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New build floorplans - opinions welcome


Indy
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  • 3 months later...

A long overdue update. Have been going back and forth with the architects over minor things but we now have final agreement on the plans, that are hopefully going to be submitted this week. Just waiting for them to draft up the final D&A statement to accompany the pack.

 

Elevations

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Ground Floor

 

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1st Floor

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Roof Plans

 

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I would move the entrance into the utility to the top of the utility so it is entered into directly from the kitchen and not from the lounge area. It looks tidier from the lounge and will also be more functional, at the cost of losing 80cm of worktop and storage space from your kitchen. To mitigate (albeit only partially) this loss, you could make the utility slightly smaller by moving the wall that separates it from the kitchen down by about 30cm. 

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That's a big house but you don't have a separate living room, just the one big living / dining / kitchen space.

 

Are you SURE you are happy with that?  Have you lived in such a room?  I do not like it, we just use our large room as a kitchen / diner and have the living room separate.  During the build we did use the kitchen / diner as a living space for a while and it drove me nuts trying to relax in peace and quiet with the Fridge Freezer and / or the dishwasher spoiling the peace and quiet.

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1 hour ago, ProDave said:

just the one big living / dining / kitchen space.

Agreed it is not to my taste either.

Also the utility coming off the lounge corner.

 

I think most families with that size of house would want a separate 'snug' room. It would be very easy to change with the l shape, and moving the utility door. and a window into that dark corner.

Also. Is that a fake chimney? it doesn't appear to impinge on the bedroom above.  Fibreglass chimney stack and pot on the top? Not to my taste, an expensive folly, and not remotely sustainable.

You asked for comments.

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One big living/dining/kitchen space - a lot of debate has already happened within the family on this one, and we're happy with this arrangement. This is how we currently have our 1930s semi setup (albeit smaller) and we do enjoy all being in the same space.

 

We do have the family snug on the 1st floor, which will double up as a cinema room in the future - so that's a private retreat space catered for.

 

Utility entrance - getting it through the kitchen part would be nice though we lose the worktop space there, and we've already compromised on that by having an L shaped kitchen rather than U shaped one (which was the architect's recommendation).

 

Chimney - good point and I can't believe I never picked up where on the 1st floor it would be reflected. I'm checking with the architect to see what the proposal is. I do really want a log burner in the house, for purely aesthetic reasons. Heating source is going to be an ASHP with wet UFH throughout.

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The chimney is an external stack mate.  Shows on the elevation.

 

If there is no intention of using it then it will be an expensive feature - the chimney pack (flue and dunbrick gunk etc) will cost £1k alone....

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I see a lot of designs like this in self build, just not following the proper design process and ‘filling the plot’ up. I would imagine the brief you gave the designer (architect?) was possibly too prescriptive, or lacked them asking the *right* kind of questions.
 

If you look at the quick sketch that ETC did, you can tell they have put thought into creating ‘breathing’ spaces into the garden, breaking up the bulk of the house, making the entrance and stairs more open and light. This is where you needed to start off from. 
 

The front elevation is cramped and although it’s symmetrical, it’s not well proportioned and the windows look cross-eyed. That’s why the solution where ETC has moved it is better. You’d get bigger rooms and a less fussy front street view.

 

The windows are also the wrong proportions and clearly just inserted from a block library. They don’t fit the elevation at all. Why is there stone cil where there is no room for it? What style is this house.

 

I also think the view from the snug is either overlooking or onto a wall or something, it needs to look down the garden, again where ETC has put it now I look… he’s really solved all the things I think are problems with your layout well.

 

What you should have done, is take examples of styles of houses you liked, photos from the area, and then asked the designer to worry about the layout and create spaces to your requirements.  I know there’s a ridge limit, but I don’t think it excuses the roof being like that, if it’s copying what is there already, I’d encourage you to move away from that as it’s limiting you. 
 

 

Edited by CharlieKLP
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7 hours ago, Faz said:

The chimney is an external stack mate.  Shows on the elevation.

 

If there is no intention of using it then it will be an expensive feature - the chimney pack (flue and dunbrick gunk etc) will cost £1k alone....

Do plan to use it, always wanted a real fire and this is the opportunity to get one. I fully realise it will probably be used for a total of 4-5 times a year.

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6 hours ago, CharlieKLP said:

I see a lot of designs like this in self build, just not following the proper design process and ‘filling the plot’ up. I would imagine the brief you gave the designer (architect?) was possibly too prescriptive, or lacked them asking the *right* kind of questions.
 

If you look at the quick sketch that ETC did, you can tell they have put thought into creating ‘breathing’ spaces into the garden, breaking up the bulk of the house, making the entrance and stairs more open and light. This is where you needed to start off from. 
 

The front elevation is cramped and although it’s symmetrical, it’s not well proportioned and the windows look cross-eyed. That’s why the solution where ETC has moved it is better. You’d get bigger rooms and a less fussy front street view.

 

The windows are also the wrong proportions and clearly just inserted from a block library. They don’t fit the elevation at all. Why is there stone cil where there is no room for it? What style is this house.

 

I also think the view from the snug is either overlooking or onto a wall or something, it needs to look down the garden, again where ETC has put it now I look… he’s really solved all the things I think are problems with your layout well.

 

What you should have done, is take examples of styles of houses you liked, photos from the area, and then asked the designer to worry about the layout and create spaces to your requirements.  I know there’s a ridge limit, but I don’t think it excuses the roof being like that, if it’s copying what is there already, I’d encourage you to move away from that as it’s limiting you. 
 

 

 

Without coming across as sarcastic, I really do appreciate your opinions and the designs that ETC did for me (thanked him earlier at the time as well), but the design we've ended up is one that works for us after several rounds of conversation.

 

Were we too prescriptive in our brief - absolutely right we were. I had a spreadsheet that kept getting populated as we looked at over 200 houses before finding none that worked for us, and helped me refine what we were actually looking for (and more importantly, what we weren't looking for). The architect have done a good job of getting the design 'right' for a narrow but long plot and I fully intended to fill the plot out (as land is already very expensive, so why not use every available bit). The original design was a good 50-80 sq m bigger than this but we had to scale it back purely for budgetary reasons.

 

The idea for this house move has evolved from move to a finished product, to a small project, to a double storey extension and finally towards a full demolish and rebuild. We're going to use this as a learning exercise so that when we do the next move which will be in 20ish years time and probably the 'forever/retirement' home - we can indulge all our fantasies and let the designers run wild a little more.

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Yes like I say, it’s not just you who does this - it’s a common issue with Selfbuilders. At the end of the day, if you are happy with the design it’s your money and I’m not trying to be mean btw, this is my general opinion. 
 

I think you would have added much more value by using the designer’s abilities. 
 

When I saw ‘spreadsheet’ I did a little wince, that’s not what a good brief should be. This isn’t a loaded question, but did you draw a sketch out for them too? 
 

It’s not about letting an architect run wild with mad fantasies, it’s about letting them use their professional skills to make the most of your brief/site/budget. I don’t think you got good value from your architect here, I think if you have one, you should be open otherwise what’s the point of employing an architect?

Edited by CharlieKLP
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16 hours ago, Indy said:

 I do really want a log burner in the house, for purely aesthetic reasons. Heating source is going to be an ASHP with wet UFH throughout.

 

If you build to a low energy standard then you will likely never use it as it will generate too much heat, especially in SE England. Never mind the govt drive against woodturning in urban areas.

 

 

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8 hours ago, Indy said:

 

I fully intended to fill the plot out (as land is already very expensive, so why not use every available bit).

 

Have you considered a basement? We built a 120m2 one to match the footprint of the house above and it's added valuable space such as teenager dens (x2) a gym, a plant room and a large general purpose room, currently still filled with boxes :) External staircase for access to garden for regs and convenience. All rooms are flooded with natural light and are a constant temp year round (20oc) without any heating or cooling.

 

We're in Berkshire and it made good use of the expensive plot plus planners did not bat an eyelid even though it increased the internal space by about 50%.

 

Regarding cost - it was additive but replaced any foundation system and is essentially a big waterproof concrete box in the ground so not that complex to build - especially if you're starting with a cleared plot. Ground conditions will dictate final cost (as they will your foundations) but if you're clear of groundwater then should not need complex waterproofing systems etc.

 

Just a thought !

 

I will say architect was dead against it but since ate his chapeau and said it's some of the best space in the house. 

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@Indy

 

Welcome back to the lion's den! Fair play to you for having the guts to do so. 

 

A few comments. 

 

If you plan to sell the house in the future please have a remodel of the front. Pretty she ain't. It'll be worth it to your pocket long term.

 

Overheating. The mass of glazing on the East and especially the west is bad bad news. The house will be very uncomfortable in the summer. 

 

Lack of daylight. Very few southern windows or if these are not possible, skylights to bring in that lovely daylight from the South. 

 

It's too wide for the plot. I know it's been mentioned. I would leave access for a small digger beside the house, at least 2.4m at one side in case you ever need to do work at the rear of the house like build a garden Room etc. 

 

That ASHP is in a very sheltered alcove. I would be worried about it not getting enough airflow and it being very noisy.  Also it creates a tricky little piece to build for very small advantage.

 

If you really need space then I think @Bitpipes suggestion of a basement is a good one. Drop a chalet style former on top with lots of southern skylights and a narrower plan and you're home and dry.  The shape could be more "cube"ish  which will be good thermally and financially. 

 

That balcony will create thermal bridging issues and a potential sources of leaks if masonry built. 

 

We have a large room. Great for the daily grand Prix for small kids but it can be noisy. 

 

Keep it up. Either way all these comments will galvanized you or inspire you.

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1 hour ago, Bitpipe said:

 

Have you considered a basement? We built a 120m2 one to match the footprint of the house above and it's added valuable space such as teenager dens (x2) a gym, a plant room and a large general purpose room, currently still filled with boxes :) External staircase for access to garden for regs and convenience. All rooms are flooded with natural light and are a constant temp year round (20oc) without any heating or cooling.

 

We're in Berkshire and it made good use of the expensive plot plus planners did not bat an eyelid even though it increased the internal space by about 50%.

 

Considered it yes, but it was really ruled out because of the cost implications. We do have a garden room being built at the back of the garden which will be split into gym and general storage/bike store areas. Will upload those plans separately.

 

Quote

Regarding cost - it was additive but replaced any foundation system and is essentially a big waterproof concrete box in the ground so not that complex to build - especially if you're starting with a cleared plot. Ground conditions will dictate final cost (as they will your foundations) but if you're clear of groundwater then should not need complex waterproofing systems etc.

 

Just a thought !

 

How much of a difference in build cost does a basement add? Online reports indicate about £4k per sq m versus £2.5k for ground floor building. At a 160 sq m for the ground floor layout, its not an inconsiderate amount to be added.

 

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37 minutes ago, Iceverge said:

 

If you plan to sell the house in the future please have a remodel of the front. Pretty she ain't. It'll be worth it to your pocket long term.

 

 

What would you suggest (genuine question)?

 

37 minutes ago, Iceverge said:

Lack of daylight. Very few southern windows or if these are not possible, skylights to bring in that lovely daylight from the South. 

Where would you add these? The only spaces I can see these would be worth adding is over the wardrobes or study towards the back of the house? There are already 2 small skylights over the bathrooms that bring in some light and the front bedrooms have their East facing windows (granted these won't bring in daylight in the evenings).

 

37 minutes ago, Iceverge said:

It's too wide for the plot. I know it's been mentioned. I would leave access for a small digger beside the house, at least 2.4m at one side in case you ever need to do work at the rear of the house like build a garden Room etc. 

See above, garden room being built at the same time as the house - the plans weren't uploaded earlier.

 

37 minutes ago, Iceverge said:

 

That ASHP is in a very sheltered alcove. I would be worried about it not getting enough airflow and it being very noisy.  Also it creates a tricky little piece to build for very small advantage.

 

This is the topic that took us over a month to resolve with the architects. Original plans were to place it at the front of the property, next to an oak structure car port and run the pipework back to the house. When we saw a 3D render of what that structure would look like, we immediately decided against it as the car port completely dominated the front and killed any views from the street.

 

The next suggestion was to place it on the wall next to Bedroom 1 on the GF and run the pipework back to the utility, which I was Ok with but we were a few cm short of the 1m clearance required for the ASHP to function optimally.

 

This is a compromise we've arrived at with the architect's suggestion that allows for the 1m clearance by building a small alcove and reduces the need for expensive insulated pipework to be run below ground from any other location.

 

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18 minutes ago, Indy said:

How much of a difference in build cost does a basement add? Online reports indicate about £4k per sq m versus £2.5k for ground floor building. At a 160 sq m for the ground floor layout, its not an inconsiderate amount to be added.

 

 

£4k/m2? Maybe if you're excavating under an existing house in Chelsea.

 

Biggest variable is your ground conditions - you can get a feel for these from nearby BGS survey holes (google is your friend).

 

Assuming nothing terrible that would need piling or blasting, you're essentially building a waterproof concrete box to follow your home footprint and replacing the foundation costs. We did not need a separate waterproofing system (membrane), using just waterproof concrete from Sika with an insurance backed warranty and inspected works.

 

In 2016 we spent £120k on the demolishing of existing, excavation, muck away, casting of 120m2 basement - 300mm slab on 300mm EPS, 200mm walls with 200mm EPS, no lid - used steel and joists for ground floor plus backfill with clean stone & re-instatement, drainage etc and all other services (fouls, water, gas & telco duct).

 

So that was £1000/m2 for the unfinished basement but if you deduct the costs for demo, services and general site prep, probably £830/m2. Also there are no other foundation costs so whatever was budgeted for that can be removed also.

 

Fitting out was incremental to the rest of the house - joinery to frame out internal structure (was not expensive), windows & external light wells, electrical first fix (aside from plant we have no wet services there), plaster board to walls & ceiling doors, stairs & decoration. Worst case that brings me back to the £1000/m2 figure. Plantroom was great place to put gas boiler, MVHR and UVC so freed up room in rest of house.

 

Even allowing 30% for inflation, that's still comparable or cheaper than above ground. Note that small basements will be more expensive per m2 as there are mobilisation costs.

 

Key is avoiding 'basement' companies and going to local groundworkers who regularly do underground structures like carparks and the like. Every small block of flats has something like that underpinning them and they are not costing the developer £4k/m2 for sure.

 

We mimicked MBC's passive slab design for the basement and they plopped their frame on top with no issues. Commissioned our own SE to do the design and spec for the basement as architect had no idea and did not want to get involved.

 

Great space for the kids as they get older and want to have friends round for music, drinks, gaming, sleepovers etc.

 

Garden rooms are nice but no-one wants to be in them in December and you'll p off the neighbours if they're noisy late in the evening.

 

 

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48 minutes ago, Bitpipe said:

 

£4k/m2? Maybe if you're excavating under an existing house in Chelsea.

 

Biggest variable is your ground conditions - you can get a feel for these from nearby BGS survey holes (google is your friend).

 

Assuming nothing terrible that would need piling or blasting, you're essentially building a waterproof concrete box to follow your home footprint and replacing the foundation costs. We did not need a separate waterproofing system (membrane), using just waterproof concrete from Sika with an insurance backed warranty and inspected works.

 

In 2016 we spent £120k on the demolishing of existing, excavation, muck away, casting of 120m2 basement - 300mm slab on 300mm EPS, 200mm walls with 200mm EPS, no lid - used steel and joists for ground floor plus backfill with clean stone & re-instatement, drainage etc and all other services (fouls, water, gas & telco duct).

 

So that was £1000/m2 for the unfinished basement but if you deduct the costs for demo, services and general site prep, probably £830/m2. Also there are no other foundation costs so whatever was budgeted for that can be removed also.

 

Fitting out was incremental to the rest of the house - joinery to frame out internal structure (was not expensive), windows & external light wells, electrical first fix (aside from plant we have no wet services there), plaster board to walls & ceiling doors, stairs & decoration. Worst case that brings me back to the £1000/m2 figure. Plantroom was great place to put gas boiler, MVHR and UVC so freed up room in rest of house.

 

Even allowing 30% for inflation, that's still comparable or cheaper than above ground. Note that small basements will be more expensive per m2 as there are mobilisation costs.

 

Key is avoiding 'basement' companies and going to local groundworkers who regularly do underground structures like carparks and the like. Every small block of flats has something like that underpinning them and they are not costing the developer £4k/m2 for sure.

 

We mimicked MBC's passive slab design for the basement and they plopped their frame on top with no issues. Commissioned our own SE to do the design and spec for the basement as architect had no idea and did not want to get involved.

 

Great space for the kids as they get older and want to have friends round for music, drinks, gaming, sleepovers etc.

 

Garden rooms are nice but no-one wants to be in them in December and you'll p off the neighbours if they're noisy late in the evening.

 

 

 

Thanks, that's quite useful to know. Even discounting it to lets say £1.2k to £1.5k per sq metre would put approx £200k to £240k of additional cost on the build.

 

As much as I would love a basement (man cave for myself and to create a bar/whisky storage room), its a luxury that will have to wait till either the next one or when I hit the Euromillions jackpot!

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28 minutes ago, Iceverge said:

@Indy

 

What are you ridge height and overlooking constraints? 
 

I'll have a bash at a sketch if I get a chance. 

 

We have houses on either side, and our garden backs on to the garden of another property. Though overlooking in that direction isn't too much of a concern due to the length of our garden and theirs.

 

The balcony design was somewhat dictated by those concerns. Architect's recommendation that we have a balcony within the structure rather than externally protruding one, as it has a greater chance of being approved. Something also to do with shading and SAP calculations (which I didn't completely understand at the time!)

 

Ridge height is 7.8m IIRC. And while I appreciate your offer to help, I'm just keen to get the plans submitted now as we've been in the process for 7 months with the architects (formally).

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1 hour ago, Indy said:

How much of a difference in build cost does a basement add?

We did very similar to @Bitpipe, he was, in fact, inspiration for a lot of my decisions. Our basement has cost us approx £1100/m2 and that has got us a large area for 'fun' rooms where our teenagers can go and be out of the way with their friends. that cost is just to build it though and doesn't include the fitting out costs. when you consider that in the SE England finished houses can go for approx £4000/m2 there is a massive uplift in value of the property by building underground when planning won't let you build above ground. it was quite an easy decision for us as our ground conditions meant that any foundations would've needed to go down 2m to the bedrock (we're on clay surrounded by ancient woodland) and so, although more cost, as we were going down 2m anyway I thought let's just dig it all out and build a basement that I've always wanted.

 

Also, as has been said previously, you could reduce the size and bulk of the above ground structure and make it fit within the plot a bit more as you could put snug/cinema/study/gym etc all underground. I really like @ETC's sketches and look forward to seeing what @Iceverge comes up with.

 

But, in saying all of that, I fully understand that you're very far down the line with this design and get that the thought of basically starting over again, when considering the time and costs you've already put in to it, is not very appealing. but read the comments above again. it's not just one person mentioning these things. you've got architects, architectural designers and other professionals and serial self-builders all saying the same thing. can they all be wrong?

 

I remember watching an episode of 'Building the Dream' where Charlie went in and said the plans were all wrong and suggested they go back and redo the design and planning approval etc. the family were reluctant but they did in the end and said it was the best decision they'd made. sometimes we get so caught up in it all it takes someone on the sidelines to point things out and to help make those tough decisions.

 

whatever you choose I wish you the best of luck and will follow your progress with interest.

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1 hour ago, Thorfun said:

You’ve got architects, architectural designers and other professionals and serial self-builders all saying the same thing. can they all be wrong?

 

 

I think you hit the nail on the head there.
 

Even if self builders ask for opinions, they are just the worst for listening! Most are very successful and smart people, maybe they have their own companies. The amount of times I’ve been handed a drawing done by an accountant or manager or similar and expected to just draw it up in CAD is ridiculous. Every time this happens I tell them to take a step back, go through the process. you wouldn’t do the work of any other professional in this way, trust them. 
 

I think most complaints about architects have started with the customer giving them a plan to draw up, then claiming it’s over budget and rubbish.

 

If you say to an architect, “I want to make the most of this plot”, you will get a different result to if you draw a big rectangle and fill it yourself.

 

Things that add value to a house, kerb appeal, nice big rooms and spaces with garden and light. It’s really not m2.
 

also I think there’s way too many sinks in this house, you are going to have one per hand. I always wonder what the problem is that people are all washing their hands at the same time that you need two per room.

Edited by CharlieKLP
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1 hour ago, Thorfun said:

We did very similar to @Bitpipe, he was, in fact, inspiration for a lot of my decisions. 

 

Ok, I'm blushing, just draw the line somewhere ;)

 

1 hour ago, Thorfun said:

 our ground conditions meant that any foundations would've needed to go down 2m to the bedrock (we're on clay surrounded by ancient woodland) and so, although more cost, as we were going down 2m anyway I thought let's just dig it all out and build a basement that I've always wanted.

 

Exactly our scenario also - clay on gravel on chalk. Surprisingly massive variations across the 11m2 footprint (something you can only appreciate when standing in the hole itself).

 

I had a friend back in Ireland get to planning with a design their heart was not into - took guts to rip it up and start again but they love what they have now and realise that they would not have got there without going through the v1 plan.

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1 minute ago, Bitpipe said:

took guts to rip it up and start again but they love what they have now and realise that they would not have got there without going through the v1 plan.

massive amount of guts I'm sure! and the OP has said they've been at this for 7 months with the architect so it's hard to fathom the amount of guts it would take to start over. but, sometimes those hard decisions have to be made and it's, generally, for the best at the end of it all.

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