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Review Our Floor Plan Please

Posted by DCRanger (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 2, 12 at 15:39

Hello all and thank you upfront for looking at our plan. I've been reading and learning from many of you on this forum for quite some time and after pouring over 100s of plans we settled on a "modified" version of the Carinthia by Don Gardner. We loved the layout. It will be built on 40 acres in Northern Lower Michigan. We're doing a design/build with a very good custom builder and he's in the process of receiving bids from his subs. Right now it looks like we'll be over our planned budget. So we either need to make some changes with the design and/or we'll have to cut back on some of the upgrades.

Here are the particulars. We stretched the great room to give us a 20x20 space and that plus a couple of other changes increased the sq ft to just over 2700 s.f. built on a basement foundation, (half of which will be crawl space). The front of the house will be facing South with a nice woodline to the rear of the house about 100 ft away. We used a local draftsman to make considerable changes to the original floorplan, like eliminating one bathroom by the guest rooms, added walk-in closets, added a half bath by the garage entrance, changing the kitchen layout to get rid of the island to make it more accessible from the great room, moved the basement entrance so we have a straight shot from the garage, changed the E-space to a large walk-in pantry (we'll be out in the boonies so this will come in handy), we modified the master bath, moved the rear porch entry from the great room to the side of the breakfast area, and we changed the garage to a front entry. We're also building a detached 2-stall garage for the tractor, boats, snowblower, etc. We have no plan to finish the bonus room or basement, just keep them for storage space.

Please let us know what you think of the plan and if you have any suggestions on how to save some money with the design. Thanks!
Main Floorplan
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Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Review Our Floor Plan Please

Just a quick look on saving money--You've got a alot of bumpouts & a somewhat complicated roofline both of which run up the cost, so many of suggestions will stem from that premise:

1) Extend the depth of the left side of the garage to match the depth on the right & remove the second peak in the roofline on the right.

2)Delete the bumpout on the front corner bedroom

3)Modify the rear roofline over the family room so you only have 1 peak--maybe extend the main peak to tie in with both adjoining smaller peaks vs. just the one over the breakfast nook as shown.

4)Delete the bay window.

That's all I can come up with as far as modifying the design to bring the cost down. You mentioned upgrades, what ones are you shooting for? What is your planned budget?

Once you get the bid back, if it is over your planned budget, I would ask the builder what you could do to cut the cost. I would suggest slightly exaggerating how far over budget you are...so if you're over $20,000, I'd say I was over $30,000. This can help you better negotiate to where you need to be pricewise especially if the builder has some wiggle room. (Basic premise of negotiation--if you say you're over by $20,000, expect to maybe be met 1/2 way at $10,000, but if you say $30,000, you may be met at $15,000 which would actually put you at $5K overbudget which is not so bad.) We found that many builders are quoting high bids hoping that the potential client will just say ok and sign the contract. Some do it knowing to expect negotiation so bidding a little high gives them the ability to negotiate. You are basically doing the same thing.


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RE: Review Our Floor Plan Please

What's upstairs? Living space or just storage? f it's just storage, you could cut back on a lot of expense by lowering and simplifying your roof. Of course, the roofline as it is now adds a lot of appeal to the house!

It's a nice plan, but your kitchen looks small for a house that size. Where's the laundry -- is it in the hall from the garage? I personally don't care for hallway laundries unless there is no other choice.

How many people will be living in the house?


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RE: Review Our Floor Plan Please

A couple of issues that I see:

--The kitchen doesn't have great work space. The best space (the island) is taken up with the cleaning up area. Where will you do the prep?

--Walking in past the w/d doesn't appeal to me. We've had houses like that, but this one looks like a long tunnel hallway to me when there's the powder room, closet, and laundry all in a row. It's also a long way to carry things in.

--Everyone walking in through the garage goes right by the master bedroom door. If you have teens in the house, that could affect your privacy (and sleep) when they come in.

--Coats/boots/etc at back doorway. When you come in from the garage, it doesn't look as if there's enough space to store all the things that people drop off there. If you have kids, there's definitely not enough space.

--What bathroom are your guests going to use? As it stands now, they either go through the laundry room to the powder room or use the shared hall full bath. Are you okay with that? (chisue and I will always disagree on this one :-)


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RE: Review Our Floor Plan Please

You removed a bath and added a 1/2 bath. Where will your guests go when they are over? The 1/2 bath looks like it's a family bathroom, but is probably not ideal for guests (it's past your laundry room mess.) Will the full bath between the two rooms be clean and presentable? I don't know if you have kids or... care.

What are the sizes of the master closets? It looks like they only have room for clothes along the long wall?

I wish I could see dimensions on the floor plan. Any chance you can enlarge the image for us?


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RE: Review Our Floor Plan Please

You are out in the boonies, which to me means acreage (otherwise why be out in the boonies) yet you changed a side load garage to a front load????? Front load garages are for smaller lots where you can't have a side load. They're ugly, and they dominate the front of any home. Change it back, and keep it simple without all of the bumpouts.

Hate the kitchen. It's a majorly bad layout. Needs a complete rework. Also, you have 3 places to eat and are empty nesters. You don't need two large tables and stools at the island. Pick one area for eating, and have the island have better utility, and if you really do want to eat at it, make the island seating more user friendly. Split the DR space between the kitchen and breakfast area to make each a good size. I'd also flip the kitchen and put it where it has exterior access and have the eating area be the interior room.

Why do you need so many living spaces? You've got the room at the front of the house, the great room, and what looks like another room at the top left? Plus a sunroom. Way too much space devoted to this. Consolidate some of it, or give some of it to having better bathrooms.

The whole thing needs to be reworked, and the starting point isn't that great to begin with for an empty nest couple, even with frequent family visits. If you are over budget now on this at this stage, then your whole build will be significantly over budget because you always end up using a good portion of that 20% contingency. Plus, these days nothing is appraising and you need even more cash to bring to closing in order to make the numbers work. You need a much simpler plan from the beginning. Whipping this into shape is going to take a LOT more work and effort, and you will still have too much space for your actual needs. It's the wrong plan.


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RE: Review Our Floor Plan Please

Thanks all. We’re empty nesters. Both kids are out of the house and on their own. We may end up with an in-law staying with us and we’ll also host family gatherings during the Holidays. The house will be built on 40 acres and sits back off the road about 450 ft. We’ll be using the garage entry for the most part. We’re outdoors people so we love our porches and the 3-season screen porch will get lots of use. There are two guest bathrooms. One between the two bedrooms and one near the garage door, so anyone coming in from the garage won’t be having to cross the house to use the bathroom which is where the original bathrooms were located in the Carinthia http://www.dongardner.com/plan_details.aspx?pid=3417

Mydreamhome, Good inputs. Yes plan is to equalize the garage depths to 24ft each and delete the bump outs on the front bedroom and get rid of the breakfast bay window. Upgrades include geo-thermal heating/cooling mutli-zoned, Carlisle wood floors, Hardi-plank siding, EZBreeze in the screen porch, extra fireplace in the porch, etc.

Chibimimi, There’s no upstairs other than attic space and the bonus room above the garage which will be unfinished. Right now there’s access to it from the inside of the house, but I’m thinking of changing that to garage access…IDK yet. Laundry is between the MB and garage. It’s a good size space and we’re not the types that leave laundry piling up in the laundry room.

Bethohio, One thing that’s not shown on the plan is the fridge has been moved to left side of same counter towards the GR. Prep area will be either side of the stove and to the side of the fridge.
As to the garage entry, there’s a big closet next to the bathroom and to the left of the W/D will be counters for folding clothes, dog food/water below. And if we eliminate the upstairs to the bonus room, we could turn that into additional storage with access from inside the Laundry Room. The guest bathrooms are located as you stated. Compared to the original floor plan, this is a big improvement.

Lolauren, Master Closets are 3’6” x 10’.

Hollysprings, I appreciate your candid inputs and you certainly raise some valid concerns about the budget. We may indeed end up with a completely new and smaller plan or some significant re-work to this one. Not sure if chipping away at the margins will make a big dent. We’ll see after we get the full bid back from the builder. As to your specifics, I disagree with you about the front entry garage being ugly. Yes I too prefer the look of a side entry but the reason we opted for the front entry is because it shortens the distance from the parking area to the front door for guests and it’s cheaper. Also, it allows us to have a side utility door to let the dog out to do his business. With a side entry on this plan, there’s no room for a utility door.
Kitchen, We got rid of the original u-shape kitchen in the Carinthia. This plan allows better access to/from the GR. Your point is valid about three eating spaces, don’t really need them. We’ll mostly use the breakfast area and the DR for larger gatherings. The counter on the island won’t be used for eating, just a place for folks to sit and visit while we’re preparing meals. I don’t think we can flip the kitchen to the rear or front without some significant other changes but I’ll take a look.
Living areas - Yes we have three spaces…Why? Well we have the combined study/library/office in the front of the house because DW has extensive book collection and we didn’t want that in the GR. The room on the top left is a 3-season porch. Lots of skeeters in MI will chase us in there before we’re ready to come in for the night… we know it’s a splurge.

Let me know if you have a plan for 3 bedrooms (M.B., Guest B.R. for future in-law, Visiting Kids B.R.), plus an Office/Study, 2 ½ bath and one large dining area and a large kitchen and porches for round 2000-2200 s.f. and I’d be a happier camper.
Thanks again!

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Second Attempt Review Plan Please

Not sure what happened on previous post. Try this again.

Thanks all. We're empty nesters. Both kids are out of the house and on their own. We may end up with an in-law staying with us and we'll also host family gatherings during the Holidays. The house will be built on 40 acres and sits back off the road about 450 ft. We'll be using the garage entry for the most part. Guests will come in the front door. We're outdoors people so we love our porches and the 3-season screen porch will get lots of use. There are two guest bathrooms. One between the two bedrooms and one near the garage door, so anyone coming in from the garage won't be having to cross the house to use the bathroom which is where the original bathrooms were located in the Carinthia http://www.dongardner.com/plan_details.aspx?pid=3417

Mydreamhome, Good inputs. Yes plan is to equalize the garage depths to 24ft each and delete the bump outs on the front bedroom and get rid of the breakfast bay window. Upgrades include geo-thermal heating/cooling mutli-zoned, Carlisle wood floors, Hardi-plank siding, EZBreeze in the screen porch, extra fireplace in the porch, etc.

Chibimimi, There's no upstairs other than attic space and the bonus room above the garage which will be unfinished. Right now there's access to it from the inside of the house, but I'm thinking of changing that to garage access. IDK yet. Laundry is between the MB and garage. It's a good size space and we're not the types that leave laundry piling up in the laundry room.

Bethohio, One thing that's not shown on the plan is the fridge has been moved to left side of same counter towards the GR. Prep area will be either side of the stove and to the side of the fridge. As to the garage entry, There's a big closet next to the bathroom and to the left of the W/D will be counters for folding clothes, dog food/water below. And if we eliminate the upstairs to the bonus room, we could turn that into additional storage with access from inside the Laundry Room. The guest bathrooms are located as you stated. Compared to the original floor plan, this is a big improvement.

Lolauren, Master Closets are 3ft 6 in x 10ft.

Hollysprings, I appreciate your candid inputs and you certainly raise some valid concerns about the budget. We may indeed end up with a completely new and smaller plan or some significant re-work to this one. Not sure if chipping away at the margins will make a big dent. We'll see after we get the full bid back from the builder. As to your specifics, I disagree with you about the front entry garage being ugly. Yes I too prefer the look of a side entry but the reason we opted for the front entry is because it shortens the distance from the parking area to the front door for guests and it's cheaper. Also, it allows us to have a side utility door to let the dog out to do his business. With a side entry on this plan, there's no room for a utility door.
Kitchen, We got rid of the original u-shape kitchen in the Carinthia. This plan allows better access to/from the GR. Your point is valid about three eating spaces, don't really need them. We'll mostly use the breakfast area and the DR for larger gatherings. The counter on the island won't be used for eating, just a place for folks to sit and visit while we're preparing meals. I don't think we can flip the kitchen to the rear or front without some significant other changes but I'll take a look.
Living areas. yes we have three spaces. Why? Well we have the combined study/library/office in the front of the house because DW has extensive book collection and we didn't want that in the GR. The room on the top left is a 3-season porch. Lots of skeeters in MI will chase us in there before we're ready to come in for the night. We know it's a splurge.

Let me know if you have a plan for 3 bedrooms (M.B., Guest B.R. for future in-law, Visiting Kids B.R.), plus an Office/Study, 2 and 1/2 bath and one large dining area and a large kitchen and porches for round 2000-2200 s.f. and I'd be a happier camper.
Thanks again!


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RE: Review Our Floor Plan Please

IMHO, the stone bases to the columns make too strong a statement about their function when they don't really have much of a function other than shortening the span and size of the beam above. I would make the columns simpler, use only one in the middle of each span, or eliminate them.

The arbitrary change from shingles to clapboard siding seems awkward to me. The shingles should be flared on top of a horizontal trim board (with a crown molding) or the shingles should be carried to the ground.

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RE: Review Our Floor Plan Please

I'll reiterate what others said. These are my opinions from a very personal perspective. However, these things may work for you.

I really dislike having a washer and dryer in a hallway. I still iron some clothes, so I like a place to keep my ironing board up alot of the time.

I'm not a fan of kitchens that open to the great room. When we have visitors I don't like looking right at the sink with possibly dirty dishes. Personally, I would like at least the island to run the other way to at least offer a visual separation. It's generally a poor layout for someone who cooks or bakes alot. The pantry is nice and large and will probably get alot of use because of the layout in the kitchen. Would be nice if it weren't so many steps away. I can see a layout this open if you have small children you want to keep an eye on in the great room.

I like that your guest rooms are somewhat private, kind of in their own wing. If I were a guest staying in those room, I'd prefer a smaller closet with room for a couple easy chairs, or a bench to put a suitcase on. It's hard to read the dimensions, so not sure how large they are. In our new house, our guest rooms are way too small. We often have guests for 2 weeks, and it's difficult for them with alot of luggage.

I find your master closets a bit awkward. Three doors opening up into the tiny hallway. Take a look at switching the closets and the bath. It would utilize that hallway space better, and you wouldn't have two long skinny closets with only hanging space. You might be able to have some shelving and a bench if the closet were at the end. I generally don't like closets at the end of baths, but in this case it works better I think.

You might be shy on coat closets, and a place to put window gear. A bench to take shoes off might be nice, too. We have them at both our front and back door. It kind of reminds people to remove their shoes when coming in.

Can't wait to see your finished product. It will be beautiful.


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RE: Review Our Floor Plan Please

I realize I'm kitchen obsessed, but I'm still concerned about the kitchen. Is whoever does the prep comfortable prepping under upper cabinets? Cooks generally prefer to prep in an area that does not have upper cabinets--a peninsula or an island. Most of the kitchen time is spent prepping, and with this layout, it will be spent looking at a wall and upper cabinet.

(I'm not convinced about the garage entryway either)


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RE: Review Our Floor Plan Please

beth - I hear what you're saying on the kitchen prep. Before we moved it to where it is now, the orginal had the counter facing the GR with the sink in the corner. There was a small island in the middle of the kitchen which would have given us more prep area but it made for a long walk from the GR to the fridge. Look at the original Carinthia and you'll see what I mean. Maybe we'll consider reverting back to the orginal kitchen layout.

Joyce - Great inputs! We'll look at the Master Bath. Not sure how hard it would be to move the closets to the rear. And I don't know why so many on the GW are opposed to the W/D in the back hallway near the MB and the mudroom. Seems like a great location to me with a small bathroom to boot.

IDK - Lots of inputs really have me questioning this whole plan and it's already too expensive. Might have to start from scratch again. Ugh!!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Original Carinthia Floorplan


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RE: Review Our Floor Plan Please

I would eliminate the doorway in the kitchen to the dining room. Instead, continue the countertop in this entire space (giving you a L-shape.) You can almost-as-easily get to the dining room from the other entryways. The extra doorway is redundant, mostly, and this will give you more flexibility with your kitchen layout.

I would then move the fridge on one side of the L... not in the middle, like it is. I think it makes sense to have the fridge closer to the pantry... (I gather ingredients from both at the same time. It's nice having them close to each other.) I'd also move the sink/DW to the L. Leave the island as only prep space. If possible, increase the depth of that island.

Really... you should post this entire space (breakfast nook, kitchen, pantry) over at The Kitchen Forum. They will offer lots of invaluable advice.

RE: The hall closet that creates a strange wall in the great room... Why did you do that? I think it would limit your furniture placement in the great room significantly.... but I have a feeling you did this for a reason?

RE: the master closet... I agree with the suggestion of switching it's placement with the bathroom. I think there is a lot of wasted space with that hallway that you could recover by switching the spots.


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RE: Review Our Floor Plan Please

I don't think people are opposed to have the w/d in the area between the garage and the kitchen. People are opposed to the *walkway* aspect of it. I'm also opposed to the length of that hallway--it's a long walk in and around every time you come in to the house.

It would mean finding another closet space, but I'd consider removing the closet and making that a walk through into the dining room, if you need to keep that layout.


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RE: Review Our Floor Plan Please

I have to question you as to you building in the boonies. I don't mean to imply that as empty nesters that you are old and infirm, but if you are building something that you will consider as your "forever" home, are you really sure that you are planning something that will be in a location that has the infrastructure to support you as you do age? The house certainly does not support aging in place!

Also, while this house is fairly bloated for the size that a couple needs, none of the space is laid out well. It's not working hard for you. It's not pulling it's weight. And you are already over budget. I don't think this is the plan for you. It may not even be the property for you, depending on your age and health.

I also have to agree with the comments about a front load garage. They are a solution of last resort for a small lot. The extra pavement required for a side load is small compared to how it affects the facade of your home. While there can be some attractive (expensive) garage doors, no one wants to see them on the front of the house unless they have no other choice.


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RE: Review Our Floor Plan Please

What about something like this:
(see link, and then choose the "2576" plan) 2576 is it's square footage, but you can reduce that. Or, you might find that this plan isn't as expensive as your plan even at 2200sq ft.

Also, there is an identical house on here, except it is "smaller" sq footage because the family room becomes another garage space...

Here is a link that might be useful: brother's house


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RE: Review Our Floor Plan Please

I'm wondering about the 3 season room. Shouldn't it be sticking out more from the house? It's on the NW side, so it won't be getting much sun as is.


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RE: Review Our Floor Plan Please

I can't believe how helpful everyone has been. You've made lots of great suggestions. It's really made me re-think the plan.

GreenDesigns - You crack me me up. Trust me. For a country boy at heart, living in big cities and moving from state to state for the past 27 years, this is where we want to be and it's close to family and is home for the DW. That's all that matters. But we definitely want the house to "work for us and pull it's load."

Kirkhall - Thanks for the suggestions on the house plans. Will take a look.

Lolauren - Great inputs on the kitchen. The hall closet by the great room was extra space that we could use to access the media components behind the corner wall entertainment unit. I despise TVs above fireplaces so we opted for a corner until. Plus the hall closet could have shelves for extra linens and things.


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