Final floor plan? Crunch time!

flgargoyleOctober 1, 2010

After 4 years of dithering, the time is quickly approaching for me to settle on a design and get on with it. I found out my septic permit is still valid (Yay!) and I'm going to apply for my building permit this month! I want to get grandfathered in, since new stricter building codes are coming in January. Anyhow- this is my latest iteration. I need to make some hard and fast decisions within the next two weeks for my permit. Luckily, they don't have to see your plans, so I can keep tweaking as I go- within reason. This drawing is the same cross-gable idea I've had for several years, and hopefully, the best one. The little bump-out off the kitchen is an eating nook. It will have windows on 3 sides, and I picture spending a lot of time there, reading the paper, drinking coffee, or chatting with my wife over dinner. The top of the picture faces the mountain view, but there are woods in all directions.

I'm open for any and all suggestions! I think one gets there head so far into something that they can miss the obvious.

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Nice plan and I like the way you have so much light with this style :)

My only that small, but charming, nook your only eating area? Do you entertain often? Also, if anyone comes to visit, who is older, they may have a difficult time getting in and out of booth-type seating. This never occured to me, until my grandmother needed chairs with arms, in order to get up easily, after eating.

Best of luck with the permits and congratulations on your new home!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 8:22PM
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We have a kitchen table that would fit up against the left wall of the kitchen. It is light, and has a number of leaves, so we could set it up for larger groups. There's also room at the island for 3 stools. Or I might eliminate the island and put the table in the middle of the room.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 8:56PM
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looks good! I'd probably bump out for the eating area a bit lower on the far left kit wall.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 9:07PM
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LOVE it!! Did you say you will have a basement then with a bedroom there for guests? That is stairs behind the pantry?

What is the nook in the master next to the closet?

I think this plan looks really workable.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 10:17PM
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A few thoughts:
* i love the nook. whatever you do, keep that!
* think about coming in with bags of groceries. In this plan, you'd be carrying them through the living room to get to the kitchen.
* the kitchen sink is at the opposite end of the house from the bathrooms. That means you'll be running plumbing all over the house.
* is the only entrance to the BR off of the kitchen? A little weird, but okay.

One idea to solve some of these issues would be to swap the location of the BR and the kitchen. You'd have to then rework the center of the house so that you don't have to go through the BR to get to the kitchen, but you would have the kitchen next to the garage and it would also be closer to the bathrooms in the center of the house.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 12:41AM
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The lay of the land creates a lot of limiting factors. As you go towards the back (top of the sketch) the land slopes downward, so the kitchen is 8-10 feet above grade. The eating nook wouldn't be part of the foundation, but be supported on posts. The garage has to be where it is, or we would have to climb stairs to get to the main floor.

I've played with having the kitchen on one of the side gables, but then you've either got to walk through it to get to the living room, or it makes it hard to get everything into the footprint. As it is, it's a very large one bedroom house! We both want the best view in the kitchen, since we spend more time there than any other room.

I've thought about bumping out the left wall, making a bay window and a window seat. That way, the table could stay over to the left, and still be able to seat people on that side. We've really agonized about entertaining large groups, and where to put everybody, until we realized that we haven't entertained a large group in about 20 years! There's only a handful of family members left, and we generally only have one, or maybe two couples over for dinner at the most. There simply isn't a need to be able to handle more than about 6 people at a time, and that would be rare. In the once-in-a-lifetime event of a wedding or funeral, you just make do. When we got married, we entertained 24 people in our old 800 sq ft house!

As drawn, the distance from the car to the kitchen is about the same as the house we are in now. Neither of us has ever noticed that's an inconvenience.

The nook next to the master closet is actually an entry hall- what looks like a wall is actually a transom over the entry. There's a matching transom between the living room and kitchen. Should have left those out of the drawing. I'm considering having a door to the outside (maybe a deck?) for the bedroom, since in the event of an emergency, you have to run all the way around the house to get out, including going through the kitchen, which would be the mostly likely place for a fire. The thought of climbing out a window when I'm 80 is not very appealing.

In our current house, the master bedroom is similarly positioned in relation to the kitchen. Technically, that end of the room is the dining room. I don't like having the bedroom off the living room, since an unexpected guest could see right into the bedroom. With the little hallway, even people in the kitchen can't see much of the bedroom. I also like having a shorter walk to the coffee pot in the morning!

As for plumbing runs- the septic system will be in the back of the house, so the kitchen is actually better positioned as far as waste drains are concerned. I'm going to plumb with PEX, which is very inexpensive, and I'll probably use a demand water heater, at least for the kitchen. I'll put the water manifold near the center of the basement, so the runs won't be all that long anyway.

Every house is a series of compromises, and smaller houses even more so! I'm going to keep making adjustments, probably until the house is finished! Good thing I won't be paying a contractor for all the change orders that are likely to occur. I appreciate the suggestions and criticisms. As I said, sometimes a fresh set of eyes really helps. Next, I'm going to build a scale foam board model, so I can get a better feel for it in 3D.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 8:10AM
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OH Silly me of course a small entry to the master. I looked and looked and then did not even realize it was the door way. I really like your plan and can not see anything I would change.

I think a door in the master is a great idea. We had to have an added door here not expected because there is HUD rule here you can not have a bedroom further then 35 foot from an outside door. Even though there is an outside door in the master bath it is not considered because it could be locked. from inside the bathroom and unusable. So we have an added door in the living room. It turned out ok because it goes out to my court yard. And no extra cost to us because it was law.

We have detached garage and have to walk 30 foot or more to get to the house. If we have large grocery load we park in front then move the car. It is not so bad. I would love to be able to drive in the garage and then be able to go right into the house. A little extra walking exercise is always good for us seniors.

One other HUD thing on escape from rooms. I am not sure if it is just manufactured homes. Here we have all windows no more then 19 inches off the floor at the bottoms. The windows are also made to easily come out. Although if I were in a hurry I would still just open the bottom and step out. Even for an 80 year old it would not be hard. I would NOT suggest trying it at your banquet window. LOL

And it also cracks me up on the "easy to remove window". These windows are 46 inches wide. I do not remember how tall. They are SO HEAVY. The guy was showing me how easily they were to lift out. Well yes for him but there is no way I could lift one out and get it back in again. I am not even close to 80. LOL

Time to get ready to go to work/:^(((


    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 10:56AM
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I would definitely make the back area off of the bdrm/kit a deck/patio area with french doors where the back window is in the bdrm and off of the left wall in the kit.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 2:28PM
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I think it's a lovely house plan for a small house. Like you said, every house is a compromise and that much more with a small house.

I would rather have a different entry to the bedroom too, but you said you are used to this and if it doesn't bother you now, then go for it.

I think a deck/patio in the area between the kitchen and the master (with access from each) would be lovely. I worry that if you don't do something like that, that wall in the kitchen creates a lot of wasted space. Not that I have a great suggestion of how to change it, or what to do there, I just know that in a small house you have to make the most of every square inch.

One option would be to move the pantry to that wall (I realize it would be weird to have a pantry on an exterior wall, but bear with me here), then move the master closet over to abut the kitchen (where the pantry is now), then create a hallway in the newly created area to access the bath and the master through a hallway rather than off of main living spaces.

There's nothing wrong with the plan the way it is, of course, just throwing some options out there.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 6:10PM
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Jay, I like it. You've built a lot of living into your space.

One observation. I do not see how you are placing your master bath fixtures, so cannot tell if my idea will mess things up or not.

But with the doorway into the master closet located where it is, it breaks up any hope of using that wall for the headboard of your bed. That would leave only one spot for the bed, the opposite wall with you facing the closet door. By that MCloset door being there, you won't be able to put a TV on the wall centered opposite the bed. BUT, if the door could be moved 90 degrees off of that wall and into the MBath you'd have two whole walls for furniture placement. I suggest the closet door moving into the bath area instead of into the entry area off the kitchen, because you might be walking around au naturelle and thus exposed to someone sitting in the dining alcove just off the kitchen. I realize it would probably mess up an efficient complete row of hanging space, but you'd have lots of room anyway.

I would also put a door at the BACK of the master closet which would help keep the humidity from the washer/dryer away from your clothing. If you did a stacking washer/dryer unit, you'd free up one end of the laundry area to allow a door from the pantry into the laundry....IF that space is a walkin pantry? I cannot tell as it is drawn. Since that door would not be visible from anywhere except the back of your closet, it could be a bifold type, just wide enough to allow you to move the appliances in and out of the space.

BTW, where is your heater and your water heater? Will you have a tankless water heater?

In the kitchen the wall adjacent to your alcove has no windows drawn on it. Was that an oversight? Or will you have a kind of floor to ceiling pantry area there too? You could build one from wall cabinets. Just stack those suckers up.

I was watching Sarah's House on HGTV tonight, and they used the 24 inch deep kitchen base cabinets at either end of a window seat in a bedroom, and it looked GORGEOUS! It has me rethinking my pantries and window seat in my dining room. Why look for those tall pantry cabs when I could get the base cabs and stack them as high as I need? Hmmmm, it is something you could think about for your pantry too.

Way to go. I see you are getting the project out to the launch pad, ready to blast off. The next couple of months will fly by. How exciting to start a new chapter of your lives.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 11:37PM
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Hmmm... You've all given me lots more to think about. That left wall in the kitchen is undecided as yet. We have a lot of 'kitchen antiques', so I'm trying to preserve some wall space for them. I've also thought about doors or windows there, or as I said earlier- a window seat that could double as seating for one side of a small table we have. That wall is a western exposure, so I have to watch the window area- SC is a hot, sunny climate in the summer.

I see your point about the master closet re space for a TV. I'm not fully sold on having the W/D in there, either. If I do, I'll put a vent fan in there.

The whole center section of the house is quite a puzzle, and I've re-arranged the pieces countless times. I've had the entry to the master suite near the foyer, but then you have to walk all the way around the house, including past the front door, to get to the rest of the house. The two biggest issues all along have been the stairs (to the basement) and the washer and dryer. I don't want to put the W/D in the basement, only to have to schlep the laundry up and down the stairs. Even with a laundry chute, you still have to get the clothes (and yourself) back up the stairs. If money were no object, I'd just put in an elevator- Hah!

Stairs are such a problem that I've often considered building on a crawl space, or even piers, just to avoid the stairs. It would save money, too, but that cheap space the cellar provides is just too tempting. I plan to put a bedroom and bathroom in the basement for guests anyhow.

The furnace/AC/water heater equipment will all be in the basement. I might use mini-splits for A/C; I'll have to see if they would be efficient with this floor plan.

Ultimately, I may have to abandon the cross-gable idea, but I do so want the light and ventilation. We have our windows open in any weather between 50 and 80 degrees, so it's important to us. It is an inefficient design, which annoys the toolmaker in me, but it appeals to my artistic, romantic side. I have a very practical, rectangular design that fits a second bedroom into the same square footage, but it's so boring!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 10:55AM
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If money were no object, I'd just put in an elevator- Hah!

Have you considered a dumb waiter to the basement? One house we looked at to buy had dumb waiter directly into pantry in basement. Unloaded goods onto it in kitchen push button goods go down you take stairs. Put things away reload DW with whatever you want back up and push button. The guy made it himself so it must not be that hard to do.

Also when we were considering buying a house two story for my Mom to come live with us we looked into chair lift for stairs and it was about $2500. Was a simple thing that ran on a rail on side of stairway. This house stair way happened to be fairly wide so this would have easily worked. And again that house had pantry in lower floor. Was a walk out basement with full windows on three sides. Dang that was a neat place , two houses one on top one on bottom, but we could not get Mom to move and we did not want a 2800 SQ FT house to ourselves.We let it go. :^((


    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 12:14PM
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Here's an older iteration- I may have even posted it on here LOL! I don't know why I changed from this design. It's upside-down compared to the first one, so you'll have to stand on your head. The garage isn't shown, but it would be at the top of the drawing. In looking at it now, the doorway into the master BR could be moved further down the hall to the right so you could enter the master bath from the side. That leaves a blank wall for either the bed or the TV. I like windows near the bed, so I would put it on the outside wall. This plan also has two ways out of the BR. Notice the bump-out for a window seat in the dining area. As drawn, I could add the nook just like the other plan.

The dotted lines show having a basement only under the main gable; the wings on either side would be over a crawl space, since they have no plumbing. That makes for a simpler, and hopefully cheaper basement.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 12:47PM
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It's interesting you chose a cross gabled plan like this. I think it is much more expensive to build a house with all those corners than a rectangle.

That being said, I LOVE it!!!!!! I love how each space is separate yet they flow together. I think you did a great job. What a nice home this will be!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 3:52PM
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It's interesting to note that a house like this has the same amount of wall area as a square house with the same outside dimensions. That's why I say it's inefficient. So the cost will be more, and corners cost more, too, but that's mostly labor, which will likely be done by yours truly.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 5:00PM
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Ah, that cost saver will make a big difference.

I agree with others - you will want a patio or deck in the area between the kitchen and MB.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 10:34PM
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I really like the old plan! One of my concerns was having the door across from the bed...this one gives you space for a TV. I also like the door from the master closet to the laundry...and that the laundry is no longer in the master closet.

If you like the nook, include it, but I would put a door from the kitchen and from the living room and have the covered porch between the kitchen and living room areas. You could still have a deck off the master bedroom (maybe with a hot tub) and really enjoy all those beautiful views!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 1:27PM
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If you decide to add covered porches, it might be very nice to screen both of them. Imagine sitting out (bug free) and enjoying the view! I still vote for a hot tub :)

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 1:32PM
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I really like the old plan also. I don't see the entrance tho and don't know where the view will be (what room?).

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 6:52PM
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Steph- I think the view is out the kitchen and the entrance is by the laundry. It looks like the garage is on the same side as the laundry, too.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 7:12PM
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Yes- I should have flipped that pic over. It's also a mirror image, due to a recent change. The garage is against the wall that the laundry is on. The entrance is on the left.

It's amazing how you can have trouble siting a small house on 7 acres! The slope is one problem, and the driveway. This is a flag lot, with the entrance way over on the west side of the property. Therefore, the front door should be on the west or south side. The garage has to go on the south due to the slope, which leaves the west for the entry.

Therein comes another problem. SC is a hot sunny climate. I'd much rather have the screen porch on the east, where it will be cooler in the afternoons. But how can I have the entry on the opposite side you drive in from? I thought about having a circular driveway, so you make a 180 degree turn back towards the house. I've also got another plan with the entry on the west, with a hallway to get you over to the east side and the living room. If I could put the garage someplace else, I could have the entry on the south, actually facing the street (which you can't see anyway).

My original plan was for big wrap-around porches all across the back. It would be great, but then the kitchen would get no direct sunlight, and it would somewhat interfere with the view out the back. I want sunlight streaming into my kitchen in the morning! I have a friend with a similar place only 1-1/2 miles from our place, and he has a porch off the back. You can't see the view from his house at all, but it's great on the porch. By placing my porch off the side, it still has a nice view, but doesn't block the view from the house.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 7:34PM
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Okay- One more plan. We'll call it Plan C, although it's more like Triple Z or something. It's the same cross gable house, basically. The living room is on the east side, as is the porch. The only tricky thing is getting someone from the front door (on the west side) to the living room. Here we have a hallway, going past a powder room and laundry area. It's kind of an odd spot for the laundry, but we don't do laundry when company visits, and it is fairly handy to the master closet. I picture a stained glass window on the wall by the laundry, so people coming in the door look down the hall to a pretty window.

The master bedroom entrance is kind of in the middle of a hallway, which seems odd at first, but it allows having the bathroom door on the side, which leaves me a TV wall in the bedroom. I also won't get the light in my eyes when my wife gets up to use the bathroom at O-dark-thirty. Another bonus is that the door doesn't take up any room in the bedroom proper.

I managed to fit in a fairly good-sized kitchen, and two sinks. The corner unit marked 'P' will be a pantry. I kept the nook, too.

Like most of my ideas, this plan has some quirks. People by the front door will probably think the door to the master closet is a coat closet- a very big one- LOL! We'd probably lock it if company was coming over. The powder room door and small coat closet by the stairs could have cute signs on them to prevent further confusion. I actually like houses that are unpredictable and a little funky. I can imagine friends visiting for the first time exploring the little house, with a different view around each corner. At this point, I think I'm close enough to call the outside walls a finished design, and still keep playing with the center section. You guys are great- any other comments?

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 7:01PM
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Love the plan. My only question, did the living room shrink a bit? It looks bigger on the last plan.

Okay, so I have one more question (LOL) while I like the porch, could you put it on the other side of the living room, in the corner by the kitchen? I think it would be very nice to have a door from the kitchen out to the porch, too. Perfect for taking a glass of whatever out and enjoying the view, without walking through the living room to get there.

A nice, big, screened porch would be wonderful! Now, I'm living vicariously here, so please tell me you'll at least think about it :)

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 10:20PM
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Good eye, lavender lass! Actually the living room and bedroom are both smaller; about the smallest I can go with this layout. It won't really cost me much to go a couple feet bigger, and it makes everything a lot easier. I just have to keep shrinking it to keep from getting carried away.

I see your point about the porch, and I'd love to have it off the kitchen, but then it will block the morning sun. On the other side, it would block the afternoon sun, but in turn, make the porch unbearable hot all summer. Also, the porch would spoil the view from the living room. The best viewing is in the winter when the leaves are off the trees. I envision sitting around a fireplace, glancing at a light snowfall with the mountains in the distance. That's why I stuck the porch on the side; that way, every room has a good view.

I'll most likely have a deck in between both the kitchen/living room, and kitchen/bedroom. I could put a door on the east side of the kitchen, in the dining area.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 6:19PM
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... but, all this talk of steep slopes and mountain views, something tells me this is NOT in Florida anymore... so it must be in _____ ?

Trying to imagine sun exposures... which way is true North on your plan?

Anyway, looks like a good "plan for living", and a worthy blow against McMansions, congrats.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 12:27AM
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While not a steep slope, it certainly isn't Florida! Our property is in the northwest corner of South Carolina, almost to the NC border. The kitchen faces about 15 degrees east of north.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 5:23AM
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How far are you from Greenville, SC? That's where my dad is from (well, Pelzer, actually) but it's a pretty part of the world. I haven't been there since I was 12, but I remember springtime being just beautiful :)

Decks are a great idea. Maybe the deck can stretch over to the you can easily get back and forth in nice weather. Also, I'd add those extra feet back on in the living room and bedroom. No reason to be cramped, when a few feet (hopefully) won't make a big difference, at this point.

Also, I remember seeing some beautiful smaller homes, in a magazine, in North Carolina, by the Smokey Mountains (not sure I spelled that right, but I remember they're amazing). Anyway, although the homes weren't large, they had big screened porches with fireplaces. It was so cozy and I thought perfect for fall!

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 4:05PM
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We're exactly 15 miles north of Greenville. They've re-done the entire downtown area, and it's now a destination in and of itself. Very pedestrian-friendly with lots of interesting places to eat and shop. Our actual town is Travelers Rest, which is also enjoying a renovation of the downtown area- what little there is LOL!

A good-sized porch is a must in the southeast. I may put the fireplace (gotta have a fireplace!) on the end wall of the living room, with a fireplace on the porch as well, sharing the same chimney.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 4:43PM
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How exciting! Choosing your own floor plan.

Can you post pictures of your views. I'd love to see what you'll be looking at...

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 4:51PM
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Oooh, that sounds nice! Two fireplaces...very cozy.

Ironically, my dad now lives in Florida. (LOL) I keep asking him, why doesn't he think about moving back to South Carolina? It's so much nicer in the summer (he's outside of Tampa) and he still has a lot of family living in SC.

Your home is going to be beautiful. I hope you'll post pics of your view :)

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 4:56PM
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I don't have any really good pictures of the view. For some reason, they don't look the same as in person. A lot of trees need to come down for the house and septic field, so that will open things up quite a bit. I can't see cutting down 75 year old trees just so I can see the view, though. The first pic is our view, the second one is our 'driveway'. You can barely see my wife's car down at the road. The house will be another 75' or so further back. The last picture is what the mountains look like with nothing in the way. That's actually near the Wal-Mart parking lot. Our property is about 5 miles closer to the mountains than from where the picture was taken.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 7:32PM
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Jay, you will have a gorgeous view from any exposure.

Don't give yourself a headache moving stuff around, once you have the features you want flowing right. You can always moderate the heat with a pergola strategically placed around a window, making any plants growing on it either evergreen or deciduous. And I am a firm believer in clerestory windows which will let in a lot of light even on a northern exposure, maintain privacy (not your concern I bet), and keep the sun off the windows most of the time even on the west, since they are up high under the roof like your eyes when wearing a baseball cap.

Probably the placement of a deck/patio between the kitchen and the bedroom L would be nice and better if not western. But according to feng shui, a bedroom on the NW corner is appropriately set.

Like Fixizin, I too would like for you to place NORTH on each drawing. You keep moving the kitchen around, so saying it is NORTH, doesn't assure me I know which plan.

Some of your features can be added at a later date, not in the original construction. It might pay for you to wait on some of the exterior features. Don't become overwhelmed.

Saying a prayer for the quick departure from Florida with a bucket of cash from the sale of your great house there.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 10:53PM
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Thanks for the advice, ML. In all three floor plans, the kitchen is always facing north. Drawing 2 is upside-down; I really should have fixed that before I posted it. The software I'm using has nothing to do with house designing, and it's poorly suited for it.

The only major change is whether I put the living room on the east or on the west. I've read that bedrooms should be on the east, so you get the morning sun, but we are both such early risers, we never stay in bed until sunrise. We always get up when it's still dark out, even on weekends.

We love porches, and the outdoors in general. Our windows are wide open in weather between 50 and 80+. I see no problem grilling out in the rain, or in sub-freezing temperatures. That, and a great piece of property are what's driving the shape of the house. The house won't be visible from the road, and neighboring houses can barely be seen in the winter, and not at all when the leaves are on the trees.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 7:52AM
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Beautiful views! I know what you mean about it not looking the same in the pictures, as it does in person. I've tried to take pictures of my place, but it never captures as wide a view, as you see in person :)

I really like your final plan. I hope you get to start building soon. It sounds like a lot of fun!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 6:18PM
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Glad to see you going back to something closer to your earlier plan. A couple of suggestions I have would be to put the w/d back in the master closet utilizing the under stair space and eliminate the door from foyer to master closet. You could then put your garage entry door where you had the utility room, giving you a straight shot to the hallway to the kitchen. It also helps with the too many doors in a small foyer and leaves room for a small guest closet next to the powder room.

Looking good and it is exciting that it is getting closer to reality.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 9:12PM
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Jay- How do you post your designs? I would like to post my kitchen/keeping room plan, but I don't have any software. I usually just draw it out on graph paper :)

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 12:53PM
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I draw them at work on a program called Virtual Gibbs. It's a very expensive program for designing and machining precision parts, but not well-suited to house designing. It also costs $16,000! I do a line drawing, print it out, scan it, then download to photobucket, from where I can up load it here.

I have a couple home design programs, such as Google Sketch-up, and Total 3D Home and Landscape, but it always seems like there's ONE little thing I can't get them to do, so I get frustrated and give up.

I spend a LOT of time with the good 'ole graph paper and pencil! Once I get close to a plan I like, I build a model to 1:24 scale out of foamboard from the craft store. I bought 1:24 scale dollhouse furniture on ebay so I can 'play house' and get a 3D visualization. Yes- my wife thinks I'm nuts LOL!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 4:44PM
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LOL Jay,"I spend a LOT of time with the good 'ole graph paper and pencil! Once I get close to a plan I like, I build a model to 1:24 scale out of foamboard from the craft store. I bought 1:24 scale dollhouse furniture on ebay so I can 'play house' and get a 3D visualization. Yes- my wife thinks I'm nuts LOL!"

My DH would love this. Save his back and mine not to mention fun. I never thought to do this. Much better than paper furniture cut from graph paper.


    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 5:49PM
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Jay- That's cool! My mom would love something like that :)

Maybe I can just scan the graph paper and then upload it to Photobucket? It's worth a try, if I can remember how to scan! LOL

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 6:57PM
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Well- I'm off to SC for a week+! I should be coming home with permits in hand. Luckily, they don't review your plans there, so I can still make changes. I'll report back the 25th- wish me luck!


    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 3:12AM
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Good LUCK Jay. Only one little suggestion is pocket door if possible in master bath.Have fun. I would give you a permit here in a heart beat. Looks good to me. But I am not building inspector.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 1:59PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

Sending you good thoughts and Good Luck wishes, Jay!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 10:30AM
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Well- we're back. No permit in hand, but that was my decision, not theirs. We met with a builder, and hopefully we can afford to have him build the shell. That will save a lot of time, and wear and tear on my old body. As it turns out, we have a lot of decisions yet to make, and we want to be sure of everything before we get our permits. This is to be our last great adventure- no point in making rash decisions!

We did meet with the building department, and they OK'd everything we want to do, so it's simply a matter of completing the paperwork.

To be continued........

    Bookmark   October 23, 2010 at 4:09PM
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Jay, you are so right. No point in blundering onward when you now have the chance to scope everything out. Things such as prevailing winds in the winter/summer. Will you be having a septic system or municipal sewage? Well water or otherwise?
And will you be using any wind power or solar power with panels on your roof?

Watching HGTV last night, HOUSE HUNTERS, somebody was looking at a house which had solar panels on the roof and it halved the heating oil bill for the year. Solar panels is something I want to heat water also. And have them hooked to a storage battery for outdoor lighting.

Glad to hear things are moving forward.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2010 at 7:26PM
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A lot has happened since my last post, and it's been kind of a roller coaster. We got a quote on the shell from the builder we met with, and it was WAY more than we can afford. He builds with ICF, which is far superior to anything else I know of, so I figured it would be high. He did a very detailed quote, so I can see where all the money goes, and I don't feel like he was over-priced; it just adds up to a lot of money.

I spent a week or so moping around, thoroughly depressed. I wrote back to him, explaining my financial position. I said that I'd probably have to DIY much of it, but that I would like to find someone to pour the concrete if I put up my own ICF. Of course, I would also need the excavation and footings done. He wrote back that I can do as much or as little as I want, and he'll do the rest. If I want to place my own ICF, and just hire him to pour the concrete, that's fine with him. He also said that if I buy my own materials, it will be cheaper, because he marks up all materials.

So it looks like it will be doable after all! I should be able to cut the price of the shell in half with my sweat equity, and still have a pro handling the tricky stuff. I like this guy! IF you're not familiar with it, ICF is Insulated Concrete Forms. They stack up like giant foam Lego blocks, then re-bar and concrete is put inside, so you end up with a continuous reinforced concrete wall encased in styrofoam. It's literally bomb-proof, and about R-30 insulation.

I did some crude Sketch-up renderings to get a feel for what it will look like. The first pic is looking at the front door and garage. The second shot is from the opposite corner, showing the covered porch, and the dining nook off the kitchen. I got a little carried away with windows; I think I need to cut back a little! I'm not very good with Sketch-up, but you get the idea.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 10:04AM
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Looks great Jay. I think windows could be a bit smaller on the one long wall in the kitchen. I had a kitchen with no wall for my china cabinet or anything for that matter and it was frustrating to fit kitchen furniture in. Or maybe make it a shorter window leaving wall space under it. Seems I remember lots of wonderful kitchen pieces you have.

Loving your drawings. Your house is going to be great. There is a house close to us built with the foam blocks filled with cement and rebar.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 10:59AM
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Hey Jay. Great to hear that your contractor is willing to work with you to make the house doable.

I will refer back to your earlier floor plan where there is a set of stairs going up? What are your plans for UP?

I ask this because you show a difference in the height of roof for the garage. I have a question about making the garage the same height roofline as the rest of the house, so that one day that space might be expanded, or else have full height storage up there.

Also eith your dining nook, would it be possible to put a skylight in that shed roof maybe in the future? I'm also thinking that with your screened porch (not a 4 season room, correct?) You might add a skylight on the northern side of the roof to gain true and year round light into the kitchen.

Is your roof going to be a metal standing seam surface? I get that feeling, but then it is possibly just the software program you are using.

Love it. Cannot wait to actually have you break ground for the construction. Take PICTURES OF THE FIRST know, LAYING OUT THE STAKES AND THE LINES, TURNING THE FIRST SHOVELFUL.... it will be a memorable event.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 12:48PM
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The stairs go down to the basement, not up. I've toyed with having a second floor, and I like the way it looks, but it's just not in the budget. We want all of our needs to be met on one floor for our old age. The basement will be used as extra space, both living and storage. Due to our hill side, a basement makes the most sense. I am going to use attic trusses, so theoretically we could make a small room in the attic, but it would be pretty small.

The screened porch is off of the living room, not the kitchen. I think the LR will have enough light, but we'll see. The roofing will be metal, likely standing seam.

The garage roof is shown lower because the garage will likely be lower, possibly a couple feet. There isn't quite enough slope in the ground to fully bury the basement, so the house will probably sit a little high. The garage will of course be on ground level, so there could be quite a difference in height. I could simply extend the roof of the house over the garage, but it might look funny, since the garage would in effect be much taller. I'll make that decision when the excavation is done so I can visualize just what I'm working with. Sinking the house in deeper would require more site work, and probably retaining walls to keep it all in place- something I'm trying to avoid.

I'll definitely cut down the number of windows. On the east wall of the kitchen, we'll put our small table and chairs, so I'd like a window or two there to catch the morning sun. The pair shown is too close to the floor, though. The living room could certainly have less; I'll probably make the double windows into singles.

These sketches are based on the last floor plan on posted, on October 6. The only change is to swap the place of the powder room and the laundry. I think it's an interesting and unique layout, with the major rooms having windows on 3 sides. I hope it 'lives' as good as it looks!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 7:23PM
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Jay, I realize that the screened porch is off the LR and it is shown to be like an open covered carport?

The one I meant to have a skylight was the shed-roofed little bumpout which I thought would be your "nook."

I gotcha about the difference in levels of the garage and the main house. If it is much of a difference, you might find it appropriate to select a place for a RAMP. I would think of it some place not obvious from the front entry. If you allow for that now, it will be easier to add it later on. Making very low rise steps now will also be a great idea.

My brother had two knee replacements, and he has a house on "stilts" out over a bayou in Louisiana. When we visited after he replaced the steps lost during Katrina, I was very impressed with what he had built. VERY low rise, easy going steps with a broad flat area, good metal pipe/tubing as a grab rail (fabricated from the aluminum outrigger found from a derelict shrimp boat somewhere), and wide enough to move furniture up/down as well. Your steps would not have to be that far above the ground, but bad knees would appreciate the easy accessability.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 9:47AM
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Our lot is sloping and we kind of terraced it with house on one, upper, level and garage on the lower level. The house is regular house height but the garage has 14 foot walls.

From the highway a ways off you can see both ends of house and shop and they look to be the same height. Well the roof lines look like they are the same. You can not see from the highway the garage is 5 foot or so lower then the house. WWWAAAHHH I am not awake enough to post this maybe.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 10:36AM
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Jay- Love the plan and that you're going to be able to afford it! I've seen the ICF system on TV and it seems to work very well :)

Just a few observations, since I just went through this with my mom. If this is your retirement home, think a lot about whether you really want a basement for storage, or the stairs from the garage to the house. These can both become issues, especially if either of you have any mobility problems, down the road.

While I really like your layout, with all the windows, would there be room to build it all on one floor? Maybe build a bigger garage, for storage...and use the area for the stairs for storage, too?

If you could figure out a space for a second bedroom...and turn the powder room into a full would have space for a den/guest room and may not even need the basement.

Again, just a thought, so if it's not for you, please disregard :)

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 1:43PM
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Due to the lay of the land, the basement is nearly a given. To accommodate the slope, we would either have a crawl space nearly as tall (and expensive) as a basement, or we would build on stilts- something I have considered. The basement is very cheap square footage, and we can put a bedroom and bathroom down there for guests (grandchildren??) Meanwhile, we won't have to heat it unless we're actually using it. I also like the idea of being able to install and maintain the house's various utilities and mechanical systems in the relative comfort of a basement, rather than crawling in the dirt. The hot water heater and A/C/heat system will also reside in the basement. A basement in SC is a very moderate temperature year-round; easy to heat and cool. I have a friend a couple miles away, and his basement ranges from 55 to 75, year-round.

As for stairs and ramps- The front door will probably be a couple steps up as well. It would be easy to build a ramp from the front stoop to the driveway, though, and I could also build a ramp inside the garage if it should prove necessary. There will be stairs from the porch down to the back yard so I can access my various outdoor cooking equipment. The back of the basement will be a walk-out, so I can always drive a vehicle around back to move heavy objects (including people) in and out of the basement. We originally thought about having the garage around back at basement level, but then you would have to climb the stairs every time.

The garage is intentionally small- one car only- my wife's. I don't want a lot of other stuff in there, preferably nothing. We will have a good-sized barn (bigger than the house, actually) for storage and yard equipment. I'm HOPING to get rid of a lot of our 'stuff' with this move, and I find as I've gotten older, the urge to collect 'stuff' is fading. We should have plenty of room for the things we need. I'm still tempted to build a VERY small house, and learn to be happy with it. Depending upon finances, that just might happen!

I love the observations and suggestions! Although I've put a lot of thought into this, it's always wise to get differing viewpoints, and I appreciate them.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 2:35PM
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You have a barn! Well, that a horse of a different color. LOL You'll have plenty of storage and you won't have to climb stairs :)

The basement makes sense, especially with your situation. It will be cooler in the summer and the fact that you have it open on one side, will make things a lot brighter, too.

I know you love your little kitchen nook, but did you get a price on the bump out? Is it very much more, or will your DIY make up the difference?

You know, a downstairs bedroom suite could make a lot of sense. You'd have plenty of storage and it would be a lot cooler, in the summer. When it's really hot, you could always spend the summer downstairs...kind of like being on vacation :)

Jay, when you say you might just have to build a VERY small house, what do you mean? More of a great room concept? I really like your cross-gable plan, but the light and airy feeling seems to be what you're trying to achieve, most. If that's true, eliminating too many windows is going to jeopardize that. It might not be a bad idea to have a few back up plans, just in case the prices get too expensive. (Been there, done that! LOL)

One other thing, if all you're putting in the garage is one car...and no storage...have you thought about a carport? Would that save any money?

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 3:39PM
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I really like the changes to you kitchen, on the kitchen forum. If they work out, it not only gives you so much more light, but might trim a little cost off the house, too! Congrats :)

    Bookmark   November 24, 2010 at 7:43PM
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Thanks, LL. We're getting there, inch by inch. As for the garage- my wife wants an enclosed garage, attached to the house. SC gets it's share of yucky weather, we're in the middle of the woods, with all kinds of critters, including coyote and bears, and the world is a crazy place, with crazy people. We'll both feel more secure with an enclosed garage.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2010 at 6:35AM
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I agree with her, especially about the bears! We have coyotes and deer, but no bears, thankfully :)

    Bookmark   November 25, 2010 at 11:37AM
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Just wondered if that last floor plan is your final version. Did you save the changes you made on the kitchen forum? Can you post your updated plan?

I really like the porch off the living room. Are you still thinking about putting in the fireplace?

    Bookmark   November 28, 2010 at 9:36PM
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I'm working on a finalized drawing for the whole house- maybe I'll post it tonight. Instead of the dining nook, I added a window seat on the east side of the kitchen. This could be used to seat people on one side of the kitchen table, or as a nice place to curl up with a cup of coffee. I can see me fighting the cat for a spot on a sunny morning LOL! The window seat will be 2' deep, and not part of the roof support, so I can just cantilever the floor beams out to support it. This will make it simpler and cheaper. Under the seat could be a good storage spot, too.

We WILL have a fireplace or wood-burning stove! With 7 acres of firewood, it's a given, plus my wife wants a fireplace more than anything else. I'm planning to put it on the wall between the living room and porch, so there is the potential to have a fireplace on the porch as well, sharing the same chimney. SC has a lot of in-between weather where it is nice to sit outside, but have something to take the chill off.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 12:30PM
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Jay- I love your window seat idea! That's going to be wonderful :)

So glad you're going to have the fireplace...and one on the screened porch, too. Sounds perfect! Can't wait to see your final plan.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 12:43PM
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Okay- Here's the latest design. No real radical changes. I got rid of the dining nook, and replaced it with a more usable dining area with a window seat. A couple people could sit on the window seat with the table over there, or it could just be a place to lounge in the morning sun.

I didn't put in a lot of details. There will be a fireplace on the wall between the parlor and the porch. If I can, I'll have inside and outside fireplaces off of the same chimney. There is a door from the foyer into the master closet. Although it seems odd, it offers quick access to the laundry from the MBR, and is another form of egress in case of emergency. The counters on the refrigerator wall are 30" deep. The unit to the right of the fridge is a full height pantry, also 30" deep.

I do have some concerns with the design, since it so much different than a 'normal' house.

Are there too many windows? (17)
Where would I put bookshelves? We have an entire wall of books.
Where would I set up a computer workstation?
Where would we watch TV?

My thought is to fix up the basement, and use it as a family room while we're still able to navigate the stairs. I won't hurt me to have to climb stairs after watching TV! If we ever become incapacitated, we won't much care if the TV is plopped in the middle of the parlor.

Everything else is universal design, with 3' doorways in most places, and adequate room to maneuver a wheelchair, should the need ever arise.

Is it just me, or has photobucket gotten a LOT harder to use?

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 4:35PM
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Jay- I really like the plan. The kitchen window seat is so inviting!

Since you have a basement for bookcases and TV room, what about a flat screen, above the fireplace? Perfect place to watch an evening movie or show, when it's too dark to enjoy the view, outdoors :)

The door to the master closet makes sense, especially as an egress. Also, a quick place to stash your coats, if you decide to hang a few in your closet.

If you decide you need more bookcase space, upstairs, have you thought of higher windows (with room for shelves underneath) on the south side of the living room and bedroom...or even window seats, with shelving on both sides? Just a few possibilties...if you don't want to go to the basement, for a book.

However, if you have your library down there, that would be nice, too :)

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 5:51PM
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This might be a hit and run post having computer problems on and off.

Jay we have lots of windows in the living kitchen dinning area of our house too. We ended up putting TV in front between two windows. Was not as bad as I was afraid it would be.

We also had to put our chairs in front of windows again not as bad as I expected. The biggest thing is you need enough room in the room to be able to not have to push the furniture right against the windows.

I am sure I have posted these pictures before but it might help with your window issues. The chairs in front of the window is the very last picture of the album.

Maybe if your windows are high enough off the floor you could do a wall to wall bookcase under them?? I had to get rid of lots and lots of books when we moved here. I found I did not have room for them. We have a good library in town. I took it down from about 24 foot long book shelf to about 6 foot of books and I am fine with that.Was kind of hard to do but I have not missed any of the books.

I do not think your plan is out of line at all. Love your kitchen. I like it much better with out the eating nook.

Here is a link that might be useful: TV in front of window

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 6:10PM
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The problem I have with books is that they always seem to be dusty, and the shelves tend to get cluttered and disorganized. My collection of books isn't likely to be found at even a big library; I have a lot of technical books about things that interest me, plus obscure first editions and the like. I suppose I could store most of them in the bedroom. The bed will be between the two windows, with a small dresser and TV directly opposite, on the bathroom wall (that's one of the reasons why the bathroom door is around the corner). I could make built-ins on the section of wall, and put our smallish bedroom TV in the built-ins. Today's TV's are so slim, it would fit on a standard bookshelf.

I've thought about putting a TV over the fireplace. There was a thread somewhere on GW about that, and some of them were beautiful, with attractive doors covering the set, or even a painting that slipped out of the way at the push of a button. I'm going to go to great pains to make this a vintage cottage, and there's nothing like a big ol' TV to spoil the impression.

There's also enough room in the dining part of the kitchen to hang a 22" TV in the corner between the window seat and the north wall. That way, we can sit at the table (not shown) in the morning while we have our coffee and read the paper. We both get up WAY before Mother nature, so there won't be anything to see outside the windows. We have a bad habit of carrying our dinner into our current den to watch TV while we eat dinner. This way, we could continue the bad habit without having to leave the kitchen LOL!

That just leaves a computer station. I'm going to switch over to a laptop soon, so I can use it anywhere, but there needs to be a spot for the printer, router, etc. I don't want the computer in the parlor, because it would interfere with a TV watcher, or vice versa. Same goes for the BR, since we often go to bed at different times. I guess I'd set up the peripherals in the basement, and use the laptop in the kitchen much of the time. Our current computer is just as close to the kitchen, and it doesn't cause a problem.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 7:36PM
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If you have space in the basement, I think a library/office area would be a great idea...even if it's just an alcove off the family room. A place for your books, your printer, your other "stuff" that doesn't fit anywhere else.

I love alcoves and it's the perfect place for not a lot of windows, but lots of mood and task lighting. Maybe a leather chair or two? Could be very masculine, yet still cozy :)

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 7:52PM
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I have my printer and other odd ball computer things in my studio. We are wireless within the house and even the printer can go wireless but I did not bother with that. I just carry the laptop into the room and hook the USB hub into it and print. No big deal to do so.

Our internet came with wireless modem and most newer laptops have wireless built in. I can not tell you how much this wireless in the house has changed the way we live with our computers. It is wonderful. We each have our laptops on the table between us in the living room and use the lap tops in our laps.I use an old silver try for my lap top tray.:^) If you have good batteries you can go out to your porch or into the kitchen or wherever you choose.

I also use a set of head phones if I am going to listen to something on the internet so I do not disturb my DH.

In that big drawer below the printer is a file drawer. All my paper and envelopes and whatever I need is in that drawer. The stand is about 19 by 24 by 26 high.

LOL Printer is hiding under that bit of lace. The other little drawer table holds a burner my calculator and a couple more laptops.I know I NEED to purge these old machines. I just can not get myself to toss them.

So you see this little printer stand or something you might already have to use can be tucked anywhere in your house you have an electrical outlet to plug in. That cord on the table goes to the USB hub and all peripherals are hooked to that. Since we have older lap tops not all have the built in burners so there is an external burner below.

It took me some time to get away from a "desk". I use this table more for working on my mosaics or other projects.

Here is a link that might be useful: Computer station

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 11:06PM
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Jay, love your plan, and especially the window seat.

One question about putting the router in the basement concerns what will happen when you are up on the porch one day using that new laptop. It would really be most advantageous to go wireless. And if you can possibly put your router off one of those TVs, upstairs, maybe the one in the kitchen? then you can with all the windows have a clear shot at the signal.

The walls of your house, will they be the ICF with cement and rebar? Or is that simply your basement and foundation?
I know we have problems with line of sight signal on our wireless router, which is the Linksys N dual system. I've not purchased a booster which connects to the USB port on the laptop, so I can go outdoors with it.

And Shades has the right idea about the printer. I have an All-in-one which could do faxes if I hooked up the phone, but mostly I use it for scanning old photos until I get rid of those old things. Instead of connecting my DH's laptop to this printer, I bought him a "portable" thingy which he keeps near his small desk in an upstairs bedroom here in MA. I don't know where he will locate his computer in AL, since I've moved furniture around....again...and we might need to rethink his setup.

BTW, will you be on a satellite system for TV? And how do you plan to get to the Internet?

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 11:39PM
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The walls might be ICF, in which case, a signal would have a tough time getting through. I don't know that I would want to use the computer on the porch, though. I'm out there to enjoy nature and fresh air, not ignore it!

Not sure yet on TV and cable. The only provider is Charter, and the locals seem to hate it. My friend nearby uses an antenna for TV, and DSL for internet access. He works out of his house, so he has to have good fast service. A TV antenna would work well, since we are only 10 miles from the mountain that the regional antenna farm is on, and I can see it from our property.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2010 at 4:52PM
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You know, these days I cannot figure out how someone manages without cable because of the digital and HD signals. It is a fortunate thing that we are in the city and have TV, Internet, and phone service through Comcast.

I do believe that Consumer Reports (or Consumer Digest) rated various cable companies if you want to check the results. We have been satisfied with our service so far. And I still keep ATT for the cell phone in case the system goes down. I think it is an American tradition to hate the phone company, and that's transferred to the cable company in recent years. I personally love to hate AOL~~~and they deserve it too. :)

    Bookmark   December 1, 2010 at 6:49PM
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