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Final Preliminary Plans for Review

Posted by jeff2013 (My Page) on
Mon, Dec 30, 13 at 0:44

Happy Hoildays!

I am back with a complete set of plans for review. Hopefully this would be our last round. I cannot wait to have the design finalized and move on to the next phase-price bidding and builder selection.

Any input on the plans is appreicated.

A. Floor plans.
We have spent a lot of time and efforts focusing on the floor plan, so I am quite comfortable with that part.

B. Structure integrity.

B1. Support beams. The house would be built with brick walls and metal roofs. There are at least 5 LVL beams to supprt the 2nd floor brick walls. Currently the floor truss is planned at a depth of 24".

B2. Front entry gable roof. There might be a water drainage problem where the gable meets the left side wall. There are discussions of adding a slighted pitch roof in that small area to re-route water away from the wall. We may also disconect the roof/wall section and instead add a gutter.

B3. Exterior walls along the three sides of the back U-shaped cut out. I assume that the bricks would be installed only when the walls are exposed out side the roofs over the great room/garage area. I am not sure if they can be done correctly without causing future roof leakages. Otherwise, we may consider use other types of walls (stucco or siding).

C. Elevations
Again, it took us a long time to get to this floor plan and roof plan so we are looking for ways to improve the elevation looks without changing too much on the rest of the design.

C1. Hip or gable. We tried 4 different combinations of doing gable / hipped roof on the two small sections over the entry and the study bump-out. The current configuration is chosen as the lower hipped roof ties better to the main structure. On the other hand, the bump out is only 2'3", it seems that we need the gable there to make a statement otherwise, it would look awkward. We also did a small wrapping around.

C2. Window lites. We tried windows with and without the divided lites. Still not sure which way to go. May try the 9-lite Prairie style window next.

C3. Front elevation make over. Wife thinks the front elevation is too boring. She said is just like a box as in typical KB home. This is still preliminary work. We probably would add some horizontal banding. The door needs to be redesigned. Maybe add a transorm. Consider change the brick base to stones. Thinking about adding stone, stucco or other wall materials.

Looking forward to your comments and suggestions. Thanks! JF

1. Floor Plans

Main floor
 photo FloorPlanMain_zps60c095ee.jpg

Second floor
 photo FloorPlanSecond_zpsa96a016e.jpg

2. Elevations
 photo FrontElevation_zpsb0712257.jpg

 photo RearElevation_zpseee81507.jpg

 photo RightElevation_zpsfeb207a8.jpg

 photo LeftElevation_zps0592fee9.jpg

3. Roof Plan
 photo RoofPlan_zps69f00542.jpg

4. Site Plan

This post was edited by jeff2013 on Wed, Jan 1, 14 at 14:55

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Final Preliminary Plans for Review

You have a few conflicting elements on design. Seems like you need to figure out what direction you would like the over all concept to go. Your front door is very modern looking while you have brick exterior and traditional lite patterns in the windows. I'd say either go totally contemporary by keeping the front door, using a smooth stucco exterior and no divided lites in the windows. Or go the opposite keeping the windows, getting a more traditional front door and keeping the brick. I think you get what I'm saying. Prairie style divided lites in the windows I don't think would look good at all in the style of home you have shown so far.

RE: Final Preliminary Plans for Review

We decided to have brick walls and metal roofs while initial design had stucco walls / tile roofs. I agree that there is a combination of both traditional and modenern elements in the design. I am not sure if there is a way for them to coexist or we are better off choosing one side over the other. When I went to Ferguson the other day to pick plumbing fixtures, it looks like my faviorates are all of transitional style with classic stainless steel finish.

I don't know why but I do not like the front door itself. Maybe it is the horizontal panels so different from the vertical window lites. So we certainly would look for other door designs.

Or, we can redo the whole porch. The brick base can be stone; the wood posts can be concrete. Even the roof can be changed. At this moment, I do not have a good idea which direction to go. I would discuss the issue with the designer when we met next time.

Thanks! JF

RE: Final Preliminary Plans for Review

I know you said you are very comfortable with your floor plan, but...

Where will your guests and delivery vehicles approach your house from? Your garage is in back, but your foyer is in "front". However, without context, it would almost seem that the likely place for a person to drive up to your house would be right to the single door of the garage (just outside the curved nook wall)--giving them the "best" door option as the door into your master?

I'm a little sensitive to these things, as I deliver my customers orders myself. I dislike door confusion (I wonder which one I should try first?); even more, driveway confusion.

RE: Final Preliminary Plans for Review

I edited the original post to include a simple site plan. The house is on a corner lot. The rear-etnry garage is on the back without alley access so we need driveway to turn around. The side garage door opens to the back yard for outdoor activity.

I also like a house with clearly defined front entry. In our case, mail box and address number in the front may help.

More comments please? Thanks! JF

RE: Final Preliminary Plans for Review

I'm with kirkhall. If you have company, or the UPS man, I guess you expect them to park on N. Street and walk up to your front door? So the driveway would for your own use only?

Would there be a problem with all your guests parking on N. Street?

RE: Final Preliminary Plans for Review

If it was me, I'd want much larger windows in the bedrooms and game room. Your east and west elevations look out of proportion with a lot of wall space and (relatively) tiny windows.

RE: Final Preliminary Plans for Review

(and, maybe a gate across the driveway) unless everyone will come up N street as a matter of course. But, if people are more likely to find your house by W street, or if the Post Office assigns your house a W street address (since that is where your driveway is), they will all be looking for a door on that side since they are likely to pull into the driveway, as odd as that will be. Do you know for sure how the Post Office will address your house?

RE: Final Preliminary Plans for Review

It's nice to see you progressing to the next phase of your build! Congrats :)

Is W street really busy? I'm still not sure why the windows on that side of the house are all so small, compared to the other sides.

I'm guessing there must be parking on N street, or why would there be a front sidewalk. Is that where guests are going to park?

RE: Final Preliminary Plans for Review

Looks like you've put a lot of thought into your plan already. I've not followed it so I apologize if the points I bring up have already been hashed out.

I think your bkfst nook is going to be lovely and I'd happily join you for tea sometime!

In the kitchen, if it were mine, the island is going the wrong way. I'd want a larger workspace across from the cooktop. And the sink as positioned will not be that useful. You need space around the sink to put stuff down around it, so parking it on the edge is not as useful. Also, I don't want the island to be a barrier to my workspace, but I do want it to be a barrier to company...I need to be able to work in my area, and enjoy people's company from the other side, but not be in my way.

I know DH would never go for the door conflict between the oven and the pantry door.

I'm not very good at exterior design, but there seems to be something off with the front's not just that the door is inappropriate for the rest of the house, but it's also...and maybe kirkhall or someone else will be able to pinpoint it...but it seems that the pediment over the front door is too high, no? And should the pitch be higher...the 5:12 like most of the rest of the roofs?

I too wonder why you wouldn't want at least some deeper windows in the games room...

RE: Final Preliminary Plans for Review

Thank you all for your comments! The weather is getting cold and I hope everyone stay warm and safe.

Littlebug- For UPS person or guests, I expect them park on the N St and walk up to the front door.

The bottom right corner of the house is close to the community gate. There are about 30 houses on N street and only 10 on W street. So people entering the subdivision will see the front first.

In case we do not have enough parking spaces there, they would find a spot close to the front door on the W St. Since the sidewalk is adjacent to the curb (without any grass between the curb and the sidewalk), the walk does not seem too bad.

I understand the current layout with garage in the back is not ideal for guest parking. The lot is too narrow (70ft x 130ft) for front-or side-loading garage.

Annkh- Yes. Very good suggestions on the window sizes. On the east side, the wall to wall distance is less than 20ft. The current neighbor does not have a single window. We currently have three windows in the bedrooms and one in the 2nd floor kids bath. They are for lighting and ventilation. On the wall facing the west street, we had small windows to limit heat exposure in the summer as we are building in the hot climate of deep south.

I went ahead and did some changes. On the east side, the bedroom window sizes are increased from 2050 to the standard 3050. On the west side, I added two 3050 windows (one in dining and one in garage). I feel good about the window addition in garage. Just not so sure about the one in dining. Other than heat, it may cause problem for furniture placement. In addition, the small game room windows on front and west have been increased from 2010 to 2020. The two windows in the kitchen have been enlarged too.

I made some small changes to the window header height. Some of the windows on the elevations look too close to the eaves so I moved them down about 6”. Not sure if that is that is right. I will verify with the designer and talk to builders.

The current design has two small kitchen windows below high cabinets. I proposed to move them up to allow better lighting.

Kirkhall-That is an important point and very good question. I always think that the front is on the N street as that is the front setback at on the plat. It is an empty lot in an established subdivision so we have our address already. I need to check with the city to find out where the house address would exactly be located. Or shall I also check with the post office?

Lavender Lass- Thank you for your continued support and wish you a very happy new year! We are moving slowly. Just started to get cost estimate on the build.
The W street is not busy. There are only about 10 homes up on that street. Our house is close to the sole entrance gate. No through traffic. Windows on the west side wall are limited and relatively small as we are concerned about the very hot summer climate here.

Yes. Guests are going to park on the street in front our house. The house has a front setback of 20ft along that side so I think that is supposed to be the front unless we apply for a variance.

AnnieDeighnaugh- I appreciate your comments. We have struggled a lot regarding the kitchen layout and tried different designs with help from people in the kitchen forum. I understand that the up-down island orientation would make a lot of sense in normal situations. In our case, the area is about 15ft by 16ft which is limited by the walls supporting the second floor game room. We need another 1-2ft to rotate the island 90 degree.

The sink is placed on the corner so that we have more prep area to the left of the sink and in front of the fridge. Based on the prep sink size, we would probably about 2’6” landing to the other side of the sink behind the cook area. I was first worried about the island as a barrier between the cooktop and the fridge too. Just hope the problem won’t be that severe as it does not cut into the traffic much and we do have about 4ft island clearance both ways.

Yes. There is a potential problem with the oven door and the pantry door being open at the same time. We may change the swing door to a pocket door to the pantry.

The game room has windows along three walls. The ones on the back provide some views to the back yard and the rest are just for lighting/ventilation/exteriors. I did increase the small windows of 2010 to 2020.

The front elevation needs a lot of work to make it look right. I have no idea about the front door-pediment-roof pitch proportions. I would bring the issue to the designer and certainly appreciate any comments here.

Many Thanks! JF

Attached are elevations with some changes to the windows. I did it on the CAD file from the designer just to illustrate some of the ideas (more windows, larger windows, lower window header, front door with vertical panels).

 photo revisedFrontElevation0103HR_zps1c9a386e.jpg

 photo revisedRearElevation0103HD_zps4d9a3d11.jpg

 photo revisedLeftElevation0103HD_zps78bda26b.jpg

 photo revisedRightElevation0103HR_zps41db714e.jpg

RE: Final Preliminary Plans for Review

What bothers me about your front elevation is that window selection and placement seems to be rather "willy nilly."

Eg., You have four relatively skinny, tall windows on the right of the first floor (dining room) with three short windows above them (game room.) And those three windows don't even line up evenly with the four on the first floor. It seems to me that it would look better if you had four windows in the game room that were the same width as the four in the dining room below. I know the game room sits way back behind the plane of the dining room but still, when you look at the house from the front, there should be some continuity with the windows.

Then, on the left side of the front door, you have a series of three narrow windows on the first floor (study) and two wider windows in the bedroom above. It doesn't bother me that much that you don't match the numbers of windows on either side of the front door (the house isn't symmetrical anyway) but having two wide windows above three narrow ones is jarring...especially in conjunction with a mismatched numbers of windows top and bottom on the other side, and with wide single windows on the far left that aren't even the same size top and bottom. There are just too many different sizes (different heights, different widths) and different "groupings." No two clusters of windows match up with each other. Some repetition would give a sense of harmony.

It seems to me that it would look better if you had four windows in the game room that were the same width as the four in the dining room below. I know the game room sits way back behind the plane of the dining room but still, when you look at the house from the front, having the same number of windows top and bottom would help tie the two floors together.

I assume you have two wide windows upstairs in the bedroom over the study because code requires that at least one bedroom window be wide enough to crawl out of in an emergency and you wanted narrow windows in the study to match the ones in the dining room. Consider using one wide window flanked by two narrow ones (all ganged together) in both the study and the bedroom.

Also, I think the short windows in the game room would coordinate with the rest of the front facing windows on the second floor better if they were the same height as the upper sashes of the other second floor windows instead of being shorter.

Finally, I also agree with a previous poster that the pediment above the front door is set too high. If you lower it by about a foot to 18 inches, it would actually HELP to focus attention on the front door. In its current location, the pediment just seems to sort of "float" in the dead center of the house. It is disconnected from the door below it disconnected from the door below.

I've made a rough sketch using Paint to show my suggested revisions so you can compare the result with your original.
 photo jeff2013_zps34f88519.png

RE: Final Preliminary Plans for Review

Bevangel-Thank you so much for your suggestions on the front elevation!

I agree that the original elevation has a lack of harmony. There are too many different window sizes and the arrangement is haphazard so the connection between main and second floor, left and right elements are missing.

The picture you created using Paint is extremely helpful for me to understand your revisions. I used Sketchup to follow the suggestions as follows
1) Add a window to make a group of 4 windows in the game room. Align them with the window sizes of the dining below. Also make the vertical size same as the upper half part of windows on 2nd floor bedroom above the study.

2) Add a window to make a group of 3 windows in the bedroom above study. The widths are 2ft, 3ft, and 2ft. Adjust the windows below accordingly for the vertical alignment.

3) Lower the pediment by 18 inches.

It looks much better to me now.

One thing I am still not so sure is the front entry. It looks too fat to me. Does anybody else see the same? Is it the door/sidelight/transform placement problem? Or raising the pediment 6 inches may help a little bit? You suggested 12 to 18 inches lower than original.

I am not sure if the wood post/wood brackets on the brick/stone base are used appropriate here or they are out of place. One idea is to use two simple round/square concrete/brick/stone columns

Once we settle on the front entry part. We still need to redo the left side elevation to coordinate the changes. We had very hard time to figure out how to place the windows in the kitchen.

More suggestions on how to do the front entry area please!
Thank you. JF

Revised front elevation (thanks to Bev's suggestions)
 photo revisedCAD1230ReviewWindows0108_zps7a6990b2.jpg

RE: Final Preliminary Plans for Review

I think the front entry looks fine... not too fat at all. But, since you have a 5/12 pitch on the main hip roof, I would change the pitch on the pediment roof to 5/12 also. I hadn't noticed the slight variation in roof pitches on the original drawing but keeping all the roof slopes the same will add additional harmony. Plus, that would make the entry a tiny bit taller so it would seem a little bit less "fat."

If the entry still seems too wide to you, go ahead and try raising the pediment by 6 inches. I wouldn't go any more than that because you do want to keep the pediment "connected" to the front door.

RE: Final Preliminary Plans for Review

Bev-I am very glad that the front entry looks OK to you. I think we might not get a great deal of curb appeal but I would like to try our best to make things look right and 'acceptable'.

Regarding the roof pitches, the lower roofs of the pendiment and the dining need to have the same pitch as they are so close to each other. When I raised both of them to 5/12, the windows in the game room would be too close to the roof below them and the roof of the dining would be as tall as the top major roofs. So I decided to keep the 4/12 pitch. I would check with the designer again on this.

I received 2nd round of front elevations from the designer with some details added.
A. Window trims. Cantera stone or concrete.
B. Under eave molding and brackets.
C. Stone cladding at bottom of the brick walls.
D. Horizontal banding with vertical/45 deg diagonal brick coursing in the floor truss area.

In addtion, we are now seriously considering stone coated metal tile/shingles as alternative metal roofing option.

Attached are two options from the designer with some of the above ideas. The last picture is after I modifed on option A using sketchup (with limited colors / materials). It also has the dimensions for the ceiling/floor heights, wall distances and window/door sizes.

I had a hard time to find the right balance of detail levels we shall pursue. Simple but not boring. Thoughtful design with purpose/balance/harmony/unity. Something pleasing to the eyes.

I am not sure if any of these elements / materials is appropriate. Please share your thoughts.

Thanks! JF

2nd Round Front Elevation Option A
 photo Front-OptionA_zps52d56453.jpg

Front Elevation Option E
 photo Front-OptionE_zps786abb5d.jpg

Option A with Modified Entry (Straight columns and side panels)
 photo frontElevations0109color_zps8569438d.jpg

This post was edited by jeff2013 on Sat, Jan 11, 14 at 1:40

RE: Final Preliminary Plans for Review

The lower pediment looks sooo much better! If anything, the front porch looks too narrow to my mind, I'm seeing more of a craftsman style wide squat porch. So I definitely prefer the half columns. However, I am really not a fan of the waterline and esp as applied. To make sense, a change in material should be on a specific structural element so it looks like it might have been added on at some point, so it carries some architectural integrity. I know the waterline is popular, but esp in your case, it makes the house look even wider, and it draws attention away from the all important front porch.

RE: Final Preliminary Plans for Review

Glad to see you back on the design Jeff. I like the changes proposed by Bev, Annie and and others above. You have received some good advice.

I wondered about your concern on the west windows and worrying about heat. Of course I do realize the direction of sun on west is also problematic which may be more of an issue than heat. We have the opposite problem in Canada (e.g. lacking heat much of the year) and found triple pane windows well worth it. I would imagine triple pane windows might insulate from heat as well (with blinds/curtains etc). If you went for larger windows (which would look better on the inside and outside of the house), can you compensate by upgrading to triple pane?? You could bring your window question to the window forum. They know their windows.

What do other people from Texas do about west facing windows?


RE: Final Preliminary Plans for Review

Annie-Thank you for liking the lower pediment better. We are not so sure about the half or whole columns as my wife and I happen to have different takes.

For the waterline stone application, I know it is not structurally necessary and may look fake if it is done only on the front side. Somehow I do like the added square wave pattern close to the foundation. One of the complaints is that the front is too plain/boring. Maybe there are more appropriate materials/techniques to achieve this without stones. How about concrete instead of stone to continue the same material as in the foundation (and window trims)? Another idea is to use bricks with different coursing or colors.

Carol- Good to have your continued support. I was thinking about the building progress of your new home as I recently read one post from you over two years ago. Our original plan was to move in before the arrival of our baby. Now he is in day care at 5 months old and I still have no idea when we can break ground…

Regarding the west facing windows, we initially had a lot of concerns about the heat based on our experience of living in the current house with front facing west. Later, we were open to two small windows in the kitchen, one in the laundry room and one in the powder room. Our latest decision is to add a window in the garage. I also contemplated a window in the dining. There are also some windows on the west side in the 2nd floor game room and daughter’s bath room. That is about the max number of windows we could do. I know the openings are still relative small as the wall is kind of long.

For now, I am not too worried about the heat, especially with the triple pane windows you recommended. My biggest concerns are interior decorations/functions for windows in the dining and kitchen. I don’t know if we need another window in the dining and I just cannot figure out where to place the windows in the kitchen. Previous architect suggested windows over high cabinet. Current designer would like to do something under the cabinet. I am thinking of sacrificing some of the high cabinet areas. I would start a new thread with different cabinet elevation drawings for you and others to take a look.

Thanks again! JF

RE: Final Preliminary Plans for Review

Hi Jeff,

Yes, as you can tell from reading a two year old thread I started, we have been planning and now building (actually re-building as it is a gut/addition project) for a long time. I too thought the planning would go a great deal faster. Also, we (like you) had to switch architects a few times until we settled on the one who did the final designs. We have had to be very hands on, and had to consult repeatedly with an interior designer, GW etc. to supplement the plans the architect has done and to make the nitty gritty decisions. We are still micro planning the finer details of the house (built-ins, lighting plans, etc) even though we are probably 60% done with the actual build.

I was curious as to what old thread you found that I started? Was it by chance the one when our curb appeal was destroyed by the ugly garage roof? That thread had lots of readers/posters. Thankful that nightmare is behind us as we replaced the ugly roof with a flat roof and it will soon have lovely glass railings installed.

As per the triple pane windows for your house, I wasn't so much recommending them as saying if heat was the reason your west windows were so small than maybe triple pane would be an option. Your climate is so very different from ours that you need to get advice from experts in your area. You might try the window forum for any window questions you have.

As per adding more windows, that was always an easy one for DH and me. We love natural light and so we added windows everywhere we could (and no high up small ones). A well designed house has windows on two sides of the as many rooms as possible (as per book Designing the Perfect House). I see you have a lovely bank of windows in the dining room, but another window or skinny pair would also be nice on the other side (again west which may be an issue for your weather). In our home we went for a large south window in the dining room and than a pair of 30" windows flanking the china cabinet. All the windows in the dining room are quite low down so you can see out while seated. Your kitchen is more of a challenge as you need the cabinet space. However, I am not really into the high window (over cabinet style) that you have shown on some plans as it is too modern for my liking. I know you have a nice window in your seating area though. Have you taken your kitchen design to any KDs for a cabinet quote and design? Maybe they will help you find the solution. Another posting on the kitchen forum is a good idea too.

I do recommend the Susan Susanka books (Not So Big House series) as she has great advice on window placement, height, etc. If you haven't already read her books I would go straight to your library and see what she has to say.

Best of luck with getting this off the ground soon.


RE: Final Preliminary Plans for Review

West facing windows in hot southern climates can be problematic. We're in central Texas and the hot afternoon sun is brutal so west facing windows pretty much need to be shaded at least 9 months out of the year. I honestly don't know if triple pane windows would work that well to keep the heat out or not. Everyone I know who has unshaded west facing windows winds up covering them with thick (usually quilted) curtains to just block out the sun completely...which pretty much defeats the purpose of having the windows in the first place!

What we did was place our two story stand-alone garage (there is a man cave upstairs) on the west side of out house specifically so that the garage would provide shade for the very few (3) west facing windows that we have in our house. Thus, in the late mornings those windows get light that is reflected off the light colored garage siding and, in the early afternoons they get a little bit of direct sunlight. But, even in mid-summer, by about 3PM the sun is mostly blocked by the garage from hitting the west facing windows. For us, that has worked well but your lot won't allow you to position the garage to shade the house.

If there is room for you to plant some shade trees between your house and the street on the west side, they would eventually help keep the lower floor windows on that side from being quite such heat traps. Plus some trees would give you a nicer view that just looking at the street. Deciduous trees would be fine if you're in an area where it cools off reasonably well in the winter when the trees drop their leaves. But, if you're likely to have 75+ degree weather thru out half the winter and 100+ temps thru much of the summer, then you might want to go with evergreens that will provide shade year round. Depending on how much moisture you get, your evergreen tree options might be limited but, even here in central Texas where we have to contend with drought there are a few evergreens that will do well. Unfortunately, they tend to grow very slowly so it might take quite a while before such trees would get big enough to offer much shade.

Or, instead of trees (or in addition to trees) you might consider putting a pergola next to the house on the west side and position it so it shades your kitchen windows. If grapes grow well in your area you might consider planting grape vines to eventually grow up and over the pergola providing an additional benefit of a grape harvest as well as extra shade. Until the vines grew up over the pergola, you could hang baskets of flowers and maybe grow an herb garden under the pergola. In a really hot climate, even sun loving herbs usually benefit from the partial shade that a pergola would provide.

For the game room over the garage, since you'll have both north and south facing windows, you might consider skipping the west facing windows entirely. (BTW - north facing windows are absolutely WONDERFUL in Texas! Beautiful light and very little heat.) Yes, leaving off the west facing game room windows would mean a large stretch of blank wall facing the west street but since that is not the front face of your house I don't think it would look be that bad...especially if you had the above mentioned pergola and other landscaping between the house and street to give the eye something lower down to focus on.

And I would not worry too much about the west-facing window in the little bathroom. Most of us like our bathrooms to be a little bit warmer anyway. Plus, for privacy's sake, you may decide to use some sort of frosted glass in that window anyway and that will reduce the amount of heat transmitted thru the glass somewhat.

This post was edited by bevangel on Thu, Jan 16, 14 at 17:27

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