The 'revised plan' of the NTL* House is fairly similar to the previous version. The main differences are size, placement of the stair and location of second floor bedrooms. The previous version was seriously over sized and therefore over budget. The First Floor is now roughly 2,124 SF; the Second Floor is 648 SF; and the garage is 780 SF.
At this early stage, I am using $100/SF for a house construction cost and $50/SF for the garage. These are lower than I would normally use only because I plan to build the house myself.
The next two tasks are to scout building sites and to develop a much more detailed cost estimate. As it is, I am $41,200 over budget now. At an early stage like this, it is easy to control costs. Reducing area will lower costs, but not dramatically beyond this point. Detailing and choices of systems will have a direct impact, however. Once the size is fixed, the cost of materials and systems continues to raise or lower the cost per square foot.
Just about everything got smaller in the revised plan. Relationships, however, remained pretty constant. The stair to the second floor will be straight rather than 'U'-shaped as before. At some point in its rise it will have enough headroom to access the kitchen below it so that the access from kitchen to pantry and laundry is maintained.
The location of the second floor bedrooms changed dramatically. They also became much smaller, which suits their use as guest rooms. Being located over the Living Space meant the ceiling height would be constant. Moving to above the master bedroom area eliminates that issue. The right bedroom may have an issue with window placement where the sill can be low enough for emergency escape requirements. That could be solved by moving the bedrooms down to the outside wall of the MBR closet area.
The roof plan doesn't indicate any problems that need to be resolved. The roof over the bedrooms has a two story eave. Everything else starts off with a one-story eave. The roof over the Living Space could be a continuation of that rising one-story roof line or it could be offset upwards for more height below and the possibility of clerestory windows. The alternate hip roof over the Office and the far end of the Living Space creates some extra flashing and exterior wall. It is probably better to keep it simple and change the ceiling heights with interior construction.
This may be the last post on the NTL House for a while. I want to search for a site next. The actual site could have a major impact of the layout of the house because of solar orientation, views, topography and shape of the lot
* NTL = Next-To-Last
This first floor plan of the NTL* house is more about getting the relationships right than anything else. Lots of "bang to fit" going on. Scale is off a lot in places.
I changed color to red to show / see how the two bedrooms upstairs might work out. The concept for those bedrooms is basically for guests or grandchildren. I don't follow residential design closely enough to know whether it is 'de rigueur' that every bed room has its own bath, but that is where I am heading. Costs could get in the way, but it seems like a good starting point.
If the Garage were completely shown, the socket for the entrance to the house might seem too much. On the right lot and neighborhood the garage doors could end up facing any one of three directions.
The MBR is way off in scale. I would like for it to extend past the kitchen so that it might share a patio that I envision being on that side. I have done decks; I have one now. I've never had a patio, but it is hard to imagine that it wouldn't beat a deck all to hell.
The most problematic thing I can see is that the kitchen/pantry/laundry, while having the relationship I want, are going to make access to the MBR finicky. Hopefully the next iteration will scare up some options to explore.
I like the Office location. Access to both the main living space and the foyer is ideal. Maybe the fireplace can be shared. This space wouldn't be a real office. Picture an executive's office - that's not it. By the time this gets built, I won't be using anything that needs a fixed location, like a desktop computer. Maybe there would be a printer/scanner somewhere, but that would be the only giveaway that it is an office rather than a reading room.
So next I will try to get this plan more realistic.
* NTL = Next-To-Last
My next step is looking at the three main components of the NTL* house. I want to know what I want these elements to be like before I get tied down to an idea that is at odds with how I want things to turn out. Sometimes the plan becomes a simple joining-together. Other times, changes are needed to reach overall goals. And occasionally you see something during the process that gives you an even better idea.
Just days before I started to explore the NTL house, I read about Morpholio's Trace app for the iPad. The app is free, although I have already bought grids to help me be reasonably accurate with sizes, and it does a very good job of mimicking the use of yellow tracing paper, including the ability to add transparent layers over one another. Maybe getting the Trace app led me to start this project now, could be.
The Great Room (I hate the term, but everyone knows it) came together very easily. I showed a fireplace, but it is no longer the must-have that I once considered it. This side of the house 'wants' views. A couple of dimensions document what I'm thinking about size.
The Master Bedroom also fell together easily. Enter from one end, view at the other. Perhaps one big closet/dressing area. Separating the shower/toilet from the sink area is not a big deal. At the next stage I'll see how that works out. No idea why I ended up with a green drawing - pilot error for sure.
The Garage isn't as important as the other two areas, but its size makes me feel like it needs to be considered early. Besides size the relationship to the rest of the house will be critical - near the kitchen for groceries, for instance. We will enter the house through the garage almost 100% of the time, so the entry point will matter and will get some attention in the way of closet, counter, finishes. Mud Room? The Shop isn't going to be much, just a handy place to put tools and household storage. The Yard Equipment alcove doesn't need to be too large - wheel barrow, lawnmower, tools hanging on the walls.
I plan to see what the first floor plan sketch looks like next.
* NTL = Next-To-Last
I drafted the NTL* House program in InkFlow.
The only thing not shown here is basement space. There will probably be a basement for two reasons. 1] It is nearly a given here in the Greater Cincinnati area, actually Northern Kentucky, which is closer to downtown Cincy than most of Cincy. 2] Most land has enough slope to it that a basement may be needed anyway. I don't intend to finish any basement space. There may be mechanical equipment there, but I will try to keep it very localized so that finishing in the future is feasible.
The master bed room and master bath [MBR and MBATH] are larger than you might expect, but I am including space for walk-in closets, accessibility, and possibly a small mechanical room. We have a tankless water heater now, which we like, but as a retrofit it couldn't be placed as close as desirable to all water outlets. In this plan, there will probably be two of them.
Our present house, which I designed in 1982, has 2,400 SF not counting basement or garage. If you subtract the garage from the program numbers, the total is 2,295. I hope to tighten the area even more as design progresses. We currently have spaces that are underutilized like dining room and living room. Parts of these would be shifted to the great room in this design.
The garage is pretty large by most standards but it will house two cars, space for yard tools, firewood, and some storage.
We have a combined laundry room - pantry now that doesn't function very well for either use. So I plan to separate them and add some space.
Next I plan to take a look at some layouts of individual spaces before looking at an overall floor plan.
* NTL = "Next-To-Last"
Masonry Panel House
One of the major perks of being an architect is designing a house for yourself. You may never build it, but you can entertain yourself for hours at a time playing with the design. In my case this isn't an every day hobby, but at least once every couple of years the mood strikes and away we go. The mood has struck.
Every time I have designed a house there has been a theme. There were at least two Sthapatya Veda-inspired houses. Houses inspired by planning grids. Tiny vacation houses. Duplex investment projects. The common denominator is that I don't have anything to show for the exercises because they never make it past an incomplete Schematic Design (see graphic). Sadly, my visualization skills eliminate the need for drawings understandable by anyone else. So what artifacts exist, after a few years, are incomprehensible even to me. They are the casualties of finding the flaw in the concept, of more pressing issues intruding, or of simple loss of interest.
This time around my plan is to document the exercise right here from time to time as enough info becomes available to illustrate a step in my progress. Another difference is that I will be using new tools to record the design - my iPad and several apps. So far InkFlow, Trace, and Scalar hold pieces of the design, but several more will surely enter the picture. This contrasts to the use of Levenger's Circa Notes in most past designs. (See Graphic, again.)
The theme this time around is a Next-To-Last House. (I’m 66.) A next-to-last [NTL] house has all the necessities on one floor, and is no bigger than needed. I have added the additional constraint that it have a construction cost of no more than $275,000. I am far enough already to know that cost will be the driver! Stay tuned...
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