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Bathroom windows and neighbors' backyard/back deck?

K B
last year
last modified: last year

We need to do some revisions to our plans because of some errors with the elevation and a tree we can't encroach on. We are also taking the opportunity to make some other changes as well including some windows that were incorrect. The plan for the primary bathroom calls for a medium sliding window above the bathtub. It aligns with the dining room single hung windows below, but those windows need to be changed because they are way off center in the dining room. So, I have played around a little to see if we could change out the bathroom layout to have windows that match the dining room below that looks balanced from the interior and exterior. (We also will be increasing rhe size of the windows beside the bed.) The only potential problem (I think) is that we would have a lot more windows in the primary bath. I like the idea of natural light and potential for fresh air. I am unsure of whether this is a bad idea because our neighbor's deck is probably 35 feet away?and will sit slightly higher than our bathroom. I have no idea how much time they spend out there. We would probably get wood blinds on the windows so we could have them partially open but not completely exposed.
If we did this design, the toilet would be in the dreaded/desired closet, so not exposed most of the time, but we wouldn't have a fantastic view or anything. There would be some trees nearby, but the closest tree will be cut as it is too close to the house. Does this sound like a good idea? Anything I'm missing?

Comments (28)

  • kudzu9
    last year

    Impossible to say without seeing a floorplan....

  • K B
    Original Author
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Current elevation (slope at ground is wrong, it is more steep)

    Circled impacted windows in purple. The idea would be to shift the dining room windows to the left and have a bank of three windows and then have them matching above in the bathroom. They would be closer to the floor too.



    Horrible sketch I made:





    Current plan for bathroom: (blue line is approximately where wall will move to as the back bedroom hallway is a convoluted mess:



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  • anj_p
    last year

    Use frosted/privacy glass. No need for blinds. However, I wouldn't make my bathroom windows go below the level of the tub (so I wouldn't match them to the DR windows).

    K B thanked anj_p
  • K B
    Original Author
    last year

    Forgot to mention that this side of th house faces south if that matters.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    last year

    Is this a custom home or a spec house?

    K B thanked Mark Bischak, Architect
  • K B
    Original Author
    last year

    @Mark Bischak, Architect, it is a custom house. We had an architect draw up plans, but there have been some problems with them and we are trying to fix them rather than starting over with a new architect.


    Design advice has been a little tricky as it has been mostly what is popular and not necessarily what our preferences are. To be fair, I asked that most windows be aligned, but was not expecting a literal interpretation that meant the dining room had windows way off center.

  • WestCoast Hopeful
    last year

    Windows don’t need to be aligned at sides of house, especially since you have another house right there.

    K B thanked WestCoast Hopeful
  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    last year

    My concern is making design decisions in a vacuum without taking in account how the other elevations relate to the partial elevation shown and each other. Making changes on one elevation may deteriorate the continuity established in other elevations. Ideally/theoretically the architect that designed the house should be included or make the design decisions.

    K B thanked Mark Bischak, Architect
  • K B
    Original Author
    last year

    @Mark Bischak, Architect, we will be asking, but wanted to get some other input since I am not 100% trusting the architect.


    (For example, the windows in the front bedroom would be 48" off thr floor and therefore wouldn't be considered egress windows from what I understand. The basement egress window is the same. It will also need to be fixed. Also, the plans comply with the 2015 IRC, but they should have been done to the 2018 IRC as we have been working in this for only a year. I am sure there are othet things too that we asked for and were not in the plans or were misinterpreted.)


    So I am looking for second opinions to see if we can clean these types of things up by only spending a few more thousand for revisions rather than 15K or more with someone new. We also have yet to do engineering so that is another hurdle.

  • K B
    Original Author
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Here is the back elevation, but it is also going to change because I didn't get the windows I wanted in the kitchen (horribly drawn blue) and am going to move the stove and sink to get closer to ehat I asked for. Sigh.

    I am also hoping to change the sliders to 2 double hung windows for safety in kids' bedrooms--I can open the top for air flow and not worry about anyone falling out. Kids are kind of old for that, but they surprise me with not thinking all the time and we hope to still be in the home when we have grandkids many years from now and don't want to replace windows if we don't have to.


    This is east facing. Lower left is kitchen. Above that is teens bedroom. Upper right is another kid's bedroom and lower right is family room/TV room.

  • WestCoast Hopeful
    last year

    Can you share the plans not so zoomed in? I couldn’t see anything, could be my phone!

  • K B
    Original Author
    last year
    last modified: last year

    @WestCoast Hopeful, I will try. I think it is my phone not playing well with Houzz. I upload and it looks normal and then gets big in the post and then shrinks when I click on it. Trying again:


    Edit: Nope! That did not work. Ugh.

  • K B
    Original Author
    last year

    Is this any better?




    There are other things we will need to change here. Bedroom 2 and 3 need to be bigger so we're going to ask if we can move rhe front put 2 feet and split the difference so they can each be 10.5'.


    Clearing up the back hall by bedroom 5.


    Asking to:


    Move plumbing off bedroom 4's wall. (We realize that may mean the bath/shower needs to go along exterior wall and eliminate the wall between that and sink area. Ok. If we lose a window, we will add a skylight.)


    Figure out actual space that elevator will need. My mom is having major issues with stairs and we would like to have our parents over, so that elevator may be needed sooner rather than later. It may mean we wait on fancy kitchen appliances and countertops and get regular ones for now so we can have the elevator.


    Possibly adding half bath or 3/4 if we can squeeze it in in the laundry space. (The giant closet seems much bigger than most elevators I have checked out online.)


    Again, these are what we are going to ask about after reading here.


    I am open to all other suggestions though!

  • K B
    Original Author
    last year
    last modified: last year

    House faces west. Primary bedroom and bathroom on south side.

    16 year old (will probably live at home for junior college and then transfer to university) in Bedroom 5.

    9 year old in bedroom 4.

    14 year old in Bedroom 3.

    7 year old in Bedroom 2.

    Trees surround lot. Mix of shade and sun. Western Washington.

    Debating heat pump or adding ac in a few years with portable ac for now.

    Currently live in a 1250 sq foot, 3 bedroom, 2 bath house with great room (living and dining) and separate kitchen. No family room. Laundry closet off hall. We are used to sharing and small spaces, but as kids grow, it is not ideal.

  • suezbell
    last year
    last modified: last year

    If symmetry is your objective, you might consider changes in the roofline and create a roof and/or exterior wall feature -- using a space wider than all the windows you want in line (upstairs and downstairs) but centered over the dining room window below -- but then put the windows in the new feature where needed for the bathroom room.

    Over your tub, you might consider only high windows (transom high) such as basement windows.

    Do you have a crawl space of a basement and could you ... or would you even want to ... raise the house with more rows of blocks?

    You should check building codes and find out how close to your property line in each direction you can actually build -- set back rules.

    How much room do you have between the currently intended location of your house as shown and your property line ... could you adjust the location of the house to center it on your lot and square it with your lot to put more distance between the houses to give you more side yard to plant a green fence between you and all your neighbors for privacy/view outside all your windows?

    K B thanked suezbell
  • WestCoast Hopeful
    last year

    Is this the upper floor or is it a reverse plan and this is the basement? Can you share all elevations and floors?

    K B thanked WestCoast Hopeful
  • emilyam819
    last year

    I like your reasonable number of bathrooms and 5 bedrooms. In the primary bathroom, I like the original layout, but with the wall adjusted, maybe switch toilet and shower. And/or lose the separate toilet room. Do not like the revision- too boxy. Windows don’t need to align with below.

    K B thanked emilyam819
  • K B
    Original Author
    last year

    @suezbell,


    *If symmetry is your objective, you might consider changes in the roofline and create a roof and/or exterior wall feature -- using a space wider than all the windows you want in line (upstairs and downstairs) but centered over the dining room window below -- but then put the windows in the new feature where needed for the bathroom room.*


    Interesting idea. Will ask about this.



    *Over your tub, you might consider only high windows (transom high) such as basement windows.*


    This had been debated between husband and me. My parents have a soaking tub on the inside wall and a skylight above and I have always hated that blank wall. Artwork doesn't really work there and it is across from the vanity and just seems so blah. Of course, hard to access windows I usually leave closed could also be blah too.



    *Do you have a crawl space of a basement and could you ... or would you even want to ... raise the house with more rows of blocks?*


    Full basement including garage. Cannot raise the house any more, nor would we want to. In fact, if we wait too long, new codes may force us to cut height.


    *You should check building codes and find out how close to your property line in each direction you can actually build -- set back rules.

    How much room do you have between the currently intended location of your house as shown and your property line ... could you adjust the location of the house to center it on your lot and square it with your lot to put more distance between the houses to give you more side yard to plant a green fence between you and all your neighbors for privacy/view outside all your windows?*


    Our set back is 10 feet on that side and we are just inside it. We cannot put the house anywhere else on the lot due to trees-we have many the city defines as significant that will need to be cut cut replaced 1 to 1. We also have some defined as heritage and are only cutting 1 of those for a 2 to 1 replacement. We need to avoid the landmark trees that require a 3 to 1 replacement, especially because we can only cut 50% of all the trees on the lot.


    (Orange is the deck we need to revise so it is encroaching less on the landmark tree there. Blue star indicates where the bathroom is. Due to slope, we cannot have a deck on the back of the house so it will be where it is in a revised siz/layout. Due to the other trees in the front, we have to have the garage and driveway where they are. This was an extra lot, never built in, that was owned by the former owner of the neighboring property. I thibk the driveway was for extra parking and maybe maintenance. It is basically a long parking pad.)




  • K B
    Original Author
    last year
    last modified: last year

    @WestCoast Hopeful, this is the upper floor.

    Here is the basement and main level. (Note that the kitchen layout will need to change. Some good points brought up here.)

    Someone also suggested swapping the flex room to the front to be more of an office/den space. That might work better with the what I am thinking for the revised deck design.




    Error in elevations means that the window in the kitchenette portion of the leisure room would need a window well. We will probably nix it instead. But we do need to add a window well for egress in bedroom 6. (Unsure if the basement will end up being for a family member, kids who move back home after college, or possible rental ADU apartment the future.)

  • WestCoast Hopeful
    last year

    So we have a custom home that was built just as one of my in laws health started to slowly decline. Fast forward four years and one uses a walker 100% of the time and cannot do stairs, one can do stairs if need be but needs railings and is unsteady. They have been guests here twice total and it was a challenge for them both times. In retrospect I wish we had a guest room and full bathroom on the main floor for them. You can easily do that in your home now, it appears to have excess space on tue main floor that isn’t needed. Flex room, family, living and leisure is a lot of downtime spaces. Do you need that all or can you reconfigure and make a bedroom and full bath on the main. I know you said you are looking at an elevator but it’s just a thought.

    K B thanked WestCoast Hopeful
  • K B
    Original Author
    last year

    Thanks, @westcoasthopeful! We definitely want a plan that can have anyone visit us.


    Both of our parents are local and we no longer have living grandparents. Uncles and aunts are either local or would stay with my parents or in a hotel. The main is up a flight of stairs, so the flex room would not be accessible without the elevator. The leisure space in the basement probably won't be finished until we need it for an older parent or if one of our kids grows up and needs to move back home. The flex space will probably be a home office/den. We definitely needed a separate space when working from home last year and while that hopefully won't happen again, I don't want another garage office. The family room will be a rec room/TV and video game and play space for the kids. I want to be able to close the door and not listen to the gaming or look at a lego mess across the table like I have to now. The living room will probably be the grown up space. Not formal, just hopefully not cluttered with Barbie dolls and those darn Legos and hot wheels.


    I have thought about whether we should have a shower in the main floor, but we honestly cannot imagine.anyone coming to visit and staying with us until our kids are grown and we can make one of their rooms into a guest room. If we change our mind, we could finish the basement. Or I guess add a shower in a remodel. It just seems hard to do that when we don't have anyone who would use it. BIL and niece are the only ones who might come and they would probably stay in a hotel. The shower question definitely has been debated.

  • WestCoast Hopeful
    last year

    Oh I missed that you enter on the basement level. Interesting.

    K B thanked WestCoast Hopeful
  • K B
    Original Author
    last year

    There will be an entry on the basement level, but the main entry will be up a flight of stairs onto the front porch/covered deck. Or from the garage up the stairs or elevator. But we need to reconfigure the stairs foe rh front porch/deck because of the tree requirements.

  • suezbell
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Since you're going to reconfigure the stairs anyway and are finishing both upstairs and downstairs anyway, you might consider having the door of the home and entry at ground level with a pair of side-by-side sets of steps leaving the entry ... but less steps than a traditional staircase -- one set going up and another going down. Your front entry foyer would be the landing of a "U" shaped staircase. The center staircase design:

    https://architectureideas.info/2013/07/stair-shapes/

    That way as long as you have a full bath on each level and at least one bedroom, you could choose to add now or plan to add later a chair "lift" or wheel chair riser (rather than an elevator) to access the main living area and be able to use that level even as you age and are less willing/able to walk up and down stairs each day. You could put a door at the top/bottom of the steps (standard, pocket, French -- whatever works) so you could close off the entry entirely as needed to control heat exchange in the coldest/hottest days if/when only the main living area with its one bedroom and its bath will be in use and you don't want/need to heat/cool the unoccupied bedroom level.

    K B thanked suezbell
  • K B
    Original Author
    last year

    Thanks, @suezbell. Unfortunately that would not work with our elevation either. There is a 11 foot difference from the garage/front of the "basement" to the back of the house. There is no way we want to go deeper into the ground or the back of the house on the main level would also be in a basement.


    The constraints of the lot mean that a lower level and drive under garage make the most sense. Our footprint can't be any larger, nor can it shift in any direction because of the trees.


    Although the 2nd floor main entry may not be ideal for aging in place, we are okay with economizing on some of our finishes and appliances that we can upgrade later to direct money towards the elevator, windows, etc that would be much harder to do after the build. I know a lot of people hate elevators, but I think one makes the most sense for our lot and my parents, etc.


    We do need to reconfigure the entry stairs, but that is so we can move them and more importantly the covered porch/deck away from thr front trees a few feet. It is going to be a little tricky, but I don't think we will need to do a drastic overhaul for that.

  • K B
    Original Author
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Here I what the front looks like now:

    The open area to the side that looks like a carport would be shifted to the right by a few feet and be narrower. The slope means that the front part woild be tall, but it would rise to be unusable space underneath about 6 feet or so from the corner of the house. This is all within the dripline of the tree, so we don't plan on doing any sort of patio or anything with this space unless a landscape architect can give us something that would be root friendly. Otherwise, we may just screen it with plants. (It is already pretty screened from street view by other plants and trees closer from the street.) I marked the approximate area of the slope at thr back of the house with the green line. It would be the same on the other side, but there would be a small retaining block wall at the right corner of the garage to make the grading work.

    IF we keep a gable on that side deck (someone suggested we just carry the shed pitch around the corner but I wonder if it would look weird because it would still be 13 feet and don't know of that would look weird especially with the smaller shed roof on the front), it would be smaller (currently 16 feet) and the ridge should align with the wall. The stairs would be in the area in pink and would be a U shape with landing.

    The main entry door, horribly sketched in blue, would be on the front of the house with the basement entry shifting to the side. (We do have to bump a wall out for this, but that should be a very easy design fix for our architect.)

    We are not sure if we should change the roof so that the front is a gable rather than the sides. The width of the house is 40 feet and the depth would be 38 feet with the change to the bedrooms, so I don't think it would make much difference in materials or money, but is more of a design thing. Someone suggested it as a way of bringing the eye away from the (potential) gable over the deck, but I wonder if it is too much or of it makes the house seem even taller. Normally I love front facing gables, so I am worried that bias may make me miss something.

    We may ask our architect to give us elevations of both rooflines, but that may also be a bit of an issue as he did not want to give is elevations at all until we had finalized a floor plan. (This is the source of at least a couple of revisions I want to do now.) I think thr pandemic made him more interested in retirement and not ad interested in listening to our ideas, but I may also just be anxious about a lot. I mean, I am! We can't afford to get major things wrong here!

    Any other thoughts?


    NOTE: I cannot get thr image to size correctly no matter what I do. It seems Houzz doesn't want to play nicely with my phone. If I click on thr image it becomes a more normal instead of zoomed in size, but I have tried multiple screen captures and it just isn't working. I am sorry!



  • suezbell
    last year

    The newer elevators intended for homes are not bad looking at all. There are also wheel chair lifts for straight stairs .

    If an elevator is to be added later, perhaps you could plan closets of the same size atop one another sized for that purpose where you later may want the elevator to be.

    This elevator even looks as if it could be built in the center of a circular or at least curved stair case.

    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/445152744415991741/

    K B thanked suezbell