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michelle_caruso46

Building New House - Need Layout Advice!

4 years ago

Hi all! My husband and I are building our first house through a custom builder. We are scheduled to meet with an architect soon and I have been design what I want as a starting point. Before meeting with the them, I would like to get your help! I love an open plan concept, with lots of sunlight and a transitional / contemporary feel. I only have to share with you what I created, so it will be very unprofessional, but I'd like to get first thoughts on layout or any wildly noticeable flaws. Appreciate your help!


Comments (77)

  • 4 years ago

    Michelle - others have asked really key questions. How big is your lot? What is its orientation? This is a plan for a small lot (say quarter acre), hopefully with the back facing south. Is that what you have? If you have a larger lot, a stretched out plan that would allow more natural light would be better. One key example - this plan has no windows in the kitchen. As someone who has that now, I would not want to build a house without kitchen windows. Similarly, if the back doesn't face south, you'll want to take that into account with your layout.

  • 4 years ago

    In many areas, it is not particularly common to see architects being used for modest semi-custom homes. Architects in my areas primarily do commercial and homes over $2M which gets you a pretty stunning home 4,000 sqft and up.

    I live 1 mile from a school of architecture (top 15 in size/doctorate)

    I used a very good designer (IMO) who has a partner architect. He probably spends most of his time in the $1-$2M range. He cost about $5k and typical architect in my area is more like $20k+.

    Pricing s pretty regional. I would doubt that your builder is using an architect.



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  • 4 years ago

    I assume that your pantry with a sink is on your list of wants. What activities do you envision doing in there? I ask because the design depends on it (and because I fear your pantry in your plan would go unused).

  • 4 years ago

    @David Cary I was able to confirm we are using an architect (it is in our contract) and our house will be ~4100 sq. ft!

  • 4 years ago

    @emilyam819 A butler pantry is on my list of wants. I want a second prep space, storage unseen and a spot to put small appliances like coffee, toaster, etc.

  • 4 years ago

    Ok, in that case, your architect/kitchen designer should put the fridge close by. In your design, you would have to take food out of the fridge and carry it past one sink/counter in order to prep it in the pantry- which you wouldn’t do.

    Also, you might have two entrances to such a pantry so that it can serve all the functions you wish.

  • 4 years ago

    @emilyam819 makes perfect sense, thank you!

  • PRO
    4 years ago

    Did you verify the license with your State or are you relying in your contract someone else composed?

  • PRO
    4 years ago

    Michelle, if you like to see your plan in 3D and do a walkthrough drop me please a message on my profile page and I can help you out, this way you know exactly how it will look as build and you can make changes.


  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    If you want lots of sunlight you need lots of windows (facing East and West).

    Natural House Lighting From Only One Side By Joffre Essley
    Every room which people will actually use should have light from at least two sides.

    #5 of 10 Home Design Mistakes
    https://www.house-design-coffee.com/house-lighting.html

    __________________

    And seriously reconsider the two-story foyer.

    https://laurelberninteriors.com/2020/04/01/the-best-builder-upgrades-you-may-not-have-considered/

    __________________

    Best wishes on your build!

  • 4 years ago

    @THOR, Son of ODIN Thank you!!

  • 4 years ago

    Hire a real architect. It’s the training and talent that makes the difference. Software jockeys aren’t architects.

  • 4 years ago

    @User Ha! Agreed. I'm definitely going to ensure I have a licensed architect.

  • PRO
    4 years ago

    So I never like a sink directly across from a cooking surface those are the too busy spots in a litchen and nee to be separated. I would switch the PR and coat closet so guests have easy access to the PR. I like true pullout pantries on a fridge wall but again think aout how your work triangle functions you do not want o have to pass the stove to get to the sink from the fridge. Of course all the lower cabinets shouls be drawers and the kitchen design needs an indepenant kitchen designer not your builder, architect or cabinet sales person. I have no idea what the upper floor is like but I discourage my clients have having double height entry they waste heating and cooling $$ and act like a sound tunnel so all the noise travels up. When you get to the” architect “ , I am not sure that is who you are dealing with, the first step is asite inspection before really any plan needs.I do agree you really need to make sure you are dealing with an actual architect not your builders flunky. That 2 revisions sends up are red flag to me. This is what I would call for lack of a better word semi custom which really just means you get to choose some items.

    Michelle Caruso thanked Patricia Colwell Consulting
  • 4 years ago

    @Mark Bischak, Architect I reviewed the contract which uses the word architect. And isn't it illegal to call yourself an architect if you are not licensed within the state? But to your point, I will check for myself once I get to that stage.

  • PRO
    4 years ago

    "Isn't it illegal to call yourself an architect if you are not licensed within the state?"

    Yes it is.

    I may be partial, but using a licensed architect is your best chance for success, but then again not all architects are create equal.

  • 4 years ago

    @Mark Bischak, Architect I'll keep everyone posted on the architect progression. I may just need to hire you :)

  • 4 years ago

    @Patricia Colwell Consulting You bring up a fair point re: sink across from stove. I do like your recommendation to switch the powder room and coat closet. I am now considering the powder room be moved the front of the house near the stairs if I can. For some reason, I love two story foyers. I feel it can be a wow factor when coupled with an open staircase with architectural design.

  • 4 years ago

    The stairway to upstairs seem to take up too much of the foyer. Putting two sections of steps side by side and a single 3'x6' landing or ( 4'x8' landing ) against the interior wall would be worth considering.


    Is that a door from the laundry to the outside at a deck/fence? Otherwise, I don't see a door for taking the kitchen trash outside other than thru the garage.


    Would enlarge what is now the laundry room and create a single straight exterior wall on the right side for the garage and mudroom and laundry room and then rethink the positioning of all that is in those two spaces to the right of the kitchen.

    What is the gray square with its back to the garage wall? Refrigerator? Would at least move the steps/door from the garage for entering into the house next to that wall separating kitchen from mudroom (across from what appears to be the pantry ... cannot read the words on your plan) rather than have the door across from the powder room.


    By moving the garage/mud room door to the left, you could put the powder room -- or even a full bath -- against the outside wall in the corner where mud room meets the garage. Turning the powder room/bath so the longer wall is against the right exterior wall could enable you to connect the mud room and laundry room with a hallway rather than using your kitchen or living area as a hallway between the front and the back of the house -- and between powder room and laundry. Since you could have the entire wall of this utility space that is against the kitchen wall as floor to ceiling wall to wall storage -- and even more storage against the exterior wall beneath windows that supply natural light.


    Would put a half/half door on each side of the kitchen to separate the kitchen food prep area from this cleaning/storage and work area.


    If you don't want to make that much of a change ...


    If all you want /need downstairs is a powder room rather than a full bath, an "L" shaped powder room with the toilet in the far end and the sink in the corner can enable you to put your powder room where it is accessible from a busy space but not enable the toilet to be seen when the door is open. If you move the door from the garage over to the left, you could do that in the corner where the mud room meets and create a coat closet outside the powder room "L".


    Ask yourself some questions before deciding on a final plan:


    Where is the electrical panel and heat/ac related equipment to be located/


    Is there any chance that your new home will be your forever home (or will you ever have pets to bathe) that might require you to have a full bath downstairs and/or be able to wall off the formal dining area as a bedroom when arthritic knees could make going up and down stairs frequently much more difficult.


    Heat rises. Do you really want a totally open area between the foyer with the stairs and the living area downstairs, potentially at least, making it difficult to keep heat downstairs in cold weather or cool the upstairs in hot weather -- would French door(s) separating those two spaces be something you'd want to consider?



  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    You're getting way ahead of yourself in thinking about "where is the sink" and "where is the stove". I know it's kind of fun but this is not how you prepare for an architect meeting.

    IMO you're building a square box that is going to be dark as a cave. Your kitchen table has the only decent size window where you can ever sit in the sun. The other windows are either covered by overhangs, small, or in utility rooms. Sorry but this is a newbee plan and if you are getting an architect, he/she could do a lot better without worrying that you will be unhappy if they completely reject your plan. Or is your lot small so this is all that you can have because of setbacks? http://www.sensiblehouse.org/des_shape.htm

  • 4 years ago

    Michelle, I tried to PM you my plans but you don't seem to have a PM link.

  • 4 years ago

    Ok - this does not look like a 4100 sqft plan.

    Light is mostly blocked - overhangs - but we don't know orientation.

    The front loaded garage and boxy shape is rather dull and not aesthetically pleasing.

    The front porch is huge. Having just gotten through pollen season, I really regret having a front porch. One more thing to clean - and for us, not somewhere we hang out.

    Is your lot really tight?

    Do you watch TV?


  • PRO
    4 years ago

    It can be close to 4100 SQ FT, I scanned this plan to scale and 1st floor excluding the garage is approximately 1,624 SF

  • 4 years ago

    The side of the house that will get the least sunlight is the north. That is something you should consider as you decide what windows you want and what direction they are to face.


    In addition to the east side getting the morning sun and the west side getting the afternoon sun, a southern exposure will usually get angled sun throughout the day. What is outside matters -- a conifer will shade year round ... even in winter when you might prefer it not.


    In addition to the sunlight, pay attention to the view in each direction..

  • 4 years ago

    @suezbell thank you for sharing. I will definitely reviewing the plot and to see how the house sits.

  • 4 years ago

    @David Cary I was told I need to have a front facing garage due to the lot. And, yes I do watch TV.

  • 4 years ago

    How large is the lot? What is the setback from each side? Are you in a hot climate?

  • PRO
    4 years ago

    Is this the first time you are building? This doesn’t sound quite right for a truly “custom” build. Sounds like you will be meeting with the builder’s architect and have some set plans to chose from and any changes to customize will come at a price. The statement that your garages have to face front says to me it is narrow lot which means more likely at best semi custom. Has the builder given you some set plans?

  • 4 years ago

    @Shola Akins how do I get a DM Link?

  • 4 years ago

    @suezbell my lot faces north / north east. That would mean windows along the back of the house would be great for sunlight, correct?

  • 4 years ago

    @Flo Mangan The builder has a number of house plans. I like different elements from each, and added a few wants of my own. It may be more semi-custom than true custom I guess. However, they are a custom builder and depending on what I want and what I want to pay, they can do.

  • 4 years ago

    Appreciate everyone's comments, grace and help on this question so far. Thank you all!!


  • 4 years ago

    @partim I'm in Virginia.

  • PRO
    4 years ago

    I am concerned for you. You say you have a contract. How can you have a contract without a design? Is it just for the lot? I have a “New Build Checklist” that might be very helpful to you as you venture into this experience. If you email me at manganflo@gmail.com I will email it back to you. No charge. And I do not bug you with more contacts either. It will help you navigate these very tricky waters.

    Michelle Caruso thanked Flo Mangan
  • 4 years ago

    @Flo Mangan Appreciate the help! I sent you an e-mail. Thank you!

  • PRO
    4 years ago

    "The builder has a number of house plans" + "they are a custom builder" = Oxymoron

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Yes - your lot is great for sun.

    I would consider how much you really want a covered porch in the back as that is hindering your sun exposure some. I am in NC so basically the same climate (or the intrastate variability is greater). So you might confirm are you coastal, mountain, or in between.

    Narrow lots are always challenging. I live in Raleigh and in my hood, front loaders are not favored. Some lots are narrow so creativity is needed. There is one house on a narrow lot with essentially a front house and an opening on the first floor only and the garage is on the back house. They are joined by the second floor.

    A bit crazy but it shows what can be done with design.

    Otherwise, there are a ton of detached garages on the new houses. Most new houses either are detached or have no garage. We did a rear loader.

    Raleigh has gone so far as to build into the architectural standards all sorts of rules but that are fairly common sense.

    All garages must be set back from the front of the house (10 feet?) and can't compromise greater than 50% of the elevation. It gets more complicated than that. But your house design violates rule #1 is the garage is forward of the house. Not quite a snout but the most prominent part of the elevation. But - this may be normal in the development.

    On the TV, where do you plan to have it? Always a dilemma. Over the fireplace is common and hated by many. IMO, you take a mostly decorative piece that you paid dearly for and put a big black box above it. I have a frame TV but it still isn't above and competing with a fireplace. You also have a less than ideal viewing angle because the TV is too high.

    Michelle Caruso thanked David Cary
  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    For a covered south-facing porch, consider getting a cover that can be removed or rolled back in the winter. You will love the sun streaming into your house through the windows/doors in the short dark winter days, and you will miss that if your cover is permanent.

    As soon as you can, plant a big non-evergreen tree south-west of the house that will shade the house and any patio from the setting sun.

    Think about rotating your house as much due north-south as possible, given any setback limitations. My sister-in-law did this with her new build and was so glad she did.

    Michelle Caruso thanked partim
  • PRO
    4 years ago

    Have you considered having the garage angled and attached to the house by a breezeway/mudroom/porch? This would allow more light to enter on the side of the house that's blocked by the garage now.

    https://www.frankbetzhouseplans.com/plan-details/Haleys+Farm

    https://www.frankbetzhouseplans.com/plan-details/Liberty+Ridge

    https://www.frankbetzhouseplans.com/plan-details/Blackburn+Ridge

  • PRO
    4 years ago

    The poster stated the lot is narrow and she has been told the garage has to face the front. So the Betz designs aren't feasible as far as I can tell. I am assuming this is a 60'-70' lot width. The garage in the plan is also VERY small 22x22. No wiggle room in this garage. Really a big one car garage if you have a SUV. TIP, do not have a two door garage with this size. One big door. Otherwise, it makes getting cars in and out really tough.

  • 4 years ago

    It would be good to know the lot size. We are assuming it is narrow because she said the garage has to face the front.

  • PRO
    4 years ago

    The open concept is nice I just put one together real quick a kitchen and an island to give you an idea.



    As the Tv goes that someone mentioned it can be configured in a few ways, you have almost 12' of wall space and if you push the windows a bit more to the sides you can get all 12' of working wall space depending on the type of fireplace they are using (today there are many options) and have 10' high ceiling with almost 23'9' from the fireplace to the island and that's leaving 4' between the island and the stove. (the island with chairs is 8', I had a custom island I made for someone so I dropped it there, the overall depth of the island can be less changing the cabinet configuration.


    Good luck

  • PRO
    4 years ago

    If you can, push the whole house further to the rear of the lot and get yourself 4 more feet depth to the garage. That will give you space for additional storage in the garage that is easier to access. Also, make sure you have outlets in handy places. Don't let electricians decide that. If you plan on an additional refrigerator in the garage, get home run electrical lines (dedicated) for that location. That way, if the outside Christmas lights trip, the refrigerator stays on! Details details.

  • 4 years ago

    following

  • PRO
    4 years ago

    Well yes, we're all flying blind as we don't know the lot size, setback requirements, terrain, etc. But even on a narrow-ish lot, you could set a garage in the back of the property, attached or not. My neighborhood was built in the 1920s, and most of the lots are VERY small, 60' x 100', and the original homes all had garages in the back. Granted they weren't huge, but I'm sure a good architect could figure something out to design a home with a lot of natural light and a garage that doesn't dominate the front of the house.

  • PRO
    4 years ago

    Agree Diana, just wondering if this is in a HOA controlled area?? They have a lot to say about what can and cannot be done as well. So, we are operating with very little info. For sure.

  • 4 years ago

    Thank you all! To add some context, we are working with a custom builder and will have the architect draft our plans however, we get only two revisions upon the first draft. That is why I wanted to come in extra prepared. I'm sure our process is not like a truly custom home -- but I agree I want to leverage the expertise of the architect.

    Sounds like you're using the builder's "architect". I'm guessing the builder's "architect" is really a draftsman and not a LICENSED architect. Why do I say that? Because our builder basically had us work with his "architect" who turned out to be a draftsman, and a very poor one.

    Can you instead get your own architect? Even if the person you're using is licensed, chances are they will make it easiest for the builder and not what is best for you because he/she is "paid" by the builder.

    You bringing him/her your plans is not how a REAL architect works.

  • 4 years ago

    If you want lots of sunlight you need lots of windows (facing East and West).

    No, east/west are the worst directions! Especially west when in summer the hot afternoon sun will not only blind you but will make your rooms much hotter. Please read up on passive solar heating/cooling.

  • 4 years ago

    @Flo Mangan The builder has a number of house plans. I like different elements from each, and added a few wants of my own. It may be more semi-custom than true custom I guess. However, they are a custom builder and depending on what I want and what I want to pay, they can do.

    If you're choosing from one of the builder's plans and modifying it, then it's not custom. BIG difference.