eec129

Need help evaluating this plan

eec129
August 21, 2019
last modified: August 21, 2019

My husband and I are building our first home and are very close to selecting this plan: http://www.perthelhomes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/1496-80.jpg

We like it because it's different then others we've looked at and we love the two story living room area. It's also super open and bright. However, I wonder if I'm missing anything about it that will become a nuisance in the future or just doesn't make sense. For example, you can see the mudroom/garage is on the opposite side of the house from the kitchen, which will mean dragging groceries through the home. The other two things I'm not totally sold on are the master bedroom over the garage and the split master bath.

Additionally, will this house have enough tucked away storage space for a family of 5? This new house will be a bit over 3,000 sq ft. We are coming from a 2400 sq ft house.


This is what the house looks like from the outside (another one going up right now).



Comments (42)

  • bpath Oh Sophie

    The master bath is indeed pretty odd. You use the toilet at night, then open the door, go into another room to wash your hands, then back to the bedroom? Meanwhile, will you and spouse are using the vanities, you're doing "the bump" because it's close quarters, one thing leads to another, and suddenly you're a family of 6.

    How do you plan to use the living room? You're right in that it's the route from the garage to the kitchen and pantry. It's wide open to the kitchen so not really a formal space. I can totally envision it as reading room, though it might be hard to place furniture.

    The bathroom in the basement is also oddly compartmentalized. It doesn't make sense.

    How would the dryer be vented? The closest outlet is by the front door, but ugh.

    Does the driveway go across the front, to the garage, or does it come up that side of the house? Which direction would drivers typically approach the house from on the street? I'm asking because I've visited a house with a side-load garage, the driveway comes up that side, and as you come along the street, you see only the garage. Literally, you cannot see the house itself until you come around the garage. It's not very welcoming!

    The garage bumpout makes for an odd roofline. Either bump out the whole thing, or do without it (as long as you can still open the car doors on that side).

    The gable over the 2-story LR, is that also open to below? Or is it just, um, decorative? Because it also makes an odd presence over the porch roof.

    This last is just my personal preference, but I really don't like narrow upstairs halls. Passing people in the hall, moving furniture or luggage, and dark. The "open to below" won't do enough to mitigate that.

  • Michael

    You don't live where it snows much, do you?

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  • eec129

    I didn't even really notice the layout of the bathroom on the lower level. But yes, now I look at it and it's weird. I'm not sure about the dryer, another good question. I did mention the bathroom issue to my husband, who claims he won't be closing the door "most of the time." ;) I would plan on using the living room area as more of a casual sitting/reading area. I do wonder about furniture placement though!

  • PRO
    K Interior Design Group

    I Know a family of 5 that lives in an RV in California, I'm sure you're going to be okay in 3000 sq feet.. LOL


    About the garage mudroom, kitchen, I do think it's way to far to go in with groceries and too many obstacles in the way. Maybe try working with the architect and seeing if he can flip the garage over to side where the kitchen is..


    And about the master over the garage, yes I would have an issue, you're going to feel it every time it opens.. My sons' bedroom is currently over our garage but until he pays the mortgage, he doesn't get a say about the noise and vibrations...

    eec129 thanked K Interior Design Group
  • eec129

    Yes, we live in Wisconsin, so lots of snow. :/

  • bpath Oh Sophie

    In this house, "flipping" the garage to the other side changes the entire house. You'd be looking at an entirely different floor plan.

  • PRO
    K Interior Design Group

    Absolutely, that's why I suggested she speak to her architect so they could work it out for her.. I wouldn't compromise on her real needs..

  • threers

    Having a double height living room will be expensive to heat in the Wisconsin winter.

  • Snaggy

    Basement bedroom should have its own bathroom ..and just a loo and sink for others to use

    Master bathroom looks odd ..any way you can make it one room ? I would have thought the laundry should be on an out side wall ..long walk from the garage to the kitchen carrying shopping !

  • eec129

    We would have the house placed so when you pull up you see the main part, not the garage side! Really rethinking this plan. They are working on a first draft for us right now, adding a bit more space to the kitchen/living room side and garage, but I suddenly want to scrap it.

  • bpath Oh Sophie

    With the refrigerator in the corner, you might have trouble opening the door 90 degrees or more, making it hard to pull out the crisper bins.

  • myrica4

    If you can try to find a plan with the master suite on the first level, or at least a ground floor room (like a study) that could converted be a bedroom, with a full bath.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Yep, best plan for long term ownership is one which has bedroom on first floor for adults and those unplanned times when illness and injury happen.


    A 3-level house is a lot of stair climbing, over and over every day.

  • Michael

    The reason I asked about the snow is, how I'm seeing it, The snow will come down the roof above the front door, along with snow from the left side and right side, and all will pile up right in front of your front door. I see many homes in our area in that situation every winter. It's always nice to have a dormer over the porch to direct that snow to either side.



  • cpartist

    Have you considered instead of trying to make yourselves fit this plan, you instead work with a talented architect to create a plan that will fit your needs exactly?

    So you don't have to walk across the whole house with groceries.

    So you don't have to walk downstairs with tons of laundry and then worry about where it will vent.

    So you don't have to walk through the living room to get to the kitchen?

    So you don't have a very strange master bath where you are actually going backwards after you go to the toilet?

    So you don't have to walk through your great room to get to the office.

    So you don't walk down a dark hallway to get to the bedrooms.

    So you don't have a master bedroom that's bigger than your great room.

    So you don't have what looks like 20' of hallway after you enter the master suite.

    So you don't have two spaces labeled Rec room and then a third labeled playroom because they couldn't figure out what else to call it.

    So you won't have a 2 story foyer where noise travels upstairs and where it's harder to heat the main floor.



  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    Run away from this [I can't use the word my high school architectural teacher used] and look for a local architect that can work with you to design a home with you that meets your needs and fits your site.

  • Veronica Stanwyck

    There are definitely some odd spaces (the previous comments about the bathrooms pretty much sum it up), but there are some very positive things that you might find you want to take away. The pantry on the other side of the breakfast bar is not very practical, but the entrance from the garage through a mudroom is nice. The laundry's location will be kind of a pain, I suspect since from the master bedroom, you'll have to do a big downward spiral to bring laundry down (unless you install a chute) and then climb the spiral back up when it's done. However, it is nice that the route doesn't take your laundry through the kitchen which is something I've seen in a ton of plans recently. The half bath on the main floor should really be at least a 3/4 bath so you can use the office space to house guests with mobility issues like aging parents. All that said...don't let perfection be the enemy of progress. You may never have the *perfect* plan, but the plan you ultimately choose should accommodate the way you live and grow with you.

  • suezbell

    In colder climates, a two story room can be ill advised. Heat rises and so will your heat bills.


    Both heat related and light related: Pay attention to which rooms -- windows -- are on the north, south, east, west. It matters.

  • suezbell

    Also, you might consider a screened porch or breezeway between garage or carport and your kitchen -- works year round.

  • decoenthusiaste

    Give it up! Enlist the best recommended architect in the area to design your forever home!

  • ritasj

    Ditto to all the concerns...this is a maze.. with little thought to easy access any where.. the tiny living room caught my eye for different reason ... it feels like a stove pipe...a tiny tall room...the way people live today ... the space is better allocated to a bigger kitchen... pantry..and great room..I agree with the suggestions for a fresh start

  • suezbell

    In the big box stores -- grocery and building supply -- there is usually a magazine section. Check for magazines that focus on the size home you are seriously considering.

    A three bedroom home will have more resale value than a two bedroom -- (parents, sons, daughters) -- but you will be much happier in a home you can actually afford -- one that will not cause you constant stress over its cost to purchase and maintain.

    Then invest in a tablet of graph paper, a ruler, pencils and a good eraser so you can begin to sketch out your own ideas to scale. Remember to take into consideration as you sketch out your floor plan that most walls are 4" walls.

    After you have a better idea what you want, post it here for suggestions. Then you can contact a local pro to see what's possible.

  • cpartist

    Actually don't sketch out ideas to scale. Look up bubble diagram. That's a much better way to start.

  • ritasj

    A good guide to your needs for each room is to measure your present home’s rooms and start a list of which rooms need to be bigger and which ones can be smaller.....also appraise your own layout...how you would change you laundry room?...your master bath...your entry...etc...this gives you a narrative for an architect if you aren’t up to actually drawing a plan right now...list your “dream” needs...” i always wanted...more windows....morning sun in the kitchen...a walk-in closet of my own...etc....maybe you want a multi-purpose room to do projects in ?knowing what you want makes it easier to explain it to someone else...ask your husband these things as well..even if he is a “ do whatever you want honesty “ kind of guy....a pro can help you to fit what you want into what you can afford and also provide ideas for expansion that may be needed as time moves on...

  • ritasj

    “ do what you want , honey”...type...This spell check is pretty aggressive these days..

  • ritasj

    I also love the way it switches the pictures (featured with your name)... on a whim...

  • Akila McConnell

    Your pantry is super far from actual work space in your kitchen. You literally have to walk all the way around the island to get to your dry goods.


    When we were deciding whether to build or to buy, we saw a house that had a master bath like the one you are looking at where the vanities were open in a hallway to the bedroom and then there was a toilet in a closet to the side of the vanities. The rest of that house was really lovely but that house sat on the market for close to 8 months and they had to keep dropping the price because nobody wanted that master bath at the price they were asking. We actually went and saw the house three times and each time, came to the conclusion that we would have to completely gut the master bath even though it had been recently re-done. So, I would definitely not go with that master bath plan. (And, also, I know that you also see toilet closets but WHY would they put the shower in with the toilet? This is like a kid's bathroom design rather than a master bath design.


    What would you use the living room for? Would that be a playroom?

  • eec129

    The living room would probably be a sitting room/place to drink my morning coffee/maybe playroom for now.

  • eec129

    Isn’t the inside so pretty though? Feeling bummed that this place isn’t going to work. http://www.perthelhomes.com/home-plans/the-berkshire-3/

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    Better to feel bummed before building it than after.

  • cpartist

    Isn’t the inside so pretty though? Feeling bummed that this place isn’t going to work. http://www.perthelhomes.com/home-plans/the-berkshire-3/

    When you have a good layout, you can make it pretty. Don't be lured by the decorating. That's how people get sucked into buying poorly designed houses.

  • Kristin S

    It is pretty. But most of the things that are pretty are things that aren't specific to *this* plan, but rather possible to have in many plans, including plans with better layouts. Save pictures and make notes on what you love from those pictures and make your eventual design choices accordingly.

  • robin0919

    IMO....a LR is a 'complete' waste of space and money s/f to build and furnish. Who uses a LR in the last decade or so? That must be an old plan.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Robin, Robin, Robin...

  • D N

    As I sit in my living room, reading...

  • whaas_5a

    I’m assuming you’re somewhere near me. Perthel is one you can lump into the upper end of generic home builders in the area. I can recommend a local architect that won’t break the bank and then he has relationships with a few reasonable custom Home builders.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    I am in my daughter's living room now.

  • PRO
    Diana Bier Interiors, LLC

    I'm in my living room with my morning coffee. You can have a living room and a family room, but they need to be separate so they can serve separate functions. My living room is also my office, and is separated from the kitchen by actual (plaster) walls. It has no TV or other electronics, and is quiet, perfect for my needs. The family room is on the other side of the house, closer (but not open to) the kitchen and back entrance. It has a large screen TV and surround system.

    This plan has both rooms totally open to the kitchen, thus rendering them redundant.

    I agree that this plan has major shortcomings, and you can do better.

  • J Williams

    I like some of the layout of this plan, I actually kind of like the foyer, that they have given you a powder room and an office. It would be nice to take some of the vaulted ceilings and put them to use as the master, no master over the garage, and why waste upstairs space with an upstairs laundry? The bathrooms could just be one simple room. I would worry about insulation over a garage.

  • millworkman

    Dam GC's!!!!!!!! AND their Living rooms.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    Houses don't sell as well when they have Dying rooms.

  • Mrs Pete

    We like it because it's different then others we've looked at and we love the two story living room area. It's also super open and bright.

    Those are true statements, though the two-story living room isn't really a positive. It'll be expensive to heat/cool, and sounds will echo. How old are your children? Will they be safe in a two-story room, or will all that height be a temptation to throw things (or jump ... I was a jumper ... so were my four siblings).

    which will mean dragging groceries through the home. The other two things I'm not totally sold on are the master bedroom over the garage and the split master bath.

    You can improve the grocery issue by opening up a "back door" in the pantry -- this will allow you to go straight down the hall /not through the dining room.


    A couple people said the pantry was too far from the kitchen. I disagree. You typically begin cooking by bringing out all your dry goods ... so that's just one trip to a pantry only a few steps away.

    What I don't like about the kitchen is the long line of bar stools at the island. The island is a great place for a couple stools, but it's an awful place for family meals. Don't believe me? Take the family to Waffle House for dinner, sit at the bar, and see if you enjoy the family interaction. 1-2 stools for a child to sit on occasionally are great ... but you have space for a table RIGHT THERE.

    I agree that the master -- from its long dark entry hall to its weird bathroom to its over-garage location -- is a huge mess. That would be a no-go for me.

    Additionally, will this house have enough tucked away storage space for a family of 5? This new house will be a bit over 3,000 sq ft. We are coming from a 2400 sq ft house.

    3000 square feet is a huge house -- a lot to pay for initially, a lot to maintain, clean, heat/cool, and pay taxes upon. And this house contains LOTS of bloat; you could get the same (or even better) function in a smaller space.

    As for storage:

    That corner to the left of the office door is begging to become a closet (or open shelves).

    I'd move the laundry upstairs /allow that space to enlarge the mudroom or have a hobby closet downstairs.

    The huge storage in the basement isn't all that useful ... its not convenient to the majority of the house.

    You can add bookshelves on both sides of the fireplace for books, movies, board games ... but allow space for windows above.

    The reason I asked about the snow is, how I'm seeing it, The snow will come down the roof above the front door, along with snow from the left side and right side, and all will pile up right in front of your front door. I see many homes in our area in that situation every winter. It's always nice to have a dormer over the porch to direct that snow to either side.

    Being a good Southerner, I think more about flip-flops and pools than snow ... so I never would've considered this point. However, I do note that the front door is kinda "buried" in all this exterior. Perhaps if it were a bright color it'd stand out better.

    I agree with these statements:

    - The bathroom in the basement is also oddly compartmentalized

    - The garage bumpout makes for an odd roofline.

    - So you don't have to walk downstairs with tons of laundry and then worry about where it will vent. (My own addition: This is a very big deal. Venting a dryer from the middle of the house is expensive, hard to clean, and a fire hazard!).

    - So you don't have what looks like 20' of hallway after you enter the master suite.

    - So you don't have two spaces labeled Rec room and then a third labeled playroom because they couldn't figure out what else to call it.

    - There are definitely some odd spaces

    We would have the house placed so when you pull up you see the main part, not the garage side!

    No, no, you're not understanding the above poster. We need an illustration:

    Imagine that the red line is the main road, and the green lines are your driveway and your sidewalk.

    No matter which direction they approach the house, your guests will "pull up" next to the garage /park in that area. They will then be forced to walk alllllll the way arooooounnnnnd two sides of a bloated garage. While walking, they will have no view of their goal (the front door), and they will potentially be exposed to rain /snow /dark. This is absolutely not welcoming, and it can't be fixed ... not with a front-protruding, side-entrance garage.

    Let's look at it from a different perspective. Your guests would park on the side of the house /by the garage (marked with a red star) ... and they'd have to walk around the garage /with no sight of the front door until they'd turned two corners. Don't you see how that'd be uncomfortable?


    I say it all the time: Driveways /the approach to the house don't get nearly enough attention. These things set the tone for your house.

    You could add a second driveway (perhaps circular) to the front of the house for guests ... but then guests won't be sure which driveway is for them. The garage is just a very poor design.

    Isn’t the inside so pretty though?

    I think the interior pix are rather average for a new build. They are, however, very trendy and up-to-date, especially the color scheme.

    Regardless, this statement is a hint that you're responding to finishes /trims ... not functional layout. Pinpoint the items you like, and you can use these finishes in a house with a better layout.

    Better to feel bummed before building it than after.

    SO MUCH!

    As I sit in my living room, reading...

    In contrast, no one has entered my living room ... probably since we used it as a "staging space" for my daughter's back-to-college move last month.

    The real question isn't, "Do you need a room labeled living?" It's, "How many public spaces are you building?" My living room never gets used because it's the THIRD public space in our house -- we've been here 18 years, and we've used it fewer than 10 times -- it's a waste.

    Most families will be well-served with ONE big room in which they can all gather (might be called a living room, den, family room, whatever) ... and a SECOND smaller room in which someone can be separate from the family. This second space (whether it's called an office, a playroom, a sunroom, or whatever) needs to be visually and acoustically private from the main family space, which allows one person (or a few people) to get away to read, do homework, watch a TV show in private, or whatever. This second space could be the place to contain the kids' loud video games, or it could be the place to escape from the kids' loud video games. Once the kids become teens, this second space can become the place for them to host friends, or it can be the place for parents to "disappear" while the kids are in the main family space.

    Few of us need a third public gathering space. The floor plan we're discussing contains SIX public gathering areas ... plus a private sitting space for the parents.

    My own additional thoughts:

    - That bay wall is a stunning feature, but it will be expensive ... do you like it that much?

    - Will you actually use fireplaces in two different rooms? Fireplaces are quite expensive to build and aren't used that often in most homes ... if you want them "for looks", consider that you could put in a mantle /fill the fireplace with flowers or candles seasonally.

    - Imagine your path to bring laundry up to the master bedroom: through the mudroom, through the foyer, up the stairs, turn, down the hallway, down the long dark master hallway, and FINALLY you're in the closet. It's just too long a path.

    - Imagine the house were on fire. Imagine trying to escape from that master. You're far-far from any door. Imagine you're elderly in this house. Imagine navigating these steps and two long hallways to reach your bedroom on a daily basis.

    - The kids' closets look good.

    - How will the kids feel about their bedrooms being different sizes?

    - The kids' bathroom will be dark ... all rooms are so much better with natural light. You definitely can't have two sinks in this vanity (and why would you even want two sinks between three kids?). Instead go with one sink /drawers on both sides for ample storage. Storage trumps duplicate sinks every single time.

    - Who will live in the weird downstairs bedroom that cannot be reached without walking through another room?

    - Note that the playroom has no natural light. It won't be a pleasant space.

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