Building/House Plans

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bonesmd
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Building/House Plans

Post by bonesmd » Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:23 am

We are considering building a new home and plan to meet with an architect. We are trying to come up with a list of “wants”.

Currently, we (mid 30s) have an infant (hopefully more in the future) and two small (10-15 lb) dogs. Lot would probably be pretty narrow (~30 ft).

Is there anything people wish they had added during the construction process or regret doing?

GAAP
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by GAAP » Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:34 am

Storage -- somehow you always need more, even after downsizing. With kids, that becomes exponential growth.

Also, it's not just what features the house has -- think a lot about traffic flows and how you will use the space on a daily basis. Consider minute-by-minute/step-by-step when you can.

At different stages in your children's life, you may want to have them sleep in the next room, sleep on the opposite side of the house, sleep upstairs so you know they're sneaking out or in, etc.

A 30-ft wide lot doesn't leave much space, unless you like washing your neighbor's windows while inside your house. 6-foot setbacks would limit you to 18 feet wide -- narrower than most 2-car garages. If you're seriously considering this, look at as many modular home plans as possible to see how they manage small spaces.

Rupert
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by Rupert » Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:39 am

GAAP wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:34 am

At different stages in your children's life, you may want to have them sleep in the next room, sleep on the opposite side of the house, sleep upstairs so you know they're sneaking out or in, etc.
+1 on this and on creating as much storage space as possible, even if you don't need it right now. You want to be on the same floor as your small children but not necessarily as your teenagers. Plan so that reconfiguration of sleeping spaces is possible in the future without major additional renovation. Also, no one likes carrying laundry up and down stairs, so make sure your laundry facility is on the main floor of the home if possible. Built-bookcases, desks, etc., reduce the need for furniture. So more built-ins = less money spent on furniture and more usable floor space.

GCD
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by GCD » Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:48 am

bonesmd wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:23 am
We are considering building a new home and plan to meet with an architect. We are trying to come up with a list of “wants”.

Currently, we (mid 30s) have an infant (hopefully more in the future) and two small (10-15 lb) dogs. Lot would probably be pretty narrow (~30 ft).

Is there anything people wish they had added during the construction process or regret doing?
No regrets, but a books worth of suggestions. I'll refrain from rambling too much. This is obviously a very big event in your life and should be well researched. The architect will be full of suggestions as well. That's what you are paying him for. If you have an exact floorplan in mind, possibly picked out from one of those blueprint books of "gorgeous mountain homes" then all you need is an engineer. The architect knows all about flow, etc. and will give you a lot of guidance.

Depending on how long you plan to be in the home, you may want to stack closets on each floor so you have a prepositioned elevator shaft. You don't need to put it in until you need it, but later you don't have plumbing and other stuff in the way. That kind of thing is something the architect should be suggesting.

Rupert
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by Rupert » Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:51 am

GCD wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:48 am
Depending on how long you plan to be in the home, you may want to stack closets on each floor so you have a prepositioned elevator shaft. You don't need to put it in until you need it, but later you don't have plumbing and other stuff in the way. That kind of thing is something the architect should be suggesting.
This is a good point. Particularly if you intend this to be your forever home, incorporating universal design principles into your project will save you money down the road.

researcher
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by researcher » Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:03 pm

bonesmd wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:23 am
Lot would probably be pretty narrow (~30 ft).
Is this correct?
Is it an urban infill lot? Or possibly oceanfront?

30' is extremely narrow.
Just a 5' property setback would mean the house can be no more than 20' wide.

bonesmd
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Joined: Sun May 30, 2010 3:56 pm

Re: Building/House Plans

Post by bonesmd » Wed Apr 25, 2018 2:40 pm

researcher wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:03 pm
bonesmd wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:23 am
Lot would probably be pretty narrow (~30 ft).
Is this correct?
Is it an urban infill lot? Or possibly oceanfront?

30' is extremely narrow.
Just a 5' property setback would mean the house can be no more than 20' wide.
30 feet is actually pretty standard for the area. Most of the homes in the area are over 100 years-old.

chessknt
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by chessknt » Wed Apr 25, 2018 2:46 pm

bonesmd wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 2:40 pm
researcher wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:03 pm
bonesmd wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:23 am
Lot would probably be pretty narrow (~30 ft).
Is this correct?
Is it an urban infill lot? Or possibly oceanfront?

30' is extremely narrow.
Just a 5' property setback would mean the house can be no more than 20' wide.
30 feet is actually pretty standard for the area. Most of the homes in the area are over 100 years-old.
Why would you want to incur all the costs of building a new home but have it constrained in a way that gives in 1920s proportions? I lived in these houses for the past 4 years and hitting the sides of My hands walking through a door frame carrying a laundry basket and not being able to fit a king boxspring up a staircase gets real old. You might as well just buy an old house so you can be sure you'll be happy with the layout and feel before you buy.

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Pajamas
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by Pajamas » Wed Apr 25, 2018 2:53 pm

The most important thing in this situation is to choose the right architect.

Glockenspiel
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by Glockenspiel » Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:05 pm

researcher wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:03 pm
bonesmd wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:23 am
Lot would probably be pretty narrow (~30 ft).
Is this correct?
Is it an urban infill lot? Or possibly oceanfront?

30' is extremely narrow.
Just a 5' property setback would mean the house can be no more than 20' wide.
First, call with the city zoning department to verify what the property setbacks are. 30' is incredibly narrow.

Otherwise, I agree with the storage suggestions, especially in a narrow home. Design it so it is built-in, instead of needing furniture for storage, taking up valuable floor space. Also, I regret not thinking through the electrical plan of my home more, before it was built. Think about how you will use the space, and placement of furniture and plan electrical outlet locations around that.

3504PIR
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by 3504PIR » Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:20 pm

We just finished this process and I'll provide some thoughts on our experience. We hired an architect to put our vision on paper and to work through some details to ensure what we intended was both doable and not beyond the cost we were shooting for. It is important to know what you are looking to achieve before you start brain storming with an architect. Architects generally charge by the hour and those hours add up quickly. Try to define the scope of the architects role and products they are to deliver before you sign a proposal with them. I would go into the first meeting with the basics of rooms by type you want - preferably with an example or two pulled from a magazine or online which come close to meeting what you're looking for.

We had a very good idea of what we wanted and were able to communicate that to our architect throughout. In turn, the architect was able to turn our ideas into exactly what we wanted. If you don't know what you generally want, they will come up with endless options, all at great cost. We set a budget for his services which was included in the proposal we ended up signing. Be prepared to make decisions and communicate those decisions firmly to your architect and ultimately your builder. This comes from knowing what you want at the beginning of the process. Our architect several times commented on our decision making and it was my impression that they tend to thrive off of those who cannot make a decision or even worse, change their minds. There are no end of good ideas in this process, it helps to know when to stop the debate.

Another benefit from using an architect is that if you're thinking of doing something stupid - like room placement, kitchen layout, etc they will usually tell you and that is helpful in the long run. What may seem like a great idea to you, may not help you sell the home later on or more importantly, may make living in the house inefficient. So listen to their advice and don't be afraid to ask for their advice.

Finally, don't be afraid to end their employment. We reached a point where our builder was executing and additional oversight/advice from the architect wasn't value added, so I told them thanks very much, we've got it from here. In the end it is a business arrangement, even with the amount of emotion you will invest in this process.

So bottom line, don't walk in without a very good idea about what you want to achieve and vet your selected architect with former clients. Overall our experience was very good, we ended up with exactly what we wanted and both our architect and our builder were able to turn our vision into our forever home. Hiring the architect wasn't cheap, but in the end it was very valuable to hand the builder a definitive set of plans to guide him.

VonRyan
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by VonRyan » Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:36 pm

Walk-up attic preferably with a built-in staircase not just a fold-down ladder. This is good for many reasons: you may one day finish the attic into another living space, and you can easily use it for storage, and last it makes it easier to service the house's systems on or near the roof like HVAC if you have a walk-up attic.

genefl
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by genefl » Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:54 pm

1) design the roof trusses so that you create an extra room in the attic. you can build it out later or just leave it for storage. little or no added cost, but it needs to be designed upfront.
2) covered patio. if you have an upper deck, cover over the deck.
3) sleeves in the ground before driveway and decks etc in prep for landscape lighting.

good luck!

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F150HD
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by F150HD » Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:07 pm

A 30-ft wide lot doesn't leave much space, unless you like washing your neighbor's windows while inside your house.
+1

when building too close to another structure the wall code may change to prevent a fire from spreading from ones home to another. Increased cost.

Also, that close to other structures makes me wonder about drainage so you don't incur a wet basement and start a mold problem.

where will kids play? throw in pets going to the bathroom in the yard.....

Nearly A Moose
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by Nearly A Moose » Wed Apr 25, 2018 9:43 pm

This could be urban infill for a rowhome. My house is 20'W x 50'D, one party wall (end unit!). Totally doable, but you have to know how to do it well.

I haven't built a house yet, but some thoughts that popped to mind:

STORAGE!!! Especially for a narrow or smaller house, it needs to be ship shape. No wasted space, a place for everything, etc. It can get cluttered very quickly. This ideally will include indoor and outdoor storage (with at least some element-protected outdoor storage for things like bikes). Think creatively. The first 6 feet of the space under the staircase could have wall-flush drawers (I'm picturing if you were perpendicular to the staircase looking at it from the side; I've also seen people turn the steps themselves into drawers, but this feels like a tripping hazard waiting to happen, especially with young kids).

Space - layout and flow. I have the impression this changes as the family ages, so try to find a flexible or modular floorplan (especially important in a narrow home). A completely open plan (which I have and hate) works for watching very little kids from across the house while you cook, but there's no separation and it feels like you live in the same one room all the time. A completely closed floor plan can feel isolated and make it hard to keep an eye on little kids. Older kids will probably want a retreat of some sort, be it their rooms, a basement, a loft, etc. Kids in between will at least need somewhere to spread out their Legos. But the broader point is to make sure you're designing something that will work for you in all stages you plan to be at the house, not just in the stage you're at now.

Insulation - If the house is a tight layout, try to add noise insulation inside walls and floors. Will help everyone sleep better.

Laundry room placement. I'm assuming this is a small(ish) house. If so, laundry room placement is a challenge because you can't devote a full room to it. It usually becomes a closet. Especially with very little kids, you get most of your household chores done while they're napping or asleep at night. What you don't want is a noisy laundry room directly across from your light-sleeping toddler's room. So try to design it thoughtfully to let you use it without bothering the household.

Master suite layout (if you have a suite). If one of you is a light sleeper and you might keep different hours, and you're doing a master suite setup, see if you can set it up so that that you can access the bathroom and closet/changing area OR the main bedroom from the hall. That way, if you're working late, you can walk from the hall to the closet/bathroom suite, get ready for bed, and only bother you spouse when you're getting into bed. Reverse the process if one of you gets up early to run.

Mudroom / entry organizer. Especially if you're in a small house, try to create a thoughtfully designed place where people can drop/store/stage things coming or going. It's easier to keep things tidy if that kind of stuff stays near the door.

Light - Again, for smaller houses, getting natural light in there is sometimes a challenge depending on the layout. See what you can do to get good light in. Sometimes full-glass backs work, even if you do a traditional front. Also on this point, pay attention to the sun and passive heating/cooling effects. We have westward exposed windows and see a dramatic temperature swing in the afternoons if we leave the blinds open.

Consider just one eating area. Unless your area requires it, consider whether you truly need the dining room, kitchen table, and bar stools that are so common now. I would jettison the kitchen table in a heartbeat. If you want a quick casual sitting area, sit at the counter/bar. If you want to sit down for a nice meal, actually use the dining room!

Think about expansion. As others have noted, do any "future proofing" that you can now - make it as easy to build up into the attic as you can. Same for basement.

My spouse gets eaten alive by mosquitos, so I wish we had a screened in porch. Conversely, we find the porch off our master bedroom useless.

Setup your kitchen exhaust fan to vent outside.
Pardon typos, I'm probably using my fat thumbs on a tiny phone.

staythecourse
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by staythecourse » Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:15 pm

I designed the layout and chose every finish on our custom built house and can give some insight. First, with that narrow of a lot I am assuming it is a urban build (long and narrow lots). In which case, there is not much design to be done. The layouts are pretty limited.

The other is it seems you don't have the kid yet nor ?finished with the family after that kid? If so, it is going to be VERY difficult to say what you "NEED" considering without having your family complete you have no clue what you need as you haven't experienced having the complete family. For example, I made sure both kids bedroom were the same size to prevent the future arguments of "Hey you love me less because I got the smaller room". I wouldn't have thought of that if I didn't have 2 kids.

If you want generalizations: Agree with poster above with getting as much storage as you can fit into the house. Literally, there is not one open area in our house that can't be used to store stuff. For the first time I am almost tempted to say it will take some time to fill all the storage. Also, make sure you have easy access to stored bikes, strollers, scooters, etc... away off year and make it easy to bring them out. For example, I tiled the floor from the bottom of the stairs connecting the mudroom to the storage room so we could just walk the different bikes and stuff to the stairs and not worry about staining carpet. Make sure there is plenty of closets on next to front door and where the garage is going to be. It is difficult to lug around jackets, shoes, boots, socks, etc... if you only have one entry closet.

Without the experience I would just tell the architect what you vision as the totality of your family structure (how many kids, how many pets, etc...). A good one will know the stuff you can't at this point in your married lives.

Good luck.

p.s. It is A LOT of work, but a fun voyage. Enjoy.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

Y.A.Tittle
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by Y.A.Tittle » Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:16 pm

Do Haves
Storage
Low-E glass
Transfer switch for generator
Natural gas extended to outside deck for grill and to laundry room for dryer
Extra garage space for stuff
Insulated interior walls, for noise
A no-step shower

Don’t Haves
Central vac (battery powered vacuums are the future)
Excess ceiling fans, unless you live in a hot climate
Sliding glass doors (french is the way to go)
Skylights
Formal dining room
A deck made from real wood (go composite)

bonesmd
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Joined: Sun May 30, 2010 3:56 pm

Re: Building/House Plans

Post by bonesmd » Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:59 pm

Thank you for all the replies

A little more information, lots are normally around 30 x 120. Plan is for ~ 3000 sq ft 4 bedroom house. We have an infant and will probably try to have a second in the not too distant future.

matatupuncher
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by matatupuncher » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:25 am

Op,

You should check out some home building specific forums. BH is great for financial stuff but as I've seen in this thread and others, you can get some seriously bad advice on non-financial issues. Check out the following:

forums.finehomebuilding.com

https://www.houzz.com/discussions/building-a-home

www.contractortalk.com

johnubc
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by johnubc » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:48 am

Check out Building a new Home on Garden Web - lots of information and helpful blog.

NightFall
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by NightFall » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:53 am

bonesmd wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:59 pm
Thank you for all the replies

A little more information, lots are normally around 30 x 120. Plan is for ~ 3000 sq ft 4 bedroom house. We have an infant and will probably try to have a second in the not too distant future.
What are your setback limits? Your lot is only 3600 sqft. At a 2ft setback, your house takes the entire lot (26 x 116 = 3016) if it is a single story. Do you have setback limits or will you share walls with the adjacent structures? If you do, that will affect your architecture as well. I'm going to assume this is a multilevel structure with these limitations. Given the limited width, planning the staircase(s) will be important. They take up a lot of room.

susze
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by susze » Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:17 am

If you are looking for the future I would eliminate dining and living rooms. They are almost always unused even most dinner parties these days are somewhat informal not many people sit down for an X course meal anymore. Maybe living more than dining will be gone if you just want a bigger space to eat dining may have utility still.

But living room I think will be gone once millenials start getting into their 40s and building homes.

Also be careful for impervious surface coverage issue if you are a small lot with a decent size home and driveway and deck. It sounds like you are in a northeast suburb in a great school district with that lot and 100 yr old houses. In any event you’ll love it!

TLC1957
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Location: Pa

Re: Building/House Plans

Post by TLC1957 » Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:25 am

Install an automatic fire sprinkler system in your new home to protect you and your family. Will cost less then your kitchen counter tops if you have a public water supply. I say this as a retire firefighter and fire protection engineer for 36 years who has first hand experience by witnessing many house fires and the impact it has both emotionally and financially.

Bacchus01
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by Bacchus01 » Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:32 am

Y.A.Tittle wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:16 pm
Do Haves
Storage
Low-E glass
Transfer switch for generator
Natural gas extended to outside deck for grill and to laundry room for dryer
Extra garage space for stuff
Insulated interior walls, for noise
A no-step shower

Don’t Haves
Central vac (battery powered vacuums are the future)
Excess ceiling fans, unless you live in a hot climate
Sliding glass doors (french is the way to go)
Skylights
Formal dining room
A deck made from real wood (go composite)
I agree with all but ceiling fans. Smart fans that tie to your hvac can move air better for even heating and cooling. They are generally more cost effective.

stan1
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Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:35 pm

Re: Building/House Plans

Post by stan1 » Thu Apr 26, 2018 8:04 am

bonesmd wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:23 am
We are considering building a new home and plan to meet with an architect. We are trying to come up with a list of “wants”.

Currently, we (mid 30s) have an infant (hopefully more in the future) and two small (10-15 lb) dogs. Lot would probably be pretty narrow (~30 ft).

Is there anything people wish they had added during the construction process or regret doing?
With a 30' lot I'd head to the architect pretty quickly and get one who specializes in your city who knows the local building inspectors and builders. If the lot is a tear down or infill in an expensive beach or historical community navigating various zoning and construction requirements can be onerous and very limiting on the design. The architect will guide you through the creative process.

donall
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by donall » Thu Apr 26, 2018 11:51 am

Absolutely hire an architect familiar with your lot and housing type. An architect is worth every penny and may have insights into respected contractors.
The suggestions you have received are excellent, especially recommendations for future expansion that cost a small amount now. I would also add that extra care should be taken with proper reinforcing of the concrete, redundant drainage systems (drain tile inside and outside), and proper insulation. Wiring the house for internet and higher ceilings in the basement are things that I would do.

Nearly A Moose
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Re: Building/House Plans

Post by Nearly A Moose » Thu Apr 26, 2018 8:14 pm

bonesmd wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:59 pm
Thank you for all the replies

A little more information, lots are normally around 30 x 120. Plan is for ~ 3000 sq ft 4 bedroom house. We have an infant and will probably try to have a second in the not too distant future.
For the commentariat talking about small homes, a house on this lot would be considered MASSIVE in my neighborhood. I'm getting envious thinking about being able to build something like. Just goes to show how important your particular perspective can be.

OP, I'd say working with a *good* architect is especially important for a house like this. In long and narrow houses, it can be pretty easy to default to lazy design work that just has everything in a series of long rectangular rooms stacked against each other or one giant bowling alley room. So making sure your architect can work with things like the staircase placement and layout, fireplace placement if you want one, bathroom, etc., could be really important, as these end up being pretty significant features affecting layout and traffic flow in a house like this.

One other thought might be to think about sightlines within the house. Do you want to be able to see clear from front to back, or do you want to feel more of a sense of division of the space? Or a middle ground where you sometimes can and sometimes can't? From which rooms do you want to be able to see the messy kitchen? Will one room be flex space that can function as a toy room and baby toy room for the first 5 years, then be converted into something a bit more adult (or be a tastefully done playroom for longer)? If you have a space like this, think about whether you want it visible from the dining room or wherever you'll host adult company (it will happen again, I'm told...). Do you want all rooms visible from the street? Think carefully before making the front door all glass, which seems to be trendy right now - it could give every passerby a view clear into your whole house.

I'm excited for you!
Pardon typos, I'm probably using my fat thumbs on a tiny phone.

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