Another dream home.....

S Smith
January 28, 2017
So we are about to start building our dream home! We have never built before nor have any background in building, so this is as exciting as it is ominous! We are posting here looking forward to some much needed experienced advice, thanks in advance!
So a bit about us…
We have acreage in the Adelaide hills which has beautiful Rolling hill views to the north north east. It has a slope of 10:1. We will be building completely off the grid and not connected to mains water.
We are married with one young child and hopes of possibly one more at the most....
So far we have found a design that we like with a reputable project builder. We have altered the plan a reasonable amount and pretty much got something close enough to what we want.... We think! We are also meeting with a more custom builder, with the hope to decide between the two types of builders soon.
We think this will be the most important decision we will have to make in this process and don't want to stuff it up! We have a reasonably tight budget for the house that we want to end up with and are worried about costs blowing out with a custom builder, but equally worried about not getting the finished product we want with a project builder.
I have attached the plan that we are looking at at present.

Comments (20)

  • Gallifrey

    An profiles yet?

  • Tweeza
    Which way is north? And which direction is the slope?
  • S Smith
    North is the 'rear' of the building - living dining and kitchen side.
    No profiles yet.
    The slope is sloping down from south to north.
    The first pic is my attempt at a plan, this one is from the actual adaptation of the design.
  • C P
    If North is at the top of the page then it's pretty great. A fairly significant build if yourbudget is modest. Only thing I'm not all that keen on is the complicated bathroom opening into the bedroom.
  • S Smith
    Yes north at top. :)
    And yeah I'm not sold on this either - but love the idea The third bedroom being the guestroom and giving them the ensuite option. Not sure if this will stay…
  • brixnmorta

    If you make the left and right sides flush, you should save on roof design.

    Are you building in brick or stud? A verandah like what you have sketched in on the 2nd plan is a good idea on the north side.

    I cant read the dimensions, but I hope the garage is at least 6x6 internally as it'll be hard to enlarge later. I wish I made mine a metre bigger for a bench.

  • oklouise

    the plan looks very interesting and i do like the symmetry but living off the grid assumes you want to utilise solar passive design and i suggest the house should be much more compact and a garage could be better built away from the house for storage of fuel and machinery with a multipurpose carport style structure closer to the house to create a sheltered courtyard garden space safer from snakes and to restrain wandering toddlers and create a wind and fire break and somewhere for a clothesline and a patch of green when water supplies are low..Having lived in the bush for many years the best thing we did was build a big dam surrounded by local trees for water storage for gardens, fire fighting, raising fish to eat, to encourage wildlife and birds and as a feature of our view..The dam, a good fence for the smallest possible house paddock surrounded by a wide fenced fire break mown by sheep, trees restricted to outside the fire break and house paddock and a good all weather road are the first things i recommend you the meantime i will attempt to produce a more compact version of your plan but which of the houses on your profile has the "look" you prefer

  • S Smith
    Yes, want to expand NE bedroom flush with garage. Not sure on master bedroom, as like the idea of a corner window for the bath.
    Thanks for your in depth reply oklouise.
    We already have a 8x15m shed on the property, positioned with the 15m side facing due north.
    We are going to place all the solar panels on the shed (hoping to squeeze 2x6kw systems on there) and store all batteries behind, and then run a cable to house (approx 40m away).
    We already also have 20,000l of water storage and aiming for another 40,000L. Will also plan to put a damn in at some point. Like your points regarding its usefulness!
    We are also going to install an Evap AC and hydronic heating and use the fire place to heat the water for that system.
  • S Smith
    We also already have a rubbled driveway up to site, suitable for all traffic regarding the build.
    We want a big verandah out the front, and this will then step down to a level grassed area.
    The dollars are adding up.
  • Koule' Krayon
    Pay the upfront costs that are necessary to undertake any necessary searches. Then get a fixed price for exactly what you are after. Do all your selections prior then there should be no reason or unforeseen circumstances to raise the price.
  • brixnmorta

    With your corner window preference for the bath, what are the northern views like? if worthwhile, maybe you could do this:

    (I'd elevate the tub a bit)

    I see you have changed the vanity to a double? builders LOVE that word upgrade, you might want to find out how much, Say they want 5000 and your plumber wants 500 plus something this:'ll help you save a bit.

  • S Smith
    Wow cool idea for bath brixnmorta! We have beautiful outside views though, and I love the idea of sitting I. The bath on a windy stormy winter night with the window view.

    No definitely not doing a double vanity. We don't see the point.
  • oklouise

    wondering what the outlook might be with the master suite on the nth east sunrise corner and the garage on the south west i've included reverse options for my condensed version of your plan with a much simpler cheaper roof and variations for the play and guest rooms

  • haephestus

    Non-professional comments:

    - what is the purpose of the room which accesses the WIR? It's entrance is from the "public" hallway, yet it provides entry into the WIR which is unique. Is this a nursery (i.e. a room for the baby so that it is close to you both during the night)? If so, is the access through the WIR really necessary?

    - do you want a standard hinged door in the main bedroom? I think French doors or a sliding door would be more aesthetically pleasing than a hinged door.

    - do you need a bath in the ensuite? Would it be more practical to use that space to separate the toilet for acoustic and visual privacy?

    - do you really need a butler's pantry? How often do you hire help when hosting dinner parties?

    - if the fridge doors are opened, no-one will be able to pass through the gap between the fridge and the island bench. I'd consider moving the fridge towards the pantry a little so that when the doors are open, there is still room for movement around the fridge.

    - I'm not sure the scaling on the furniture in the living room is right. I'd adjust the mock-up to get a better idea of the size of the room and the ease of movement you will have if you did have such a large dining table. Given the overall size of the house, the kitchen / dining / living space actually looks a little small and cramped, even though it will presumably be your main living area. I'd look at taking some space from the dedicated theatre room and playroom.

    - how wide is the central corridor? I'd make it generous if possible and also include some sky lights to help keep it bright and light so that it doesn't just look like two long, dark tunnels running off into opposite directions.

    - what purpose does the mud room near the front door serve? Would it be better located as a thoroughfare from the garage or accessible from the alternative front door which leads to the laundry? Do you really want to track mud, etc into your "formal" entry to access the mud room?

    - I'd try to include a double vanity in the main bathroom (by removing the cupboard (?) that is taking up valuable space) if you're hoping for two or more children.

    - I don't think the access to the shower room from one of the bedrooms is necessary. I'd remove that door and make that space a true wet room (i.e. without an "enclosed / small" shower.

    - I'd place a BIR on the wall between the laundry and the bedroom for noise dampening.

    - I'd place a BIR on the walls between the garage and the other two bedrooms also for noise dampening.

    - would built in storage in the play room be beneficial? Or possibly even a built in study nook for homework, etc. Would it also be beneficial if the playroom could be closed off from the hallway (noting that there is already a door in the hallway to close off that entire wing of the house). Especially if you ever needed to "sell" it as another bedroom?

    - as noted, the entire home is large. I'd personally reconsider whether it's possible to reduce the number of rooms, but to make some of the rooms serve a dual purpose. At most, it sounds like you will have four people living in the room, yet you have essentially three living rooms and five bedrooms! A fourth bedroom could easily serve as both a playroom and a guest bedroom (when needed). And while the baby is young, that room could also easily serve as a home theatre.

    Good luck!

  • S Smith
    Wow love your plans Louise!
    We prefer the straight from to the living area.
    We have toyed with the idea of flipping the plan re garage etc, but it doesn't work for many other things, such as the outside space on the NE side of the building is perfect for a kids play area/lawn etc, where the NW is not. (The fall drops away a lot more, and would be right next to the driveway - a hazard we'd like to avoid).

    One thing I haven't mentioned is that I would love a skillion roof, and would really love an area of raked ceiling, but know this is a considerable added cost.

    The bathroom you've designed is great, but would probably not bother with separating the bath and shower... seems unnecessary. I do like the laundry where you have put it, but I rather liked the mud room being a central space, where clutter from the main living area could be shoved/stored in a hurry, to then be moved to their various zones later.

    Lots to think about....
  • S Smith
    Thanks haephetus for your in depth response!

    - yes it's a nursery/study/storage/dressing room/guest room!
    We feel it will have many uses over its life, and one of the main reasons we've provided the extra door is that day to day my partner and I are on very different schedules, so the thought of us being able to get up in the morning, walk through to the closet/ensuite and never have to return back to the bedroom and disturb the other, is fantastic. A definite must keep in our design.
    - yes we definitely want French or sliding doors externally in the MB. Just my crappy half effort of a floor plan there...
    - we both love baths. Def want one in the ensuite, even though it's been a hassle and will be extra cost. It will definitely be used!!
    - butlers pantry non negotiable. We both love cooking and love entertaining. Love the idea of somewhere for the mess that can be closed off unseen. And also somewhere for appliance to sit out ready to be used, such as slow cookers etc.
    - thanks for fridge tips, and yes, furniture not to scale! In very early stages...
    - corridor 1.2 wide I think... and good idea re sky lights.
    - The living space is slightly small, but we have seen these exact dimensions in a display home and it is more than enough for our needs.
    - cupboards and storage are way more important to me than double vanitys. I think they are a waste of space. Bench space more important in terms of two people using the same space. The cupboard there is for storage into the play room.
    - specifically wanted to keep play room open to make use of the corridor space. The door closing off the whole wing is more than enough we feel.

    Yes it is large, but we have a lot of family interstate and envision we will have quite a few quests. We also will want this house to tick as many boxes over the years as possible and give us room to grow and move, for all situations. We certainly never plan to sell and hope this will be a family home for many generations...
  • oklouise

    a basic gable shaped roof would be slightly higher over the central section and has a raked ceiling sloping up from north to the middle of the house over the kitchen family rooms (and down from the middle to the south over the sitting and playroom) with the highest point at the entry from the hallway into the family dining rooms: doesn't cost anything to get a quote!!...heres' a view from the kitchen side (a gable roofed entertaining area could be added at right angles to this side)

    this plan has option for verandahs with "flat" roofs (to be added later) and includes a Coat Room off the central hallway to hide clutter but leaves out the extra toilet in favour of the compartmented bathroom which we found very useful living out of town when we had a house full of guests, especially adults with kids
  • PRO
    MB Design & Drafting

    A few thing's to consider.

    Deep veranda/s or alfresco to north - Sound's great in theory but in practice they block off natural light and sun penetration in winter. A reasonable space to sit in winter but could be subject to a cold wind if not screened in that direction... Sort of wasting the Northern aspect everyone strives summer North facing veranda can be too hot and too much natural light....Then they can cop a hot Western sun belting in......

    Having a deep Eastern veranda is very good (depending on local micro climate and cooling summer breezes) as this will be good on a hot summer afternoon as you're shielded from the Western sun and with luck maybe a cooling Easterly.

    A South facing Veranda blocks out natural light but is a nice spot on a hot day, even better if it's getting cooling breezes.

    Note: Cooling breezes can come from almost anywhere it depends on your own micro climate. My neighbours site two doors up is different to our's as we have large tree's to the North....

    Therefore check your local climate, note down where the breezes are coming from, if you're off grid you'll need the seasons to assist you.

    Is 60,000 Lts enough? I drained our 15,000 Lts tank in two short half days of garden watering with a soaker hose and some pressure cleaning around the house........

    Tank water give toilet cistern's a hard time as the water is usually not filtered and very clean so you may be replacing them quite regularly....

    Thermal mass such as a concrete floor is good but internal wall thermal mass is equally as important. Cross ventilation, again find the breezes. During winter cold breezes are unwanted so again design around those. Do you get a cold Southerly wind? so look at your entry, you may need an 'airlock' entry/vestibule similar to what oklouise has in one of her plan's.

  • judithss

    Different type of comment here, my ideal kitchen includes views to as many directions as possible, including out to front door, so you can watch children and see visitors arriving and feels less closed in. I would consider moving fridge I think it is across, so internal window out across corridor to see out theatre window

  • alib22
    It seems a very long way to carry items from car to living area. For example groceries will have to be carried all the way down hallway past bedrooms then into kitchen. Just a thought.