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House plan review!! Comments Please!

Posted by ccy333 (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 26, 14 at 12:11

We are getting closer to finalizing our house plan. I have recently found this forum and have found an unbelievable amount of information posted in these discussions. I thought I would post our plan up and see what ideas or thoughts others may have. We began a custom design a few months ago. I have pinched and squeezed it from 4700sqft originally to ~4150 currently. We are leaving the top floor unfinished but have stairs going up and will deck a large part of possible build area, and finish as needed in future.

A few changes/revisions/comments to current plan:
1. We are currently thinking a 10' ceiling in kitchen area and a cathedral ceiling in Great room area. There will be a large farm style kitchen table between the island and the family room. I am awaiting word from architect as to where I can possibly make this ceiling break, but would like it to be ~2' closer to kitchen side if possible.
2. The Formal dining area is going to be Office/TV/Music room for Dad.
3. Move double door out kids lounge to one side and make single door so we have a larger useable wall.
4. Area adjacent to pantry will be where we keep appliances and will also have a sink.
5. we havent worked out details of covered patio area yet. I am thinking of putting a fireplace in upper left corner next to bedroom. Still not sure as to outdoor kitchen/cooking area design. Also are thinking of cathedral ceiling on porch as well.
6. I am exploring options on making the bedrooms on the left wall larger. I think this will be limited by doors and openings into kids lounge. I would like to put a closet into back of vanity used by guest/study. I am not sure if I can do this with current layout.
7. Putting Audio/video closet possibly into closet in guest/study. Still not sure where this will go??
8. I am not in love with a few things on plan...
A. Master bath. I dont hate the current design, but havent fallen in love with it yet. Also not in love with the way it is entered from master bath.
B. The area between kitchen and master bedroom. This was originally a "sun room" But we eliminated it, but still needed a way to transition from kitchen to master bedroom.
C. 1/2 bath and closet adjacent to entry. I am not sure what else to do here, but not in love with it either.

Any and all thoughts and critiques are welcome. Thank you in advance for your help and time!

This post was edited by ccy333 on Sun, Jan 26, 14 at 12:58


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: House plan review!! Comments Please!

Your great room/kitchen is going to be very dark:
- it has few windows relative to its size
- it's sheltered behind a covered patio
- it's on the interior of the house.

Are you OK with having to have lights on all day just to be able to prepare food or read a book?

Like so many plans, the best spots for natural light (corners) are occupied by bathrooms and closets.

Given how large and expensive a house this is, you may as well do a freestanding tub in the master rather than the deck mounted one shown.


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RE: House plan review!! Comments Please!

Thank you for your thoughts caben.

We are aware of the lack of natural light in our kitchen/living area. Our current house is situated similarly and we have been ok with it. We have been toying with the options of transom windows or some sort of dormers to try to increase light into these areas. The entire wall will be some combination of doors and windows to help with this issue as much as possible.


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RE: House plan review!! Comments Please!

There is excessive duplicate space here. It seems to be designed for a family that doesn't spend much time together ----and does't want to. Ther's a study, a library, and a family area. There's eating space at the island right next to the dining space which is right next to both a formal dining space AND outdoor dining space. And the master bath is bigger than the kid bedrooms. I find the whole thing bloated ad nonconducive to family life.

The garage on the front is also awkward and likely to be the primary feature of the home's appearance. The roof will be overly large, and will be the second feature noticed about the house. It's designed from the inside out ànd will probably be some work to make it look cohesive because of that.p


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RE: House plan review!! Comments Please!

Hi ccy333, I think your public spaces are laid out very nicely for entertaining, and the pass through to the outdoor kitchen is pretty nifty.

Is that a cased opening between the formal dining and back hall? If so you might want to add a door to the mud room so you would have the ability to close it off.

Do you have something in mind for that small covered area behind the 1-car garage? Why the double doors?

Do you think you will finish out the second floor, and what would you use it for? If you think that is a real possibility you might want to plan a more convenient place for stairs that for the time being could be the study, library, pantry, etc.


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RE: House plan review!! Comments Please!

I think it's a really nice plan, only changes I would make would be on the right side of plan. A way larger mudroom and a separate laundry room you don't walk thru from garage. Not sure if the master closet needs to be so large, some sq footage would be better placed as I said in the mudroom and laundry areas.


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RE: House plan review!! Comments Please!

As for separate spaces -- we like each other just fine, but also like have a few retreat areas. We have changed it up and put a small hearth room off the kitchen that can easily sit 1 to 5. It will be a quiet spot for reading the paper or talking to the cook and also for 1-5 of us for movie watching and being a part of the kitchen action. We have an island in the kitchen with an area for a few more people to sit to expand that social space. We are also creating an area off the opposite side of the kitchen that was at first called the great room but has now been dubbed the sun room because it will have lots of windows. We expect to use both rooms more productively separately than we would have as one big room.


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RE: House plan review!! Comments Please!

As for separate spaces -- we like each other just fine, but also like to have a few retreat areas. We have changed it up and put a small hearth room off the kitchen that can easily sit 1 to 5. It will be a quiet spot for reading the paper or talking to the cook and also for 1-5 of us for movie watching and being a part of the kitchen action. We have an island in the kitchen with an area for a few more people to sit to expand that social space. We are also creating an area off the opposite side of the kitchen that was at first called the great room but has now been dubbed the sun room because it will have lots of windows. We expect to use both rooms more productively separately than we would have as one big room.


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RE: House plan review!! Comments Please!

How many families will live in this monster-sized house? Really, everything seems over-sized, and -- as another poster said -- lots of duplicate areas. I can't imagine tying up this much money in a house, much less maintaining and cleaning it. How long 'til your kids are out of the house? Will you still want this much space?

I like this great room - dining - kitchen arrangement. If it were mine, I would like more light. I like your plan to work in a "ceiling break" of some sort to differentiate the areas. I knew a family growing up (friends of my grandparents) who had a similar set-up, and they had rustic ceiling beams on the ceiling. In my mind, those beams are "tied to" this kind of arrangement. Without something on the ceiling, I think it could appear to be "too much" ceiling.

Like the pantry too, but I'd move the refrigerators to the other side of the kitchen. Why? If you're building the outdoor kitchen, I assume you cook out often, and the refrigerators are quite far from this area. Placing them on the other side would make them more convenient for both inside and outside cooking.

You say what's marked formal dining will be used as an office -- what's the study used for? and the private library in the master suite?

I notice a number of problems with doors -- doors are a love-hate thing:

- In a number of places you have doors opening across doors, which is an uncomfortable thing to live with. I see it in the jack-and-jill bath at the back of the house and with the closet outside the study.

- The pantry door should swing out. Why? Because as it's drawn, it covers up part of your shelves, which means you have to enter the pantry and close the door to retrieve your items.

- You have six exterior doors. If you're planning to do a security system, six doors'll cost you extra -- extra to install, extra every month.

- I'd think twice about having an exterior door in the kids' lounge. The room is quite remote from your bedroom, and you'll never know who's going in/out of that area. Yes, yes, everyone has good kids who'd never sneak in/out, but part of the way you keep your kids good is by limiting their ability to be bad.

You say you're not sold on the master bath -- I don't like anything about it. Lots of wasted space in the middle, nothing really positive about it. However, since it's on the end of the house, you can build anything you want in that spot. Just look at other plans and find one you like -- you should be able to insert it in this area.

In the master bedroom, where will the bed be placed? I'm guessing its headboard will be up against the bathroom. This means that the person sleeping closest to the back yard will have to walk around the bed, through a little hallway and through two doors to reach the toilet during the night.

The master closet is huge -- larger than the secondary bedrooms. Do you really need this much space?

The two car-garage is better lit than the two bedrooms on the left side. I'd definitely add windows to those two rooms.


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RE: House plan review!! Comments Please!

Thank you for your thoughts caben.

We are aware of the lack of natural light in our kitchen/living area. Our current house is situated similarly and we have been ok with it. We have been toying with the options of transom windows or some sort of dormers to try to increase light into these areas. The entire wall will be some combination of doors and windows to help with this issue as much as possible.


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RE: House plan review!! Comments Please!

You say you aren't going to finish out the top floor? That's a huge RED FLAG. The priorities seem to be skewed towards designing a luxury space, but one that can't be created within your current budget. That is NOT a good position to live in, or to have your finances be in. Do you think a bank will finance the build with that arrangement? 99% will not. You will have to be a cash build.

Or, eliminate the excess space below, and put that money into finishing the second floor and creating a more compact home overall. If you don't need the second floor enough to be able to wait until later to finish it, then why does it exist at all? You have more than ample space on the first floor. In fact, you have tons of wasted space that duplicates functions found elsewhere in the home!

A children's lounge for what? Do you homeschool a crowd? Toys will migrate to where you are. They certainly won't stay there! And the bedrooms are more than ample to contain them there. I don't see it's usefulness at all. Same with the office and library. Why do you need two spaces for the same thing? An outdoor kitchen is a fine luxury to have. But not if you can't afford to finish the second floor.


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RE: House plan review!! Comments Please!

Thank you all for your comments and thoughts. I am finding having someone else’s viewpoints very helpful, and can take the criticism well. Keep it coming!
I am not sure how well the details of plan come up on these forums, if there is a way for me to post a larger, cleared picture I will be glad to try.

A few things about our family that may help make some sense of our decisions:
We currently have a 2 and 4 yr old, a stay at home mom, and a working dad. We are planning on having #3 soon, and likely #4 shortly after.
This house is designed around raising a young, growing family. We are considering this our house that we will raise our children in a neighborhood environment before moving on to a new house on some acreage in the future.

The KIDS LOUNGE will most likely resemble a kindergarten classroom more than a hangout for teenagers. We thought long and hard about the addition/subtraction of door in this area. It opens up to side where our family is our next-door neighbors. They have similarly aged children and play together a lot. We feel that the ability to play on their own separate “kids porch” will outweigh the liability of a door in this spot. It also lets us keep back porch less cluttered with kid’s items.

The area listed as LIBRARY off master will be an area where we will place a treadmill, sitting area and a small office space for mom. It made sense for us to place this off the master because we wanted to incorporate some sort of sitting space in or near master, and still be able to use treadmill at odd hours without worrying about waking children.

The area listed as GUEST/STUDY is set up to be guest bedroom until baby #4 comes along.

FORMAL DINING area will actually be an OFFICE/MUSIC ROOM. Dad needs a place to be able to play/record music and also run a couple of small businesses out of the home. The area opening up do mudroom will be a pocket door, that will be a pocket door.

ONE CAR GARAGE will be more of a workshop area than garage. The double doors out to the back is to allow enough space to drive lawn mower/ fourwheeler /etc in for service or storage if needed.

The SECOND STORY will be mostly storage for the foreseeable future. We also want to have the options to add in another space for Guest room if all the other rooms get filled up. We have family that lives 3+ hours away that we need to have a space for when they visit. I want to include the option to grow into this space if needed.

MASTER CLOSET is a little larger than we initially wanted. Our next draft of plan should have library expanded one foot down into pantry and one foot right into master closet. I will look into giving some of this space to LAUNDRY room as well. We are working out the layout of this room currently.

Thank you for the thought about pantry door. I have considered pocket door here as well, as I think it could be open most of the time, but like the idea of single door swinging out as well.

We are also going to address the size of CHILDRENS BEDROOMS. Our original thoughts were that the majority of kids toys will be in kids lounge, and one dresser in closet. This should limit the need for excessive space in kids rooms. We also included some space for additional furniture in cutouts into closet. I am waiting on architect comment about options for gaining space in this area. What is the consensus on size of children’s rooms?

I agree about the possibility of garage sticking out being awkward and large roof design. We are working on elevations and rooflines as well, and hope to be able to address these spots. The house will sit at the end of a cul-de-sac and is pushed very far back, so hopefully this will help mask some of this possible awkwardness.

Thanks again for all of your thoughts. Keep them coming!!!


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RE: House plan review!! Comments Please!

I like the playroom between their rooms, and how lucky to have their cousins right next door! Do you think you would like to be able to see the playroom and porch from the kitchen or other areas while they're playing? They are getting to the age where you don't have to be there all the time, but with the corners it will be hard to hear what's going on from elsewhere in there house.

Speaking of hearing from other parts of the house, will your dh's studio be soundproofed? It's right next to the kitchen where there all kinds of sounds. How nice, though, that he'll be close at hand.

For the master suite, it is odd that it opens into the kitchen and outdoor kitchen. Could you do this: slide the kitchen up to the pass through, and rreconfigure the area behind to provide access to the master? So basically, the entry would be near where the range is now. The pantry could move to the other side of that entry space. There would be other reconfigurations there as well, but just a thought.


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RE: House plan review!! Comments Please!

I agree with Live Oak that an unfinished upstairs is a red flag. It's true that the bank won't lend money on an unfinished house. But will it be unfinished? I don't see a staircase, and that should be one of the first things placed in a house.

That you're postponing part of the house does make me question budget. Though this wasn't the topic at hand, I'd say never, never, never, never push yourself financially to build THE HOUSE -- especially if you're planning to add two more children to your family. Never. Right now your kids are "cheap to keep"; that won't always be true. When they start school, you're going to want to put them in gymnastics or music lessons. One of them's going to fall in love with horses and beg for riding lessons. They're going to want to go to summer camp, and then there's braces and car insurance when they're teens. And don't forget the biggie: Saving for college. If you're "maxed out" with the house, you'll have to skimp on all these other things. Also, you're a one-income family -- what if something happens to your husband? You have to think about these things. Build what you can comfortably afford -- and finish.

I agree that at 2 and 4 the kids won't use the playroom. They're going to want to be where you are, and you're going to want to be able to see them. They won't use this room 'til they start school -- maybe not then. In my experience, playrooms tend to be giant toy boxes, but kids don't stay in them to play.

Since you're going to have a huge amount of space upstairs, I suggest that you move the playroom upstairs and let it "wait" 'til the kids are in upper elementary or middle school. That's the age that they'll actually want to be separate from you.

I'd put the treadmill in the one-car garage /workshop. Those things are huge and ugly.

Soundproofing your husband's music studio sounds like a wise choice. I'd put a good lock on it too. In my imagination, it sounds like a place filled with expensive machines -- expensive machines that little fingers would like to explore.


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RE: House plan review!! Comments Please!

It would make furniture placement harder, but I'd prefer to move the fireplace in the great room to one of the side walls and the built-ins in the kids lounge elsewhere and have a wide opening with sliding or folding doors or whatever is practical with kids on the wall b/w the two rooms that can be kept open or closed as needed. That can help encourage them to use that space and you can keep an eye on them, plus may help with natural light issue in the great room.

The 1/2 bath window. I'm not sure what you can do about it, but I wouldn't want to be there when someone is at the entry door.


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RE: House plan review!! Comments Please!

The kids playroom is fine, imo. By the time this house is built, they will be older and will begin playing on their own more and more. As they get even older it will be a great place for tv, video games, and computers, as many parents don't like kids to have those items in their own rooms. And a great place for a nice large library type table for study. I would be concerned about noise, although I would imagine that the back bedroom to the right would be the nursery since it is closest to the master bedroom and doesn't share a wall with the kids' lounge.

Years ago, we had no trouble financing a house we built with an unfinished attic, although the plans were drawn up for two additional bedrooms, a bathroom, and small sitting area. Maybe times have changed re financing, but we included 3 bedrooms and 2 baths downstairs, which made the house completely livable. Why shouldn't we have received financing? We did not include the staircase when we built, so we built a "finished" house according to our lending institution.

As it happened, we moved before we ever finished the upstairs, and the new owners finished the upstairs very differently from the plans we had provided with the sale of the house. But they did have the space to enlarge the house, which was a great feature when selling. Surely, every lending institution realizes this?


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RE: House plan review!! Comments Please!

The children's lounge bothers me. A lot. Apparently you think it's fine, but I think you are going to regret the layout bigtime.

When the kids are young, they won't use it. When they are older, they will use it a lot. And you will never know who's coming or going unless you are RIGHT THERE. And the size of this house will prevent you from being RIGHT THERE all the time. Mishaps, quarrels, parties, kids-being-kids, etc. will happen.

It sounds as though you are a young parent. Well, I'm the mother of 2 now-grown boys. Let me tell you what happened to us once. We had a family room in the basement of our old house with an outside entrance. We were asleep in our bedroom and gave permission for our 17 year old son to have a few friends over. They all crashed in the family room downstairs. The next morning, teenage boys started leaving one by one. Some slipped out the outside entrance (we watched from the kitchen window) and a few braver ones came up the inside stairs, speaking to us before they left. All well and good, until a GIRL came sheepishly up the stairs! AUUUGGGGGGHHHHHH!!! We had no idea there was a girl down there!!!!

You know what they say - boys will be boys. It's true. They will find a way to get into mischief, but there is no need to make it easier.


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RE: House plan review!! Comments Please!

Numerous homes have gamerooms upstairs near the children's bedrooms. Including my own. Go upstairs in my house and you will find a 15 X 20 kids' tv, game, and computer room with two bedrooms on one side and one on the other.

Why is this arrangement so bad when it's on the first floor as opposed to the second floor?

What am I missing here? Other than the exterior door - which I would put an alarm on!


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RE: House plan review!! Comments Please!

If it were mine, I would not want the MBR off the kitchen..


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