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Need help on plans

Posted by frozenelves8 (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 16, 14 at 1:21

We are closing on our house next month so I'm hoping to get the ball rolling on building in the next few months. I've been working on house plans for 5 years now and have a couple that Iike but want to focus on one now. This one began with some plans that CamG had on here and gave me permisssion to work with. I altered it quite a bit to suit us but still not happy with a couple of areas.

We have 7 kids, but one lives away at college and likely won't be home to live again only to visit. My kids range in age from high school to toddler. I don't like open concept (too loud) and I want big public rooms for when we are all together and we begin to have grandkids.

The dining room and master bedrooom windowsare wrong so ignore that. Also, I want to add 2 feet to the front of the house. Here's what I don't like. The master bathroom and closet are bothering me. I want my husband to have a separate closet or at least a separate area in a shared closet that I don't have to walk through. I also have a claw foot tub that I want to use. I want to be able to walk all the way around it for cleaning. The other thing is that I would like to put a third window so that it matches up with the 3 windows on the first level. That might not be possible. I am also open to pushing the windows together on the main level below if it has to. In the basement, the room that says office is a storage room. The designer that I paid to put these on the computer made a bunch of mistakes. I am old school (have a degree in Interior Design but raised kids instead of working) and use paper and drafting tools. I'm a little rusty and I wish I knew how to do the computer plans, but alas, I don't. Anyway, I'm looking for fresh perspectives.

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Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Need help on plans

Here's a basic rendering also. Colors aren't accurate. Many details still to work on.
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RE: Need help on plans

A few things off the top of my head:

First, it would be easier to visualize if you included dimensions for the rooms.

The landings at the bottom of the stairs (in both the foyer and basement) looks really tight - could you get furniture to turn that corner?

Do you need a full bath on the first floor, or will a powder room do?

Your storage/pantry/entry from the garage (mud room?) is a lot of space, but completely cut up with walkways.

In the basement, what's the story on the room outside the right-hand bedroom? And that bedroom would be more efficient with a reach-in closet instead of two small walk-ins (though it's hard to tell without dimensions).

Where are the mechanicals - furnace, water heater, etc?


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RE: Need help on plans

Dimensions would help greatly.

I'm wondering about the size of the dining room and kitchen island. 6 chairs look tight on the island in the drawing. Plan on 24" per chair MINIMUM. And you need 36" MINIMUM for walking so you can pass while the chair is occupied. Your dining room only shows 8 chairs. Yet you are a family of 9. I guess you could get a chair on each end of the table. Do you ever plan to host holiday dinners? Where do you plan on seating the extended family once you have grand kids?

I know you say you don't like open plan, but swapping the living room and office, keeping some French doors to shut off the living area from kitchen - that could give you the option of additional seating for holiday eating. ISO think the office could be noisy, being next to the kitchen.

I think every room could benefit from more windows. Especially the bedrooms in the basement. And speaking of bedrooms - with 7 kids, which of the bedrooms will have multiple kids? Where will the college kid sleep when he comes home to visit?

With 7 kids, and I'm guessing 4 sleeping upstairs with 1 bathroom? The laundry room is large. Maybe consider adding a second kids bath? Maybe as part of the laundry room? You have a huge master bath and huge master closet. Ipalmost half the upstairs space is dedicated to the master. Then 7 kids are being crammed into small bedrooms with tiny closets and a tiny bathroom.


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RE: Need help on plans

Is there a place you can put an elevator? I don't see a good spot for "when you are old" and can't get up the stairs...for you to live on the main floor. Do you?


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RE: Need help on plans

To answer questions:

(annkh) The designer didn't put dimensions in so I don't know the exact sizes. For scale though, the dining room 12x16. We will be adding 2 feet to the front of the house because of the short landing space. When the design went on the computer, the stairs were longer than I had allowed. They still seem too long, but I don't know. There are 17 steps and we have 9 foot ceilings, does that sound right? They are 3.5 ft wide. Yes, we want a full bath on the main floor with so many people, it's nice if we need it. My in-laws would likely use it if they visit. We can't really provide a guest room, but it will give them their own bath for a visit. That little room in the basement is actually a closet for a washer/dryer. I don't know why it looks like that on the plan. Those closets are basically a deep reach in. It's what we have now for our kids and it works. Gives a little more room on the floor for their stuff too. Mechanicals will go in the basement room that is mislabeled "office." Should say storage room.

(pixie lou) I don't think the chairs on the plan look right either. The scale is off. Same with the office chairs. Our dining table is 10 feet long and can fit 10-12 chairs. We are also thinking of changing the length of the dining room to 18 feet. But, we are at max budget so it might just have to be tight at 16. The island is 5x7 and there is 4' walkways on all sides. I really like the layout of office, living and kitchen as is. The office is really more of a computer room and it needs to be near the main areas. It's actually going to have glass double pocket doors that are open most of the time so we can keep an eye on the kids. I spend a lot of time at the computer and I can see the back yard and the living room where everyone spends a lot of time. I don't like lots of bedroom windows as much as others on here. It gets light here in northern MN at 4:30 am and stays light until 10pm which is terrible for kids. I like a lot of light in the main areas though. The only shared bedroom will be the one in the basement with 2 closets. Our college kid will bunk with a sibling or sleep on a couch. She won't mind and only sleeps at home a few nights. My kids don't need huge closets or big rooms but these rooms are a decent size. Much more space than we've ever had. The upstairs bath is big and the basement bathroom was actually drawn wrong, it should be longer with a longer vanity. As for the master size, that's what I'm asking for help with but I don't mind it being big but would like a better layout in bathroom and closet.

(kirkhall) Nope, no place for an elevator on this house. If we get to that point, the house will be too big anyway and we'll move. Here in Duluth, stairs are a way of life and you'd be surprised how many "old" people still live in their houses with stairs. We don't have many one level houses.


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RE: Need help on plans

Does anyone have any suggestions on a better layout for master and bath assuming we add 2 ft. I don't know the exact room dimensions but the house is 34ft deep by 42 wide. The vanity and shower are both 6ft long. I like a wide toilet area to make cleaning easier and I don't really want a whole separate toilet room with a door. I don't want to stare at a toilet either when I'm bathing. Oh, the windows in the master bedroom are wrong for some reason. The windows along the front of bath need to line up with the l.r. windows below (which can be moved around a little too).


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RE: Need help on plans

Well, not much to say that isn't already in the pic. I made sure when I added the extra length to the walls to keep the stairwell static.

By adding 2 feet to the depth of the house, the main dimensions will be 36 feet by 42 feet, with the craft room, dining room and deck, and the garage sticking out of the rectangle shaped main building.

You'll want to copy/save this pic and open it up to view the whole thing, as it's all one single composite. cut/paste and print from there if you wish! :)


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Thank you Skie for doing that. The only thing is that the 2 ft is supposed to go on the front to make the entry larger and the walkway into the Living bigger. It would then increase the mudroom depth (currently mislabeled storage). It would also increase the two baths up and I'll need to make adjustments. Sorry if I confused anyone about that. The craft room (which is really a sunroom/playroom) should be 12x12 already and I will be taking out the window directly across from the door. Yes, the dining room is going to be longer. I'm amazed at the way you all know how to do this computer stuff!


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RE: Need help on plans

Just a thought here, and I hope I'm not butting in with an oddball comment, as I didn't have time to read all yours, but if I could build my own home to grow old in, the doors and hallways would be about 6-8" wider than your average doors and hallways. My husband and I found a great little apartment (actually it was like 1100 sq ft) in indiana, and for a bit I just couldn't get over why it seemed so spacious. Finally it occurred to me that the place unmentioned to us was built with specs for easy wheelchair access around the apartment. Also, the bathroom was almost as big as a bedroom which is rare for an apartment, which just opened right up once you entered it big enough so a wheel chair could easily turn 360 degrees with no problems, or roll up to the sink if need be. Let me tell you, I went into labor in that apartment at 3am and the ambulance had no issues collecting me from the bathroom where i was waiting with my water broken, and hauling me out of there. The doors and hallways gave plenty of space, and my medical care was helped because of it. You may not be having any kids, but think of growing old, and the possible and likely need to be navigated out of your home by paramedics one day, god forbid later than sooner.
An added bonus was feeling like my place was just huge. You'd be surprised how your brain registers the extra breathing room of a wider than average hallway or door entry. It's uncanny. I even had a small bookshelf in the hallway against the wall and for a few feet that reduced the width of my hall space to that of an average one. If you're going to consider the elevator, or any accommodations for yourself as you become less and less capable of mobility, this option would be worth its weight in gold.


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RE: Need help on plans

Bloomin,
It's not an oddball comment... but we do have kids. 7 of them actually. We need what we need now and I just can't plan for our growing old house like most people. We need space now, and a lot of it, but I don't think we will need that later so if I have to move, then I will. Main floor masters are in the minority here as well. But to be sure, we made hallways 4ft and most doorways will be 2'8". Although the picture is small and without dimensions, I promise it's spacious where we need it.
Thanks for chiming in.


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RE: Need help on plans

Took a semester of Autocad Lite for drafting purposes while attending college for Electronics. Ended up getting pnemonia and missing my final exams. Professors wouldn't let me re-take my missed exams so I lost my 24k scholorship. So much for getting 31 on my ACT. :P

Image adjustments aren't all that difficult. All you have to do is zoom in and cut/paste what you need where you need it. Another term for what I did is "photoshopping", and it's pretty easy to do. In fact, I would be very surprised if one of your kids can't do it at least as good as I can.

Simply right-click the image and go to "edit" and select that, then you can make whatever changes you wish .... make sure that when you save the file, you change the file name so that you can always go back to a previous version.

At the moment, I'm busy making another batch of honey mead melomel (cherry flavor, 1 gallon batch), so I dont have time to make you a true blueprint floorplan, but I'll see what I can do after I get off work tomorrow. :)


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My parents built a house 30 years ago with an L-shaped master suite.

The closet was along one entire side of the master bedroom, with two doors. It was set up like two closets, except that there was no dividing wall. Each of the two parts of the closet had a rod along either side (this was before the day of closet built-ins; there were probably shelves above the clothes rods and along the back wall; I don't remember). The entire closet was probably 14' wide by however deep it was.

The closet was along the north wall, there were windows on the east and south walls, and the entrance and bathroom doors were both on the west walls.


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RE: Need help on plans

I think, if I didn't have a room on the main floor that *could* become a bedroom if needed for short-term disability or worse, I'd not take the space to have a tub in the bathroom on the main floor...

Unless, you can believe that your office might function in that way at some point.

I remember spending a lot of time with Cam's design... But, I don't recall the dimensions of that office space. (his was LR in the back, study in the front, IIRC. Maybe that is why the full bathroom made sense in his plan, but not really in yours--proximity of the bath/study).


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RE: Need help on plans

Thanks skie and missingtheobvious. I took autocad but it was way too long ago. I've tried the computer programs that everyone has recommended on here but I just couldn't figure them out. I had that happen about getting pnemonia and missing exams but luckily I was able to take mine. It's awful that you couldn't.


Kirkall, it's more for us. Sometimes, we all need to use the bathroom at the same time for showers or baths. It's just an extra tub, but I'm actually going to change it to a shower. Also, even though my in-laws will not have a guest suite per se, they will have use of that bathroom exclusively when they stay here. I did switch the LR/study from CamG's design because it just suites my family better. It's just too noisy for this many people to have them open to each other. We've lived with it both ways.


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RE: Need help on plans

Frozen, do you have property already? I glanced through the thread, but didn't see it. Orientation of the house is critical. In Duluth, you have strong winds, and possibly spectacular views - and of course hills!

I love Duluth - in the summer. Driving those hills in the winter scares me, and I have lived in MN/ND all my life. Last winter we stayed in a hotel just across from Spirit Mountain, and our van didn't make it up the hill to the parking lot without help (DS and I got out and pushed). Only after we checked in did we learn that there was a back entrance!

DH and I will be in town in a couple of weeks for the Bayfront Blues Festival - we go every year.


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Annkh, we love Duluth also! Came here 13 years ago from TX. We have a 5-acre lot that we like right now. North will be on the right side of the plan. The back slopes for a walkout. It's a pretty lot so there will be a nice view from any room but the best will be out the back. I chose the rooms that I spend the most time in to have the best views. As for the living not being on the back, well we have our huge tv that will go in there and I don't like tons of windows in a lr. Too hard to watch TV and place furniture.

Driving the hills here is hard unless you have an AWD or you know the best routes with least incline. We used to live by the mall until a few weeks ago when we moved into our rental, but we could hear the Blues Festival all the way up there. I'm loving our location in Lakeside but we probably can't find a lot here.


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RE: Need help on plans

Additional things you may want to think about doing ....

All the wiring in the house, minimum 12 gauge wire. This will be quite a bit more expensive than using your standard 14 gauge, and will increase your initial installation costs by around 15 - 20%, because you will be using 20-amp breakers and 20-amp outlets and switches, rather than 15 amp ...

The reason why I suggest this is the following ... the larger gauge wires will allow electricity to flow with less resistance, giving you an actual savings in electrical costs over time (perhaps 3% to 5% per year) ... within 5 years, the initial cost should be repaid in power savings and then you'ld be saving money every year. The larger wires will also conduct electricity without as much heat buildup in your walls, giving you a lower chance of having an electrical fire in your walls.

On the right side of the building (next to the garage), would it be possible to put in a concrete pad large enough for a mobile home? If you don't have one or don't plan for one, it would still be a great place to put a basketball hoop, but you never know when someone is going to visit who happens to show up in an RV or with a trailer ... having an electrical hookup and water hookup nearby will then seem a stroke of pure genius. Inside of the garage, right next to the hookups, you will want a switch to shut off the electrical power (to prevent thieving) and also put in a ball valve 6 - 8 inches away from the wall on the water line (again to prevent thieving, but this is also for winterization). Make sure the outlet box is of the outdoor type with the rubberized gasket, but I'ld say the default position would be "off" on the power.

If you have your living room all set up in mind, then ignore this part ... but it seems that with such a nice long room, perhaps you'ld be interested in a theatre type projection system? You'ld certainly want to keep the living room quite dark, as most projectors have difficulty in brightly lit rooms with showing a picture.

As for what I used to do the actual modification of your image files ... Windows Paint. I just eyeballed the changes and went with it, it was a quick and fairly easy photoshop. Right now, I'm looking into the changes you wanted made ...

Need more details concerning that entryway ... you wanted it protruding from the front by 2 feet rather than changing the dimensions of the main house building? Or is it that you wanted that 2 feet increase in a different place than where I put it (living room and kitchen)? As that living room wall got moved down I think that the entryway there got moved as you wanted, but I can certainly move the kitchen side back up again and increase that mudroom size. I will go with this last change for you.

On basement level, with the staircase being moved 2 feet back from the front of the building, this will cut a bit into your hallway depth ... changed the size of the bedroom on the left to accommodate a decently sized hallway entry.

On 2nd floor, I still need a bit more info on your exact wishes ... I did catch an error I made earlier, in forgetting to put that 3rd window in! The closet wall was in the way, so I moved it to the right. It lost a few square feet in the deal, but you now have your 2 windows next to your tub.

Have you thought about a laundry chute rather than a washer/dryer room on 2nd floor? They are rather heavy to move around, and what will happen if you have a leak? I noticed that it's RIGHT over your pantry!

With so many people in the house, I'm going to recommend you get a PAIR of 50-gal water heaters or better, as you mentioned everybody hitting the showers at around the same time every morning .... Hook them up so that the flow from one goes into the other, and the first will pre-heat the water for the second, giving you longer access to hot water overall.


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RE: Need help on plans

Thanks skie. The 2 feet is added on to the front of the house with nothing moving in the floor plan. So, the living, entry and mudroom would be deeper. The basement same thing. The upstairs would make the baths bigger but I'll play with those anyway. Does that help? I have a laundry chute now and I don't like it. I'd rather do my laundry upstairs so it's easier to put away. I can't remember what the builder said about preventing leaks. A big concrete pad isn't gonna happen. We are hitting our max just to get the space we want. My kids would love it though.


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Hmmm ... well, you could think about setting things up where your laundry room floor is waterproof and basically sitting in a "tub" so that if things START to leak you can stop it and clean up the mess before things get out of hand ... also, putting a drain in the floor like a real tub would be a VERY good idea.

It would possibly work to have a 4" to 6" step up and over into the laundry room area, and then back down to the normal floor, and then putting in a sturdy plastic floor with a 6" to 8" back splash all around, with a 4" or larger pipe drain in a corner or right out in the middle. Make sure that the back splash and the flooring are 100% waterproof, and then lay down your vinyl or tile flooring. :)

I don't know that I would want to have that kind of speed bump in the way when walking with a full load of laundry in my arms, though ... Even a short ramp setup could trip you up if you can't see where you're walking.

It may be best to simply raise the hallway floor outside the laundry room by the half-step that you need, and dropping it back down at the laundry room.


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RE: Need help on plans

Considering you don't even have land yet, it is probably wise to put the design phase on hold. You really can't go much beyond the conceptualization phase without the lot.


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RE: Need help on plans

I thought she said she's got a lot ...? A 5 acre one with a hill sloping off the east side ... (garage would be on the north side of their house)


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RE: Need help on plans

Yes, Skie, that is the lot we will get. Even if that lot falls through, it's not that difficult here to find similar lot.


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