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Got a question about home design

Posted by sea2mist (My Page) on
Mon, Jan 30, 12 at 14:00

I am trying to design my forever home and am trying to plan it so that it will work for raising a family as well as when I get old (both grandparents lived to over 90). I want a attic and will have a staircase leading to the attic, so far am not planning a basement but if code says I need to have 1 I will put it under the other staircase. My question is, with how hard it can be to find large affordable lots of land and haven't completely decided where I will build my home due to ability to locate land, would it be better to build a 1 story or a 2 story with an elevator? The home would be 5 bedrooms, 3 baths and around 5600 square feet. I'm making the home ada compliant with both stairs and a ramp to get to the front porch, deck and inside the home. All walkways will be very wide as well as the doorways, also most doors will be pocket doors. With what I have so far the home would be about 150 feet wide and including the porch but not the deck 60 feet deep. Both the porch and part of the deck would be covered. I'm designing the home myself as I cant find anything online I really like.
Any help would be appreciated. Thank you


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Got a question about home design

Sea
it sounds like you desperately need the professional help of an architect or a home designer. Something of this size and complexity is beyond most "DIY" designs. The fact that you asked if code requires a basement and it is 150' wide is a major red flag of requiring assistance. (not to mention 150x60 is 9000 sqft....).
There is nothing wrong with "playing around with designs". Everyone does it. But if you are serious about it, especially for a home of this size, the sooner you can get a designer/architect on board the better. You will need one eventually to draw the plans. Most designs by owners typically suffer from what can be produced by an experienced designer. (note I said most, and not all).


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RE: Got a question about home design

Thanks for the reply. ^_^
The porch is about 65 by 15 and on the right there's a 60 by 15 carport. The rest of the house is 45 feet deep and without carport 135 feet wide (ok I was wrong about 5600 sf, its closer to 6000 (by the way thanks for noting that it made me re-check and I found the calculation error I made), plus there is a missing . I was just giving the measurements on the longest parts. Eventually I know I'll need help, but I want to get the layout mostly done including if it should be 1 level or 2 with an elevator. That way When I go to a pro he or she will only need to adjust a few things but keep location and size of rooms the same. I really like the look of 2 story homes and I am worried about it being too wide if it is 1 story. My mother thinks a 1 story is better but idk... I think I can shave off some square footage of the house if it was 2 story so that there would be less wasted space. I have not decided where I want to build yet so I haven't looked into code for it. It'll be years before I build it so I'm taking my time.


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I missed a word

I meant to say there is a missing corner so its not completely even on the back corner of the house.


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RE: Got a question about home design

I'm not sure you'd be ahead much (sq footage wise) to do 2 story with elevator. If you have an elevator, you still need a stairway. And, stairs and elevators are floor space hogs.

Are you sure you want the ENTIRE house to be ADA compliant? Maybe just the first floor? I would think twice about that need (entire house to be ADA compliant), as it is unlikely a person needing ADA compliance can clean/maintain that large of a home on their own and would likely have someone else hired to do that (or a family member).


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RE: Got a question about home design

obviously 1 level is the most accessible plan. Elevators are very expensive and as noted, take up even more space.
I would also question the amount of space you NEED. 5600+ is a ton of room. Remember, big homes are typically also energy hogs, so make sure to budget several hundred a month just to pay for the heating/cooling of it. Taxes are higher, etc.

Like most DIY people, they think architects and designers are only for code and drawing. That is simply not true. Drawing is only 60% of the project. The other 40% we spend on space planning and design. This is the more critical part of the home. It has to function and flow to meet your needs. That is what architects and home designers are trained to do and know how to do it well (for the most part...). Trust me, you would be doing yourself a great disservice if you think you can get everything figured out and then take it to someone to review code. (afterall, code can have a great affect on the floor plan).
Like I said, playing around to get some idea is just fine. But when you are ready to start to find tune things, you need to take your ideas and home inspirations to a pro and start there. They will most likely throw ideas and arrangements at you you never considered that you will like better, flow better, and make better use of your space.


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RE: Got a question about home design

Make the first floor ADA friendly with a downstairs master and let the kids worry about climbing the stairs to the second floor. Just make it so you can shut off that second floor after they are gone to save on utilities. (That means draining all of the plumbing and having the second floor on a separate HVAC.)

And no matter how much chicken scratching you DIY, it will all have to be redone by an architect. You're not quite spinning your wheels here, because you are trying to work out what you want, but you are not really designing anything either. A floor plan isn't a building plan. An most floor plans done by amateurs don't really make it as far as building a real home goes unless that amateur takes years to work on it.


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RE: Got a question about home design

Well there would already be a rather large staircase to get to the attic (It's a L shaped staircase open to a room. Most of the sq footage is because of the size I want the main living areas and of course number of beds and baths. I'm hoping to not really NEED the ADA stuff but I do have a good friend who is in a wheelchair and you never know what might happen. All bedrooms if it is a 2 story would be on the 2nd floor. My issue with the 1 story is there is a lot of wasted space with how everything would need to be laid out.


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RE: Got a question about home design

Getting the most out your square footage while still maintaining gracious living spaces and complying with building codes is what architects DO. Unless you are also willing to go to school for 8 years to learn everything they know, then there's no way you can do what you want without wasting space or having poor traffic flow.


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RE: RE: Got a question about home design

I'm aware of the energy factor etc... I study home design as far as energy consumed, space planning, insulation, hvac, kitchen design, bath room design, etc. Oddly the home I've grown up in when you include the granny loft above the garage this house isnt that much bigger (and with proper measures/design taken) should use far less energy. I plan how each place will be used before deciding how much room I need for each room and how each room flows to the next. I hate open concepts, and I mean really hate them, so how each room flows to the next trying to get from point a to point b really matters. The attic for sure will have a door to shut it off from the rest of the home.


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RE: Got a question about home design

If you want post your plan up here and some of us far more experienced (this is what we do daily...) can give you feedback.
I am also curious in your energy plans and shell design. Please elaborate.


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RE:RE:RE: Got a question about home design

Will post plan soon as I can. Each rooms heating/cooling is independent of each other, spay foam on the exterior of the house 8 inches thick with 2 inches rigid foam exterior, low e windows, fiberglass doors, if I have a attached garage instead of a carport (where I live in some cities you need a 2 car garage, others you dont, not sure why) the garage doors would be insulated, pocket doors, solar shingles (I know kinda big upfront cost, but its worth it), all energy star appliances, some rooms will have insulation for sound barrier, all water sense fixtures, brick and fiberglass shingles for the exterior, plant trees in strategic places so that the house wont get too hot during summer, 1 thing that makes it really necessarily for the attic to be shut off from the rest of the home by a door is I love steep roofs (I will show pictures but forget how to post them in a post instead of just a link) hybrid geothermal water heater (I live in a place where its hot or at least warm almost year round), might do a fire barrier between floors just for safety but I will need to look into it more, etc. Might just put in 2 rather large closets stacked to there is a place for a elevator if I ever need to have 1 put in. The 4 kids/guest bedrooms will be 15x15, all 3 bathrooms 10x15, master 15x20, kitchen 20x20 (close to what I grew up with), dining room will be really big at 20x30 because I really use that a lot and have a large family (plus want built-ins in there and extra walking room around the table when its completely open, rest of the time will have a smaller table there for playing cards, etc in addition to the dining table), living room 20x25, laundry is 15x15, utility room 10x15 accessed from outside, plus a foyer and a office/craft room.


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Almost forgot

Attic will be well insulated as well with spray foam and or thick layer of the healthiest bat type insulation I can find as I also want to use it for storage. And the floor will be well insulated but the type of insulation will depend on if I choose a basement vs a crawlspace.


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RE: Got a question about home design

wow, now wonder you have a lot of space. The rooms are very bloated.
What part of the country are you in? 8" of spray foam never makes sense in any part of the country, unless of course spending $30,000 on spray foam is something you want to do. (not to mention wall framing 2x8s?)
Anyone that knows me on this forum knows I am pretty nuts about energy conservation and super insulated designs. However the shell design mixed with some of the other super high cost mechanical and electrical systems will have to be something you take to an experienced designer in that type of a system and shell. Everything sounds good reading online or in a book, but that does not always make them ideal for all situations (or make financial sense to be used in combination).
I would also encourage you to look into other building methods such as ICF or SIPs if you are after a tighter, higher insulated structure.


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batts

"batts" and "healthy" should rarely be used in the same sentence!


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RE:RE:RE:RE; Got a question about home design

I considered SIPs until I read some forums last night about the problems they can have... might only do 6 in spray foam but defiantly will look into ICF (actually hadn't heard of it before so I'm very curious). I am in California now, but may go to Florida as Cali is so much more expensive and my goddaughter is in Florida (far less money for land there too). This would greatly affect what type of foundation I would be able to have that's for sure. I've got several years before the home would be built so it is possible I might end up living in a cold climate, so some things would need changing in that case, if the right opportunity came up.


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RE: Got a question about home design

You do realize that you're talking about 1.2-1.8M for construction costs here, right? If you are in a high cost of living area, it could even be more. And that's not including the land costs which can cost that much again as well, especially if you're talking about a lot that will support a 150 foot wide house.


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Batts

I've been looking at some that are made from recycled cotton/jeans but am still kinda eh about it. Its mostly to look at all options. I get scared when I watch home improvement shows and they open up walls filled with pink batts of insulation. On exterior walls it always seems to have mold.


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RE: Got a question about home design

It's great that you are doing a lot of research now, but I suggest you wait to finalize your plans until you have your land. If you want to take energy conservation into consideration, then you should design a house that fits well on the land. Without knowing the shape and contours of the land, it is hard to know what type of systems make sense. Your house design really should take advantage of the land.


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Cost

The cost of the lot is another factor in why I keep going between 1 or 2 story. If it's 2 story it will only be about 70 feet wide, maybe less if the layout gets worked out better. I dont need too big of a yard. The house is smaller than my neighbors home. Going to play around with different layouts too see how much room can be cut by changing locations of rooms. But for my forever home even over a Mil would be well worth it. I'm also looking into methods of construction which also saves a lot of time and cost (but without cutting corners) like how they do it on extreme makeover home addition. Going to compare it to on site construction. 1 thing I've learned from a lot of experience time = money. The more time to assemble the more it cost.


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Land

I agree with that. I know it wont be able final until the land is bought so I can see what views I have, where the sun hits the house, slope of the lot, general shape of the lot. It's just some things like room size I really cant compromise on.


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ok....but

There is nothing special about Extreme home, trust me, I know. I designed a home for them and participated in the program. THe difference is they have over 100 SKILLED works, plus volunteers, around the clock (yes, 24 hrs a day). And trust me, all sorts of corners are cut to hit the dead line just 6 days later.

Mold in walls has little to do with batt insulation. It is because of poor assembly drying design and moisture infiltration.

ICF construction would be very good for either of the climates you mentioned.
Sounds like you have plenty of time to read and research!.........oh, and save your pennies. You will need many of them!


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Wow

I always thought they did manufactured homes to keep with the timeline. So that the studs, etc were all done and just assembled quickly (it's what a lot of manufactured home companies that offer custom homes of any size advertise).
I have to say I'm impressed with how much experience you have. I knew people on here have experience and are very knowledgeable but didn't know it was to that extent.


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RE: Got a question about home design

Every home they do is designed by their couple of off camera designers and a local architect/designer. A local contractor then builds it and also is responsible for setting up all of the thousands of volunteers, all of the donated products, etc. It is quite an undertaking for every one involved. We had 2 days to design the entire thing and a couple more days to produce the construction documents.
On the project the builder framed the walls in a storage building off site the week before the build. THe walls were then brough to the site on a truck and craned into place.
If you want a similar concept and speed, SIPs is a great system. The bad press they have on them floating out there is often dated (due to advancements in the product) and not wide spread. Most cases can be traced back to a poor install. I am working on a project right now using urethane 6" SIPs panels, which gets me a true r40 wall assembly since I am also using insulated splines. THe foundation is ICF. But I am also in zone 6 where we heat far greater then you need to.


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icf

I just looked up ICF construction. I cannot agree more about how good of an option it looks like. I want a home that will be more or less permanent like old stone buildings were and this looks like it will do that. Anyone know how the cost for that compares to stick framed with spray foam?


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RE: Got a question about home design

sea2mist, your original question was whether it would be better to design a one-story or a two-story home with elevator. The best answer to that question is really "which one do you like better?" A two story home without elevator would probably cost a little bit less to build than a one story home with the same useable square footage. Add on the cost of an elevator and they would probably run fairly close to the same amount.

I built a two-story with an elevator simply because I LIKE two story-homes with big wrap-around porches and had always dreamed of owning one and also knew I wanted to be able to live in my dream home till the day I died. We have nearly 4 acres so I could just as easily have built the entire house all on one level. But I knew I would never be satisfied with a one-story house. I WANTED two stories. All our bedrooms are on the second floor and the entire house - including the attic - is wheelchair accessible.

At current prices, a home elevator will run you about $20,000 to $40,000 depending on the model. Not cheap certainly but in comparison to the overall cost of a typical custom home (especially one in the size you're contemplating) it is not outrageously expensive either. It is quite likely that your land will run you more than the cost of an elevator IF you decide you really want a two-story home that you can live in forever.

Until you get a better idea of where you want to live tho, doing too much in the way of "designing" your dream home is really an exercise in futility. Remember that the location of a house really can and should dictate many aspects of the house. Mountainous terrain may make a walk-out basement highly desirable. On the other hand, decide to settle in the Houston area and it would be the height of foolishness to have a basement. A house that would be perfect on an Oregon mountainside would not function well on a the Florida coast. A house that would be wonderful in the dry mountain air of Santa Fe would be miserable in New Orlean's hot muggy climate. And, it would be sad if you spent hours and hours designing a home with big windows to take advantage of the southern sun, only to then buy a piece of land with a perfectly charming view toward the northeast but a big ugly office building on the south.

While it is great to dream and fine to start making sketches and playing with design software if it helps you visualize things, don't get "married" to a design until you have at least decided what part of the country you want to live in. And, even better, wait till you've actually found your own little slice of heaven and then let the house be designed to take fullest advantage of your land.

BTW, I do agree with a previous poster that the room sizes you are contemplating are quite a bit larger than they really need to be. Do keep in mind that rooms that are too large can feel less "homey" than more modestly-sized spaces.


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bev

Bevangel, as far back as I can remember I have loved 2 story homes (and even 3 or 4 story homes for the look, but terribly unpractical sadly). My mother was why I am considered 1 story living since she likes it and says how much better it is when you get older, have aches in your joints and such. Such a large home as 1 level actually was kinda scaring me a bit with such a huge footprint.
The neighbor in the house next to where I grew up I think has about 6000 sf... their garage alone is the size of my current house! 2 above ground levels at about 100 feet wide and a basement the who size of their house so finished space of a 3 story. I've been in their home before and with how it's laid out it feels homey (also helps that they have very traditional furniture. For me it ALWAYS feels less homey when things get too contemporary or streamlined.)
I may try experimenting with designs for different climates.


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RE: Got a question about home design

Sea,
you must have may more time on your hands then the rest of us do! Like we have all said, layout as many times as you want, but I can guarantee it will change, probably a lot when the time comes. But it sounds like you are starting very early, and time is on your side.

ICF construction typically costs 3-5% more then building with code standard sticks. However when you add in the (wasted) price of spray foam, that 3-5% drops very quickly and starts to even itself out. At the end of the day, the ICF home will perform better, be stronger, safer, and quieter. Spray foam is great at stopping leaks in the wall plane, but it does nothing to address leaks at the sill plates (top and bottom) for example. Assuming you are using open cell foam and not closed cell, at 6" you are looking at an r of around 20, which depending on your final climate may or may not even meet code. Additional air sealing and caulking will still need to be completed. However keep in mind your wall will still perform at a 20%-ish reduction due to the thermal bridging because of the framing factor. Your whole wall (not taking into account glass) now drops to an r16ish. Most ICF are around r22-25 for the EPS foam, and then the inner concrete will provide additional buffering assuming your diurnal temps are above and below your interior temp set point. This mass effect has many ICFers claiming total wall r values up to 40, which simply is not true. However in warmer climates ICF will boost performance due to the mass within the wall. ICF creates a tight shell without any joints or cracks for air to leak through except for around windows and doors. Assuming you run the ICF to the footer, you can then suspend your floor structure from the ICF thus having a continuous concrete and insulated shell from footer to roof without any thermal bridging, performing at the true advertised r value.

A 2 story home should cost less then a sprawling single story, especially at the sizes of rooms you think you need. Obviously stairs and elevator will rob floor space on both levels, but 2 story also opens up options such as balconies and taller spaces such as a 2 story entry.


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