Thoughts on this Don Gardner House I am planning to build?

building_a_houseSeptember 16, 2012

I am thinking of building this Don Gardner "Atherton" house on a 4 acre lot that I just purchased.

http://www.dongardner.com/plan_details.aspx?pid=3504

I would add a finished basement with a guest suite, rec room, home theater and storage. Other things I would like to do is add a "kids' locker" area in the "mudroom", switch the butler's pantry with the pantry, and perhaps make the garage a bit larger. I also want to completely redo the exterior of the house using mainly brick instead of stone.

First floor:

Second floor:

Let me know what you think of this plan in general and also what things you would change. Thanks.

Here is a link that might be useful:

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CantWait2Build

I really like this floor plan. Do you have the options to make any changes to it? If you do, I would (personally) want the laundry room and the mud room flip-flopped - and put a door to the outside for the mudroom, too. Also, who will be using the rooms upstairs? If one kid per room, someone will be mighty jealous of either the kid w/ their own bath or the kid w/ the bigger room. If two kids will share the bigger room, then this may not be an issue, just some thoughts!

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 11:44PM
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CantWait2Build

Sorry, one other thing I just noticed, it seems as though every bathroom upstairs is only assessable through a bedroom, would this work for you, or would you need one of them to open up to the gameroom, for instance?

PS SO jealous you can add a basement w/ all that extra stuff, we don't have basements where I live. :(

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 11:49PM
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gaonmymind

My only issue is the mud area. The lockers have a clear sight line int he hall and it could look a mess once in daily use.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 1:29AM
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building_a_house

I totally agree about the lockers being an eyesore potentially. We are planning on using lockers that have doors and are completely contained.

Something like this...

I am worried if I swap the mudroom (lockers) with the utility room I would have to walk through the utility room pass the washer and dryer on my way to the master bedroom, upstairs, etc. I am trying to avoid having to walk past the washer and dryer at all.

Is this a reasonable concern?

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 11:40AM
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building_a_house

Good thoughts on the upstairs.

The bedrooms will be used by our children (currently have 2). No doubt that someone may get the short straw and not get their own bathroom.

I will have to see if we can alter the plan to have a bathroom accessible from the bonus room.

I am actually considering extending the garage width by 2-4 feet which would make the bonus room even larger. This may make adding an additional bathroom for that space even easier.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 11:43AM
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jimandanne_mi

In the Bonus Room, I'd want 2 dormers on the right side of the room: one opposite the hall where you walk in so that you can walk toward the light, another about halfway along the 34' length, or whatever would look good on the elevation. Otherwise, that will seem like a long, tunnely room.

Since most carpet comes in 12' widths, it's easiest if the finished Bonus Room is not wider than 12'. Obviously, it can be pieced, or you can pay more for 15' wide carpet--assuming that it will be carpeted.

Anne

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 11:58AM
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jimandanne_mi

You have plenty of space upstairs. You could just switch the location of the WIC & the bath, and make it open to the hall for Bonus Room use.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 12:01PM
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building_a_house

That's a really good idea.

I like the dormer idea as well.

Any other thoughts?

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 4:19PM
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sweeby

My first reaction was that the footprint is very 'square' on the sides, meaning that it seems suited for a typical subdivision lot rather than a 4 acre open parcel. I wonder if the house might look a bit odd on it's site all alone like that. Something that 'branches out' a bit more would seem better suited to a larger lot.

That said, I do like the plan, and consider it very livable.

You've also considered that the rendering is made much more charming by all the fancy windows and copper dormers on the front elevation. If you were to lose some of those to budget considerations, you'd have a very different-looking house.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 5:19PM
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building_a_house

Good point. We actually prefer the somewhat boxy look because from everything I have read this is more cost effective and is making it feasible to get this kind of house in our budget. We will also have to move/remove less dirt. From what I have heard the budget is spent in your foundation and roof and if you can build up to save money it generally isn't a bad idea.

I hear you on the rendering. I actually don't really like the artist's rendering as there is way too much stone. I do like the copper accents but have no idea what they might cost.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 6:12PM
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building_a_house

Anyone know about how much adding a dormer would cost for each dormer in a new construction build? Thinking about 2-3 single width dormers in that bonus room.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 9:25PM
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terri23

Copper, wow, very expensive. Don't know about dormers. We built the Don Gardner, Vandenberg, two years ago. Any Gardner home seems to cost more, but it's worth it.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 10:12PM
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building_a_house

Okay, maybe won't go copper.

Got any other ideas for cost effective accents for the exterior?

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 10:16PM
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terri23

DH wanted Hardiplank siding but it was much too expensive. We went with vinyl instead and used a vinyl product for accenting that looks exactly like cedar shake. Also, there are a lot of fake stone siding products that, with proper installation, look great.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 12:13AM
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lavender_lass

My only comment...four acres, kids and a mudroom only accessible from the garage?

I would definitely rework the laundry/mudroom area, to give you more storage and a door from the outside, directly into the mudroom. Kids like pets and they all track in a big mess! :)

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 12:49PM
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building_a_house

Good idea on the mudroom. Will have to re-think that!

The planned neighborhood doesn't allow for vinyl siding of any kind so I think I am left with brick, stone and perhaps hardiplank as my exterior options.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 1:40PM
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building_a_house

Keep these ideas coming! Meeting with the builder in less than 48 hours!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 6:38PM
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jimandanne_mi

We very specifically had our mudroom only accessible thru the garage, so that most of the dirt, dripping water, snow, etc. from our 3 live-in young grandchildren gets left in the garage instead of on the mudroom floor. We have a "pedestrian" door into the garage near our front porch. In this plan, I'd have the door to the garage open off of the right side of the front porch. My previous garage only had the large doors for the cars. I really like having the 3' wide door into the garage from the other side. We all use it a lot.

Anne

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 9:50PM
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building_a_house

Wow. That's an incredible idea and not something I would have ever thought of. Thanks!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 10:24PM
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building_a_house

Anyone else? Thanks!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 9:24AM
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building_a_house

What are your thoughts on the size of the dining room? Too small? Okay?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 7:15PM
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dekeoboe

What are your thoughts on the size of the dining room? Too small? Okay?

Depends. How much furniture do you want in your dining room? How many do you want to seat? What size is your table?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 8:17PM
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building_a_house

Yeah, I figured those were logical questions. Guess I will have to consult with the wife.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 8:21PM
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live_wire_oak

The kitchen as drawn doesn't really have room for that island and the fridge is in the wrong spot. All of the public rooms on the back will be dark because of the covered porches. Having a hearth room and great room with fireplaces is redundant. Not to mention the seating at the peninsula, breakfast area, and the hike to the dining room. That dining room will NEVER get used and it might as well become another bedroom or separate library, etc. I would much rather see the kitchen occupy the "hearth" room so it could have some direct natural light and then take the former kitchen and breakfast space and create a more versatile eating area that can serve 4 or 14.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 9:04PM
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jimandanne_mi

Dining rooms really do require some thought when there's symmetry involved as in your plan. The lighting fixture is usually centered over the table, so you must know where it will go early on. It is also usually centered on the window when the window is located where yours is, and also on the Foyer doorway when it looks like yours.

Will you have a buffet and/or china cabinet? If either is on the long wall opposite the wide Foyer doorway, the window might be shifted to the left, and you would have to consider how this would affect the space left for seating around the table, as well as the front elevation. If neither is on this wall, you'd want to have a focal point from the Foyer doorway--a group of pictures, a large painting, etc. on the long wall.

If either is on the wall to the left of the Butler's Pantry, you would also have to consider how much space would be left for seating, and possible take some space from the Pantry and B. Pantry. If you did the latter, I'd get rid of the B. Pantry by turning the cabinet to face the hall, and make it a "To Go" setup--keys, charging station, mail sorting, travel stuff, etc. Or extend the Mudroom. It also might change how wide you want the opening to the Foyer on the "north" end. The Pantry can be any depth down to a finished 9" inside, and could be quite wide with 2 or 3 doors to make everything easily accessible. I saw one like this in a model home, and liked it so much that I tried unsuccessfully to work it into my plan. To have a place for some larger items, I think a pantry with about a 15" finished interior would be sufficient, but it depends on what YOU plan to put in there besides cans & normal sized grocery items.

I hope others can add to this from their DR experiences.

Anne

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 9:16PM
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building_a_house

Good points. I am thinking about making the garage 2-4 feet wider and using some of that space to add a "cubby" on the right side of the dining room. Maybe have it about 2 feet wide with a large arch that spans the entire wall. Should make a nice area to but a hutch or other piece of dining room furniture.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 9:23AM
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lavender_lass

That's a good idea! If you add a pedestal table and some chairs to that big window seat in the breakfast area, it would be very cozy...but you would still want a more formal table for family/holiday dining. I think if you have two different types of dining areas, you will probably use them both more often...rather than similar-sized, traditional style table and chairs.

Same thing with the great room and hearth room. If they have a different focus (maybe TV in great room and seating/conversation in hearth room) then each space will be used daily. If both spaces are just duplicates of each other...then they may not be used as often.

If you're adding a bit more space, I'd also recommend a bigger laundry and mudroom area...and maybe a wider bonus space. 11'8" x 34'8" seems very narrow and maybe add a couple of dormers over the entry to the garage. I'd want more light up there, unless you just plan to use it for attic storage.

Hope that helps :)

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 12:13PM
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building_a_house

Excellent points again. We are planning on using the Hearth room as a "casual family" room and the Great room as more of a room for entertaining and also using the covered porch on nice days.

Since we are adding 2-4 feet to the width of the garage adding 2-4 feet of width to the bonus room is also planned. I have already asked to have 2 dormers added to the plan and the builder has said this shouldn't be a problem.

Love these ideas...

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 1:18PM
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kfhl

I would consider combining the mud room and the utility room and then adding a door to the opening to the hearth room and another to the main living hall. Even with closed cabinets, I'd want this to be a private area.
I always think it is best to consider how you really live and how you & your family will use each space. You have quite a few "living" rooms here - living, hearth, bonus - plus a rec room and a home theatre. Can you really use all of those living spaces?
We live in FL - land of no basements - and have a similar layout for our first floor. We opted to open the kitchen to the living room with a large island and to close off what is the hearth room on your plan. We will be using that space as a tv/game room - our room continues out to where the breakfast room ends - so it's more like 15'6" x 30" - kind of a downstairs bonus room.
But again, its all about how you live.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 1:27PM
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jimingrid

Did you end up building the Atherton?

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 12:04PM
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