewen, and no Anderson. Another is Vinyl (PVC) is largely avoided by this builder, except for wiring and drainage piping, and no-VOC or low-VOC materials are used throughout, and some of the air-sealing materials come from Europe.

I think their pricing will come down a bit in a few years, once their volume goes up. Their goal is to build it at $130/ might take many years to get to that point though. We will shop around, and at least see what other builders say and what their quotes are like.

The $30k difference is between the 2-bedroom Cape vs. 3-bedroom Swedish...Oh wait, I think I got my math wrong..The difference is actually $41k, not $30k..

The difference between the 3-bedroom Cape vs. 3-bedroom Swedish is $66k.

One side of me says, we could save the $66k and put it towards the built-ins that I was talking about. The other side of me says, it's probably worth paying the extra to have an architecturally appealing exterior, as well as the exposed timber beams and posts inside...the exterior of the Swedish one is a bit plain, and it has no exposed timbers...

Something to add:

We got a quote from the builder for the Swedish one with a full basement (finished) and a detached two-car garage, and without any upgrades. They quoted about $420k total for my area (NJ), not including the land, clearing, excavation, and permits.

A decent piece of land here is going to cost about $200k, give or take. Hmm, it's going to be a small and expensive house once we factor in upgrades and built-ins.

This post was edited by ILoveCookie on Fri, Jul 12, 13 at 15:15

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 12:59PM
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If you have plans to stay in this home "forever" :) , definitely go with three bedrooms. Should you have a boy and a girl, your children will NOT want to share a room once they get to the pre-teen years, nor is it a good idea. I say this as a mom of six; all my kids have shared rooms, and boy and girl shared a room until they were six years old.

I realize kids shared rooms more "back then," but in this era, and being able to afford the space, it would practically be considered child abuse to make a teen boy and teen girl share a room.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 4:30PM
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bird_lover, thank you for the reply!

I see what you are saying. Nowadays it's common for each kid to have their own bedrooms...we shouldn't go against the norm.

I've changed my original post to add that we no longer consider the 2-bedroom idea. :)

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 4:38PM
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I would add a bedroom/study and full bath to your main floor. They don't have to be large (not a master suite) but just enough to provide a space for aging parents, someone temporarily on crutches, sick child, etc.

When my grandmother started having more trouble getting around, I started to be more aware of 'universal' housing...but now that my husband is temporarily in a wheelchair (now walker) it's even more of a consideration.

I think people are becoming more aware of the advantages of flexible layouts. It's good to think about all possible scenarios, when you're fortunate enough to create your own home. Best of luck with your plan :)

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 7:06PM
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Thank you lavender_lass!

Maybe in the 2-bedroom Cape plan, I could just add a master bedroom suite on the 1st floor? Kind of like the 1st floor in this plan:

Cape with Master Bedroom Suite on 1st Floor

That way I will have 3 bedrooms (one on the 1st floor, and two on the 2nd floor), and a full bath on the 1st floor.

Then, perhaps I could have the two bedrooms on the 2nd floor share one bathroom, to save some cost.

This post was edited by ILoveCookie on Sat, Jul 13, 13 at 16:38

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 4:30PM
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I really like that idea! The master bedroom would give you flexibility (and privacy) and then one bathroom upstairs would be plenty. Maybe put walk-in closets in the back (master bedroom end) of the upstairs bedrooms and have window seats reading/study areas over the other side (kitchen end) with larger bedrooms in between. The upstairs bath over the kitchen is a good use of plumbing.

Downstairs, I like the closet and bathroom layout in the master suite. There is a window for both, but your plumbing would not be on an outside wall. Much better if you have cold winters :)

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 4:55PM
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lavender_lass, I really like your window seats and walk-in closets idea! I will check with the builder if they can easily do the modifications without incurring extra cost.

We do have cold winters (NJ). We don't get as much snow as New England, but it still gets pretty cold here!

Just realized that by adding the master bedroom suite to the 1st floor, the total square footage becomes 2450 sqft...I was trying to stay under 2000 sqft, hmm.

This post was edited by ILoveCookie on Sat, Jul 13, 13 at 20:02

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 6:11PM
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What if you finished the upstairs yourselves? If you have it plumbed for the bathroom and rough in the walls, you can do all the finish work later. Especially if you have the master suite downstairs. When you need the extra space, you can do the work.

I like the main floor laundry (great location) and if you're not going to have a basement, the extra closets/storage will really be a good idea! I always think you should build with a little more room than you might need, rather than have to add on later. That's why attics were such a great idea...but now most people use roof construction that doesn't allow for attics. Having the unfinished second floor is a nice alternative :)

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 2:16AM
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lavender_lass, I don't know how the construction loan works if I leave the 2nd floor unfinished.

It's something to think about, but I like the idea of leaving it unfinished till needed. :) I will do some research on the loan for partial build.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dealing with Banks on a partial build?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 11:01AM
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I would urge you to read Sarah Susanka's books, especially The Not So Big House. She goes into detail about what makes a small house work, and what makes it difficult to live in.

Susanka talks a lot about an "away room," a small room on the main floor that can be closed off from the rest of the house for privacy and noise control.

The main issue I would have with your plans is that both the main floor and the finished basement would be large, open-plan rooms. And that means that if someone is listening to music or watching TV in one of those rooms, everyone in the room is listening to music or watching TV. If you are cooking, everyone on the main floor is hearing the noise of the blender or mixer or running water, and smelling the cooking smells. In a house like that, the only place for peace and quiet and privacy is in the bedrooms.

So my opinion, which is worth what you are paying for it, would be to create a room on the main flloor. Probably where the living area is shown. Use the rest of the space for the kitchen and family room, with a small table for eating. (Unless you need a formal dining room.) The new room can have pocket doors or french doors so that it can be easily opened up to the rest of the space for entertaining.

But by adding a room, you now have a space for a study on the main floor. A study/dining room is an easy combo to do. You now have a space you can close off to give overnight guests a place to sleep. It can be a homework space when your kids get older--they can have quiet, but you'll be right there to answer questions and pop in from time to time to make sure that they aren't doing inappropriate internet surfing. And if you ever need a dining room, it's there.

But don't think of it as any room in particular. It's a "swing" room that you can use and change the use of as you need it. Home office, dining room, guest room--it can function well as any of these. While an open floor plan is flexible, it does have some drawbacks.

Also, having a few more walls can make furniture placement easier, and give you more wall area for built-ins, if that's the way you choose to go.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 12:38PM
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camlan, thank you so much for your reply.

We don't need a formal dining room. A small dining table that seats 4-6 should be more than enough.

I've been reading The Not So Big House, and A Pattern Language. I find myself having difficulty applying the concepts in real life..

The away room you it like this (the one with purple lines, about 9' x 10')?

This post was edited by ILoveCookie on Sun, Jul 14, 13 at 20:35

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 8:32PM
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Or is it more like this (about 15' x 10')?

This post was edited by ILoveCookie on Sun, Jul 14, 13 at 20:36

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 8:33PM
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The 9x10 room is in the position I was thinking of, but it's awfully small. Could be a study or maybe a guest room, but not a dining room.

Looking at the floor plan, you could also move the kitchen to where the dining room is, and run the kitchen/family room all along that wall, opening out to the deck. Then put a small room in the corner where the kitchen is.

Actually, that whole corner could be reworked. The entry way (in this house and all the other plans you have posted) seems large compared to the size of the house. Why give over a 14'x8' space for an entry, which doesn't even have an interior door to cut off the weather (cold, heat) from the rest of the house, plus another hallway space with nothing but a closet, leading to the bathroom.

That whole entry/laundry room space could be better planned. Less entry, more laundry room/storage. Or, if you put the away room/study in the corner where the kitchen is, you could rethink the entire entryway/laundry room/away room space to get better use out of it.

Do you need a laundry room at all? Could you put the washer and dryer in the kitchen, maybe hidden by some folding doors? Then the laundry room could shrink to a closet for the mechanicals and maybe some storage, you could expand the study, and still have a nice kitchen and family room on the opposite wall.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 5:35PM
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Thank you camlan! You have some great ideas!

Re: Do you need a laundry room at all?

I think the washer and dryer could be moved to a better place on the 1st floor, so the laundry room could be used as a study or an away room.

When I was touring one of the houses built by this builder, I notice it has a connecting way between the detached garage and the main house (I forgot to check where the connecting point is, though). They put a lot of windows in the connecting way, and put the washer & dryer in there.

I thought that's very clever. I forgot to ask if the connecting way is conditioned, but I guess it is, because otherwise the water pipe for the washer will freeze in winter.

Re: The entry way could be reworked.

Perhaps turn the closet/bench area into a closed (or half open) mud room, and leave the powder room where it is?

The drawback is, people then will have to go through the mud room to access the power room. A lot of people make their powder room pretty and nice for guests, so my instinct says, a powder room doesn't really go well with a mud room.. But I guess we could detail the mud room in some way, so that it doesn't look like a dump place?

Re: Move the kitchen to where the dining room is.

I will have to draw it to scale on paper (due to lack of imagination), and see what it's like...Maybe that will open up a lot more possibilities!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 10:15AM
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I didn't realize you're going to have a basement. You could have the laundry downstairs or add one of the mudroom additions, shown with the other house plans (on your site). If you're thinking about taking out the laundry room, you could slide the kitchen over and have a lot more space.

Here's a smaller home (just over 1500 square feet) with an away room. It might give you some ideas :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to smaller home with away room

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 3:18PM
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The more I look at it, the more the whole front of that house plan bugs me. That's a lot of square footage that's used for: entry, power room, closet, laundry room.

If I did the math right, it's roughly 216 square feet, which is 12% of the "livable area" of 1792 sq. ft. The entryway alone is 120 sq. ft. While you need an entry, you don't need that big of an entry. I've had bedrooms that weren't that big.

In a small house, you need to make every square foot work for you.

If you are moving the mechanical stuff to the basement, how about enlarging the powder room to hold the washer and dryer? And add a shower at the same time. You can easily hide the washer and dryer with sliding or bi-fold doors.

Put a wall to the left of the front door as you walk into the house. Put the coat closet there, and the door to the powder room.

Then you can enlarge the former laundry nook by moving the wall between it and the kitchen towards the dining room. You'd need to make the new room at least 10'x12', I think, for it to really function well as an away or swing room or study. You'll end up reducing the dining room to a dining nook.

But you've increased the usage of that whole front part of the house. You now have a a full bath on the main floor, which if anyone ever breaks a leg or has a similar accident, will be incredibly useful. You can have an overnight guest and they will have a study to sleep in and a full bath to use. You can line one or two walls of the new room with built-ins for extra storage.

And you now have a quiet place for kids to do homework, or you or your DH to work from home.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 5:09PM
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lavender_lass, and camlan, thank you again for your wonderful suggestions!

For budget reason, I think we may build the 2-bedroom cape, and then add a master suite on the 1st floor a few years later (when we need the 3rd bedroom). Since the master suite will have a full bath, I think the powder room doesn't have to have a shower, although that would be nice to have.

I spent a few hours playing with the entry area layout. I also tried moving the kitchen all the way over to the left. :)

Then I tried having the two bedrooms upstairs share one bathroom. One problem I could see with the new layout is, the timber post is now in the middle of the shared bathoom...

Anyway, here is what I come up with so far. What do you think?

1st floor, version 1:

1st floor, version 2: (the entry area has a different layout.)

2nd floor, version 1:

2nd floor, version 2: (The bathroom has a slightly different layout.)

This post was edited by ILoveCookie on Wed, Jul 17, 13 at 12:00

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 12:33AM
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Okay, that's not going to can't have a post in the middle of the bathroom. It's like fitting together a jigsaw puzzle, isn't it? :)

In the "Varm" series, they don't show any beams through the dining room and they have a similar layout with a third bedroom where you have the bathroom. Also, the farmhouse "Varm" has a neat mudroom area. Can you incorporate any of those ideas into your smaller version and still add the master bedroom on later?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 11:42AM
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To move (or remove) a structural timber, I think certain things, e.g. the roof, the floor system, will need to be re-engineered. But I don't know for's a good question for the builder's architect.

The "Varm" series doesn't rely on timbers as structural support. That's probably why it appears very space-efficient (of course, it being a true 2-story helps too).

I don't know if I can borrow a component from the "Varm" series and add it onto the "Tradd" series (i.e. the Cape). It's another question I will have to ask the builder...

Since we haven't sold our current house, and don't already own a lot, I feel like it might be a bit premature to engage the builder's architect to modify the plan. But I guess it won't hurt to ask them some simple questions...I will report back once I know more specifics.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 1:15PM
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If you don't own a lot might want to have a few different ideas in mind. The view, the light, the access will all make a difference in how you want to place your new home.

When my mom decided to downsize into a manufactured home, we had several that she liked...but only one fit her lot and her access. She's very happy with the results, but it took a LOT of searching to find the perfect home for her situation :)

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 5:32PM
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Of your 3 plans, I vote for the middle one, but with a master bedroom added downstairs so that you could close off the upstairs when not in use. In that plan, an away room could be found by stacking the WD and enclosing them and the water heater behind bifold doors.
The enclosed half bath could then be moved to the end of the laundryroom. By removing the closet, that entire area on the left side of the front door could then be your away room. You might consider a pocket door leading into that room. The coat closet could then be put into your foyer by putting it along the wall to the outside of the laundryroom. Do not let anyone talk you into moving the laundryroom from the main floor.
However, it does seem to be that all of these floor plans have considerable wasted space as has been already mentioned. I own a 1976 copy of The Provident Planner: A Blueprint for Homes, Communities and Lifestyles and suggest you purchase a used copy from amazon. The author, architect Roger Rasbach, was into green living even back then. He also strongly advocated for homes that could go through life cycles so you would not need to move in your senior years. He discusses the idea of an unfinished upstairs which is to be finished later as has already been mentioned here. He goes into detail about construction materials to minimize upkeep and replacement later, furniture, and many other ideas. The book also contains floorplans for many home situations, large and small.
Regarding the away room, I strongly recommend it also. Even with my one story, 1500 sq. ft., two bedroom patio home I made one. My home is open concept. I made the master bedroom into a sitting (away) room and the smaller bedroom into my sleeping room. The master has a hide-a-bed sofa for guests, bookshelves, and a second TV. The doors can be closed if I want to sent the grands off to play while the adults are visiting, or have the men converge there to watch football while the ladies are visiting in the main living areas. That is also the room I instinctively use for my paperwork as it has a calm, cozy, enclosed feeling about it.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 6:33AM
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lavender_lass, I agree that we'd better find a plan that suits the lot, rather than the other way around. :)

I will keep an open mind regarding the floor plans. We haven't ruled out the Varm series, as I think it's a bit more space efficient than the Cape, and its exterior might look just as attractive as the Cape once we add a veranda or porch.

I will try to have the washer/dryer, as well the away room, on the main floor. I know cooking, doing laundry, running dishwater, etc, can be quite noisy, so we definitely need a room that we can retreat to at times.

Thank you Texasgal, for recommending "The Provident Planner" book by Roger Rasbach. I just ordered it from Amazon. Cannot wait to read it. :) In the meantime, I will play with the layout in the entry and laundry area a bit more, on paper.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 11:38AM
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You might also think about looking through some eplans. You can do an advanced search and find some really great ideas :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to eplans home

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 1:02PM
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In the last plan, I thought you could frame in the little porch for an away room. In this one, the dining room could easily be converted into the away room. If you bumped the garage out a few feet, you could add a bigger mud room, too!

Here is a link that might be useful: Another eplan home

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 1:05PM
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Here's a really cute home, but only two bedrooms. The downstairs might give you some ideas for your layout with your Varm homes. And, you could add a third bedroom over the den/away room, but it would change the exterior facade quite a bit.

Here is a link that might be useful: Another link to eplan homes

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 1:32PM
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I feel the most important thing you should do is visualize, as well as reherse, how you like to move and function within a home, including electrical switch placement.

Sometimes square footage is "wasted" in someone else's eyes, but the feel it gives the home makes it wonderful to live in. A little extra space here and there may also give you room to set up a card table for extra guests if you need extra dining space for special dinners, or to place a sofa bed.

I like your version 1 plan the best, but again, you need to determine what would make you happy. (NOT what someone else thinks you should do). Your gut feelings will tell you what is right...for you.

We recently built a log home ourselves, and opted for larger rooms, and less of them. Our children are grown, and we chose to have only a large master bedroom and no other bedrooms. It is the most wonderful bedroom to sleep in, and I open the blinds many mornings on the sliding glass door and go back to bed for a while just looking out at all our trees and our land.

We have one full bathroom and one powder room. Having a large walk in pantry and a dedicated laundry room was important to me. Our home is about 1700 square feet and has a full wrap around porch. We joke and say we have a porch with a house on it. We use the porch as much as the interior of our home.

We have never once felt the need, nor wanted an "away" room, despite raising 5 children. If I want time alone I take a walk. Our children were raised to respect others and tone it down. If they wanted to make noise they did it in their bedrooms or outdoors. We did not encourage TV and they learned how to play creatively.They built tree forts and played bseball (even the girls). We do not own a TV now at all. We live in a friendly climate, and there are trails to hike, rivers to canoe on, and wonderful books to read. If we lived in snow country still, there are places to cross country ski as well.

I do have a good sized area that is open to and part of the great room for a sewing machine and some armoirs for storage, or bookcases, once I figure out how I want to do this. It is what would be a "foyer" in some homes. I feel foyers are a waste. Others like them and that is fine.

Since my kitties like to build nests on every available piece of fabric, we are going to build a sewing studio onto our barn, but I will always have the inside area for when it is very rainy and I don't want to walk outside, or have something cooking that needs to be watched. In hindsight, we should have expanded the house just a tad to allow for the comfortable use of glass french doors to close it off from pets. Putting a wall in now would cramp the room too much, and besides, I love how it all flows right now, and I refuse to mess up our porch with an addition.

If you have children, they can certainly share, but eventually a boy and a girl would need their own room. Same sex children do not ever need their own rooms. There is nothing wrong with girls sharing a room, or boys sharing a room. If you build your house so that you can add onto it in the future, you can start out with one bedroom less, and then add on later if you feel the need.

We did not want a "guest" room this time, and yes, we do have guests from time to time. We have a lot of fun, cook a lot of good food, and no one has once complained about the air mattresses in the great room scenario. Someone not comfortable with this arrangement does not belong here. That's why there are hotels.

Because of the way we did the layout, the house feels huge to us, and is homey and relaxing. I dislike homes that have a stuffed feeling because too many rooms were crammed into the floor plan.

We did build this house so we can age in place. Putting in 36 inch doors instead of 32 does not add much, if any, cost. Because we didn't cram, we have a bathroom large enough to move a wheelchair in, and a huge shower. I haven't decided if I want a tub. It's rarely that I would use one, but the space is there. I just need to decide if I'd like a nice makeup station or a tub. I think I'd rather have the grooming area and buy a hot tub.

My husband and I are people that think about what WE want, and have never once cared about some vague resale. There is always a market for a well thought out and constructed home. Don't cut costs here. We have built and sold 2 other homes that did not go along with the neutral mentality, and sold both in record time.

Basically what we hear when someone comes into our home is "This is awesome!". No one has ever said "what, no bathtub?", or " guest room or away room?!". They do comment on the nice laundry room or how they always wanted a large walk in pantry, which I could not have had if we had added extra bedrooms. I get to look outside instead of walls leading to extra rooms. We do hear, "do you mind if I spend the night...I don't mind the couch."

Think carefully about what would make you happy and then do it without second guessing. If children may be in your future, by all means plan for them. If you are not sure about all the built ins, have pieces made that can be removed and put elsewhere, or have some beautiful free standing pieces made unti you live in the house a while and see what you want. What has surprised me the most was how I changed my mind about a few things, and am glad I didn't have them done initially.

The hardest part for me was going through the process of getting rid of stuff and keeping only what I really loved or needed. I wouldn't trade having less wall space and more windows for anything....and I find I don't miss all the extra "stuff".

Opinions on floor plans are fun to get and can give you some great ideas. In the end though it is up to you to decide on which side you want your range and how much counter space you feel there, etc. Incorrect switch and outlet placement can be very annoying, so think those out carefully as well.

For some reason I found I like my range to the left of the sink, but I had to carefully think this out. I built huge cardboard boxes and labeled them refrigerator, stove, etc. and moved them around as soon as we were "dried in", and before we did anything final. I also propped plywood "counters" on saw horses in between the "appliances" to make sure I had the amount of counter space I wanted. I ended up making some changes, but it saved thousands doing it at this stage, and I am happy, which is most important. No kitchen designer can take the place of you rehersing some things.

Also accept that no matter how carefully you plan and think this out, there will ALWAYS be some things you would have done a little differently after living in your house a while. The upside is that with this amount of planning and thinking things out, the changes you would have made if you had a crystal ball at the time, are so minor it doesn't matter. Build a little flexibility into some areas if you just can't decide for sure on something immediately. You have too much going on right now to pefectly decide every last thing.

You may also find trhat with money saved by not adding something to your home just because that's what you "should do" for "resale" may most likely leave a litte extra cash for something else that you truly want and would love. For me that thing was a 48 inch ruby red BlueStar range and a beautiful matching french style exhaust hood that actually does what it's supposed to do, and would otherwise have been out of reach financially (at least for a while). Boy do I enjoy this range!

You say you may sell in the future. Build the house as if you were never planning to move. No one can predict the future and you may want to, or have to, stay in this house "forever". In other words, live in the moment, and do not borrow a cent more than you absolutely need. The interest, and the possibility of circumstances changing and making that loan a burden, are not worth it. I cannot emphasize that enough.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 2:51PM
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Lots of good advice, sandy. Thank you so much. And your house sounds amazing. I wish I could see it.

For some reason, I also prefer to have sinks and cutting board to the right of the cooktop...however, had you not mention it, I'd never have thought of it....I think I am going to need to read your reply many many more times...there are lots of things to think over, a lot more than I thought would be. :)

lavender_lass, thank you for the links! I am going to study these plans tonight. :)

Last night I played around with the Varm farmhouse plan. I think I like the layout I come up with for the 1st floor! This plan allows for an add-on of a master suite on the 1st floor.

I am still considering the Varm because the initial cost to build is $41k less than the 2-bedroom Cape, and the cost to add on a master suite is also $34k less than the Cape. I am not sure why there is such a big difference...

The modified 1st floor of Varm farmhouse:

The original 2nd floor of Varm farmhouse:

This post was edited by ILoveCookie on Thu, Jul 18, 13 at 17:16

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 4:47PM
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This is the OP. This thread is getting quite long, so I started a new thread here:

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 10:42PM
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I'd like to thank everyone again. Below is where we are at now...

We are (very) leaning towards doing 2 bedrooms and 1 shared bathroom upstairs, laundry on 1st floor, and a master suite add-on. The master suite will be added on 1st floor later, and it will have a shower. I guess the shared bath upstairs probably should have a tub, just because small kids like tubs, and there won't be a tub anywhere else in the house...

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 11:10PM
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This plan makes a lot of sense. You are getting the rooms you need--this study is so much more practical than the tiny little room in the original floor plan. And you could use it for other purposes as your life changes (and as the world changes--40 years ago, no one dreamed they'd need space for a computer in their home).

Tubs for kids make sense--it can be difficult to shower a tiny one who doesn't have good balance yet on dry land. Put them in the potentially slippery situation of a shower and who knows what might happen. You may also stay a tiny bit drier while tubbing a child rather than showering the little one.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 9:54AM
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Cookie- Did you decide to use this plan? It's a good choice...just wondering :)

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 10:59AM
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Hi lavender -

At this point, I think both DH and I feel more comfortable using a local builder (haven't chosen one yet), as well as a local architect, rather than a green builder who is several states away from us.

This means that we probably wouldn't purchase the plan from the green builder. But we will still do something similar to the plan we discussed above. That is, 1.5 story w/o dormers, with 2 beds + 1 bath upstairs, a master suite + a study + an open living area on the main floor. We are considering the possibility of not finishing the upstairs until later (when the 1st imaginary kid needs his/her own room).

DH recently got me the Chief Architect Home Designer software. I've been busy playing with the layout. :) Regardless, this thread has been of great help to us. I feel grateful for that.

This post was edited by ILoveCookie on Thu, Sep 26, 13 at 17:06

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 5:02PM
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Oh, I think that's a great idea! You can also have more changes than you could, with the set plans. Like moving the timber frame posts or adding a bump out for more space. Have fun :)

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 6:03PM
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