christabottomley

Universal Design Floorplan for Homeschooling family of 6

Christa Bottomley
2 months ago
last modified: 2 months ago



I’m working on a floorplan for our family of 3 young boys, teen daughter, and husband (who works from home). the primary reason we are building is that our oldest son (9yo) got a polio-like condition (AFM) and now can’t walk without a Walker but we are told that he nervous system will have the greatest chance for recovery if he is walking most of the time. We homeschool all 4 kids so he is home 95% of the time which means his home environment is very easy to navigate, both inside and out.

I’ve been working long and hard on a floorplan similar to Schumacher’s “Olivia” (https://www.schumacherhomes.com/house-plans/olivia) or Diyanni's Beringer (https://www.diyannihomes.com/floorplan/detail/the-beringer) but with the Master Suite upstairs and the kids rooms downstairs. I'm going to be bringing this to a draftsman or house designer soon so want to get as specific as possible first.

There will also hopefully be a cement path circling the outside of the house with no steps so he can walk outside as well. (Outside free-time is very important for our family and helps them with their schoolwork and behavior). There will someday hopefully be a small pool in the back (helps with recovery as well as fun for the other kids). Right now, he uses his Walker until he runs into a corner/step/whatever and then he hops to the floor and crawls/skooches the rest of the way. All his out-of-door time is spent crawling (in the mud, dirt, whatever). Can you imagine how dehumanizing that will be over time?!?

Anyway, I’m looking for feedback on what I have so-far. There's straight paths for walking with at least 36” (but often 49”) are used for main traffic flow. His Walker has a 45” min turning radius. Zero-step entries on all outside doors including the garage. Most doors are pocket doors...

The 3 boys share a bunk room ("Bedroom #3), the teenage girl gets her own room ("Bedroom #2") but it will be the guest room soon. I also want to plan for when she may be bringing a spouse/kids home in the next 10 years. Her room will have a built-in twin-over-queen (turned 90 degrees) to allow for grandkids, spouse, etc. There is a “reading alcove" in the hallway with built-in bookcases that are twin-width that can be used for sleeping overflow for grandkids if necessary. Bathroom has access outside for if there ends up being a pool. There's a dog wash/foot cleaning shower pan in the mudroom because my boys get muddy. There's a "Drop zone" in the mudroom because I hate when mail gets sorted on the kitchen counter. Also cubbies for each person as well as closets for off-season storage. The Laundry room will also have room for projects (my kids draw/paint a lot but I hate when the homeschool room gets cluttered up with crafts when its time to do schoolwork.) My husband's office is secluded by having to walk through the Library but the library room is still near the hub of the house. That way he can feel like the library is part of his office but it also feels part of the main room (borrowing from both ends!). We want books to woven throughout the house.... There's an alcove in the foyer for the piano to save on space and to give it it's own "room" out of the center of everything. The odd mini-room/XL-closet in the hall is for therapy equipment. Basement will be unfinished for a good while....

We don’t have much figured out for the Master upstairs....We’d like a double shower but no tub, separate closets but not too big, and I’d give up my own sink to have a ”primping" area. I'd welcome any sketches...

It's a big house but then, we both work from home and the kids do school at home so it has to cover a lot of bases, in addition to being able to accommodate our son's mobility needs and additional therapy equipment.

Any thoughts?





Comments (42)

  • cpartist
    2 months ago

    The best houses orient the public rooms towards the south for the best passive solar heating and cooling

    The best houses are L, U, T, H, or I shaped.

    The best houses are only one to two rooms deep. And covered lanai, porches, garages, etc count as rooms in this case.

    The best houses make sure kitchens have natural light, meaning windows so one doesn't have to have lighting 24/7 to use the kitchen. (And no, dining areas with windows 10' or more from the kitchen will not allow for natural light.)

    The best houses make sure all public rooms and bedrooms have windows on at least two walls.

    The best houses do not if possible put mechanical rooms, pantries or closets on outside walls

    The best houses keep public and private spaces separate.

    The best houses do not have you walk through the work zone of the kitchen to bring laundry to the laundry room.

    The best houses do not have the mudroom go through any of the work zones of the kitchen.

    The best houses do not use the kitchen as a hallway to any other rooms.

    The best houses do not put toilets or toilet rooms up against bedroom walls or dining areas.

    The best houses do not have walk in closets too small to stand inside.

    The best houses have an organizing “spine” so it’s easy to determine how to get from room to room in the house and what makes sense.

    So how many of these best practices does your house have?

  • bpath
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    What is your site like? Which way is north on your plan?

    Can you explain a little more about the library? How will it be used? With no natural light the books will be protected but it won't be so pleasant, and will certainly require a lot of artificial lighting. (My husband works from home the past several years and does not want a connection to the activity. He likes quiet to concentrate and to talk to clients.)

    I notice that the kitchen has only one window, and it's in a corner. You might want more natural light.

    I don't see the therapy closet.

    Is the boys'bedroom 10' wide by 20'? 20'is long but at 10' will it be comfortable for 3 little boys and a walker to scramble around?

    I love your idea for a walkway all the way around. I wonder if asphalt would be a good choice? The expansion joints in concrete could be uncomfortable to maneuver. You can have a lot of fun with it, with shape, landscape etc, making various kinds of "adventures", paths, etc. Chalk designs. A kid paradise! Can you tell by my username that I love a path?

    I'm not sure I understand the alcove with both bookshelves and bunks. If you ever do need bunks, will they go in front of the books?

    It's a long time before you will need to accommodate grandkids. By that time the boys will have separated into bedroom 2 and the playroom, and you'll have a whole basement, too. I don't think I'd worry too much about grandchildren now. Are you anticipating that the teenager will leave in a few years to set up her own home? If she does come visit later with spouse and children in tow, AND the boys are still at home, you might want another bathroom or half bath. I'd prioritize that over bunk beds. You can put a bed, air mattress, or cot anywhere, but bathroom space is set and more expensive to add.

    Christa Bottomley thanked bpath
  • Related Discussions

    Floor plan help needed for long narrow family room with TV & piano

    Q

    Comments (2)
    Hi Sorry I won't be much help except to say that your piano should be on an inside wall - the slight temperature changes are the issue, as I understand it. Unfortunately that means the piano should be on the wall between foyer and kitchen entrances, in the middle of the room. I don't know if angling it across a corner will be enough removed from wall or not. I would talk with whoever you purchased piano from. Good luck with arrangements!
    ...See More

    I think I really screwed up when designing our floorplan...

    Q

    Comments (26)
    HI -- Some good ideas for your design problem -- I don't think you screwed up . For the TV wall , you could have another wall in front of the intended TV wall so the sliding door just goes behind --- like a pocket door . OR - why not just forget about having the barn doors and install pocket doors like the glass ones they have in office buildings, Then you still have a place for the TV .I think that would be the nicer look. For the furniture , maybe a big squared sectional that is adaptable with sections and lounge end (s) and matching ottomans etc. and a couple of swivel chairs. That is a huge house your building - what style is it going to be -- modern or traditional ? Just an added note -- for the size that is planed for the master bath and closets , think about changing that area so you could have his and hers baths and closets ,- that seems to be very popular these days . Right now looks like a lot of wasted space . Her side would have the tub and his side could have the shower which could also be shared between the two. Just a thought before it's too late. You could also enlarge the pantry a bit to include space for a standing freezer . Also , instead of having bar seating at the island (can't see on the plan ) think about backing a banquette bench seat there and having a table and chairs in front . Great for kids and several people .
    ...See More

    What color to use with hickory cabinets & an open floor plan?!

    Q

    Comments (1)
    It would be easier to comment with pictures of some kind?
    ...See More

    Kitchen floor plan. How would you design it?

    Q

    Comments (14)
    Keep in mind that if you relocate water fixtures in a kitchen remodeling, expenses will go up. What's under the random room? If plumbers need to move water and drain lines into the other room, will they have open access from below, or will they potentially need to pull down drywall from ceilings in the room(s) below the existing kitchen and random room? If you like a more open plan, and if the wall dividing the kitchen from the random room and the dining space aren't load bearing, then you potentially could open up the room quite a bit, relocating the cabinetry and cooking areas to the random room, perhaps replacing the wall between the kitchen and dining area with a counter and adding stools. Maybe on the long wall that divides the garage from the random room, do floor to ceiling cabinetry, including a pantry; the space in the cabinetry can help as an additional airspace insulator between the garage and the living space of the house. Then wrap base cabinetry and wall cabinets on the exterior walls of the "random" room, completely remove the wall dividing the kitchen from the random room, replace the wall between the kitchen and the dining room with an counter or pass-through that can hide additional base cabinetry on the existing kitchen side, and take a fair bit of the existing kitchen space that's been freed up of cabinetry, which should allow either an eat-in nook in the corner where your existing cabinetry corner currently is, or don't put in an eat-in nook, and put in an island instead.
    ...See More
  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting
    2 months ago

    IMO those comments were meant for you to go look at your plan again. I think you need an architect to design a house that works for you and staop looking and reconfiguing other plans. A walker needs to be able to be turned everywhere so no 36” walkways anywhere. All the doorways need to be at least wide enough for th ewalker to go through and turn around to return.First you get a workable floor plan then figure out what you need for occassional visits by imaginary families.I really dislike spaces with no purpose too. Waht is the loft space for? I aslo don’t like master bedrooms far from kids rooms and especially with one child who is handicapped. You need an architect NOW.

  • Felix Pradas-Bergnes
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Hi @Christa Bottomley, good job on your floor plan. I will review it and make some suggestions. As @bpath, mentioned, it is important for the contributors in this forum to know a bit more about the location, the site, in order to customize the design. It is useful to know the site's dimensions, orientation and access (road), and the state or climate region the site is located in so we can ensure proper orientation of the windows and outdoor recreational spaces. Cheers!

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    2 months ago

    If you really do care about your family of six, throw all preconceived designs away, forget about any draftsman or house designer, and start the process of selecting a local architect that specializes in residential design. Share with them your list of needs and wants, and your site survey. They will ask you a lot of questions and you can ask them a lot of questions. Architects are educated, trained, experienced, and licensed to design building to meet very specific needs.

    Christa Bottomley thanked Mark Bischak, Architect
  • Christa Bottomley
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    This is so helpful, Thank You!


    So we don't have a site yet, still looking. But it's a high priority that we be able to face the Morning Room and Great Room towards the South to take full advantage of the light. The Great Room will have 2-story windows so that the adjoining spaces will "steal" light from there. Like here:




    It is my hope that this will make up for the lack of windows in the kitchen. I've been in a model home much like the above and it didn't seem dark to me in the kitchen. Has anyone had this not work out to light the kitchen well? My mother in law has no windows in her kitchen but it looks into something similar and she only turns lights on when she needs task lighting.


    Yes, the Library has no windows. I'm hoping to steel light from the Great Room a little (maybe widening the doorway a bit) but I'm mostly counting on overhead canned lights. It's going to be really used as a Library with full length bookcases an only an armchair or two.






    I also thought of perhaps putting in transoms over the bookcases through to the foyer, office, and mudroom...Or a small interior "window" through the staircase wall but I think that will be just "architectural clutter". Honestly, my husband loves dimly-lit rooms and cloudy days (I'm solar powered!) and I think he may like it better dimly lit. His current office has two windows and he always has the blinds shut. His ideal is a dimly lit room on a dreary English fall day. (To each his own I guess). BUT I don't want the room to be a dismal pit for the rest of us either! I'm hoping to have it well lit with dimmable canned lighting. It's not a gathering room but rather a room to get away on your own. I would appreciate more thoughts about this!


    The hallway I see as looking like this:



    It's not really meant to be for sleeping, just can be used for that in a pinch. Truthfully, our boys do not always settle in for the night peacefully and so sometimes we have to send one out to sleep in our bed while the other two fall asleep but I'd much rather send them out to the hall to read until they settle down. Also, sometimes friends/cousins come spend the night too and overflow sleeping space would be nice in addition to being a "mini-library" for the kids books.


    My inlaws house was built when my husband was our daughter's age and every time we go over there we think "why didn't they plan ahead for an expanding family?" There's 9 grandkids so far and when we come for the holidays (or for random visits, which is a lot) we are all wedged into here and there. They have a big house (3,000sqft) but not many places for kids/guests (3Br/2Ba). My grandparents have almost 3 dozen grandkids (spread out over 25 years) and growing up, going to Grandma's was a riot but she could always house us all. I don't think we'll have that many (!) but I want to be ready to have my kids and their families over. We hope to expand into the basement with at least one more bedroom and a full bath in time. But maybe I should think about another bathroom....


    The boys room (with the bunks) is really just for sleeping and dressing (no toys). Their current room has almost the same dimensions with a freestanding bunk facing a closet with 6' between, this would just be longer to fit another bunk (one boy just has a trundle under the bunks, not his own bed). But you're right, maybe that's too narrow with the walker (his current room is upstairs so his walker doesn't go up there) so I need to try that out. And maybe its too long/narrow... Good thoughts....


    Great idea about the asphalt! I also wondered if stamped concrete can be done in such a way that the grooves aren't so deep? But asphalt would have that issue. What's maintenance like?




  • Christa Bottomley
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Mark, I get what you're saying. I'd LIKE to take this to an architect in an ideal world, to use this idea as a sort of "launching" point or conversation starter. But I'm really having trouble finding an architect where we are moving (Louisville, KY) who is interested in residential that is under $1M. We are hoping to spend like $500,000 all in working as our own GC to save money and I haven't found a firm that looks like a good fit. Any recommendations on how to find someone? I've looked here on Houzz and not finding much in our area.... Google search gives me a lot of unhelpful results (luxury homes or industrial buildings). Is there another place I should be looking? And any ideas of what I should be ready to pay an architect?


    Just a few years ago, $500,000 was good money to build but the prices I'm being quoted are climbing quickly. 12 months ago, a builder who quoted me $350,00 for the basics is now saying $450,000 without a lot. I'm looking to make our money go as far as it can to get my son a walkable home.


    Some other people advise me against architects (favoring draftsmen or "home designers", something I hadn't heard of before) if I'm wanting to keep costs down as sometimes Architects think more about the "art" and less about the cost. But I'm sure there are plenty of architects who work with the practical side as well. (I wanted to be an architect as a young adult and I'm very pro-architect but we can't spend money we don't have.) You're an architect, of course, what's your thoughts on that? Can hiring an architect vs drafter help me keep costs down? I'd like to sell the idea to my husband as well!

    The bottom line comes down to this: the best thing for our family is to have a home based around their needs but we have to be able to afford it as well. A "good, but not perfect" Universal Design home that I can afford is better than buying a house "off the shelf" that my son can't walk in. If I hold out for a perfect home designed by an architect, it might not be able to happen at all. One of our chief goals is get our son walking again and a walkable home (that we can afford) is a key step to that. :)

  • bpath
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    My parents planned for grandchildren and ended up with two. You can’t always plan for things, and grandchildren are absolutely out of your control :) And if you do want to plan for beds, plan for bathrooms and storage, too. How many children will your kids have? You’ll need towels, bedding/sleeping bags for all of them, storage for the Things they bring with them.

    If you want the kitchen and morning room to face south, then you need to find the site first. What if you find a wonderful site in a great location, room for a pool, maybe fine views, but it is oriented such that you can’t just rotate your plan to fit?

    I like that hallway inspiration picture! It isn’t quite deep enough for twin beds, and if it were the books would be too far back to be comfortable to reach without clambering onto the bed. But as a window seat it’s nice. But again, for reading, natural light. That hall will be dark during the day,.

    There won’t be much borrowed light in the library at all. Maybe add French doors to the foyer? But really, if you are designing a house for your family, let there be light.

  • doc5md
    2 months ago

    Your bathroom in the mudroom area won't work as it is only 2' wide as drawn.

    Be careful spending too much time getting married to a design without a site first. It may seriously limit the available sites because of where you've placed windows, etc. You may find the perfect site that requires a complete redesign of the home (and that might be a good thing because it will fit the new site better).

    Christa Bottomley thanked doc5md
  • partim
    2 months ago

    You will be unhappy with your windowless kitchen. Your kitchen and library will not steal light from the 2 storey family room. Transoms will not make the difference.

    Your floor plan is flawed from the outset by being one big square. It is inevitable that the interior will be dark. You received some good advice above, about home shapes.

    You have thought a lot about your needs, and that's great. Now you need someone with years of training and experience to talk to you about the options that could meets your needs. There will be inevitable compromises and a pro will lay these out for you, so you can decide on your priorities.

    Christa Bottomley thanked partim
  • Christa Bottomley
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Just to clarify, there won’t be any “beds” in the hallway alcove. Just a padded seat that can be used as a bed for a small child in a pinch. Just like in the picture.

    When I talk about grandkids someday, I’m just making sure there’s flexible spaces. This is only a 3 bed room house after all with a playroom (that could be a bedroom).

    The Master bedroom door is at the top of the open stairs looking right down into the hallway where the boys room is. It’s not separated by much more than air. Our son used a Walker , he isn’t mentally impaired in anyway and even manages his younger brothers.


    The loft is an “away room” out of the main area. Its a substitute for a sitting area in the Master bedroom as we’d like to keep that more compact and allows keeping an eye on the kids without being in the middle of the action.

    All hallways/walkways are 48” with doorways being 36-42”.

  • just_janni
    2 months ago

    Do you have property yet? I am looking at this house and I would put it at about $700K without land. And finding something flat that is suitable will be imperative.


    You have a lot of details / ideas, but need more work on the bones. Like - bigger picture stuff - things like adjacencies - homeschool room near half bath. Kitchen with access to the outside. Office for hubby connected to library. Private master. etc.


    This house looks to be about 50' x 50' with the garage sticking out. that roof will be MASSIVE and framing it will be a beast.


    Your successful execution will be directly related to the competency of whomever designs and develops this house project. You have some VERY specific needs, and to be done well will require talent. It's too important to leave to change or to try to go it alone with some crowdsourced help.


    Not everyone needs an architect, but I think you really do.

    Christa Bottomley thanked just_janni
  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    2 months ago

    One of the biggest influences on a house's design is the site. Obtain the site before starting design.

    Keep expanding your search area until you find an architect that you feel will be a good fit. Check out local houses under construction or newly completed an talk to the owners to see who they used and get their experience. Check with local building department, lumber yards, other builders, etc.

    Architectural fees vary based on the architect and the area and the services.

    Architects are artists and engineers, and not always equally balanced in both areas, usually landing somewhere in between.

    Some architects remotely design homes, Architectrunnerguy is one of them.

    Christa Bottomley thanked Mark Bischak, Architect
  • Christa Bottomley
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Thank you, I really appreciate the advice!

  • shead
    2 months ago

    I'm in south central KY and just recently built (finished in November but got our lumber package before building prices skyrocketed last spring). We have 2700 sf plus 600ish in a bonus area plus a full basement plus porches. We were all in at $435K and that did NOT include the land and we did NOT have a main level garage (carport only). I cannot imagine that you can possibly build this house for $500K given what we spent and given that Louisville is obviously going to cost more that my rural KY locale.


    As for the plan, I see several deficiencies but those really don't matter if you can't afford the plan as drawn. One deficiency I see is the master bedroom being on the 2nd floor and no way for your special needs child to get to the basement.


    I may have missed this but do you have your lot yet? You might consider trying to find a lot suitable for a walk-out basement and moving the homeschool rooms, etc. there and install an elevator for your son.



  • Christa Bottomley
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    My son can get up and down stairs, we just want the bulk of his living to be on one level. If we had a walkout basement, it would make the yard have a slope so that he couldn’t walk around the yard.

    I have been pushing “trim some fat” from the floorplan (library in the loft, use the dining area as a combo homeschool/dining area, take square footage out of the Greatroom, etc) so we have room to shrink it back.

    But the feedback about pricing is *very* helpful, thank you! @shead Were you the GC of your project or did you hire one as part of your build? Did you do siding or masonry? (It seems like many builders are assuming we want full masonry?!) what were your fixtures like?


    Honestly, we’re willing to live with Laminate counters and simple finishes to get the “bones” right and upgrade over time. My in-laws (who have a great home) moved in without light fixtures, many finishes, and even some cabinets but gradually improved it over the following 5 years and now have a gorgeous home.

  • shead
    2 months ago

    We did have a GC. DH and I have GC'd a new build and several large remodel projects over the years and we have discovered that it is VERY hard to do and also we doubt that we really saved any money to do so. Subs are so hard to find everywhere right now and it is incredibly hard to get GOOD subs to work for a one-offer in this environment meaning that a sub will continue to work for a GC who is their bread and butter over a homeowner who won't be using them again most likely.


    Our house is Hardi board and batten with a brick skirt and retaining walls. Our fixtures were not incredibly expensive. I got my lighting and plumbing fixtures from places like overstock.com, Home Depot, Lowe's, etc. We got our appliances from Ferguson's, who had the best deal. We got a great deal on our flooring from our friend who works at a hardwood floor distributor. Our porches are plain concrete. Seriously, it's ALL just so incredibly expensive right now even if you choose low end or middle of the road finishes and fixtures.

  • Christa Bottomley
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Thank you for those details @shead! It’s very helpful and gives me a lot to think over and consider.

    This Thursday we’re meeting with a man named Wayne Hennings who works as a “construction consultant“ (basically he holds you hand while you GC and let’s you use his connections/subs etc) and this gives me a lot to talk with him about.

  • Felix Pradas
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Christa, another issue to consider in regards to the builder is the size of the company. Many GC rely on subcontractors to complete a project and experience many delays.
    In building our house we chose a company that only worked on one project at a time and had an extensive set of subcontractors in it's service. The house was completed in 8 months, getting the permits to get going on the other hand, too some 18 months.
    Furthermore, the type of loan you get is a plus. We got a type of construction loan where the GC company would not get a penny until we signed off that every one of the monthly building targets were completed.
    And indeed, the site is vital to the design. Imagine buying a sofa and curtains. You need to buy the sofa first. It is easier to math curtains to a sofa than to find a sofa that matches your curtains.

    Christa Bottomley thanked Felix Pradas
  • Felix Pradas
    2 months ago

    @Christa Bottomley, Hi there. Please consider this floor plan. It is a rearrangement of the one you posted. In this plan the kitchen is flooded with eastern light from windows above the cabinets and southern light from the windows in the dining, living, and breakfast rooms. The rooms needing artificial light are the library, pantry/scullery (you can add a window if you want), and the pocket office and two powder rooms by the mudroom (and near the classroom).

    I added to full bathrooms in between the two children bedrooms. You are going to need them, now and in the future.

    All the hallways are 48" and most doors are 36".

    I hope this helps. Cheers!



  • Christa Bottomley
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    @Felix Pradas Wow, you obviously put a lot of time into this! But it’s missing a lot of details that make it work for the way our particular family. Such as the mudroom only having access from the garage not outside (where the majority of our mus comes from) and having the Library (meant to be a quiet alcove) surrounded by the kids rooms (which won’t fit two bunks and playroom. Also we lost the ADA bathroom that is accessible from the pool area and trust me, we don’t need that many bathrooms. (The 4 kids share one bathroom without a hitch currently so if anything, I’d just add a door dividing the toilet/shower from the vanity area.) Also, we don’t need three dining spaces (counter, morning room, and dining area) and the daylight into my pocket is very important, as it the view from my desk to the backyard where the kids will be playing. I could go on but I think you get the idea...

    While I REALLY appreciate your time on this and it shows me that there many way to do things, it also really goes to show that a floorplan is not just a list of rooms. It really does matter how the individual family lives. For us, the arrangement of the rooms and their flow makes more impact than the list of rooms.


    This is showing me that perhaps we should look into a designer or architect.

  • Felix Pradas
    2 months ago

    Excellent! That is the point most Houzz forum contributors stress most often. The constant and extended ommunication between the family and the architect is vital. Here is wishing you success and blessings along this path. Cheers!

  • millworkman
    2 months ago

    "This is showing me that perhaps we should look into a designer or architect."


    You have a lot of specific needs and want, so this if definitely the correct step. Although they will be spinning their wheels to some extent until you have property as the home cannot truly be designed without know the constraints of the property. The other think you are missing attempting to go this on your own is that there still needs to be elevations done that work with the floor plan. This really needs to be done in concert with each other and not in a vacuum.

  • bry911
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Take pricing info with a grain of salt. Right before the pandemic hit I was developing some small energy efficient properties at $86 per square foot.

    Christa Bottomley thanked bry911
  • cpartist
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    You don't design a house BEFORE you have the site. You design the house to FIT THE SITE which means first you buy the site. Until then you're just dreaming. And I highly recommend you find someone of design talent (residential architect) who has experience with ADA requirements. Unless your background is in design, and even if your background is, you don't know what you don't know.

  • cpartist
    2 months ago

    Felix, go back to the best houses and how many rooms deep a house should be. Then go from there. A reading room with no natural light will be a place NO ONE will want to read or do work in.

  • Felix Pradas
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    @cpartist, I can readily agree but it is all relative. I avoid light from hitting my bookshelves because most of my books and collections of images are antiques. A room such as the one I suggested in this plan can be properly lit by a clerestory. As you pointed out before, without a site we are just building castles in the sky.
    I do not see my proposals are definite solutions but rather as a pedagogical opportunity to show potentials. Cheers!

  • tangerinedoor
    2 months ago

    @Christa Bottomley The plan you drew won't achieve the kind of light in the kitchen (or the "library") that you show in the idea photo you posted. Even if you have a wall of windows in the "Great Room", light won't bend to reach around a corner to the kitchen. As for reaching all the way across a "Great Room" to illuminate a library...... And didn't you mention your spouse needs peace and quiet? So the library would have to have a door?


    IMO your budget is way too low for this house.

  • HU-290654264
    last month

    Double your budget or 1/3 your build size.

  • PRO
    Celadon
    last month

    Find the land first.


    Doing imaginary floor plans for a nonexistent property isnt exactly wasted effort. If it makes you think. But what it’s doing in your case is making you dig in your heels to defend really bad build ideas, rather than being open to something better.


    That’s typical. No one wants to hear that their baby is ugly. Its the Ikea effect, plus the similar Dunning Kruger. Things that people spend their own effort on will rank high in their minds as being superior to the same exact thing produced by someone else. Their own abilities are “above average”, which only happens in Lake Woebegone.


    The reality is that there are very few amateurs who can produce something that even a last place in her class architect wouldn’t consider unworthy of putting on the table. Not everyone can think in 3D. And that’s OK. Not everyone can do trigonometry, or make donuts, or ride a bicycle. But the guy who can’t ride a bicycle doesn’t gab a pack and a sleeping bag and sign up for a 12 day ride across Colorado either.


    Most people come to the correct realization that just because they live in a house doesn’t mean that they can design one.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    last month

    How is your search for property and and a local architect going? The tasks are arduous but with just enough effort things will start falling into place. Right now prices seem to be a big factor in construction but you never know what can happen until you knock. Keep us updated.

  • anj_p
    last month

    @Celadon I couldn't agree more. I made the same mistake (creating my own floorplan) - and I (maybe) have a bit of an excuse for thinking I could, as I'm a structural engineer. But once I saw what the pro came up with (loosely based on my general floorplan), and the eventual place our design landed, I quickly realized how out of my depth I was, and how GLAD I was that I didn't insist on my own ugly baby being the winner of the pageant.

    @Christa Bottomley I applaud you for your desire to create a home for your son that will help him lead the fullest life he can. I also think that, when it comes to children, time is of the essence. They're with you for such a short time, that putting off a build for a few years to wait for the market to reset means you're losing that time in your child's life to make your home work for them. So you're in a tough place.

    I've been following along, debating whether I should chime in at all, and I guess I finally decided to. Your goal is noble. Your budget is...most likely insufficient. You have a lot of luxuries baked into your plan, and some (if not all) will HAVE to be cut. The messy kitchen, the library, the loft, the reading nook, the play room, the two story great room...even the school room result in additional square footage that *most* standard houses don't have, and that will add significant cost for you. Coupled with the larger roof & foundation (and two story windows), you will have a very expensive house.

    I think, in order for this to become a reality for you, you need to do the initial legwork of looking at new custom homes of an equivalent size (foundation/roof), and determine from that if it's in your ballpark (meaning, with a few cuts here and there, you may be able to afford it). You can also look at production homes if there aren't any custom homes around and add a healthy contingency of 25-30%. Then, I definitely think a design professional will be needed for you to maximize your specific needs and wants, and minimize your budget. Your list of needs and wants needs to be really specific, and you need to think hard about it. Do you NEED the messy kitchen? A library AND a loft? Either? Do you NEED a school room AND a playroom? You may be able to make this work for you...but as others have said, you will need a professional to whittle it down to size, and you'll definitely need to find a lot to put it on first. Of course, that's a risky endeavor - buying a lot that you may not be able to afford to build on - but that's where the initial legwork comes in.

    Good luck. I really hope for you that you are able to make this happen for your son. But if you can't...maybe you can start looking (in parallel) for an existing home that will meet many of your current needs, and would be available for you to enjoy immediately.

  • Jenna Armstrong
    last month

    my husband and I live in Oregon. we are currently building an 1,800sqft home in a subdivision for $300,000. we made a TON of upgrades to flooring, cabinets, siding. etc. I know we live in very different areas of the US, but I cant imagine building a house like that for $500,000. if you end up building something like that for that price, get back to me because I'll need to move immediately

  • tangerinedoor
    last month

    @Jenna Armstrong You make me want to move back to Oregon. That sounds like a bargain!

  • Christa Bottomley
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    @Mark Bischak, Architect So we met with several builders (custom, semi-custom, and tract builders) and most of them told us this would take about $700,000 without land or improvement. No big surprise. This plan was meant to be a launching point to get started with, not a set-in-stone “must have” list That is a hybrid of my and my husband‘s wish-list.

    I’ve spoken through the Internet with a few architects and would LOVE to have a home designed BUT then I’m in the “full-custom” category and they are charging far more this year than what we were quoted per Sq Ft last year (for obvious reasons).

    We also met Yesterday with a semi-custom builder that quoted us $450,000 for something similar that has been pared back a lot. Of course, we still need the lot and improvements which will put us right at $500,000 or beyond. (They said $5,000 for the messy kitchen btw). But the part that I have trouble swallowing is that these builders are making their base homes have quartz countertops, hardwood or LVP, and MASSIVE owners suites when what I really need is stripped down function. I can add nicer finishes and fixtures over time but I can’t easily add zero-step entries, pockets doors, a mud room, widen hallways, or relocate a laundry room.

    Ive played with the Semi-custom floorplan for a little bit today and came up with the following. They’ve told me relocating the Master and kids room was no change in cost. the main additional cost is bumping out the garage to make room for the mud room.

    So I’m in a catch-22,. If I get a home designed by an architect (who will match it to the lot), only full custom builders will build it (and for $65 more per sq. ft.) OR DIY modify one of a “semi-custom“ Builder’s plans which makes me give up important function while being forced to pay for extra “wiz-bang” and “bling” I don’t need. Do I just need to keep looking perhaps for a builder who will allow me to use more ”humble” finishes or is this just something I have to accept at this price range? Just accept the pre-assembled plans that aren’t functional and try to get them to widen doorways etc?

    Or perhaps I should just buy an already-built house, widen what doors I can, and hope He get enough walking at therapy to recover his ability to walk. I can cut out a few more small things (use a stack W/D in a closet, no pantry) but pretty soon I’ll be losing the openness that makes it possible for him to walk and the function for the rest of the family. Maybe we could just put the garage on later but I doubt my husband would go for that.

    Here‘s the Semi-custom plans after I played with them. The only part of the footprint I added was bumping out the garage 5’ to make room for a mud room and bumping the bath and laundry out a few feet. Not beautiful but hopefully more realistic. The ”Messy Kitchen” and Laundry will just have rough plumbing until we can get cabinets later. No builtin yet, just space for them. My husbands home office and Library/Loft is where he meets with clients so that’s our bread and butter. And FYI, when you have 3 kids per bedroom using triple bunks, you can’t have toys in there (for a dozen reasons) and so the playroom becomes pretty close to bare minimum, even when we keep toys pared down aggressively. Homeschooling will just be done at the Dining table in the Morning room until we can maybe add on later. (The Morning room is the source of light for the Kitchen, not just the Great Room, FYI).


    I never could have imagined ten years ago that a Half-Million Dollars would be consided so little in an area that is historically so inexpensive to build.


    I’ll brace myself for the next onslaught of criticism....





  • partim
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I believe that it will be more cost-efficient for you to modify an existing home.

    When we bought our builder-standard 2-story 4 bedroom home I was pregnant with my second child, who lived at home until he was 18 and used a wheelchair. We did very little in renovations to make it work for us. We moved the laundry into the basement and turned the main floor laundry room into his bedroom. That room already had a door to the outside and we built a ramp to it. We added a really big deck in back that was easily accessible from the house. Hallways were already wide enough for the wheelchair and we made sure that the furniture we bought wasn't oversize so there was room to manoeuvre the wheelchair through the house.

    You can do a whole lot of minor renovations for the cost premium of a custom-built home. Or even add an outbuilding as many people are doing for a home office. Rooms can be multi purpose or change their purpose as your family changes. For example, we don't have a dedicated library but there are comfortable chairs and bookcases in quite a few places including the dining room, and there has always been a way to find a quiet spot to read.

  • Cheryl Hannebauer
    last month

    following

  • Felix Pradas
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Hi Christa, that is quite a conundrum indeed.

    I would suggest you expand your search into decommissioned factory or warehouse buildings. These sometimes go for a lower price, have lots of space and character, and are not always located in the middle of industrial sectors. Such buildings can be adapted to your needs and they provide you with lots of interior space and large windows so you children can play inside in inclement weather and you are only heating or cooling the new or renovated structure you build inside the older structure.

    converted factory home - Google Search

    In regards to your current plan, two rhetorical questions: Do you want the clients coming to meet with your husband to walk pass the playroom and into the heart of the house before going up to the office? And once there, if they need to use a restroom, do you want them to go into the children's bathroom downstairs or your master bath?

    Also, in regards to the outdoor entrance for the mudroom, which is always a good thing since that area naturally serves as a perfect place to hose down trash cans and other dirty items, do you expect the children to the walk all the way to the front of the property to reenter the house after playing in the backyard?

    Here is wishing you success and peace!

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    last month

    Aim for the ideal. Find a site in a community you want to live. Find a local (close as you can get) architect that is within budget and has capabilities to design to your needs. If the site you find is through a builder and you have to use their designer, use the architect as a consultant to review the design if the designer is not meeting the need. Assemble a team that is willing to have your needs first and foremost.

  • partim
    last month

    You sound discouraged and I don't blame you for that. How about thinking about an existing home, and imagining how it could be adapted to your needs. Just because a room is labelled "master bedroom" or "dining room" doesn't mean that's how you have to use it. It's just space.

    There seem to be homes under $400,00 in Louisville (I believe that's where you are?) that I think could be adapted to your needs. I'd look for one that has 5+ bedrooms and plenty of square feet. Bonus if it needs updating because you won't be paying for someone else's updates. Assume that you'll need to add an elevator to make all levels accessible, so you might as well look for a 2 storey home with a basement to give you the space you need. You may need an exterior ramp or lift too.

    For example, here is one that might meet your needs.

    https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/7206-Welchire-Falls-Dr_Louisville_KY_40228_M48862-07980

  • c9pilot
    last month

    OP, Houzzers have preferences and "windows in kitchens" is one of them. Neither my current kitchen nor my new build kitchen have windows, but, they are directly adjacent to very well windowed rooms. And I don't/won't hate it. (But I also have an island range and hood - the horror - which I love, much to Houzzers dismay.)

    So if you find a floor plan that works otherwise, and you have natural light to "steal", you'll be fine. Perfect is difficult to achieve here. You're the one whose going to be living there.