SHOP BY DEPARTMENT
ashley_jay29

To Vault or not to Vault?

Ashley Jay
last month

Hey folks,

In the early stages of designing my new build. I want to get some thoughts from others before spinning wheels with the draftsman!

The original plan was to vault the main living area (open concept); rudimentary floor plan attached. “Modern country” design, as the house will be build among 13 acres of forest near a creek/ravine. Slope of roof will be front to back (back of house facing south for solar) and I’m pretty married to this layout.

I’ve drawn in beams but in no way do I think I have it right hahah. I can’t decide if I should vault the whole area, or do nine foot ceilings in kitchen and vault dining area and living, living room only, or what. In my mind I have groove and tongue wood ceilings (likely just pine). I know vaulting will add cost to the build but I don’t want to go crazy with it. If money was no object I would be vaulting at least the master bedroom as well.

Open to any and all suggestions, but do want to keep in mind that I can’t have costs spiral out of control!

Comments (72)

  • Felix Pradas-Bergnes
    last month

    @Ashley Jay, hi. Your floor plan needs some tweaking beyond the issue of the vaulted ceiling. I will draft a modified plan for your consideration.

    In regards to the vaulted ceiling, in a house of this scale, the vaulting is not an expensive option since it can be done with simple beams to bridge that span. There is no need for custom trusses.

    A house is a sacred place. Its core deserves to speak of the grandeour of creation and the marvel that is life. You will see. It will all come together eventually.

  • PRO
    JudyG Designs
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I would vault at all. I would spend some money for a wall of sliders in the living area and when time and $ allows build a patio to extend your good weather living.




  • Related Discussions

    Vaulted ceiling in small room?

    Q

    Comments (4)
    I e-mailed the architect (we're doing this long distance-we're in southeastern Pa, our house is being built in central coast California). The walls are 9 feet (dh kept talking about 10 feet walls while we were planning so I think that's where I got that number from-phew-10 feet would be too tall). The vault is an upside down V. I was confused too- by the lines going through the room). I got the architect's okay to post his plans so I've included them here-much clearer than my drawing. We're in our late 50's and dyi painting has lost its allure over the years so we'll be hiring someone to do that.
    ...See More

    Recessed Lighting for New Build

    Q

    Comments (3)
    The kitchen area should have a higher illumination (e.g. - 35 lumens per sq ft) than other areas (e.g. 20 lumens per sq ft for the living room). Each can will have an effective output of ~ 500+ to 600+ lumens as a good amount of the light is trapped. Your electrician would love for you to have all the lighting from recessed cans as he would be able to earn more. Depending on where your home is located, the installation cost per can could be ~ $100 or more. If you use CFL cans (with the integrated ballast), the bulb itself could cost ~ $8 - $10. When the ballast fails, you need access to the upper side of the can, which in certain situations could require the entire can to be replaced or the ceiling torn apart (If there is another floor above, or a hole is made in the ceiling while attempting to crawl through the attic to reach the can). In 2012, standard incandescent bulbs are no longer sold in the stores so the main choices are either CFL or LED. What is your definition of soft natural lighting? How did you come to the conclusion that LED lighting will not provide soft natural lighting? The Cree LED recessed lights (also available from HomeDepot under the Ecosmart brand) work very well and are at the moment the best lighting you can get for recessed cans.
    ...See More

    Vaulted Wall - Does It Really Need a Piece of Tall Furniture

    Q

    Comments (2)
    I don't have pictures, but I had two very tall walls in my last livingroom with a vaulted ceiling. My dining room was at one end. That particular wall just seemed monstrously huge. I looked for about three years and finally found the perfect antique armoire for it. That fixed the problem and the armoire was so gorgeous that it drew all the attention away from the wall.
    ...See More

    Hallway to Foyer Vaulted Ceiling Design Help

    Q

    Comments (2)
    Thank you for the response! Didn't get a notification from Houzz so just saw it. If I did an arch top opening, how would I do the rest of the hallway? I don't want to make it a barrel vault for the entire length of the hallway. Would it look too broken up if the hallway ceiling started flat and then have the arched top opening at the end right before the vestibule? What would the flat ceiling height and top of the arched openings be to work well with the 11' vestibule? The backup design would have been 10' flat ceiling in hallway opening to 11' flat ceiling in the vestibule. It's just too ho hum for me but I'm having a hard time visualizing the superior design.
    ...See More
  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    last month

    Felix is right, there are other issues with the design.

    Design the house with a vaulted ceiling but be able to eliminate it if cost becomes an issue.

    I may be partial, but an architect is a good investment.

  • artemis_ma
    last month
    last modified: last month

    One thing as well... you are up in a snowy part of Canada. You don't want to add "features" into your roof that will trap snow in crevices. That has a bad habit of melting down through the valleys into homes.

    Felix's beam concept is a good one, and more affordable (especially since the vaulting won't match your roof sloping) - and can be made quite attractive.

  • Ashley Jay
    Original Author
    last month

    Thanks folks, I really appreciate the input!! What are the other design flaws? I’d like to know where I went wrong so that as I play with things I don’t replicate. It’s all a learning process!!!

    Sliders would be beautiful! The stone patio will be built with sweat equity in the next few years, along with virtually all of the landscaping. But if I can make it work, the vault is much more appealing to me, personally.

    Thanks for the offer to help, Felix. I can’t have the square footage balloon out of control (it’s so easy to do!!!). At this point it’s just me living there. If I knew for sure I would never sell, I wouldn’t put in three bedrooms at all! But yes, I’m looking to have a 3 bed 2 bath. The mudroom connecting the garage and front entry is a non-negotiable. Myself and the extended family are outdoors, in-the-mud, fishing and quadding sort of people :) trying to keep the heated floor space in the neighbourhood of 1500 sq ft or so. I’ve looked at a million house plans online and have found none that check all of the boxes. It’s a lot to squeeze in to the footage but I believe it’s possible! Some house plans come close, but have no pantry and a bunch of hallway space, or tiny kitchens and massive bedrooms (which I use just to sleep and one secondary for my home office which gets used most weekdays). Guest room will be south facing to house plants and a bed that will get used infrequently.

    If I had the money, I would invest in an architect. I’d also be building the full walk-out basement that I originally wanted and a wrap-around deck. A lot of concessions need to be made as building materials have skyrocketed, as I’m sure you all know. It sucks.

    The first thing to go if money gets tight, the first thing to go will be the wood stove. I will plan for where it will go and install it later. That and the vaulted ceiling are the only “extras” I have planned. Adding a vault later would be a lot more challenging than a wood stove, I’m assuming.

  • Felix Pradas-Bergnes
    last month

    @Ashley Jay, I will have a plan for you by tomorrow. The dimensions will remain the same. I will just be pointing out different ways of attaining the same effects more effectively. Cheers!

  • Ashley Jay
    Original Author
    last month

    Thank you Felix, I can’t wait to see it!!!!!!!!! I really appreciate the insight...I’m going insane with all of this...

  • ulisdone
    last month

    It is more difficult to comfortably heat rooms with high ceilings, and a non-electric backup heat source is highly recommended. I would not skip the woodstove.

  • 3onthetree
    last month
    last modified: last month

    "A house is a sacred place. Its core deserves to speak of the grandeour of creation and the marvel that is life."

    Wow, @Felix Pradas-Bergnes, you are really setting up some lofty expectations for the scheme you will present!


    You can easily provide a vaulted ceiling with scissor trusses and have faux beams if desired. Much cheaper than a stick built roof. Truss design is not considered "custom" with what that word typically entails, and they make it easier to meet insulating requirements. With the size of your rooms, I would probably keep the vault at no more than 3:12. As this scheme is layed out now, I would only do the Living/Master because of the skinny kitchen and Dining needs a defined space with the ceiling.

  • houssaon
    last month

    I like the idea of doing 9 foot ceilings. If the pitch of the roof is 7/12, approximately how high is the peak of the roof?

    I'm thinking that the height of a room that starts at nine feet will be 16 feet at the twelve foot mark.

    If your living room is 17 feet wide, it looks to be about 14 feet deep.

    So if you vault the living room and not the dining and kitchen, the maximum peak would be 17 feet 2 inches. If you go with the peak in the middle of the room, then the peak is a bit less than 13 feet. (My math is rusty, so this might be wrong.)

    This is a rough graph showing my calculations. Blue line is supposed to be the 7 12 pitch. Green is the vaulted living room ceiling and the darker blue box is the perimeter height and and length of the living room.

    Since the living room and the master bedroom share the same outside walls, I think you could easily vault both. See the green box below.


    What do you think?

    Can you post the existing room measurements?

  • Ashley Jay
    Original Author
    last month

    Thanks for the triangle math! I wouldn’t be able to match the 7/12 though....I need to leave space for insulation. HVAC/vent might be okay on the other side of the green peak, but definitely need to leave room to insulate properly. Which leaves less than 4 ft difference between outer wall and peak height. Hmmm. Doesn’t seem like a lot but I’ve never measured the height of a vaulted peak haha.

    Living room and master are 14.5 feet deep; master is 13 ft wide (living 17’).

  • Ashley Jay
    Original Author
    last month

    I wonder if a ‘shed ceiling’ would be more appropriate? But then there’d be a vertical drop at the dining room threshold back down to nine feet, which in my mind would look strange. Pic below from the interweb, but slope would be opposite direction in my circumstance.

  • calidesign
    last month

    I like keeping the kitchen at 9 feet so you can use tall cabinets that meet the ceiling without open space above them. If you can make the vault look right in the dining and living areas, that would be great, but you don't want the vault cutting the dining room in half. I think the idea above to vault just the master and living room is best, and gives you an easier way to hang your dining room lighting also. I also agree about adding a second window to the corner bedrooms. Even if you have two narrow windows instead of one large one, you are able to get air flow that way.

  • Mrs Pete
    last month
    last modified: last month

    The original plan was to vault the main living area (open concept); rudimentary floor plan attached.

    This is open concept, but it's going to be dark ... in fact, your living - dining - kitchen are the same layout as my daughter's college apartment. You have the exact same amount of windows too. While it's a decent layout for an apartment, I'd expect more in a house ... especially in terms of lighting. Ways to fix this:

    - Double -- or even triple -- the window above the kitchen window. You have plenty of cabinets AND that big pantry; you can afford to give up the upper cabinets on that wall, and you need more windows.

    - Allow plenty of lighting above the dining table ... a large light above the table PLUS a couple pot lights or sconces on the two walls surrounding the dining table.

    - Move the main living spaces over to one side of the house /the bedrooms to the other side. This will allow the living spaces to have windows on two sides and will make them considerably nicer. This is not a small thing.

    I’ve drawn in beams but in no way do I think I have it right hahah. I can’t decide if I should vault the whole area, or do nine foot ceilings in kitchen and vault dining area and living, living room only, or what.

    Like another poster, I like the idea of keeping the kitchen "regular" and vaulting just the living and dining area. This also excuses you from the problem of what to do with kitchen cabinets up at the ceiling line ... you seem to be trying to stay economical, and cabinets are quite expensive.


    I like the idea of a wood-tone ceiling ....


    But I like better white ceiling with visible trussels ... and this gives you height and volume and keeps things in human-scale /makes decorating easier. If I had these, I'd for-sure want electrical outlets "up top" for Christmas lights.


    Or just beams:


    Nothing wrong with pre-fabs

    Nothing wrong with pre-fabs ... as long as you're expecting a pre-fab and as long as it's priced like a pre-fab. Said differently, nothing wrong with pre-fabs as long as your expectations are in line.

    You may know this, but I just want to point out that your furniture on the plan does not seem to be to scale. the sofa is as deep as a closet (24”?) and the bed pillows about the size of a box of kleenex.

    True. It's essential to work with truthful dimensions.

    The living room is essentially the heart of the home. It is the centre of the house both physical and in how it is used; it houses the wood stove/hearth. It’s where I will spend most of my leisure time. Where I read, write, etc. It will look out toward the creek/ravine and some of the nicest trees on the 13 acres of forest.

    That's why you don't want to sandwich your most important rooms between bedrooms ... natural light is essential.

    I would not skip the woodstove.

    Agree, especially since you live in the frozen North. A woodstove will be able to keep the main rooms of this open floor plan warm.

    Other thoughts:

    Your bathrooms are impractical. First consider the master ... your plan requires water in three walls, two of them exterior walls. Add another foot of width, and consider this plan: it reduces your "water walls" to two, and it gives you a linen closet in the bathroom. It also keeps all your water on "interior walls", which means your pipes are less likely to freeze. And your showerhead "backs up to" a closet, which means that if it ever needs repair, you could go through that closet rather than tearing up your expensive tile. This also gets you a significantly larger shower and a larger vanity ... the bathroom isn't a place to go skimpy on size. You don't need to go overboard in size ... just not minimal.

    I also took away your pocket door to the closet ... and added bi-fold doors. This makes your closet area more of a walkway.


    Your secondary bathroom could use some optimization too ... First, it's a little wider than is necessary, and since you're keeping it moderate (1500 square feet is VERY possible, but wouldn't you rather have that space in the bedroom?), it makes sense to cut out that excess.

    You have extra space at the end of the tub ... this will make a great closet opening into the hallway; a linen closet doesn't have to be a full 2' deep ... towels and extra TP will fit find in half that depth. No one ever says, "Dang, I wish I didn't have all these closets."

    Just like in the master, this design keeps your water in TWO walls instead of three, and all those walls are interior walls. And ALL these three water sources back up to closets, so they're future-proofed.

    Do try to keep this bathroom door "offset" from the dining room door opening ... you don't want to give a glimpse from the main living space into the bathroom.


    Let's look at the mudroom too. Currently you have two small spaces, and the laundry room is problematic because the dryer is on an interior wall, meaning it will be harder /more expensive /less fire safe than a dryer on an exterior wall. If you move the washer/dryer to the lower left corner the dryer can vent through the garage to the outside.

    I drew in the freezer and storage shelves (or maybe a closet?) "above" the washer/dryer (to the left of your garage entrance door).

    I added a door close to allow easier passage between this room and the master bedroom ... this means when you come home, you can zip straight to your bedroom without entering the main living area ... and you will shorten the pathway between the master closet and the laundry area.

    Since these spaces would stay open most of the time, I'd imagine pocket doors between this hard-working room and the living areas.

    I moved the pantry door into this mudroom. It doesn't add any distance for the cook, but it gives the dining room a whole empty wall for artwork. And artwork is nicer than a door.

    Finally, I added in an L-shaped bench for shoes, etc. With few people living in this house, you could do with less /put a coat closet in this area /cabinets above the benches ... that would be a better use of space.

    And you still have a straight-line entrance into the house from the garage.



    Consider that you're placing the TV on a wall shared with the master bedroom. This would be a good place for some soundproofing.

    With the dining room table in the middle like this, you'll definitely want to stick to a round table /easier for people to walk around.

  • Ashley Jay
    Original Author
    last month

    Mrs. Pete...thank you so much for the thoughtful and thorough feedback! It is obvious that you put considerable thought and time into your response, and there is lots of helpful stuff here!!!

    In particular the call out for the bathroom plumbing on two versus three, and the idea of back the shower plumbing into a closet for future repairs.....genius!

    My windows need a lot more thought and planning...I most definitely will look at the kitchen windows. I’m thinking the layout needs to be completely reworked at this point.... I’m not sure I’m willing to give up a full wall of uppers in my kitchen (I spend A LOT of time in my kitchen). The master bathroom looks like it wouldn’t have a three foot doorway with the revised layout and the only doors that will not be three feet will be closets I can reach in to. While I’m healthy now, a history of spinal surgeries makes the passageway clearance a massive priority.

    I have a deep hatred for bifold doors....we just don’t get along hahah. But I may be able to find other solutions such as sliders or something. I had a walk through in my condo and I actually really liked it, and didn’t mind seeing my clothes/personal items. It forced me to keep things orderly all the time!

    I’m really struggling with the laundry/mud room combination. My front entry enters through here (which I really want it that way!) and I’m not fond of my guests seeing washer, dryer and deep freeze as soon as they walk in the door.

    Prefab beams are totally fine!! Once I figure out the vault I’ll be able to make better choices about exposed boards and/or beams etc. There are a lot of mills around that do rough cut, non stamped lumber products as well, so there are definitely lots of affordable options on that regard. I really like that’s second beam example!! Really airy and natural and definitely encompasses what’s swirling around in my brain.

    I’m anxious to see what Felix comes up with. I really did not want a slab on grade home, but costs as well as forward thinking is forcing my hand. I’ve been struggling for weeks now playing around with layouts and honestly, I don’t like any of the options. My life would be so much easier if I scrapped one of the bedrooms, but that feels shortsighted. It’s all just really overwhelming, and more stressful than fun.

    Thank you once again. So much useful insight in your post, and lots of anchor points for me to work from!!!! You and the folks on this forum are great :)

  • Ashley Jay
    Original Author
    last month

    Oh and my dining table is round!! Just this silly app that I’m using won’t let me resize the one they have down to appropriate dimensions...it’s.....strange. I wish it wasn’t a social expectation to have a dining room because I literally sit at my table maybe three times a year haha.

  • Mrs Pete
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Mrs. Pete...thank you so much for the thoughtful and thorough feedback!

    Glad it was useful!

    I’m not sure I’m willing to give up a full wall of uppers in my kitchen

    Inventory the things you want to store in the kitchen (and the pantry) and determine how many cabinets you really need.

    The master bathroom looks like it wouldn’t have a three foot doorway

    You can expand the width of the master bath /closet into the garage a bit. Agree with your reasoning.

    I’m really struggling with the laundry/mud room combination. My front entry enters through here (which I really want it that way!) and I’m not fond of my guests seeing washer, dryer and deep freeze as soon as they walk in the door.

    That's the front door? I thought it was the back. Do you want guests to enter through the kitchen?

  • Ashley Jay
    Original Author
    last month

    Yes, it’s the front door, which is on the north side. Living room is on the south side, currently. I need a good amount of roof space at 7/12 pitch for solar (goal is net zero, south facing and roof pitch are critical design elements).

    It’s funny...I grew up in a house where the primary entrance used dumps into the kitchen. Sister’s house is the same way. Grandmothers, two uncles...my last two condos/apartments...they’re all like that! Maybe it’s just the era of homes/local thing? Newer homes of my friends all have fancy foyers and separate front entrances from garage entrances and it just seems like a waste of space to me, and I’d prefer one shared mud room/entry way. I’ll be bringing in groceries through the garage so it just seemed functional to me. Maybe I’m abnormal in my thinking?

  • Felix Pradas-Bergnes
    last month

    @Ashley Jay, while I review your plan and requirements, here is a plan I posted to another forum user who is also in a large forested lot in Canada. I hope this serve as food for thought. Cheers!



    The blue beam is the top winter sun penetration, the green is the top spring and fall penetration.

  • Felix Pradas-Bergnes
    last month
    last modified: last month

    @Ashley Jay, here is a basic 3D rendition of your floor plan. Since you want a 7/12 pitch for solar (FV panels I assume) on the south side, this rendition shows a potential treatment of the roof including a vault in the living spaces. The northern pitch of the roof is lower in order to reach the front northern façade and avoid an overly tall and more expensive attic.

    This type of study of the structure's volume is the first step to support your floor plan decisions along the way. I hope this helps.

    I will work tomorrow on refining your floor plan. Cheers!










  • Felix Pradas-Bergnes
    last month
    last modified: last month

    @Ashley Jay, check out this website.

    Solar Angle Calculator | Solar Panel Angle Calculator (solarelectricityhandbook.com)

    Further down the page you will find a solar calculator. The tool allows you enter your country, state, and city and it gives you optimum panel (or roof) angles for the spring/fall, summer and winter times.

    Do not rely on your solar contractor alone. Double check everything yourself. I hope this is useful.

  • Ashley Jay
    Original Author
    last month

    Thanks a million, Felix!! I will double check solar for sure. Had more than one contractor tell me to go with 7/12 but never hurts to verify first-hand :)

    I had never considered having the apex not be centred...this is something I will definitely look into further! It makes good sense, as otherwise the roof is super tall.

    I’m still reworking my floor plan based on feedback on this thread, and current iteration doesn’t have the garage embedded in the perimeter, if that makes sense.

    And to think that deciding on the structure and layout is only the first of 10000 decisions to make hahah. Oi!

  • Ashley Jay
    Original Author
    last month

    Revised....and definitely open to any feedback on the layout! Living is now close to 17x17, and thinking o will vault that area only and keep kitchen and dining space at 9’ ceilings based on feedback.

  • Ashley Jay
    Original Author
    last month

    Revised

  • tozmo1
    last month

    Seems there are more efficient ways to handle the laundry and pantry area. If just one person int the home, even tow, do you really need a room devoted to laundry? Can the mudroom be made a bit larger to accommodate the W/D and do double duty? Will a bank of cabinets against a wall perform the same function as a pantry? I see a cozy reading nook in the space you are currently devoting to those two spaces. For me, it's always better to have space do two functions i.e. be living space that also works as a task space. Especially if the task space in not used all the time.

  • Felix Pradas-Bergnes
    last month
    last modified: last month

    @Ashley Jay good morning. I set your floor plan in a square foot grid, see image below, to start reworking the spaces. This is a very simple technique that allows to keep tabs on your square footage.


    This shows that overall construction is square footage is 2,394; your heated square footage is already at 1,774; and your garage and mechanical space is 620 sq. ft.

    Also, the exterior walls are 12" thick. Is that by design or a display setting in the app you are using? Also, remember, that the interior walls of the garage need the same insulation value (usually reflected as thickness) as the structure's perimeter walls.

  • Ashley Jay
    Original Author
    last month

    Strange....the app called it pretty handy to 1500 sq ft...I’m a bit baffled that it’s off by that much. If this is the case then I have to throw out the whole thing and switch apps. 1800 sq ft will be way over budget.

    Any wall thickness is just what the default was in the app. No have no idea how thick they are in real life. I’ll have to verify with contractor/draftsman, I know contractor builds above code for insulation and sheathing stuff, but I suspect it’s whatever “standard’ thickness used by most.

    My app says exterior walls are set at 9’ 3/4”; interior at 4’ 3/4. I’m again pretty confused where the 12” is coming from.

  • Mrs Pete
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Revised

    Your revised version has some real positives:

    - You've improved the natural lighting in the main living areas.

    - You've provided sound barriers between the living areas and the two bedrooms.

    And some concerns:

    - For the size of the house, you're allotting a great deal of space to the kitchen. Don't fall into the trap of thinking "Bigger is Better". Remember Golidlocks?

    Can the mudroom be made a bit larger to accommodate the W/D and do double duty? Will a bank of cabinets against a wall perform the same function as a pantry?

    Yes, since you're solid on 1500 square feet (which isn't all that small), combining these rooms makes sense. You need "walking space" in each room ... if you can have laundry function on one side /pantry function on the other side, they only need one "walking space" between them.

    Also, if the washer/dryer is going to the back of the house, move the machines to the back wall for ease of dryer venting:


    Also, thinking of space, I think you can cut down the master bedroom /save some space.

    Still thinking of the master bedroom ... move the bed to the side wall; this will give you a direct route to the closet/bathroom /no problem with the bathroom door and the nightstand.

    Take a look at the master bath ... you have a lot of empty, wasted space. In this space, you could add a linen closet or enlarge this shower.

    I see a cozy reading nook in the space you are currently devoting to those two spaces.

    Or a storage closet.

    the app called it pretty handy to 1500 sq ft...I’m a bit baffled that it’s off by that much.

    Are you measuring total square footage or heated square footage? Remember that the garage area will cost less ... but it's not free space.

  • Felix Pradas-Bergnes
    last month

    @Ashley Jay, your revised floor plan, as @Mrs Pete pointed out, is a lot better, but could be further improved.

    Also, please consider the floor plan attached below.

    • The heated square footage is 1,590. If you eliminate the dining/living bump out then it is 1,506.
    • The dining/living space is vaulted to maximize passive solar gain in winter, and minimize it in the summer.
    • The active solar gain is set on the western portion of the roof facing south.
    • The third bedroom//office space sits on the east side and has windows on three walls so you may enjoy the views all around.
    • The pantry, laundry, cleaning closet and mud room all share the same space for greater efficiency. This multiuse is accessible from the garage and the master bath.
    • There are multiple house entrance options as you can see.
    • There is a heat stove in the center of the living space.

    I hope this helps. Cheers!



  • 3onthetree
    last month

    Whoa, a completely different plan! The way to start a custom design, any design, whether a suburban parcel, country acreage, or urban plot, is to consider the site characteristics. With optimizing for solar power, that is even more important. There are probably site constraints, like setbacks, access, treelines, neighboring buildings, etc that impact your plan. Your 1st plan presented here I estimate at 50' across, your 2nd one 70'. Big difference. It is easy to jump around 100's of completely different designs when everything is theoretical, and each one could work; however, once you start considering the site you may zero in on just a few that meet your criteria and then have to judge each one's merit.

    Also, I suspect you are limiting yourself to 1500sf because of a cost per square foot number. Unfortunately, residential construction does not abide by that, regardless of how it's repeated by people on the interwebs. You could get in a ballpark, realizing it could go +/-50% either way, but any contractor using a cost/sf formula for bids surely will find themselves in trouble.

    As an example, you could have a 1200sf house, with many footprint niches, no efficiencies in wall layout (e.g. aligned), a complicated structure, spread-out plumbing fixtures, etc, and be at $X. Then you could have an 1600sf house, simple layout, tight plumbing/HVAC, efficient construction, and be at an equal $X. This of course assumes finishes, cabinets, and fixtures are equivalent.

  • Ashley Jay
    Original Author
    last month

    Thanks tozmo, and I totally appreciate that perspective. Admittedly, this is the part of the layout I’m struggling with the most. I do know that I absolutely do not want my laundry in the mudroom. I am literally always behind on laundry (it’s something I hate) so I want a place to hide the backlog and various stages of folding and putting away, I don’t want to be waking bare foot into my mudroom (I NEVER wear socks or slippers lol) and then through my house every time i do laundry, and I don’t want my guests seeing the laundry area when they enter the house (because I suck at that part of adulting - see above). I weighed this out pretty carefully as there is convenience to be had with the laundry connected to the mudroom in addition to eliminating that room; I often come home muddy after spending time in the woods, and direct access to laundry from garage would be amazing in those situations. But for me and my habits I think a designated laundry space makes a fair bit of sense.

    Walk in pantry gives a place for a deep freeze as well as food storage. If I eliminate that, I need to find a different spot for the freezer. There is efficiency in having the freezer and pantry combined. I had it combined with the laundry but that felt awkward. I had it in the mudroom but that messed up my layout in the mudroom big time

    Ugh. I wish there was no budget at all and I would have none of these issues lol!

    Most of my free time inside when awake is spent in the kitchen (I cook and bake A LOT) or on my sectional which is almost as comfortable as my bed haha

  • Ashley Jay
    Original Author
    last month

    Whoa you guys are awesome!!!!!!! I have a lot of awesome feedback to keep working with!!!! I love a lot about the house plan, too! I think there is a notable increase in outer perimeter which is $$$, so I will have to take a long hard look at that, but the flow is fantastic! I also love the careful considerations for active and passive solar energy....amazing and thoughtful and worth its weight in gold as I aim for net zero design :) :)

    In terms of setbacks and sight characteristic etc, I have a tremendous amount of flexibility on the front. I will be building in a largely flat area with a winding ravine/creek on the SSW border, fully treed 13 acres and will be well away from property lines (100+ feet) no matter where I build. You will not see my house from the road so the concept of front/back is completely arbitrary (the side of my house will generally face the road, as that will be the west side of the house). It’s good and bad - there are no guardrails but also the world is my oyster haha.

    I’m so overwhelmed by all of the advise and amazing suggestions and the support. You guys are collectively the best forum of people I’ve ever chatted with!!!!!!

  • Ashley Jay
    Original Author
    last month

    @3onthetree, yes I fully grasp that the sq footage of the build is just a very,very general point of reference when it comes to pricing. It’s why my original plan as well as the revised attempted to line up interior walls where possible, and minimize the perimeter within reason. The perimeter measurement is a huge factor - a long, narrow house will cost a heck of a lot more to build than one that is square (basic math here). Every exterior corner costs more money, and while pop outs are awesome and they give more opportunities for natural lighting and defining spaces, they are freaking expensive; not just in materials, but also in labour costs. I am trying to strike a balance between cost efficiency and character/style. I would love to have 25 windows in my house with big, popped out sections on the south side but that is a massive cost in materials, labour, and energy efficiency. I obviously don’t want to build a perfectly square home with one window per room, no gables etc., but every deviation from square and perfectly aligned walls costs money. Budgets really suck! An architect can design me a brilliant home, but there’s a 95% chance I won’t be able to afford to build what they design. Considering a sheet of 3/4” plywood was over $100 here a couple of weeks ago, I come from a working class family (so no generational wealth here to bolster my budget lol), and I’m doing this on my own, I have to be pretty cognizant of costs. I think vaulting the living room ceiling is the only stylistic thing I have on my list! Every other want is coming from a functional perspective based on my lifestyle, and the things I’ve learned over the years that drive me absolutely insane (laundry closets, combined laundry/pantry, having to go through an entry to do laundry...). I have friends with laundry closets and they love them. I’d get rid of a bedroom before I’d get rid of my designated laundry room, that’s how important it is to me!!!!

  • Felix Pradas-Bergnes
    last month

    @Ashley Jay, allow me point out an innacurate statement in your previous comment. A perimeter is a linear measurements. A square and a rectangle can both have the same linear perimeter. It's basic math. Imagine a square where each side measures 25'. The perimeter is 100'. Imagine now a rectangle where the long side is 40' and the short is 10'. The perimeter is also 100'. The difference is which shape best fits your goals, and your site. A long house, for example, allows to have a larger surface area to collect solar energy. Cheer!

  • 3onthetree
    last month
    last modified: last month

    A low initial construction cost is a critical design point to meet for you. However, consider that you have already made some decisions that counter that - the solar panels, the deep footprint, etc. This is not a negative, just stating a common fact, where every house design has to make decisions of where one can push a little or need to pull back a little to meet budget. What it means though, as an example, is that if you need to widen the footprint a bit to get your "must-have" shared mudroom/foyer and separate laundry to flow well, you shouldn't be so hard and fast on dismissing a solution because it blows your budget. You can pull back on a "lukewarm-have."

    You should start (and finish) with a basic rectangle footprint and truss roof. There are sweet spots for efficiency like a 24' deep footprint or clustered plumbing that you might not be aware of. If you want to do the design yourself and not have an architect Value Engineer this for you, then there is some deeper learning you have to do. Surfing to illustrate a footprint shape for you I found a great article on a truss building shell shape that is spot-on to your design:

    timberlaketrussworks <<<dot>>> com/pricing-wood-trusses-step-by-step-guide/

    (copy paste and fix the <<<dot>>>, for some reason a link directs it to spam)

  • Ashley Jay
    Original Author
    last month

    Felix, the more rectangular and less square you go, the more perimeter per square foot you will have. So if you are trying to keep the cost per square foot of the basic structure at a reasonable price point, you want to minimize the linear feet of perimeter you require to house that square footage. That perimeter needs to be sided, sheathed, insulated, houses windows (which are very costly and add up quickly), etc.

    So to use your example of 100 linear feet of perimeter:

    A square of 25x25’ yields 625 square feet.

    A rectangle measuring 10x40’ yields only 400 square feet.

    Naturally I can take 100 and divide that up and then add it back together and get 100. The point of cost efficacy is how much square footage you can fit inside of that perimeter. Basic math.

  • Ashley Jay
    Original Author
    last month

    Thanks 3onthetree. Yes, the solar is most definitely adding cost!! A significant cost at that! It’s worth it, to me - the panels will pay for themselves in 8-10 years and I can cover the cost of that outright. I’m also insulating above code, installing a metal roof, and will likely go with triple pane windows. All of these things cost extra, and I’m electing to invest in those things.

    I agree fully - I can pull back on lukewarm haves! Trust me - there are many things I really, REALLY wanted (like a walk-out basement) that have been scrapped already. What I was trying to convey in my comment is that what seems like “lukewarm” to one person is a top priority to others. I’m putting in a separate laundry room. I’m fully aware that might result in sacrificing a closet elsewhere and losing some locker space in my mudroom. I’m okay with that. It just feels like I am coming across as inflexible and defensive, when in fact, it’s just that what seems trivial to someone else is mission critical to me. The laundry room is not lukewarm lol, I would literally drop to a two bedroom before I put my washer and dryer in my entry or in a closet to save 20-30 Sq ft of space and the cost of some drywall and a door.

    I’m confident I can get everything I want in my layout. As long as I don’t go crazy with bump outs and gables and huge covered porches and such, I should be fine. Will I have granite countertops and Italian tile and custom built vanities and high end light fixtures? Nope. But I’ll have a house that functions the way I want it to!

    Now, things like the plumbing efficiencies, and placing bathroom fixtures on 1-2 walls only? These have been super helpful callouts and they’re efficiencies that can be realized without making a sacrifice. I will most definitely check out the link you provided! My contractor had mentioned the 24’ opportunity, but the increased perimeter costs would negate those savings, I think. I have a few viable floor plan options that could work (which all have a damn laundry room, adjacent to an exterior wall so I can vent the dryer properly!) , and I am meeting with my contractor early next week to go over those options and discuss how the various layouts might differ in cost. I have a long list of things to ask about (trusses is already on there :)).

    If I post entire floor plans again (that’s a big if), I will include a pre-amble and indicate that I’m not hiring an architect (they’re expensive and the house will be relatively basic) and my laundry room is staying as a separate room. And people will still comment telling me that a laundry room is a waste of space and I should shell out thousands for an architect. My contractor and draftsman will help with these things. There are times when it makes great sense to hire an architect. A relatively simple, close to rectangle, small home doesn’t need an architect. If I was designing a million dollar home, or a home with unique features, or a passivehaus; or if I didn’t trust my contractor and draftsman implicitly; or if my building site was oddly shaped or had challenging terrain - any of those scenarios and I would likely hire an architect.

    I just posted to literally ask about ideas for the vaulting in the main living area. That’s it. Because what’s the point in sitting down with my draftsman with my desired layout and then having him say, “vaulting will be challenging/impossible/super expensive because of xyz” and then me saying, “oh crap, I need to rethink everything and try again, I’ll call you in a week and we’ll try again.” I didn’t think I’d have to justify my inclusion of a 50 sq ft room 387 times.

  • Felix Pradas-Bergnes
    last month

    @Ashley Jay, point well taken. Thanks.

  • houssaon
    last month

    I have been trying to get your plan so that the laundry room is closer to your primary room. But haven't been successful.

    Does the garage have to be attached?

  • Ashley Jay
    Original Author
    last month

    Thank you, houssaon. Well it’s a notable cost savings to attach the garage. Separate slab would need to be poured and it eliminates a massive exterior wall (approx 24 feet in length). The cost efficiency plus the added convenience makes me lean pretty hard to, yes, the garage should be attached. It will also house all of the mechanical, would require a separate electrical panel, etc.

    I absolutely love the concept Felix offered (kitchen, dining and living) running all along the south side. But I needed to add a front entrance and separate my laundry, and make space for the deep freeze (which I will put in the garage if absolutely necessary). I’ve played with it before a bunch of times but could never get it to quite work out how I wanted to. I’m going to keep playing with it - I’m close!

    I’m playing with the layout still as well. I’m not super concerned with where in the house the laundry is. I’m even considering having it off of my mudroom (although I don’t love that spot, because I’m walking in bare feet through an area where muddy shoes are stored). I just want a separate area so that if I have a basket of dirty undergarments waiting to go in the wash it’s not the first thing my guests will see when they come in! Thank you!

  • tozmo1
    last month

    I know you feel bringing in an architect adds costs and were not going to do it, but this statement" An architect can design me a brilliant home, but there’s a 95% chance I won’t be able to afford to build what they design, is not factual. Any good architect will do a design brief before they begin doing any design. #1 question in the design brief is "What is the budget?"

    I found an architect saved me a lot of money in the long run. They know construction and will come up with designs that maximize use of standard materials as well identify the use of the lowest cost, highest performance materials. They can source things you didn't even know existed that will save you money.

    So one more vote for an architect. You can put a limit on the amount you want to spend with an architect and then find out what they can do for that amount.

    One more question. My neighbor has been in the solar business for over 45 years. He works with architects and builders to maximize solar effectiveness through solar material selection, placement and window placement. Are you working with an experienced solar professional?

  • Felix Pradas-Bergnes
    last month

    Tomorrow, I will rework the plan I posted to include those items. Cheers!

  • Ashley Jay
    Original Author
    last month

    Tom, thanks for the input. I have the resources I need to build the home. Between my draftsman, contractor, and the solar company, I’ll be fine. I’m not hiring an architect. This is a basic house. It’s by and large a rectangle. Orientation and roof pitch and window placement for solar (both PV and passive) is not rocket science. Oh, and I will be going through the consultation/building plans review with Efficiency NS. It is the agency that shells out the energy efficiency rebates; assesses plans per-build for efficiency, include evaluations for Net Zero and Passive House Certifications. I’m good. There’s enough cooks in the kitchen. I don’t want an architect, I don’t need an architect, and I’m not hiring one. End of story.

    The owner of the solar install company I’ve decided to go with is the guy I’ve been talking to. My contractor has experience building net zero and off-grid homes. he’s worked with this company before as well and has had great experiences. I mean, I’m not an expert in solar personally, and I don’t have a crystal ball, but he seems to know his stuff, my research on the company has turned up nothing but positive results, and my contractor has seen his work first-hand with positive feedback from past customers. As best as I am able, I think I’ve got my bases covered. I spoke with a couple of other companies and they were ... meh. I bombarded all three companies with 100 questions and they didn’t have all the answers, so I kept looking for someone who did.

  • Felix Pradas-Bergnes
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Good morning @Ashley Jay, please consider the floor plan attached below. The heated area is 1,710 sq. ft. The plan features a practical solution to the links between clean and dirt areas. You can always modify the proportions of different areas to your personal preferences.

    Notice that from the north-facing entrance you can access the "pretty" mudroom as well as the enclosed cleaning and the laundry rooms. These are also equally accessible from the garage. Therefore, depending on the level of muddiness or wetness, you can sort items out into each different area as needed. I hope this helps. I am looking forward to see what you will accomplish!

    P.S. The thick wall behind the heat stove ought to be as solid as possible (concrete or stone) to effectively radiate heat back out into the space at night.





  • Ashley Jay
    Original Author
    last month

    Hey Felix, thanks!!! I’m sort of chuckling right now as this is fairly close to where I’m at with my rendition of the original layout that you provided! I’ve got it maintained at about 1525 heated sq ft of living space. Not ready to post just yet, still playing with things. (I wish there was a way to private message? I don’t see an option on the app). I’m trying to keep a small “pop out” of the living and dining (I know there is an extra cost associated with that, but it will be the only non-rectangle feature in the plans if I ultimately go that route).

    Right now I’m playing with the wall between the master bed and the wood stove (very close to how you have it here - I just elected to have the pot to the master off of the same hallway as the main bath, to eliminate a doorway in the living). Anyhow, I’m just toying with recessing the wall about 1.5 feet into the master bedroom. It’s a bit funky but not too bad, as the door sits into the deeper part. Unconventional, sure. Not sure if I like it or not BUT it solves a minor annoyance of having my woodstove seemingly in the way no matter where I put it AND I think it gives an opportunity to really highlight the woodstove visually, give a spot to tuck away the poker/broom and an armload of wood etc.

    I made a few concessions... changed the shape of the pantry (shallow but wider - it will still be lots of storage I think) which I don’t really mind that much, dropped the size of my master closet to 6x6, which, I don’t have a lot of clothing so that should be fine...and the big one is I now have to pass through the mudroom to get to the laundry (created a bit of a hidden breezeway between the garage and mudroom which houses laundry and deep freeze). I’m not crazy about it. It puts the laundry on an exterior wall (better for dryer venting), it’s hidden from guests, but i still have to pass through the ‘contaminated’ floors to do laundry. I’ve had this setup before and it’s annoying, at least to me personally). But I’m really liking the layout overall, and I’m fairly confident that I’ll keep moving in that direction.

    The house is less “square” and more elongated than I originally anticipated, but I did the math and it’s about 20 linear feet more than if the entire garage plus house footprint was perfectly square. I think it’s a reasonable compromise.

    I will likely flip the plans mirror image, as the driveway will meet the house naturally on the west side; saves from having a drive in my front yard and reduces the driveway length by about 70 feet and one good-sized bend. The bend would be a notable inconvenience when dealing with snow removal (not unusual to get a foot of snow in a single storm in my neck of the woods).

    I will pop out just the fireplace/master, and would be open to ideas on how to accomplish this ‘recessed’ wood stove in a way that looks more intentional, if possible. Before I get ripped apart, THIS IS NOT A FINAL PLAN hahah, it’s just me playing with options at this point.

  • Ashley Jay
    Original Author
    last month

    See recess in front of master bedroom door caused my recessing the wood stove slightly in living room.

  • houssaon
    last month

    If you are able to have the main public rooms on the southside and the living room and dining room are vaulted, I think you can have the other rooms at eight feet high. There is really no need to have nine foot ceilings in utility rooms, garage, bath and bedrooms. This is a good height and will require less energy to heat and cool.

    I like the last floor plan, but I think the garage can be much smaller.

  • Ashley Jay
    Original Author
    last month

    Spoke with my mason yesterday and discussed clearances. If I want to alcove the wood stove (which I definitely do), and I want to raise the wood stove up some (which I definitely do!) I will need the nine foot ceiling at that point. But you’re right - I don’t NEED 9 foot ceilings elsewhere, it’s a ‘nice to have’. I will definitely talk to my draftsman and contractor about varying ceiling heights and how that will impact the structural design (and what cost savings I might be able to drum up if I dropped the rest of the ceilings to 8 feet). I’m not overly concerned with the increase in heating costs (solar, insulation to the nines, HRV system, mini split for HVAC, supplementary wood heat, some passive heating due to orientation and window placement, etc.), but that is a considerable amount of materials cost (and thus, labour) savings if I went with 8’ elsewhere. I hadn’t really considered 8 feet seriously - knew it was more to go nine, it makes the space feel a lot bigger, but it’s worth it to see what the cost savings might be if I dropped that from the list. Thanks for mentioning that, that’s a good call out!!!!

    In terms of the garage size, considering the cost per sq foot isn’t all that bad, it will be one of the last things to be reduced. My vehicle will definitely be inside, I also have an ATV, kayak. Will have snow blower or plow gear for the atv, lawn mower, gardening and lawn care stuff, and it is my only storage and workshop area since I have no basement. Things like patio furniture will need to go in there in the winter. Deep freeze will need to live in there with the new plans, I think, and all of my mechanical will need to be in there. After typing this out, yeah, garage stays. If budget allows it might get even bigger lol. If I make it smaller I’ll be building another outbuilding within 2 years, I can almost guarantee it. Everyone’s garage needs are different. If I lived in the city and didn’t have a big property and didn’t atv and fish and camp and such, I would agree with you!

  • houssaon
    last month

    Good points!

  • PRO
    adalisa frazzini
    last month

    I’m not sure what your kitchen window stares out at (like 99% of them, it’s likely a yard in which kids no longer play outside by themselves), so I prefer the kitchen sink to face where the kids and guests are.

    I noticed your doorway placements were off into most rooms; falling in the middle of wall spans which isn’t ideal, so many of the changes resulted from moving doors to the end of a wall span:
    I reconfigured the mudroom for better flow and function and added a pocket door to the laundry for access on both sides.

    moved front door over so the walking path doesn’t need to pass through the living space.

    MBr has a walk-through closet, not walk-in. I reworked mba layout to function better, as I did with the 2nd ba.

    If you are concerned about cost, I’d spend $ on highly functional upgrades first. As far as any decorative splurges (like vaulted ceilings) concentrate them where you will enjoy them most.

    How much time will you spend in Mbr with your eyes open vs in Kit/DR/LR? I personally would rather have them in the living spaces and not where I sleep. But you have to also consider the affect they will have on your home heating and cooling costs.

Sponsored
MAC Design + Build
Average rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars14 Reviews
Loudon County Full-Service Design/Build Firm & Kitchen Remodeler