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Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Posted by sparkler39 (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 19, 13 at 1:30

I've been lurking around on these boards for years but haven't seen many split-foyer floor plans. I currently rent a split-foyer home which is perfect for my occupation (music teacher) but isn't my favorite look. My husband and I are building our first home this spring and after careful consideration we decided that a split-foyer would really be the best plan for us…so I'm trying to get used to the idea permanently.

There are two main reasons why this layout works best for us. I am a harpist and need to be able to easily move a 85+lb instrument in and out of my house with minimal stairs. I also teach lessons so the harp needs to be on the same level as my studio and I'd like that to be on a different level than the main living spaces to keep business and personal as separate as possible. The split-foyer allows me to keep my family life upstairs and business life downstairs.

This is the plan we've decided on. Since it is our first build I welcome any thoughts on it in case I missed something. I redrew our builders plans because the lines were too light to scan in. You won't see the appropriate space for walls but you get the general idea.

The house is 2494 finished square feet and will be on a .28 acre lot. I sacrificed SF for some of the upgrades inside the house, specifically in the master bedroom, master bath, and kitchen.

Would love to hear your thoughts!

This post was edited by sparkler39 on Tue, Mar 19, 13 at 2:13


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Is there any way you can do a walkout basement and have the basement as your music studio?

Are split levels common in your area? Do people in your area like them?

How long do you plan to keep the house?

Personally I would never, ever consider a split level and it is my impression that I'm not the only one who feels that way.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Daisy77, thanks for commenting! I'm not sure if split foyer is the correct name for our house. Basically when you approach the front of the house you'll have to go up a few stairs to the front door. When you enter you'll be standing on a landing with stairs going up and down. If you go up a few stairs you'll be on our main living area (kitchen, dining, living, bedroom, bathrooms). If you go down a few stairs you'll be in our "basement" (garage, studio, my craft room, guest bedroom, guest bath, and storage. We really only use that lower level for teaching and acces in and out of the garage. So I don't know...maybe that's technically just a one story house with a walk-out basement. Again I'm not sure.

It's not my ideal design (I hate not having a REAL foyer) but it is ideal for our needs and it's very common in my area. Pretty much all houses have a walkout basement or a fully underground basement. We looked at pre-existing homes that had walkout basements but in order to have the front door on ground level in the front, there had to be a steep grade to the backyard which wouldn't really work for us.

We plan to be here at least 10-12 years but it is not necessarily our forever home. When I don't have to teach fulltime we'll be looking for a regular two story house (with or without a basement). Basically right now I want easy access for the instruments and I'd like to keep my students out of my personal living space.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

I don't really consider this a split level, but a bi-level home. My friend has one and I hate split levels as a general rule, but love her house. The bi-level design is pretty cool because it puts the main living space and majority of the bedrooms up on the top floor, while putting the basement down below without the hassle of steep stairs.

In regards to your plan, the only thing I'd recommend at the moment is that you make your front entry alot longer. That is my biggest gripe about "split level" plans. They always have tiny entryways where you and everyone else is on top of each other trying to take off your shoes and jackets, while someone else is trying to go down or up the stairs.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Think tri-level, not split level. Split levels have a bad reputation and poor resale. Have the entry way be large enough to be gracious and have your kitchen, living, and dining rooms at that level. Then go up a half level to the bedrooms, or down a half level to the basement area. If this is done correctly, the living spaces enjoy the nice high ceilings of the bedroom floor's roof just extended over that area, and yet the bedrooms are a cozy 8' ceiling. The basement too is cozier at the 8' level.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

The stairway entry landing can hardly be called a foyer; it's a terrible way to enter a house.

There are other ways to allow separation of business and personal entrances without forcing everyone to use the main stairway to enter the house.

What would you do if a handicapped person visited your house or if you had a handicapped student?

This kind of entrance should seriously reduce the resale value of the house.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

A split foyer house forces everyone and everything to go up or down 6-8 stairs once they enter the house. IMO, your goal should be to have no stairs for the music room. You could accomplish that plus privacy by having a separate entrance on the side of the house for the music room.

Split foyer houses are built to save excavation costs and generally sell for less money than standard houses. You could confirm this with real estate agents in your area.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

You are thinking inside the box because that's what you currently live in. There are MANY ways to achieve the functions that you wish without limiting yourself to the horrid inefficiency of a split foyer home. Any half competent architect can come up with a dozen ways to do this in your first meeting with them.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Yowch, well I asked for it, didn't I! :) Thanks for your thoughts…especially concerning the entryway. My current entry way is only 7x3.5 so I was actually thinking that 9x4 would be heaven. I'll see if there's any way to increase it.

At this point, we really need to go with a split foyer so mostly my questions are regarding the layout of each floor…is there anything you can see that should be changed (besides the whole house…)? ;)

We have looked TONS of plans and nothing really suited my wants/needs like this one does. My students will actually enter through the side door in the garage (as they do now) so there are no steps to negotiate. We've worked hard to make the garage presentable (and will do so in the new house as well). All potentially hazardous/dangerous items are locked up in a metal cabinet on the other end of the garage or in the locked storage area. When students enter the house on the bottom floor there is a bench and hooks for them to hang their belongings right by the entrance to the music studio. I have older adult students with limited mobility and many who are carrying or pushing harps in and out so this layout allows them to come in and out without stairs.

Only my husband and I (and occasional company) enter through the front door and usually we actually come through the garage. It's not ideal but we keep our upstairs coat closet dedicated for coats and shoes so the entryway is clear. We've learned to live with lugging groceries up and down the stairs. I do realize that this is not a handicap accessible home; however, with our current budget we have to plan for other things first. If, god forbid, one of us had an accident we'd have to reevaluate so many things in our lives that we would probably have to move anyway.

When we looked at regular one or two story houses with a basement we ran into the issue of taking my harp in and out (or any of my students bringing harps in and out). With a walkout basement we'd have to push a harp up or down an incline from the front to back yard, plus we'd have to put down a concrete pathway from front to back which was pretty pricey. My students would also have to come in the house from the backyard so there would be a point where their parents wouldn't be able to see them from the driveway. If they came in the front door I'd have students walking through my main living space. Some plans would have the basement entrance near the kitchen so students would have to come ALL the way through the house, other plans would have slightly less area to travel but all resulted in students in my living space which I want to avoid.

People also suggested using an extra bedroom on the second floor as a teaching space but again we have students in my main living space. I also looked at larger one story ranch houses that would have teaching space on one side of the house but they're way too cost-prohibitive for us at this time and they're also size-prohibitive on the lot we have chosen.

Basically, our house really needs to have the garage at the same level as the space where I'm teaching and a regular one or two story house won't give me that.

I realize that this plan isn't very popular with many people but it is a VERY common floor plan in my slightly rural county. I've been in almost all of the main neighborhoods around here in the past few months looking at houses and I'd say at least a third of all houses in each neighborhood is some form of a split foyer. I already asked a real estate agent about the sale value and was told that they are a popular enough style in this area (and have been for many years) that it won't affect the sale.

So, with all that, I do appreciate your thoughts but this is the style we're working with. The actual inside layout is up for debate but not the type of house. I appreciate any additional thoughts you might have regarding the interior layout. Thanks!

P.S. I don't mean to sound b****y, just wanted to explain that while I understand the "this house style is awful, bad, terrible", etc. comments, this is what we've found will work best for our current lifestyle and business. (I don't like it anymore than you do!) ;)


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

What is the option of doing a separate building for your studio and office?

I mean could you get a more functional space overall if you did this? No stairs needed at all then.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Lyfia, I actually teach in two other locations on different days. I much prefer the the days where I'm at home. I have access to my kitchen and all of my teaching materials without having to remember to bring things with me.

I looked at renting office space when we first started this house search process (before deciding to build) because I really didn't want a split-foyer and nothing else really worked. I had the idea of getting a normal house and then a separate business where I could keep ALL of my teaching materials and instruments. Unfortunately renting office space is way out of budget for us.

I'd also looked at doing a separate building next to the house but it would also end up being cost-prohibitive and size-prohibitive as our lot is not huge. We also found out that zoning laws in our area make it much easier to get a home-based business license if the business is within the home and not a separate space.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

I don't understand why a tri-level was ruled out? It has the same advantage of garage and lower family room on the lower level, but it has the distinct advantage of main level entry to the front door. It also privatizes the bedrooms with an upper level.

Tri-level homes do not have the RE resale disadvantage that a split level (split foyer) does.

I am familiar with the challenges of moving a good-sized harp (I play in a symphony--viola, but we have a harpist, and every week, I see her move her harp in/out of our practice space and her van...)

But, I think if you are dedicated to this style of house, you may want to find one locally and just buy it, rather than build it. It will be very costly to build it versus what you'll get on return when you go to sell. They just don't sell well. They are stereotypically 1960s/70s homes and so they are ripe for finding on the cheap if you find a non-updated one. Then, you can update it to your liking, and save your building money for a house later in life that is one level living for retirement.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Do you walk straight in the back door of the lower level to the office and music room?

I don't understand why the split entry is necessary if the garage on the bottom level on the front left of the house and the back door to the basement are both at "ground level"

The front door then is positioned half a level above the garage on the even though it is just a few feet away from the garage doors on the same elevation.

This means to me that that the ground is only higher on right front and side of the house, or that the garage and driveway are dug under and there is a retaining wall next to the front door. So, I really don't understand the house or the lot in 3 dimensions.

I think you could have a conventional two story house if you reworked the entry and stair area, and the split really would not be necessary.

Split entries were developed as a cost saving measure to put half the house in the basement and still get decent windows in it by being able to build the basement halfway out of the ground, without having to go up a bunch of exterior steps to the front door.

But what you have laid out is essentially a two story house with only the entryway split and I really don't think it's necessary unless I really don't understand the terrain. Do you have elevation drawings?

I don't have a strong bias against split levels, I think they sometimes have interesting adjacencies and people mostly don't like them because they are too lazy to walk up a flight of steps more than once in the morning and once at night if they can at all avoid it. But I don't know that it is a problem solver in your case. I think you really need to have a complete and accessible direct entry to the music room for your students from the outside.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

One thing I see is in the kitchen. I would think about doing a rectangular island. The one drawn seems like it will encroach on your fridge swing space and the dining space.

Also, can you flip the "up" and "down." If I'm reading it write, it seems like you will walk up to the main living space and be right at the bathroom door.

Also, there is a tri-level plan that I have seen in a Fine Homebuilding magazine. He was an architect with his studio in the basement and a door from the outside. I'll try to find it.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Your approach makes no sense to me. Searching for plans on the internet is an inappropriate way to design a house for special needs and requirements. You should get the advice of a professional designer in order to avoid spending a lot of money for a poorly designed house with a poor resale value.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Kirkhall, I'll have to look up plans for a tri-level. I've never heard of them or seen one in person. I don't think it's common around here but I'll see if I can find one to get an idea of the layout. I'm also wondering how expensive it would be to build. We don't have a huge budget. I was excited to find a house that I could build within my budget and still have room for some kitchen and bath upgrades.

Palimpsest, yes the door opening to the office and the garage door are both at ground level. I'll try to send a photo of a similar house tonight but you're correct, the right side of the ground will be higher while the left side is lower. A photo will help make it clearer. The ground is pretty uneven.

Mu3jump, good point on the kitchen island. It's a French door fridge but I'm not sure how big the doors are. I was actually thinking it'd be nice to stand in front of the fridge and be able to pull things out and place them on the counter behind me but it might be too tight. And I drew the arrows backwards. When you're standing on the entryway the right stairway goes up so you're ending up at the entrance to the kitchen.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Renovater8, thanks for your input. If I had the funds to hire a designer to custom build me a plan I would. Unfortunately, that's not possible. I was able to find a builder who had several available plans for me to select from and customize (to a certain extent) which is what I did. Since I've lived with a similar house (although smaller) I know it will work for what I need.

Mostly I was asking people to let me know if they saw any major problems with the floor plan like the suggestion regarding the kitchen island. I wasn't really asking for people to tell me to get a different house. I know split-foyers aren't popular and I wasn't expecting people to love my house but I also wasn't quite expecting the lashing I've gotten from people like you. I've been on these forums for years eagerly waiting the time when I could share my own house stories on the forum; unfortunately, you've really made it an unpleasant experience. I'm sorry that I don't have a budget that would allow me to make your perfect house.

This post was edited by sparkler39 on Tue, Mar 19, 13 at 19:42


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

I would have a completely separate entrance for the first level, then and have a walk up to the front door and rework the house with a conventional set of stairs and a conventional foyer on the main floor. Or, perhaps a conventional foyer of sorts on each floor. That will separate the functions even more, and students or someone visiting the office would not have to enter into the "private" part of the house at all.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Split foyer houses almost always look the same but here are a few better looking ones on Houzz:

Country/Traditional (check out the "before" inset at the bottom right of the pic!)
Modern/Contemporary
Another one

The most common form of tri-level the other commenters are referring to here is the side-split, which looks something like this or this.

I own a side-split and while the split is not as convenient as a single storey ranch, it offers a huge amount more space and is more convenient than a conventional two-storey. Because of the contour of my land (slopes down left to right), entry is via the main level (no steps up) but you go up 6 steps to the bedrooms or down 9 to the lower level.

This post was edited by caben on Tue, Mar 19, 13 at 22:06


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

I think your plan allows for rooms of reasonable sizes and it does allow separation between your private living quarters and your teaching space. My husband grew up in a split foyer home, where my mother-in-law still lives. The entry does feel a bit cramped sometimes, but she seems to like the house just fine. That being said, I had a childhood friend who lived with her family in a tri-level and I thought their home was simply magical. The half flight stairs between the three levels kept the spaces connected, but also afforded a tucked away feeling when desired.

From eplans.com:

"A relative of the Ranch home, the Split Level house plan features three levels of living space on a floor plan that makes economical use of the building lot. Split Level and similar Split Foyer house plans are particularly well-suited for sloping lots. In a Split Level floor plan, the front door opens to a floor containing the living room, dining room, and kitchen. A half-flight of stairs leads up to the bedrooms, while another half-flight leads down to the basement, which may contain a rec room and additional bedrooms in addition to the utility room and garage. The relaxed and informal Split Level house plan caters well to growing families, since the multiple levels allow family members to carry on different activities in different areas of the house without disturbing one another.

The exterior of a Split Level design generally resembles a Ranch home, with a low gable or hipped roof, large picture windows, and minimal decorative details, but some Split Level home designs may reflect Colonial or Tudor influences."

Here are two tri-level plans you could check out to compare to yours:
http://www.thehousedesigners.com/plan/the-randall-1557/
http://www.threehammer.com/homes/deerfield.html

Good luck to you!!


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Well alright.

With this plan--
you won't be able to have an enclosed master toilet (as drawn). That space is too small for a door (you need a minimum 24" clear in front of the front of the toilet bowl, not the hole in the floor).

The dining room is too narrow to have the island be a 2-height bar island. If you want a set up with an island with 2 counter heights, you'll need to consider a built-in dining table/nook in the corner. It cannot function with a free-standing dining table and chairs for more than about 2 people. And, you will not be able to have bar stools at your island (but you haven't drawn any, so you maybe already know that).

Most importantly, your drawing ignores that walls have a thickness dimension, so no room that you have drawn (or cabinets or anything) will actually finish out to be the size of room/hallway/etc that you have drawn. Countertops also overhang cabinets about 1.5 inches. For this reason alone, you cannot do the island you have drawn because you will end up with an "aisle" of about 2'9" between the island and the left counter run. Even a counterdepth refrigerator sticks out further than the 2' you have drawn there and a regular depth refrigerator is more like 33" from the wall, some up to 36" when you take into consideration the handles.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Palimpset, we're still trying to decide if we want students to come in the backdoor (which could be moved to the music room rather then the office) versus the garage. My worry is that parents would be uncomfortable with not being able to see their children walk into the house if they had to walk around the house to the back…(and of course, some of the parents just aren't willing to get out of their car to walk them in…but that's a whole different issue!).

Caben, wow, I really like the second tri-level house. I'm a little confused though about how it ends up being more space…to me it looks like half of the house is two stories and half of the house is only one story, wouldn't that make it smaller than a house that's fully two stories (with one story half underground?). I'm not sure how doable it would be for us with this particular house as our dimensions are only 48x32 but it's actually something I'd be interested in for a future house. I like the quirkiness of it!

Daisyblue, thanks for the definition and your input! It is a cramped entryway but again we've lived with it for 5 years and the new house will actually be a little bigger. We don't spend much time in the foyer ;) and I'd rather be able to give a little more space to the places where we do spend time!

Kirkhall, thanks! I had asked about the master toilet (it looked a little small to me, too) and I think the builder is going to rework the shower door and toilet so the toilet room is a 4x4 rectangle instead of the angled door and the shower door will be angled to meet it. We also tossed around the idea of shortening the bedroom by 1 foot and adding the extra foot to the closet and bathroom to help give a little more room there. I'm also not totally set on actually having a "room" for the toilet separate. I've never had a bathroom like that so it's not something I'd miss if it didn't work out.

The island is actually just flat with an overhang so that we could put a couple of stools there if we wanted. We decided against the different height so we'd have more flexibility with it. Just curious, I'd been working with the idea that we'd have 10 feet of dining room space and I'd read that there needed to be at least 36" on either side of the table to allow for chairs to be easily moved. That leaves space for a 4 foot table. Is that a bad calculation?

And finally, my drawing is just a sketch of what the builder sent. When I tried to scan his drawing (that has all of the walls drawn in) the lines were too light to be seen. So I made it up myself but skipped the extra wall lines to save time. I'm pretty sure I gave the overall correct room size and just took out the wall sizes so the actual house will be a little bigger than the dimensions I drew…does that make sense? I just got lazy and didn't draw everything…if my calculations were okay for the dining room we could actually move the island over to the right by a foot since our table is only 38" wide.

Oh, and for those wondering…I don't have a good photo of the exterior of our house but this is what I could find online that was close. It's a very typical split-foyer, I know. The house in the photo is reversed from ours as our garage will be on the left. The ground will be much more elevated on the right as there will be a few shallow steps in a walkway leading from the driveway up to the front door steps. Ours will probably be a grey vinyl with black shutters, a dark grey or black roof, white trim, and a blue door!

It's funny…three days ago, I was not thrilled about having a split-foyer again but after having to defend it the past two days, I feel much more attached to it. ;)


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Looking at the exterior photo you posted, it just looks like a normal two story house where, for some reason, the front door is located higher than the normal front door. Does anyone know what the historic purpose for that was? I am not seeing the benefit as it appears the house takes up just as much space, is not built for an odd size lot, or a sloping lot, etc. I just don't get it. Why were these houses designed that way?


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Dekeoboe, I don't know the reason for it. This is closer to what ours will look like.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Sparkler, let me be a dissenting voice. I think your reasons for having a split level are really pretty basic:
-you want the kitchen and living area to be on a different floor than the studio
-you want the studio to be accessible without stairs

You could mostly achieve the same effect by having a much larger footprint, having the living area on the same floor as the studio but having them be far enough apart for your purposes. That, naturally, would cost significantly more. So, while I agree with many other posters that there are really big limitations with your current plans, and potentially better alternatives, if you're set on this, there's little point in trying to talk you out of it.

As I see it, the tri-level would only work for you if the level to the right of the garage (in the Houzz photo) housed your studio and the area above the garage housed the living area, but I can't see that working because that wouldn't be enough living area and it would be too large of a studio.

Don't get too discouraged. The people here really want to help, and they haven't warmly embraced your plan because they don't think it's a good idea. They're just being honest!

Now, to your plan, the only thing I really notice, other than that mentioned above, is that the hallway to the master bedroom should not go so far past the door to the master bedroom--make the closet at the end of the hallway bigger, or potentially add a closet facing the hallway. Personally, I like having a wall at the end of a long hallway to put decorations, but a closet there might be handy, too, and you've got plenty of closet space in the master. In the basement (or 1st floor, rather?) you have plenty of room to make the laundry room wider, maybe enough to put the machines to the right and add a counter on the left?

Also, pay attention to the grade around the side of the house opposite the garage. In the photo you posted, it looks like a flat lot, and it looks a bit odd to have a full set of straight stairs up to the entry. In the drawing you posted, while the number of stairs are likely the same, the stairs follow the contour of the land and it does not look as strange, at least in my opinion. You may have a different opinion, but at least pay attention to that.

Finally, you might consider whether you want to condition the garage. Since your garage is so enclosed by conditioned space, it might make sense to get well-insulated garage doors and heat/cool that space. We live in a split-entry currently, and as you probably know if you live in a heating climate, it is always freezing in the rooms above the garage.

Good luck, and know that the people here are very patient--they certainly have been with me--but it's hard for anyone to overlook what they think is a giant bad decision to talk about moving the walls a few feet here or there. Take a blown up print of the kitchen (one that is to scale, preferably) to the kitchen forum, and take your master bath to the bathroom forum, and I think you will be very pleased with the generous, detailed responses. Otherwise, I think its pretty good for the (very significant) limitations of a split-entry.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Cam, I also noticed that long hallway, but I think it is needed to get into the bedroom across the hall from the master. It doesn't have a door drawn in, but will need one, making that hallway longer.

The reason that 10' isn't large enough for your dining space is because you have a back door/deck and an island with stools. A walkway needs 42" of space (or 56", I can't remember...) visit the kitchen forum with your kitchen/dining plan and see what they say. But, you are really limiting your movement in that corner and it WILL feel cramped at just 10' wide. You will not be able to put stools there as you hope because they take up space as well as the dining chairs. That is why I think you'll end up needed a banquette type of dining situation there, not a freestanding table and chairs.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Cam, thanks for your post! I greatly appreciate it. The house will be more like the drawing as the right side of the yard is significantly higher than the left. I like it that way better because the photo makes the house just look like it's got a weird entrance (IMO). At least it's a little more balanced when the yard is higher.

And yes, I did forget to draw the door for the first bedroom, that's why that hall is longer. I've been debating what to do with the laundry room area. In the builder's sketch he actually has the cased opening starting right where the laundry room ends (I moved it closer to the bench) but I may ask if he can enlarge the laundry room…I like the idea of having extra room in there.

Part of why I wanted some insight is because I currently live in a split-level where the upper level is almost identical to what we're getting but smaller. And where we've put the island, there's an L-shaped wall that I HATE because it really blocks off the spaces and makes everything look smaller. But it's hard for me to envision the space without that wall. And I've posted in the kitchen forums and (for example) people keep mentioning that 3 feet isn't enough space between the fridge and island but that's the amount of space I have to get in and out of the kitchen entryway in my current home and it seems like plenty of space to me. After seeing some of the island feedback last night I cut out a piece of cardboard that is the equivalent size of the island and put it in our current kitchen in the space where it would be in the new kitchen…it doesn't feel tight to me. So I'm trying to figure out why it's so undesirable. Kinda the way I'm trying to figure out why split-levels are so undesirable. I mean, yeah, if I had $600K+ I'd get a large ranch on a much larger property with a walkout basement studio space with separate entrances, but I just can't afford something like that at this point in my life. My husband and I are in our mid-20s and have worked hard to be able to afford to custom-build at all. I'm super excited to get a house that's 700sf larger than the house I'm currently in and I just didn't realize that it would be such a volatile subject on here.

Kirkhall, oops, yes I forgot the bedroom door in my drawing. I wasn't thinking about the walkway from the backdoor. In my current house, the upper floor is almost identical to this plan except it's smaller, and there's an L-shaped wall dividing the kitchen from dining room and living room. I inherited my grandparents super huge dining room table and china hutch (that I'm desperately trying to sell to buy something more my style) but it's so tight in the dining room now that we rarely use that as a walkway…we also just walk through the kitchen so I guess I didn't even think about moving through that room from the back door. Part of the reason we had ruled out a rectangular island was we thought it would be weird to have so much open space coming from the top of the stairs into the kitchen. Do you think that would look okay?


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

In my neck of the woods, your house would be called a 'tuck-under'. And just so many of the folks on this board know, in the midwest - meaning MN, ND, SD, WY, MT - split entry homes are a dime a dozen. New splits are built 2 to 1 over any other style here in my city, and they are not cheap (in price). I do have to say that we consider them more of a starter or 2nd house..... Enough said on that....

I have had 2 split entry homes, not like the one you are building, but where the garage comes into the foyer, as does the main front entrance, a couple steps above grade, usually 6 steps up or down to the living areas.

Anyway, your foyer is way too small. Anytime you have more than one person in the foyer and you want to open the door, the other person will have to move onto the steps. My current foyer in my split has separated steps, so they are not side by side, and the main area of my foyer is 8x12 and I find it cramped when we have guests coming/going. I think you posted that you are fine with the new size, so I guess skip my comments. I think bedrooms 1 & 2 will be quite small, as will their closets. You've already heard about the mstr toilet situation, so I will skip that and the dining being too narrow. honestly, I would put in a rectangular island, and not the angled one. Not sure if you have kids, I may have missed that somewhere in my reading, but the upstairs main bath vanity is quite small. My daughter would have scowled at that!

As for the downstairs, I would also recommend spray foam insulation, especially between the garage and the top floor for warmth as well as noise.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Back2nd, thanks for your comments. I actually live about 90 minutes outside of metro DC and it's a rural area; but it's the same here. Split levels are popping up as new builds all over the area. Before we found this builder we were resigned to using a national builder (Centex) and were lamenting having a "cookie-cutter," shoddily put together house like everyone else in that neighborhood. But when we found this builder he showed us a cute lot in a development that's been complete for years so we're the last house in on the street. It's a narrow lot so we're limited in the footprint (a one story house would be ridiculously tiny) but had investigated a regular two story with an additional finished basement but found it way too cost-prohibitive. Well actually, we could have afforded it, but we wouldn't have any upgrades inside the house…it would all be builder standard and I'd rather have a little bit smaller house with a nicer kitchen, bathroom, etc.

No kids yet, maybe in a year or two. I know as a teen I would have hated that bathroom, too but we're planning to move to a better school district when our kids are middle school age and I don't think they really need their own/larger bathrooms until middle school years (but maybe I'm wrong).

Yep, planning on spray foam insulation as well as insulating the garage (as suggested earlier).


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

With the plan being so common where you are, and the resale value being lower than average, you could probably find an existing one for sale at a much cheaper cost than building one new will cost.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

I do agree about the rectangular island, I think that fits your fairly narrow, deep kitchen better. It looks like you could fit a 6' or even 8' long island, which would be much better, still with 4' between wall cabinets and the island. I think the angles in the C-shaped island make for poor storage, too.

About spray foam, spend some time looking into it. Typically it is not the cheapest option. Potentially flash and batt is better, but simply filling the studs bays with spray foam is really expensive and the higher R-value is severely limited by the thermal bridging of the studs. The best thing, if your builder will do it, is to put 1-2" (or more) of rigid foam on the exterior, then 2x6 with blown-in-blanket fiberglass. If not, consider flash and batt, with 1-2" of spray foam in the bay to provide excellent air sealing, and then blowing insulation behind it. See the link below, and browse that website a bit.

Here is a link that might be useful: Calculating the Minimum Thickness of Rigid Foam Sheathing


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Live-wire-oak, we have looked at older split-level homes and they're all the size of the one we are currently living in (a little over 1700sf). The house we are building is almost 2500sf. We want that extra space...plus the built-ins and ugrades that we can put in if we build new.

CamG, thanks for the info on insulation. TBH I haven't actually done that much research on it. Just nodded when builder mentioned spray insulation but I'll read more about it! :)


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Sparkler, one thing to reconsider is having the garage under the bedrooms. When you have kids, anyone coming home after their bedtime will wake them up opening the garage doors.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Chibimimi, ooh...good one. Didn't think about that!


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

If all you want is suggestions for minor improvements in a flawed design you should ignore my advice. I find it odd that you can't afford professional advice but reject it when it is offered for free.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Sparkler 39,

I have not had time to read the other responses and will when I have more time. I just wanted to let you know we are over half way done building an addition onto our split foyer. In the process we stole from the two side bedrooms and garage to expand the width of our entrance as well as the staircases. The upper staircase is now 4 feet 5 wide and the lower is 3 feet 6 inches wide. We also have a railing on one side of the foyer/front room that visually makes it larger still. I am so happy that we expanded the foyer including the stairs. I would do whatever it takes to increase the size of your landing/stairs in width and depth. I can't believe what a difference our addition in this area of the house has made. I especially like the supper wide upper staircase, which helps to direct traffic to upstairs. We are also using lights to accents the upstairs route. The new steps are wood steps and painted risers. I am glad they are no longer carpet. We have an 8 foot french door with a rectangular transom which I think suits the exterior more than the semi circle we had before. The door has the most gorgeous decorative glass -- such nice eye candy. We have yet to work out what to do with the exterior concrete steps -- but are leaning towards poured concrete steps as the precast ones don't last well.

Carol


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Renovator8, exactly what is flawed about the design of my house? It's not to your taste, I get that (believe me, I get that). The foyer is small, yes…but are there houses built with smaller foyers?…Yes, I live in one. Can everyone in the world afford a house with a 10x10 foyer?…No. Is the house going to collapse, explode, or spontaneously combust because it has a small foyer, I don't think so. It's not ideal, but it's not "flawed."

Your advice was, as follows:
*foyer is terrible
*other ways to allow separation instead of using the same entrance way (which they aren't so that's irrelevant)
*handicapped people can't function in your house (well unfortunately, I can't plan for the possibility of a handicapped person visiting my house. A handicapped student would have no problem getting around in the lower level where I teach (I have one currently in a wheelchair at lessons so I know it's workable). Do you tell everyone building a home that they must have a one story only house or an elevator to accommodate a (possible) handicapped visitor?
*entrance will reduce resale value…maybe in your area, but not mine. I've seen plenty of houses that look just like the one I'm in with small foyers that sell just fine.
*hire a professional designer

Yes, I will reject YOUR advice as none of it was remotely helpful, constructive, or, in any way, within my budget. When I win the lottery, I'll let you design my house…until then, you can save yourself the time and trouble of giving me "advice."

Do you enjoy being a bully?

This post was edited by sparkler39 on Wed, Mar 20, 13 at 20:49


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Carol,

Thanks for your response, I'd love to see photos of your entranceway. It sounds lovely. I asked our builder about the possibility of increasing the size of our foyer and he's going to see what he can do. We do have an open railing from the top floor and haven't quite decided between carpet and wood. Why did you dislike the carpet?


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

So, my husband is curious…obviously, we've heard a lot of feedback about the awfulness of split-foyer homes via this thread but only one actual house suggestion that would work for our needs and it's a little too expensive for us. That suggestion was a one story home with the business side on one side of the house and the personal side on the other. Of course increasing our footprint to make that workable would be significantly more expensive.

Some of you have suggested that there are additional ways to work around having a split-foyer. My husband is interested in knowing what those would be, given these parameters:

-cost is a factor (i.e. we cannot have 2400sf home on one level)
-our lot is 72 feet wide and 169 feet deep
-the garage and music studio area must be on the same level which needs to be level with the outside elevation (i.e. no stairs to reach the music studio) to facilitate me moving a harp from my garage to my music studio or students moving harps from the driveway to the music studio without having steep inclines or stairs
-we're looking for 3-4 bedrooms and a 3 bathrooms (one of which is solely for music studio and guest bedroom use)
-we need an additional room for office space

When we first started, we contacted several builders in our local area. Three of them responded and sent us links to the websites they use for building plans. We searched through those plans and found several one story ranch homes that we liked (where things were separated) but all proved to be too expensive.

As I said originally, a split-foyer home was not my first choice. But it really seems like the only workable option that we can see. Several of you have said there are other options. I'd be interested to know what you're suggesting because we really couldn't come up with anything else. I think it's a little too late in the game for us to change house designs completely but we're mostly just curious to know what you all were thinking of.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

I don't have any finished photos as we are still in construction. I will send you an under construction photo to your email, and a floor plan sometime over the weekend (feel free to email me on Saturday to remind me). I am not ready to post photos on a public forum.... maybe in a few months.

I absolutely would consider wood over carpet for the stairs, as should you forget something upstairs once you had your shoes/boots on it is nice to be able to whip upstairs and not worry about taking off your shoes again. Also, with wood vs carpet you can place your feet on the steps to say tie a shoe lace and not worry about staining a carpet. Finally, wood steps really set off the stairs in my view vs carpet. With an extra wide staircase going up as I was suggesting, one person can be sitting on the steps putting on shoes, while another person is passing the seated person.

There are pluses of a split-foyer too. The light in my main level is so bright given it is up high. The light in my basement at the front is wonderful too given it is walk in. I believe the light on my main level and front basement level is brighter than many two story main levels and basements.

As per front door, what size of door are you installing? Given split foyer ceilings are so high please consider installing a taller door as it fit the space better than a standard height door. It looks tons better from the outside too. Also, I can't tell you how much better the rectangular transom looks outside our house versus the old semi-circle transom -- it seems to fit the more modern exterior of the home.

Regarding your basement entrance, is there anyway to reconfigure space down there so you have a bit of a mudroom entrance?. Perhaps you could move the laundry/HVAC a bit. It would be nice for you when you exit your car from the garage and walk into the basement level. We have kids so they enter the house from the garage man door and leave their back packs etc down stairs. We also enter from the garage. Previous to the addition everyone was using the tiny foyer and that was not workable. When we are done only guests will use the foyer so we will be able to keep it clutter free and not use any of the precious square footage for family coats, shoes, etc.

I see in your plan you have a closet that is set into the top of the stairs. Our neighbour has that in her split foyer. It really cuts off the space compared to the others' on our street that have a railing there. Can you move the closet to the area just inside your kitchen? Also, I don't see the railing between the foyer and the living room marked. A railing versus a wall between the foyer and living room is a big, big improvement in my opinion. We just recently added the railing so I have lived with both.

Good luck with your project and enjoy your split foyer home. We enjoy ours!

Carol


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

I was thinking about your kitchen/dining room area. Would you consider putting the dining room on the left and the kitchen on the right. That way you will see the dining room more from the foyer as opposed to the kitchen. Our original house had the kitchen sink straight in line from the foyer stairs. I hated that. Our neighbours redid their kitchen, and they decided to flip the kitchen and dining room and it looks fabulous that way. However, given you don't have any part of a wall between living room and proposed dining room (we have a structural wall there so have cased openings not wide open space) it might mean that your kitchen and dining room is fully visible from the foyer either way. Still be sure you like the sight lines from the foyer -- imagine what your guests can see when they stand in your foyer.

I think taking your kitchen plan to the kitchen forum is excellent advise. I also think for your own reassurance speak to a real estate agent to see what a split foyer of your square footage would be worth in the area you are building. I believe there is some cost savings to building a split foyer, so as expected, the resale will be less than a similar square footage bungalow. However, you pay less for them so it all works out in the wash. As per the small foyer, try to increase the depth to at least 5 feet or more, so the door swing is less in the way of people coming and going. Your width in the foyer looks good. Overall the square footage of your spit foyer is great.

Carol


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

I think you should consider a "traditional 2 story" where, even, you enter on the upper floor. If your lot is raised on the right side, why not just have your foyer *in* the upper story, and a full basement under (that has ground level access at/near the garage)?

Or, take your split stairs to the outside, so people can descend down to the "basement" ground floor studio space, or ascend to your foyer/home?

Why the kitchen forum is harping about your 3' aisle width...
As I explained, a cabinet run is not simply 2 feet deep, as you've drawn. Instead, it is 2' deep for cabinetry PLUS at least 1.5" of countertop overhang. That doesn't sound like much until you go and take 1.5" off on the other side for the other cabinet overhang. Now you are down to 2 feet 9 inches. And, that is narrow. Add that you have a fridge across from your narrow point, and you will REALLY have a narrow pinch point. A fridge is never only 2 feet deep, as you've drawn.

HTH!


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Here is a really cool handbook suggesting ideas on how to remodel existing split-level and split-entry homes. I realize you are building new, but it provides a ton of advice on how to fix some problems found in traditional split houses. I definitely recommend browsing through it!

Here is a link that might be useful: Split Visions


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Carol, I look forward to seeing your photos! After all this, I'm a little scared to post photos once we finally get started…we'll see how it goes.

At the moment we're planning to go with grouted vinyl tiles and carpet throughout the house so I'm not sure if the wood would fit in just on the stairs; however, this evening, I looked at a bunch of photos online of various stairs and I do like that look so I may have to reconsider. I also like the idea of the bigger staircase although do you think it looks off to have them be different sizes or does that not bother you?

I currently live in a split-foyer and I do notice the light, too. It's very bright throughout the day.

I think our builder is just planning on installing a regular front door but I will ask. I recently saw a house with the rectangular transom but it seemed a little too big for the house. I do prefer that to the semi-circle as I am going for a more modern look inside and a rectangle would fit the entry chandelier better than the semi-circle. Is yours a 4-light or 8-light? Our current house has the ridiculous tiny octagon which does nothing for the look. I'm considering asking the builder if it would be weird to have the door off center to the right and have a larger window along the left side of the door. That would allow a little more space in the entrance way in front of the stairs going up. Might not be worth it and might look weird but I figured I'd ask and see what he says. I'll also ask about a larger door.

I'm thinking something like this...
 photo frontdoor1.jpg

The floor plan is totally wrong but that would be what the entryway would be like with the above door layout. Since most people coming in the front door would be personal guests going upstairs that might give us a little more space.

 photo inside.jpg

For the basement, we're thinking of asking the builder to move the HVAC and laundry to the other side of the music room which would make the entrance right off the garage door (and therefore making the distance for moving instruments shorter) and also giving us more space at that landing. Though, I'm not sure if the HVAC room needs to be closer to the center of the house (or at least closer to the kitchen and upstairs baths).

The railing isn't marked because we were having problems deciding between built-in bookshelves in the living room or an open railing. Open railing seems like it'd make things bigger and brighter but the storage from bookshelves would be great too. If things worked out downstairs we could even consider getting rid of the coat closet and just using the one downstairs and maybe making that an open rail, too. Not sure how that would look though since it would only be a few feet long.

Hmmm…you've given me all sorts of new ideas! Thanks!


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Your idea about the split stair outside is intriguing. I'll have to see if I can find examples of that online (it's hard for me to visualize things without seeing something similar). For your traditional 2 story idea you're saying have a house that looks (almost) like the one I have now but have the foyer be on the top floor, is that correct? So instead of 2 half flights of stairs there'd just be one full flight going downstairs to the lower level/basement?

Thanks for the cabinet explanation. I also realized that with a french door fridge with the freezer on the bottom, there's no way I can pull out the freezer and stand in front of it. I kinda like the idea of an angled island simply because I feel like it'd give us the opportunity to stand and hold conversations with people in the dining area or living room while a standard rectangular island will just give us access to the dining room. Maybe an L-shaped island? We're trying to make the "dining room" more into an eat-in kitchen rather than a kitchen and a dining room so I don't know that we need a walkway from the back door through the dining room versus walking from the back door through the kitchen so maybe I could move the island to the right a foot-foot and a half.

And this might be better, the builder sent me a better scan that I think will come through. My dimensions in my drawing were much more off than I thought… :(

 photo houseplanrevised_Page_2.jpg

 photo houseplanrevised_Page_1.jpg


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Nicke360, that's awesome…thanks so much for sharing. That brochure gave me some new door ideas that might help the cramped foyer a bit.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

It's difficult to accept criticism and advice when you are young and haven't yet made many mistakes and your relatives are ambulatory. If you won the lottery I doubt it would change your attitude but eventually you will realize that good design is not limited to projects with large budgets.

In addition to designing many home psychiatrist offices, I once designed a professional recording studio in the lower level a residence and I can tell you that adequate sound separation (in both directions) was virtually impossible to achieve.

Since the studio is such a small portion of the house, it would be better to attach it to one end of a 2 story house perhaps entered through the office from inside and from a side door from the outside. This would do a better job of separating business and personal spaces, allow better zoning of communal and private home spaces, and reduce the need for hallways at no additional cost.

This post was edited by Renovator8 on Thu, Mar 21, 13 at 7:39


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

I recently asked a question on the Kitchen forum and mentioned something as an aside that I planned to do. Every single person who responded told me not to do that. I appreciated receiving the benefit of their wisdom - and I am over 60 years old. If a lot of people tell you not to do something, you would be wise to listen to them, especially when it involves the biggest financial asset you are likely to have.

This is a starter home that even now you don't see as your forever home. You want to do what you can to maximize resale, and building a split level house in the Baltimore/Southern PA area makes your house less desirable than the house next door that isn't a split.

Have you considered building a smaller house? You could build a standard two story house with the bedrooms upstairs, the music room on the first floor with an outside entrance, skip the guest room, and you could even go so far as to use one of the bedrooms as your office until the second child is old enough to need his or her own bedroom. Or build your office into a corner of the music room.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Renovator8, thank you for your suggestion. It's actually not necessary for it to be sound-proof as my husband works over an hour away from home and is not home while I'm teaching. Even with the possible addition of children in a few years this still, thankfully, won't be an issue as we have a nearby parent who plans to babysit for us while I teach in the afternoons and evenings.

Early on in our plans we had investigated building a regular two story home and having an add-on office as you suggest. We went to three different builders who all gave us quotes well beyond our price range and implied that what we were asking for was only available in a split-entry. Maybe we didn't go to enough builders but we were discouraged enough that we went back to our idea of building another split-entry. From the beginning I stated that I wasn't thrilled with split-entry homes. I am also a professional freelance and orchestral musician who spends 3-4 hours practicing my own music everyday so I wanted my studio to also feel like part of my home which is what ultimately convinced us that the split-entry wouldn't be so bad.

When I originally asked for feedback, I knew that split-entry houses weren't that popular, since almost nobody posts about them, but it's what we've got. We have signed a contract, initialed a plan, and are simply waiting for good weather so they can begin. There's room for me to do a little tweaking of the layout, which is why I posted my plan for feedback, but we've passed the point of completing changing everything.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Graywings, thank you for your message. It's not that I have a problem listening to advice from my elders, it's the manner in which that advice is dispensed. Plenty of people, some who currently live in split-entry homes, have offered me constructive ideas about how to better my house-plan without telling me to build a new house. I've signed a contract...I'm beyond the possibility of changing everything. I actually live in the opposite side of DC from Baltimore, in a very rural Virginia county. Split-entries are plentiful here, both older homes and new builds. Part of the reason we eventually looked to build was because we couldn't find any older split-entry homes available...they sell very quickly around here.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Sparkler, I don't think anyone realized you were beyond the point of no return with this plan.

I do think you should give more thought to a rectangular island. I don't at all see that C-shaped is more conducive to conversations. I think you will move to across the island any time you are having a conversation with someone, whether the island is rectangular or not. If you are at the sink, you will have your back to most of the seats at the C-shaped island anyway. And to achieve the questionable improvement in conversation, you have a really tight clearance in a key places (next to the fridge and around the dining room table). You have a long, narrow space, and the c-shaped island simply does not make good use of it. The extra 12" in the isle a rectangular island gives you would not make it strange walking up the stairs.

A rectangular island could make the main part of your kitchen only 9' deep with the stools at the island pushed in, giving you an extra 3 feet for people to move around the table.

Since you're so obstinately ignoring everyone's advice about the type of house (just kidding), at least follow the advice on this issue!


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

I'm confused about the necessity of the split stairs off the front door: you say that only personal traffic is entering there? If your students and the harps are all going into the studio another way, why do you need to access it from the front door at all? Why not have your own private entry to the studio in a more convenient interior stairway spot, and give yourself a normal non-split foyer area?

Caveat: I sprained an ankle badly long ago in someone's 1970's split-level stairway (backed away from opening door and foot got jammed between steps, they were the open type), thus would never ever consider that design myself. :-)


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

That's too bad that you didn't start off with that info that you had already signed the contract. The whole tread might have gone differently.

I've lived in two split levels. I'm glad I don't anymore. I don't care for the steps and the small entry way. They served their purpose at the time. We were young, just married, no kids. They were starter homes.

I do question your resale options for years down the road. It sounds like many have mentioned other options that might be better for resale. And even in your original post, you said you weren't a fan of the split level layout.

I wish you luck with your project.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Sparkler,

I am sorry you are getting so much negative on building a split foyer. It is an economical house to build that gives you a lot of bang for your buck! The foyer is not great, but the basement is wonderful and full of light -- so much better than most basements I've seen. Our two older sons had their bedrooms down in the basement and I never felt they had a damp basement experience as their rooms were above grade level with huge windows. Once the addition is done they will move upstairs. I have a friend who has MS and is wheel chair bound. She comes into my home via the garage and we visit in our front basement room (equivalent to where you have your basement great room). If DH or I need a wheel chair at some point we would want a straight bungalow. A regular two storey is not great for wheel chair bound folks either, unless the owners never use their bedroom level at all.

Your garage is a good size, but you might consider making it a little deeper and/or wider so if/when you have kids you can have them enter from the man door and walk to basement to enter. If you do move the HVAC and or laundry room you will have a nice spot for the family to enter and leave their belongings, out door gear etc. If your future children use the front door you will curse the split level foyer daily as they will drop their knapsacks all over the foyer and other family members arriving home will need to push shoes, knapsacks etc out of the way just to get in. Trust me I know as I am raising four kids in a split foyer that has only recently been added on to. Of course if you can make a larger foyer this will be less of a problem. Don't think you will be able to raise them to neatly put their shoes away and then carry their knapsacks, coats etc to another roomier area of the home. If kids and parents enter via the foyer I would argue even more strongly for the hardwood floor vs carpet as you might have a hope (faint) of teaching them to keep walking upstairs or downstairs to place their stuff away. If you require them to remove their shoes in the foyer to protect the carpet there is not chance they won't drop all of their baggage in the small foyer.

We were able to get our man door on the same side of the garage as the entry to the home, so the path our kids take into the home is shorter. We will drywall our garage and use nice lighting so the walkway into the home for family members is well lite. In your case if you have students who are using the garage entry will you put a doorbell on the man door and/or garage entry door so you greet them on the basement level? You might want to think about how you will greet your students and what entry they will leave their outwear in.

You asked about why we had an extra wide 1/2 staircase going up, and a less wide staircase going down and if that looked odd. Not at all. In fact I got that idea from researching everything I could on split foyers (also called high ranches, bi-levels and raised bungalows depending on the area of North America). One designer wrote about the awkwardness of a guest being presented with two equally sized staircases and being unsure whether to go up or downstairs. Her idea, which we copied, was to direct traffic to the staircase going up. Now that we have built the wider staircase going up the basement staircase appears much more secondary. We will even have a pot lights over the staircases as well as a chandelier. The two pots will be on different switches so if say adult company arrives and we will be socializing upstairs, we will turn the pot on for the stairs going up. If my kids are expecting friends and plan on hanging out down in the basement the basement pot will get turned on to direct traffic downstairs. Given we live in a snowy climate I can't say enough about the staircases being done in wood. Also, the staircases can become a beautiful asset if done out of wood which is harder to achieve with carpet. Of course wood costs more.

Our house was built in the mid 90s. It is well located on a cul de sac that is almost entirely split foyers. Any time one of neighbours' houses has gone on the market it has sold very quickly! There are higher end split foyers in a very rich area of our City as well that were built around 10 years ago. There is of course tons of split foyers built in the seventies too. Our city is loaded with split foyers in general . Selling a home has a lot to do with location. Do double check with a real estate agent to be sure you are building a home that is a wise investment and in a good neighbourhood. I would listen to the advice they gave rather than mine or anyone else posting to decide if building a split foyer is a good idea or not in your neighbourhood. They know what sells and holds value.

HTH

Carol

This post was edited by OntarioMom on Fri, Mar 22, 13 at 19:06


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

I can't think of any advantage to a split entry design either in convenience or cost. What builders like to build in an area should not be an issue.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Split levels are common here, too, and they seem to resell just fine, FWIW.

Anyhow, my feedback on your floor plan is that I would want to move the HVAC and laundry so that your students don't have to walk past it. If the entrance to your music room was at the bottom of the stairs, and those things were at the end of the hall where you have the entrance now, I think it would be more convenient and more attractive (because as you walk down the stairs, you'd be walking towards the music room instead of walking towards a utility room door and could see beyond that out the window in your music room). It would also make it easier to access the office, because you wouldn't need to go down the hallway and then back through the whole music room.

If the HVAC needs to be centrally located in the house, I'd be inclined to put it under the stairs, and find a work around for the closet, because the current location really doesn't work, IMO.

My other suggestion that may or may not be practical would be to swap the kitchen and dining areas. As you have your design now, people enter and the first thing they see is your kitchen, and not the island seating area, but the work space. I know you're going to have a nice kitchen, but you can't dress up the workspace in kitchen the way you could dress up a dining room table, if say, you were hosting a holiday meal or some other less casual occasion, so swapping them would mean people could enter and see your nicely set table, or an array of appetizers or something. Also it would mean that the things on the other side of the island will be somewhat hidden from your guests, so if your kitchen were a little messy, it would be less obvious.

Good luck to you!


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Renovator,

I did not realize that there was not a cost savings in building a split entry. If the house is on a hill, as many splits entries are, would there be cost savings in the excavating stage? I ask because I know you are an architect and I am not. I don't know why the OP's builder was quoting higher to build a bungalow in the same square footage as a split entry if there was not a cost savings. I do not argue that there are downsides to a split entry that have been mentioned above, especially the entry. The plus for me is my split entry has so much light upstairs and in the above ground basement portion. They also look like larger houses than they are, which can be seen as a plus.

Carol


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

I have a friend who recently bought a split level with this exact floorplan except there is no island but a wall with a "window" into the living room. She wants to remove the wall and add an island. She has her mother in law living in the bottom half and she says it works out pretty well. I would try to do what you could since you are starting from scratch to at least make the exterior look more appealing. I don't like how the door is shrunk back behind the boxed out parts (ha! I am no architect hence my horrible choice of describing words there!).

As far as what the board says, they are mostly trying to protect you, even if some have harsher ways of saying it. In my area too, split levels just SIT on the market. The one my friend bought had been sitting for 3 years. However, if you are locked in, just make the best of it! Not everyone follows the advice of the board- that can be clear with all the many elevations we see with seven thousand over-laping gables, lol.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

OntarioMom - How can the light in a split be better than the light in a conventional two story house?


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Dekeoboe,

Our main level is higher up than a typical two storey house because our basement is above ground, and the main level of the house is built over this high basement. I believe this is typical of the split-foyer homes. So we are above many trees and light can easily filter in (it affords a nice view too). The basement at the front of the house is higher too than most two storey house basements so the light in the basement level is much better than a typical 2 storey basement (our basement windows are not small high up in the ceiling windows they are full height ones). Of course there are two storey houses that have walk outs basements that would be similar to the typical split-foyer. in terms of light on the main level. Two storey walk out basement homes would be my ideal home.

Carol


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

A 2 story slab on grade with no basement is cheaper to construct than a split. No real excavation needed. A one story with basement is cheaper to construct than a split. You have a bit more excavation, which isn't much cost as long as you don't have rock, but you don't have the larger windows that a split has, and you don't have the awkward lady or tiger choice that a split has. Or, a two story with a walkout basement has all of the perceived positives, with none of the negatives. It works with the slope to create outdoor entrances at the lower grade and the higher grade.

Water under the bridge now though.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

I've found this thread very interesting and am glad you posted. There have been lots of good suggestions about the layout and I think the brochure that Nicke360 linked to could be very helpful in making the exterior of your house look amazing. I too had thought that split level homes looked a bit outdated, just based on my own town's boom with that type of house (circa 1970s/1980s), but since looking at Houzz.com and searching for "split level exterior", I think it can be done to look really nice. For me, the entry being made into the focal point -instead of being "hidden" by the rest of the house - makes all the difference. I had this house saved in my folder as one of my inspirations and I hadn't even realized it was a split level because I was so taken with the curb appeal.

Here is a link that might be useful: Houzz split level exterior


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Here's one with the garage under...

Here is a link that might be useful: Houzz.com Arts and Crafts Split


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

tkfinn97, the example you posted is called a Split-Level or a Tri-Level and has 3 levels (2 on the left and one on the right) but in the OP's design the levels are not split so it is called a Split-Entry/Foyer which has 2 levels (one stacked over the other) which is cheaper to build. It's essentially a big box on a sloping site with the grade raised slightly at the front right corner and lowered at the front left corner with the front door a half level higher than the lower level and the lower at grade in the rear.

On a flat lot, the grade would not be altered, the door would be at the lower level, and it would be called a "Raised Ranch".

The point of all of these houses is to be able to fit on a narrow lot and avoid the cost of a full basement but the one you show is a bit more expensive because it has a bit more foundation, wall, and roof.

There's no cheaper house than a Split-Foyer Ranch or a Raised Ranch which is why they are so popular with developers. Why someone would build one for themselves I can't imagine; it requires so little more money to create a much better house.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Renovator8,

How can you tell the first link posted by tkfinn97 is not a split entry (the one called Houzz split level interior)? The description says split entry, and it looks not unlike some of the nicer split entries we have in a higher end neighbourhood in our city (i.e. beautiful landscaping, nice cladding material). The only thing I can see that looks different from the typical split entry is the lack of the 6 or so steps in front. Is it possible the gently sloping path together with the two steps makes up for the need for a full 6 exterior steps or do they have more steps inside? Or is it simply mislabeled on the Houzz description and not a split entry. I guess if there was a floor plan we would know for sure.

Sparkler, do you still want me to email a picture of our house? Are you still reading these comments?

Carol


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

CamG and Neroselover, sorry I wasn't clear from the beginning. I indicated that this is the builder's plan we had decided on and I thought that would make it clear that we had finalized things. I haven't built before so I don't really know all the possible "steps" in the process. And yes, we're definitely reconsidering the island!

Circuspeanut, it sounds like you're suggesting a one level home with a basement (with the studio entrance in the basement). We had investigated that possibility but the cost was prohibitive for us.

OntarioMom, thank you so much for all your advice and feedback. I would love to see the photos. My email is harpseal39@yahoo.com. You've been a very encouraging presence throughout this thread and I greatly appreciate it!

Zone4newby, thanks for your comments. I've emailed my builder regarding moving the HVAC and laundry. I do't know if the HVAC has to be in the middle of the house but I really like the idea of having the entrance to the studio right at the foot of the stairs. I am thinking he'd be more amenable to that change than the kitchen/dining swap but I've asked about that, too!

Sweetreverie, I've been enjoying your blog! Thanks for commenting. I'm definitely working on the exterior. I love to garden and landscape so I'm hoping some of that will help, too!

GreenDesigns, where do you live? In my area, one stories with basements and two stories with basements were not cheaper than our split design….at least not in the size that I was looking for. And this was a a difference of tens of thousands…not just a few thousand.

Tkfinn97, thanks for the links. I hadn't realized (until this thread) that there were so many types of split-levels and some of them look quite modern and not at all dated (at least in my mind).

Renovator8, I understand that you hate split-level houses and I think everyone who has read this thread understands that, too. If you can show me plans for a house (in YOUR preferred style) that fits ALL of the criteria that I've listed, plus gives me the upgrades/built-ins in the kitchen and bathrooms that I currently have planned, and would include the 1/4 acre lot and any other fees (hooking up utilities, installing gas line, etc.), all for under $250K, I'd LOVE to see it. Otherwise, please don't feel the need to continue to beat a dead horse…

To (almost) all of you, thank you for your comments, suggestions, and advice. I've learned a lot and gotten a ton of great ideas. I greatly appreciate all of it.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Sparkler,

I sent you an email Friday night. The title of the email says split-level foyer. Good luck!

Carol


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Sparkler,

Good luck on your build. It seems you have done your research and that this type plan will work best for your lifestyle. You have gotten some great suggestions and improvements to your flow.

In the end, you're the one who has to live with it. I can't wait to see how it turns out.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Still-waters,

Thanks! I'm a little afraid to post photos as we get going but I'll get over it! ;)


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

It is an insult to all those who design buildings for the pleasure, comfort and well being of others to insist on basing the dominant "parti" of a building design on whatever will produce the lowest possible cost in spite of all other considerations and to arrogantly reject the advice of anyone who would dare to suggest a more thoughtful approach.

I spent considerable time developing an alternate Tri-Level design that would greatly improve your Split-Foyer design for little additional cost but your "beat a dead horse" comment caused me to reconsider posting it. I have no problem with disagreement but I will not tolerate disrespect.

You have a lot to learn about the design of houses and given your present attitude I suspect your education will be expensive and painful.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Renovator8, I have not "arrogantly rejected" anyone's advice who has given it respectfully. If you expect respect you might try showing some.

As a freelance musician, I often see people hire a "cheaper" alternative for their event. Yes, of course, I would prefer for them to hire me. However, I also understand that my price may be out of range for some people. Do I explain to them that there is a difference between a professional musician and a hobbyist? Yes. Do I deride them for their decision and tell them that it's an insult to me that they hire someone cheaper? No. There's always another client that is able to hire me and I do not begrudge someone for doing only what they are able to do.

I understand that you are a professional and I have never doubted that. I also would hazard a guess that you have never moved a concert grand harp via a dolly and/or carried an awkward lever harp. As such, you don't know my life and what would work best for my lifestyle.

I'm perfectly content with the modifications that I have made to my house plan based on helpful advice and opinions from the majority of the posters on this thread. As I said before, you can save yourself the time and trouble to contribute further. I'm sure you have better things to do with your time.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

I would have loved to see a tri-level plan that improved upon a split foyer design, but still met the OP needs for a separate music studio all within budget. I struggled with how to improve upon my own split foyer, and even though it is too late for me , I would be curious just the same.

Any chance you will post the tri-level plan for the benefit for others, Renovator?

Carol


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Circuspeanut, it sounds like you're suggesting a one level home with a basement (with the studio entrance in the basement). We had investigated that possibility but the cost was prohibitive for us.

hi Sparkler,

I guess I was asking more why you don't just have front stairs that open on the main living floor, whether it's a first floor/second floor or basement/first floor scenario. I'm no pro and it was hard for me to conceptualize this split scenario where you're not building into a hill on one side. My problem, not yours! I realize it's not really a basement but a half-basement.

I think you can make a useful and cozy house out of this split design as long as you take its inherent disadvantages into account. My ankle aches at the thought of those landing stairs .. ;-)

Nicke's pamphlet is a treasure-trove of ideas, great find. I wonder if you couldn't figure out some way to make a short hall entrance next to the garage door, so students & harps don't have to go through the garage and you don't have to worry about cleaning/personal stuff in there, which has got to become a big headache over time. Do you need 2 parking spaces?


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

In regards to the comment about the garage door under bedrooms..... Just make sure you get an extra quiet garage door opener. I believe we had a chamberlain "whisper quiet" and we had an infant above and it was so quiet it would not disturb her at all. Made a big difference than a standard loud door opener. I think it may have been about 75 more dollars but well worth it.

I also have to absolutely agree on the rectanglular island versus the c shape one and for all the reason mentioned above. C shape look good on paper but really aren't as practical.

Good luck!


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

This is what a typical split looks like in my area. The downstairs (not basement) has all daylight windows. If you have a flat lot, which most are, you do not have a walkout lower level. If you have a front to back slope, you 'can' have a walkout.

Most of the staircases are located inside the house, inside the foyer area, due to such a swing in temps, people prefer to not have to shovel snow off all of those steps in the winter, and the sun totally kills ALL wood/wood product/pex/ whatever you use outside of cement or brick/block for your front stairs.

If I were to build a two story, with the exact same footprint as a split - in this picture, basically it's an L shaped house - it would cost me tens of thousands more money. Reasons: full 8 foot basement, excavating and cement costs increase substantially. Then for the 2 story, I would have to finish the main floor, and the 2nd story, with my option to finish the basement. In a split, it's only 2 floors, and I only have to finish the foyer and the upper, the downstairs is my option. These are basically the reasons people build splits here - they are cheaper!!

Just wanted to add some info for others about splits and resale......


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

back2nd - the house you posted does not appear to be a split foyer plan, it looks like a tri-level. At least that is my understanding. A split foyer house has two floors (usually equal in size, one on top of the other), while a tri-level has floors on three levels, one at grade, one below grade and one on top of the below grade level.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

dekeoboe - it's a split foyer. The foyer is 2 steps up from grade. once in the house you have to go up 6 or down 6 steps. The upper floor, which the square footage of the foyer is included in, is the same size as the downstairs. the upper roof line in the back is actually the rest of the house - it is basically L shaped, with the garage in front. I think the roofline makes it a little misleading. this look is how 90% of all new builds look around here, 6 stairs inside the house going up or down. a three level around here is considered a side split or multi level, like a 4 level. here is ROUGH layout of this house in the pic


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Ontariomom, the OP has asked that I save myself the time and trouble to contribute further and suggested that I have better things to do with my time so I won't post the Tri-Level design although it did solve all of the problems the OP insists on ignoring.

But I would like to mention how inconsiderate, shortsighted and selfish I think it is for anyone to design a house where it is necessary for everyone to climb a stairway to get to the main living spaces.

My wife's first cousin became paralyzed from the waist down in middle age but with unusual determination and upper body strength he somehow learned to walk with standard crutches - a truly inspiring thing to see. At a family reunion he was unable to get into the house and refused to be carried so we took turns visiting him in his car. Sadly he recently took his own life. I find it impossible to look at a house design without thinking of him. Those who don't know anyone in this circumstance are fortunate.

The OP says I hate Split-Foyer houses but it would be more accurate to say that I have no respect for those who design such houses without consideration for anyone other than themselves and their budget.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Renovator8, my sincere condolences on your family's loss. That is a heartbreaking situation and I do better understand your contempt for split-foyers and those who build them; however, this is what I can afford to build and what will work best for my lifestyle in my current situation.

If your situation had been my situation, I would have been able to have my relative come in through the garage to a guest bedroom and bathroom as well as use my studio as an entertaining area. The only part of my house he would not have access to would be my kitchen, but for a visit, I could bring food to him. There are plenty of people who have designed houses on this forum (that you have responded to in a positive manner) that have one or two stairs leading up to a porch in the front of their house. My house has DIRECT access to one floor with no stairs as I wheel a harp around in it and don't want ANY stairs to contend with.

Last year my grandmother visited my current home (which is set up in a similar manner to my planned build) for the Easter holiday. She couldn't manage the stairs but we rearranged the downstairs and had our main dinner and all of our socializing downstairs. The only thing we did upstairs was clean up the dishes (which she was happy to skip) and sleep. She was perfectly comfortable in the guest bedroom/bathroom, had easy access to everything she needed, and was easily able to socialize and visit with our family.

As I said in an earlier post, it would be very unfortunately if myself or someone in my family had an accident and was no longer able to manage stairs; but that would mean such a major change to our family and we would have to change so many things in our lifestyle that a new house would be the least of our concerns. My livelihood and my husband's require that we be greatly mobile. An ability to no longer work in our careers would undoubtedly require a downsizing in house as well as a change in location so if that situation arises, we will deal with it when it comes. Of course there is also the possibility that we could install an elevator in our house if necessary. There is plenty of blank wall space on the exterior walls to allow for that.

Our extended family (parents) all live in two story houses (with full basements) that require the use of stairs to access bedrooms as well as some living spaces. Again, a change in anyone's mobility in our family would, mostly likely, require new housing situations.

I understand that you are advocating the ability for a house to be wheelchair accessible or at least with a minimum number of stairs to living areas. But are you also considering those who are bed-bound? Are all of your houses designed so that a hospital bed can maneuver into every room and in and out of the house? Do you also design all of your houses to make them optimal for people with hearing or vision problems? I could give birth to a child with Xeroderma Pigmentosum and have to get rid of all the windows in my house. Do you advocate building a house with no windows in order to take this possibility into consideration? There are so many disorders, accidents, illnesses, etc. that could cause ANY house (no matter how well-designed) to become dysfunctional.

In an ideal world, every house would be completely handicap-accessible, (as well as every business, school, church, etc.) but unfortunately that's not always possible. I don't think it's possible to build a home that takes EVERY possible situation into consideration and I don't consider myself (or anyone else on this forum who doesn't have a completely handicap-accessible house) to be selfish, inconsiderate, or short-sighted but we can agree to disagree.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Sparkler and Renovator you both make good points. Renovator, I am very sorry about your wife's cousin! Sparkler, I don't think for a second, that anyone is selfish or inconsiderate for choosing to build a split foyer like you and I have chosen to do. When my friend, who is wheel chair bound, visits our home we visit in the finished basement Once our renos are done we will have a small snack bar down there and full bath. With the above ground, egress windows the basement is a nice place to be.

However, Renovator your point about safety is important. It is always a good idea to design any house with future elevators in mind, or at least large enough landings to accommodate a future chair lift. We have stacked closets from basement to main level should we ever want to add a home elevator.

Good luck with your build Sparkler and I hope you will update us on your porgress. I shall look up tri-level homes Renovator as I'm sure that would also work nicely. I have not been in a tri-level home that I am aware of.

Carol


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Abrshafer, thanks for the advice on the garage opener. Have added it to my list! :)


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Deleted duplicate post.

This post was edited by sparkler39 on Wed, Mar 27, 13 at 15:02


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

I don't believe all houses should be designed to be accessible to the handicapped but they should at least be adaptable to allow access from the street at a later date for a reasonable cost.

Houses that do not have internal obstacles (like split-entry stairways), can have an exterior ramp added as was the case at my house. That ramp was very useful when our dog ran into my wife and broke her knee; my father had a hip replacement; my 28 year old client became disabled during a project; and at a going away party for our neighbors an important older guest was confined to a motorized scooter (he scootered over a day early to be sure he could get into the house).

An architect friend wrote the book linked below. Anyone designing a house should read it and think about what they can do now to make later modifications possible. It just might turn out to be more important than what you decide to use for the kitchen counters.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Accessible Home


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

It's been almost 5 months but I wanted to post a quick update on my split-foyer home. We're about a week from settlement and I absolutely love this house. I can't wait to move in and make it a home!

And for anyone considering a split-foyer home, if it works for you and your lifestyle: go for it and don't let anyone talk you out of it!

 photo IMG_2331.jpg

Here is a link that might be useful: House-Building Blog


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

The house looks great. Your build has been one of the fastest builds I have seen on her. Congratulations on being almost there.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Akshars_mom, thanks so much! It's been quite a ride over the last few months but the builder has been great. We actually signed a contract in February but there were a lot of delays so we didn't break ground until May. Our workers are consistently there on weekends, after 5, on holidays, etc. to help us get moved in before the end of the month. My husband and I are both teachers and really need to get moved in before Labor Day so that we can at least get a little settled before the school year begins!


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Fabulous house, Sparkler. I am so glad for you and your DH that the build is almost over. It is a stressful experience. Seems like your builder and team completed your build in record time and with minimal stress.

I find with your black railings the colour of the brick stairs ties in better than without the railings. I know you had some concern about the step colours. I think your DH was right that once landscaped, the steps and siding will all tie in. In some lights I see the grey in the steps to tie in with the siding anyway.

I can't wait to see more of your interior pictures. Enjoy your new home and that awesome light filled basement with your above ground windows front and back!

I hope you will check back with GW from time to time, especially the monthly building progress posts, so you can see the end result of us poor sods who are still building. I can't wait to be at your stage.

Carol


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Carol,

Thanks so much! You have been such a source of inspiration and comfort throughout this process! I feel like you're a friend I've known all my life! I will definitely post and visit GW as we continue to move in and get settled! I can't wait to see your house (especially your kitchen) when it's all completed!!


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

I have enjoyed your house building journey too and count you as a close GW friend for sure! You helped me solve my steps design challenge by showing me how they built yours!

Don't hold your breath for our reveal as DH is going to slowly finish the building himself as he is off work for 5 months. I will be happy if we are done by next March. We are going for the longest GW build record LOL.

You will post interior pics of your home won't you (or at least send me a few)?

Carol


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Hi Carol,

Have your steps been completed yet? I'd love to see them! It sounds like we may have had one of the fastest builds so maybe it's appropriate that you have the slowest! ;)

I'm sure you'll be relieved and excited when it's all done! I'm actually beginning to wonder what I'll do now that I don't have to spend hours trolling GW, lighting websites, and paint blogs! :)

And I'm sure there'll be more to come in the next few days but I did post a couple photos on the August thread!


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Hi Sparkler,

No the steps are not installed. The natural stone steps are sitting on our driveway. We are waiting on a sub to return to regrade the front and do the footings and concrete block supports. The stone steps will go on concrete block stringers. The stringers will be mostly hidden as the area is recessed.

I'll go check the other post for your pictures. I hope to see one of the interior steps/foyer area perhaps taken from the outside landing?

Carol


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Do you have pictures of the other sides of the house? I looked through your blog, but I didn't see any there either.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Carol,

Here's a photo from the front landing. Of course, it's still not a huge landing...we chose to not extend the landing and stairs and lose space on the main floors. With the large landing at the top of the exterior stairs, the door moved over to the right, and the wider stairs to the main floor it feels just right!


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Dekeoboe, just realized I haven't taken photos from the other sides recently...I'll do that tomorrow!


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Oh, I do love those wide steps with matching entry floor. It looks so nice. Glad you did not do carpet for the steps. It will be so much more practical in hardwood. Thanks for the photo.

Carol


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Well, I've been in our split-foyer for over a year and I love it more and more every day! One of the big criticisms of the split-foyer was the small entryway. While still not my "dream" entryway I wanted to share what we did with it in case anyone else is in the same situation and wants some ideas!

Here is a link that might be useful: House-Building Blog


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

We looked at a house with that very same entryway, and we ended up not buying it. It had essentially your same "upstairs" floor plan -- it's a very common layout. I HATE the foyer; for all the reasons others have mentioned, it has NO redeeming features.

Having said that, if circumstances had been a little different, I would've bought that house. Yes, I would've hated the foyer, but I liked the rest of the house.

However, that would've been a matter of liking the rest of the house and accepting the foyer. I would never CHOOSE TO BUILD such a poorly designed feature into a new house. Not when all the other options in the world present themselves.

I've seen plenty of other split-levels that work well. They tend to have similar floor plans, but

- the entryway is typically in the living room
- the staircase is in the center of the house turned 90 degrees.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Your stated goal in your original post was to accommodate students for music lessons. To have an almost separate area for the music studio. Yet when I look at the photo of your house, I do not see an entrance for the music studio. Did you scrap that part of the plan? I Can't imagine carrying a harp up those 7 steps and then down the equivalent.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Mrs. Pete, thanks for your honest opinion. I've lived in a split foyer home (rental and now my own) for almost 7 years now and I really like the layout. I know it's not popular and most people would not choose to build one but we did and we like it. Since we're the ones living in it, that's all that really matters to me.

I considered an option where the entryway would be in the living room but I wanted some separation from the entryway and living room (no matter how small that might be). Since I couldn't have a 10x10 'grand foyer' I'd rather have a landing where people's shoe dust and dirt can hit rather than in the middle of my living room. I've never heard of the other option you mentioned, though, and can't quite picture it in my head. Do you have a photo of that?


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Pixie_lou, sorry it's not obvious from the photo I posted. My students actually enter from a side door to the right of the garage. I load and unload my harp through the garage so there's no stairs involved for me or my students. My studio is on the bottom floor. When they come in on the bottom level there's a little nook for them to drop their shoes, coats, and bags and then the music studio is on their right.

I took a couple quick photos so please excuse the poor lighting. The first is from inside the studio. You can see the door my students use to the right of the storage closet doors. To the right of that door are the stairs leading up to the landing.

 photo IMG_0567.jpg

The other photo is from the opposite corner of my studio. Behind the piano you can see the nook where my students take off their shoes and also an additional under-the-stairs storage closet. To the right of that you can see the trim of the student/guest bathroom door.

 photo IMG_0550.jpg

Hopefully that makes it a little clearer!


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

I Just don't see the door on the outside of the House.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

I didn't post a photo of it...still working on landscaping so I didn't want to share it yet...and you can't see it from the front of the house. It's on the right side. There's a pathway from the driveway that leads to the door. When I get that area fixed up I'll post a photo.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Sorry, this probably would have helped...still doesn't show that door but now you can see the garage doors and the path leading to the door on the right side of the house.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Wonderful pictures, Sparkler. I do love the blue door! Your photo gallery in the foyer is very nicely done. Your music studio looks like the perfect solution for your goal of a separate entry for your business from the house. If you and your DH have kids, I can see him looking after the young ones upstairs while you have a space downstairs to teach in. It is a nicely decorated space for your students to have their lesson, and for you to teach in too. You have done a terrific job of decorating your home in the year since it was built.

Mrs. Pete:

I must say I was surprised at your frank comments. The house has been built and it is lovely. Why uses words like HATE and never CHOOSE TO BUILD in capitals. Sparkler has obviously chosen to build this style of house and is enjoying her home. It is not as if she is considering building a split foyer or contemplating buying one -- she is living in it.

I hope when you post your finished pics of your house people won't use words like HATE and I would never CHOOSE TO BUILD statements ... about your newly built house. Just saying.

Carol


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

I'm attaching (I hope) a picture of a typical split level in my area. The entrance is in the "main part" of the house, which is usually the living room -- but you could make it the music area. Typically there's a family room "downstairs" and all the bedrooms "upstairs". Yes, it is essentially half a two-story house connected to half a one-story house -- and the stair cases are only "half staircases", meaning that they're shorty-stairs because of the way the house is joined in the middle.

Several additional thoughts have occurred to me -- some very basic questions:

- You say you don't have children yet. Why build a four-bedroom house, especially since budget is a concern? Build a standard three-bedroom house (good for resale), and future small children can share a bedroom without any problem.

- Do you really need a separate office and music room? You say your husband works away from home, and you cannot use both rooms at once. I understand that for a large instrument like a harp, you need floor space, but could not the office be built into one space?

- In one post you allude to the idea that at some point in the future you won't need to teach music anymore -- did I get that right? I'm assuming this means that at some point you'll only be performing -- not teaching? If you're working towards working your way out of this job, does it make sense to spend the money to build a custom room for teaching music? This seems, again, to indicate an office and music room could be combined.

- Is a garage an actual need? I know, I know, it's something pretty much everyone wants, but you're looking at sacrificing your living area -- why not cut out keeping your car indoors?

If you were to cut out some of these items, you'd be down to a smaller square footage, which might allow you to build all on one level -- and then you could have a door on the side of the house for students /a main door for your friends.

Comments on other parts of the house:

- I definitely like the idea of changing the island to a simple rectangle. It'd be more cost-efficient and then would provide more storage in the space.

- Your master bath has some problems: the door and the linen closet door are going to knock against one another, the door will hit a person using the sink, and a bathroom this size really can't support a toilet-in-a-closet. You have plenty of space, but this particular layout isn't working well.

- Closet doors need to open "out". As they're drawn, you'll have to enter the closet and close the door to access the clothes on one side.

Carol, I do hate that type of entryway. Apparently so do most people. I was under the impression that she hadn't yet started building this house, and she still has the choice to build something much better.

I do agree with the poster who says that when essentially EVERYONE things the same thing, sometimes you have to ask yourself if you're on the right track -- especially if it's a house that you eventually want to sell. Even if your idea is dead-on for you, yourself, it may not be popular at resale time.

And a comment on considering possible handicaps when building a house: Don't neglect temporary handicaps. For example, pregnancy makes it tough to go up and down stairs. I remember clearly that in my 8th and 9th month I'd walk into the school building and stop to rest before starting up the stairs to my classroom. Many -- if not most -- people will consider a house that has some bedrooms upstairs, bedrooms that might one day become inaccessible, but ALL the essential parts of the house are upstairs, and that does cut out a large percentage of your future possible buyers.


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Hi Carol,

Thanks, as always, for your kind and encouraging words! I knew I was opening myself up to negative feedback again by sharing on here but I've been promising you some foyer and front photos so I thought I'd go ahead and post them! ;)

I know my house won't please everyone but I've finally realized that if it works for me and I love it then I don't care what others think. I'm sure some of the other posters live in houses that I would not care for either so...to each his own! :)

But on another subject, how is your kitchen coming along?


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Mrs. Pete,

Sparkler, the OP, finished her split-foyer house one year ago. I think the title of the post is throwing you. This is essentially a reveal update to an old post. The picture you posted looks like a classic split level which is different from a split-foyer (or so it seems from the outside picture).

Sparkler,

Sadly we don't have that much progress to report on our end. Our kitchen cabinets are ready for pick up, but we are not ready for them. They are RTA cabinets. Some day we will be in your shoes and be done, but not any time soon.

Carol

This post was edited by OntarioMom on Mon, Sep 22, 14 at 21:51


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

sparkler-I second Carol on how homey and comfy your home looks after just a year. Woohoo! Looks great. We won't have grass for a good year either. Yours is looking pretty good to me right now! :D


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Autumn,

Thanks! It's hard to believe we've been here for only a year. Our old rental actually just went up for sale again and the photos on the realtor's website are still from when we lived there...just for kicks we looked through them and it's crazy to think that we were there for 5 years. I'm SO glad we have a place to call our own now (that doesn't have a pepto bismol pink bathroom!). And yeah, not great grass...we have plans to totally overhaul the lawn but that'll have to wait a few years...


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RE: Plan feedback for split-foyer, please!

Mrs. Pete,

As Carol (OntarioMom) said earlier, this is just a follow-up reveal post. Our house is done and built (just the way we want it). It did change quite a bit from the original drawings I posted but at this point I'm not sure I'll post the rest of the house because I'm just tired of defending myself again and again. I'm know it's not necessarily to everyone else's taste but we will be here a good 10 years (or longer) and we'll deal with resale when the time comes. Maybe I'll regret it 10 years down the road and maybe I won't...if I remember I'll come back here and post our story when/if we move.

Our house is 2494 square feet of usable space (not including the garage and storage room)...I'm pretty sure that we've got plenty to work with and more than many have. I'm thankful for what we were able to afford to build and how it works for us. I do appreciate the thought you put into your questions though and I'm sorry that it wasn't clearer that this was just a follow-up.


 o Post a Follow-Up

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