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STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

Posted by vtremodeler (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 2, 12 at 15:46

Hello all,

I have a hillside ranch house that I have been completely remodeling on my own over the last two years. WHAT A PROJECT! The original builder had literally embedded a trailer home into this house. Luckilly for us, it was not structural in any way. We were able to gut half of it out from the inside and we have redone/replaced everything from from the inside out on the whole "left" side of the house. I took a bunch of pictures of the inside after we were nearing completion of what I was calling "Phase 1": Bedrooms and Bathrooms, last spring, and you can see these pictures here:

http://s67.photobucket.com/albums/h294/tbtilton/House Pictures 2011/

- You can see in some of the pictures the "step up" into the kitchen/dining - this is the remainder of the mobile home still embedded in the house, I have just finished off the transition for the time being until we start "Phase 2".

Since those pictures were taken, I have removed a junky front porch that hung off the "front" of the house, and put in a couple new windows, a new french door, and a ledger for what will be some kind of deck to be built next spring.

My problem is that I am now running out of inspiration, and we are running head-long into "Phase 2": kitchen, dining, living... I have worked so hard to give this box of a ranch some character on the inside, and what siding Ive done outside I have tried also to add character, but now that we are around to the front/right and entry areas of the house, I am running low on inspiration and worried no matter what I do the house is still going to look like a fancy double wide. I have put countless hours into trying to develop a master plan, but I somehow think it just falls flat. I could really use some help and inspiration on how to make this house look awesome and give it a nice floorplan. I have uploaded some new exterior shots, plus some screen rips of my current "plan" to this new 2012 album (keep in mind that everything to the "left" of the kitchen/dining in the floorplan has already been completely remodeled):

http://s67.photobucket.com/albums/h294/tbtilton/House Pictures 2012/

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!... even if that suggestion is "go find an architect" ;) If that is your suggestion, I'd love a reference, I only need design/concept help, not really any structural/build help, as I have carpenters/builders/structural engineers in the family who can help me with execution.

thanks again!


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

You can also copy and paste HTML version of your photo into the message box.

floor plan, The location of the stairs is not set in stone.  I will be moving them because the current stairs (which are right in front of the new french doors) are NOWHERE near code... very steep.  I can put them pretty much anywhere along the


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

It must be a hell of a property for you to have bought that pig in a poke. You needed an architect two years ago. RUN and hire one now.


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

HA...pig in a poke... Yeah, it was mostly price that got me here, although the land is nice too. Im in my 20's, this is my first house, and the mortgage + taxes + insurance is about what I was paying in rent before I bought, so I figured, what the hell I might be able to make something of this place.

I'm not looking to spend 100K+ on making this little house into a mansion, I'm just looking for advice/ideas on how to make the most of what I've got. My default will be to finish off the rest of it similiarly to what Ive done so far, and It will just have to look like a basic hillside ranch :/ ....

Anyway like I said, any comments on what Ive got sketched out would be appreciated, and renovator8 - thanks for the help/advice on working the forum correctly!


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

well i think it sounds great--to be building equity and learning so much is invaluable, especially in your twenties. too many people your age are shut out of home owning, and come to think of it my second house was a complete gut--god that was awful!
are you in vt? i am too!


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

Trailer homes do not have the structural integrity to support choices that can be made in a standard stick built home. There is no point in planning something that cannot be done to the structural limitations of your dwelling. You really do need a professional on site evaluation from both an engineer and an architect to design new framing and foundations for the trailer portion.


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

falling waters - Yeah I am (mostly) happy with this path Ive chosen and am grateful to be comfortably affording a home. It is extremely challenging, but I sure hope the experience of fixing-up will be worth it! I am in VT, Chittenden County.

Green Designs - I should clarify, the trailer is not a structural part of the house (surprising, I know, but I made sure to confirm this before I bought) There is a full Block foundation, a full floor joist and subfloor system, and literally the house was stick-built AROUND this mobile home after it was somehow set up on the subfloor. The roof system is Trussed, which we have had inspected and the trusses are supposedly rated for the full 24' span. the trusses do not set on the roof of the trailer, but are about 1"-2" above it as they rest on the exterior wall plates on either side of the house. In the half of the house Ive already gutted, I did strategically build "bearing" walls to be safe (and considering the snow loads we sometimes get around here), and I do plan on spanning a beam through whatever floorplan I end up with on this front side.

When the last half of the trailer is gutted, I will have basically a 24' square of floor space to fill with kitchen, living, dining, a stairway, and some kind of logical entry way....


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

Awesome VT! A plaster contactor friend of ours back in the eighties built around a single wide, when it got to the point of wanting to "house" it, pulled the single wide out and sold it, lived in an r.v. and finsihed the inside of the house. It was a rustic cabin and turned out great despite frustrating the buiding dept about the steps and approach that were taken to complete it. You'd never know they had a mobile home inside their cabin. You might inquire over at the building a home forum as well. Professional advise there. Best of luck with your project!


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

this might help understand where I started, a quick and sloppy MSPaint rendering of the approximate floorplan when I moved in. Keep in mind there are house floor joists under the trailer section, trusses over it, and 2x4 exterior walls surrounding it.

BASIC BEFORE, a REALLY quick MS Paint rendering of about what the house was when I moved in


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RE:RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

I just also went in to my little amateur program and augmented my "plan" to reflect the CURRENT state of my house/floorplan. I have outlined the section of the house with the trailer remaining in red:
Basi Current Plan


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

What is wrong with keeping your stairs where they are? I kind of like entries with stairs nearby... And, moving your stairs and penetrating an entirely different area of your floor joists is more difficult for sure, than keeping them where they are...

Also, I think your current living room must be 12' across (kitchen also?)? 12 feet is perhaps a little narrow, so I might push into the kitchen space a bit, but really, as it stands it is quite functional.

Take your kitchen layout/space over to the kitchens forum. I think you will get the best help/inspiration there.


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

The problem with the stairs is that they are WAY too steep. They average 9" tread with nearly 10" riser. VT code dictates minimum tread of 11" and a maximum rise of 7". This means a straight stair, to code, would take 12.8' of space plus a 3' landing. (current stair is taking less than 7', plus a step-high landing).

With a beam and mechanicals(wires, heating duct) running down the middle of the house (the long way), keeping the stairs where they are AND building them to code is infeasable. We will need to do some joist alteration and most likely will need to make any stairway a "U" type or at minimum an "L" to get it to fit (unless we run a straight run paralell to the long walls of the house)

the living room is too long and narrow, and a BIG problem right now is there is no defined entry, we just come in the basement door, and up the stairs, then put our crap by the door leading to the screen porch. One of my goals is to establish a functional "Front" entry, which the current floor plan lacks entirely. Guests don't know what to do when they come to the house. You probably can see what I mean when you look at the exterior pictures in my albums.


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

I think you're doing a great job so far!

The layout reminds me of our first house. This isn't meant to be a forever home, it's a starter home, so I wouldn't worry too much about "upgrading" the interior. Just focus on making it structurally sound with a functional layout and someday, you'll pass it on to the next young person for their first starter home. I have so much respect for you for doing this, and I'm sure you're learning some great life lessons along the way!

My observations would be to leave the layout basically the way it already is, minus the trailer, of course. Fix the already existing stairs in to an L if you can. If you're worried about having a better entry, can you build out a new covered porch/entry way?


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

A great way to define an entry is to have it be at the foot of a stairs with a landing. The landing above creates an natural hallway to focus your eyes and a sense of enclosure. I would not move things around at all. The original layout isn't too bad and you don't really gain all that much but a lot more work. If you want to open the kitchen to the LR, then just place the fridge where the original peninsula began and use a range instead of a cooktop and wall ovens. That gives you enough room for an island. Depending on how you will handle the height difference in the two rooms (Will you flush the height? Will you put a railing?) will determine the shape and stool direction of the island. (I'd attempt to orient it north/south like the current peninsula, but coming out from the LR, with the seats on the DR side.) Put a prep sink on the island towards the fridge/range end if you're up for some plumbing.

There, the only real work is making the stairs/entry work mathematically. Everything else difficult to deal with pretty much stays in the same original locations. That keeps the costs much lower.


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

Who knows, I may be here a while! I agree though, the main goal is to make it functional and sound, but since romoving the trailer involves a FULL gut, I figured I should try to put it back together the best I can. I find that the existing layout is clunky because it forces us to have 2 main "areas", each ~24' X 12'long. Because of this, I have focused on an Open concept since I can "give and take" from each side without inner partition walls. This makes for more puzzling though, because how open is "too" open? Especilly in a relatively small house like this...

Here is another "doodle" of mine I have been working on today: My Fiance Longs for a 3rd bedroom on the main floor (both for resale AND because if we are here for another few years, we are gonna need it!), so I have been trying to figure a way to incorporate that. Keep in mind, with this same layout in the "Main" house, we can do away with the bedroom and the addition off the "top" can just be a simple small mudroom addition and still provide that "main entry" we are looking for. This is, however, one of the options I'm thinking might be "too" open...

Anyway, let me know what you think!

Another Option

This main house layout, plus the layout in the picture in the 4th post (renovator 8 posted it for me), are the two layouts that I have been putting the most effort into..


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RE:RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

Live Wire Oak - When the trailer comes out, so will ALL the plumbing and electrical in that area of the house - The tailer's drain pipe, and supply plumbing and electrical are all contained within the trailer (not in the stick walls)and they all come out under Dining room in the basement, and I have them hooked up there to the house supply/drains/electrical. We are going to have to start from scratch, so aside from avoiding mechanicals and exosting house wire runs, it doesnt really matter where things go in the final plan - it will be a lot of work no matter what!

When the trailer is gutted, the whole right side of the house will be level subfloor, the ceilings will all be the same height, and there will be literally no existing plumbing, heating, or electrical (except in the south/bottom wall of the current living room, which I've already re-done)...

Thanks for all the input on the plan though, I am really starting to think you guys are probably right about the basic existing layout being good enough. The only thing I have to stick on is the stairs. I just dont see how they will geometrically work in the area they are in now, without blocking the nice french door there in the living room, (which will exit onto a deck and faces our yard.)...


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

Ack, I just noticed that in my "Current Floor Plan", the stairs are rendered backwards... The stairs emerge from the basement level near the center of the house, not near the french door to the deck... Here I fixed it:

Basic Current Floor plan


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

Rather than adding to the footprint of the house (requiring new foundations and roof) I would try replacing the roof with steep rafters and put the master bedroom and bath up there and put a more efficient straight run stair in the center of the house.

You could raise the ceiling in the living/dining area a foot or as high as the rafters.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

Wow renovator8 - Thanks for the different perspective. I really like the layout you sketched out, Lots of great ideas!

Unfortunately, I DID just get done renovating the master bedroom/bath so changing that end of the house just cant happen. I had also considered "raising the roof" when I first bought the house, but that would have neccessitated doing the whole thing at once - as it has been, I have been able to pick away at it as time/money have allowed, and I have re-done a good big chunk of the house so far.

HOWEVER, I liked most of the basic ideas in that layout so much that I mocked it up, considering my current limitations:

New Floorplan 4

SO, the stairs WOULD have to go where they are now, but with some finagling, I think I can get them to work. I really like the idea of the mudroom with a door. AND I hadnt thought of doing a more long and narrow kitchen. I'll need to work on the kitchen, and I will have to do some long hard thinking about where to put windows and whatnot, but I like the progress!

I also have to figure out what I would do to the outside to draw people up to the entrance, and need to break up the long boxy shape of the house. Maybe some kind of covered entrance... What ya think?


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

Stair winders that meet today's building codes usually must have a minimum depth of 6" and a depth of 10" at a distance of 12" from the narrow end.

For a stair going down I would just allow it to be in an opening with a low wall and not enclose any part of it with full height walls. Open balustrades are nice too. A window aligned with the stair will help to light it and brighten the tall wall.


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

Thanks for the advice on the stairs, they are certainly going to be tricky. I've worked on this plan a little more today; Made the kitchen a little bigger, tweaked the Mudroom area a bit (Decided to bump out a bit since I'll be building a roof for the porch/entry anyway), and yes, have figured on the stairs a bit more. I have also started to develop REALLY rough ideas for the entry/outside areas and rendered the basic concept in my program.

Would love some feedback on this - am I headed in the right direction? Anything look WAY out of whack?

Here is the Floorplan:
Floorplan 5

Here is an Interior Rendering of the Floorplan:
Floorplan 5 INT

And here is an exterior rendering, which shows kind of the rough idea I have for the porch/entries:

Floorplan 5 EXT

I drew a lot of inspiration on how to approach the entries from a local architect who's work Ive admired around the area, You can see what I am kind-of going for in this project of his:
South Street House
I have talked to him on the phone, and while he says they are currently extremely busy, in a month or two he will have a look at what I'm doing and he might design my entries/exterior for me, which would be AWESOME. (I only hope I can afford him!!)


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

It's not possible to fit 3 legal winders into a 45 degree stair turn. Delete over the stair and start the stair design from the floor below and see where it ends up on the upper floor. I hope that 45 degree line extending from the stairs is not a change in flooring.


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

I re-read our states codes and found that we have an ammendment for 1 or 2 family dwellings, which allows the stair Max Rise to be 7.75", and the Min Tread to be 10". With this code, I was able to redesign the stairs and get them to fit in the the same general footprint as before, but with 2 winder treads instead of 1.

The code is more lenient for rebuilding existing stairs; for "Class B" existing rebuilds, with a Max Rise of 8" and Min Run of 9". Within this code, I could go with just one winder tread, or even could go straight. Do you think I would fall under the rebuilding existing stair codes? I would think that since I have to make the hole bigger, it would be considered new, but it would be awesome to have the flexibility of the rebuild code.

also...That line was a change of flooring, just was experimenting ;)


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

I would push the island back so it was 42" from the back counter, push the end of the pantry back a similar amount, and use a 90 degree turn in the stair (3 risers down then 9 risers down, holding the risers back from the landing 5" to create a comfortable transition for the inside handrail). I wouldn't put a closet on top of the stair; it's a good place for a window.

There is no need to change the flooring material in the living space. Once you have passed through the entrance vestibule you should feel that you are in the living space. If you want to protect the flooring put a rug there.


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

Like This? I have to say, I like the idea of not having to build a winder stair, but I feel like it seems to "squish" the dining area a bit and mess with the flow. I like not having the pantry edging out into the room, but I also liked having the kitchen be larger... I totally agree with you on having the wood floors throughout, no transition outside the vestibule.
Tweak 2

I had been working on it a little before I saw your post and had made a couple changes, Here it is with the bigger kitchen and the revised, to-code winder stair:
Tweak 1


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

You should only need to drop 12 risers before you can turn the stair at the bottom so try deleting one of the risers in the first leg of the stair or don't turn the stair at all. It might be a tight fit but an accurate dimension of the wall would help determine if those options are possible. You should be able to use 9 1/2" deep treads and 7.75" risers in a tight renovation.

The island is only wide enough for 3 stools or 2 chairs. Perhaps the panty could be standard 12" cabinets stacked together, the entry closet that is against the bathroom wall could run the full length of the space, and a 12" deep alcove on the kitchen side could have a bench (with a projecting curved front), wall hooks for coats, and a shelf up high for hats (or just a wall of shelves or cabinets). That should allow the kitchen and the island to be a foot wider.

For a small house a 6-0 French slider might work better than a patio door.


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

With the smaller tread of 9 1/2 " , I got them to fit straight. The riser works out to 7 3/8". This will be MUCH better than what I have now (which is 9" treads, 9.5" average riser), BUT, I'm wondering if it will be comfortable? With the 45deg bend, I can have 10" treads AND have a little more room at the bottom of the stairs. Im not sure how important that extra 1/2" is... I am preferring the idea of only having to build a simple straight stair!

I fiddled with the kitchen as well, I moved the wall, made the mudroom basically a foot more narrow, put in cabinets, got the Island bigger. However, I didnt care for it as much - the space ended up looking a little lop-sided. I like how as it is, the kitchen entry points on either side of the island basically line up with the two big windows in the living room (which can't be moved since I JUST put them in), and I think that adds a sense of proportion and order to the whole room. I dont know if that is actually important, but I like it.

I am perfectly fine with having a 5 foot island with 3 barstool type seats at it. In fact, the kitchen size/shape is my FAVORITE part of this plan, and I do pretty much owe that to you renovator 8 - Thanks!

Updated Plan:
tweak 3


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

Think in the master bath I would put the double sinks where the closet is and incorporate the closet where the sinks are now. Seems a little funky to have the closet so close to the shower.That's assuming the wall behind where the sinks are now isn't load bearing. You could access that closet from the bedroom as well as the bath by way of pocket doors.


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

The Master... is actually done. It was a challenge. I literally went through probly 20+ plans/designs before settling on this one, and consulted a local Bath designer just to make sure it would work. Having the closet "in" the bath is actually nice for my Fiance - she can get ready and do all her stuff in one eficient area. My closet is the one out in the bedroom. The shower is almost entirely enclosed and seperate, and the exhaust fan is right above the closet/shower doors so any moisture/steam that does come out of the shower room gets whisked straight away. Here are some finished pics:
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

So with the Master DONE, and the other bedroom and the other bath DONE, I'm mostly focusing on the Kitchen,Living,Dining now. IF I have made some awful layout mistakes so far, the goal will be to NOT do that in this second half of the renovation!


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

Pictures speak a thousand words. In one word...AWESOME!


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

If you tell me the full length of the wall (far corner to door opening) and the floor to floor height and the thickness of the floor (floor to ceiling below) I can give you the best riser and tread dimensions. Keep in mind these formulas are for ideal stairs and you are young so you only need to make them good enough to not cause an accident. A good handrail is often more important.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

The Linear Dimention is 13'4", but obstacles below make the actual distance available 11'11"; see image below.

The height from the basement floor to the TOP of the floor joists is 7'10 1/2" Add 3/4 for Subfloor plywood, Add 3/4" for the flooring I will have. Its darn near an even 8'. (Side Note: with the finished floor in the basement plus the finished ceiling, the headroom down there is ~7'2")

Photobucket

I figure since the carrying beam is BELOW the floor Joists, I might be able to take a bite out of the joists and put one more tread (or part of a tread) above that carrying beam if neccessary.


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

You can do it straight with 9.5" treads and the top riser would be about 5" from the hall corner and maybe 12" from the edge of a corridor door (if the corridor is 44" wide and a 30" door is centered).

OR

You could move the stairway away from the corridor door 9.5" and have a 7 3/8" high landing at the basement which would give you about a 6'-6 5/8" head clearance as you turn left and step off of the landing into the basement. That head clearance might be acceptable but if not, it could be increased to 6'-8" by slightly trimming the ceiling and framing above.

OR

You could turn the stair 45 degrees and use 2 winder treads as you have drawn but you would need to use the basement landing configuration described above and the smallest dimension of the two winder treads would be 3 inches and you would need to support the hanging floor with a basement post.

A 90 degree stair turn is not possible because of the location of the central beam below.


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RE: STUCK on layout/updating ideas for my hillside ranch!!

I think I'm going to go with the second option. Thanks for figuring that up for me!


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