Ian D

house design and layout

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Well after our original plot fell threw (long story) we found another plot with full planning for two houses but the house was just to big for us and would cost a fortune to build , we are intending building the two and living in one and selling the other so that brings our mortgage down or even no mortgage 

 

This is our proposed layout and design , the actual plot has existing planning for 300m2 property but its to big for us we feel we not having more kids we only have a 7 year old at home and have family stay very little, up stairs is designed so it could be converted to a four bed by removing the dressing area , we are going to have box trusses so the loft could be converted also at a later date if we were to sell , we probably going to have a detached car port for two cars 

Jackson_-_Proposed_plans_and_elevations_IJC.pdf

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Ian can you explain what you mean in the first sentence? I've read through it a couple of times and am still confused about the context. Has the plot PP for two houses or one of 300m²? Or one of 300m² + one other?

 

You are mentioning construction techniques such as ICF and box trusses, but this will seems out of order to me.   What are your requirements and financial constraints? Doing a self build is in general as expensive or more expensive than buying a comparable new build because it is a one-off and you don't have any of the economies of scale that a standard builder will have.  

 

Like many here who have been through this journey, it is extremely stressful and hard work. If all goes well then you will end up with property that is built to your specific requirements and attention to detail, so the self build premium might prove worth it for you, but this isn't the case for a build to sell.

 

The other great complexity here is the financial management of the entire process, it's optimisation and working within imposed financial constraints; again this is really hard for a single self build but the issues more than double for a two plot development.  We were extremely lucky in our financing and in retrospect we could not have found a better deal, but finding it also involved a lot of work and stress.  We had a village setting and decided to split our plot and build a retirement home then sell our previous house.   This sounds simple in principle: get financing; live in the old house; build the new one; sell the old one and move in.  Again in retrospect, the dice couldn't have rolled better, but the whole process involved sleepless nights and so much work. The cost of build invariably mounts above your initial innocent budget and so it is really hard completing within your in-place financing. In our case, our old house was a 17/18C farmhouse in the centre of a village (the plans had been sold and converted to an estate that lay to the back of the plot long before we bought it) so it was a niche sale that really needed the adjacent new build complete to be sellable at anywhere near the market price.  Lots of catch-22 variations in executing this.  Luckily we are retired and had the time and skills to do a lot of the work ourselves which meant that we could offset costs and keep a very tight control on quality.

 

My advice is to sort out the principles first and make sure that they are derisked first. What are your requirements? How are are you going to finance them? Etc.

 

A few specific points:

  • The second plot. As I said doing this yourself will double the financial burden and more than double the stress.  Another alternative is to sell it with outline PP and leave this to a builder experience in doing such 1-off infill developments who can finance and manage this. However this has risks in itself as you no longer own and control the second development and you might regret having to live next to the outcome.
  • Future prooofing for loft conversion. This rarely makes sense IMO. If you are going to do this then do it properly at the initial build stage.  Incorporate the space as a warm space within your approved plans, including access, fenestration etc., but leave the space unfinished - a blank tablet. This will add little to the cost, but far more to the value of your house and give you more future options if you find yourself with an extending family or even a stroppy teenager that you need to share the house with. A ridge RSJ and full structural roof joists plus a couple of roof lights will only add a few £K to the overall build costs.
  • Where are you going to live during the build?  For most people using the capital on the existing property is an essential component of financing the new build.  We had fully paid off on our farmhouse, and I had enough retirement income to get a mortgage on it to finance the whole project and a small BSoc that were happy to do this, but many members here end up living onsite in a caravan for most of the build (and some plan in an early fit-out and "legal inhabitation" of a couple of rooms to get out of the caravan).
  • We started our journey in 2013 with an initial decision to split the plot and self build.  In retrospect our initially invisioned timescales were laughably naive.  Add at least a year to your anticipated timeline, and then work out how this can be best used to derisk and to optimise.  Crashing timescales invariably costs £££s and lots of them.  So work out all of your major issues and risks and have sound outline solutions in place as soon as practical.  Impossible projects never become suddenly possible by magic.  Doing a self build is a bit like skiing with an avalanche behind you. 

 

 

Edited by TerryE
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Hi Ian,

 

@TerryE makes many good points that I won't repeat. The main question is can you finance the build of two houses without selling your existing house. This could easily take two years or more. Also I think many people are finding that the standard estimates of build costs are too low and construction costs often come in higher than expected. Partly this is due to people raising the specification of houses that they do not plan to sell, but it may mean that this is not as profitable an endeavour as you expect.

 

Assuming that you have all the financial and planning aspects in place -

 

Who designed the layout of the house? The layout itself is OK, but the house is simply too small for the number of rooms inside it. This has resulted in may rooms that would feel quite cramped and the fact that there are no cupboards at all in the house, only a dressing room and utility room.

 

Assuming that the budget is not that tight and as the originally approved house was 300 square metres, if you like this design I would take it and basically upscale it by 10-15%. 

 

Particular things I would want to address, they are more comments about the liveability of the house which at the moment is poor and things to think about in any house design-

 

1. You need a hall cupboard for coats shoes etc.

2. Bedroom 4 is too narrow. I would think it needs to be at least 2.2m wide.

3. The WC is very small, and lacks a window. If you made Bedroom 4 larger I would cut the WC into the front of it to have a small window.

4. I would look to have a larger space between the front door and the stairs to allow space to bring visitors into the house.

5. The kitchen design has around 11 linear metres of cabinets/counter tops plus a large island. This could be more than needed for the size of the house and will increase costs. The island is too large for the space, it will feel cramped with just a 1m space all the way round the island.

6. You might want to get more light into the kitchen area.

7. The dining/family room area is too narrow. A 1m wide dining table needs at least 1m all the way round it, ideally more to allow for people pushing chairs back from the table and people to get around it. Sit on a chair at a table and push it back then see how much room it takes up. With this layout it will be very difficult to walk past the table to the sitting area  and the table/chairs are likely to be in your way as you walk into the kitchen, ideally you want a nice space as you walk into a room to not feel cramped.

8. Bedroom 2 and 3 need built in wardrobes. 2.855m is tight for a bedroom. A double bed is 1.9m long and a kingsize 2m long. You can add 10-20cm if they have any kind of frame or just for the duvet overhanging the end of the bed. You will end up with around 80cm between the end of the bed and the wall. This is a tight space, ideally I try to make any spaces that you walk through 1m wide at least.

9. Unless you plan to use a combi boiler you will need a cupboard for a hot water tank and again a cupboard upstairs for bedding, towels etc would be useful.

 

 

In some ways this reminds me of a developer built house where they try to squeeze the maximum number of rooms into the least space possible. I think you can do better designing a house for yourself to live in.

Edited by AliG
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2 hours ago, AliG said:

Hi Ian,

 

@TerryE makes many good points that I won't repeat. The main question is can you finance the build of two houses without selling your existing house. This could easily take two years or more. Also I think many people are finding that the standard estimates of build costs are too low and construction costs often come in higher than expected. Partly this is due to people raising the specification of houses that they do not plan to sell, but it may mean that this is not as profitable an endeavour as you expect.

 

Assuming that you have all the financial and planning aspects in place -

 

Who designed the layout of the house? The layout itself is OK, but the house is simply too small for the number of rooms inside it. This has resulted in may rooms that would feel quite cramped and the fact that there are no cupboards at all in the house, only a dressing room and utility room.

 

Assuming that the budget is not that tight and as the originally approved house was 300 square metres, if you like this design I would take it and basically upscale it by 10-15%. 

 

Particular things I would want to address, they are more comments about the liveability of the house which at the moment is poor and things to think about in any house design-

 

1. You need a hall cupboard for coats shoes etc.

2. Bedroom 4 is too narrow. I would think it needs to be at least 2.2m wide.

3. The WC is very small, and lacks a window. If you made Bedroom 4 larger I would cut the WC into the front of it too have a small window.

4. I would look to have a larger space between the front door and the stairs to allow space to bring visitors into the house.

5. The kitchen design has around 11 linear metres of cabinets/counter tops plus a large island. This could be more than needed for the size of the house and will increase costs. The island is too large for the space, it will feel cramped with just a 1m space all the way round the island.

6. You might want to get more light into the kitchen area.

7. The dining/family room area is too narrow. A 1m wide dining table needs at least 1m all the way round it, ideally more to allow for people pushing chairs back from the table and people to get around it. Sit on a chair at a table and push it back then see how much room it takes up. With this layout it will be very difficult to walk past the table to the sitting area  and the table/chairs are likely to be in your way as you walk into the kitchen, ideally you want a nice space as you walk into a room to not feel cramped.

8. Bedroom 2 and 3 need built in wardrobes. 2.855m is tight for a bedroom. A double bed is 1.9m long and a kingsize 2m long. You can add 10-20cm if they have any kind of frame or just for the duvet overhanging the end of the bed. You will end up with around 80cm between the end of the bed and the wall. This is a tight space, ideally I try to make any spaces that you walk through 1m wide at least.

9. Unless you plan to use a combi boiler you will need a cupboard for a hot water tank and again a cupboard upstairs for bedding, towels etc would be useful.

 

 

In some ways this reminds me of a developer built house where they try to squeeze the maximum number of rooms into the least space possible. I think you can do better designing a house for yourself to live in.

Some very good points there A

Ecspecially about the built in wardrobes

We also have a dressing room

My wife thought I was going overboard building wardrobes to the three other rooms with the first fix

But two are now full 

and there’s only two of us 

 

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You can never have too many wardrobes 😀. A simple, built in, vat reclaimable wardrobe may be more cost effective than buying wardrobes later. There are very specific requirements to meet to make it vat reclaim eligible however. 

 

Is the WC big enough to comply with building regs? 

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28 minutes ago, newhome said:

You can never have too many wardrobes 😀. A simple, built in, vat reclaimable wardrobe may be more cost effective than buying wardrobes later. There are very specific requirements to meet to make it vat reclaim eligible however. 

 

Is the WC big enough to comply with building regs? 

Exactly 

I built mine out of studs and pb

added running gear and used Mexicano type doors to match the rest of the house all vat claimable

we are just fitting them out with a racking system 

Not sure if we can claim the vat on the intervals 

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1 minute ago, nod said:

we are just fitting them out with a racking system 

Not sure if we can claim the vat on the intervals 

 

You can only claim for a simple hanging rail and a shelf above. From VAT notice 708:

 

The wardrobe should feature no more than a single shelf running the full length of the wardrobe, a rail for hanging clothes and a closing door or doors. Wardrobes with internal divisions, drawers, shoe racks or other features are furniture and are not building materials.

 

If you have added other things leave them off the reclaim. 

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10 hours ago, AliG said:

In some ways this reminds me of a developer built house where they try to squeeze the maximum number of rooms into the least space possible. I think you can do better designing a house for yourself to live in.

 

 

I feel you are being unduly hash in your assessment of the design which could be explained by your current perspective of a much larger recent self build. Many DIY version-1 designs uploaded here for review are either strange or frankly sometimes awful, so your label "developer built house" does at least confirm the OP's design is competent.

 

Given the requirement for a 2+1 house with occasional guests I think the design works very well for an 1900 sq ft home, though I would caution the OP in spending extra money trying to second guess the requirements of the market in a future resale. There is an historical trend towards smaller household sizes so I do not understand the focus on future subdivision of rooms.

 

I do not find the house "too small" for the number of rooms. As shown the 1900 sq ft house is a 3 bedder with a downstairs study, so the average room size is larger than a mid sized developer 4 bed house. Mainstream developers start squeezing in 4 beds at 1200 sq ft and at 1700 sq ft a 4 bed house will be labelled "executive".

 

The OP's design is absolutely at the sweat spot of modern living requirements with a very generous master bedroom suit, large contiguous family day area, cozy late evening sitting room, dedicated internet/homework/work at home station and a utility room.

 

10 hours ago, AliG said:

1. You need a hall cupboard for coats shoes etc.

 

 

Leave 2/3 of the under stairs open plan and add some coat hooks.

 

10 hours ago, AliG said:

2. Bedroom 4 is too narrow. I would think it needs to be at least 2.2m wide.

 

 

Agreed but it looks like a mislabeled study to me.

 

10 hours ago, AliG said:

3. The WC is very small, and lacks a window.

 

 

Yes it is a weak point particularly @newhome's concern about disability regs.

 

10 hours ago, AliG said:

4. I would look to have a larger space between the front door and the stairs to allow space to bring visitors into the house.

 

 

This is a good and often overlooked point but relative to the size of the house and market norms, the entrance design is acceptable (correction: having just looked again at the dimensions the hallway is generous and probably in the upper 90 perecentile of UK houses).

 

 

Edited by epsilonGreedy

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@epsilonGreedy I was trying very hard not to sound harsh, but the reality is that you are more likely going to give a list of things to fix or think about not things that you like.

 

There are quite a few good aspects to the house such as the upstairs hall arrangement and windows on the lounge and bedroom 2.

 

It is not a small house and as you say a developer may go down to a very small size for a 4 bedroom house.

 

However, once you start having a large eat in kitchen/family room then sizes tend to approach the 170-180sq metre level.

 

In some ways the house may give too much space to the master suite and kitchen and not enough elsewhere, but a lot of these are personal decision about how one wants to live, assuming that these are what the poster wants then the other rooms need a little more space. The dressing room is very large for example and much larger than the bedroom 4/study, although I agree with your point that you don't want to squeeze in too many rooms and in general this house has the rooms that you would want in this type of house.

 

You are right the hall is not actually small, but still more space in front of the door would be nice.

 

Still I think a large point of building your own house is to do something better than you could just buy and I think that there is plenty of room for improvement here.

 

 

Edited by AliG
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3 hours ago, AliG said:

You are right the hall is not actually small, but still more space in front of the door would be nice.

 

 

I am particularly sensitive on this aspect of house design because my previous house of 15 years, developer built 2-story 1410 sq ft, was very short of space at the bottom of the stairs with only 2/3 of the distance from bottom step to front entrance wall. The extra 350mm in the OP's design seems like a useful improvement to me which I suppose demonstrates we view such design decisions relative to our own personal experiences.

 

Whenever looking at a house design I go through a 4-step process:

 

(1) Does the design encapsulate a life style objective that can be comprehended from the finished design?

(2) Has the design competently achieved that objective?

(3) Would I enjoy a 2 week holiday let experience in the property?

(4) Would I want to own the property?

 

Applying these criteria to the OP's design I reckon it scores well on points 1, 2 and 4.

 

4 hours ago, AliG said:

Still I think a large point of building your own house is to do something better than you could just buy and I think that there is plenty of room for improvement here.

 

 

I agree and my own self build is probably weak on this point because the design is constrained by a conservation zone and I purchased the plot with detailed planning permission. Having said that there is bad aspirational design and successful grand designs with a wow factor. The difference between a successful and failed grand design is a £20k architects bill and had I splashed out £20k on an architect's redesign I would have to have forgone a roof or a garage.

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My experience is that an architect is very good for exterior design particularly and also for things such as use of light, but I think the person who is going to live in a house will always have a better idea of what layout will work for them. I wouldn't pay an architect for a floor plan and indeed some of the houses people have posted here with quite odd or unworkable floorpans seem to have been the work of an architect. Certainly if a budget was tight and it was the choice of extra space or an architect I'd be buying the space.

 

We moved house quite a few times whilst I was a kid. My mum was always looking at houses, so I have been looking intently at house plans since I was a teenager and I started to draw out floorpans then. I don't think we lived in anything larger than 1000 square feet until I was 20. 

 

Looking at the house in more detail, there are probably better ways to use the space already there, rather than make it bigger. This was probably laziness rather than writing in more detail. Also some input on the orientation of the house would be useful.

 

1 - Bedroom 2 - Move the back of the bed to the left hand wall,  put a built in wardrobe where the door currently swings into and then the bedroom door next to the bathroom door.

 

2 - Bedroom 3 - Again if the bed was on the left hand wall, there would be room for a wardrobe at the other end. With the bed positioned this way, the width would be less of a problem, but I still would feel better if it was a couple of hundred mm wider.

 

3 - I would probably lose some of the dressing room for a water tank/bedding cupboard. I am not sure I like the idea of having an extra door in case it is another bedroom. Either it is or it is not.

 

4 - In that size of en suite I would have a walk in shower across one side of the room.

 

5 - Actually looking at the master bedroom area, I think I would ditch the idea of a dual purpose dressing room and have the dressing room first then the en suite. I don't think walking through the en suite to the dressing room is a great idea. I don't know that a possible extra bedroom makes a big difference to resale value nowadays as it is usually based on square footage. You have ended up with two extra doors that are unnecessary which just waste space at the moment.

 

6 - I would lose the short run of cabinets in the kitchen, make the kitchen area 600mm shorter and add this to the study/bedroom 4.

 

7 - I would then make the WC larger and maybe the utility slightly shorter. I wouldn't have a corner in a short run of cabinets in a utility room. Moving the WC to give it a window will be more difficult as it alters the front elevation.

 

8 - A kitchen supplier might well help with the kitchen design for free. Looking at it I wonder if in fact moving the kitchen to where the sofa is, a small island where the table is and the table and sofa where the kitchen is might work better. I would try and keep a large clear area in front of the doors, so if this is a natural area in front of the island it would waste less space. That size of dining table would feel cramped in that space, mainly due to the doors swinging into its natural space. An alternative is to downsize the island, it is always tempting to fill a space that is available in a house design, but it is the area around things that makes a house feel spacious. As well as being close to cabinets most of the way around it, that narrow space between the island and the wall will be difficult to use. If there is a breakfast bar there on the island then the chairs will stop people getting past. A breakfast bar along the wall then jutting out instead of an island might work better, sometimes I feel that people are insistent on having an island when there may be a better way to use the space.

 

9 - A bigger change. This depends on orientation and also losing the idea of a possible extra bedroom. Also whether or not you really want a balcony off your bedroom. Move the master bedroom to the other side, then you lose that indent on the left of the upstairs landing that is wasting space. The master has the big window at the front. Then a decent en suite and a smaller dressing room at the back. The bathroom might fit next to the dressing room, I would need to draw it out. Then 2 larger bedrooms across the hall and possibly room for a second en suite. This I think would better use the space as currently around 3 square metres is wasted on the entrance area to bedroom 3 and the dressing room could probably lose 3sq metres also.

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